The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Break-Up Artist by Philip SiegelBecca Williamson will break up any couple at her high school for the simple price of $100 via Paypal. She is sick of all the couples in her high school making single girls feel inadequate just because they aren’t in a relationship, so she is more than happy to manipulate a seemingly happy couple into a break up. But then Becca receives her toughest request yet–someone wants her to break up the school’s power couple, Steve and Huxley.

This was a really great story about relationships and the effect they can have on friendships. Most of the people who request help from the “Break-Up Artist” are people who feel as though they’ve lost their best friends since he/she began dating someone. Many people in high school are guilty of this–dropping everything for their first boyfriend/girlfriend, including abandoning their friends. Becca, as the Break-Up Artist, feels she is doing a good deed by splitting these couples up so people can have their friends back, and when her own best friend commits the crime of practically abandoning Becca for her new boyfriend, Becca feels even more justified in what she’s doing.

Becca herself has never had a boyfriend and is vehemently opposed to the seemingly universal high school belief that one needs a significant other to matter. Her best friend Val, however, will do just about anything to get a boyfriend, even if it means outright lying about herself to snag one. After witnessing her sister get jilted on her wedding day, Becca doesn’t believe in real love, and thinks that people like her parents just settle for someone to marry. She has no problem breaking up all of these couples, because she thinks she is actually doing them a favor.

When she is given the task of breaking up Steve and Huxley however, everything begins to change. She was Huxley’s best friend before Huxley began dating Steve and got popular, leaving Becca behind to wonder why she was no longer good enough to be Huxley’s friend. Becca works to insert herself back into Huxley’s life so that she can find the weaknesses of Huxley and Steve’s relationship and figure out how to exploit them. However, she begins to realize that maybe some couples are in fact meant to be and it isn’t her place to decide whether or not this is the case. At the same time that she begins struggling with the morality behind her job, someone at school begins trying to find out who the Break-Up Artist is, so they can stop her from ruining any more relationships.

Overall, The Break-Up Artist was a great story about how relationships in high school can affect friendships and more. I definitely recommend this one!

The Break-Up Artist will be released on April 29, 2014.

 

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesPrenna James comes to present day New York when she is twelve years old. She and a group of people have traveled back in time from the future, where the world is in ruin due to an epidemic spread by mosquitoes. Prenna is expected to follow a specific sort of rules, including the strict rule that she must never be close anyone that is not part of the community. But when Prenna begins to fall for Ethan Jarves, she finds it difficult to follow the rules she has always obeyed.

I was really excited to read this one because it is by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but I have to honestly say that I was extremely disappointed in this book. It was really hard to get through, which is saying something because the entire book is less than 300 pages. I came very close to adding this book to my DNF shelf, but I figured since it was pretty short I might as well power through.

Prenna herself was a huge problem for me. I hate to say it but her character was just…dumb. She made stupid decisions that would be obvious to anyone else, and these decisions lead to outcomes that are extremely predictable. Prenna constantly goes on and on about how her “community” was supposed to travel back in time to stop the plague from happening…yet she thought they would do this by attending normal school for the past five years? Why has it taken her this long to realize that nobody is actually taking any action?

Another problem I had was the insta-love. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and usually a deal breaker when it comes to a story. Ethan sees Prenna appear randomly one day, which happened to be the day she time traveled, and he is instantly hooked. Prenna is basically in love with him from the moment she meets him, even though there are no sparks between them at all. And Ethan is portrayed as being basically perfect. He’s good looking, super smart and nerdy yet extremely popular, invited to all the best parties at school, great with computers, and somehow manages to acquire a glass cutter and know how to use it. All very convenient–too much so.

There were some definitely plot holes also. A few things just didn’t make sense, and then there was this whole thing with a homeless guy that was obviously supposed to be a big twist but just seemed completely weird and way too convenient to the plot. What really bugged me also was that after Prenna and Ethan figure out how they are supposed to essentially save the world, they sit around for two days hanging out by the beach and playing cards? I don’t know if this was supposed to be the relationship building part of the story, but it just seemed odd.

Overall, The Here and Now was a huge disappointment that I almost didn’t finish due to the awful main character, insta-love, and plot holes. The premise behind it was interesting but overall the book was a big flop for me.

The Here and Now will be released on April 8, 2014.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergWhen Levi moves from California to Wisconsin in eighth grade, he and Macallan hit it off from the start. They bond over a favorite British television show and become fast friends. They begin to do everything together and even their families grow close. People constantly make the assumption that they are a couple, but they keep denying that, saying they are simply best friends and nothing more. However, as the years go by and relationships come and go, they realize that their “friendship” is getting in the way of other things. Dates accuse them of focusing too much on each other, boys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s dating Levi, and the two begin to wonder if something more is possible, or if they’d be better off staying friends.

This was a really cute story! I was already a fan of Elizabeth Eulberg because I loved her previous book, The Lonely Hearts Club, so I knew I would enjoy this one. Better Off Friends is basically a high school version of When Harry Met Sally, and equally as good.

I really liked both of these characters. Macallan is tough, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for people. She has an uncle with a slight mental disability, and she treats him like her second father. Whenever anyone even slightly makes fun of him, she is super quick to defend him no matter what, which shows how good of a person she is. Levi is another great character–he doesn’t push Macallan to talk about her mother’s death, but makes himself available in case she ever wants to bring it up. The two are really great friends to one another, which makes it easy to understand why they would be hesitant to change their friendship into something more.

What I loved about this book is how it followed Levi and Macallan from when they first met in eighth grade and continued on through the rest of high school. By doing this we’re able to see how they grow up together and how they change over the years. They each go through their own series of relationships and friendships with other people, yet they manage to stay friends through even the worst times. The only time they seriously begin to falter is when the hint of something more appears and they both get nervous about the possibility of ruining their friendship.

Overall, Better Off Friends is a really cute story about best friends with the potential for more. I loved the way each chapter followed with a conversation between the present day Levi and Macallan reminiscing about each memory.

Better Off Friends was released on February 25, 2014.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi“Ignite, my love. Ignite.”

WARNING: Spoilers for previous books in the Shatter Me series ahead.

Juliette has decided to take down the Reestablishment. In order to do this, she needs help from Warner, someone she never thought she would trust. As she works with him and gets to know him better, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about him was wrong. She has to figure out her feelings for Warner and Adam, and at the same time learn all she can about how to fight because she realizes the only way to win this rebellion is to lead it herself.

This was hands down the best book in the series. So good that I stayed up until all hours of the night reading it. Juliette finally turns into the girl we all knew she could be and decides that she is going on the offensive. After Warner saved her life, she starts to see him in a new light and decides to work with him to bring down his father. Warner begins to let down some of his defenses around Juliette, and she finds that he is much different than she had originally thought.

Warner definitely showed the most growth of anyone in this book. We finally get to see who he really is under that tough exterior, and he begins to show his true self to more than just Juliette. The more he helps her friends and the more he reveals about himself, the more Juliette finds herself drawn to him and the more confused she becomes about her feelings. I loved the moments between the two of them–they were beautifully written and so full of emotion.

But oh man, Adam? After Unravel Me, I was ready to just be done with him. But in this book? He turned into such a jealous, whiny little brat that I had a hard time figuring out why I even liked him back in Shatter Me. Like Warner, in this book Adam’s true colors began to show, but unlike Warner, it put him in a much more negative light. What was great about Juliette though is that she realizes that there is so much going on that is more important than her love life, and she is able to overcome the difficulties she faces emotionally and become a strong leader.

Juliette finally learns to control her ability and she learns the many different dimensions of it. Basically, in this book she becomes a super hero. She has grown so much from the first book and she has definitely become one of my favorite female characters ever. She is able to come up with a plan to not only get rid of Warner’s father for good, but to also take over the Reestablishment and change the world.

Overall, Ignite Me was one of the best final books in a series ever. I could not have imagined a better ending, and I absolutely loved every minute of this book!!

Ignite Me was released on February 4, 2014 and is the final book in the Shatter Me series.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Juliette and Adam have escaped to Omega Point, a rebel headquarters where there are many other people with abilities who are training to fight the Reestablishment. Juliette has to try to integrate herself into life at Omega Point, but is still fearful of her own power. She thought she was finally free from the Reestablishment and their plans for her, but when she finds out that Warner is still searching for her, she realizes that what she thought was over is only just beginning.

This was such a great sequel. I love every character in these books, but I’d have to say Kenji was one of my favorites in this one. Juliette starts off in Unravel Me by being super mopey, upset that people don’t talk to her and that Adam seems to be hiding something from her, and finally Kenji calls her out on it. She begins to realize that only she can make a change in the way people see her, and she starts to grow stronger and learn to use her ability for good rather than fear it.

But seriously, I went from liking Adam in Shatter Me to wanting to throw him across the room in Unravel Me. He became such a whiny baby in this book, and every moment with him was like a soap opera. When Warner finally came back into the picture, I was so happy because even though he had seemed like a bit of a monster, his character was so much stronger and intriguing than Adam, who was just draining.

And speaking of Warner. CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO. Oh my goodness. I was leaning towards “Team Warner” before this but that chapter definitely sold me there. Enough said.

What I really loved most about this book was the growth that Juliette showed from beginning to end. Like I said before, she starts off very emotional and depressed, and when Kenji kind of slaps her in the face with honestly midway through the book, she starts to become stronger both emotionally and physically. By the end of the book, she is such a strong person that it is hard to even remember how depressed and down on herself she was in Shatter Me.

Overall, Unravel Me was an excellent sequel that really solidified my love for this series. Juliette is quickly turning into one of my favorite female protagonists, and I literally had to download the final book thirty seconds after finishing this one because it was just that good.

Unravel Me was released on February 5, 2013 and is the second book in the Shatter Me series.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.”

Juliette is unable to touch anyone without killing them. She has been locked in an insane asylum for 264 days, and has not seen or spoken to anyone in just as long. While she is locked away for possessing an ability that nobody understands, the world is crumbling around her. The Reestablishment has taken over, claiming that they will be able to stop the diseases that are spreading, find food for everyone, and bring the world back to the way it was. When they come to get her from her cell and tell her they are going to train her to become a weapon, Juliette realizes she has to decide between being used or fighting back.

I seriously don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this series. On the one hand I’m mad because I could’ve been enjoying these books for years now, but on the other I’m glad I waited because I was able to read through the entire series in two days now that the final book was just released. Either way, I am so happy I finally picked this series up!

Juliette has basically lived a tortured life. Her own parents thought she was cursed and were only too happy to hand her over to the asylum when she accidentally killed someone with her touch. She hasn’t been touched by anyone or received any kind of affection from anyone ever. She has grown up lonely and depressed, without any real friends. When the Reestablishment comes to get her they expect to find an insane monster, but instead they find a lonely girl with no desire to harm anyone.

Juliette is taken to the headquarters of Sector 45, where she is introduced to Warner, the sector leader who is quite obsessed with her and her ability. He wants to train her to be a weapon, so that the Reestablishment can use her power. Juliette wants anything but this. She has never had any desire to hurt anyone, and the idea of being used as a weapon is the kind of thing she has been trying to stop people from thinking her whole life. Plus, she is distracted by Adam, the soldier Warner put in charge of her, who seems to be on her side.

I really loved the writing style of this book. The writing is beautiful and I felt like I was right in Juliette’s mind along with her. The book has strike outs throughout, as if Juliette is thinking something and then crossing it out and changing her thoughts. It was such a brilliant way to write a story and really gave Juliette a strong and powerful voice.

I was actually really surprised at the pace of this novel. I thought the whole first book would take place in the asylum or even on the military base, but the book progressed much quicker than I expected. I really loved Juliette and I have to say I was definitely intrigued by Warner, even though he seemed like such a monster at times.

Overall, Shatter Me was a fast paced, beautifully written dystopian novel that will leave you anxious to read the next book. I highly recommend reading this one if you haven’t yet!

Shatter Me was released on November 15, 2011 and is the first novel in the Shatter Me series.

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire“And when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever.”

A Beautiful Wedding is a novella that gives a full account of Travis and Abby’s wedding in Beautiful Disaster. Following the horrific fire at the fight where Abby and Travis almost lost their lives, the two hop on a plane to Vegas to get married. The novella gives the reader more detail about Abby’s reasoning for the quick marriage, and also shows us a bit more of what happens after.

I was very excited to read this because I will never tire of these characters, but I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this novella. I loved being able to read about the actual wedding, but finding out Abby’s real reason behind the wedding ruined it a bit for me. In Beautiful Disaster, the reader is led to believe that Abby wants to get married so quickly and so young because she can’t imagine another day without Travis, yet in this novella we find out that there is actually an ulterior motive involved. I understood Abby’s motive, but at the same time I really felt like she was deceiving Travis a bit and that he deserved to know the truth about why she was pushing for this marriage.

I did like that there was more attention paid to the after effects of the fire–in Beautiful Disaster it seemed as though Abby and Travis brushed it off pretty quickly, but in the novella we learn that it definitely affected them more than it seemed. So many people died in the fire and Travis is left feeling extremely guilty and responsible because it was the fight that he was in that drew so many people to that building. Since the novella is told from both characters point of view, we get to see how upset Travis is and how nervous Abby is that he will be held responsible.

Overall, A Beautiful Wedding was a good follow up novella that gives the reader more insight into what really happened at Travis and Abby’s wedding. While I loved reading more of this story, part of me didn’t like Abby’s reasoning behind the elopement.

A Beautiful Wedding was released on December 10, 2013.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

Colin Singleton has dated nineteen girls named Katherine, and has been dumped by all nineteen. After being dumped by his nineteenth Katherine, he decides to go on a road trip to nowhere with his best friend, in hopes of getting over her. What he ends up doing is coming up with a mathematical formula that will predict the future of all relationships.

I have to say, this is definitely my least favorite of all John Green’s books. It was actually kind of hard for me to get through this one, mainly because I disliked the main character so much. Colin is a child prodigy, and because of this he acts extremely pretentious towards other people. For example, when he first meets Lindsey Lee Wells, a perfectly nice Southern girl in a small town, he automatically assumes that she is dumb and that he won’t like her just because she’s reading a celebrity gossip magazine. She ends up proving him wrong, but it is horrible that he immediately judges her for that.

Colin is also extremely self absorbed. He constantly is moaning and groaning about his Katherine issue, but never really cares about what everyone else is dealing with. His best friend Hassan is dealing with having to move on with his life and go to college, but Colin is too focus on his Katherine problems to really care. He even kind of pushes Lindsey’s problems aside when she opens up to him, but I will say that towards the end of the novel he began to realize how self absorbed he was being and toned it down a bit.

A big problem I had with this book is that it was extremely predictable. Most of John Green’s books have some sort of twist or shocking event or something that wows you. I felt like I knew exactly how this book would end the moment Colin and Hassan arrived in Gutshot and met Lindsey. This made the ending very anticlimactic and predictable to me.

Overall, An Abundance of Katherines is a cute story, but is definitely not one of my favorite John Green novels. I did love the footnotes and the math geek in me loved the mathematical formulas, but the main character and the predictability of the story made it a slight disappointment.

An Abundance of Katherines was released on September 21, 2006.

Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Me Since You by Laura WiessRowan Areno never realized how one event could change the lives of so many people. Rowan is a normal sixteen year old girl who tries to cut school one day. Her police officer father finds her and brings her home, and because of this he is in the area when a call comes through about a man about to commit suicide on the overpass across from their house. Rowan and her mother watch through the window as Rowan’s father and an innocent boy walking his dog on the overpass try to convince the man not to kill himself and his three month old son. The results of this tragic event change the lives of all involved, and Rowan has to try to figure out how to move on with her life and deal with grief and loss.

This book was so sad, but so good. Rowan’s parents are very overprotective of her, mainly because her father is a police officer and knows the kinds of things that can happen to teenage girls. Rowan is in that stage where her parents are annoying to her and she can’t understand why they are constantly trying to protect her. She wants to go out with her friend Nadia, who is a terrible influence and an even worse friend, and party with boys. But when the event on the overpass happens, Rowan begins to see life differently.

Rowan’s father has a very hard time dealing with what happened on the overpass, especially once the police video of the event gets leaked to the press. The entire town has to give their opinion on how the event should have been handled, and many people don’t think Rowan’s father did his job properly. He sinks into a deep depression, and Rowan and her mother have to try their best to help him while they both deal with the entire town talking about them.

Rowan finds comfort in a boy, Eli, who was walking his dog on the overpass the day of the event. He is also having trouble dealing with the fallout, and has experienced a recent loss in his life. Through Eli, Rowan is once again able to find happiness in life and is able to begin to move on and stop defining her life in terms of Before and After. Eli is a really great character, forced to grow up fast because of his loss, and he is extremely loving to his dog, Daisy. He and Rowan are able to help each other through the tough moments of their lives and they are both able to recover together.

Overall, Me Since You was a really beautiful story about coping with loss. It was a really well written and powerful story that will definitely stay with you.

Me Since You will be released on February 18, 2014.

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Tin Star by Cecil CastellucciTula Bane and her family are on a colony ship headed to begin life on a new planet. When they stop at a space station, the leader of the colony ship beats Tula to within an inch of her life and leaves her for dead. Her family doesn’t realize and they leave on the colony ship, abandoning Tula on the remote space station. She is saved by an alien named Heckleck, who teaches her the way of things on the space station and helps her to survive.

When three humans get stranded on the space station, Tula finds herself torn between her mistrust of humans and her desire for companionship. She sees the humans as her way off the space station, and perhaps a way to exact her revenge on Brother Blue.

This book had such an original story. There were so many different types of aliens on the space station and we get to learn about a lot of their different customs. Tula is the only human on the station so she must learn the way of these aliens in order to survive. I really admired Tula’s will to survive–even though she is all alone, separate even from her own species, she never gives up and finds a way to make money and create a life for herself.

Tula lives on the station for years and years without seeing another human, so when the three humans crash onto the station, she doesn’t even know how to act towards them. The relationships she developed with the humans were very strange, and the one quality I didn’t like about Tula is that she is extremely manipulative and uses people to get what she wants. She does this with the other humans, telling them what they need to hear in order to get from them what she wants. I understood that she needed to do this to survive, but it also made her slightly unlikable.

Overall, Tin Star was a very original story about a girl who has to grow up fast and learn to survive. I’m interested to see how Tula’s story will continue.

Tin Star will be released on February 25, 2014.