Thursday, June 18, 2015


Author: Kody Keplinger
Language: English
Page count: 341
Publication date: 2010
Original title: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
My rating:

"Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face. 
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone."

Okay, to start off, the book was nothing at all like the movie! I guess the movie director(s) must have thought that the storyline of the movie would sell more, hence the complete derailment from the story, but I'm sure people wouldn't have minded watching a movie adaptation more true to the book. Having said all of that, I have to admit that I fell off the wagon just a teeny tiny bit when I read the author's biography and found out that she's nineteen, and that she wrote and published the book when she was just seventeen. I guess one could say that I made the mistake of judging the writing from then on, referring the prose back to the fact that she was just seventeen at the time of writing the story. Once I forgot all about her age, I managed to get back into the story and ended up enjoying it.

I'm just wondering why on earth the team who made the book into a movie decided to make Toby Tucker (Bianca's first love interest) a complete ass when, in fact, he was this sweet and ditsy personality in the book. While reading the book, I was expecting the same thing to happen, for Toby to suddenly admit that the only reason he'd been hanging out with Bianca was because he wanted to get with one of her hotter and more attractive friends, like he'd done in the movie. Like, Who even says stuff like that to someone?????? But, he never did. In fact, he did the complete opposite. He made a smaller, less shocking confession -- he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, Nina. Of course Bianca completely understood that, as she hadn't been completely honest with herself, or him, about her feelings from the start anyway. She was in love with Wesley Rush, the school's "man-slut", or swinger if you like.

Bianca Piper is way up to her knees in her own family issues to really think about the consequences of throwing herself at Rush and soon after finds herself in much deeper sh** -- the possibility of losing her friends over a terrible secret she's keeping from them, a secret that has caused her to start avoiding them.

I quite liked the way things turned out, although it didn't have to take as long to get to the conclusion. I was kind of irritated about Bianca playing really hard to get when she knew exactly where she stood with Rush, and vice versa. At least things turned out pretty okay. I ended up rating this book with a 3.5 stars because, although I felt at some point like I had fallen off the wagon, it didn't take too much time to get back to the story and for things to become really interesting towards the end. Would I recommend it? Yes, to people who like to read about high school drama etc. I'm not really one with any kind of preference when it comes to reading books. I'll read any book if it's grabbed me from either its synopsis or the first page.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Manga: Death Note vol.7 (Spoiler alert!)


Author: Tsugumi Ohba 
Language: English
Publication date: 2006
Original titleデスノート 7 (零)
My rating: 

"Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

After a high-speed chase, Light and the task force apprehend the newest Kira. Light regains his Death Note and his memories, and the depths of his cunning are revealed as the plans he carefully put in place before going into confinement are slowly unveiled. His masterful manipulation of both humans and Shinigami lead him to the strongest position he's yet enjoyed. But the glow of his victory is marred when a new threat appears. Can Light withstand a surprise attack on two fronts?"

As most people may know, I've been reading the manga series 'Death Note' and, so far, it's awesome!!!! I decided to rate this one with four stars because I felt it was just that much better in comparison to a few of the other books I previously read. I was left a little disappointed once L, a secret agent working alongside the Japanese task force to catch 'Kira', died. Gosh, I was so annoyed! However, I was also very surprised to learn that L had two siblings, Near and Mello. One of them is to succeed L's position and continue on with his work.

I wasn't expecting L to die at first but then I'd heard someone mention it while they were talking about the movie adaptation of the manga, so it didn't come as such a huge shock, although it was definitely a disappointment. I was waiting for the story to make a u-turn and for L to come back from the dead claiming he had been a robot all along. He was quite a peculiar character anyway. I mean, who walks barefoot everywhere they go while everyone else is wearing shoes??? He even attended his college graduation barefoot!!

The confusing thing about the so called Death Note is that it keeps changing owners and, in that case, there's little chance for anyone who uses it to actually get caught as 'Kira'. It's one vicious circle, which is why I'm guessing there are 13 volumes in the series. I'm definitely going to continue reading the series since it just keeps getting better. I started watching the Anime at some point but fell out because of Uni work. Now that I'm no longer a student at University, I'm guessing I should have a bit more time to watch it from time to time. We'll see how things go. But, I really enjoyed this volume. 

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Murakami, Haruki 
Language: Norwegian
Translated by: Ika Kaminka
Publication date: 2008 
Page count: 463 
Original title: ノルウェイの森 [Noruwei no mori]
My rating: 
"Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend, Kizuki, years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. 

A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.  "

I've read this book twice already and absolutely loved it both times! I am at a different place in my life now compared to where I was the first time I read it, so I feel I was better able to enjoy it and understand it a lot more this time around. Having read other works by Murakami previously, it's much easier to "get" his style of writing, the more books I read by him. His style of writing is definitely weird but, in a really, really good way.

The characters came alive and I somehow took to liking them really fast, especially Toru Watanabe, although I was under the impression that he was a very confused individual who would go wherever the wind led him at times. My least favourite character in this book has to be.... *drum rolls please* .... Midori. It felt as though she was constantly whining and in such terrible spirits. While spending time complaining to Toru Watanabe about how horrible her boyfriend is (as she is in a supposed "bad relationship") and putting him in a bad light, she is spending way too much time with Watanabe and asking him to do strange things, like masturbate while thinking about her (even though she claims to only like him as a friend). Wait, what?

We don't really get to know much of Kizuki, Toru Watanabe's best friend, except for through his flashbacks and thoughts about him every now and again. The book focuses more on Watanabe's life at a boarding school in Tokyo, his feelings for his best friend's girlfriend, the peculiar people he encounters and befriends, suicide and the mark it leaves on those left behind.

As suicide is reported to be very high in many Asian countries, especially in Japan, Murakami paints a brief picture of suicide and death in Norwegian Wood -- among young people in particular. Reading the story of Toru Watanabe made me really appreciate the closeness of family members. He didn't strike me as someone who had a family because there wasn't much reference to his family, if there was any at all. There were a few mentions of Midori's parents a couple of times (although she seemed to have a lot of fun making up stuff about them as she went along, and Watanabe never thought about running the other way, strange), as well as her sister, and Naoko's parents too, but that was about it.

Of course, the absence of several characters in a book sometimes allows for a story to focus on less angles at a time -- which often makes a story a lot less complicated. But, I was left with the impression that Watanabe was completely alone in the world, except for the friends he had, which weren't many, and that was a bit depressing.

I like books set in the 60s and upwards, so I definitely enjoyed the description of Tokyo during those days. It wasn't hard envisioning what it must have looked like or what it must have been like to be a teen back then. A few times it felt like I was actually there with the characters, which made it feel like I had taken a trip to Japan to visit a couple of friends during the 60s-70s. I actually enjoyed reading this book both in Norwegian and in English, and my rating hasn't changed. A certified five.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Current reads: Yu Hua - Brødre

It's been a while since I read a book in Norwegian. The last book I read in Norwegian was a translated version of 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett and it was called 'Barnepiken'. I really enjoyed it, as I don't normally enjoy translated books and like to read them in their original language. To me, one has to be super amazing at translation to make a story make sense in a different language. I just feel one gets a better sense of a story when they read a book in its original language. However, as I plan on working and living in Norway for a while, and half of all the Norwegian I've ever known has sort of vanished into thin air, I figured that the best way to pick up on the language again would be through reading books.

Yu Huan - Brødre
Courtesy of Aschehoug
My recent visit to the local library in my area led me to discover a book called 'Brødre', meaning 'Brothers'. It was written by Yu Hua (a Chinese author) and tells a tale of two step brothers -- who are the complete opposite of one another -- living in China during the reign of Mao and up until the new millennium. It tells of love, dreams, catastrophes and happiness. I must admit that the beautiful gold lettering on the spine of the book, and the colour contrast on the front cover was what drew me to the it, but what made decide to read it was the blurb on the back cover.  Although I've only read a couple of pages, I am amazed at how funny it is so far. I was literally laughing out loud whilst reading. I can't remember doing that since High School days when I was always told to be quiet during joint reading hours.

I can't do without fiction. It's the only way I get to travel with absolutely no money in my pocket, to experience different cultures, walk through beautiful and unfamiliar streets, listen to music I've never before heard and take in beautiful scenery. I plan on reading more books in the month of April and even though this book is more than 700 pages long, I have no intentions of putting it down before I reach the last page. It already looks promising as it is. I'll just have to wait and see what the rest of it holds.

Update: I ended up finding this book quite overwhelming to read since it's been a while since I've read in Norwegian. I'm definitely going to try and pick it up later on, but perhaps in English. Instead, I'll try reading books that aren't as lengthy.