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.

Running On Empty by Colette Ballard

Running On Empty by Colette BallardRiver Daniels’ life has never been easy. Her mother died of cancer and her family was forced to move into a trailer park. Her stepfather is a drunk who hardly takes care of River and her sister. But River has always had a great group of friends who support her through everything, until she begins dating Logan, a spoiled rich kid who doesn’t treat River well at all. She sacrifices time with her friends for him, and even though he is horrible to her she keeps going back to him. Her friends keep trying to convince her to break up with him but River keeps defending him, until one night when he brutally attacks her, forcing her to take action. After she realizes what she’s done, River is forced to flee her home as a fugitive, with her two best girlfriends along for the ride.

What I really loved about this book was River’s growth–she goes from being basically a battered woman, constantly going back to a boyfriend who mistreats her, to a strong woman, determined to prove her innocence and get her life back. It’s a long journey for her, but she survives and copes really well.

I also loved River’s friends and their constant loyalty to her. Her best friend Justice, who is obviously in love with her, is willing to do anything to keep her safe even though she doesn’t realize it. Her two best girlfriends, Kat and Billi Jo, were slightly annoying characters but I admired their decision to sacrifice their own lives to help their best friend. River is put in an extremely difficult situation and they really help her to recover.

There were some parts of this book that dragged a little bit, but not so much that I felt bored while reading it. River just annoyed me a few times, mainly because of her back and forth with Justice and her inability to believe their was any way he could love her, and also because of her constant jealously that Justice has a girlfriend. She gets upset when he didn’t approve of her relationship with psychopath Logan, but she is allowed to get super jealous of his perfectly normal girlfriend.

Overall, Running On Empty was a great story about a girl struggling to recover and get her life back after a traumatic event. While River did annoy me at times, I admired her ability to cope and grow as a person after such a difficult time.

Running On Empty was released on November 25, 2013.

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

Quentin Jacobsen has been in love with his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman forever. They used to play together as children but when they both got older and went to middle school and then high school, Margo became part of the popular crowd and Quentin became part of the nerdy crowd. When Margo suddenly shows up at his window one night, a few weeks before the end of senior year, asking him to help her play a series of pranks, he follows her with very little hesitation. After spending the night driving all over Orlando with Margo, Quentin expects the next day at school to be very different. What he didn’t expect was Margo to disappear, and to become even more of a mystery to him than she already was.

As I’m sure most of you know, I am a huge fan of John Green. I absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, so I had no doubt I would love this one. While I will say it was definitely not my favorite of his books, it was still an excellent one.

I feel like I really understood what this book was trying to say. Quentin has built up Margo in his mind as this person who is almost more than a person. He has her up on such a pedestal that he can’t imagine her ever making a mistake or doing something that would upset him. He sees her in his mind as such a perfect girl that he doesn’t realize that maybe she is actually not perfect at all, and is just waiting for someone to realize that. This book is really about learning to see people for who they are, rather than who you want or imagine them to be. I think this is definitely something that a lot of us are guilty of–we get upset with people when they don’t fulfill the expectations we have of them, when really we need to understand that we are all different and can’t live up to the same standards as everyone else. Quentin is guilty of this throughout the book not just with Margo but with his other friends as well. He gets upset when everyone isn’t as obsessed with finding Margo as he is, or when people are more excited about other things, and throughout the book he finally learns that you have to accept people for who they really are and not who you want them to be.

I honestly didn’t really like Margo though. I understand that she had a lot of her own issues and that people were ignoring what was really going on with her, but at the same time she is extremely self centered. She disappears and all of the people who care about her, including her 11 year old sister, are left hurt and scared, wondering if she is even alive. Quentin invests so much time into figuring out what happened to her, and at some points it seemed like it wasn’t even worth what he was going through. He did learn a lot about himself and his friends along the way, and he was able to become more confident as well.

Overall, Paper Towns was a great coming of age novel. I highly recommend any of John Green’s books!

Paper Towns was released on October 16, 2008.

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey MartinClaire comes from a very wealthy family and it is expected that she will be just like her mother and sister–into fashion, shopping, and attending all sorts of events. However, she wants nothing to do with this lifestyle and instead is really into music. In high school, she meets Jared, an extremely talented guitarist and songwriter, and he teaches her to play guitar and they begin to write songs together. When they start dating and Claire brings him home to meet her family, her parents are not at all impressed. They want Claire to be dating a boy destined to go to an Ivy League school, not a boy from the local public school who has no intention of going to college. When Claire’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she begs Claire to break up with Jared. Since Claire wants to please her dying mother, she does exactly this. What she didn’t expect was that Jared would move to New York, get a record deal, and win a Grammy for the songs he wrote that basically bash his ex-girlfriend.

I really liked this one! It is actually a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I haven’t read but definitely need to. Claire’s parents are the cliche snobby rich parents who are disappointed in their daughter for not being exactly like them, and they immediately think the only reason she is with Jared is to rebel against them. They don’t realize how much she actually cares about him, or how hard it was for her to end their relationship. I appreciated that Claire loved her mother enough to give up Jared for her, but at the same time it was really unfair of her mother to even put her in that situation.

So Jared goes off to New York and basically pulls a Taylor Swift on Claire, which is totally not cool. Instead of listening to her or trying to figure out the real reason behind the breakup, he runs away. They were definitely both at fault–Claire for not explaining what was really going on, and Jared for not listening. And instead of answering her phone calls, Jared writes a bunch of songs about how horrible his ex-girlfriend was and they end up being chart toppers. Right away, I didn’t like Jared because he seemed like a jerk after all of this, but he definitely grew on me throughout the book.

Claire ends up having to spend the summer working at the beach while her family vacations there. When Jared turns up, staying with his friend who is Claire’s cousin’s best friend, the two are thrown together again after everything that happened between them. The two have this whole back and forth thing, going from hating each other to obviously still not being over each other and back again. I really liked Claire’s personality, and the way she would take little jabs at Jared that only he would understand. She definitely doesn’t let him back into her life easily, which is totally understandable.

Overall, Another Little Piece of My Heart was a cute love story that I definitely enjoyed. The ending was a bit lacking, because it ended pretty abruptly and I would’ve liked to have seen more of what happened after.

Another Little Piece of My Heart was released on December 1, 2013.

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Heartbeat by Elizabeth ScottEmma’s mother is brain dead and her body is being kept alive by machines because she is pregnant. Emma doesn’t agree with her stepfather’s decision to keep her mother alive so that the doctors can deliver the baby in a few months, and she is unable to move on and accept the fact that her mother is dead when she has to stare at her lying in bed day after day. When she meets Caleb Harrison, a notorious bad boy who is always in and out of trouble, she is surprised that she is able to connect with someone so different from her. What she finds is that Caleb is not just the bad boy he seems to be, and he may be someone that can help her get through her grief.

This book presented such a difficult situation and one that I cannot imagine having to cope with. It’s terrible enough that Emma has to lose her mother at such a young age, but to not even be able to properly deal with her grief is even worse. Part of her still hopes that her mother will wake up even though the doctors say she is brain dead, and it is even harder to accept the fact that she is truly gone when she is still technically alive. Emma even somewhat hates the baby because she blames it for her mother’s death.

I can’t imagine what kind of choice I would make if I were placed in that situation. It is hard to be mad at Emma’s stepfather for wanting to save the baby, but it also is kind of messed up that Emma’s mother is just being kept alive so that the baby can develop. It’s a very tough issue, and I can completely understand why Emma reacted the way she did–hating her stepfather and the unborn baby. When she meets Caleb, who has his own family issues, the two of them are able to help each other through their problems. They are two of the least likely people to ever get together, but their issues help them to connect and understand each other, which leads to a really great relationship.

Overall, Heartbeat was a beautiful novel about a very controversial issue. Scott did a great job of handling this issue and created a really incredible story.

Heartbeat will be released on January 28, 2014.

Four Seconds to Lose by K. A. Tucker

Four Seconds to Lose by K. A. TuckerCain is the owner of Penny’s Palace, a strip club in Miami. Even though he allows girls to dance with their clothes off on his stage, he simultaneously tries to save them from the lives they have been forced into. When Charlie Rourke comes into his club asking for a job however, he finds himself unable to follow his own rule of never getting involved with the staff. Charlie needs money fast so that she can run away from her past. While the thought of stripping makes her sick, she knows it is the only way to earn money quickly so that she can move on. She has no intention of getting involved with anyone, but when she meets Cain, she becomes unable to keep her distance.

This book was slightly different from the other two in the series because it is told from two different perspectives–Cain’s and Charlie’s. I think it worked really well for this story because both of them have secrets that they hide from each other but not from the reader, so we are able to understand the reason for their guardedness.

I was excited to read Cain’s story because while he has appeared in the first two books, he was very briefly in them and there always seemed like there was more to him than meets the eye. He’s not your typical club owner because he tries to protect the girls that work for him and helps them to better themselves outside of work. Charlie is also not what she seems initially–she is forced to leave her home and stepfather in Long Island after an incident and she is sent to Miami for what seemed like a period of time to lay low. However, she soon realizes that her stepfather isn’t the wonderful man she always thought he was and that she needs to run away from the only life she’s ever known.

I loved the romance between Cain and Charlie, especially because Cain made it seem so forbidden. Not only was he her boss, but she also reminded him of a girl he used to love so he tries his best to keep his distance from her. Charlie doesn’t want to get involved with anyone but she is especially wary of getting involved with Cain because she is afraid of what he will think of her if he discovers her secrets. The two try their best to stay away from each other but it proves impossible and ends up threatening both of their lives.

Overall, Four Seconds to Lose was a great third book in a series that I will definitely stick with. I love all of the characters in this series and I am excited to see who the next book will be about.

Four Seconds to Lose was released on November 4, 2013 and is the third book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series.

One Tiny Lie by K. A. Tucker

One Tiny Lie by K. A. TuckerLivie Cleary was always the smart, sensible sister and her sister Kacey was the wild one. But deep down she is desperate to make her parents proud even though they are no longer alive to witness it. She follows her father’s dream for her, going off to Princeton to pursue a career in oncology. But when her sister and her roommate drag her to a party one night, she didn’t expect to get drunk and become infatuated with the best looking guy on campus. Suddenly there is more to life than the future she had mapped out for herself, and she finds herself constantly drawn to a guy who is exactly the opposite of the man she always expected she would marry.

I really liked Livie’s story, and I think I liked it even better than Kacey’s. Livie has always seemed put together on the outside but she actually is still dealing with her parents’ death on the inside. While she has a very different way of dealing it from her sister, it still is not healthy. She is so desperate to fulfill her father’s dream of her going to medical school that she doesn’t even stop to think about what she really wants. When she meets Ashton, she realizes that the life she planned for herself may not be the life she actually wants to live.

I was really able to feel Livie’s conflict and I felt myself going back and forth with my opinion of Ashton right along with her. He comes off as a player and someone who could never get serious with someone like Livie, yet when they are alone he acts like she is the only person he cares for. Half the time he acts like a sweet, caring person and the other half he is being a jerk so, like Livie, I went back and forth between loving him and hating him. What Livie comes to discover though, is that there is more going on in his life than she realized and he may be dealing with just as many things as she is.

Overall, One Tiny Lie was a great story about a girl’s struggle to discover herself. I really loved this one and I liked the fact that Kacey and Trent still made an appearance.

One Tiny Lie was released on June 11, 2013 and is the second book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series.

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You by Katie McGarryOn the outside, Rachel Young seems like the typical private school rich girl. But on the inside she hides a girl who loves cars more than makeup and racing more than shopping. Rachel keeps her real personality a secret from her parents and brothers, and lets the real Rachel run free when she sneaks out at night to drive her Mustang. When she gets in over her head with a street race, Isaiah Walker helps her out. He is exactly the type of boy her parents would never want her to be involved with–foster kid, tattooed, into street racing–yet she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. When their lives are threatened after  a street race and they are given six weeks to set things right, Isaiah and Rachel must work together to save each other.

I love these books!! It’s so great to be able to read a new story about a character we’ve seen in previous books, and I love how we still get to see what characters like Noah and Echo and Beth are up to. I felt so bad for Isaiah after what happened in Dare You To, and I was so excited to read his story.

Isaiah and Rachel are more similar than they initially think. They both present a certain image on the outside, but in reality they are very different on the inside. Isaiah presents the bad boy look so that other people won’t mess with him, but he is actually trying very hard to do well in school so that he can pass his automotive test and get a good job straight out of high school. Rachel forces herself to act the way her mother would want her to, but it hurts her to be unable to share her true self with her family. The two are able to be their true selves with each other, and they realize that they have more in common than just their love for cars.

I really liked Rachel because she was such an innocent young girl who was completely inexperienced in relationships, and it was fun to see how nervous and excited she became when she got involved with Isaiah. It was also interesting to see how transformed she became when she was behind the wheel of a car. She also has to deal with so many things in secret and it was horrible how sick it made her. Her family was extremely messed up, and didn’t even notice what was happening to Rachel right in front of them. Isaiah was able to give her a sense of freedom from her family, and he helped her realize that she is just as important as the rest of her family and she should not hide herself or do things she doesn’t want to do just to make other people happy.

Overall, Crash Into You was an exciting story with great new characters and a beautiful love story. My favorite new character was definitely Abby and I’m hoping that McGarry will write a story about her one day!

Crash Into You was released today, November 26, 2013 and is the third book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To by Katie McGarry“That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn’t care as long as you had that one person standing beside you.”

Beth Risk is constantly protecting her mother–an alcoholic whose boyfriend beats both her and Beth–because she is afraid that her mother would be sent to jail and Beth would be all alone. When her uncle comes back into her life and tells Beth that she can either come live with him or else he’ll send her mother to jail, Beth is left with no choice but to leave the only home she knows for a place where she doesn’t fit in. Ryan Stone is a popular jock who is the complete opposite of Beth, yet for some reason the two feel drawn together after a dare forces them to cross paths. Beth is hesitant to let Ryan into her life, and to allow herself to trust someone with her secrets.

I loved this book!! At first it kind of had a She’s All That vibe–popular guy’s friends dare him to ask out the loner girl who he then falls for–but the story is so much more than that. Ryan’s life seems perfect from the outside, but the reality is that his brother is no longer allowed to come home and his parents’ marriage is almost nonexistent anymore. His father is the type that pushes him into playing baseball all the time so that he can make it into the majors, but while Ryan loves to play, he also has another talent. Ryan is basically trapped in his life until Beth comes along and helps him to realize that he doesn’t have to live out the life his father dictates for him. What’s great is that Ryan has a really decent group of friends that take Beth in as one of their own.

Beth has a constant need to protect her mother, even though her mother treats her horribly and falls right back into her bad habits. She goes to live with her uncle in his gorgeous new house and gets to go to a good school but she still wants to run away to save her mother. I admired her loyalty to her mother but at the same time I was really angry because a girl her age should not have to take care of her mother the way she did. When Beth meets Ryan she doesn’t believe that he could ever really care about a girl like her who comes from a broken home. It takes a lot for her to finally trust him, and I loved seeing how her walls finally started to come down.

What’s great about this book also is that we still get to see flashes of Noah and Echo from Pushing the Limits. It was great to see what they have been up to and how their lives have changed.

Overall, Dare You To was a great love story that had a lot of depth to the characters. It is not simply a sappy romance but rather a story of two teens with real issues who learn to overcome those issues together. I think this book is my favorite of the series.

Dare You To was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series. The third book, Crash Into You will be released on November 26, 2013.