Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Let me say outright that I like Mindy Kaling. She seems like a fun lady, and her Office counterpart, Kelly Kapoor, is one of the few reasons I might actually still want to watch that show. And, as I have stated already, I love reading celebrity memoirs. Therefore, in one of those logical jumps, Mindy Kaling's memoir was right up my alley.

The book is divided into childhood stories, college stories, stories of trying to make it as a writer, stories about The Office, and some fun stories about romantic relationships and fun stuff. I think my favorite was when she posted the pictures of herself taken by her iPhone. She called it a glorified mirror. I too have used my camera phone to check my hair or decide if my sweater was more green or blue. Additionally, I can relate to Kaling's concerns about her weight. She counts dieting as her only hobby, so if she lost her excess weight, there would be nothing for her to do. Personally, I don't think she's fat or chubby at all. The story about her demanding a size 0 dress be altered for a photo shoot was pretty cool nonetheless.

Honestly, reading this book made me feel a little bad that I don't watch The Office anymore. Kaling is obviously proud of the writing and acting she does on the show. She was fun to read about, but there seems to be a bit missing. It's almost like those darned teen novels where the first volume is good, but you don't get the full story until the next installments. It's not a bad thing, and I hope that means we get another installment from Mindy Kaling.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet. Two households, star-crossed lovers, and a double suicide make for the greatest love story ever. By the way, that was all a big fat lie. What actually happened was that Romeo killed Juliet. Basically, there is an epic war going on between the light and the dark. The dark convinces one half of a couple in true love to kill the other person. The killer joins the dark side, the victim joins the light side. For hundreds of years, Romeo has been trying to get people to kill their lovers, and Juliet has been trying to stop him. She is understandably ticked off at her former husband, seeing as how he killed her and all.

The next time Juliet arrives to fight Romeo, she is in the body of a girl named Ariel. Ariel's life is pretty sad. She doesn't have a good relationship with her mom, she is losing her best friend, and most of the kids at school think she is a freak. Juliet figures out that her soulmates are Juliet's friend Gemma and new boy Ben, but not before she falls in love with Ben herself. This time around is also a game changer, because it seems as though it may be the final showdown. Neither side is in contact with their agents. Romeo claims he knows a spell that will allow them to regain their actual bodies, so they can end this battle once and for all.

As Shakespeare retellings go, this one wasn't so bad (Unlike, say, The Cellar). The twist was intriguing, but my immediate reaction was that this book sounds melodramatic and Twilighty. Therefore, I had to read it. There must be a wait list on the library website for a reason, right? Juliet Immortal indeed ended up being melodramatic and rather Twilighty. But I liked it, in spite of all the cheesy silliness. I'm a big gouda fan, what can I say?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Yes, I've officially completed my required 52 books, but I'm still going. The year isn't over yet, and I've got so, so many more books to read.

All These Things I've Done was rare in that it is a dystopian book, but there aren't any monsters or supernatural elements. It's a rather depressing view of the future. People born in the 1990s are elderly, and young people don't even know what antiquated terms like "OMG" mean. Natural resources are so depleted that water is strictly rationed, and clothing and books aren't produced anymore. Chocolate is an illegal substance, and just like during the Prohibition, when a substance becomes illegal, an environment of crime grows around it.

The Balanchines are a mafiya family dealing with the distribution of chocolate. Anya saw how the family business led to her parents' deaths and to her brother, Leo, becoming mentally disabled. She has a lot of responsibilities in taking care of her brother and sister, plus their dying grandmother. Anya's life gets more complicated when she starts a relationship with the new boy at school, Win. His father is the new assistant district attorney, and she is the daughter of a mafiya king. Win's father isn't exactly thrilled at his son's choice in girlfriend.

Everything really starts to go bad when someone is poisoned by chocolate. Anya appears to be the prime suspect. The plot gets cleared away very quickly, but it makes Anya have to face difficult issues. After witnessing so much violence (She was in the same room when her father was shot), it's understandable to want to stay as far away from the chocolate business as possible. Throughout the book, she still has the stigma of the last name Balanchine. No matter what, she can't change who she is, and the big conflict comes from whether she should embrace that or deny it.

As stated before, I enjoyed the slightly more realistic dystopian world of All These Things I've Done. I really started to relate to it because of the character of Leo. My brother is also slightly mentally handicapped, so I can sympathize with Anya there. Anya was a great character, one I wished could catch a break in all the bad stuff happening to her. I super loved the Anya/Win relationship. The ending bummed me out a little, but it leaves a lot of promise for the next book in the series.