Holding Up the Universe (Part 2)

28671039 Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**My opinions are based on an ARC of this book received from the publisher/author. It releases tomorrow, 10/4/16!

Read my initial thoughts about the book here.

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

My thoughts:

Well, if you don’t know by now that I’m a huge fan of this author, Jennifer Niven, where have you been?! Here’s a reminder of the excitement on my face when meeting her:

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So, the new book is FINALLY coming out…yay! I can’t wait for lots and lots of people to get to read it. I still feel strongly like I did when I originally posted that this book is not offensive to fat people and I don’t know why some would think it is, unless they are just extremely unhappy with themselves and look for any way to be negative. I accept who I am, so why would reading about someone with some of the same struggles make me angry? If anything, it makes it more enjoyable to read. I have been talking this book up to my students, especially those that I know enjoyed All the Bright Places and I have let a few read the ARC. They have enjoyed this one as well and it made them feel really special to get to read a book that wasn’t out yet. 🙂 I feel like this will be another important book that everyone should read because I think we should all read books about people that are similar, as well as very different, from us. How else do we develop compassion and empathy?

Just a side note, I have recently been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome and my fingers hurt so bad, but I am fighting through that pain to type this because I wanted it out there. I feel like Jennifer Niven deserves recognition for her writing and for being such a kind, awesome person! Thank you for another great read, Jennifer. I can’t wait to get it in my library and into the hands of many readers.

My rating: 5/5

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Truly Madly Guilty

26247008 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/26/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

My thoughts:

Okay, so this book both intrigued and frustrated me at the same time. I wanted to keep reading to find out the big secret, but was also frustrated that I didn’t know from the beginning. Basically, for the first half of the book, you know that something happened at a BBQ at a neighbor’s house, but you have no idea what that something was. The story is told in both flashbacks to the bbq and current day (weeks later) and is also told in alternating viewpoints. Sounds confusing, but it actually isn’t at all. I had my predictions about what the secret would end up being, and I was close but not spot on. Even though I wish I had known earlier in the book, I still found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. I liked most of the characters (even though some were a little weird or off-putting) and their background stories, especially the story of Erika’s mother and her hoarding habits. I also like learning new things when I read, so I thought Clementine’s cello-playing was pretty cool too. This was an everyday story about everyday people, but that’s what made it interesting.

I do enjoy Liane Moriarty’s storytelling and she is on my list of authors to read each time a new book is released by them. I would recommend this one to friends and family.

My rating: 4/5

First Comes Love

26192467 First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley and from BEA, release date 6/28/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

My thoughts:
I have read all of Emily Giffin’s books, except the one right before this (going back to it as soon as I get a chance though), and have always enjoyed her writing. I got the chance to meet Emily and get this book signed while at BEA in Chicago, so I was super excited to read and review it.

I really liked this book and found myself excited to get back to it each evening before bed. I found myself really relating to Josie, since I started out as an elementary teacher (before moving to the high school level) and am still single, though not actively searching/needing a man like she thought she did. I have a very similar personality as well, so I found her chapters especially enjoyable. Emily also did her research on teaching (or maybe she has a background I’m not aware of!) and was accurate about the life of a teacher. I also found the dynamic among the two sisters quite entertaining, though Meredith was highly unlikeable for me (because I am pretty much her opposite, like Josie). It is always interesting to read about two sisters so different, as this is certainly the case in real life with my sister and me. Not that my sister is like Meredith either, we are just extremely different from one another.

Meredith is the more uptight, boring sister in this particular story…she has the life that Josie thinks she wants, but she is not happy with it herself. Throughout the book, she is trying to figure out where she went wrong and how she can be happy in the future. It is certainly a struggle, as she knows she has it good in the eyes of most other people. Josie struggles throughout the story for Meredith’s approval, while they both are trying to figure out how to move on from a tragedy that happened 15 years ago.

If you don’t like books with alternating viewpoints, you may not like this format, but I tend to like this style; since a lot of Young Adult books that I read are that way, I have become accustomed to it. I would say that it’s safe to say this is my favorite Emily Giffin book thus far and I have already recommended it to my own sister and mom, and I will be telling friends about it also. If you are looking for a great summer read, and if you enjoy a family story, then pick this one up for sure! I am hoping maybe we will get to read more about these sisters in future books. 🙂

My rating: 5/5

 

Girl Against the Universe

22297294 Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Summary from Goodreads:

Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

My thoughts:

I kept seeing people talking about this book on Twitter and praising it, so I knew I had to read it as soon as I could fit it in with all my ARCs I need to read. I had already ordered it for my school library and it came in the last week of school, so I nabbed it to read over the summer. I picked this up Monday night and was finished with it by Wednesday night. I get the hype now and I am impressed as well. Maguire’s story is told so well and makes her mental health issues seem so relatable. I have read books before that make it pretty clear that one mental health issue doesn’t not usually show up alone and this book did a great job of explaining why those problems tend to build upon one another. Poor Maguire has PTSD, which leads to some OCD tendencies, and anxiety, and so on. Almost everyone that reads this book will be able to relate to the way she feels at some point in the book.

Maguire feels cursed and thinks that she is to blame for all the bad things that happen to people around her, so she has secluded herself for the most part. She has started to meet with a therapist, who helps her develop challenges to meet her ultimate goal of being able to travel for a memorial in Ireland for her father. In the process, she meets Jordy, who is dealing with problems of his own, and they are able to help each other along the way. I actually really adored Maguire and Jordy’s love story, which is not a usual thing for me. 🙂 I reminded me a bit of Finch and Violet in All the Bright Places, which is an all-time favorite of mine. I can really see some of my students loving this book and I can’t wait to recommend it when school starts again in August. Great read!

My rating: 5/5

 

Holding Up the Universe

 

Holding Up the Universe Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**This review is based on an early bound manuscript received from the publisher/author and an ARC received at BEA.

This is an initial review, please know that there will be much more to come as the release date gets closer. That being said, this is a review from someone who has actually read the book (not just someone reviewing it based on a synopsis I read on Goodreads).

I hadn’t even bothered to read about all the negativity surrounding the initial synopsis of this book before today. Yes, I am a Jennifer Niven fan (as you would know if you have read my blog); this means I was highly anticipating this book and let me say that I was NOT disappointed. I feel that even though I am a fan, I can be fair and (almost) unbiased in my review, but I am someone who can relate to at least one of the characters as well. I am not a small girl, I have always struggled with being overweight and have had to hear rude comments coming from those who feel bad about themselves in some way. Why would you feel the need to comment on someone else’s weight unless you are insecure? I was in no way offended by Libby’s story or by the part in the original synopsis stating that she was going to “rejoin the human race”…in her mind, that’s exactly what she was doing after being confined to her home and home-schooled for several years. She was finally ready to overcome her challenges and get back to her life! I have never felt less than human for being overweight and I don’t think Jennifer (if she even had any part in that synopsis) would ever mean for it to seem that way for anyone.

Also, there are others commenting on the fact that the only way Jack could fall in love with Libby is because he couldn’t see her face…if you actually READ the book, you will understand why that is a ridiculous statement. I fell in love with these two as individual characters, as well as their love story.

All the Bright Places had a huge impact on me and has been one of my favorite books EVER written. This is a less devastating story (thank goodness for no tears), but still just as important and thought-provoking. Jennifer Niven is wonderful at showing unique perspectives and writing about diverse characters. Listening to her passion while speaking about the book at a BEA panel only made me realize that more. She is not telling this story to “make fun” of anyone, but to bring awareness to peoples’ differences and make us all a little more sensitive to those around us. Her books are great for discussions as well.

So, I’m done with my rant/rave here, but I will be posting more closer to the release date in October about my actual thoughts about the book (after a re-read I’m sure). If you picked up a copy of this at BEA or BookCon, READ it and SHARE it with someone who will love it!

Here is a photo of the manuscript I received….it is the first one I’ve ever been sent and I adore it!

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Asking For It

Asking For It Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.
Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

My thoughts:

Okay, I have been waiting for this book to come out in the U.S. for ages and ages. I follow Louise on social media and was dying for it because I am obsessed with her first title Only Ever Yours. I knew what this book was about from her posts and all the awards/reviews it has received. I finally got my hands on it and ordered for my high school library, and I was not disappointed! This is an extremely tough topic that I know will ignite conversation and, possibly even some controversy, among my students; but, it is a valuable, necessary story. I will be putting this into the hands of as many students as I can. Emma’s story is heartbreaking, horrifying, and totally relatable for any female. It was like you were in her head and feeling all the awful things she was feeling. My school is really pushing a campaign to make students aware of what they post on social media and how it affects others, so this book came at a perfect time. We really need to think about the way our world looks at the rape culture and people always thinking that the girls were asking for it in cases like this. Females should have a right to be proud of themselves and look beautiful without having to worry about being attacked. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I would not be opposed one bit to reading a sequel to this book so I can find out what happened!

My rating: 5/5

Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

25110836 Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 10/27/15.

Ivy is a rebel tattoo artist that has traveled all over before settling down (temporarily) with her uncle Ned in San Francisco. She works with Ned at his tattoo shop and is the unfortunate witness to what appears to be a robbery and his murder.

Sebastian is a former Navy SEAL, now working for a company called Alliance, doing anonymous jobs that sometimes require him to kill, but only to save the lives of many others. His new assignment is Ivy because her uncle was hiding a secret and threatening to expose some negative things about Alliance. He is now on the hunt for a videotape that Ned claims to have that could do them all in.

While searching for the tape, Sebastian realizes that Ivy has a soft side and he quickly finds himself falling for her. She tries to cover up any emotion that she has for anything, but he can tell that she is feeling the same way.  Will they fall in love? What will happen when his assignment is finished or when she sells her uncle’s shop and decides to move somewhere else?

If you have read my previous posts, you know I love K.A. Tucker books. They just feel so real and I feel like I know the characters, especially the ones that have appeared in other books like Ivy has. I just get wrapped up in them and can’t wait to find out how it all goes down. I am not typically a fan of romance, but that’s usually because of the “insta-love” factor and K.A.’s books do not have that, thank goodness! The characters are real and relatable and have the same kinds of problems with relationships as us normal people. If you haven’t read anything by this author, start anywhere….I highly recommend!

My rating: 5/5