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.


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.

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.

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.