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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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: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi has gained another fan. While I was unfortunately underwhelmed by Shatter Me, Unravel Me knocked my socks off.  It was exciting and fun and I was completely engrossed the whole time. 

With the first installment of this trilogy (although it’s soon to be a longer series) I was a little put off by the elegant writing style. I had a hard time following the audiobook.  Unravel Me was easier to understand and this time I found that the writing style enhanced rather than detracted from the story. 

The world is much more complex than I realized reading the first book. Far from being the freak of nature she believed herself to be, Juliette is one of many special people with incredible abilities.  I was not expecting this to be a super powers story, although I guess I should have. I’m not sure what to make of the political climate of this world.  The dystopian setting seems to take a backseat to Juliette’s self discovery and her ever complicated love life. 

Speaking of our protagonist, I enjoyed Juliette much more in this book.  She continues to grow more confident in her abilities even as her opinions about Adam and Warner are challenged.  I’m not sure how I feel about Adam anymore. Though he has good reason, he’s a little angsty for me and he’s unnecessarily shady about his powers in my opinion. Warner, however, has completely stolen my heart.  He’s one of the most complex characters I’ve read and he fascinates me.  Kenji, of course, continues to be hilarious. 

I loved this book.  My affection for Unravel Me makes me look at Shatter Me with new eyes.  I’m sure that if/when I reread it, I will enjoy it more than I did the first time. If Ignite Me is as good as everyone says, this will definitely be one of my new favorite series. 5/5 stars for sure. 

I hope you all enjoyed this post! Please leave me a like and a comment if you did! Thanks so much for reading 🙂 I’ll talk to you guys in the next one! 

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Angsty Romances

My first attempt at a Top 5 Wednesday post!  I’m very excited to have joined the Goodreads group created by @gingerreadslainey and hosted by @ThoughtsOnTomes.  Hopefully you like this post and I will definitely be participating in T5W in the future!  The Goodreads group for Top 5 Wednesday can be found at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/118368-top-5-wednesday if you want to join!

So, here are my top five angsty romances:

  1. Hanson Alister and Raisa Ana’Marianna from The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima – I absolutely adore these characters and this series.  Han and Raisa have to overcome so many obstacles both together and separately before they can even think about being together.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering if they were going to beat the odds.
  2. Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – Okay, so I have only read the first three books in this series, but there is plenty of angst in them so I feel like I can still include this couple on this list.  I’m sure there is even more angst coming for me in the rest of the series and I am both dreading and looking forward to it.
  3. Lochan and Maya from Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma – This is the ultimate angsty romance.  I did not even know how to feel about this romance as I was reading this book because it is literally forbidden.  So much angst, so much stress.  Beware going into this one for some potentially triggering content.
  4. Caleb and Maggie from the Paradise duology by Simone Elkeles- After a tragic accident that occurs before the start of the book, both Maggie and Caleb are just trying to move on with their lives.  Varying degrees of circumstance draw the two together and they have many problems to overcome with themselves before they can begin to tackle the problems they have together.  I love this duology.
  5. Jesse and Suze from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot – A romance between a human and a ghost is guaranteed to be angsty.  Now before you get mad, that’s not a spoiler you are fully aware that one of them is a ghost before the book even starts.  I love this pairing; they are so cute together, but it is extremely stressful watching them try to triumph over circumstance to be together.

Hope you enjoyed this post!  If you did, leave me a comment.  I would love to talk!