life after jane…

An Abundance of Katherines

Author:John Green
Publisher: Dutton
Date: September 9th 2006
Pages: 227
Genre: YA- Contemporary
Source: Purchased

Colin Singleton is struggling with his lack of genius. As a child prodigy rapidly approaching adulthood, he’s in danger of outliving what has always made him special. So many child prodigies spark early and then fade away into normalcy never having accomplished anything remarkable enough to earn the title of genius. The only thing special he can lay claim to is having been dumped. Being dumped is something Colin is extremely proficient at, in fact, he just got dumped again. Colin has been dumped nineteen times by girls named Katherine.

“But monotony doesn’t make for painlessness. In the first century CE, Roman authorities punished St. Appollonia by crushing her teeth one by one with pliers. Colin often thought about this in relationship to the monotony of dumping: we have thirty two teeth. After a while, having each tooth individually destroyed probably gets repetitive, even dull. But it never stops hurting.”

True to John Green form, this story is dripping with wit, originality, nonsense and a lot of stone cold reality. It’s beautiful enough to make you appreciate math. Yes, math. Using his nineteen failed relationships with Katherines, Colin has come up with a mathematical formula to determine the end of a relationship. He thinks that quite possibly, his formula could be a stroke of pure genius. More importantly, it’s a great distraction from the fact that he’s pretty much heartbroken. Colin, and the story are both instantly likeable. I loved every silly word of it.

“The problem exactly is that she dumped me. That I’m alone. Oh my God, I’m alone again. And not only that, but I’m a total failure in case you haven’t noticed. I’m washed up. I’m former. Formerly the boyfriend of Katherine XIX. Formerly a prodigy. Formerly full of potential. Currently full of shit.”

That’s pretty much becoming the norm with me and John Green. He writes something and I fall madly in love with it. Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson– both were everything I could every want out of a story in entirely different ways. Where my last two Green reads were clearly tackling serious issues (and expertly done mind you) An Abundance of Katherines was a purely for fun read.

I feel confident claiming that this is one of those wonderful YA books that truly makes it impossible to not love YA. All the paranormal crap and silly vampire nonsense, it’s just mindless entertainment that means absolutely nothing, but John Green’s writing is a reminder of why I love YA stories, and stories in general. The way an author can manipulate language, twist words and recreate an already established world in such a new and exciting way, never ceases to amaze me. With YA you have the added element of possibility, of a completely open and limitless future that has even an old fart like me believing that the whole world is still out there waiting for me and it is going to be a great adventure. I’ll read this book over and over again until it finally sinks in that I shouldn’t try to grow up so fast.


Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins

September 29th 2011 by Dutton
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From Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Happy sighs, twirls and twinkle lights. Loved, loved, loved this book. Loved it far more than it’s predecessor, Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins writes amazing leading ladies, but Lola outshines Anna like a supernova does a light bulb.

Lola is 17 and in a relationship with Max, a 22 year old bad boy in a band. He’s everything your mother wants you to stay away from…sounds delicious doesn’t he? Her parents were far more tolerable than most would have been. She likes him for his, edginess, the rawness that comes across in his music. He likes her because she’s a young thing dressed as a strawberry. Get your shotguns, dads.

But Max isn’t her first love. A few years before she fell pink-wigged-head over platform-combat-boot-heels for Cricket Bell, the very tall, very odd, boy next door, you know, that boy, the one who broke her heart. Cricket and his family would pop in and out of the house next door; his sister’s ice-skating career moving them frequently to different places around the country. It’s been two years since the Bells have inhabited the lavender Victorian and despite the many wishes Lola has made that they never return- they’ve moved back in. And you know what they say about your first love…you never get over it.

Lola is such a quirky, unique character, with her flamboyant costumes and her life covered in glitter. Lola never plays at being whoever or whatever it is she’s dressed as. She revels in the clothes themselves, her attire serving only to accent Lola. I grew insanely jealous as I read each and every outfit change, and her reasons behind what she wore. I’d love the freedom to randomly show up somewhere in a tutu, to rock a raincoat on a sunny day simply because I liked the color. She was so creative and imaginative. I missed her for days once the book was over.

Now, I have to be perfectly honest. Both Anna and Lola are terrific books. I’m so glad I read them because I know now I would have been missing something if I had not. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE her main characters. They are so vibrant and alive that I find myself wishing that I could call them up for a chat. But….and here it is: She’s 0-for-2 with me on leading men. I would NEVER have let Etienne (in Anna) dick me around like Anna did and I would have kneed Cricket in what he clearly DIDN’T have and told him to grow a pair. Even with that in the back of my mind, it didn’t alter my love for the story one bit. I can’t wait for Isla and the Happily Ever After !


     Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

     Published June 21st 2011 by Bantam

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     From Goodreads: Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better
     than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. The bail bonds office has burned
     to the ground, and bodies are turning up in the empty construction lot. To make matters worse, Stephanie is working out of a motor home she shares with a dancing bear, and Joe Morelli’s old world grandmother has declared a vendetta against her. And just when Stephanie decides it might be time to choose between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger, a third man from Stephanie’s past moves back to Trenton…

When we left Stephanie in book sixteen, the bonds office had been blown up, and many many senseless acts of vehicular abuse had been committed. Now, they’ve finally broken ground on a new bonds office but a dead body gets discovered on the empty lot, half buried beneath the backhoe. While a dead body in Trenton isn’t usually something to hold up progress, a second body turning up on the bail bonds lot, brings everything to a stand still. Income has dwindled and necessity dictates that Stephanie get back out there and bring it what skips she can. This week brings the FTA of a nude, Viagra dependent burglar, a Lexus driving housewife with a ex-husband speed bump problem and an 82 year old vampire with fanged dentures. Never say life is dull.

Stephanie’s mother is on the prowl as well. Having a daughter who’s marital status is FTA has become a source of shame and she guilts Stephanie into a fix up with Dave Brewer who at first glance “seems like such a nice young man.” Famous last words. Men are something that Stephanie doesn’t need more of. Her on again off again relationship with Morelli, and her status, whatever it is, with Ranger is about all that she can handle. Up until now she’s done a pretty good job holding them both at bay but then Joe’s Grandma Bella, a crazy Italian lady who hates Stephanie puts the “Vordo” on her (a slut curse) and Stephanie has urges that not even granny panties can squelch. The cure all for passion comes in the form of another dead body turning up on the bonds lot this time with a note that reads “For Stephanie.” Not that having someone want to kill her is anything new, but they’ve never come gift wrapped before. And she thought juggling men was trouble…

     “I didn’t see any fangs when he answered the door,” I told Grandma.
     “Well, it’s day time so maybe he was fixing to go to sleep, and he had his dentures in a cup.” Grandma said. “I don’t wear my dentures when I sleep.”
     Lula leaned back in her chair. “Hold the phone. This guy has fake fangs?”
     “They use to be real,” Grandma said, “but a couple of years ago Joe’s granny Bella, gave Ziggy the eye, and all his teeth fell out. So Ziggy went to Horace Worly- a dentist on Hamilton Avenue just down from the hospital. Anyways, Horace made Ziggy some new choppers that look just like his old ones.”

Damnit, Janet. You did it again. You sucked me back in and I’m once more a die-hard Plum fan and I’m itching for a sequel.

I went into this book, the seventeenth in the Stephanie Plum series, with the mindset that I was just about finished with the series. Nothing new ever happens. We never make any progress and the series never evolves. It’s like a screenplay for a sitcom that’s in its sixth season and it really just keeps getting renewed because there’s nothing else good on television.

Did anything new happen in this book? Not really, unless you count lots and lots of sex. And since the two men in this book with which one can have sex are such fine male specimens as Morelli and Ranger, then yes, we do in fact, count the lots and lots of sex. Once again, Evanovich didn’t give an inch with her formula, and we’re about in the same place we were when all this started but this was, hands down, her funniest one yet.

I forget that this series is a mystery because I always say I don’t read mysteries so it always comes as quite a shock to me when I get halfway through a Plum novel and I find myself caught up in the “who done it.” This one is steeped in it and it’s coming from all sides. She did a really good job dragging this one out because nothing that happened pointed to the killer.

This was Lula’s book, word for word and Lula was given all the best lines. I took this book on vacation with me and read it aloud to my mother, so I had the added benefit of reading Lula’s lines as Lula would say them. It was all I could do to get through it without peeing on myself. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard since, well, I hate to admit it, book sixteen. I guess I need to give in and give up. I love this series. I want her to marry Morelli and I want to see it have a happy ending but at the same time, I hope we never get there. It’s been a hell of a ride and I’ll keep buying tickets and standing in line even when it makes me throw up.

Book eighteen is set to be published in November? What gives? We never get two Plum books in a year?

I bet she’s pregnant. Taking bets in comments.