Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Pages: 280

Genre: New Adult, Chick-lit

My Rating: 3/5

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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“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.”

* * *

So I admit, I started reading this because I was always the “ugly, fat friend”, at least in my eyes, but this book actually has a great message. You never know what someone else is going through, so try not to judge them.

DUFF reminded me a lot of my own life. Perhaps not in high school, or all of the experiences, but the confusion and problems that kept arising made me take a look at my own life and consider what I was doing. It might have even made me question my actions a bit – am I doing things right?

I gave this a 3/5 stars purely because it was a little “young” for me. I feel as though a lot of books I read get lower ratings purely based on my age. I still read books I loved as a kid, so sometimes ratings suffer a bit. If I were around 14 again, I would have given this a 4-4.5/5 for sure.

Even with my age, I found this an enjoyable, short little read.

If you feel like reading something short, that also has quite a good message, I’d suggest reading it. But don’t be too weirded out if you feel a little too old to “get it”.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire

Pages: 1177

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Adventure

My Rating: 5/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…”

* * *

Another book in which Martin did not let me down. I admit, I read this book in parts because I ended up going through a reading slump, but it was fantastic!

A Storm of Swords made me smile, gasp, and even throw my book (I’m sorry, book). Without giving too much away, a lot of moments I had hoped for happened, and a lot of experiences I didn’t expect happened.

I found a new appreciation for Jaime and The Hound, and if you’ve read or are going to read this, you will too.

There isn’t much I can say without giving things away, and I know there are people who still haven’t read the books, BUT, we know there’s always deaths, right?

CAN YOU BELIEVE THOSE WEDDINGS?

Holy crap. There was some epic foreshadowing in there, but reading about these events took it to a whole new level. And I love the subtlety of the magic in this series. It exists, but in such a real way, anything is possible.

Like I said though, I can’t say much without giving anything away, so please, READ THE BOOK!

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games
Pages: 374
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Romance
My Rating: 2.5/5
★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆


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“Katniss, 16, takes her sister’s place in the televised annual Hunger Games, competing against Peeta, the boy who gave them bread to survive after their father died. The cruel Capitol forces each of 12 districts to submit a boy and girl 12-18, to fight to the death. Only one can survive and be rewarded. President Snow manipulates behind the scenes.”

* * *

Many people I know have been obsessed with The Hunger Games for a while now, and being me, I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon… after reading it, I definitely won’t be.

So The Hunger Games is about a 16 year old girl named Katniss (or Catnip to her lovely friend, Gale) who decides she’s going to take her sister’s place in The Hunger Games. Every year, the Capitol forces each district to submit a boy and girl to fight to the death in a strange arena full of deadly traps. Only one can survive.

Katniss’s sister, Prim, is one of the chosen ones from District 12. Katniss, loving Prim too much, decided to take her place. Alongside Katniss, a boy named Peeta was chosen to go to the arena.

For me, the only thing that saved this book was the idea. I loved the idea of children going off to fight to the death. I know that sounds dreadful, but the premise for the book was great. The kids are going to die one way or another, so giving them a chance to bring honour and riches to their families is something at the very least. I hated the Capitol, I thought it was terrible. But it made me think, does such a place really exist?

My favourite character was the girl from District 11 – Rue. She seemed kind enough, small, her songs were wonderful, and it wasn’t fair that she was there… or that anyone was there, for that matter.

Again, the idea was neat.

So now that I’ve given it some good points, I think it’ll be alright to completely tear apart the rest of it.

WHAT IN THE SERIOUS HELL?!

I want to give this 2.5 stars, not 3, but the fact there’s no half star symbol makes it so I can’t or I will go nuts. What in the serious hell did I just read? The writing? What the hell was that? I could write better than that, at a much younger age. Everyone is entitled to their own writing style, I know I have one, but… here’s some tips.

Tip 1. GET AN EDITOR! If I can consistently point out spelling and grammatical errors, you’re doing something seriously wrong! I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I have the tendency to be a grammar Nazi, and reading it hurts my eyes. I had to read some sentences 5 times over because it made absolutely no sense at all.

Tip 2. Okay, so I don’t have a second tip, I just wanted to rant about that.

I watched the movie before I read the book, which didn’t matter much because neither were all that great. I thought to myself, “the book must be better than this.” Well… at least the movie had pictures… and no painful sentences. And that’s coming from someone that ALWAYS reads before watching.

It was a neat idea, don’t get me wrong, but unless you don’t care about terrible writing (or don’t know the difference between good and bad writing), or they re-release an edited version, please don’t bother. It was painful, but I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Do they get better as they go along?

Okay, if you can stand the terrible writing, read it, it was interesting… and at least then you can get it out of the way.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived
Pages: 328
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
My Rating: 3/5
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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“Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.”

* * *

I have to admit, I was drawn to this book because of the synopsis. “Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.” Okay, so the supernatural world kind of intrigues me, mostly due to personal experiences, but still…

The Archived was an interesting read and I am by no means going to berate it. It was fun, quick, and it kept my attention so I read it in one sitting. So why the 3/5 rating? Where to start, where to start…

I feel as if I would’ve enjoyed The Archived more had I read it at a younger age. This doesn’t usually bother me, considering I still sometimes pick up Dr. Suess books, but there was something about it that really made me feel out of place. Not only that, but I feel as if it wasn’t written as well as it could’ve been. I’m not the best writer in the world, but if we put ourselves out there, there’s always going to be criticism.

I really enjoyed the idea that Schwab allowed to unfold though. Mackenzie’s grandfather was apart of a secret organization that only certain people could ever be part of. He decided to choose Mackenzie. After Da (her grandfather) dies, all she has is herself, and she finds herself in the position of constantly lying to those she loves to protect them.

Every day is a bit of a struggle as she feels more alone than she ever did before. Da’s gone, her brother is gone, and her parents moved her away from her best friend! But maybe the new place will bring more adventure…?

Mackenzie meets some interesting people in this weird old building, and finds herself putting pieces of a puzzle together, all while finding love (it’s a YA, it’s not a spoiler, c’mon now). Will she ever come out on top? Read and find out.

Overall, The Archived was a good read. I’m not sure I’d ever read it again, but the idea was solid, it’s just a shame it wasn’t written better. This is probably best suited for someone in the 11-16 age range. But I promise, it really wasn’t bad! It just wasn’t as solid as I wanted it to be… nor as captivating.

Will I read the sequel? Probably. Just to see how it ends, and if the writing style improves at all.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: Kushiel’s Dart

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Series: Kushiel’s Legacy/Phèdre’s Trilogy/Kushiel’s Universe
Pages: 1015
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Adult Fiction, Speculative Fiction
My Rating: 5/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new”

* * *

As read in the synopsis, this novel is about an anguisette named Phédre who goes on a journey full of pain and pleasure to uncover all there is to learn around her. My friend was nice enough to let me borrow this wonderful read.

Before I get any further into this review, I will say this: This is not a children’s book. There is a lot of sexual content and otherwise disturbing content.

When I first started reading Kushiel’s Dart, I couldn’t get into it. I was in a weird place and the fact that I was reading about sex absolutely terrified me. Luckily, things changed, and I finally was able to continue reading.

Kushiel’s Dart is a wonderfully written book full of detail and words created just to describe things. I am a lover of epic fantasy and this one didn’t disappoint. I’ve read a lot of the other reviews on this book and there is a lot of negativity surrounding it… mostly because of the undeniable BDSM content.

While reading, we go on to learn that Phédre’s parents leave her where they best see fit. They figure that because she has Kushiel’s marking, that she’d be better off there. From a young age, she gets trained to serve her master in a way only those chosen can. When I started reading, I was a bit ignorant, but where she grew up was no less than a whore house, which makes things interesting. She hates being confined though, and tends to run off to visit her friend Hyacinthe, whom I loved. She eventually is bought by Delaunay who teaches her skills that will later come in handy, especially in her line of work. Phédre is constantly being told secrets which she promptly tells to her master.

Many people would argue, saying Phédre was a prostitute, and in some ways she was, but she was an information gatherer. People from the land would pay to have her for a night, to do what they pleased with her… and she liked it. Pleasure in pain. I think reading about her virginity loss was the worst for me though! But gosh, I’m not going to lie, some of those scenes were incredibly hot! Maybe not for someone that isn’t kinky at all, but you could imagine everything… from being strapped to a wooden X, to being caned and whipped… that’s what makes a good author. And it wasn’t just the sex scenes either, the sheer detail of Kushiel’s Dart was absolutely amazing. Whenever there was talk of food, I became intrigued and wanted to eat; whenever a character felt a specific emotion, I felt it too. Some people would argue there was too much detail, but I beg to differ – I LIKE that when I read an epic fantasy!

I don’t want to give too much of this book away, but all of these characters were memorable in some way or another, and the detail is to die for. I really enjoyed Phédre as a character. She was strong and intelligent, even in the darkest of times. All of the main characters have a story to tell and each is moving in its own way. I became attached to many, and despised many others. There was many a time my jaw would gape and I would sit there thinking, “Oh my god, that just happened! That REALLY just happened!” or, “No! N-no!” I almost shed a few tears as well. Almost.

From reading the first book in the series, I’d have to put it up there with Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s just too incredible not to, and that’s saying something.

I think as long as you’re not a prude or uncomfortable with a lot of sex and/or BDSM, and you enjoy epic fantasy, you’ll probably really enjoy Kushiel’s Dart. I read this quite some time ago, so I apologize for my review not being amazing, but it’s here now!

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles
Pages: 387
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Young Adult, Fairy Tales, Re-telling
My Rating: 4/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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“Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”

* * *

From a young age, I was obsessed with fairy tales; now, at 21 years old, I still find something about them to be enchanting. When I first heard about Cinder, I was quite excited, albeit a bit skeptical. I do grow weary when it comes to YA novels, mostly due to the [overused] love triangles. I’m happy that I picked Cinder up though!

As you can read in the description of the book, Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella from a completely new perspective! In this book, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who works to try and stay on her step-mother’s good side. Her only friend is an out-dated android named Iko that has an attitude all her own! Amidst this seemingly normal world, is a plague that is destroying anyone that comes in contact with it, and there’s only one hope of ever curing anyone! Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone has found a cure… or have they?

Through possible coincidence, Cinder meets the handsome prince Kai. As their world gets intertwined, Cinder’s life becomes more and more complicated, leaving her between a rock and a hard place.

As I stated in the beginning, I do tend to read YA a lot, but I can’t always stomach the romance… Cinder wasn’t full of ridiculous romance. Yes, there’s definitely romance in there, but compared to other YA, it’s quite toned down [thumbs up!]. Meyers did a good job at incorporating the story of Cinderella while keeping the story all her own, because of this, I was glued to the book until I was finished. I must admit, I expected the ending, but it was well-done; in fact, this whole novel was well written.

While it wasn’t perfect – sometimes it seemed too separated from the rest of the story – it was a great short read, and I’m happy I got to read it. I did read this some time ago, but I plan on reading Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) as soon as I get back home! 

If you’re a fan of fairy tales and are looking for something new, definitely check Cinder out.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: The Forestwife

The Forestwife by Theresa Tomlinson

Series: Forestwife Saga

Pages: 170

Genre: Fantasy, Childrens, Fairy Tales, Adventure

My Rating: 5/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“Deep in Sherwood Forest, there lives a community of outlaws. These heroic people have escaped the cruelty of medieval England’s lords and their unjust laws. The brave young Robert (alias Robin Hood) is one of these rebels; the Forestwife, a woman with magic healing powers, is another. Soon a fifteen-year-old orphan named Mary will flee into the forest to avoid the fearsome marriage her uncle has arranged for her. She will not be heard from again, but the legend of Maid Marian, the Green Lady of the woods, will have begun.”

My loverly friend and I have started sharing books with each other, which works especially well considering we’re both big into fantasy. Even Friendly Giant has told me about books I need to read, so be prepared!

The Forestwife was a lovely book, full of magic and intrigue. I have a wild imagination, so this really piqued my interest. As you can tell from what the back of the book says, it’s about a girl named Mary that runs off into the woods to escape a terrible marriage she wants no part in. Luckily, Agnes, a good friend, helps her in her journey.

Personally, while reading this book, I imagined everything, from the trees to the deer. When it talked about the Forestwife’s house, I imagined a very large oak tree with a door in the trunk filled with shelves upon shelves of herbs and healing potions… corners with burlap sacks full of grain… I’ve always been into learning about natural approaches and this basically is how I always wanted to be.

If you have a vivid imagination, it’s a wonderful read.

I didn’t even really grasp the romance. It wasn’t pronounced or ugly, it was just… there. Hell, I didn’t even mind the birth stuff… not that much anyway.

And the ending? Holy bajebus…

It’s always fun to share books from your past, and I’m really glad she shared this with me (onto the next one, right?!). I gave it a 5/5 because it dragged me into the world, and I actually liked the main character for once. Not only that, but this is the type of book I would’ve read when I was younger, and it was beautifully written, thus, appreciated even at 21.

Enjoy, and happy reading!