How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore // This Took Me Out of My Reading Slump!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 4 comments
How to Break a Boy, by Laurie Devore
Publication: January 31, 2017, by Imprint
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.
Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.
After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.
Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.
And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.

My Thoughts:

How to Break a Boy literally is something else. When I first saw the cover, I freaked out because it looks so retro and cute and chick-lit-y and amazing… you could say I went out of control. For the third book I read this year, this was a hit and extremely enjoyable. To all of the girls who feel that they need to get a little bit of revenge in their lives… this is for you. After reading Olivia’s story, I feel that I might just want to get a little revenge on my own in order to find a guy like Whit. *winks* Laurie Devore is the debut author YOU ALL HAVE TO LOOK OUT FOR. I feel that I will be enjoying every single book she writes from here onward. How to Break a Boy has a harsh title, yes, making you feel that this book will be all about drama and deception (which, yeah, it kind of was) but it also was about learning lessons in life and just coming of age. I can totally relate to it because Olivia was in the time of her life where she did not know who she was or what she wanted to do. Thanks to her lovely guidance counsellor who she constantly made fun of and Whit, every girl’s dream golden boy, throughout the duration of the book, we saw and sensed that Olivia was becoming the person she wanted to be. 

"It's always going to be like this, me and you against the world" (191).

To quickly summarize this beauty, it basically is a summer (or winter, whatever you prefer to make you feel better) read that is all about a girl named Olivia Clayton. She is sixteen and couldn’t care less about school and her education, because in her life, she is currently undergoing struggles that act as her personal demons. She doesn’t want anyone to know about them because she doesn’t want to be judged or even be in the centre of attention. As for the centre of attention, that is her best friend Adrienne’s job. They have a difficult and toxic friendship that makes you wonder if your friends are really loyal to you, haha. One day, Olivia catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend—the guy who was there for her after her family tragedy. SOOOO… Olivia wants revenge on Adrienne, so she begins hanging out with the school’s smartest and hottest golden boy, Whit DuRant. He’s basically Adrienne’s enemy for some reason, and at first, isn’t too inclined to become Olivia’s SAT tutor.  OBVIOUSLY… love brews. 

So you may be wondering why Olivia needs a SAT tutor if she doesn't care about school and instead, is the second most popular girl in school. Olivia is one of those characters who is two-faced, who has a more calm character underneath all of the lies, bullying and garbage that she says after being manipulated by Adrienne. She has always wanted to leave her North Carolina small town. From the beginning of the book to practically the end, I was wondering why she complained so much and why she had such a hatred-filled relationship with her mother. It all became clear and I realized why Olivia let herself be manipulated so much. And for a huge chunk of the novel, I somewhat disliked Olivia and her actions. I wanted her to stick up for herself the way she did when the family tragedy occurred. When Adrienne comes into the mix, we sense that Olivia immediately becomes weak and… crumbles. Like a cookie. I just wanted to give her a huge hug. She’s one of those characters who we as readers feel so much sympathy for that occasionally, we feel that the only reason we’re reading the book is to get closure and to make sure that the character succeeds. That was part of the reason why I ended up loving How to Break a Boy so much; we had a main character who was having such a difficult time in her life and who actually had the strength to get by it.

"Some sins can't be forgiven" (8).
 he novel, I somewhat disliked Olivia and her actions. I wanted her to stick up for herself the way she did when the family tragedy occurred. When Adrienne comes into th. SO. Devore's writing was fast-paced and straight to the point. Occasionally, I find that some chick-lit books are boring because the plot is slow since there is just filler of the situation, though this? This was almost perfect. Almost a five star read, if you know what I mean. I immediately fell in love with Whit and every single character (except for Adrienne, because OBVIOUSLY). The side characters like Claire were all great and added so much depth to the story. All in all, this was not just a chick-lit story, it was a mix between Mean Girls and the deepest out of the deep. You will certainly not regret falling in love with everything Devore offers here.

NOW IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT THAT ENDING. I was completely satisfied by the end because we as readers got a closing. Some books leave us off with a hook and we begin to feel like there will be a continuation... until we discover that there won't be one. THIS HAD THE OPPOSITE EFFECT and I was completely satisfied. Thank you, Laurie, for writing such a gorgeous story.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What have you read so far this year? Are you enjoying the books?

The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered by Gordon Martel // Ew. That's All.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 0 comments
The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered, by Gordon Martel
Publication: August 26, 1999, by Routledge
Format: Non-Fiction, History
Pages: 292
Format: Ebook
Source: Online

When A.J.P. Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War appeared in 1961 it made a profound impact. The book became a classic and a central point of reference in all discussion on the Second World War.
The second edition of this distinguished collection, written by leading experts in the field, is designed to bring the state of the argument up to date.
This second edition will ensure that The Origins of the Second World War will remain a high priority student and scholarly reading lists.

My Thoughts:

Hey friends, I know you will not read this ('cause it's super long) but I wrote this review for school, so why not put it up here?

      What has always puzzled me concerning the Second World War is that everyone seems to have a different perspective or opinion on Hitler’s Third Reich or his progression into a fascist leader. Every teacher I have met, whether they taught me in elementary or high school, shared a different insight concerning this dictator. Occasionally, they were quite similar, though other times, their opinions differed to the point that I began questioning myself and what I really believe. In Gordon Martel’s The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered, Martel, alongside twelve other historians, discusses A.J.P. Taylor’s beliefs and the complexity of his original novel entitled The Origins of the Second World War. Taylor, in his novel, suggests that one of the most famous leaders in history, Adolf Hitler, was a statesman who simply used his nationalistic beliefs to benefit his country, Germany.
      Over the duration of two hundred and eighty pages, Gordon Martel joined forces with other renowned historians such as Sally Marks, a policy planner for the United States Department of Defence, and Stephen A. Schuker, a professor at the University of Virginia who was born in 1939, during the initial events of World War Two. These historians create a strong origin for The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered; the fact that this novel contains twelve chapters from the various perspectives of historians, the purpose of the novel is simpler to identify. All of these historians picked and chose different sections of Taylor’s book to comment on, such as fascist Italy’s role as an Axis power or Japan versus the United States. Martel in the first chapter introduces this novel’s purpose as to prove that Taylor was a revisionist who did not oppose the rest of society’s beliefs for any reason; he had evidence and a strong belief that the Second World War was different than what was first predicted. I enjoyed this non-fiction research-based novel for this reason: it is different than any other Second World War history novel I have ever read. In the past, the Holocaust has been a strand of World War Two that I read various novels on, though, seeing that there are people who carry a different perspective than what students are traditionally taught, like, for instance, Hitler’s hunger for power in the continent of Europe, is quite interesting. The only flaw I am able to pinpoint is the way that this novel was written.

      For the first few chapters out of the twelve, Martel and the other historians seem to solely focus on A.J.P. Taylor and what he wrote about in The Origins of the Second World War. This provides context to what the remainder of Martel’s novel will focus on: opinions that seem strikingly different compared to what the average person has. It is important to note that this book was published in 1999, about fifty years after the war ended. This seems like the perfect time to release a book like this since evidence has been released and there are survivors who are still alive. This is the value of the novel; A.J.P. Taylor may have made some errors, as one historian highlights concerning Bolsehvik Russia when he says, “The source of this problem—the fundamental error which runs throughout the book—is the author’s failure to take Hitler’s ideas seriously. Taylor cannot believe that anyone would make the insane (and ultimately suicidal) National Socialist racist doctrines the basis for national policy.” At this point, it seems as if the historian, Teddy J. Uldricks, believes that A.J.P. Taylor is providing random facts in order to support Hitler. Learning about the various errors Taylor made in his novel is quite interesting, especially since one would predict that he would have all of the facts correct since he was alive during the war, born in 1906. These historians’ views of Taylor showcase that Taylor’s initial novel is highly controversial, even in modern society.

     I found a majority of this book to be dull and dry, if I had to describe it in adjectives. I disliked the majority of the book, especially in the beginning because I felt that it was harsh to examine every single fact that Taylor presented in his original novel. Some of the historians who are commenting were not even alive during the war, and are constantly criticizing Taylor’s words. Some historians do mention that Taylor provided a lack of evidence, and this remains an important limitation of his original novel; he might have not had access to different documents and only was able to state his opinion without proof. Teddy Uldricks in the beginning of his chapter concerning “Debating the role of Russia in the origins of the Second World War,” notes that “Taylor limits himself to an incomplete and interpretively distorted account of Europe's descent into war,” which could exist due to bias. In Taylor’s society, especially in the 1950s when he wrote The Origins of the Second World War, there was a significant focus on the Cold War, Russia and the spies that soon followed the end of World War Two. I am not sticking up for Taylor, as I did not even have the chance to read his novel, though the fact that he was biased could have existed due to the censorship of American and British society. 
I found this book to be extremely boring, as mentioned above, though I did want to continue reading it to gain different perspectives on Taylor’s novel. The writing was weak and difficult to read, a true flaw since the writing should be at least simpler in the complexity of historical events, though the facts were well structured. It is important to note that the book itself was intelligently structured into twelve chapters that were all different. This could be because the novel contained the perspectives of twelve different historians, though also because each chapter focused on a different span of events in the war: the postwar era by Sally Marks, the end of Versailles by Stephen Schuker, Mussolini by Alan Cassels, France by Robert J. Young, the misjudgment of Hitler by Richard Overy, appeasement by Paul Kennedy, Russia’s role by Teddy Uldricks, Japan at war by Louise Young, the Ethiopian war by Brian Sullivan, the Spanish Civil War by Mary Habeck and the Phantom Crisis by Sean Greenwood. From all of these chapters, my favourite was Alan Cassels’ which concerned Mussolini’s reign. Cassels strongly identified the purpose of his chapter with the research question, “To what extent did the origins of Nazism lie in German history and culture,” which continued with strong writing, even mentioning ideological states of minds in European society during that time: “Dogmatism, combativeness, intolerance, not to mention the terrible simplifications of social Darwinism.” This sentence caused me to decide that I needed a dictionary by my side in order to dissect this novel to the highest degree.

      Some other notable historical facts that the twelve historians presented were, in a summary format, that: Taylor did not view Hitler’s Mein Kampf as a blueprint for the war, according to Taylor, France had an advantage over Germany in terms of security after Versailles, the Spanish Civil War was so significant that Hitler used it to gain power in the Axis and move towards his ultimate goal of dominance and that the Spanish Civil War “showed that Britain, France, and the United States could not risk war in order to deter the dictators.” In the previous citation, the writer of the chapter, Mary Habeck, introduced a subject that North American history rarely ever mentions—the Spanish Civil War and its effect on the Second World War. This was a complete new area of study for me, and it really displayed the censorship of our current history curriculum due to a weakness or limitation that the Allies had in the war.

    If I had to challenge Gordon Martel on something, I would ask him to use modern evidence from the decade of 2010 to rewrite this novel, or even to rewrite A.J.P. Taylor’s novel. I would want to see if Taylor’s opinions make sense now due to the abundance of documents and films made on the Second World War. I would also ask him: “Why did you choose to write about A.J.P. Taylor’s controversial novel? Aren’t there many other historical novels that also created controversy?” 

         In a sentence, Martel’s novel has allowed me to see that A.J.P. Taylor wrote his novel as a form of entertainment; there are many facts that could be counter-argued and proven otherwise. In the end, after reading all of the historians’ views on the origins, the simple origin or cause of the Second World War, from my viewpoint, is utter jealousy and disorganization of the world from the era of the First World War to the 1940s and onward.  I am now less curious and intrigued to read Taylor’s original novel only for the reason that everything he wrote was examined by this team of historians. Martel began editing and writing this novel to seek out more explanations from Taylor himself and really understand what this man was thinking, and it shows that he wanted a challenge. He addresses this in his novel when he writes, “There is hardly a page that fails to provoke, that fails to challenge someone’s assumptions about something. The reverberations wrought by Taylor’s shaking can still be felt.” All in all, The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered was a challenge to read, mainly because readers are asked to try to understand two books and twelve opinions at once.

Have you read any books that comment on another controversial one? Do you like WWII research novels?

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn // This Series is Life.

Friday, 13 January 2017 0 comments
Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold (Broken Hearts and Revenge #2), by Katie Finn
Publication: May 5, 2015, by Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

The war rages on between Gemma and Hallie in the second installment of the Broken Hearts and Revenge series.
After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma's trying to handle the fact that Hallie knew who she was all along, and she was the one who stole Teddy from her. Gemma vows revenge, but things get more complicated than she planned. Ford, Gemma’s long-time crush, has arrived in the Hamptons cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after she lied to him, and Teddy is playing champion to his beloved Marsh Warbler (in Gemma's backyard, no less).
Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle. Just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever. This exciting sequel to Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend will leave you begging for the third installment.

My Thoughts:

     The last time I took a look at this cover, I was sitting in the car, with the windows rolled down, the world moving around me as I travelled through my favourite place in the world: California. California is the place where you want to read books like these, books from Katie Finn or Morgan Matson, however you would like to call her. I read this on my way to and from San Diego, a city that was promising and left me wanting more; a day dream certainly isn’t enough. I spent a steaming hot August afternoon in the Gaslamp Quarter, though my mind constantly flew back to this book. I abruptly put it down in the middle of the plot because I needed to leave, though I must say that, my friends, Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold was absolutely nourishing and fabulous. There’s nothing better than a good ole book full of drama and messed up characters. Katie Finn does it best. 
     Some may find the story of Gemma and Hallie to be over-exaggerated, unreal although it is fiction after all. I completely disagree with this; this contemporary-romance is full of drama that most likely is occurring in someone’s life right now. Please excuse me for being a little lost on the plot of this novel; it has been many, many months since I read it and devoured it quite quickly; in fact, it was over the course of a day. So, since I read this a while ago and need a refresher, let's format this review into a top six list of reasons why I really enjoyed Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold in the midst of summertime. Gosh, what would I do for hot weather and suntans right now.

Top Six Reasons Why Katie Finn Will Not Disappoint This Time Around:

1. Because, duh, this is a continuation of the first book!

    The plot takes place immediately from where Broken Hearts and Revenge ended, and boy was I excited. When I read this, it was over a year after I read the first book, and I was quite afraid that I wasn't going to get a thorough refresher of the events of the first novel. Well, I was pleased. Finn reveals a few new details concerning Gemma's life after the disastrous Fourth of July, and little by little, everything came together and I became obsessed with this series once more. I just have come to realize how much I needed the last book; my life depends on it. *winks* I adored the first book a little more than this one as a result of pacing (this one did get a little boring at times, but we could blame that on how mesmerized I was in California), though I was quite pleased.


    So for a while I was Team Josh, because he is the hugest heartthrob, but as the scandal between Gemma and Hallie strengthened, I was torn between both Josh and Teddy, who I would classify as the bad boy. I LOVE THEM BOTH. I spent the majority of this book crossing my fingers so Gemma would stop complaining and so she could get back together with Josh. It needed to happen ASAP. And sadly, for the purposes of censorship, I am unable to tell you the outcome. Let's say things turned out a little better than first expected.


    HOLY COW. So I expected a bombshell only because the synopsis spoke about one, but little did I know that it would be that huge and life-changing for Gemma. This was a part where I realized how small the world actually is and how people could be put in situations together even if they despise the idea of it. I JUST WANT TO SEE WHERE THIS WILL DEVELOP. I also adore the fact that this is a trilogy; some people think that contemporary romances are only meant to be standalones, but I DISAGREE completely; every author has the potential to create a series that features romance, fluff and drama that would beat Gossip Girl if put to the test. This sequel was a bombardment of giggles, constant blows to each character and envy. I loved it.

4. Gemma. I don't think we need to really explain that.

     If you read the first book of this series—which you should have or else you SHOULDN'T be reading this review—you must have loved Gemma. I know I did, and I found her different from many characters in contemporary romances. She's the kind of person I'd personally want to be friends with: honest, though a clear risk-taker who knows what she wants in life and will do anything to achieve it. This attitude continued to this novel and every time she beat Hallie in their never-ending feud, my inner crowd went wild. As you can see, I'm a huge fan.

5. How easy it is to read (and love) this book.

    Katie (Morgan) is one of my favourite authors for the reason that I find it so easy to read her novels. I easily get invested in the story, and it takes so much time for me to leave the world of the characters because they seem so realistic and the writing style is just beautiful. I cannot help but beg everyone to pick up this series when they feel like they need a pick-me-up read.

     GRAB THIS ONE ASAP. (The only flaw was the boringness and the lengthiness of the book—400 pages is a little too long for a contemporary-romance that is in a trilogy.) 

I'm not as upset as much as the robot here, okay?


      Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold is full of drama and it is an excellent progression of Gemma and Hallie's story/feud that seems to never end. Add romance and beautiful writing into the mix and we have a lovely read for the summertime or any time of the year.

Do you know of any contemporary-romance stories that are in a trilogy or lengthy series?

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose // The Most Perfect Storybook

Saturday, 29 October 2016 0 comments
The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story, by Nancy Rose
Publication: December 6, 2016, by Little Brown BFYR
Genre: Children, Picture Book
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

Love is in the air with another irresistible photographic story of wild squirrels in homemade miniature settings -- stopping at the bookstore, shopping for groceries, playing on the playground, and more -- delighting readers and animal lovers of all ages.
A brand new companion to The Secret Life of Squirrels and Merry Christmas, Squirrels, sure to surprise and enchant readers young and old! Mr. Peanuts spends his days climbing trees and gathering nuts--but he wishes he had another squirrel to share his time with. When he meets a special squirrel friend, he soon finds himself falling in love! They visit the bookstore, go to the park, and have a romantic candlelit dinner. Will Mr. Peanuts get his happily ever after?

My Thoughts:

This, by all means, is a book that you have to look out for. It is definitely one of the most creative stories that I've ever read, and I can just imagine the work author Nancy Rose had to put in to make it this perfect. If you know any children who have an obsession with animals and all things cute, this is the best story for them. I adore the photos taken, and the inspirations that Nancy Rose got in order to decide to write something like this. We have a cute squirrel-themed love story with scenes of the two love interests together in little chairs and beside little tables and.... agh. 

Mr. Peanuts is our main character (if that's how you would like to put it) and we readers experience a day in his life as he wishes for a companion. HE MEETS HIS SQUIRRELERELLA *puts this in a fairytale form* IN A BOOKSTORE, PEOPLE. The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story is definitely a book for us bibliophiles. It just makes you want to pick up a cup of coffee or tea and indulge in Nancy Rose's writing for children. At many points, I did not even feel that it was a children's story. It was cute, fluffy and constantly captivating. I didn't even notice that I was flipping pages; I just wanted to keep reading about Mr. Peanuts and his desired happily ever after.

I imagine this story as being a tradition for many children. A parent could read it everyday, or read it to their child(ren) when it's close to Valentine's Day. It's just amazing. I love the creativity and how it's unlike any other stories we find these days. Every snippet of it has creativity thrown into it, somehow.

The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story is one of the cutest picture books I have ever read, period. I WISH I HAD IT WHEN I WAS YOUNG. Nancy Rose, through her photos and story, proves that squirrels are not only a sign of fall or spring, but a sign of every season and mood. It is shown that they feel/experience everything we feel. And now I'm going to go on Tumblr and search through millions of squirrel images and gush. Awh.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is your recent favourite picture book? DON'T YOU LOVE SQUIRRELS?!

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven // I Am Obsessed With Niven's Writing

Friday, 28 October 2016 0 comments
Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven
Publication: October 4, 2016, by Knopf BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

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.
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

My Thoughts:

You can call me the world's biggest All the Bright Places fan ever. When I discovered the beautiful Jennifer Niven's debut novel last year, I went on a huge expedition to purchase it. I did, and my world fell apart in the best way ever. I cried like a maniac or psycho person, unable to contain my feelings and just making all of my blanket wet. Looking back, that was a chaotic, beautiful day. It still stands as my most favourite book (alongside some, because you can NEVER have ONE favourite book), and then I discovered Holding Up the Universe. I NEEDED MORE OF JENNIFER'S WRITING, and hearing that this would be her second novel made the world a better place, for sure. I then was so fortunate to meet Jennifer at BEA and have her sign a copy of this beauty to me, and I knew that I wanted to read this book during a special time. I decided that I would pick it up on the plane back home from an amazing trip of a lifetime, and boy, that was the best time to pick this up. I devoured it pretty instantly. 

Holding Up the Universe was in no way similar to ATBP, and it was nowhere as good as the book that stole my heart. The same thing happened with a similar's writer's work, Nicola Yoon. (Fact: I didn't enjoy her second novel.) I really enjoyed this one, minus the fact that ATBP was perfection. Written in a similar style to All the Bright Places, with alternating perspectives of a boy and girl who are obviously destined to fall in love (with so many heartbreaking and amazing moments in between), I could definitely glue the similarities together. But then, at the same time, there are so many differences, especially when you look at the characters and their own struggles. I love how Jennifer wrote this for her fans who are struggling in similar ways that our two protagonists, Libby and Jack, are, and I love how she based some of the struggles off of her own struggles in the past. Every person who reads this could definitely relate to one thing or another in this magnificent story.

Libby and Jack seemed like polar opposites of each other, when I first began reading this. Libby has been labelled as "America's Fattest Teen," but over the years, she has gotten better with her excessive eating. She has lost so much weight after working hard and limiting herself to cravings. Since fifth grade, she has been homeschooled, and since then, crazy things have happened that she never wants to look back at. She has been cut out of her house by firefighters, has made imaginary friends with the boys who lived across the street, she has mourned her mother, who died of cancer, but most importantly, she has put a goal for herself: to be ready to go back to high school. Once there, she constantly gets laughed at, but she's so strong. Strong enough to hold her feelings inside until she meets Jack, who also has his own secret (he has prosopagnosia, where he doesn't recognize the faces of people who he should recognize), in the weirdest way. She punches him, but they both end up getting in trouble, but this is just the start of a friendship/relationship (whatever you like to call the initial phases) that readers will never forget about.

For the second time in a row, Jennifer Niven writes about subjects that readers rarely (or never) get the chance to read about. We have two contrasting characters—Libby and Jack, who I completely adored. My favourite thing about the whole story is learning about Jack's prosopagnosia. Prior to reading, I have never heard of this direct term, and have never heard/read about someone who has it. It has never been brought to my attention. Most likely, somewhere in my head, I believed that some condition like that existed, but it never really hit me. Reading Jack's perspective was something absolutely new and I know that I will never get an experience like that ever again. There is also so much diversity throughout the whole story. Jack is African-American (or half, I think) and I just appreciated that so much. There are so many different things about this book that most contemporaries never touch upon. 

(The only thing I didn't really enjoy was the slow moments of the plot where I kind of got bored. That could be because of my flight's distracting entertainment options, too. Just kidding, Jen Niven's writing is always more entertaining than anything else. Am not kidding about the occasional boredom I experienced.)

What I don't get is the whole craze that previously went up over this story. People labelled Jennifer as being offensive to overweight people, but I never saw anything wrong as I read through the story. Sure, I disliked moments of this book where EVERYTHING was geared towards Libby being overweight, but that just came from Libby's character and her occasional insecurity. There is nothing offensive, period. Why would someone even think that about Jennifer's writing? As always, she puts her heart and soul into the whole story, making it the most beautiful, emotional and moving possible. The thing we have to remember is that this is for her fans. This book is for everyone who has ever struggled, and I completely felt that dedication as I was reading.

Jennifer's writing, as usual, added light humour here and there that occasionally made me laugh out loud and feel like I'm enjoying this so much. I enjoyed all of it. Some people are against romanticizing people with mental illnesses, but this is exactly what Jennifer Niven is amazing at. That is why her books are special and different. I would seriously be dying right now if I wasn't able to read this yet. WHAT AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. 

Libby and Jack are completely beautiful together. Jibby? Lack? They are the best. I love how they are together and how they have an even better connection because of their personal demons. I now just want to know how they are doing after the book, if you know what I mean. 

Holding Up the Universe is a beautiful story that has still left me breathless. It's like a prized possession for me, and its message is extremely powerful. With beautiful characters, diversity, real-life issues (some that we have never heard/read about, ever), a beautiful ending and attachment to the characters, leaving us wondering what they are doing at this very moment, this is just unforgettable. Thank you, Jennifer! 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What do you think of Jennifer Niven's writing? What are your most anticipated contemporaries for the rest of the year?

Royally Lost by Angie Stanton // An Adorable Contemporary That Makes Me Want to Go to Europe

Monday, 10 October 2016 2 comments
Royally Lost, by Angie Stanton
Publication: May 6, 2014, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.
Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.
When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?

My Thoughts:

Royally Lost is such a lovely, intriguing story that makes you want to hop on a plane to Prague and fall in love with a hot European guy who will throw you on a motorcycle. I read this story of Becca's when on vacation a few months ago, and for some reason (SCHOOL), I had to set this review aside. I will try my very best to write this as if I just read it last night. This is an addicting, memorable (insert every positive adjective here) novel about falling in love (even at first sight) and how teenagers, even, can make relationships work. We have two different cultures clashing, seeming as if the two characters were stuck in a time frame that did not suit them whatsoever. We had Nikolai, who is the Crown Prince of Mondovia, and Becca, who is the protagonist, on summer vacation on this ultra-hip river cruise with her brother, dad and stepmother, who she *kind-of* despises. Forget about the *kind-of,* SHE DOES despise her. 

This book is basically everything you can imagine. It's about a snobby teenager who is completely upset with her life's situation. She is moping on this summer vacation of hers because right after, she'll be going off to an university she isn't so glad on attending because she split from her boyfriend. It has to be the boys, as usual. One day, she meets Nikolai, who immediately catches her eye, and they both find that their bond is strong. He follows Becca and her family off to each stop of their European trip, but a secret lies in the middle of this all: he ran away from his palace to seek independence. 

And we find ourselves feeling hyper over one question: will their bond survive? MWA HA HA HA HA. One would expect that the author would purposely put obstacles in to break the characters apart because it's expected that they will end up together. Angie Stanton kind of mended a different kind of outcome for Nikolai and Becca. Their love story certainly isn't a Romeo and Juliet one, showing that they are destined together. I guess that they only spent so much time together because (A) they were bored, (B) they decided to rebel against the norm that their parents expect them to live in and (C) they both were attractive? A major flaw was that I felt no real connection between the two characters. Maybe there was a physical attraction, but I obviously couldn't sense any of that. 

This is a light read, nevertheless. I didn't expect it to unwind with plot twists and suspense that would cause me to run to the nearest bookstore to search for more at the nearest moment. It stayed at the same base as my expectations, and I must say that I was certainly glad to see that outcome. In the end, it was pretty enjoyable, but lacked connection, whether it was a connection between the characters or a connection between the rest of the plot, tying into the ending. Each section of the plot seemed to be separate, placed there for reasons only tying to readers' enjoyment. Nonetheless, I must say that I did not enjoy this pieced plot. 

Stanton tried to create foil characters. Becca was the stupid (I said it!), plain-Jane character who basically thought that everything she wants would come to her in a snap of her polished fingers. Nikolai was the basic, attractive Prince who rebelled because duh, he didn't want to do more work for his royal family. That meant not joining his nation's Navy. I have mixed feelings about that, because he had no plan set out for him, and just went with the flow. No one has as much luck as he obtained, unfortunately. (HOW CAN YOU FIND THE SAME CHICK'S CRUISE OVER AND OVER AGAIN?!)

Reading Royally Lost actually did make me feel lost—weirded out. It seemed as if this was trying too hard to become a fairytale that Disney would approve of. It's definitely cute—that's a word I feel appropriately describes the book as a whole. I would have enjoyed a more passionate romance (even though the characters are clueless teenagers), as well as intelligent characters that would cause this to seem more believable, but hey: at least I finished it in a sitting at the beach. 

What book has caused you to want to travel to a specific place so badly? What is your dream European destination to travel to?