Monday, 9 June 2014

I’ve got your number by Sophie Kinsella

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier.  She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart.  Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers!  Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. 
Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree.  He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

The story kicks off right into action on page one. The story is narrated in present tense through Poppy’s eyes. Poppy’s ultimate decision lies hanging till the last moment and she finally makes one while standing in front of her to-be-husband in church on her wedding day.

Poppy is goofy, honest and extremely funny. She was so easily likable and relatable that it was hard not to smile each time she walked on page. More than the characters, the situations are so over-the-top that they naturally churn out laughable reactions.

I admire not only all of Sophie Kinsella’s heroines but also all her male protagonists. They are all real gentlemen, laid back and sincere but also not without flaws. It’s very easy to relate to her characters. Sophie Kinsella makes situations hilarious more than the dialogues.

What I did not like:
Poppy worried about things that could have been solved easily had she been a little brave. Like confessing she lost the ring or that she isn’t a genius like her in-laws.

Poppy’s lack of confidence and her inferiority complex. But these flaws made her seem more real nonetheless.

The footnotes. They were distracting.

Suitable for: Anyone who wants to have a good laugh, enjoy a well-written story with gripping plot and doesn’t mind staying up all night with puffy eyes just to see what happens next. Go pick it up!

Overall: gripping and hilarious. Once again, Sophie Kinsella meets her fans' expectations.

Stars: 5/5

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper is too smart to fall for the charms of a man-slut and school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, she hates him. But things aren't so great at home. Desperate for distraction, she ends up kissing Wesley and throwing herself into enemies-with-benefit 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 the most.

I have a short interest span. I can’t keep reading a book beyond 50-60 pages if it doesn’t pull me in by then, unless it’s for college assignment. So a book that keeps me up for a whole night ought to shoot up in my favorites list. And this one did.

Bianca is like any other insecure teenager who has her fears and preconceptions that she isn’t beautiful enough. But she wasn’t always so insecure. It is when the only dashing, cocky guy in college she hates calls her a duff that she starts to look at her body in a new, gloomy light. She notices everything she doesn’t possess— great body, long, skinny legs, pretty face.

Wesley Rush, I hated him in the beginning. A cocky guy who thought too highly of himself and didn’t believe in chasing girls because— duh— girls chased him. But Bianca’s presence subtly changed him in the most believable way and we got to see his nicer, deeper, hidden side. The ‘changed Wesley Rush’ was a really irresistible guy.

Toby Tucker falls in the ‘good guy’ category who as sad and clich├ęd it sounds, ends up last. He’s gentlemanly, who doesn’t snicker or looks to check when a friend makes a joke about his girlfriend’s boobs and takes things slowly. He maintains limits while kissing, he looks out for his girl, takes her to nice dates.

In short, very unlike Wesley.

He is in his own way very attractive. He might not have abs or the charm that sweeps a girl off her feet or leaves her feeling dizzy, but he is just the person who you want to spend your life with. He is loyal, affectionate and extremely intellectual.

The book was extremely well written. I almost longed at one point to have written it. Character development is bang on! At the end of it I knew the side character of Casey and Jess just as well as I knew Bianca or Wesley.

Lessons learnt: 
It’s more than just a romance story between two people who are opposites. It shows different angles of a teenager's life.

Words and name calling hurts no matter how unintentionally you toss it around. And the ones that are casually tossed hurt more than the ones meant to sting.

Every teenager has insecurity, everybody has screwed up and in a way everyone is a duff if compared to someone else. It's only a matter of time and maturity that one learns to shrug these titles off and learn to forgive oneself for past slip ups.

And lastly, looks never define you.

Without spelling out these lessons, the writer has rather easily weaved those into the story.

Suitable for: Parents and teenagers alike. For teenagers to have a laugh at their life and learn from it and for parents to know their kids better.

PS: Watch out for the movie. The rights have been sold to CBS films.

*Spoilers* Places where I went frenzy (either laughed or cried or swooned):

I officially fell in love with Wesley when he sent that note to Bianca after a series of insults and flings. ‘Wesley Rush doesn’t chase girls, but I’m chasing you.’ *sigh*

The bouquet and letter Wesley sent her was a gesture well done.

When Toby asked her about prom and she screwed up by saying she hated it and then he said ‘too bad coz I was hoping to ask you for it.’ So funny.

When Cassy made a joke about the ‘padded bras’ I almost fell out of seat laughing.

When Bianca poured her heart out to Wesley and said that the word 'Duff' hurt her, I cried at that.

Stars: 4.5/5

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Acting up by Melissa Nathan

The book goes by the name 'Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field' as well.

Jasmin Field, a witty columnist of a woman's mag, lands a coveted role of Elizabeth Bennett in one fund-raising adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Better yet, the play's director, Harry Nobel is every bit obnoxious as she'd hoped. Which means a lot of material for her column. And a lot of fun at the rehearsals.


The blurb doesn't even begin to sum up this book. It's a lot deeper and tangled than it sounds  up there. All for better.

The modern story retelling of Jane Austen’s classic ends in the same fashion. Lizzy and Darcy of this book, who are highly opinionated about each other, clear their differences and fall in love.

Like Darcy, Harry Noble seems like a man who thinks too highly of himself. And like Lizzy Bennet, Jasmin Field is prejudiced and hates him the minute she sets eyes on him. Their initial encounter isn’t too pretty.

There is also a snotty sister, like Ms. Bingley, trying to court our Darcy-slash-Harry. 

But what distinguishes this book from the classic is its use of language, the sarcasm, modern, comic tone, the supplementary characters, their voices, their pasts and their stories as they unfold.

Acting up showed a lot of different point of views but did not mix them up. The strongest and probably the most sarcastic voice was of Jasmin Field.

There are tons of sub plots wired into one another. At the beginning it gets a little confusing and overwhelming with all those names that are thrown at us when we’re introduced to the huge cast of the play. But the writers eases our way into each one of their heads and by the end of it, they all become as real as fictional characters go.

I like the fact that apparently the most handsome director alive on planet is not without flaws. When we finally learn about his fears, shortcomings (like poor driving and conversation skills), he feels more real making the story believable and much more agreeable.

Random thoughts: It’s by far one of my favorite chic lit I have read in a long time. It held my attention throughout. I tend to wander off after about 50 pages if the book fails to grip me. I can’t finish a book if it doesn’t pique my interest. And I read this one in single sitting.

Overall: Predictable at times, it’s still unputdownable for its amazing writing style, hilarious scenes and super fast pace. I love the fact that we get to see the doom of every single character. Yes, Every Single. The book gave me joy and laughter more than my money’s worth.

Stars: 5/5

Highly, highly recommended