Friday, 24 October 2014

Kody Keplinger : THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Warning! This book will get under the skin of every reader and book reviewer... even the harsh ones.

THE DUFF ( Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is a contemporary young adult novel written by Kody Keplinger. Kody was only 19 years old when this book was published in 2010. And since then she has written three other books. That's a very impressive achievement for someone her age. Especially, since all of her novels have been a big hit with the targeted audience.

I have been totally clueless until I was browsing through #Istagram couple months ago and stubbled upon the pics from the recently shot film adaptation of THE DUFF. And when I found out that it's a well selling YA novel, I had to have it and discover what this whole phenomena is all about.

And the result? It took me only 19 hours to read this book, as I fell under its spell immediately and weren't able to put it down.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper knows she's not the hottest girl at school, but she is ok with it. She has her amazing friends Casey and Jessica and together they are going through their high school experience. They have a wonderful friendship and share a bond filled with trust. Bianca is slightly sarcastic girl who tries to keep everything real and doesn't wear pink glasses to pretend that maybe one day she will become Prom's Queen. But she likes herself and her life. She is satisfied. That changes when the school man-whore and jerk, Wesley f***ing Rush calls her a DUFF - Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The word seems to become centre of her life. It starts to bother her, and with it comes a series of unfortunate events which cause Bianca to enter a very unusual friendship with Mr I-shag-everything-with-a-vagina himself. What happens when Bianca's coping mechanism starts to intervene with her life?

Let's talk about the edition first. Modern design with bright colours. Yellow bold writing and beautiful image on the front. Paperback. 341 pages long. Easy to take everywhere with you. And trust me, you won't be able to leave it at home.

This book just gets to you from the first page. Modern. Smartly written. Hilarious. Packed with energetic witty dialogues and story-telling. It reminds you of every teenage romantic comedy out there, but it is also unique in its own way. You catch yourself laughing out loud and the sarcastic comments and remarks of Bianca's and Wesley's and their interaction has you in stitches. This story charmed its way into my heart and soul. I couldn't put it down. I tried to take a break from it, but I kept picking it back up and kept on reading. "Only one more chapter..." I kept on saying. 19 hours!! It took me only 19 hours to read this book. I loved it so so much.

It was the perfect read for cold autumn night. Wrapped in the blanket, a mug of hot tea by my side, I read on. The story was brilliant, funny and very entertaining. It's packed with modern references. The writing is smart, ageless and so so easy to read. It's written exactly how you'd desire. It's written how you would think. Enjoyable and intelligent.

Bianca is one very relate female character. She is sarcastic. Realistic. A say how it is. But she is also scared. Scared for her family. Worried for her friends. And she doesn't like being pushed to share. She has her own way of coping with things. Wesley is an arrogant playboy, who is the most popular guy in school every girl wants to tame. He sleeps with them, but he doesn't date them. 'Wesley rush doesn't chase girls. They chase him.' He is a big jerk on the outside, but inside he has a big lonely heart. Casey is a best friend, every girl dreams of having. She is loyal, caring, funny and always there for you when you need her. Jessica is the girl who seems to have all the light in the world in her. Yes, she might have her pink shades on,  but she cares and with her you know that she does everything in her power to make you smile. All the characters are just wonderful. You want them to be your friends. You want to be in the story with them.

I loved the story. I have truly enjoyed Kody's taking on how name calling can affect someone's life. Being called whore, duff, slut, geek, jerk.. every single on these names can cause a hurtful damage to a person. You are hurting people and causing uncontrollable pain by using these words. There is no reason why one person should be beneath you. We all are different. We all look different. We all like different stuff. But we are human beings and are unique in our on way. We are all special. And we all have a reason to be here. We all have the right to live our lives the way we want to. Without being judged or labelled. And Kody's explains every angle of how words can affect people's life, in her story with humour and seriousness in the same time.

All in all, I have fell for this book from the start. I enjoyed every single page, every single chapter. I just couldn't put it down. I was glued to it. I am a big fan of teenage romantic comedies and this book reminded just of them. And I welcomed it. I love reading love stories and this one was pretty good. 

Thank you Kody Keplinger for writing such a wonderful piece which restored my faith in love, friendship and humanity. I cannot wait to read SHUT OUT & A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE. They have been delivered today :)

Quotes from the book which made me stop and laugh out loud: 

“Spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "Can you say anything interesting?"
"El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme." I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
"That sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he'd swept together. "What's it mean?"
"The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."

“Your sense of humor needs some work, then," Wesley suggested. "Most girls find my jokes charming."
"Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”

“You can lie to yourself if you want, but reality is going to catch up with you. I’ll be waiting when it does… whether you like it or not.” 

“Just when I think you might have a soul, you say shit like that.” 

“I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn't feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word for so long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my Duffs.” 

“For a girl with such a fat ass, I felt pretty invisible.” 

“He sleeps with everything that moves, and his brain is located in his pants - which means it's microscopic.”

“I’d skipped the crush kiddie pool and jumped right into the deep, shark-infested ocean of emotions. And, if you’ll forgive the dramatic metaphor, I was a lousy swimmer.”

“What you are is an inteligent, sassy, sarcastic, cynical, neurotic, loyal, compassionate girl. That's what you are, OK? You're not a slut or a whore or anything remotely similar. Just because you have some secrets and some screwups...You're just the rest of us.” 

“Love is rare and hard to find and takes years upon years to develop. Teenagers don't fall in love.”

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Josephine Angelini : STARCROSSED

Warning! Don't be put off by the cheesy title. This book actually pretty good.

STARCROSSED is the first instalment of the same named book series, written by Josephine Angelini.

To be honest, I didn't think much of this book as the title screams cheesiness to me. But as a book reviewer and critic, I need to widen my horizons and read books which I might not like (Gone Girl pops to my mind - what a waste of valuable reading time.), so I decided to include this story in Autumn Reading Challenge. And how pleasantly surprised I was.

Meet Helen. Gorgeous, but very insecure girl who has been hiding from others and their bitchy mouths and attitudes. She spends her free time with her best friend Claire aka Giggles. Helen is smart, kind and a very talented athlete. She can run faster than you can say Starcrossed. She has always fell like an outsider and been bullied for most of her life. But she has also fell different to others. And sometimes, that can be lonely. That changes the moment mysterious Delos family moves into the large estate on their small island and Helen stumbles upon Lukas Delos. Well a stumble isn't the right word. She sees him in the hallway of her high school and instantly thinks two things: He is the most gorgeous guy she has ever lied eyes on; and she wants to kill him with her bare hands. There's a greek mythology involved and we are thrown into eventful ride.

Ancient Greek Mythology. Check. Gods, Demigods, Ancient curses and shady deals. Check. A hell of a lot secrets, which can cause the destruction of the world. Check. Forbidden Love. Check. This is a great recipe for a tasty, very juicy story.

You all know that I have a big soft spot for Greek Mythology. It fascinates me. So, I think that was the reasoning behind buying the book in the first place. I've been staying away from it, as the title kind of puts me off. It seems cheesy and made me skeptical about the content inside its pages. But once I started reading the book, I actually really really liked it.

Entertaining. Smart. Eventful. Thrilling. Exciting. Packed with action and secrets which kept on giving. I found myself glued to the pages, really getting into the story. I had my own theories of what is going on, but each time it managed to surprise me. And all the way I had my fingers crossed for Helen & Lukas to find a way to be with each other. They are so cute. But at the same time, I do appreciate that this love story is not all lovey dovey. I love the fact that they kissed only handful of times, the author is really making them work for it.

Helen is a great character which many of readers, female readers, can relate to. Especially with the social awkwardness and being bullied by popular kids at school. Lukas is a wonderful male protagonist, who is like a melt in the middle pud. He can be very stubborn and manly, but at the same time he cares for people. He will do anything to protect the ones he loves. My two favourite characters are Jason and Claire. I love their dynamic and banter and pretended love/hate relationship.

The whole book is packed with witty conversations and amazing surprises. It's like a ride on a roller-coaster. Its ups and downs make you even more invested in the story. I have loved how many secrets can one family have. And even then, more are pilled on the top. I enjoyed how the author incorporates the Greek Mythology and various world famous characters and important figures in history. The timeless story of Helen & Paris love which led to 10-year war, where the beautiful empire Troy has been destroyed and burnt to the grounds, is wonderful. It kind of reminded me the story of Teardrop by Lauren Kate ( Is this where Ms Kate found her inspiration for her new book series?). But where Ms Kate failed to engage the reader, Ms Angelini excels. This story just gets under your skin and you are not able to put the book down.

I am now really looking forward to read the other two books in this series: DREAMLESS & GODDESS. I have the feeling that Helen won't have an easy journey in finding her true destiny. I can smell that our power couple have a rocky ride ahead of them. Will their love make it till the end? Or are we looking at another love triangle where the one I want the main heroine to be with, ends in tears and betrayal by making the wrong choice? I guess I have to wait and read before I can find out.

Well done Ms Angelini. I have loved your take on the modern Greek Tragedy & Mythology. You have found yourself another reader.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

James Dashner: THE MAZE RUNNER

Warning! Nothing is what it seems to be. The Maze is one big huge secret.

THE MAZE RUNNER is a ground breaking, best-selling novel (first one in the series) written by American author James Dashner.

I will be honest, I have had this book on my book shelf for a while, but only recently it made it on my list of books for Autumn Reading Challenge. Maybe, the reason might the fact that the film adaptation has come out this month; maybe, it's because I couldn't wait to find out for myself what is the fuss about. But I can tell you one thing for sure, I do not regret reading this book.

The Maze Runner has been compared to Hunger Games trilogy. I have not read the Hunger Games... Yet. But comparing to the films, my opinion is : It's better than the Hunger Games. It's better than Divergent. Possibly, it might one of the best book series, I've read. But that depends on the other two sequels.. I guess...

The Maze Runner is a story of group of boys who are dropped off into mysterious Glade. The story starts with Thomas. He doesn't remember who he is, where he comes from or what happened in the past. All he remembers is the general knowledge of world's history and happenings, and his name. And he is not the only one. All the boys in the Glade have gone through the same things. Thomas starts to learn about the life in Glade, when things start changing. First, there is a new newbie dropped into Glade the day after Thomas arrived. Second, the newbie is a GIRL. Like a girl girl. And she has a mysterious message. That more things, dangerous things come around the corner. What it all means? Why this group of boys has been put into the Glade in the first place?

This book has been a dangerous exciting ride packed with excitement.  I have loved every page and every single chapter of this book. I couldn't believe my eyes what I was reading. It was so inventive, original,  exciting, dangerous, thrilling, but at them same very easy to follow and read. It took my breath away with its continuous surprises, twists and turns. Its brilliance shines through its pages. The twists and turns written in the story are fantastic. You find yourself glued to the pages and you don't want to let go. It's absolutely fascinating.

All the characters are true to normal personalities of teenagers who were put into dangerous environment and are learning to survive. And I think they are coping rather well. Let's meet some of the main characters:

THOMAS. Smart, heroic, wanting to help others all the time. He is a bit confused at the beginning. But slowly his hero personality shines through and he proves to himself and others that he is one of the most brilliant people they know.

TERESA. I was not sure about this character when she showed up in Glade, probably because she spent most of book in a coma, but she is beautiful, intelligent a clearly there is a big secret connection between her and Thomas. I am sure we will find out more about it in the other books.

NEWT. I think he is my favourite character. He can be annoying at times, but I think he could be a great leader. He isn't judgemental and always hear everyone's point of view, before he makes his mind up. And he is always fair and believes in you.

CHUCK. Sweet innocent Chuck, who became one of the bravest characters at the end. He was like the younger brother who keeps annoying you, but soon enough you know that you love him unconditionally.

MINHO. Sometimes brutally honest, but wonderful friends. He is very practical and tries to do his best. Although he might loose his courage from time to time, at the end he fights for survival with every he's got.

The Maze Runner is an epic story of fight to survive the unexpected. It's packed with action and countless unexpected, sometimes hurtful secrets, which keeps you on your toes with its constantly thrilling plot. Honestly, these kids must have done something seriously wrong in their past lives to deserve to be put through these challenges.

You will fall for this story so much, that when you reach the end of the book, you will want to read on  and start the next book immediately. Guaranteed cliff-hanger which will leave you with your mouth wide opened. I cannot wait to finish my Autumn Reading Challenge so I can move on to THE SCORCH TRIALS & DEATH CURE.

Of course, I cannot wait to see the film adaptation which is in cinema at the moment. In the meantime, check out the trailer below!

Saturday, 4 October 2014


WARNING! Aliens are out there to get us and completely wipe our existence from Earth! Not to mention, that this book is packed with very vivid scenes which leaves you breathless. Don't eat too much pizza while reading it!

THE INFINITE SEA is a sequel to one of my favourite books I read last year, The 5th Wave, written by one of my favourite American male authors RICK YANCEY.

This story absolutely blew my mind away with its raw picture of a world taken over by aliens. The amazing truth which was captured within its pages was eye-opening. So of course, when a sequel was announced, I was excited. Jumping up and down the room I couldn't wait for the story to continue its course. Marked in my diary, I was counting down the days till the well anticipated sequel is released.

But I have been a little bit surprised when I finally held it in my hands. Firstly, I have to thank the graphic designers behind the scenes for matching new cover with the previous one. You are looking at a beautiful photograph in black and blue tones. The picture is fading into dark and in the middle is a figure. I am guessing it's a male protagonist, but I am not guessing who made on the cover. There could be several candidates for the job. Take your pick. But the book is SO SHORT compare to the first one. Only 326 pages long. It looks tiny, like a little baby brother.

Again the story is divided into 8 different parts and 2 books: 

Book One : The Problem With Rats; The Ripping; The Last Star; Millions; The Price; The Trigger

Book Two: The Sum Of All Things; Dubuque

The story is written from different points of view: Ringer, Cassie, Evan Walker & Poundcake. I do like it. It keeps it different. But this books is a little bit confusing to start with. Especially, when you have read the first book couple months ago like me. It's a bit of a mish-mash at the beginning. But couple of chapters in and your memory starts to recognise who is who and slowly connects the dots. 

Evan Walker destroyed Camp Haven. Our group of survivors in on the run and is hiding in the nearby hotel. Winter is coming so they need to make a decision. Will they stay and wait for Evan to come back and full-fill his promise to Cassie, which might not be possible? Or will they scout for a new location and try to survive in this brand new destroyed world, where everything and everyone out there wants to kill them? Due to unpredictable incidents, the group is divided and its members are put on a brand new track to fight for their lives. 

Let's talk about the story. Again, it's very visual and very truthful to the point of being brutally honest in describing and predicting situations which might happen in possible alien takeover when we do not stand a chance to survive. It's entertaining. There are so many surprising and unexpected twists and turns that I lost count. 

And it seems there is a new heroine in town! The Infinite Sea seems to concentrate on Ringer's story mostly. And I am not sure how I feel about it! At first I am not the biggest Ringer's fan, but slowly as I get to know her, I am warming up to her. But not fully. I am still missing more of Cassie and Evan. Even Ben! And that is something to say since I didn't like him in the first book. Why the sudden change of the main character? Why are Cassie's and Evan's separate stories not explained further? I am in predicament.. Do I like this change or not? To be absolutely honest.. The answer is no! The story feels different. And it doesn't impress me as much as the first one. I know that sequels are hard to write. I have a massive problems with sequels and not many can impress me, but this one is failing on a full scale. I have been so excited and now I am left a little bit disappointed. I am missing the attachment I have fell for the first book. 

That said, I have to say that I can also see the reasoning behind downscaling Cassie and Evan and giving a promotion to Ringer. Ringer's story comes with a little insight to the world of The Others and their decision behind invading Earth and killing all the humans. There are spoilers and twists I haven't been expecting. Especially when we get to find out why Evan is important and who he really is!!

At the same time, the story doesn't progress much. Nothing major happens apart from one secret being revealed. And that is a SHAME! Great, great shame!

The writing, though, is very colourful. Smart. Entertaining. Adventurous. Once you realise from who's point of view you are reading each part, it's actually easy to follow and you get lost within its pages. You will not be able to put it down from two reasons. First, you want to find out what will happen next. Second, you hope the story will improve, at least a little bit. The book is over too soon though. You don't even have a chance to sneeze and the end is here... And now you have to wait until Autumn 2015 to find out more. And I am not a patient person!

I have to say Mr Yancey, I am really sorry, but I am a little bit disappointed with this sequel. I was expecting a lot more oh-my-gosh-I-cannot-believe-that-this-has-just-happened moments. I was expecting more excitement. I was expecting more.. FULL STOP... Please make sure to rectify this in the next book.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sarah J. Maas : HEIR OF FIRE

WARNING! After you read the last 50 pages, you will want to throw the book around your room, as you will be very, very, very angry. The anger will consume you. Do you know what is the worst thing? You have to wait for another 3 books until we find out the big conclusion of this amazing series.

HEIR OF FIRE is a 3rd instalment in Throne of Glass series written by Sarah J. Maas. As you probably already know, this series was a major surprise for me. I only bought the first book as a part of a shopping spree at my local supermarket last year. I didn't expect much from it, but once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.

For the ones who haven't stumbled upon these books, I give you a quick breakdown. It's like Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones. Meet Celaena Sardothien, the best assassin in the country, who has been serving her time in Endovier. She gets a chance to get out of there by competing to become King's Champion. In a nutshell, she wins, there is love triangle, new enemies pops up and deep secrets are revealed. Trust me this summary doesn't give it justice. This series is brilliant.

Heir of Fire picks up where Crown of Midnight left off. Chaol found out Celaena's most guarded secret - Celeana is the lost Queen of Terrasen with Fae heritage. Celaena leaves for Wendlyn to confront her aunt Maeve and find out about Wyrdkeys so she can stop The King of Adarlan in his deathly mission to take over the continent. Dorian is confused and scared as he discovered that he has magic. Him and Chaol aren't exactly close anymore, but Chaol works hard and finds unlikely and unexpected alliances to protect the people he loves. 

Let me start with the edition first. Again, I purchased paperback to compliment the series itself. Again white background with beautiful illustration of Celaena in action. Andy said that he finds the illustrations cheesy, but I disagree. I actually think that they are beautiful and compliment the series wonderfully. Also the instalment is lot bigger than its previous siblings. 562 pages divided into 2 parts. 

Now, the story itself is a little bit slower at the beginning, but soon enough it picks up and you are thrown into the wonderful fantasy world again. We are meeting new characters, new friendship are forged, alliances are picked and life-changing choices need to be made. More secrets are revealed. It's getting interesting. The game has fully began and more players are joining in. This instalment is brilliant. Easy to read. Easy to follow. Entertaining. Absolutely mind-blowing. We get know more from Celaena's past and discover her most deepest secrets. A fantastic continuum to already genius story. 

Let's talk about the new players in the game:

Rowan. Fae warrior who is told to observe and train Celaena before she can be presented in Doranelle. Their relationship is rocky and not so touchy feely at the start, but Rowan and Celaena find a common respect and love for each other which develops into a wonderful friendship. I wasn't sure about Rowan at the start, but I've grown to love him as the story progressed.

Aedion. The cousin who is absolutely over the moon to find out that his Queen is alive and well. He's been playing a dangerous game with the King, he comes across as brutal and arrogant as the king himself, but as our Captain of the Guard finds out, there is more to him than meets the eye. He cares about his kingdom, he cares about his people and he will do anything to be reunited with his favourite cousin. He will move heavens and earth to protect her.

Sorcha. Oh how much I adore this character. Finally a character in this series I can relate to. A beautiful healer who is in love with Dorian. A person who can guard hers and yours secrets. A wonderful love interest for our prince. All the way through, I wanted for them to run into the sunset together (yeah, I knew it might not happen at the start, but I hoped that she was the one for Dorian). But Sorcha's own secrets caused her to find a tragic end. I have cried. Big tears. Not ashamed of it.

Manon. A witch with iron teeth and nails. What an interesting character who's development is brilliant, I like where this is going. At the beginning she is a heartless bitch, but soon enough we see small, but very important changes in her. I am looking forward to see more in the next instalment.

Wow, could there be more twists and turns in this book!! Just when you think that nothing else can happen, more secrets and important memories are revealed and you are even more blown away. What a crushing, heart-breaking finale. I cried. I sobbed. I was filled with anger and rage. WHAT AN ENDING! Seriously, wow... I am even angry now, as I have to wait many more months before I can find out more. Ms Maas what are doing to me? Are you trying to cause me a heart attack? You cannot do this to me!! You cannot make me love a character and then decide to kill him/her off. Why oh Why? I really do not know how will this story develop further.. Where are we going from here? One thing I do know for sure though. I cannot bloody wait for the next instalment.

Hurry up! I want more. I need more... SOON!!

Well done Ms Maas! Another brilliantly executed sequel in this series. I love you and hate you (not really hate you) at the same time. Thank you for not slacking off this wonderful story!!