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! 

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! 

Review: The Son of Neptune: Book 2 in The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

At this point I’m convinced that Rick Riordan is incapable of writing a bad book. I absolutely ADORED the second book in The Heroes of Olympus series. I enjoyed it even more than the first book The Lost Hero, which I reviewed previously if you’d like to check it out. I liked this one better mostly because we have Percy back! This novel follows Percy, Hazel, and Frank on am impossible quest to Alaska, the land beyond the gods, to defeat an unbeatable giant. Percy has lost his memories. All he remembers about his life is a girl named Annabeth. Hazel is cursed and desperately trying to keep it a secret. Frank’s life is more fragile than anyone could guess, but he could also possess powerful abilities unmatched by any of his friends. These demigods must complete their quest before an evil force awakens and ends civilization as they know it. 

I was stoked to read from Percy’s point of view again. He’s still the sassy, funny, badass demigod that fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series know and love. Rick Riordan takes his character to new heroic heights and reminds us and the antagonists not to mess with the son of Poseidon. While Percy was definitely my favorite to read from, I loved Hazel and Frank as well. Hazel is tough and smart and keeps up with Percy and Frank easily despite being only thirteen. Frank is sweet and more talented than he gives himself credit for. He’s kind and does his best to take care of his friends despite personal risk. 

My favorite scenes are always the battle scenes. Rick Riordan has a way of writing understandable combat that still conveys the intensity of battle. I could not stop reading this book when fight scenes were going down. They’re intense and stressful, yet somehow still manage to be hilarious. 

With the conclusion of this book readers have officially been introduced to all of the seven demigods from the Prophecy of Seven. Percy, Annabeth, Frank, Hazel, Jason, Piper, and Leo have their work cut out for them. 

With every Riordan book I read I am further convinced that he is one of my favorite authors. Each book simply gets better. 5/5 stars for The Son of Neptune. On to The Mark of Athena! 

If you liked this review please leave me a like and a comment! I’d love to discuss this series with you! I’ll see you guys in the next one! 

Review: The Lost Hero: Book 1 in The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Guys, this is one of the best books I’ve read all year.

I imagine that most of you have already read Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.  I, like most who have read the series, ADORED it when I read it earlier this year.  So, naturally, I was very excited to read the sequel series featuring Percy, Annabeth, and their friends plus some new characters.  The Lost Hero is the first installment of this sequel series, called The Heroes of Olympus.  This series takes place after the events of the original PJO series, so if you haven’t read those books (what are you doing with your life?) you should go read those right now because they are amazing.  They are technically a middle-grade series, but I know that all age groups can and do enjoy these books.  I didn’t read them until I was in my twenties and loved them more than words can explain.

After reading the first book in this series, I have the strong feeling that I am going to love The Heroes of Olympus even more than the original.  The Lost Hero follows Jason, Piper, and Leo, three teenage demigods who are abruptly thrust into the world of Greek myths and are sent on a dangerous quest to free a captive goddess and prevent the end of civilization.  But of course, each of them is battling a personal problem that makes their quest even more impossible.  Jason has no memory of his life before suddenly waking on a bus with Leo and Piper.  Piper is hiding a dark secret.  Leo is struggling to find where he fits in with his new friends and trying to keep his abilities under wraps.  The trio arrives at Camp Half-Blood only to almost immediately be sent on their quest while the rest of camp frantically tries to find a missing demigod named Percy Jackson.

Like I said before I adored this book.  The story is action-packed and fun.  There was not a dull moment while reading; the characters went from battle to battle kicking ass and taking names.  We met some interesting creatures and gods and got to know our three main characters very well.

While Jason is no Percy, I still really enjoyed him as a character.  He’s brave and kind even if he is a bit clueless from time to time (hardly his fault since he’s an amnesiac).  Piper is awesome.  She’s Cherokee, so the Native American representation was nice for me (who is also part Cherokee) to see.  I don’t see Native Americans represented very often in YA so kudos to Rick Riordan for that.  Piper is smart and refuses to let her problems overwhelm her.  Leo is definitely my favorite of the new characters.  He’s hilarious, resourceful, and badass without being a pretentious jerk.  I love him so much.

You can probably tell that I really loved this book.  I am convinced that Rick Riordan can do no wrong for me.  I could not put this book down and I am so excited to continue one with the next book, The Son of Neptune.  

5/5 stars for sure.

I hope you guys liked this post.  If you did please leave me a like and a comment because I would love to talk about these books with other fans 🙂  I’ll talk to you guys in the next one!