Furyborn by Claire Legrand {3.0}


Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Pages: Kindle, 512 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

I first heard about Furyborn while watching a book haul on Youtube, and once I heard what it was about, I knew that I had to read it immediately. Once I got a copy, I immediately started reading, and I must say, the first chapter was so captivating that I knew this was going to be a great novel. However, I had some issues with reading this book, and although I really am interested in the story, I couldn’t give it more than 3 stars because of those issues.


What I Didn’t Like:
1. The long, excessive narratives: As I said, I really like the story that this novel tells, but I just found the narratives to be quite boring. I often found myself skimming the pages until conversations would come up because the book is a long one. I still want to read the next book, but I just hope that the 2nd book would be more concise so it would be less boring.
2. The main characters: The main characters were both insufferable, although I must say I grew to like Eliana more towards the end of the novel. I couldn’t say the same thing for Rielle though. She’s so arrogant and prideful, and sometimes I just want to shake her awake because dude, can you see the situation you are in? Do you think this is the time to boast around your skills just because you have them? Gosh! And with Eliana, at first I couldn’t get a grip on her personality because she switches from one decision to another completely opposite decision, without thinking of how it will affect others, and within a few pages. She was confusing as heck, and it was hard to keep up with her.
3. The alternating POVs: I really, really hated the way in which the chapters ended. I feel like it just takes me out of the story, instead of deepen my interest in it. The chapters cut the POV right as I was getting interested, and because of that I kind of forgot my interest after the next chapter. It was also confusing at first, because it was hard to keep up with what was going on. I kind of wished that this was two separate books instead of one.
4. It was confusing despite the number of pages: Speaking of confusion, this book was confusing as heck! So many things happened, and yet I have no answers. I just read a 500-page novel, and I only have the tiniest clue about what this really is about. Although this book did a good job in setting the tone for the following novels, I just felt like there were still far too many questions left unanswered.


What I Liked:
1. The side characters: I really enjoyed the characters of Remy and Ludivine. They add a nice element to the story, and the innocence coming from them both is really just something else. I always like it whenever they appear in the story. Sometimes I like Audric and Navi as well, although other times I just want to knock Audric in the head because he can be so clueless at times.
2. The story: Although I complain about how slow the plot moves, I really am interested and invested in how the story will go. I’m genuinely interested because it seems like such a unique story. Even though I did not love this one, I see myself still continuing on with the series because I just feel the potential. I mean, angels are bad in this novel, and there are prophecies, kingdoms to save, and so many secrets yet to uncover. I honestly can’t wait for the next book!
3. The gripping start: Honestly, the first chapter was what really drew me in. I loved how action-packed and ominous it was. It’s what got me excited for this book, and it’s also what’s still hooking me to the series, even though I didn’t love it. If we’re basing it on Rielle’s chapters, the first one was actually in the future, after everything has already happened. Honestly, I’m more interested in the after of that first chapter than the before, so I just want to find out more about what happened.


Overall, this book is a unique story that I truly am interested in, but I just couldn’t rate it higher because the plot was moving too slow for me, it was confusing at times, and I felt like there are still so many questions left unanswered. That said, I still can’t wait for the second book because I just want to find out more about this world!
interesting-but-slow stars


Review: Deeper by Robin York {3.0}


Title: Deeper
Author: Robin York
Series: Caroline and West #1
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014
Pages: Kindle, 132 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

In Robin York’s sizzling debut, a college student is attacked online and must restore her name—and stay clear of a guy who’s wrong for her, but feels so right.

When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.


After Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend Nate posted pictures of her naked online, the whole school began discriminating her and calling her names and her reputation is ruined. When West Leavitt punches Nate, Caroline warned him not to get involved with her life. But Caroline is drawn to him, as he is to her. They start spending time together, and the attraction becomes undeniable.

I didn’t know what to expect when I read this book, which is just as well because I know that I would be disappointed had I had any expectations. I’m still debating between 3.5 and 4.0 stars for this one.

What I liked: 
I liked how this book explored an issue that people tend to stay away from, but needs to be discussed. What started out being just a little prank had a great effect on Caroline, and I loved how the effects were explored. I liked how a story was already established before all the sex began, unlike many of the New Adult books out there nowadays. I liked how Caroline became stronger and stronger and was able to stand up for herself to everyone in the end. I also loved how she was flying solo at the start to how she found her niche in her group of friends.

What I didn’t like: 
I wasn’t really able to connect with the story or the characters of the book. There were times that the story felt dragging, and I was always consciously aware of how many the pages were left. I think the characters were not explored well – their backgrounds were clearly mentioned, but not explored, leaving me to question things about the main characters. I also didn’t like how it ended because I didn’t know what happened to the families. It’s like it had a proper ending closure-wise, but story-wise, not really.

Overall, I was able to enjoy this book because I liked bits and pieces here and there, but I think that it could have been better.

could-have-been-better stars

Audiobook Review: Dead and Night (The Star-Touched Queen 0.5) by Roshani Chokshi {3.0}

Title: Death and Night
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Novella
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 132 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

An exclusive Star-Touched novella over 100 pages long!

Before The Star-Touched Queen there was only Death and Night.

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

I read The Star-Touched Queen a few months back but I was not satisfied with that story. The romance felt too quick, and I did not understand the hype surrounding it when it first came out. However, with the help of this novella, things finally made a little more sense that it did before, and I wish I listened to this first before The Star-Touched Queen for me to appreciate it more. 
Death and Night gave us a glimpse of how Maya and Amar met, and how their romance first blossomed. This novella also shows us how Nrithi and Maya’s friendship was, and how her romance started as well. It showed Nritti in a different light, although I still can’t understand how she turned to the way she is in The Star-Touched Queen.
This book was quick to listen to, even with the audiobook in normal speed. The tone and everything else was definitely the same with The Star-Touched Queen, which I appreciated. But then again, as I mentioned in my review of that book, it still felt like a romance novel set in a fantasy world, because the fantasy part did not exactly take place, except for the setting. There was no badass-ery; it only centered on the romance. 
Although I enjoyed this better than The Star-Touched Queen, it still left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. It still felt lacking in a way, and the romance still felt quick. I know it’s a novella, but overall, these kinds of fantasy books are just not for me. However, if you are a beginner in fantasy and used to reading contemporary, I think this and The Star-Touched Queen might ease you into the fantasy genre.
still-lacking stars

Mini Review: The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett {3.0}

Title: The Stepsister’s Tale
Author: Tracy Barrett
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 24th, 2014
Pages: Kindle, 272 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family-especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate…

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett’s stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

When I first started reading The Stepsister’s Tale, I was actually very invested in the story. As a fan of fairy tale retellings, it’s always interesting to be able to read from the villain’s perspective. But as I read on, I found the book to be too long because it was full or narratives, which I never seem to enjoy. In addition to that, I actually read Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman, which is a Snow White retelling from the Evil Queen’s perspective.

The main difference of that book and this one is in Snow, Glass, Apples, it showed the misrepresentation of the story, but it also showed that the events were still true. The Evil Queen really tried to poison Snow White, but she had her reasons. In The Stepsister’s Tale, the author made it so that the stepsisters were absolutely kind, and everything was Cinderella’s fault. In this sense, there was a role reversal. I think I would have liked it more if the characters weren’t made to be so absolutely good or so absolutely bad.

I would have to admit though, that Tracy Bennett’s imagining of the novel is very much commendable. It seems like a simple enough plot, but if I were tasked to think of something like this, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to do it. The idea is really great, and I always enjoy reading from another perspective, but I think it could still be improved.

amazing-interpretation stars

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli {3.0}


Title: The Last Namsara
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 132 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.


Ugh, I’m so conflicted about this book, but I’ll try my best to write a review. The Last Namsara was a book that excited me because dragons!! It reminded me of my childhood, where I read Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and I immediately jumped at the chance to read this book. However, it wasn’t quite what I expected. Here are the main points.

What I liked:
1. The old stories: In between some chapters, the old stories regarding the namsara, the iskari, the old god, and the dragons are told. The manner in which these stories were told is so captivating and mesmerizing, and it sort of lulls you in some kind of a trance where you just want to devour them. The lengths and word choices are perfect, and I really loved how everything flows.

2. The intricately woven plot: The plot was so intricate and clearly well-thought of for it to be able to unravel in the manner that it did. There were so many secrets, and they were revealed in a manner that was intriguing. There were also some twists and turns that although weren’t exactly surprising, unfolded in an amazing manner.

3. The dragons, of course: I just really loved how there were dragons in the story, and how the dragons seemed to have emotions as well, even though they don’t really speak.

4. The romance: The romance in this story was a slow burn one, which for something that so many people like, exists in only a few YA novels. The romance unfolded in slow manner, and it really made me feel all the feels! So props to Ciccarelli for that!

5. The last 10-20% of the book: The last 10% or 20% of the book was fast-paced, exciting, blood pumping, and completely captivating. At that point, I couldn’t put the book down anymore, and I just devoured everything as quickly as possible, while still absorbing every word written in the novel. It was exhilirating, and I could only wish that the first part of the book was exciting as the end.


What I disliked:
1. Entitled main character: For the most part of the novel, the main character felt so entitled and above everyone, and she had quite an attitude for people who are not her family. She scoffed down on people, and treated some badly, especially the slaves. However, I’m glad that this was a bit resolved in the end.

2. Dragging: This is my main issue with the book. The beginning and middle parts of the book were so slow-paced, and very, very dragging. I wish at least half of the book were as exciting as the last part, then I have no doubt that it would be one of my favorite books. Sadly, it didn’t deliver.

I’m still not sure if I want to read the next book or not. The last few chapters kind of made me want to read what the results of the characters’ actions are, but I just couldn’t get through another book that might be as dragging as this one. It took me a long time to finished this book, although I am glad that I didn’t give up on it.

3 did-not-deliver stars

ARC Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows {3.0}

Title: Before She Ignites
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 400 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Before: Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After: Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.


Before She Ignites has a really interesting storyline. When I first read the synopsis, I couldn’t help but read the book. But although this book was able to deliver with an incredible plot, I found it to be dragging and not captivating enough, as well as not being able to explore the entire world built enough.

My biggest issue about this book is how the main character thinks. As a result of always being labelled as stupid by her mother, she thinks that she is stupid, and I get that. But she thinks in such a way that the only thing she is good for is her pretty face, and I hated that. For instance, when Aaru saw the scar on her face, she was so, so ashamed and thought that her face is her only asset. I hated it. Whatever happened to looking at inner beauty and strength? Whatever happened to not putting too much emphasis on the physical? Somehow, when there was so many things that could have been her best quality, her face became the forefront of it, and I just don’t get why.

Other than that, I also felt like the story were exciting at some parts, and then boring at other times. It dragged on, and it wasn’t exciting enough for me. The world built is big – there are seven kingdoms. However, I felt like they were not explored well enough, and were only talked about in small instances. Additionally, I also felt like too little was revealed throughout the book. On one hand I want to read the next book to find out what happens, but on the other I fear that I wouldn’t get much information anyway.

Negative points aside, I did love the story of the book. It was interesting and it was cool how the author was able to form a story when the main character was within the confines of a cell for almost the whole duration of the novel. There were so many mysteries and things to find out, and it piqued my interest. For the most part, the main character was badass as well, she just doesn’t know it.

Overall, I didn’t love this book because of the execution, but I did love the story. I want to find out more, but maybe I could just read a recap instead of reading the whole thing if possible.

3 annoying-self-pity stars

ARC Review: Literally by Lucy Keating!

Title: Literally
Author: Lucy Keating
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 11th, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 256 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

When I first saw the synopsis for Literally, I was excited. I think a bookworm would be immediately attracted to what the story is about, because after all, it’s about a main character in an author’s story. However, it wasn’t like I imagined it to be, and I felt like there were too much ambiguities.

Annabelle discovers that she is a character in Lucy Keating’s newest romance book because the author visited her school. When the plot of her new book sounded similar to Annabelle’s life, Annabelle confronted her. Lucy then proceeds to tell her that she is a character in her newest book.

From this point everything that became weird for me because why would an author be in her own novel? If she’s writing the character, shouldn’t it have been impossible for them to meet? And why was Annabelle the only one out of all the character to notice the inconsistencies within the novel, and the only one to notice the TK signs? I mean, it’s just all hard to grasp when you’re reading about it, which is why I think this would have done better as a movie.

For the first half of the book, I really felt confused. However, at the latter part of the book, that when I started enjoying. I liked the message that the author was trying to get across, and there were lots of good quotes in the book. I also started enjoying when she finally decided to choose between Will and Elliot, and how she chose the one I was rooting for, haha!

“I think you have to try your best to find your best self, and the person who makes you your best self.”

“And just because something ends, doesn’t mean it didn’t mean anything. Sometimes, you have to take the risk.”

“You can’t expect anything real or awesome to happen to you, if you don’t take a chance.”

“The end is up to you now, Annabelle. You’ll find your Happy Ending, and it’s not about whom you end up with. I am only just beginning to figure that out.”

“I don’t do this because it was my plan; it was my plan because I love it. But I’m determined no to stick to it too closely. I have no idea what surprises the future will hold. Now my plan is to follow my dreams. My plan is to surprise myself, and write my own story. I hope, whatever age you are, each one of you chooses to do the same.”

Overall, I was really confused about this book at first but grew to love it when I learned the message of the novel. It’s a quick and fun read that helped me pass my time, and after all the confusion, it was kinda entertaining and enjoyable as well.

quick-read stars

ARC Review: The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine

Title: The Wish Granter
Author: CJ Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 432 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

When I read the synopsis for this book, I was really surprised. I thought that Ravenspire #2 would be a continuation of The Shadow Queen, and I even stated in my review of that book how I excited I was to see how the story of the two kingdoms would unfold. It turns out that I was wrong about this being a continuation of where The Shadow Queen left off, but I still requested it because I think Rumplestiltskin retellings are rare. However, I must say that I was disappointed in this book.

I know that I shouldn’t be comparing this to The Shadow Queen, but I can’t help but do it. Compared to the first book, this book was really boring. I didn’t feel the need to finish the book because the story was not that compelling. The events were not exciting enough, and the climax of the book fell flat for me. I felt like it dragged on and on, and it took me a long time to finish the book.

I also felt like the romance was not well developed. It was as if there were no other choices for Ari, because Sebastian is the only guy she is friends with, aside from her brother Thad. In a way, it felt forced and was very predictable.

On the other hand, what I liked about this book was how it focused on family instead of the romance. And unlike other books that focus only on parents, this book focused on sibling love. Ari and Thad were really close, and the whole reason that there’s a story to tell in the first place is because Thad wanted to protect Ari at any cost. I also like how they both have different strengths, how they both acknowledge it, and how they work together to achieve their goals. I also like how they would work to any extent, just to save each other.

I also really like Ari’s friendship with Cleo and Sebastian. Although she may be the princess of her kingdom, she forms friendships with those in the working class. And although Ari doesn’t like mingling with other royals, she has the ability to command them with her words.

Overall, this book fell flat, especially when compared to the first book in the series. There are certain aspects of the book that I love, but the overall story was boring. I really like the concept of the story, however the execution was not that great.

fell-flat stars

ARC Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 4th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 400 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

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.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Last year, I read All the Bright Places and it completely shattered my mind. Immediately, I knew it was one of those important books that everyone has to read at least once in their lives. So when I learned that Jennifer Niven was coming up with a new book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on it. Sadly, and most likely because of my high expectations, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.

Holding Up the Universe is no doubt another important book. The message that it wants to get across is beautiful. I love how Niven always chooses topics that are unique and seldom talked about. In this case, Jennifer Niven chose to talk about Libby Stout, a girl who once was called “America’s Fattest Teen,” and Jack Masselin, a guy who has prosopagnosia. I would like to say that this book is cliché because after all, it’s a love story of a fat girl and a guy who is part of the in-crowd, but really, it’s anything but cliché because the story runs deeper than that.

Libby Stout is not portrayed as some shy girl who just lets people talk sh*t about her because she’s fat. Yes, she had moments when she felt down and wanted to give up, but she doesn’t take crap from people. She fought back, punched people in the face, and stood up for herself and others. She even gave most people a lesson, and I definitely learned from it too. Although she lost her mom at a young age, she is close with her dad and her therapist, Rachel.

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone. As for the rest of you, remember this: YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself.”

Jack Masselin, on the other hands, acts like a douchebag. You know, the typical “cool kid” who doesn’t care about anyone else. However, the truth is, Jack has to act this way because he can’t recognize faces. And no one knows, not even his family, because he can’t even admit it to himself. But underneath all that, Jack has a big heart and the courage to set things straight when he has done wrong. He loves his family deeply, and he stands up for what he believes in.

Although my mind gets how amazing this book is, I couldn’t really connect with the characters. This is why even though the book is technically good, I couldn’t give the book more than 3 stars. I didn’t connect with the characters nor with the story. It took me a really long time to finish this book because I just didn’t feel the urge to finish it. For the most part, I was convincing myself to finish it. There’s nothing wrong with this book at all, but I just really couldn’t connect. I know a lot of people might judge me for this, but this book just wasn’t for me. Ultimately, I am still a Jennifer Niven fan and I would still read whatever she comes up with next, but I just didn’t click with this one.

couldn’t-connect stars

ARC Review: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Title: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Author: Gretchen McNiel
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 13th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 352 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

The concept for I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s concept is not that unique as I have seen it in other books like This is My Brain on Boys and The Boyfriend App but the author definitely made it unique in her own way. That said, I should probably avoid books like this in the future – books where the girls use some kind of academic knowledge in real life and things fail. Sometimes the character tends to seem robotic in this book, and although the author manages to make things unique, I find that they can be predictable, or as predictable as can be when it comes to contemporary. For the most part, I did enjoy this book, it’s just that I realized that this type of book is not for me.

I learned at the beginning of this book that the main character’s mother is a Filipina, and that made me really excited about the book. It’s quite rare that I see any Filipino characters in the books that I read, so it was a fantastic surprise! Bea’s mom also use Tagalog words like Anak, and I really saw the Filipino culture in her. Bea’s parents are also divorced but I liked that she has a good relationship with both of them, and even with her stepmother. She even lives with both her mom and dad on different days of the week, so they really get to spend time together.

This book focuses on a certain formula that Bea uses to make her and her two other friends popular because a new student, Toile, stole her boyfriend from her. It follows their transformation, as well as the new drama that emerged resulting from that transformation. I found Bea to be naive and heartless at times, but I realized that it’s understandable, given that this is set in high school.

My main issue with this book is that I didn’t connect with the story nor the characters. Overall, I actually found this book quite entertaining because a lot of things happened, but I just couldn’t fully enjoy it because I couldn’t connect. Sometimes it felt like there was too much drama going on and the friends were constantly fighting, but for the most part it was entertaining, like from a detached point of view. See, I found the drama entertaining! What is wrong with me?

Anyway, I liked the tension in the romance aspect, but that was about it. This book is kind of a ‘meh’ read for me. I mean, I read the book and didn’t exactly feel bored, but I didn’t feel excited either. I enjoyed it, but not that much. I just wished that I connected with it so I could give it a higher rating.

3 couldn’t-connect stars