“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

16085481

(Author: Kevin Kwan) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Singapore)


Review:

When I saw the title of this book, I was interested but not totally sold on it. I wasn’t sure what to prepare myself for, especially in terms of the seriousness of the book. By that I mean that I was not sure to what extent it will satisfy my need to learn about this culture by reading about it.

However, Crazy Rich Asians is a total success in terms of representation of Singaporean culture. It does so much to explain so many habits, traditions and facts about the country as a whole and its citizens, that I received an abundance of information. Not only that, but it was a great opportunity to learn about everything from food to history.

About the book itself, Crazy Rich Asians was both serious and also very fun at times. Ultimately, it was a love story, but one that is very foreign to my culture and understanding. I know more or less how life and relationships go in Europe, I can assume what they look like in the States, I have studied the culture of the Turkic countries up to the wedding and funeral traditions, but Southeast Asia is a completely different place. That part of the world is very much unknown to me and soaked in so much tradition, which is both hard to grasp and entirely fascinating, sometimes not in a positive light (i.e. I believe that people should marry out of love, not out of need for a social status, which in all fairness exists in other places of the world too, but it abides by different rules than the ones shown in Crazy Rich Asians).

Character-wise more could have been wanted of the main couple. I found the recurring character hilarious and interesting, but Rachel and Nick were not great in my opinion. Rachel was very righteous and at times a bit daft, whereas Nick was just a shell. So much was said about him that his actual personality got lost and the author could not actually prove his worth because he was busy depicting him through the eyes of others.

As one would expect, even though the book was educational, it was essentially a novel full of drama and twist(of sorts), so I could say that it offers something for everyone. Overall, a satisfactory world read and a pleasant chick-lit to get your mind off of things.

Thanks to Celeste for the recommendation.

Advertisements

“Miss Wrong and Mr Right” by Robert Bryndza

Miss Wrong and Mr Right

(Author: Robert Bryndza) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

This was a very adorable little book, I admit I enjoyed it. It’s my first touch with Robert Bryndza‘s work, but as I see, his Coco Pinchard series seems to be quite the hit, so I’m considering getting my hands on the first book.

Overall, this is you typical British love comedy. I’ve already written about it months ago, but British comedies just have a different feeling about them. As you can probably guess, we have a female main character who has issues in her love life, she is trying to keep it together but she is constantly thrown into funny and ridiculous situations which she barely gets out of and usually almost cost her her friends, her career and/or the guy she’s after. I could apply this formula to absolutely every book of this genre that I’ve read and it wouldn’t be wrong.

That doesn’t mean that the book isn’t enjoyable, though. It’s a perfect light summer book with some very comical situations in it.

The thing which I sort of didn’t like was that, despite everything, I had a hard time finding the soul of the book. The main character was not as likable as I would have hoped and the guy that ultimately won her wasn’t the one I would have expected and it didn’t seem entirely believable.

But there was an awesome grandmother, Anouska, to make up for everything you might not like in the book. She was an absolute blast. I laughed the hardest at her scenes. I wouldn’t say that I’m as adventurous or as free as she is, but her humour certainly reminded me of my own.

If you want to chill during the hot summer days, this book is a great choice!

“Absolutely True Lies” by Rachel Stuhler

Absolutely True Lies

(Author: Rachel Stuhler + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

To be honest, I have very mixed feelings about this book. There were many things I liked about it, but there were also many things that I didn’t or didn’t want to.

Judging by the cover, I thought Absolutely True Lies was going to be a romance/chick-lit. I don’t think it’s either of those things. Yes, there are elements of both, but that’s not all there is to this book. On the contrary, despite its sugary look, I found this book somewhat thought-provoking, it’s clearly so if you but look under the events and think about their actual meaning.

Absolutely True Lies tells the story of a failed journalist who is hired to ghost-write the autobiography of a teen starlet, only to realize that the glamorous life is not at all what it seems to be from the outside.

As far as I see it, this entire novel is comprised of three different stories/levels: 1. Holly as a person, 2. Holly’s love life, 3. Daisy’s personality and lifestyle.

1. Holly is a somewhat funny narrator, even though most of the humor comes from her lack of luck, skills and the unfortunate events which happen to her. At times she is quite sarcastic and at others she is whiny and harder to like. Overall, I think Holly is a very ambiguous character. The author certainly wants to make you like her and feel like she’s just another normal person, someone you can identify with. She is certainly not a character knowingly written as sometimes hard to like. I can see why people can find her funny and even charming as a person, but I want to shed light on some of the reasons because of which I had problems liking her.

– She is highly self pitying. She moans and cries about how hard and bad her life is and how bad everyone is treating her. But it’s actually she who acts strange and makes it hard for people to want to help her. She goes on and on about what she doesn’t like about herself and about her life, but does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, I mean NOTHING, to change it. She lets everyone walk all over her and doesn’t say a word, only to curse them and cry about it to her friends later.
– She is such a lazy slob it’s sometimes revolting. The character actually revels in explaining how filthy she is, how long it has been since she last took a shower, how many days it has taken since she hasn’t been out of bed, not to mention the argument she has with her boyfriend in which he tells her not to leave her dirty clothes all over his apartment and she is so proud of herself for proving that she doesn’t care that her clothes from three days ago are crumpled in a corner in his apartment. She also goes on and on about how she wants to loose a couple of pounds and yet she keeps on eating enough to feed the entire population of China.
Also she does her job so sloppily, she explains how she hasn’t done a thing more than what has been required of her for her job, she has constantly declined job opportunities, only to later moan about how poor she is, and when she is hired to write Daisy’s book, all she does is think about guys and walk around telling everyone who’d listen about how she’s been cheated out of her salary, when she has done nothing to deserve it. She is a total underachiever and that’s obvious by the fact that the only success she has in her career is mostly due to chance and luck. As she puts it very clearly herself, she lives in an arrested development and even has the nerve to complain about it, despite it being her own doing.

“I was twenty-five years old and I didn’t own an iron or a fork. I was living in some state of arrested development, and only when everything started to shift under my feet did I finally see my life for what it was. It was depressing as hell.”

 2. Holly’s love life. Despite everything I said above, there were moments when I liked Holly as a person, as I already said. But from the way the other characters, as well as she herself, describe her, she is supposed to be quite unattractive. Yet she seems like quite the guy-magnet. I don’t see how it’s possible for two wildly attractive and successful men to fall for a woman who everyone describes as overweight, badly dressed and unkempt, but if you say it’s possible… I’m not a fan of eugenics or something like that, but I do think that people should take care of their appearance, if not for the world, at least so that they themselves feel a bit better.

Also, to mention the fact that the two main males, Vaughn and Ben, were somewhat interchangeable, even though they are supposedly very different from one another. They sort of treated her similarly, accept for the end, and they were acting somewhat similarly, despite Holly trying to prove that that’s not true.

3. Daisy. In Daisy’s entire story I saw many things that are wrong about our society. I really don’t want to think that the celebrities everyone is looking up to are these damaged junkie narcissists, but that’s probably exactly what they are. But it’s not just their personalities that make me question the values of our world, it’s the way they manipulate the opinion of people and also just how easy it is for society to be manipulated. Just how easy it is for people to love and hate and obsess with a person they don’t know and to change their opinion about that person. I fear that we are puppets to celebrities and their plots to win more fame and money as much as we are puppets to governments and politicians. And this “ruling class” of rich assholes uses us like a herd of sheep to make themselves feel better, to start feuds with other celebrities, get richer and destroy other people’s lives. Imagine what dull and naive creatures we are if we allow ourselves to be influenced by the likes of the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and that whole lot, to waste our money on magazines, bags, pens and whatever they sell with their faces on it, to use our precious lives to stalk them on the internet, to follow them on social media, to discuss their fake lives and to keep them rich and famous.

And here are some of the Daisy’s of our world, you know – the ruined ones.

lindsay-lohan-drugs-passed-out

amanda-bynes-is-a-mess

Fame, people. Everybody wants it, do you?

“Just the Way You Are” by Lynsey James

Just the Way You Are

(Author: Lynsey James) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I’d reviewed for Carina UK once before and I decided to check their profile out on NetGalley. That’s how I stumbled upon this book and I was so excited about it when I requested it, that I could barely content myself until my request was approved.

Therefore, I think my expectations were just a bit too high. But look at that spectacular cover, read the awesome blurb and you’ll understand me.

I couldn’t say that Just the Way You Are is masterfully written, but it’s fun and sexy and sweet. If you are a sucker for the romance genre, read it! I distinguish two types of romance: the one a-la Danielle Steel in which there is romance and only romance, lots of “love-making” and insta-love, and the second type: which has romance, but also lots of hilarious scenes, sex, instead of love, many misunderstandings and much more. I think that British authors are more inclined to the latter and that’s exactly the type of romance that I just love.

And that’s Just the Way You Are for you: a quirky main character, who always messes things up but has a good heart and a way of fixing her messes, a grumpy but funny best friend, a hot and nice leading male, a “cow” of an archenemy and sweet recurring characters.

Now, this book wasn’t as humorous as Love, Rosie or as fabulous as Anna and the French Kiss. Ava definitely managed to get herself in many messes, though not nearly as many as what happens in the Shopaholic series. That’s probably the problem I had with the book. It went easy on all of its main characteristics.  It’s supposed to be funny, but not funny enough, interesting, but not interesting enough, a comedy of errors, which, however, are not as grave as for the reader to be wondering how is the character ever going to be able to get herself out of them.

That being said, the book was pretty enjoyable nonetheless. I even brought it along to read in uni, even though it’s not something I usually practice.

The writing itself posed some questions/problems for me:

1. The author had the nagging need to mention the brogue of each and every character Ava meets. What for? I, for one, don’t really care if Random character #183912 is from Manchester, Liverpool or London. It doesn’t really contribute to the story.

2. Everyone was calling each other names, among which we see “chick” and “munchkin” the most.

3. I can’t claim that I’m highly familiar with British slang, but “daft mare/cow” seemed very offensive to me. (Not a rant, just seemed strange to me, it might as well be totally normal. In Bulgarian if you call a woman a “cow” you might just get punched)

* * * S P O I L E R S * * *

a) I find it highly unconvincing that Ava, suddenly, after 20 years of knowing him, decided to start falling for Max at the beginning of the book. It really doesn’t seem that she liked him that way before, and all of a sudden, when it was convenient, she started noticing him, just in time to find out that he is Mr Writer.

b) Was it a mystery of ANYONE that Max was Mr Writer? Because I knew it from the moment the two of them talked about him. Actually, before Mr Writer was mentioned, I knew that Ava was going to end up with Max in the first chapter. When he was first introduced, he was too attached and gentle, to a point I thought he was her gay best friend, but then his girlfriend showed up and I was all “So he’s in love with her then”. If it was supposed to be a mystery that he was sending her the letters: mission failed.

“Love Rosie” by Cecelia Ahern

Love, Rosie

(Author: Cecelia Ahern) + (Year: 2006) + (Goodreads)


Review:

You know how people like to hug and smell their books. You know what I would like to do this book? This is what.
lbdimr8
I’m Professor X. Love, Rosie is Starlord.

Because fuck you, Love, Rosie, that’s why.

Love, Rosie tells the story of Rosie and Alex, two friends from Ireland who meet when they are 5 and are inseparable from then on until Alex’s family decides to move to the USA. Thanks to the many twists of fate, they are put in many hard and strange situations, and although they try to keep their friendship, it slowly but steadily grows into much more. Another question is, however, if they are going to be able to finally find their way to one another, as life seems to throw everything in their paths, just so they do not cross.

Being the Sam Claflin fangirl that I am, I heard about this movie when they started shooting, although I didn’t even know it was based on a book. Big surprise. But it was just yesterday, when on a whim I watched all of the trailers, that I realized that there was not only a book, but it was from the author of PS, I Love You. From the trailers, I decided this was going to be a fun little teenage story, I mean:

tumblr_o265jpisan1uutp88o1_500tumblr_n7lgratb9h1ql5hv8o5_250

So, I came to the Goodreads page and I read some reviews, too. It’s hilarious, they said. Laughed my ass off, they said. I recommend it to everyone, they said.

I’m really glad they seem to have significantly changed the story in the movie, judging from the trailer. I absolutely do not think I could stand the psychological trauma once again.

What kind of book is Love, Rosie?
A) funny
B) heartwarming
C) scary
D) sad
E) dangerous to your psyche
F) ALL OF THE FUCKING ABOVE, BECAUSE THIS IS A FUCKING ROLLER COASTER OF FEELINGS, THE SUM OF WHICH EQUALS TO GETTING HIT BY A FREIGHT TRAIN AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND A COUPLE OF MORE TIMES, JUST FOR GOOD MEASURE.

What can I really say about this book? Am I the only one who is deeply and profoundly disturbed after reading it? How am I ever possibly going to read another book by the wicked Cecilia Ahern? Wasn’t this a shock for you?

Am I the only one getting through an early mid-life crisis?
It is possible. The things in this book touched me on a very deep level. I have been reading book after book about missed opportunities and a spent life. Love, Rosie might seem like a sad yet funny comedy of errors, but I think it delves into a whole other dimension of questions which we have to ask ourselves. It’s not just: does (s)he love me, are we ever going to be together. I actually think what we should be asking ourselves is: am I doing the right thing for myself? About time our whole damn world stopped living for everyone else – whether to impress, or surpass, or whatever stupid excuse we have. I am by no means saying that we should live in disregard of other people’s feelings. We should just do what is right for us, without letting everyone influence our life and make our choices.

Rosie is a very normal teenager. She doesn’t like to pay attention in class, passes notes, gets drunk, gets grounded often, even gets suspended every year. She is smart, charming and absolutely hilarious. She is a dead ringer for Shopaholic‘s very own Rebecca Bloomwood, who, however, is stuck in a much more cheerful world than Rosie’s. Maybe it is a tendency for UK/Ireland-based authors to make such adorably crazy and quirky characters.
So, naturally, Rosie gets herself in the mess of a lifetime: none other than a baby. Here comes my favourite quote from the book. I could probably find you fifty more meaningful and soulful quotes, at least at first glance, but this is the one that has stuck with me.

“… And wondering what on earth I am going to do when this little one is born and looks at me and I shrug back.

At first I laughed at this. I imagined a baby looking at its mother, awaiting some deep answer and the mother just shrugging. Actually, I laughed my butt off. And then it hit me. Imagine how helpless you would feel. I don’t have a child, but the thought of bringing one into this world makes me feel very helpless and worried. What about a teenager who had her plans all made, her dream just in front of her. And all of that, gone.

And this is the theme which stuck with me for the rest of the book. All of Rosie’s hardships, her pain, her struggles. She makes a load of HORRIBLE decisions, but I could not help but feel so proud of her when she starts to accept motherhood, when she gets her first, second and every other job, when she decides to get a degree, when she fights to fulfill her dreams.

Alex was the character I set out to like. I have never had much sympathy for girls who let themselves go so much that they get knocked up before they have finished high school. So that in mind, I was sure that Alex would be the likable one in this duo. Not to mention that I started with Claflin’s image in mind. I mean, come on.
However, as much as I was rooting for him the whole time, I could not help but think he’s a total brat most of the time. He’s THE worst best friend ever. After Bethany appears at the very beginning, he just gets from one degree of an asshole to the other. He is nice to Katie and buys her presents and sends her cards, but he’s not really putting himself in Rosie’s shoes. He has his flashy job and his flashy life and his flashy women and she’s just a toy that he used to have but doesn’t anymore and he wants it back. Don’t get me wrong. I was team Alex/Rosie the whole time, but I felt like he was always making the wrong move, from the very, very beginning: Rosie’s 16th. I felt a natural desire to punch him on multiple occasions.

Rosie’s family seems supportive, is described as supportive and all that, but are they really? She’s homeless and jobless and shattered, so what shall we do then? Oh, I know, let’s sell our house and leave for China on a cruise! ARE YOU SERIOUS? IS THIS REAL LIFE? Not to mention her sister or the stupid little brother, who don’t seem to be of any help at all, except for writing the occasional note or a birthday card.

Katie, Ruby, Toby and the rest of them: I LOVED the secondary characters. They were fleshy and full-blown and realistic. They were the hilarious side of the book, opposed to the Alex/Rosie drama. They were the sort of characters you meet in your everyday life. Maybe there were too many recurring characters, I would agree to that, I was confused at some points, yes, but they were great! I loved Ruby so, so much, she was so funny and crazy. Katie and Toby were the doppelgangers of Alex and Rosie so, naturally, I was rooting for them too, not to mention how likable Katie was compared to other book brats, kids of main characters. There was just so much life in all of the people around Rosie, even Sanjay from the Indian restaurant.

If I have so much to say about everyone and everything, in a not so positive light, then why am giving it four stars then?
Because it made me care. It made me think. I felt sympathetic to the characters. I bashed my head against the wall and commented out loud to myself. I rooted for them to succeed and to be happy. I would have given it five stars, actually, but it left me sort of desperate and depressed. I mean, yes, a happy ending, but when? How long was it? It’s too sad to think.

The silence: this is a very beautiful concept. I have actually thought about it many times before. I agree that it doesn’t matter how many topics for a conversation you have, it matters when you can be together and not say a word and never be awkward.

By the way, if the movie was truly based off the book, I think Shopaholic actors Isla Fisher and Hugh Dancy would be marvelous. They both had the right looks, except for Isla’s hair color, and their ages could be better suited for the characters in the book.

Now, here is a cute gif from the trailers, and unless you want spoilers, do not read below the gif.

And I don’t think the gif is spoilery, because I have NO idea which scene this is.
original

*** SPOILERS ***

ARE YOU EVEN DAMN SERIOUS? IT TOOK THEM HOW MANY YEARS? THEIR LIVES ARE GONE. THEY WERE UNHAPPY AND NOT TOGETHER FOR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. THEY KNEW EACH OTHER FOR 45 YEARS!!!

Sorry for the screaming. I do feel like screaming. What is the point of a happy end when they are fifty years old and their lives are almost over. Not to offend anyone above fifty, but Rosie’s parents both passed away in their sixties. So how many years do Rosie and Alex really have together? How is it fair that they spend their entire lives apart? I couldn’t believe my eyes as page after page they were getting older and older. An year passes here, three years pass there. We are such fragile and finite creatures. One blink and our lives are over. Is there really any point if you only ever find happiness when more than half of your life is over?

PS. All gifs belong to whoever made them, I got them from Google, so credit to makers.