Book vs Movie | The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Release Date: February 20, 2015
Cast: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell
Director: Ari Sandel
Movie Trailer: YouTube

A couple weeks ago, I posted my review of the book The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger. I read it without knowing a movie had recently been released based on the book, and later found they were still showing it at the $2 theater nearby, so I dragged my boyfriend along to watch it with me. If you’ve read both, you’ll know there are a few differences between the two.

Cast: I think what I liked best about the casting was that Mae Whitman is actually unattractively attractive. She’s definitely not the prettiest girl in the movie and that’s exactly the point right? But I couldn’t help but like her, unlike how I felt about Bianca in the book. In the book she’s kind of mean and bitchy, while in the movie she’s sort mostly awkward and goofy. Wes also was another favorite in the movie, rather than the book. I thought he was a jerk in the book and he never grew on me, I didn’t get how Bianca could even want to be with him. But in the movie Wes (Robbie Amell) is not only completely hot (even more so now that I have found out he is a few months older than me 😉 ) but he’s not so bad. Sure, he’s still the one who calls Bianca “The Duff” but he’s not being mean. More matter-o-fact and is actually a pretty nice guy who isn’t a man whore and using Bianca to sleep with. Other than that, Bella Thorne plays the evil popular girl who is a totally new character along with an almost pointless supporting teacher played by Ken Jeong.

Plot: The stories take a few different turns. In the book, Bianca lives with her an alcoholic dad, gets called “The Duff,” obsesses over it, sleeps with Wes to forget her problems, etc. In the movie though, we get a little more lighthearted and fun version of the story. Bianca instead lives with her mom who wants to try dating, and after Wes calls her “The Duff,” she focuses on changing the way she looks with help from Wes in exchange of helping him with his classwork.

Verdict: The movie was exactly the way I figured the book would be, but like I said in my book review, I thought the book was more dark than lighthearted. I definitely enjoyed the movie a lot more than the book, and would completely recommend it as a fun, fuzzy film to watch this or any other summer, especially if you like movies set in high school (10 Things I Hate About You, anyone?)

If I had to pick one…
The movie definitely, which I think, is a rarity since the books tend to be so much better. But I thought the movie was a lot funnier and overall, enjoyable.

Review | The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Review | The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody KeplingerThe Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Publication: Poppy on September 7th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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.

Book review: I have to split this review into two parts because I wanted to share my thoughts on the story and on the audio version as well, because my views on each portion are a bit different.

The first thing I want to mention is when I first heard of this book, I saw tons of reviews that were positive and there was the excitement of adding a new book to my TBR list. So when I finished my latest book on Audible, I went right for this one, excited to finally read it. One of the things I read a lot was that The DUFF was a “fun,” “lighthearted” and/or “entertaining.” While I can’t deny that it was pretty entertaining and sometimes made me smirk a little (not outright laugh) I found it to be kind of dark more than lighthearted or fun.

Bianca, the protagonist, is totally realistic. I know that’s why she became a favorite among many bloggers that I follow. She’s a normal teenager going through real life issues and isn’t really the most beautiful among her friends, which is very refreshing for a YA book these days. But her character bothered me, mostly. Not because she was mean (although she was) but because of the way she handled things sometimes. I mean, I understand why she did but I also got easily frustrated with her character.

The story begins with Bianca at a club sitting at the bar drinking a soda while her friends dance and she’s just bored. Here comes in Wes who tells her she’s the “designated ugly fat friend” and he’s just trying to talk to her so he can get close to his friends. His insult sticks to her, she can’t get it out of her head but eventually finds that sleeping with him sort of distracts her so they become sort of frenemies with benefits. Um..okay?

The first time she sleeps with him, okay I get it. But after that she continuously goes to him just for sex. Anytime something goes sort of wrong, this is what she does. And Bianca has a few issues she should be dealing with, like the fact that her dad is going back to being an alcoholic, or that her friends are upset cause she’s not really speaking to them to avoid being confronted about sleeping with a jerk who I never really grew to like.

The DUFF was a little different, completely realistic and relateable, but with main protagonists that weren’t really likable. I preferred Bianca’s friends instead and really wasn’t rooting for her most of the book. I just wanted her to get her life together and get some help from someone (anyone really) instead of just using this guy (not that he wasn’t using her back) to forget about her problems. A good contemporary YA but definitely not something I thoroughly enjoyed.

Audiobook review: Honestly, I think I would’ve liked this book a little better if I had read it instead of listened to it, and that happens sometimes I guess. I had a few problems with the narrator that I know affected my overall rating of the book itself. For one, I thought her voice was a little annoying, but eventually got used to it. Another thing that really bugged me was that the narrator really emphasized curse words (note: I do not mind curse words, I use them plenty myself in real life it was just the way they were so specifically ) and there are plenty so it became irritating after the first few times.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed the book but it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. My expectations were higher from all the reviews I’d seen when it was first released, and didn’t really find it as amazing. Sample 🎧



Review + Excerpt | Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler

Review + Excerpt | Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler

Review + Excerpt | Absolutely True Lies by Rachel StuhlerAbsolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
Publication: Touchstone on May 26th 2015
Genres: Adult FIction, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Blog Tour
A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star's memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity's squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.

Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.

Holly quickly realizes that Daisy's wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.

As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats "nightshades" and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown - and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.

Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler's own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren't always what they seem.

Absolutely True Lies is a fun, summer read and exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up. From the start, the book jumps right into the almost-tragic life of Holly who is struggling with a non-existent career and gets an amazing chance to be a ghost writer for a young and way-too-famous celebrity whose life, like those of many celebrities, is not exactly what it appears to be. She gets sucked into the wild adventures of the young celebrity, most of the time not fitting in, and the whole time trying to figure out how she’s going to write the memoir she’s being paid to.

I was pulled into the story from the beginning, not only because Holly is a funny and realistic character, but also because I could relate with her during her struggles. We get an idea of how bad things are when she loses her job, and basically goes into depression mode for a while before her life turns around. Her stumbling, awkwardness and insecurity had me wanting to be her friend and as the story moves forward, I was excitedly flipping pages to see what happened to her next.

With a whole lot of eye-opening entertaining scenarios on celebrity-life, Absolutely True Lies is a light, enjoyable summer read that contemporary lovers will enjoy. It offers a little bit of everything a contemporary should (including a love triangle!) and Stuhler does a great job in giving readers a glimpse of what LA stardom looks like.


Excerpt from Absolutely True Lies

By 1:00 a.m., Camille and I were staggering out of the bar at the Chateau Marmont, where, if I hadn’t been drunk off my ass, I might have sworn that we were standing about twenty feet away from Adele. I could have just walked up and talked to her if I’d really wanted to be sure, but you learn quickly to ignore the celebrities in their natural habitats. That, and I’m just too chicken. It’s probably why, after four years, I didn’t have a single really juicy celebrity story.

Cam and I stumbled out onto Sunset Boulevard and got all the way to the curb before it occurred to either of us that we hadn’t called a cab. She pulled out her phone and loaded Uber, squinting at the swirling cars in the area. It’s one of the perks of living in a big city that you can find a local cab in the middle of the night just by pressing a few buttons. At least, you can on a smartphone. Mine only makes phone calls and you have to press the two halves together tightly to get that to happen.

“Do we pay more for a taxi or use UberX? I’m sure there are lots of people out tonight looking for a few extra bucks.”

“Taxi. I’m not getting in some rando’s car.” I couldn’t help but think how many torture porn movies start just this way, two girls alone on dark street, climbing into an anonymous car. Not that Sunset is ever particularly dark or empty, even in the middle of the night.

“Shit,” Camille said, rubbing her eye tiredly and smearing eyeliner down her face. “I told Donovan I’d be home by midnight at the latest.”

Donovan is Camille’s fake producer/poser/live-in boyfriend. He’s forty-two, his real name is Donnie, and the only thing he’s produced in the last ten years is a tuna fish sandwich. But like most people in L.A., he’s always got some “big project” in the works and wants to attach me as the writer. Every few months, he corners me in their apartment and tells me about what he’s supposedly working on, and each time, the roster of producers and so-called investors changes. I’m never sure if these are guys he met down at the Laundromat or if he’s just randomly picking names off the Internet. And though Cam refuses to believe it, Donovan’s been trying to knock her up for the last year, just so he knows he’ll never be alone. The guy’s a real winner.

“Oh, what does he care? He’s just on the couch watching infomercials and eating Hershey’s miniatures.” The man has an unnatural obsession with child-size bars of chocolate.

“He doesn’t like to be alone at night,” Camille whined, sympathy creeping into her tone. “And you know Donovan’s had a lot of trouble with his weight the last couple years. He says he feels more in control of his snacking with the miniatures.”

“He’s not in control if he’s eating the whole bag,” I replied, leaning on a streetlamp to keep from falling off the curb.

“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head with a level of empathy I couldn’t understand. “It’s just that the financing on his latest project fell apart and he’s very depressed. He says we can’t afford to get engaged this year because he just doesn’t have the money for a ring. Like I care about a stupid diamond.”

They’ve been together for five years. Every year he tells her they can’t afford to get engaged, even though Camille makes well over a hundred grand. Usually I can keep my opinion of that bottom-feeder to myself, but on this night, I was too far into Jäger country to keep my mouth shut.

“What is it with you and that loser? There are, like, four million eligible men in Los Angeles and you can’t get away from a guy who thinks leather pants are appropriate funeral attire.” Understandably, this riled her up a bit. “Four million eligible men? This from the woman who hasn’t gotten laid since Obama’s first term? Where are all these eligible men? Huh?”

She had me there. I paused for a moment and put on my most serious, contemplative expression. “Well… I’m sure they must be around here somewhere.” I turned my head to the right and left, but all I saw were similarly inebriated Angelenos leaving the bars and clubs, most of them laughing or shouting obnoxiously. It wasn’t doing much for my cause. “If you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll find one for you.”

I spun around just in time to see a forty-year-old guy with slicked back, thinning hair pull up in a Bimmer. He lowered the passenger window and leaned over to talk to us. “Marmont’s played out for the night. Get in and I’ll take you to this after-hours in Silver Lake.”

“Is that the guy you were looking for?” Camille asked.

“Clock’s ticking, ladies.” No lie, the guy even held his wrist out and tapped the face of his watch. I think it was a Rolex, but for all I know, it was a fake—either good or bad. Fifty bucks or fifty thousand, they all look the same to me.

“No one’s getting in your car, asshole,” I told him.

Camille took things one step further, moving to kick the guy’s passenger door. As drunk as I was, I had the presence of mind top pull her back, lest she put us both on the receiving end of an arrest warrant. “And come on, loser, you’re forty! What are you doing at after-hours clubs?”

“Screw you,” Bimmer Man said. “There are plenty of hotter girls than you out tonight.” He gave us the middle finger before swerving back out into traffic.

There was a long moment as we watched him go before Camille gave me the annoyingly smug look I knew was coming. “Please, go on, Holly. You were telling me about these four million eligible men?”

“Shut up and pick a taxi.”


Monthly Rewind: July 2015 + August TBR


July in one word:

July was such a good month for me, pretty much from beginning to end. I’ve done a ton of fun stuff this month and I’ve had just such a blast this summer already.

At the start of the month, I was able to spend a 4th of July with my family. We took a day trip to a tiny Danish town a couple hours away, then came back that night to watch the fireworks at the nearby beach. That same weekend I went to San Diego with the boyfriend and some close friends and just loved the trip!

I also got to go to two Dodger games, a few trips to the beach, and the OC fair where I saw a favorite band live. I’ve also had several other fun and random adventures, including new restaurants, bars, movies, friend hangs, bonfires, parties and other fun stuff.

But I was also in sort of a reading slump. Basically, I blame it on the book I was reading because I wasn’t enjoying it very much and had a difficult time really getting into it. Nowadays, I would’ve placed it on my DNF list and moved on, but I got this book for review (requested it myself, unfortunately) so I felt that to give it the most honest review, I would have to actually finish it. So I did.

5 Things that Happened in July

1. I started reading some manga again. Thanks to my younger cousin, I learned of an app for my iPad that offers tons of free manga. I am really excited and have gotten sucked back into Boys over Flowers which is  a series I never finished but always wanted to. Especially cause I want to watch the drama on Netflix as well.
2. I tried my first s’more! And it was amazing, seriously.
3. I discovered a few new bands that I am in love with and have really gotten into. Not sure if I learned of all of them in the month of July but it seems like it!
3. I went to Sea World for the first time as an adult! I know that this park gets a lot of negativity but I really wanted to go and got a chance to experience it as an adult. It was pretty awesome, even though it was a little sad too..
4. I didn’t go to Disneyland the entire month. Since I got my Disney pass back in September of 2013 (but especially after joining a social club and later starting my own in early 2014) I haven’t gone an entire month without at least one Disney trip. This was in part because I haven’t paid for my pass and also because I did so many other things instead this month! It was kind of…freeing. But I can’t deny that I miss it, especially when I see all my friends continuously post about their own trips.
5. I tried a bunch of craft beers that I really liked! I love checking in with an app I downloaded earlier in the year, and it has also made me want to explore all the kinds of beers there are. I really love the experience altogether, and have found several friends who also enjoy trying new ones with me too.

New books on my shelf:


Reading Goals:

The only book I read last month was Very in Pieces, but I did read a few manga, although I’d read them before so I don’t think they count (I’m just reading them to refresh my memory of the story and finish the series this time) but this month, I hope I’ll get through more books, including re-reading Harry Potter for the first time in years and years!

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler (currently reading)
Madly (The Potion Trilogy #1) by Amy Alward
A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Unfinished Reads | Spring 2015

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

I had been looking forward to reading Fight Club since forever because I’ve been dying to watch the movie. I adore Edward Norton (Brad Pitt, not so much) but wanted to get to the book first. Of course it took me forever to even get to it. Unfortunately, I knew almost immediately that I wasn’t going to like it. I’ve attempted to read Palahniuk’s work before but it’s just so…pretentious, I feel like. Anyways, about 50 or so pages, I gave up. Started watching the movie and got as far in the story as I did in the book…

Rating: DNF 

12987216A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

I was so looking forward to this book since I saw it at ALA. My aunt bought it for me last year at the LA Times Festival of Books and I was really excited to finally read it. Especially since I’m reading so many superhero/anti-hero comics right now. But this book..bleh it was so disappointing! I couldn’t get through twenty-something pages of it. The idea behind it is amazing, but the execution is terrible. I get that King was trying to show the reader a comic book through words but it was so frustrating and repetitive and just annoying. I was really sad that this one wasn’t what I had been hoping for.

Rating: DNF

City Love by Susane Colasanti22873037

I thought this would be a fun one to get into for the start of summer, but unfortunately it was more disappointing than anything. The first thing I didn’t like was how the characters were introduced. It reminded me of the way The Babysitters Club books would always start off (I’d always skip those pages…) Also, all the characters felt so..the same. There was a ton of insta-love which kind of drove me a little crazy. And they would all obsessively talk about how fantastic New York was (I get it!) I was about 51% done and determined to finish it, but then found out it was the first book in a series. I knew I didn’t care enough to read more so I skimmed a few more pages, saw more of the same and gave up on it.

Rating: 1/5 stars