Book Discussion: “The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend” by Kody Keplinger

6931356  Okay! Let’s get started.

This may or may not be a ranting post because I am not sure I would be able to arrange my thoughts long enough to post a coherent discussion to this book. But I am going to try. I must admit that I didn’t expect much while going into this book. Sure everyone was talking about how good this book was, but I didn’t believe them. I just thought that this would be one of those light, sort of meaningless but satisfying books. And the cover just reinstated my idea of this one. But when I read it, I was so surprised at the amount of depth added to this book despite it being a light, breezy high-school story. It was so much more than just a “romcom”. It was addicting. I flew through this book in a few hours and totally fell in love with Bianca and Wesley.

Goodreads Synopsis-

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.

I know. I know. If you haven’t read the book, it sounds like a typical chick-lit for you. But trust me, it’s not. The book had so many layers that you would be wonderfully surprised as you keep on discovering them. There is a friendship story and unlike many other books, this one does not stereotype the high-school students. They are not clinched. In spite of being in a particular group, the characters are layered and complicated. I loved Casey and Jessica as Bianca’s friends. Though Casey sometimes felt like she was one of those people who always have to be the savior, she was a good friend to Bianca. Jessica, being the perky one, is really innocent and naive, as Bianca rightly describes her. But for some reason, I liked her a lot. Maybe even more than Casey. Her advices to Bianca towards the end of the book may or may not have something to do with that (It totally did!).

Another aspect of the story is the relationship between Bianca and her parents. I totally understood Bianca’s reactions to certain situations she goes through in the book. Like the way she reacts when her father relapses. I could relate a lot because I share the same relation with my father like Bianca did. But Bianca’s reaction to her mom was something I found to be very generous. Overall, I liked Bianca’s character a lot. She is a strong female protagonist and God knows we need more of them. The feminist aspect added to the story through her character was also something I appreciated a lot. So thank you, Miss Kody Keplinger!

Now lets talk about Wesley. Where do I start? Again, Wesley was another unexpected love I found while reading this book. Oh, Wesley! How can you be so perfect! Obviously, I didn’t like him at first because Bianca didn’t like him. But as I read on, he kind of grew on me. Even with his thousand flaws, I can say that I am in love with him. Sorry, I am fangirling. But really, I can’t say a thing about him without swooning. And that letter he wrote to Bianca melted my heart. Honestly, why did it take so long for Bianca to decide? The letter would have been enough for me! But I am not Bianca. And ultimately, what she did felt right.

Did this post make any sense? Anyway, if you are one of those few people who haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Go READ IT! It’s a sweet romance but it’s also so much more than that! I loved it and I reckon you are going to love it too. If you have read it, please leave a comment! I would love to talk about it to you. And if you know some more books like this, that you think I would like, please comment about that too. Because I always like recommendations from my fellow readers.

Fin!

My rating- 4/5.

My Goodreads rating- 4/5.

-Sanchita.

Book Discussion: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

7600924 The book that I am going to talk about today is very controversial. The topic that this book deals with is even more controversial. But this whole story can be described by the words written on the cover.

“How can something so wrong feel so right?”

The topic that this book deals with is incest. And if this makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t read this book. Or this discussion even. Because in this discussion, I am going to try to understand this book with an open mind, without actually choosing any side. But I would suggest that you should at least hear me out. By the end of this post, if you still can’t see my side, you don’t have to read this book. That’s all I can ask of you.

Goodreads Synopsis- She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

The synopsis itself gives you a preview of what you should be expecting while going into this book. Incestuous relationship. Check. Dysfunctional family. Check. Explosive and shocking finale. Double check. I must confess that the controversy surrounding this book is what made me read it. I, like many others, wanted to know, why a book concerning this topic had such a good rating on Goodreads. As I said before, this book, this thing, this relationship, sometimes feels so good that you forget it is incestuous. Throughout the story, I couldn’t decide if the relationship was right or wrong. My beliefs were constantly challenged but I won’t say that this was able to change my beliefs. I still think that incest is something I can’t accept. But I can make an exception for Lochan and Maya.

I should mention by this point that this book is way out of my comfort zone. I hate and love reading about dysfunctional families. Did that make any sense? I hate reading about them because they make me uncomfortable. I love reading about them because I want to explore more and more about things that thankfully I don’t have to experience but a lot of people do. But the situation in Forbidden has to be rare. Because I HATED the mother. I despised her. There is not a strong enough word to describe how much I disliked her. But all the other characters in this book are so beautiful! From intelligent Lochan to strong Maya, from relatable Kit to adorable Tiffin and Willa, everyone is distinct and beautiful. And though the story doesn’t progress much till the ending, the characters make you pick up the book and power through.

Now the incest part. I did not root for them for obvious reasons. But there were a lot of instances that made me smile. The awkward and all-consuming first love is described very well. There were a lot of instances where I felt that they would be a good couple if not for the very obvious problem. But the taboo could not be ignored. It makes its presence known throughout the book, in each and every romantic encounter. Ultimately, it succeeds in bringing a tragic ending to the story. The ending. Oh my god, the ending! I really do not have any words to describe it. Its heartbreaking and tragic, yes. But it’s so much more! Its strangely beautiful. It’s everything you would expect and more. Whatever story it lacked, the ending more than makes up for it. So, watch out!

All I have left to say is that come on! Be a little open-minded and give it a try! Once you start reading it, try to make it to the end because endings are the best part (Yes! Finally a Pitch Perfect reference!). And as the saying goes, all’s well that ends well. I hope, if you choose to read the book, it will be a good journey for you.Good luck!

Fin!

My rating- 3.5/5.

My Goodreads rating- 4/5.

-Sanchita.

Book Discussion: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

19542841I’m more happy than not. Don’t forget me.” The last words of this book stay with you for a long time. And for me, so will the book. It made me go through so many emotions that I don’t even know where to start. I want to shout out that I would never forget you Aaron. But that won’t be the truth. I am probably going to forget about him after a few years. All I can say is that right now, it’s one of my favorite books ever.

Goodreads Summary-

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

This is a science fiction slash contemporary book that was released recently. I have heard about the book so much but booktubers Raeleen of padfootandprongs07 and Kat of Katytastic gave such great reviews about this book that I had to pick it up. And I am so happy that I did. I have only read one LGBTQ+ book before and that was “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” which was amazing. When I picked this one up, I didn’t expect it to be as great as the last one. But I loved this book even more. I don’t know what it was about Aaron that made him so lovable but he found a place in my heart. I don’t know if I would be able to describe exactly how amazing this book was but I am going to try. So please bear with me.

The book, as shown in the description, is about a boy named Aaron who is discovering that he is gay. But his neighborhood does not approve of it and so he has to keep it a secret. Adding to these difficulties, he also has to deal with a traumatic past where his father committed suicide in their bathtub and Aaron, too, trying to commit suicide in the aftermath. The story starts with Aaron meeting Thomas and slowly discovering that he is gay. But Aaron also has a girlfriend who have loved and supported him throughout his life. So, as you can understand, there are a lot of complications. The first part of the book deals with all these and reads like any regular contemporary book. But the second part of the book, where the Sci-Fi components come in, is what elevates this book to a whole new level. The Loteo procedure is sort of like the memory-erasing procedure of the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” but here it is memory altering instead. I can assure you that the twist in this book will leave you astounded. I can’t talk about it much because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But trust me on this, when it comes, you will feel stupid as to why you didn’t see that coming. And the last few pages are emotionally exhausting. I felt so many emotions in those few pages that I couldn’t decide whether I was happy or sad. But ultimately, I guess, I was more happy than not.

Now, it’s time to discuss the characters. Aaron, the protagonist, is the voice of this novel. From the beginning of this story, he is in quest of happiness. As the story ends, you can’t help but wonder if anything that happened to him was fair. Reading these type of books always leave me feeling lucky and content. Lucky because I never have had to face anything that Aaron has experienced. And content because I felt completely satisfied with my life, even if it’s for a few hours. This should be a good time to mention that this book left me in tears of both happiness and grief. If you have read the book, you know what I am talking about. Then there is Thomas. He is to Aaron as Dante was to Aristotle; the adorable, quirky character that we can’t help but fall in love with. The movie-watching moment on Thomas’ roof is my favorite moment in the whole book. The conversations between Thomas and Aaron are a treat to witness too. Genevieve is very relatable as the girl facing unrequited love. I didn’t particularly like any of Aaron’s friends but I did enjoy reading about their moments with Aaron. Another beautiful thing about this book is that the characters are so distinct from one another that you will remember everything about them. The character development that each of them go through is also a thing to notice and marvel at.

All I can say is that please go read the book. I highly recommend it! And if you have read the book, please comment because I really, really, really want to discuss about it with someone. This book is amazing! So don’t wait. Go read it now! I am now going to end this LONG book discussion with a quote from the book that perfectly describes my feelings about reading the book.

Memories: some can be sucker punching, others carry you forward; some stay with you forever, others you forget on your own. You can’t really know which ones you’ll survive if you don’t stay on the battlefield, bad times shooting at you like bullets. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have plenty of good times to shield you.

Fin!

My rating- 5/5.

My Goodreads rating- 5/5.

-Sanchita.

Book Discussion : P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

20698530 I am going to start this discussion with a quote from the book which may be a mild spoiler but it’s also partially expected. At some point in the book, these words are spoken by the main character, Lara Jean.

What will I do now that Peter’s not my boyfriend anymore?

This sentence must be enough to tell you what you are going to go into if you decide to read the book.

Goodreads Summary

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

This book starts off exactly where the previous one left off. And we get to see the love story of Lara Jean and Peter develop in this one(lucky me!). I did not find our protagonist to be very strong, or rather I should say I found her weak and whiny. I don’t mean to be harsh but its true. Even her nine-year old sister Kitty is stronger than her. I don’t think the female protagonist should be weakened in any way to have a good romance. But in this book, the idea seems to be that the female needs “protecting” from various things (Trust me! There’s a lot of these moments.) and Peter seems to be the one doing the job. Or if by any chance Peter is absent, there will be another boy to “protect” her, or there will be a sister or a father. Lara Jean seems to be unable to do anything for her own good. All she needs are few “romantic” moments with Peter to make her happy. These “romantic” moments also include vague sexist comments by Peter. And some that are obviously insulting but found to be “romantic” by our Lara Jean. So, needless to say, I couldn’t tolerate them.

Many would argue, that its supposed to be a sweet, cute and fun story and that I should not dissect the story so much. But the characters of a book matter to me a lot. And when the author is unable to make me fall in love with the characters, I consider that book a waste of time. I found both Lara Jean and Peter to be intolerable. And their “romance”, shallow and unhealthy. The character I did like in this book was made out to be the third-wheel. You know who I am talking about if you have read the book. So, I did not appreciate that.

But the family aspect of the book is something I did like. I craved more of Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters and her father. I was actually more interested in her father’s dating life and I kept hoping that he would finally have someone he liked. But sadly, his plot line was left hanging. Maybe Miss Jenny Han is going to write another book in this series. And if she does, I am going to read that one just hoping to get a closure for Mr. Covey. But all in all, I loved the way the importance of family was weaved into this story.

So, I recommend this book if you like sweet, middle-grade romances but this was simply not for me. This is just my personal opinion and please don’t be offended if you don’t feel the same way. Feel free to state your opinion in the comment section. I would love to hear what you thought about this book. And if you haven’t yet read the book but you do want to read it, make sure you can ignore the things I talked about. I am not discouraging you from reading it! You can read anything you want to and this book was loved by a lot of people. This even has a 4.24 rating on Goodreads at the time I am writing this. So, I guess at least some people loved it. Even if it wasn’t me.

Fin!

My rating- 2.5/5.

My Goodreads rating- 3/5.

-Sanchita.

Book Discussion: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

91ndEtx1uWL._SL1500_ I know I am a few years too late on this book. But for some reason I didn’t get to this book until very recently. And I am glad I did read this book ultimately because it was an experience. Rarely does a book grip you and then ends leaving such a spectacular after-taste that you know immediately that it will stay with you for a long, long time. And this is one such book. It was life-altering for me. It changed my perspectives a lot and I like to think that it helped me to grow up a little bit more.

Goodreads Summary

HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH

It’s a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES

The first part of this book was a little bit slow. There was a lot of character building in this part of the story. An interesting aspect of this book is that it is narrated by Death. And in the era in which this story is set, Death is almost like an old friend. Its comforting and caring. This is the feeling I got throughout the book. Another feeling I got throughout this book is that everyone is going to die. Of course this was not true. The story picked up when Max arrived and all my favorite moments of the book have either Max or Rudy in them.

The biggest part of this book is taken up by the characters. Liesel Meminger  or the Book Thief arrives on Himmel Street when she is ten. The story takes place till she is thirteen. Each and every character she encounters have a distinct trait which makes you fall in love with them, over and over. There is Papa, Mama, Rudy, Max, Ilsa Hermann, and many other characters but these are the ones that stand out. The late-night conversations between Papa and Liesel are the ones I will treasure for a long time. It is made clear from the very start that Mama does not express her love for anyone but that does not mean she never loves anyone and the proof of her love is given again and again in this book. There is Rudy, with whom every moment is precious. As Death confirms twice, it is the children who often gain more perspective of life than adults. And I thought Rudy was one such character who saw through a lot of people. Then there is Max, whose condition was often described by using the words “filthy Jew”, thereby confirming just the opposite. I, personally, would have liked a few more moments with Ilsa so that I could learn more of her backstory.

The story has a major motif of colours running throughout it. Death always describes what the colour of the sky was when a particular person dies. And this motif also created a visual imagery which made me feel as if I was living through the incidents in this book. The words and language is also given importance in this book and though there is the use of a lot of metaphor and irony in this book, I am not going to describe them here.

All I want to say is that if you haven’t read the book yet, give it a try. This book, somehow, kept me reminding of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. The flavour of these two books are similar. And just to clarify, no I didn’t cry while reading this book. It is maybe because, on some level, I expected the deaths that happened (as I mentioned before). But I did experience a lot of conflicting emotions in this book. I am also well-aware that I did not get many facets of this book in the one time I have read it. I am going to probably discover a thousand things I missed during my many re-reads. But what I did get was enough for me to fall in love with it. As Death ended the book by saying that “I am haunted by humans“, I will end this discussion by saying that I am haunted by your book, Mr. Markus Zusak.

Fin!

My rating – 5/5.

My Goodreads rating – 5/5.

-Sanchita.