The DUFF Stops Here; The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger Book Review

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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

By: Kody Keplinger

Released: 2010 by Little, Brown

Length: 280 Pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

What happens when the school’s Male slut calls you your friend’s DUFF? A drink gets thrown in his face? Check. You sleep with him? Wait, what? This is a book where the main character makes some really bad choices

While at a teen night club, High School Senior Bianca Piper is approached by the attractive, sleazy, no good Wesley Rush. During their brief interaction, she is called the DUFF, a drink is spilled, and Bianca’s life is forever changed. What soon follows is a few months of bad, bad choices. The first…sleeping with Wesley Rush to “escape” her problems. Her mother is never home. She believes the DUFF label. Her Dad is becoming an alcoholic again. So, to Wesley it is. Then, the lying to her best friends happen. The ditching them comes next. Followed by a few spoilers I will not reveal. She’s a mess. And a character I could not get behind. There was no liking her. No feeling sorry for her. Nothing. I know that sounds bad, but she was a really hard character to like. She cursed A LOT. Did a lot of bad things and complained about it afterwards. Didn’t care that she used a human being. She was awful.

Many bad things happened to Bianca. Her parents were about to get a divorce that her mother suddenly sprung. Her dad relapsed after seventeen years of being sober. She realized some stuff about herself. But, in no way does that justify her behavior, selfishness, and attitude towards Wesley. I was team Wesley all the way. Now his life sucked. He basically lived alone. Was pretty much banned from seeing his sister. And his grandma, with whom his sister lived with, hated him. And, yet, he wasn’t acting sorry for himself. Yes, he was sleeping with everyone, but still. I really liked him as a character and oh man, the end! The end was amazing! That’s the only reason this book got two stars and it’s all because of him. Totally team Wesley.

Although I gave this book two stars, I would surprisingly recommend it just for the ending. It’s worth the struggle. I read this book in a day. Less than that. I couldn’t stop reading the train wreck. It’s one of those books you love to hate I think. I love to hate this book.

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While he Was Sleeping, Someone Fell in Love: Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho Book Review

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Althea and Oliver

By: Cristina Moracho

Released: October 9th, 2014 by Viking Juvenile

Length: 384 pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

Imagine this: it’s your junior year in High School. Academics are getting harder. College is getting closer. Friends are becoming options other than friends. Your life is changing right before your eyes, but there’s a problem. You sleep through it. Literally.

Meet Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley, best friends since they were six years old. Althea is the whip-smart, sarcastic, artistic one, whereas Oliver is the studious, scientific one. What used to be an easy friendship has turned harder. Oliver has been sleeping through life, quite literally. Going to sleep for weeks at a time, forgetting everything in between. Althea has been clinging to him for so long, that she has developed feelings. True to a lot of opposite sex friendships, the friendship gets tested. Can it be repaired?

Although I never felt I got a total handle on Oliver, I loved Althea. She was smart, quick witted, and someone I could see myself befriending in High School. Their relationship was very relatable, albeit Oliver’s condition. I found myself instantly drawn in. I liked how they balanced each other well, but were their own person as well. Their journey was a good one. It felt real and true. I won’t spoil the end, but I was very happy with it! There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this book. All of the characters, main and side, were developed in a way that was realistic, and still current in today’s time.

The plot developed nicely, never leaving you hanging. I liked the way it took me. I think if you are to gain anything from this book, it would be about identity, and what it means to be yourself. Yes, there was a love story. What I liked, though, was although the love story was a main focus, the concept of identity, and the characters actually going through a sort of major crisis took center stage; allowing the novel to be more universal rather than just about finding love, wanting love and so forth. I do like teen romances, but I enjoy when there is added depth to them, such as finding yourself within the romance like Moracho does with her two characters.

I would highly recommend this novel. More and more, I am finding myself impressed with this year’s debut authors. Moracho is no different. This reads like a second novel, not a first. It is excellent. Not a novel to be missed by any means. If you are a fan of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Jennifer E. Smith, this novel is for you.

I Want a Museum of: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder Book Review

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The Museum of Intangible Things

By: Wendy Wunder

Released: April, 2014 by Razorbill

Length: 302 Pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Mental Illness-Bi polar

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased

 

Hannah and Zoe have been best friends since they were little kids.  Hannah is the practical one. She owns her own hot dog stand. She wants to go to college, even if it’s only at county. She can’t see more for herself. Can’t see past the lake. Zoe is more adventurous. More wild. She’s artistic, creative, free-spirited. Bi-polar. 

On a particularly manic day, Zoe has decided she has had enough of their New Jersey lake town. It’s time they see more. It’s time Hannah stops settling and learns some lessons outside of school. On this adventure is where, on each new day, Zoe teaches Hannah about something–Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. All while have the most epic road trip. 

The Museum of Intangible Things is one of those books that has a pretty cover and is not a let down. There are books that have beautiful covers and when you crack that spine, read those first pages you are immediately disappointed. But the cover is so pretty! This is not one of those books.  I immediately fell in love with this book. First sentence, first page in love. There was something magical that just grabs you without magic. They way Wendy Wunder crafts the words and weaves a story is magic in itself. There doesn’t need to be dragons or princesses. Hannah is perhaps one of my favorite characters I have read/met this year, possibly after Zoe. Zoe was pretty phenomenal, too. They both were great. And, I don’t just like Hannah because we share a name! She is a genuine, tough, real, true to herself character who goes through a lot and comes out strong. She comes out on top. I admired her completely. Zoe was the opposite of her. She was this wild girl. Strong-willed, will-full, and kind of a parent’s worse nightmare. Yet, there was something so special about her. Then, there was her demon–her mental illness.  

Her Bi-polar 1 Disorder with psychosis was prominent in this book. Not in a scientific way or anything. But, there. Let me tell you, never have I read a book so spot on about the illness. There are tons of books, movies, and television shows that portray this serious illness wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not like that terrible medical drama Black Box. It’s mostly like Homeland. And, it’s like this. Zoe’s mania was very, very accurate. Her need for adventure, for something more at an unrealistic pace, all real. I was very impressed. Also, very moved by the end of the novel. It’s a mini tear jerker. I won’t lie. The end. THE END!!

The “lessons” in the book are both universal and true. They are meaningful; some like insouciance are fun while others are more moving. This book really makes you think. Young Adult novels can still do that. This book definitely makes my top ten list of books read this year. I would truly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. There is just this realness and rawness you don’t find too often in any kind of genre anymore.

“Perfect should never be a goal. Perfect just happens if you let it.”

 

Dear John Letters Get a Modern Update: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Book Review

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Love Letters to the Dead

By: Ava Dellaira

Released April 1st, 2014 by Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes

Genre: YA Realistic Contemporary

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased via audible.com

 

Dear John letters with a twist in this dazzlingly, heartbreaking debut novel about a girl who writes to the dead about love, family, friends, and secrets she can only tell them–at first.

 Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain to write her letter for her first assignment. But, as she starts writing it, she realizes she can’t hand it in. She can’t hand any of them in that she writes, filling a whole notebook in one year. Starting with Kurt Cobain, her sister May’s favorite musician, Laurel writes about May’s life and death, about her own life including falling in love for the first time, making new friends, and her strange living situation. Only to Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Elizabeth Bishop, the actor who plays Mr. Ed, and more can she say what really happened to May when she died. Only to them can she write the secrets she has kept.

It’s not just her life she writes about. She writes about theirs. Specifically about their deaths. She asks Judy if she really wanted to keep taking all those pills? The pills she was given as a child star that never stopped coming as an adult. That maybe if she said no. Then there’s River Phoenix. That maybe he needed a parent to look after him. Like maybe May and her needed. Maybe they would both be alive. She tells Kurt Cobain his daughter is not alright without him. That he should have never thought that.

I quickly fell head over heels in love with this book. The letters are no way superficial. There is substance. They are sometimes heartbreaking, devastating, pull at your heart strings, then introspective, make you think about celebrities and how we think about them, and laugh. I fell in love with Laurel/Dellaira’s  writing style. They were fluid, elegant, and made me think. They was nothing in them that didn’t make me think or wonder. I felt for the characters. Their pain was, briefly, my pain. When Laurel slowly reveals her secret, my heart burst. As bad things happened, I got anger with her. Not at her, but with her, by her side.

Dellaira raised an interesting and very valid point about idolizing someone. A lot of the celebrities Laurel chooses to write to ended up dying of drug overdoses, or suicide. All at a very young age. Not as young as May, but relatively young. They were also idols in pop culture. May was Laurel’s ultimate idol. Even from when they were kids and May would say they were fairies and she would try to protect her. She idolized her so much she didn’t want to tell her the truth about something. The truth that when it came out Laurel thought killed her. Whether or not it did, you never know. But, Laurel has to go on her journey to stop idolizing her sister and see her as a real person. And, that’s what she does in the letters when she starts asking questions, like to River about needing protection. And, to Judy about the pills.

The journey is heartbreaking. But, worth it in the end. There is a beautiful poem in the end that Laurel writes to her sister that makes reading this book worth while. It’s truly amazing. I shed a tear the first time I heard it. There was something about it. If you don’t read the book, just read the poem.

This book really will take you on a journey. It will break your heart ten different ways. Pull on your heart-strings. Make you question almost everything about friendships, loyalty, love, and a little about who you are. In the end, at that poem, you will be mended. Your heart will be sewn back up. Your tears will be gone. Your journey will be a success. This is by far my favorite book of the year. And I’ve read about 20. Just sayin’ It’s that good. 🙂

Happy Reading!

All you really need is… Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

By Gayle Forman

Published January, 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

Genre: Young Adult, contemporary romance

368 Pages

Four stars

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

 Allyson Healey has just one day left before she heads back home to the US from her “trip of a lifetime” the ultimate European cultural experience her parents gave her as a graduation gift. But, it isn’t the trip that gave her a real cultural experience; not the endless tours and information thrown at her left and right that she absorbs and feels cultured. Instead, it all starts with a pamphlet in front of The Globe theater advertising Shakespeare’s comedy “The Twelfth Night” by a group called Guerrilla Will. It is then Allyson decides to break free from her tour group and get the cultural experience she so desired and expected.

All it took was one boy to show Ally how to really travel and see the world. After his stellar performance as Sebastian, and meeting him on a train on their way back to London, and him giving her the nickname Lulu does she become a different person–the adventurous, daring, free spirit that she wanted to be. He convinces her to go to Paris, the one city that the tour missed because of a strike; the one city she was dying to go to. All the cities she visited, like Rome, failed to live up to her expectations. But, Paris, Paris will be different. Willem, tall, dark (well blond), and handsome Dutch man takes her to Paris, the real Paris. Not going all touristy. Just authentically enjoying a city that lives up to her expectations.

So many wonderful things happen in this book. Ally’s struggles, both as Lulu and as herself, are authentic, something any teen and really adult can relate to, and imperfect just like we all are. She struggles with loving a boy she just met, going to college heartbroken, and friendless. It is the path that she decides to take towards the end that becomes inspiring. She goes back to Europe to find her lost love, continuously telling her love story. She meets new friends, see sights she never thought to see, and becomes Ally 2.0. And, I loved Ally 2.0. She is more free, less confined, and strong. So strong. Gayle Forman has a way of creating characters, female characters especially, as three dimensional, and someone you root for and care about. I rooted for Allyson, wanted to cry with her, and just smiled at her wit she didn’t even know she had. Not a lot of YA authors can craft an inspiring story that revolves around love. I have read countless love-centered novels that don’t really work. With this book, it isn’t about the ending, it is about the journey Allyson takes to finding herself and seeing how love, true love she feels, fit in. It takes her a year, not a week, to really feel all that love is. There is no rushing, no unrealistic expressions and actions. Everything just feels right.

It took me a long time to pick up this book to read. It was never on my top, no matter how much of a fan I was of If I Stay. I chose not to read Where She Went, but now I want to. I can’t wait for Just One Year now because the ending and teaser was so great. It is a good feeling when a book leaves you satisfied; complete in a way, like you’ve grown with the character. I would highly recommend this book. I read it in two sittings. Which is decent considering my mind wanders off too much. I just needed more. October can’t come fast enough.

“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.”

Happy reading!

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