Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen HaganWatch Us Rise by Ellen Hagan, Renée Watson
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 21st February 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission. Sick of the way that young women are treated even at their 'progressive' New York City high school, they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. One problem - no one shows up. That hardly stops them. They start posting everything from videos of Chelsea performing her poetry to Jasmine's response to being reduced to a racist and sexist stereotype in the school's theatre department. And soon, they've gone viral, creating a platform they never could've predicted.

With such positive support, the Women's Rights Club is also targeted by trolls. But Jasmine and Chelsea won't let their voices - or those of the other young women in their city - be silenced. They'll risk everything to be heard and effect change ... but at what cost?
 

Watch Us Rise had a lot of promise as a feminist YA story, but unfortunately it fell pretty flat for me. I was unable to connect with any of the characters, mostly because they were either lacking substance or completely irritating.

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Five Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book (and Three Things That Make Me Put It Down)

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in months (years?) but I felt like getting back into it this week because I like the topic! Here are five things that will absolutely 100% make me pick up a book, and three things that will make me cast it back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

+ Rich People Drama

I’m an absolute sucker for Rich People Drama, a term that I’ve been using in the book blogosphere for YEARS. It probably all started with the It Girl series, which is set in a fancy boarding school and there’s drama and drugs and Rich People Problems. I’ve read a tonne of these types of books throughout the years, the most recent being Crazy Rich Asians, and I can’t wait to get to the sequel!

+ Middle Eastern fantasy

I only discovered this recently but apparently I have a love of epic fantasy involving Middle Eastern mythology! It started with Aladdin, I guess, and then evolved when I discovered the Rebel of the Sands trilogy (which I love) and The City of Brass (which I ADORE with my whole heart). Give me all the djinn!

+ No romance

I used to be a massive shipper, but over the past three years or so my shipping tendencies have fizzled out. I’m not sure what happened, but I just don’t get into it as much as I used to. So if someone tells me that a book has no romance, I’m much more likely to pick it up because I’m going to be more invested in the story or the world building than two (or more) characters getting it on.

+ Buddy reading

This isn’t necessarily about the books themselves, but if someone offers to buddy read a book with me, or someone puts out a call for buddy readers, I’m going to jump straight on it. I just love reading books alongside other people and talking about them during and afterwards. (As a sidenote, if any of you want to buddy read anything then let me know! We can chat.)

+ Feminism

This should be pretty self explanatory. If a book promises to be feminist, or to have a feminist main character, then I’m all for it. I read The Nowhere Girls in 2017 and realised that YA fiction has been missing some hardcore feminist books, so I need more. I also want more feminist adult books, so if you have any recommendations then hit me up.

– Instalove

Another self explanatory one, especially considering what I mentioned above about not shipping anything. First of all, I’ve always hated instalove. Secondly, if I’m going to ship anything (which is rare), then I’m going to ship a slow burn romance, not a love at first sight attraction.

– “The next Game of Thrones/Harry Potter/Star Wars

This drives me crazy! I get that the publishers need to market the book somehow, but if they keep putting those same words on every single book that they want to do well, then it gets a bit redundant, don’t you think?

– Models on the cover

I just really dislike seeing faces on the covers of books unless they’re in shadows, or they’re drawn. Photographs of real life people are the WORST.

And that’s it! Let me know if you’ve done this week’s list in the comments below and I’ll come and check out your post!

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonaldThe Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: 5th February 2019
Publisher: HQ Digital
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

I’ve not read Big Little Lies, so the comparisons didn’t really mean much to me. I have to say, though, that if Big Little Lies is similar to The Night Olivia Fell, then I don’t really understand the hype. Continue reading

Monthly Wrap Up: February 2019

Me in February

February was an eventful month, but it didn’t turn out to be too hectic, which was nice. I got to do some exciting things, but I also had a chance to relax. I think I’m getting better at this life/work/blogging balance. That said, I didn’t blog much in February, nor did I record much for my Booktube channel, because I was more focused on reading and spending time with friends and family.

We kicked off the month in London, where we stayed after seeing Cirque du Soleil at the end of January. I mentioned in my previous post that we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and went to the video game exhibition there. Then, of course, I went to Waterstones Piccadilly, because that’s a tradition whenever I go into London.

Mid-month, Quill and I went to Windsor to see Ian MacKellen on tour. He’s currently touring a bunch of theatres for his 80th birthday in order to raise money for theatre students. He was incredible to watch, but I felt like the second half dragged on a lot. The show should have started earlier, because it overran by quite a bit and we didn’t get out until 11pm on a work night. (I’m getting old.) I did have the pleasure of very briefly meeting MacKellen afterwards, and he was very polite, although he did start to get annoyed by everyone who was trying to take photos with him. I didn’t take any selfies, obviously, because that would have been rude. He was there to collect donations, not take photos with hundreds of people. Also, random fact, he’s a lot shorter than I thought he would be.

The best part of the month for both me and Quill was the FALCONRY. We went to a falconry centre near Reading, where we got to hold, interact with, and fly six different types of birds of birds of prey. It was a brilliant half day that I bought for Quill’s birthday, and I don’t think I’ll be able to top it next year. The birds were so beautiful and intelligent, and I took so many photos and videos.

I was promoted (again) at work, and although I haven’t started training for my new position yet, I am really excited to have the opportunity to progress within my company and learn a new role. A lot of people at my office aren’t happy with their jobs at the moment because there’s little progression for them in their particular fields, but I’m really lucky to be where I’m at and to have managers that actually recognise that I’m damn good at my job. It also means I got a pay rise and I’m able to save more towards buying a house (eventually… in like a decade).

Lastly, we went back into London again for a family member’s birthday, which she held at the old BBC studios near Westfield. The party was alright (the band was the highlight) but the best part of that particular trip was going to Waterstones again the next day and buying even more books. 

Books Read

1. If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio ***
2. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo ***.5
3. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds ****
4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi **
5. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas ****
6. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis ****
7. The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey **.5
8. Internment by Samira Ahmed ****
9. The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown *
10. Educated by Tara Westover ****

Book of the Month

Statistics

I’m bringing back the stats section of my wrap ups because I love doing them on my Booktube channel so it made sense to do them here! 

I read a total of 10 books in February, as you can see. I read 4,299 pages, which was only 3 pages less than I read in January. This means I was reading bigger books and I’m thrilled. I read an average of 143 pages per day, which was awesome because that’s over an hour’s worth of reading. Go me!

I bought five books and spent £38.00 on them. Not the best savings month, I have to admit, but at least I’m excited about all of the books and I’ve already read one of them. (Tell me it’s okay.)

I read 1 mystery book, 2 thrillers, 1 non-fiction, 2 fantasy, and 4 contemporary books. The high contemporary number is unusual for the winter months, as I tend to read more contemporary in the summer, but the #contemporaryathon happened and it spurred me on. The thrillers I read weren’t great, which is a shame, so I want to read some good ones in March to make up for it.

I read 4 backlist titles and 6 new releases. Most of the new releases were ARCs, which means I’m getting through my review copies at a decent rate.

I read 7 YA books and 3 adult books, which isn’t as balanced as my reading has been lately but I think this has something to do with the amount of review copies I was reading. I don’t request many adult titles.

And as for how diversely I was reading, I read two books with LGBTQ+ representation (If We Were Villains has gay m/m rep, and The Truth About Keeping Secrets has gay f/f rep), five books with a non-white main character, and four books from an author of colour. Not bad, I think.

Looking Forward To

March should be slightly more relaxed than February was, although there are a few things coming up that I’m looking forward to. Firstly, it’s my little sister’s 11th (!!!!!) birthday on the 8th, and while I won’t be seeing her on that day, Quill and I are going to take her ice skating in Oxford. 

We’re also going into London again for a friend’s birthday, and I think the plan is to have lunch at their new place and then going out for some casual beer pong at a bar.

Then, finally, there’s the Orion Book Blogger event happening at the end of the month, and I’ll be going into London again for that. It’s in the evening on a work night though so I don’t think I’ll have time to visit Waterstones for a third time within six weeks. Shame.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha NganGirls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.


In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

I wanted to love this one as much as everyone else does, I really did, but it ended up really disappointing me for various reasons. Trigger warnings for rape and assault. Representation wise, there’s a f/f romance and the main character is gay.

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