BOOK REVIEW: Jennifer Niven “Holding Up the Universe”

28686840Title: Holding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 1/5 stars

 

Once known as “America’s Fattest Teen”, Libby Strout used to be so big that she was unable to fit through her bedroom door. Firemen were called, and she was lifted by crane from her home. After losing much of the weight, though, Libby is ready to go back to high school after several years of homeschooling.

As for Jack Masselin, he has a problem that’s not as easily spotted: he’s unable to recognize faces. He manages to make it through school by being charming, knowing just what to say and learning to recognize people by other traits. He manages to fake it so no one knows his secret.

My thoughts:

Through a series of unlikely scenarios, these two characters come together to form a friendship, and I’m forced to assume more than that? I wouldn’t know because I only made it about 1/3 of the way through this book.

I don’t typically review books that I’ve DNF’d, but I find it difficult not to share my concerns about Holding Up the Universe. There was so much that was unrealistic about this that it was hard for me to take it seriously. I couldn’t help but wonder how this idea ever made it past Niven’s agents, or whoever decides what books get published.

I’m fully aware of how real of a problem that bullying is. While I never attended public school myself, I was definitely not well-liked in the private schools/homeschool groups that I attended in middle school. I was always the odd ball and occasionally made fun of. I was never bullied for my weight; I was a skinny kid so at least I didn’t have that going against me. However, I have such a hard time believing that a fat girl can’t walk down the hall without one person snickering at her or making fun of her. It seems unnecessarily cruel.

Please correct me if I’m wrong. As I stated, I never went to public school, but most of the people I know who did say that it’s never as bad as it’s portrayed on TV. And even though I was never a part of that scene, I was still a kid who spent plenty of time with other kids, and I gave many of them plenty of reasons to bully me. I seem to have come away from it only slightly scarred.

While I wasn’t overweight as a teenager, I’m a little on the plus size now. I read this book and I have a hard time believing that Jennifer Niven understands at all what it’s like to be fat. I’m not saying that a writer has to be fat in order to write the part of a fat character; however, she doesn’t seem to understand Libby herself, so it was hard for me to connect with the character regardless of me being overweight as well.

I’m all for a story about empowerment and self-love, but even though Libby had seemed to come to terms with her body and the way she looked, she based her happiness and her self-confidence on whether or not she could get a boyfriend. She literally walked into school on her first day back hoping to find a boy who would “sex the weight right off” of her. Um, what?

Don’t even get me started on Jack. His character was even less believable, and I couldn’t connect with him on any level. He was cocky and confusing and shallow.

I closed the book for good during a part where the two MCs are in the car together. Jack thinks in his head something along the lines of: “I can feel the electricity between us” (paraphrased). Excuse me? What electricity? These two were hardly friends, let alone romantic. There was no chemistry between them. Niven literally forced these two to fall in love and it was cringe-worthy to say the least. Can someone say “instalove”?

This book was trying too hard to be Eleanor & Park, and frankly, I think you should go read that instead. And for the record, this is the second time I have DNF’d a book by Jennifer Niven. Seeing as we’re 2/2, I think we should stop seeing each other. Bye.

 

Jennifer Niven: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: John Green “Turtles All the Way Down”

9780241335437Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

If you read the synopsis provided, you would think this book was about a mysterious disappearance of a local billionaire and a rag-tag group of teens (including the billionaire’s son) who take it upon themselves to look for said missing person in hopes of cashing in on the reward. However, in actuality, this is but a very minor subplot to a story centered around Aza, a girl who suffers from severe anxiety and OCD.

In typical John Green fashion, characters often theorize about life and the meaning of it, recite and write poetry, and undergo philosophical and scientific discussions. Fortunately, it seems to add to the story rather than make the characters seem pretentious, which has been something Green has been accused of in the past. In fact, it lends itself to Aza’s instabilities because of her constant thought spirals and the way her imagination gets away from her and causes her to become horribly anxious.

This book has excellent representation of mental illness, and I believe this is partly due to John Green’s own struggles with OCD. It’s a very interesting yet sometimes graphic portrayal of this illness and I can say that I’m better for reading it.

That is to say that while I enjoyed this read, it was quite slow in parts. While it entertained in a way that only John Green can, it still seemed aimless and I struggled to see the point of the story. There didn’t seem to be any reason for the billionaire subplot and it was obviously far neglected in favor of the main plot, which I still have difficulty understanding.

Turtles All the Way Down is definitely not my favorite John Green novel, but it’s safe to say that despite it’s downfalls, this is a good addition to his repertoire.

John Green: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: E Lockhart “Genuine Fraud”

https___blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_346502_3ea5e24d-98fb-49fd-9586-7269cef4e243Title: Genuine Fraud

Author: E Lockhart

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

This is the story of a woman who is a master of disguise and reinvention. Jule’s cleverness and quick thinking (and constant costume changes) keep her out of trouble and living her luxurious lifestyle.

Unfortunately, that’s about all this book is about.

You’ll find that it’s difficult to even summarize this book because I feel as though very little actually happens. I’m not quite sure what the main plot truly is. The concept is intriguing and I like the idea of the story, but it never goes anywhere.

This is so terribly difficult to review. I was disappointed by this, to say the least. We Were Liars by E Lockhart had such a shocking twist, and I was expecting much the same from this novel. The story is told in backwards chronological order, and while I understand why, it didn’t make things any less confusing. And I was expecting a solid ending that wrapped things up and left [at least most] everything explained. Ultimately, I closed the book feeling dissatisfied, puzzled, and confident I had just wasted several hours of my life.

I wish I had more to add to this review, but seeing as very little happened in this book, I have very little to say about it. All in all, Genuine Fraud was anticlimactic. frustrating, and pointless. By all means, however, read Lockhart’s earlier work We Were Liars, or another thriller I recently read, Little Monsters by Kara Thomas.

 

E Lockhart: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

I’m a Terrible Reader, Please Help Me

I seriously suck.

Here we are, basically halfway through November, and I have read one book. ONE BOOK. And get this: it wasn’t even a book on my November TBR. Get this, there’s not a single book on my TBR that looks appealing to me.

So, yeah, I hereby ban monthly TBR lists for me. I can’t do them. I picked out a bunch of books, and I’m not in the mood to read a single one. Yet I feel guilty picking up anything that’s not on my TBR, so now I haven’t read anything. What a vicious cycle this is.

As of today, this monthly TBR has been disbanded and I am free to read anything I want. What a freeing, liberating feeling! *looks at my mile-high forever TBR pile* *cries* *hides in shame* *plays Skyrim instead*

I am in the worst reading slump, guys, and I need help. I can’t afford to be in a slump, so what are some all-natural remedies for a book-hangover? I thought that reading Geekerella would do it, and I really enjoyed it, but I still look at my pile of books and cower in fear. I still pick up a book, read three pages, then turn on Netflix.

In an attempt to pull myself out of this, I’m going to read another mystery/thriller type book, which was what seemed to have put me in a slump to begin with. The last book I completed last month was Little Monsters by Kara Thomas, which I loved. It was everything I wanted in a mystery/thriller and checked all of my boxes and was just so satisfying. Maybe if I read another book like this, I will cure myself; so Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart should hopefully do the trick.

In all seriousness, what are some tips and tricks from my fellow booklovers for pulling yourself out of a reading slump? How do you do it?

BOOK REVIEW: Ashley Poston “Geekerella”

81uGB-QT1hLTitle: Geekerella

Author: Ashley Poston

Genre: Contemporary/Fairytale Retelling

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

In this retelling of Cinderella, our heroine trades her ball gown for a cosplay, her fairy godmother for a green-haired girl who drives a vegan pumpkin truck, and her prince for the lead actor in the reboot of her favorite science fiction TV series.

Elle wants nothing more than to get away from her stepmother and stepsisters; but for now, she’s trapped, her only solace found in watching reruns of Starfield. That is, until the opportunity to enter a cosplay competition at a local convention presents itself; the prize: her ticket out of there.

Meanwhile, Darien Freeman is set to play the lead in the new Starfield reboot, and he has some big shoes to fill and some impossible fans to impress. He’s overwhelmed, overworked, and all he wants is an Orange Crush and to live a normal life.

In a series of strange, coincidental events, Elle and Darien connect via text message and find friendship and understanding in each other. Neither knows who the other is, but it doesn’t stop them from developing feelings that are a little more than of friends. So begins another Cinderella story…

My Thoughts:

We all know the story, and we’ve seen countless Cinderella retellings throughout the years. Yet Geekerella still manages to be fresh, and it easily captures the magic and wonder of one of our favorite characters.

I could just hug this book for how sweet and adorable and wonderful it was. The fandom references were on point, and altogether, this was such a fun ride. The writing was solid, the characters were believable, and the story was heartwarming. The evil stepmother was somewhat humanized in this, albeit still evil. The mean stepsisters were appropriately snooty, but with a delicious twist toward the end. The friendship that slowly blossoms between Elle and Sage, her coworker at the magic pumpkin, is just precious. And the romance that develops between her and Darien, our famous actor prince, is realistic and very swoon-worthy.

One thing I appreciated was that the “prince” was more than that in this retelling. The thing I wish of the original stories sometimes is that we could hear more about him and his life, and here, we get that.

All in all, was it predictable? Yes. Did this keep me from being thoroughly entertained? Definitely not. I want this book to turn into a person so that I can hug it and be friends with it. It feels familiar and homey and just all the good feelings, okay?

Ashley Poston: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads