Book Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me Mindy KalingTitle: Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre (s): Autobiography

Over the past few months, I’ve been moaning in reviews such as this, complaining that I haven’t had the time or opportunity to read let alone write reviews on them. I put this down to the type of material I was reading; for instance, focusing too much on “chick-lits” rather than exploring alternative genres. Which is why I chose an autobiography to ease me back into my reading schedule. And it appears non-fiction (ironically) worked its magic.

Why Not Me? Is an anthology of essays by actress and scriptwriter, Mindy Kaling, as she navigating her way through career success and downfalls, glamour, relationships and body image issues. As The Office alumni and executive producer of comedy The Mindy Project, I expected the book to be a little funny, if not hilarious and as Kaling shares her anecdotes, there are definitely laugh out moments, although they may not be the most obvious, there’s a subtly to her humour, making it an even more appealing read.

I found her honesty when she discusses being snubbed for an Emmy, or her odd complex of wanting to be liked by everyone extremely refreshing. Whilst one would assume that she’s exactly like her characters Kelly Kapoor and Mindy Lahari, in a number of chapters she admits to her superficiality , much like her characters Kelly Kapoor and Mindy Lahari, however, its clear the memoir is written by a highly intelligent, analytical and funny individual, and not the vapid “LA-type” woman that Kaling so often comes across.

Kaling also delves into her more creative side, offering a chapter on her “alternative life” which is told in epistolary form, offering a glimpse into what her life would have been like if she had not moved to LA but instead became a Latin teacher. Unsurprisingly, the whole story ends up being a rom-com, again demonstrating her obsession with the genre.

It’s an interesting memoir, with Kaling concluding that it acts as an expose. Despite thoroughly enjoying reading the biography, I couldn’t help but think that is most definitely NOT an expose. Whilst Kaling seemingly bares all, there are still certain topics she tends to avoid delving too deeply into, including breaking into showbiz as a young, inexperienced minority. Having said all that, this is the perfect “chick-lit” for all those avoiding the genre, but still wishing to get sense of romance and humour. 

The bug’s verdict: 7.0/10

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Book Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg AKA Zoella

Title: Girl OnlineGirl Online By Zoe Sugg

Author: Zoe Sugg aka Zoella

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre(s): Chick-Lit, YA

We now live in a world where everything is based online (ironic considering where I’m posting this?). This rapid expansion of technology and the ominous place we now refer to as the “internet”, means that our generation and the generations to come will live in a world where their whole lives are documented digitally rather than print. Which is why it is so refreshing to see the process reversed in Youtuber, Zoe Sugg’s debut novel, Girl Online

As some of you may know, Zoe, or more famously known as bubbly Zoella, has since been the subject of much controversy; whilst Zoe had claimed to have written the novel, it has since been revealed that she in fact used a ghost writer. Whilst ghost writing is far from uncommon, it comes as shock as to Zoella’s established fan-base who were buying into a novel because of who they thought wrote it, not just because their name is slapped on the front cover. This information certainly didn’t stop Girl Online from breaking the record for the highest first week sales for a debut author since records began.

Despite all of this, I bought the book (albeit before I found out Zoe only created the characters and didn’t actually do much of the writing). And to be quite honest, I found this novel thoroughly entertaining. So what exactly is it about? Girl Online centres around clumsy and accident prone, Penny who finds solace in her anonymous blogs where she updates her readers on her anxiety and disastrous teenage life. After a humiliating event which triggers her anxiety, Penny jets off to New York with her parents and best friend in order to escape from her so-called “friends”. There, she meets Noah, who helps her through her situation yet he too seems to hiding something, making Penny question her relationship with him.

In all honesty, this novel is riddled with all sorts of clichés that I have mentioned I DESPISE in the past. For instance, the clumsy, ditzy protagonist who we feel for or the gorgeous (yet completely unrealistic) love interest.  What actually sets this novel apart from any other in its genre is the inclusion of Penny’s anxiety and panic attacks. As someone who has suffered from panic attacks in the past (and probably will do in the future), I found it thoroughly interesting to see it portrayed in such an honest light and its bound to help plenty of insecure girls and boys out there! My only other complaint would have to be that the ending of the novel was completely rushed. Any development of the story for secondary characters was swept under the rug which was a real shame.

This novel is completely light, lovely and a great escapism! With another novel on the way later this year, it will be interesting to see if Zoe has more of an input or continues to use a ghost writer.

The Bug’s Verdict

8/10 – Highly Recommended

Ps. Just in case you’re interested, here are some interesting articles regarding the Zoe Sugg ghost writing debate!

Defending Zoella: 10 reasons not to hate on Zoe Sugg – (The Guardian)

A teenage boy writes: why I’m let down by Zoella  (The Guardian)

Why so many are angry with YouTube star Zoe Sugg for using a ghostwriter (Washington Post)

 

Flashback Friday: Persuasion by Jane Austen Book Review

Persuasion Book ReviewTitle: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Year Published: 1817

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre: Classic Literature, Romance, Romantic,

Since completing university, I’ve realised I’ve   abandoned classic literature in favour of some more generic or commercial novel. So to encourage or force myself to continue reading classic novels, plays and poetry, I’ve decided to take part in a meme known as “Flashback Friday”. On the last Friday of every month, I will upload a book review of an older or classic novel. This month’s choice is Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Persuasion, is perhaps, one of Austen’s lesser known novels. Written whilst she was on her death bed, the story focuses on the out of bloom and often quiet character, Anne, who at 27 has been written off as unmarriageable material. Anne however, at the tender age of 19 had fallen in love with Frederick Wentworth, a young man of little wealth and small social standing. When he proposed however, Anne was persuaded by her good friend Lady Russel, to refuse him. Now, almost eight years later, Frederick Wentworth has returned and proudly wears the title “Captain” with an equally honourable wealth. Anne must now painfully endure being constantly in his seemingly cold company as he courts her one of her cousins.

With every word, we, as the reader feel every ounce of pain Anne feels as she re-encounters, every pounding heartbeat. The beauty of Austen’s writing is that she manages to convey every emotion her protagonist feels, purely through her skill as a writer. In the hands of any other, this novel could be considered boring or conventional. Yet Austen manages to keep her reader on a rollercoaster of emotion, emotions you would feel if you were reading perhaps a murder mystery or thriller. Yet this is no thriller. This is an emotional piece of art.

Persuasion has the disadvantage of being one of the least polished of Austen’s novels as she never had the chance to meticulously revise her writing as she had with her other novels such as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. Despite this, her distinctive wit and irony never fails to shine through her writing through secondary characters such as Sir Walter, Anne’s vain father or her attention-seeking younger sister, Mary, making this novel to be one of the most charming she ever wrote.

I urge everyone and anyone to read this beautiful, timeless novel. I assure you, you will not be disappointed!

The Bug’s Verdict: 10/1o!!

Book Review: Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Where Rainbows End (Kindle Edition) Where Rainbows End

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre: Romance, Chick-Lit, Comedy

Cecelia Ahern known for her sickly and extremely unrealistic novels has churned out yet another chick-lit, this time in epistolary form i.e written exclusively in letters, texts and emails.

The novel centres on two protagonists, Rosie and Alex who have been the best of friends pretty much since they were born. The narrative follows their story from childhood to growing into teenagers and later adults as they explore different relationships and careers, all the while, still attempting to maintain their own friendship through the ups and downs life throws at them.

The characters of Alex and Rosie are fairly well-rounded characters, particularly Rosie, whose character development is more evident than her male counterpart. The most interesting aspect is, of course, the nature of the relationship between the two. Ultimately, this novel appears to be Ahern’s answer to the question that has baffled humanity for centuries; can a relationship between a male and female ever be purely platonic?

Ahern’s answer is a complex one as demonstrated through the obstacles faced by the main characters. However, what is most charming about this book, is the way in which she addresses this question through a second set of characters, another generation. Whilst I want this to remain a spoiler free review, I will say the way in which she constructs her answer is delightful.

All in all, this novel is a charming one, if not a little simplistic. If you’re looking for a light read that will offer laughs, tears and smiles, definitely purchase this from your nearest store (or kindle) today!

The Bug’s Verdict: 7/10

Book Review: Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Queen of BabbleTitle: Queen of Babble (Kindle Edition)

Author: Meg Cabot

Series/Standalone: Series Book #1 of 3

Genre: Adult, Romance, Chick-Lit, Comedy

Everyone has that one guilty pleasure and I am no exception as I occasionally dust off a good old Meg Cabot novel from my book shelf. Cabot, queen of teen chick lit, is known for her approachable and very modern writing style as she often uses colloquial, modern language. Usually, her characters are incredibly relatable and endearing. I’m not ashamed to say that favourites have included the Mediator and Princesses Diaries series. Now that I’m 21 however, I feel I’m a little too, ahem, mature (for lack of a better term) to be reading these such books. However, I decided to turn to some of Cabot’s more “Adult” fiction, Queen of Babble.  And boy was I disappointed.

Let’s rewind slightly first; Lizzie Nichols is the Queen of chatter and babble; somehow she always manages to put her foot in it. When the opportunity for Lizzie to spend a romantic European, summer with her long-distant boyfriend arises, she just can’t wait. But maybe her idealistic summer may not turn out how she expected thanks to her big mouth.

One of the major flaws of Queen of Babble is that it is EXACTLY THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER MEG CABOT NOVEL! As in the main character, had the exact same characteristics as Mia in the Princess’s Diaries or Suze in the Mediator Series. Secondly, the plot is that predictable that it is tiresome.

Cabot appears to believe that any female character who is clumsy and has the tendency to put her foot in her mouth or make some huge embarrassing mistake is endearing. While at times this is completely relatable for young girls like myself, after a while, it’s disappointing that this is the only variety of female character Cabot is able to “create”. Secondly, the plot is completely predictable and I would have thought that with this being an adult book and not a teenage one, Cabot would have perhaps developed from the typical structure she had established for herself , at least finding some way of adding variety. Another element that I have found incredibly frustrating about Cabot’s writing is the way in which she stereotypes any foreign or non-American character as antagonistic.

Whilst I’m pretty frustrated over these elements to the novel,  one aspect I did enjoy was  Cabot’s ability to portray Lizzie’s career limbo, something I completely related  and I know  a lot of other girls in a similar position would find to be unique to such a novel.

Whilst I’ve pretty much torn this book apart, I’m starting to believe its “me not you” situation. Perhaps it isn’t Cabot’s fault she’s stuck to the status quo but my own. Maybe, instead of reading the same type of chick-lit novels over and over again, I should spice up my “to be read” list. So as of now, I will attempt to read as many books as possible out of my own comfort zone. However, I’ll always know, that should I ever return, Meg Cabot and her multitude of teen and chick-lit books will be waiting for me snuggly on my bookshelf accompanied with a hot chocolate and a duvet.

The Bug’s Verdict: 6/10

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & ParkElenor and Park Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series/Standalone?: Standalone

Genre: Romance

Yes, I’ll admit it, despite that we’re taught to “never judge a book by its cover” from pretty much the day we are born, I did exactly that with this particular novel. I am often left disappointed and disgruntled at how deceiving a book cover is as it usually disguises terrible writing and a drab narrative. In this instance however, the charm and beauty that is so appealing on the cover reflects that of its writing and characters in Rainbow Rowell’s gorgeous and heart-breaking story of first love in Eleanor and Park. I’m astonished at how intense the novel actually is, something I had not anticipated it to be. When I bought this I felt I was just buying yet another typical YA romance. How wrong I was.

Eleanor is the new girl in school, shunned by the other pupils for her odd appearance. She meets Park when he reluctantly allows her to sit next to him and a friendship soon develops from a love of comic books and music.

One of the defining characteristics in Rowell’s debut novel is its realism. The characters are not described as models; instead, they are rather ordinary which certainly makes them much more relatable. Realist issues that are brought up include broken or abusive homes to race and the novel, surprisingly, highlights the impact domestic abuse can have on a child. Although this is clearly a very adult theme, I’m very impressed by the way Rowel handles it and brings this difficult topic to the fore. Additionally, class boundaries is another theme that is apparent within the novel and Rowell effectively juxtaposes Park’s loving middle class family to Elenor’s broken and tragic home life. Another issue that is also touched upon is racial matters as Park is depicted as half Korean. However, at times this topic seems merely glossed upon and it would have been nice if this was developed further.

Although I’ve raved about how Rowell has managed to effectively handle adult themes, there is one aspect in which she falls short in; the romance. Yes, to begin with, the romance between our two protagonists is sweet, naive and raw, making me smile throughout. However, by the end of the novel, Rowell seems to have fallen back on the “Romeo and Juliet” type complex many writers fall victim to. It is here that the characters are less developed which is disappointing in a novel that has so much promise in comparison to its contemporaries

That being said, I found I was grinning from ear to ear at times and at other times frowning and feeling heartbroken and this is definitely one to read to be reminded of what a decent YA book can be.