Aug 28, 2015

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.

Aug 7, 2015

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

Title: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: September 7th 2010 by Little Brown/Poppy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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.

Thoughts: 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 

Aug 6, 2015

\\ Blog Tour \\ Review + Excerpt | Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler

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 J├Ąger 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.”