Favourite Fictional Father Figures!

Richard Manners in Geek Girl

It just so happens that any one of these favourites posts can be used to promote the Geek Girl series. Funny, that. Richard is a fantastic dad. He may not always make the right decisions, or completely understand his daughter, but he’s there to support her (by taking free trips to Russia!) and generally be a maverick of the household. We absolutely love that Holly Smale wrote a family that inverts the tradition of the mother to be the one to stay at home and the dad to do the work. It’s so positive to see.

Hagrid in Harry Potter and Whatever He’s Up To

Every one who’s ever compiled a list like this is guaranteed to have any male character bar the Malfoys and Voldemort from Harry Potter. Out of every other contender for best father figure, I’ve chosen Hagrid because he’s the only one, in my opinion, who loves Harry because he wants to. Lupin and Sirius love him because he’s a miniature James, and brings back a piece of their shared past. Dumbledore cares for him because he turns out to be a selfish pusher of his own agenda. Hagrid loves him, full stop. Yes, he may put Harry in the radius of dangerous magical creatures, but whatever.

Dad Edwards in Second Chance Summer

I may not know his name, but he’s crucial to the story, and still manages to give Taylor some beautiful life lessons with the time he has left. This was a difficult father-daugther relationship to read about because illness gets in the way, and neither of them want to admit that their time is limited, but I think this story really proves how much loved ones matter to a person, and that no matter how much time you have with someone, it’s always worth being together. Excuse me while I go sob now.

Mr Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

A man that loves his daughters and irritating his wife. Although P&P definitely isn’t a comedy, Mr Bennett provided the light hearted jokes just when you needed them, and didn’t really care about what society thought of his family, as long as they were happy. I also really appreciated how he didn’t shame Lydia for what happened to her, whereas Mrs Bennett was distraught for days. No wonder everyone likes their father best!

Dad Marx in The Museum of Heartbreak

He just loved dinosaurs and wanted to share that love with the world, even in inappropriate scenarios. Dinner party conversation? Dinosaurs. Break up conversation? Dinosaurs. Definitely one of the stand out characters of a rather wishy-washy read.

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Review: Broken Hearts & Revenge Series by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Thing to Mend, Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Thing Best Served Cold and Hearts Fingers and Other Things to Cross by Katie Finn
Genre: Contemporary, Summer, Romance, Revenge
Published by: Square Fish
Pages: 342, 400, 320 respectively
Rating: ★★.5
More by Katie Finn: Top 8 | What’s Your Status? | Unfriended

The Broken Hearts & Revenge trilogy follows Gemma, who used to be best friends with Hallie until she spread a rumour that destroyed Hallie’s mother Karen’s career and her dad’s chance at happiness. After five years she returns to the Hamptons, where Hallie lives, and uses a fake identity to try and rebuild their friendship, because grudges can’t last forever, right?

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Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 519
Format: Hardback
Rating: ★★★★.5

I really wasn’t sure while reading this if I could give it five stars, but the longer I left it to write this review, I realised how much I adored it! Morgan Matson can seriously do no wrong, she’s my favourite author of all time, and if you’ve been following my reviews for a long time you’ll know that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is my favourite book of all time too. So, obviously, I went into The Unexpected Everything with ridiculously high expectations. I should also mention that I paid extra for the hardback US edition from The Book Depository so I could own this BEAUTIFUL cover! But I am really happy to announce that I loved it!

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Review: Top 8 by Katie Finn

0-545-05362-5Top 8 by Katie Finn
Genre:
Contemporary, Mystery
Published by: Point
Pages: 244
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Series: What’s Your Status? (#2) | Unfriended (#3)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Everyone knows that Morgan Matson is my favourite author, and when I found out she’d written more books under a different name, I needed to get my hands on them ASAP! Luckily, my friends bought me the Top 8 trilogy for my birthday and I have not been able to put them down since! Top 8 follows Madison MacDonald after her Friendverse profile is hacked and her life basically starts to crumble around her. The adventure that ensues is a whodunit? mystery, with added romance and moral messages perfect for a tween audience.

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Character Development

‘Character Development’ is a phrase that we throw around a lot at Heart Full Of Books, because the phrase ‘good character development’ (or something along the same lines but with a far more exited tone) is the accolade of all accolades in a review!

Everyone has an idea on what character development is, but when we talk about it in our reviews we don’t mean the act of creating a character, we mean the process of putting a character through situations that change the way the character thinks or feels. Character development can sometimes be pinpointed to an exact moment, other times it’s a series of events that the protagonist reacts to in small ways, but by the end of the novel their outlook may have changed, resulting in a happy ending.

Truthfully, it’s a hard thing to define, and sometimes it can be a hard thing to notice. The more you read the easier it is to assess characters against one another. As readers we create our own scales of character development that relate to characters we know have had some pretty excellent CD. Personally, I look at Morgan Matson’s novels. Emily from Since You’ve Been Gone, being a perfect example, when I read a contemporary I think, “did this character change as much as Emily did?” but I should probably clarify that even if characters don’t change in the same ways, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a change! I can’t compare Emily to Yelena from Poison Study because they’re in different worlds and genres. What’s character development from Emily’s caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis in regards to confidence, isn’t the same as Yelena’s fight against the patriarchy and her coming to terms with her magical abilities. But most importantly both character went though a palpable change! Character development is simply overcoming flaws and weaknesses – or at least coming to terms with them *cough* self acceptance *cough*

In our opinion, what makes character development go from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ is if the character’s CD makes the reader think about themselves. If a novel makes me think about who I am as a ‘character’ and if I change as a result of the protagonist’s CD then that’s even better! I love being able to come away from a story and apply what the character has learned to my own life, it’s pretty excellent.

We like to mention and comment on character development as much as we can in our reviews, and hope to emulate our favourite authors ways of including CD in our own writing. Let’s just say if we say ‘excellent’ and character development in the same sentence that book has made it to the favourite list.

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance S12296601ummer by Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 468
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I love Morgan Matson’s writing style. I will put that out there to begin with, and I strongly suggest that if you are yet to read any of her works, then start with Amy and Roger so that you can enjoy the true joys of cameo mentions. Unfortunately I read her novels out of sequence so I missed the little gem that is Amy and her boyfriend’s (squeal) mention.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t have high hopes for Second Chance Summer, and all I can say in response to past Bee is ‘WHY?’ I think it was mostly because the blurb makes a truly beautiful story sound cliche, when it wasn’t. It so wasn’t.

What I wasn’t expecting from Second Chance Summer was cancer. What did her dad have? Cancer. The terminal kind. I thought I would be prepared for his death, because the whole summer trip is prefaced in the very first chapter that her dad only has three months to live – it’s not a spoiler, it really isn’t – but I was wholly unprepared for it to actually happen. I legitimately cried for the entirety of the last fifty pages. There were sad tears, there were happy tears, and my were there a lot of them. The only problem I had was that Taylor, our main character, didn’t know when to say ‘I love you’ to her father, and I was shouting at her ‘You don’t need a reason to say it! There is no wrong time to tell someone you love them’ and because of this the ending was even more poignant.

But I’m getting  ahead of myself. Let’s talk about Taylor. Taylor, Emily and Amy. I would like all three of them to be my best friends. Taylor is lovely, even though she has a propensity from running away from her feelings, and from bad things. Which is a problem when she has such a wonderful love interest, Henry. Henry is outdoorsy, but vulnerable and, let’s face it, pretty much perfect. Their relationship is tense, because Taylor ran away at a crucial moment in their past. Like in Morgan Matson’s other novels, backstories are interspersed throughout, but nothing feels forced, everything is gently woven together so that the reader can begin to fit the pieces together. Normally, I’m not a big fan of backstories, but Morgan Matson somehow makes them work AND feel natural.

I loved reading about the Taylor’s progression. She’s back at her old holiday home after being away from five years, and she had to reignite the friendships she once had with pretty much everyone. Character development is also another thing Morgan Matson does excellently. Every time Taylor overcame a previous anxiety or regained a relationship with someone from her previous time at the Lake, I was so happy, and kept me reading. I  did not want to put this book down.

I also loved the minor love story arcs, like Lucy’s and Taylor’s brother’s they complimented the main love story and…there are no words to describe how amazing this book is. No words. I feel like I could spiel about Second Chance Summer for the next five hours, going into every plot point, but this is a review, not a five thousand word essay. To sum up, I gave SCS five stars, because it seriously deserves them.

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You’ve18189606 Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adventure
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 449
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

If you are a frequent watcher of mine and Maddie’s videos, then you may already know that Morgan Matson is probably my favourite standalone author. Although, I would not complain if Amy and Roger got a sequel. In fact, it might be my greatest wish. Therefore, I was extremely happy when Amy and ‘her boyfriend’ – pause for cuteness overload – got a small mention. (Apparently Amy and her boyfriend are backpacking around Europe! So I would like Amy and Roger’s Epic Hike to be a thing. Please.) However, the fact that my OTP got a mention in Since You’ve Been Gone was not the only thing I likes, and it certainly wasn’t the only reason why this book was awarded five stars and made it to my favourites shelf.

Once again, Matson delivered on character development. I went from sighing at the beginning of the novel thinking ‘oh no. It’s going to be another one of those stories.’ You know the ones. The ones where our protagonist is super weak and can’t do anything on her own and so seeks out a dark, moody and protective boyfriend. I could not have been more wrong. Okay, so Emily is very weak at the beginning, but thanks to some extremely high quality character development and planning she ends up as this super awesome girl who can do anything she sets her mind to. Although, this revelation is helped by her beautifully charming love interest, it is not – I repeat, it is not – as a result of him. It’s partly to do with her, but partly to do with Sloane, who I will talk about more later.

I loved the premise of Since You’ve Been Gone, the mystery is so engaging, and the chapters with elusive titles mean you won’t be able to put this book down. If you are unaware of the premise for Since You’ve Been Gone, then I will sum it up by saying girl’s best friend abandons her leaving only a list of things that she has to complete over the summer. Some of these things are easy, some extremely difficult, and some illegal. Every chapter is dedicated to one of these things, which is quirky, but also means that you know what’s going to happen OR DO YOU? There were some items on the list such as ‘ride a dang horse, ya cowpoke’ and multiple times throughout the book Emily tries to do this but I was thinking ‘Em, ride a horse isn’t the name of the chapter, you’re not doing it yet.’ Some of the items were deliciously woven in, because they were figurative rather than literal, which I will admit led to some happy exclamations on my part when everything clicked.

There was no way that I would be able to get through this review without talking about Frank. Frank, Frank, Frank. He was wonderful, extremely nice, and extremely wonderful – twice for emphasis. Emily picks up a few friends along the go to help her with the quest, Frank being one of them. Frank is someone that Emily’s seen around school, and thinks she knows, but like most people, he is completely different outside the school environment. Emily is the sort of girl who is invisible at school and is known solely as ‘Sloane’s friend’ but would you believe it, Frank knows her name! Their relationship develops slowly, but surely, at just the right pace for a novel of its size. There was no insta-love, and their ending is as ambiguous as Amy and Roger’s, which although I really don’t like as soon as I finish the book, I love in hindsight, because you can come up with your own happy ending. Sometimes it’s nice not to have everything spelled out for you, I like to piece these things together myself.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly worried, and maybe even a little bit unnerved, by Sloane and Emily’s friendship. At first I thought that Sloane was a bad influence, and that she was just using Emily. I think it’s hard, even with best friends, to know if that person likes you and depends on you as much as you like and depend on them. That was my favourite relationship that was explored in Since You’ve Been Gone, because it showed a realistic friendship dynamic.

Although there were certain plot points that made me want to give the characters a stern talking to, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The ups and the downs, the slow and the fast paced bits; when Emily was on her own, when Emily was with Frank, when Emily was with her family and when Emily was with Frank, Collins, and Dawn. I liked the flashback elements, which was where we got to find out more about Sloane before she left, even though I’m not really partial to that kind of layout. In Since You’ve Been Gone, it worked well, and helped the flow of the story, and didn’t interrupt the pacing, every flashback was relevant.

Overall, I loved every second of it and would highly recommend Since You’ve Been Gone. I just can’t wait to see what Morgan Matson does next!