Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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          Don’t you guys just love when you find a book that absolutely kicks your reading slump’s ass?  I have spent over a month trying to find a book that interests me enough to keep reading and was unsuccessful until I picked up Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven.  A friend and coworker of mine recommended this book and I devoured the whole thing in one sitting.  I was messaging her while reading and she was immensely entertained by my ramblings and fangirling. Although I had one pretty big issue with it, I adored this story and highly recommend it.  

 

          Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is about two teens navigating high school and overcoming personal struggles.  Jack Masselin has been secretly struggling with a rare neurological disorder called prosopagnosia for most of his life.  He is determined to keep his problem under wraps. Libby Strout was once known as America’s Fattest Teen after having to be removed from her home by a crane.  Now, after two years of healing and homeschooling, she’s attempting to reintegrate into society and struggles with self-image and the unkindness of her classmates.  After a vicious prank, Jack and Libby are forced to spend time together doing community service and eventually learn that they have more in common than anyone could have guessed.  

 

          One of the things I loved most about this book are the characters.  I related to Jack and Libby more than I anticipated when I went into this book.  Libby suffers from panic attacks and anxiety just like me. The descriptions of her feelings and experiences with her mental health had me wondering if Jennifer Niven could somehow see into my brain.  As far as the mental health aspect goes, it was like she was writing me as a character. I have seldom felt completely represented in literature concerning my anxiety and Libby was a character that made me feel like I’m not alone.  Now, thankfully, I do not suffer from prosopagnosia like the other main character, Jack. However, I spent most of my teen years struggling to hide my anxiety and depression, so I felt a connection with him based on his efforts to remain undiscovered.  He, like me, found it very difficult to ask for help out of the fear of being judged by his peers. It was very refreshing to see my feelings reflected in these characters.

 

          The message of this book is simple: above all, be kind.  Unfortunately, kindness is all too rare in our world these days.  It is easy to let the negativity reign free and kill our joy. Holding Up the Universe reminded me of the importance of staying positive and keeping a smile on my face.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you; all that matters is how you see yourself and how you treat others.  

 

          There are several references throughout this book that made my fangirl heart soar.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of my other fandoms creep up in this book. I actually took pictures of each reference and sent them to my sister because she’s a fan as well.  And because I am absolute fangirl trash ;).

 

          There was only one thing I did not like about this book, but admittedly it is a pretty big issue.  SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT: there is a trope present in this book that I do not appreciate. The idea that love can somehow heal or transcend mental illness.  While I have not done much research on the subject, I find it very unlikely that romantic love can overcome something as uncontrollable as brain chemistry.  I love my husband very much, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety attacks when he’s around. My husband helps calm me down and loves me in spite of my somewhat shaky mental health, but he is not a cure all.  The idea that a mental illness or disorder can be thwarted by romantic love is very unrealistic and, I believe, damaging to young readers. A young girl might fall prey to this idea and believe that she is not really in love because her depression is still present even if she has a boyfriend or that she’s somehow broken because love can’t cure her.  Love is beautiful and important, but it is not the antidote to mental illness.

 

          All in all, I enjoyed Holding Up the Universe very much despite my issues with the tropes.  I do highly recommend this story, but I must caution young readers to be mindful of the more problematic aspects.  4 out of 5 stars to this one!

 

          I hope you all enjoyed this post!  If you did, leave me a like and a comment as I would love to talk to you!  I’ll see you all in the next one!

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Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Reading Resolutions

This is late and I am so sorry for that.

It’s that time of year again.  Time to make yourself promises that will more than likely be broken before the month is out.  At least that always seems to be the case for me.  This year I’d like to break my losing streak when it comes to new year resolutions.  I am hopeful that I can achieve these goals this year and feel very accomplished when 2019 rolls around.  

As always, the Goodreads group for Top 5 Wednesday, which is hosted by the lovely #ThoughtsonTomes and #gingerreadslainey, can be found here.  

2018 Reading Resolutions

1.  Actually Complete My Goodreads Challenge

  Much to my dismay I was unable to achieve my goal of reading 50 books this in 2017.  Reading slumps hit me hard last year and for the last few weeks of 2017 I was simply not in the mood to pick up a book.  I did read 44 books, which is not bad, but I have faith that I can do better.  I set my goal for 50 books again this year so wish me luck! 

2.  Reread The Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling

  It’s been a hot minute since I read Harry Potter.  I miss the world and the characters dearly, so I am making them a priority in 2018.  I have a soon-to-be four year old, so I’m considering buying the illustrated editions that have been published to read to him.  

3.  Read Diverse Books

  I feel that everyone should make this a priority.  I want to better understand those who are different than me, and I want to see the diversity of humanity represented in literature.  We should all be able to find characters to whom we can relate.  

4.  Read At Least 3 Non-fiction Books

  I never read non-fiction books voluntarily.  Since I’ve been out of school for a couple of years, I feel as though I’m not learning as much as I should.  To remedy that, I want to pick up some non-fiction about things I’m interested to learn about.  

5.  Read Manga 

  I love anime, so I don’t know why I’ve never read manga.  I’ve seen a lot of manga intrigue me, so that’ll be happening in 2018.  

  I hope you guys liked this post!  If you did be sure to leave me a like and a comment and tell me some of your reading resolutions!  Thank you so much for reading!  Talk to you in the next one! 

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of 2017

2017 has been a really good reading year for me.  I read so many fantastic books; narrowing it down to five was extremely difficult.  As always, the Goodreads group can be found here.  The group is hosted by the lovely #ThoughtsonTomes and #gingereadslainey.  It is a lot of fun to come up with these lists every week, so come and join us!  Without further ado, here is my list of the top five books of 2017.

1.  The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

I love this series so much.  At the urging of my husband and Reagan of #peruseproject on booktube, I picked up The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.  I was blown away by this fantasy world and this is one of my all time favorite series now.  The Crimson Crown is the fourth and last book and it was my favorite.  It was absolutely incredible.  Please read this series!  It isn’t nearly as popular as it deserves.  

2.  Winter by Marissa Meyer

Picking my favorite of The Lunar Chronicles was almost impossible.  I loved every one of them, but the finale was the book that knocked my socks off the most.  It was one of the most successful conclusions to a series I’ve ever read and I will most likely be rereading this series soon. 

3.  The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

The fourth installment of The Heroes of Olympus was definitely my favorite.  I loved the intensity of this booking was thrilled with all of the amazing Percabeth moments we got.  It gave a lot of depth to already incredible characters and I could not put it down. 

4.  The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Kudos to Rick Riordan for claiming two spots on my list.  The Last Olympian was my favorite of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series which is a high honor because I adore the entire thing.  I read this book in one sitting and I cried when it was over.  I love Percy and Annabeth and their world so much. 

5.  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This.  Book.  I am still obsessed with Carry On and it’s been weeks since I read it.  SnowBaz is life.  This books is a must-read and I cannot contain my love for it.  Instead of reading books I can count toward my Goodreads goal, I’ve been reading Simon Snow fanfiction.  It’s amazing and I highly recommend it! 

I hope you guys liked this post!  If you did please leave me a like and a comment and tell me what your favorite book of the year was!  See you guys in the next one! 

Top 5 Wednesday: Characters On The Naughty List

We all have characters we hate.  The ones that just get under our skin and make us want to smack them.  This Top 5 Wednesday is my list of characters I think belong on the Naughty List.  As always the T5W is hosted by #ThoughtsomTomes and the Goodreads group can be found here.  O don’t mean to offend anyone with this list; if I dislike your favorite character, I’m sorry, but these are my opinions.  Let’s get into the list! 

1. Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter by JK Rowling)

  I simply had to include one of my least favorite characters of all time.  We all love to hate her and do so with a feiry burning passion.  

2. Levana Blackburn (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

  This bitch.  I cannot describe to you how much I hated this evil queen while reading The Lunar Chronicles.  She’s ruthless and psycho and a fantastic villian, but good Lord did I hate her. 

3. Gavin Bayar (The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima) 

  F**k this guy.  I can’t even.  He’s horrible and I wish every hardship on him.  

4. Warren Barber (The Heir series by Cinda Williams Chima) 

  Just a self-serving dick who enjoys hurting other people.  He made me feel bad for a character I disliked because of his treatment of her.  Hate him.  

5. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter by JK Rowling) (yes you read that right) 

  I know a lot of people will want to crucify me for this, but I can’t help it.  Whole I definitely don’t hate him as much as the other characters on this list, I cannot brimg myself to like him.  Defend him if you want, but in Half-Blood Prince he admits that he knew of the Dursley’s mistreatment of Harry and he did nothing.  He left Harry to suffer every summer.  Now it’s true that the Dursley family deserves a spot on this list as well, but I cannot abide by knowingly allowing a child to stay in an abusive home.  

  I hope you guys liked this T5W!  If you did please leave me a like and a comment and let me know some of your disliked characters!  See you all in the next one!  

Non-spoiler Review: The Blood of Olympus: Book 5 in The Heroes Of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Finishing a series is bittersweet.  I am always so excited to reach the end and find out how the story plays out, but it’s very hard for me to let go.  I spend all this time with the characters in these amazing worlds and then suddenly it’s over.  I have to say goodbye and return to my everyday life.  I feel as though I’m losing close friends and closing the door on an entire world.  

As you no doubt guessed, I have finally finished The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, the final book in The Heroes of Olympus series.  It was a thrilling novel and I am very happy with it, but there were a few unanswered questions.  Had I read this when it came out, I may have been irritated by the questions, but I know that we see some of these characters in the next series, The Trials of Apollo.  

Despite the unanswered questions, this book was fantastic.  It was exciting from start to finish and while it wasn’t my favorite in the series, (The House of Hades for the win!) it was well written and hilarious just like the rest of Rick Riordan’s books, and it did contain some of my favorite scenes of the series, including some kick-ass battles and an oh-so-adorable Percabeth scene that made me squeal.  

My only complaint is that I wish I could have seem from all the main demigod’s perspectives.  I understand why Rick left some of them out; it would have been a bit much to keep up with all those points of view.  Though I love them all dearly, I will miss Percy’s perspective the most.  He’s out main man, the star of the show, and though I’m sure he appears in the other books, this was our last with Percy as one of the main characters.  He is one of my favorite characters of all time and losing his voice as a narrator is like losing a piece of my heart.  

This book was wonderful and I am so happy to have completed this series.  It is now one of my all time favorites and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  

4.75/5 stars to The Blood of Olympus and 5,000,000/5 stars to The Heroes of Olympus as a whole. 

I hope you guys liked this review!  Leave me a like and a comment; I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about these books!  Thank you so much for reading!  See you guys in the next one!

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

“I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to carry on as I am.” – Baz

  I have found a new favorite 😍.  This is my second Rainbow Rowell book and I was blown away.  Carry On is Rainbow Rowell’s take on the characters to whom we are introduced in Fangirl, a novel about a girl named Cath who is starting college and who writes fanfiction about Simon Snow and Baz Pitch, characters from a fictional series similar to Harry Potter.  You do not have to read Fangirl before you read Carry On, but it is a fantastic book as well and I recommend it.  Carry On is one of my favorite books of the year and probably one of my favorite books of all time. I loved every second of it. 

  The magic system is very creative.  I love that the power of the spells is affected by the relevance of language and how important phrases are in modern speech.  That system ensures that magic changes with the times and can grow as society does.  There were many pop culture references that I appreciated because it kept this fantastical world grounded in the real world.  

  The characters are as flawed and realistic as magicians can be.  Obviously, Simon and Baz are my favorite characters.  How could they not be?  They are so different, but when they are together they are completely unstoppable.  Their relationship is one of the cutest I’ve read about in a long time.  Honestly, I could go on and on about them, but spoilers.  Just read it, okay?  Please? 

  I listened to the audiobook for Carry On, and it was spectacular.  I’m pretty picky about audiobook narrators, but Euan Mortan did a phenomenal job.  He is able to capture the character’s personalities with subtle variations in his voice.  If you like audiobooks, I definitely recommend this one.  

  Though the characters are the stars of the show, the plot was captivating and kept me on the edge of my seat.  Who doesn’t love a good twist on the “Chosen One” trope mixed with a little murder mystery?  Add in the Hogwarts reminiscent setting and you’ve got me hooked.  I was tempted to just restart the audiobook as soon as I finished it, but alas my TBR is guilting me.  

  I HIGHLY recommend this book to fans of Harry Potter and fantasy, although I believe anyone could enjoy it.  It was funny and whimsical and absolutely amazing.  5/5 stars for sure! 

  I hope you guys enjoyed this review!  If you did, leave me a like and comment because I’d love to discuss this book!  See you in the next one! 

  

Review: The Mark of Athena: Book 3 in The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan 

This series just keeps getting better with every book I consume. My fangirl heart was all aflutter as I read the third installment of The Heroes of Olympus. We follow the seven as they journey from the United States to the ancient lands in hopes of defeating their enemies and saving the world.

This novel was hilariously and emotionally narrated by Percy, Annabeth, Leo, and Piper. Piper’s point of view was by far my least favorite. Not because her voice was bad, but because her character is simply not as funny as Percy and Leo and not as intense as Annabeth. Most of her chapters bored me a little, however there were still some exciting scenes. Piper is my least favorite of the seven at this point in the story, so it makes sense that I found her chapters less than thrilling. As always, Percy and Leo’s chapters were hilarious to read. I just have a thing for sarcastic, sassy boys and these demigods definitely fit that description. Annabeth’s chapters were a wild ride. They were very emotional for me to read because I love her character. Her resilience and cleverness are tested over the course of this book and I must say she’s even more impressive than I originally thought. 

While his plots are absolutely incredible, his characters are my favorite aspects about Rick Riordans books. My greatest wish is to know them in real life and be their friend. It breaks my heart to see them struggle, but I know they will prevail and kick some ass. 5/5 stars. Time to move forward to The House of Hades!

I hope you guys liked this review! If you did leave me a like and a comment I’d love to discuss this story with you! Catch you all in the next one!