An Abundance of Katherines By: John Green (Book Review)

AN-ABUNDANCE-OF-KATHERINES-by-John-Green

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.  


An Abundance of Katherines was absolutely wonderful! I was a little hesitant upon reading this novel because a lot of people say it is their least favorite John Green book. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I adored it!  I didn’t love it as much as I loved Looking for Alaska, but I think I enjoyed it more than The Fault in Our Stars.

An Abundance of Katherines is quirky, but not in a over-done, annoying way.  It was not quirky for the sake of being quirky, but rather, in a unique and fascinating sort of way.  For example, there are footnotes on almost every page of the novel, and random facts and details that one would expect coming from Colin Singleton, a child prodigy.  Furthermore, each of the characters have their own unique features.  For example, Collin is obsessed with anagramming (which I didn’t even know was a thing until this novel), and his best friend, Hassan is a judge-judy loving Muslim.  I am a sucker unique small details, and this book is full of them!

John Green deserves an award (although the dude probably has tons of awards taped to his refrigerator) for making Colin Singleton a likeable character.  Although Colin is unique, he definitely is a self-centered, egocentric twit sometimes.  There were a few moments where I wanted to throw the book across the room because of how but-face-esque Colin was acting, but ultimately, I grew to love his character.  By the end of the novel, Colin has learned from his defects, and finally recognizes that his life doesn’t have to revolve moping about getting dumped by girlfriends named Katherine.

Although I grew to like Colin, Hassan by far was my favorite character in the novel.  Any scenes with Hassan never failed to make me laugh.   He is the hilarious yet supporting best friend everyone wants.  His jokes made me crack up in uncontrollable spurts of laughter.  Once, when reading on the beach I started laughing so hard that a person near me stared at me like I was some kind of crazy psychopath.   But what can I say, Hassan simply makes everything better.

The only aspect of this novel that was a bit off-setting for me was the ending.  It seemed rather abrupt and a bit forced for me, but all in all this was not a large enough defect to alter my love for the book.

John Green has yet to disappoint me, an Abundance of Katherines is LOVELY.  It is quirky, fun, and thought provoking!  If you have yet to pick up this novel, you REALLY SHOULD go out to Barnes and Noble right now to pick one up!

147c1-5stars

The Longest Ride by: Nicholas Sparks (Review)

The longest Ride

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.


While, The Longest Ride was not my favorite book, I still would recommend it.  As the summary above mentions, the novel follows Sophia, Luke, and Ira, three very different people whose lives interweave.

Sophia and Luke’s story is what you expect from a Nicholas Sparks book.  It is uber romantic and adorable, which is perfect for fellow helpless romantics.  I love to read about heart warming relationships, so Sophia and Luke’s story was my cup of tea.  Also, Sparks played off of the whole cliché “opposites attract” tastefully by making Sophia and Luke’s relationship deeper than simply a physical attraction.  Through their witty banter, Sparks portrays them as an embodiment of a young couple, and he does so realistically.  Their struggle to discover their place in the world whilst trying to fit each other into their lives is a dilemma that most people can find relatable.

A second thing that I really enjoyed in this novel, was Ira’s story.  As Ira struggles with surviving his lethal car crash, he often refers to flashbacks and time spent with his lover, Ruth.  As much as I loved Sophia and Luke’s relationship, I found Ira and Ruth’s relationship more fascinating.  I loved learning of all their little quirks like collecting art.  Furthermore, it was interesting to observe  the commitment they had for one another despite the obstacles that came in their way.

However, while I did enjoy Ira’s story, the shifting between Ira’s story and Sophia and Luke’s story was my biggest issue with this book.  There were times when I read an enthralling excerpt from Sophia and Luke’s story, but then had to wait 20 pages to get back to it because it went into Ira’s narration.  Despite my love of Ira and Ruth’s relationship, I didn’t love where the chapters with Ira’s narration were placed, it often seemed quite random and jumpy.  I understand the point was probably to include Ira’s perspective after an exciting moment with Sophia and Luke (so readers want to continue reading), but I didn’t find this effective.  Sure, perhaps it made Sophia and Luke’s story more enjoyable, but I think it weakened Ira’s story, when his story was just as significant.

Furthermore, I wish there were more connections explaining why Ira’s story related to Sophia and Luke’s story.  By the end of the novel, it is obvious how the characters’ lives are intertwined, yet throughout most of the novel, I had no idea why Ira’s story was even included.  Sure I loved it, but I often felt like Ira’s story was a separate book, or that it should have been.  Of course there were interesting connections such as how Sophia and Ruth were both very interested in art, and other comparable details, yet, it is quite difficult for a reader to understand why these stories are connected and what the purpose is.

As a whole, I did enjoy The Longest Ride, but it will never be placed on my favorites shelf.  I would recommend it to people who love romance books and love Nicholas Sparks.

3 stars

Its Kind of a Funny Story: By Ned Vizzini

its kind of a funny story

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.


Wow, I have had the best luck picking out FANTASTIC books recently.  There has not been one book in the new year that I haven’t absolutely adored.  Its Kind of a Funny Story is a poignant, powerful, and humorous story that will not disappoint you.

Its Kind of a Funny Story follows Craig Gilner, an intelligent teenage boy under immense pressure.  Craig attends an extremely prestigious highschool in New York that has put so much pressure on him that one day he contemplates suicide.  However, in a spir of a moment decision, he checks himself into a mental hospital instead.  I found Craig’s story extremely relatable.  Not because I have ever experienced depression, but rather, because as a person in 3 AP classes I could relate to his stress about school.  Schools ask more and more out of their students, and Craig’s story proves how dangerous this is.   Vizzini emphasizes that kids need not spend every waking hour stressed out because this leads teenagers on a destructive path.

Its Kind of a Funny Story is indeed a funny story. Craig’s witty comments often left me with a smirk on my face.  Yet, underneath this novel’s humorous surface lies a profound layer brimming with insightful themes and messages.  This novel not only gives insight on the sentiments and emotions that contribute to depression, but also proves that depression does not defy a person.  People can rise above depression- a truth Ned Vizzini recognizes in his novel.

When researching about this book online, I discovered that Ned Vizzini actually suffered from depression.  Ned Vizzini spent some time in a psychiatric ward, an experience that he drew inspiration from to craft Graig’s story.  Tragically, Ned Vizzini committed suicide, a fact I discovered when looking at a review for this novel on Goodreads.  Although I can’t speak of Vizini’s other works, Its Kind of a Funny Story is a humorous, yet very insightful take on depression.  If you have yet to read the novel, I highly suggest picking it up, it truly is a funny story, but the humor does not take away from the meaning of the novel.

five stars

Speak: By Laurie Halse Anderson (Book Review)

speak

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.  


Speak sticks with you.  There are books that you read, enjoy, then place back on your bookshelf to collect dust.  You don’t think about these books again.  You forget the characters, the world, and the beautiful prose.  You forget the emotions you felt while reading the book.  You forget the novel’s message.  It becomes simply another book you gaze at indifferently, having enjoyed being along on its ride, but not really gaining anything from the journey. Speak is not this type of book. You will not forget it. Speak is honest.  Authentic.  Real.  Speak is powerful and sad, yet triumphant.  I read the book two weeks ago and I am still thinking about it.

Speak follows Melinda Sordino, a troubled freshman in high school.  She is haunted by her inner demons which leave her a prisoner trapped in her mind.  When reading the novel, it is obvious that Melinda attains serious problems, but it is not until the middle of the book when you discover what she has endured.  Although Melinda is in a difficult position, this novel is not one big depressing blob.  But rather, Anderson crafts Melinda’s character so she attains a sarcastic and sassy voice.  Although there are moments that you cry for Melinda, there are moments that you laugh because of her wit, and are proud of her when she finally speaks.  Also, throughout the novel, it is wonderful to observe Melinda get stronger.  By the end of the novel she is not a frail little damsel in distress who needs to be saved, but rather, she can save herself because she has started to mend herself back together.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing in this novel is superb.  Speak is broken down into short chapters and short paragraphs which make the book seem to fly by.  Also, by organizing the novel in this way, Anderson prevents the audience from being overloaded with emotional content.  Each section has powerful yet sad emotional moments, but since these moments are spread out throughout the chapters it doesn’t feel like any information is dumped on you.

When going into Speak, I knew it discussed heavy issues.  Laurie Halse Anderson is what I would call a quintessential issue writer, meaning that in almost every YA book she writes she writes about problems haunting adolescents.  Although I am not going to say exactly what issue Speak deals with because I don’t want to spoil anyone, Anderson handled and dealt with this issue with honesty and respect.  I personally don’t think I would have responded the same way as Melinda did, but her story was incredibly believable and real.  Melinda’s story is applicable to thousands and thousands of kids and teenagers, so I can only hope that it helps those affected to speak.  Because they need to be heard.  And we need to listen.

Due to this book’s increased popularity, I would be very surprised if you have not read it already, but if you haven’t you must read it.  This is mandatory reading in my opinion.  This novel can teach us so much about people like Melinda and how we can help them.  It teaches us to not make assumptions about anyone because we don’t know what they are suffering from. Or if you are like Melinda, maybe it will help you find your voice, and attain justice.  You deserve it.

147c1-5stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: By Stephen Chbosky (Book Review)

perks of being a wallflower

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.


Wow!! I couldn’t have picked a better book to start off 2015 with!  This novel perhaps is not only one of the best YA books I have ever read, but one of the best books I have read, period. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is quirky, poignant, and deals with numerous issues.  Chbosky’s novel is not another empty young adult book read merely for entertainment, but rather, it is a profound book which is threaded with themes and messages.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower attains all the fundamentals of a coming of age story.  However, Chbosky expertly depicts the voice of struggling teen, making it stand out against other coming of age stories.  Furthermore, nothing in this novel is distorted by romanticism or unrealistic fantasies, rather, it provides an extremely authentic glimpse into the life of the main character, Charlie.

Charlie is an incredibly unique and insightful main character.  Charlie is an innocent boy who lives a disturbingly unfair life.  He often cries and is emotionally unstable, but Chbosky does not make him weak.  Charlies is not a fragile character who can be shattered into a million pieces, but rather, he is developed as a strong character for not giving up on his life even when the world seems to be fighting against him.  Perusing the book, I knew that Charlie has problems, but when I learned what his issues were I was broken.  I laughed and cried with Charlie along his journey, therefore, it is heartbreaking to see just how cruel the world has been to such an earnest boy.

As a short, concise book, the Perks of Being a Wallflower deals with heavy issues.  I actually cannot think of any problems that were not discussed in this novel.  Chbosky tackles drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and more all in one book!  I would normally think that there were too many issues crammed into one book, but this novel is an exception.  Chbosky deals with each problem honestly making everything feel real.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written as a series of letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend over the course of his freshman year. This style of writing made the book faster and easier to read, although it already is super short! Also, it made the novel feel real.  We never learn who this anonymous friend is, thus, it feels like Charlie is specifically writing to his readers. Moreover, I loved observing how Charlie’s writing actually improved from the start to end of the novel.  It is these small details that Chbosky includes that make this novel so stupendous.

Overall, I think EVERYONE should read this book.  I know I will read it time and time again, picking up on something new each time.  If you haven’t already done so you must pick up this book now!

147c1-5stars

Noggin By John Corey Whaley: Book Review

Noggin

Summary

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.


When reading the synopsis, you would think that Noggin was going to be a weird sci-fi book, but it is actually kind of a cancer story.  The novel follows Travis who has had his head cut off after his body was ravaged by cancer.  Knowing that he had no other options, Travis endured a new medical procedure, in which his head was cut off and cryogenically frozen until technology allowed his head to be placed upon a different body.  Travis expects to wake up in the distant future, but instead he wakes up 5 years later, which is just long enough to let his friends and family move on, but not long enough for Travis to be able to let them go because to him it is as if no time has passed.

I was not expecting to like this book, but from the very start it drew me right in.  I tend to shy away from stories about grief, especially revolving around cancer, because I find they are a little too heavy handed for my taste, but Travis’s refreshing voice made me unable to put the book down.  Interlaced with the perfect amount of sarcasm, Travis’s humor jumps off the page and put a smirk on my face despite the despondency of his situation.

Noggin tells Travis’s story of coming back to life as a famous medical miracle, while including flashbacks of his former life.  Emotions abound in this novel. Although Whaley’s writing style is humorous, there is a sad undertone which made me tear up at times.  Some of the tears were shed out of the beauty of Travis’s relationship between his family and his friends, but also, there were moments that made me feel weak and fragile because of the heartbreaking situations Travis endures.  Noggin primarily focuses on Travis’ relationships with his friends and family, all of which are strained because of the circumstances.  Everyone wants to move on, but nobody knows how. Sadly there wasn’t a “dealing with the aftermath of when a relative comes back from the dead” book to guide them.  As the story goes on, it becomes evident the significance Travis’s presence has on all the characters.  I really felt touched by the stories of these characters, especially between Travis and his old friend Kyle.

Although I felt very engrossed throughout the beginning and middle of the story, the book trailed off in the end for me.  I didn’t think the ending was that strong and some of Travis’ actions began to annoy me.  While they fit along with his desperation, I would have hoped that by the end of the story he had developed a little bit more.  However, my expectations might not be as realistic as the ending that Whaley planned out for a character in Travis’ situation, so I would not call it the worst ending ever, it simply did not hit me.

Overall Noggin is a unique novel regarding the effects of cancer.  This is a book that despite its humor will really make you think about relationships, life, and the passage of time.  This would also be a fantastic book to read in book clubs because there are so many ideas and themes worth discussing.  If you are looking for a funny book that still has some depth to it, I would highly recommend this book!

f8a63-4stars

Book Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (By: Kat Rosenfield)

Amelia Anne is Dead and gone

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town–and Becca–into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s death.


Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone follows two girls; Becca and Amelia who feel trapped by their lives.  Both girls simply want to run away, escape the lives they have been living, and finally feel freedom hugging them, telling them they can finally breathe.  Amelia and Becca were very similar during life, but now Amelia has been murdered, and her body rests on the outskirts of Becca’s town.

Although this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I am not oblivious to the great aspects Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone attains.  If I could rate a book simply on writing style I would undoubtedly give this book 5 stars.   From the very first sentence, I knew I would love Rosenfield’s writing style.  If this is her debut novel, I have no doubt in my mind that Rosenfield will have an amazing career ahead of her. Her prose was incredibly lyrical and yet it was still able to capture the dark undertones of hopelessness and confusion.

Also, I give Rosenfield credit for her unique approach to writing her novel.  By including Amelia’s perspective, she foiled Becca’s character wonderfully.  Amelia’s chest ceased to rise and fall in the same place in which Becca was born and raised. Amelia graduated college the same day Becca graduated high school.  Both yearn to fall in life’s embrace, but Amelia’s opportunities were cut short.  Amelia is physically trapped in the same town which Becca fears she will remain locked in.

Now that I have mentioned the aspects I enjoyed in the story, I am going to move on the parts I did not like.  Even though I just praised Rosenfield for her unique method to write the story, I do not think it was necessarily successful.  I did really enjoy seeing from Becca’s current perspective and Amelia’s days leading up to her demise, but I really disliked Becca’s third omnipresent narrator.  The third person narrator often gave the audience information that wasn’t important to Becca’s or Amelia’s storylines, therefore I think the book would have been stronger without it.

I personally really love character driven books, but besides Amelia, almost all of the characters in Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone are horrible people.  Certain authors are able to work with heinous characters and make you love to hate them, but that wasn’t the case here.  Rather than caring about the characters, I felt indifferent towards almost all of them.  Even when the twist happens and we finally discover who killed Amelia, I didn’t feel my heart pounding and I wasn’t excited, but rather, I just wanted to be done with the story. .

Although I personally didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t necessarily let this review hold you back from picking this book up. Many people I trust on opinions absolutely adore this book, so maybe you will too!

3 stars