United We Fall Review & Email List Update

Hullo, world!

I got through my first week of uni & although I’m already getting the anti-Christian vibes in one of my classes already, most of my profs & classmates are really nice and I’m super hyped about it! 

Today, I have an exciting announcement to make…United We Fall, Bk 2 of How We Rise by Brooke Riley is coming out in 3 days!! Whoo!!! I was very privileged to ARC read her book, and here’s my review below…

United We Fall

Rating: 4/5 stars, PG13

Content: Violence, Romance, government control, thematic elements, some language

What is truth? What are lies?

It’s been two weeks since Raegan’s death. Two weeks since a big blow was dealt to the resistance. Two weeks since Peter lost his best friend and perhaps his soul mate. Now, he’s out for revenge on everyone responsible, starting with the biggest coward: Agent Specter.

Peter doesn’t care what rules he has to break to bring down those who took away the one he loved the most. When someone he never expected comes forward with information that seems too good to be true, he has to make a decision on what to do before it’s too late.

The shocking sequel to How We Rise

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My Review

I can’t wait for UWF’s upcoming release in 3 days now!!!

NOTE: I received an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰⋱

1. Theme–Again, Brooke kept her focus on family, friends, and basically relationships between people when the world is changing. It’s quite relevant with today’s political atmosphere and spoke to me. (   ˙꒳​˙   )

2. Prose–I was pleasantly surprised to find Brooke grew more into her prose. As UWF features multiple povs, I was really happy to find each character had a more distinct voice than bk1. ଘ(੭ˊ꒳​ˋ)੭✧

3. Characters–Okay, this is obviously where I have to stop because, UWF is super character-driven like you would not believe.😂 (Also, most of the character arcs are spoilers for those of you who have not read bk1, so please be warned!) Prepare for your heart to be shattered, everyone!! 。°(´∩ω∩`)°。

> Peter: First of all, I was kind of sure HWR destroyed a lot of characters and the one who got the full brunt of it was Peter. *inserts comforting words & marshmallows and anything I can think of* I loved how he struggled with coming to terms with what it would look like after such a tragic bk1 ending–which he sort of didn’t, but anyway.🤔 I think it was realistic how he grappled with grief and guilt and revenge, and how it might continue into bk3!! Gahh!!

> Spencer: I was not expecting his arc to be this good. Tbh, I don’t remember much about him in bk1 (sorry, lol) and it came as a surprise when he stepped into the tragedy to really pull people together into healing and mending…and forgiving. I think this was a big score. So many YA dystopia I’ve read was depressing because the “rebellion” was just an excuse for revenge, a circle of hate upon hate. But Spencer changed all that. Honestly, he’s probably my fav. character because of it. 🥰

> Evan: Obviously, my absolute fav. character (other than Spencer & Peter) is Evan. Okay, I was waiting for UWF just because I wanted to know where Evan was going after HWR. 🙈 And, quite naturally, I am waiting for OWA to follow him all the way to the end. *terminate rant before I spoil anything*

> Carissa: I wasn’t expecting her to grow into the sort of jarring ending from bk 1…I think she def. helped deepen the world of the HWR trilogy because I didn’t see it as clearly before. She still isn’t my fav. but towards the ending of UWF, she really expanded into herself. (*´꒳`*)

> Samantha: Another character I’ve been waiting to see where she’d go, and I was not disappointed! Although to be sure, I would have liked to see more of where she came from and where she is currently, there’s a large cast at hand, so I think it was okay…

> Jackson: Here, I’ve absolutely got to stop. *deep breath* Do you like the “traitors who mend” arc?? (As in Edmund?) Do you like dorky characters who are actually really caring on the inside?? Have you been waiting for Jackson since the ending of HWR?? If so, Jackson is totally there for you and that’s like the only incentive you should need to read this book. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

> Nicole, Sawyer, Noah, Stella: They were all deepened down & I was happy we got more screen time on them, although I do think they can be more fleshed out…Nicole & Sawyer’s arc was realistic and offered another way for the worldbuilding to expand. 

!!SPOILER ALERT!!

(If you want to read it, highlight the paragraph below…)

> Raegan: I debated whether or not to put her in here, but I will. Tbh, I didn’t really feel for her in HWR and then the ending shook me…

And we have UWF. 

Raegan is honestly such a resolute character that I feel bad for not seeing it earlier. She goes through such a traumatic experience but keeps her resolve, keeps moving forward. And that’s something not everyone can do. 

4. Plot–UWF reads like a contemporary dystopian, so the plot is not too convoluted but rather more straightforward. It felt flatter in terms of action. There’s certainly tension and a buildup, although it felt a little too predictable. I think I would like to see more twists in bk3!

5. Execution–Overall, I think Brooke tied together all these elements well into a solid contemporary-dystopian. I think I would have liked to see more coherence in worldbuilding and a more streamlined plot to character arcs, but that’s about it. (୨୧ᵕ̤ᴗᵕ̤)

★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰ ★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰ ★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰

If you like:

a) character-driven stories

b) redemption arc

c) contemporary-dystopian

This book is for you!!

AUTHOR BIO

Brooke Riley started her writing journey at fifteen when she had an idea about a world falling to ruin. Though the stories have come a long way from their original conception, she has found a refuge in writing books. A lover of literature and an avid bookworm, words have always been somewhere ingrained in her soul.

When she’s not writing, she’s dreaming up new worlds, making playlists, or hanging out with her family.

You can find her on:


Email List Update

Last week, I asked around a little about my email list. For a while, I’ve been meaning to work on it and haven’t really been able to, but from September, I want to change that. 

“Mailchimp, as you might know, takes some time to set up (even with personalised templates). And, it hasn’t felt like it conveyed my sentiments &c really well anymore …

So, from now on, my monthly email would look a little different. Since I have the monthly reflection-thing going on already on my Afternoon Tea with SJ series I will cut the redundancy of stating them here. Instead, I will focus more on the month’s starting goals, TBR, WIP goals & c.”

PERKS of joining my email list:

You’ll get…

  1. Weekly blog updates delivered straight to your inbox
  2. Monthly goal updates on reading, writing & life
  3. One aesthetic writing quote wallpaper + One aesthetic writing task wallpaper
  4. Exclusive sneak-peaks into my WIPs, character collages &c!
  5. Priority updates into my future online writing group

So, if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list. WordPress is a good place for my blog, but for any other announcements, it isn’t the greatest. By subscribing to my email list, you can be sure to stay in the loop of where I am outside the blogosphere. 😉 

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! Are you excited for Brooke’s upcoming book release, United We Fall? Have you read How We Rise? Are you subscribed to my email list (yet)?? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below; I’d love to chat with you!

Ignite Blog Tour & WIP Update

Hullo, world!

It’s a new day, and a very exciting one at that. Vancouver saw its first over 35 °C (and even over  40°C in some places!) which is not the exciting thing that happened, in case you’re wondering, but noteworthy natheless…

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE THE KIMETSU NO YAIBA MUGEN RESSHA MOVIE!!!

(Sorry, I had to do that.) The theatres finally opened toward the end of last month, and I finally caught up with the rest of my Japanese friends who have cried buckets which I also did. (And I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this movie…)

Just looking at this makes me cry😭

AND, JENNA TERESE’S IGNITE IS NOW OUT!!!

(I know, I should probably stop with all the caps.😂 ) I got to ARC-read it, so TBH it feels like some time has already past and people should know about this book, and that’s not the case, so let me present to you Ignite by Jenna Terese…

Ignite

Rating: 4/5 stars

Contents: Thematic elements, deaths

Reminds me of: MHA, TPN, Marvel 

What if superhumans weren’t considered heroes?

When Scarlett Marley is attacked by an illegal super with fire powers, she doesn’t get burned, but now she has a fire-like glow flickering in her eyes.

With superpowers criminalized, she has no choice but to turn herself over to the Superhuman Containment Facility, or risk hurting everyone she loves.

Her normal life seems lost forever, until she is selected to be one of the first to receive the experimental cure to destroy her powers. In exchange, she must first complete one mission:

Infiltrate and capture one of the largest gangs of supers in the remains of once-great Rapid City. 

With the cure and all her future at stake, Scarlett is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring these criminals to justice so she can return to her family. But this gang and their leader, Rez, aren’t what everyone says, and Scarlett begins to question everything she was ever told about the SCF and the fire flowing in her veins.

The cure is her only hope for returning her life to what it was before, but is that life worth returning to after all?

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My Review

Note: I received an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

1. Theme–I loved how the story focused on home and family, which I think is lacking in YA sci-fi/dystopia. Jenna streamlined the themes with the story, the characters, and everything else it felt natural. I loved how faith was part of this theme and was pleasantly surprised it was just as conversational as the rest of the themes, yet at the same time digging deeper into the issue. I’m excited to see how it develops in book 2!

2. Prose–Jenna’s prose is smooth and comfortably fits into the rest of the story. As prose is usually a big factor for me, I’m glad to say I didn’t feel conscious of reading or got startled out of the world. 

3. Characters–This is where the story shines. All the characters of the story come alive, off the page, and I was invested with their stories. I actually wasn’t as into Scarlett’s story as I would have liked (even though she’s the MC). I won’t have to mention it, but I will–I’m so going to adopt Ares. #aresfanclub And being slightly unpopular, I would say Dr Bailey was done well! (Esp. as someone who keeps on getting him for the character quizzes, lol.) And Seth. I really, really want to get to know Seth more. Also, I initially disliked Nadia, but she grew into her character quite well. Overall, the cast is well developed, and it made me want to know more about each of them!!

4. Plot–There’s a major turning point in the middle and I honestly wasn’t expecting the story to take the direction it took until then. It definitely kept me turning the pages, although I think the ending was a little predictable. 

5. Execution–In general, Ignite ties together the story of what having superpowers could look like in modern society and how it affects families. I loved how it stayed focused on a smaller aspect than just a random big disastrous thing happening TM or evil detainment facility ©. 

If you like:

a) superpowers & their consequences

b) families & friends like families

c) slightly dystopian-sci-fi settings

This book is for you!

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AUTHOR BIO:

Jenna Terese believes stories are powerful. That’s why she’s dedicated to creating fiction that will impact the world. You can find this INFP dreaming about the future, fangirling over her favorite books, geeking out about Marvel, playing piano, or sipping a chai tea latte as she writes sci-fi novels.


WIP Update

So, I think the last time I did this was back in March? Since now that half of 2021 is past, I thought it’ll be a good time to recap the last three months + overall WIP progress this year so far. 🙂

Recap of Months 4, 5, 6

April–Camp NaNoWriMo month. I got 30K into Woodstone, which I was very happy about. 

May–I had a major writing crisis where I thought I’d give up on Juliet permanently and wrote 25K in Osthauptstadt with lots of tears. 

June–I recovered from said writing crisis ™ and got 15K of rewrite into Juliet and 6K into an experimental secret project no. 2. (I know, I really should stop wandering off in the middle of bigger projects to pursue dust bunnies…)

So far…

That brings the total word count of the year 2021 so far to 123, 822 out of 300,000 words planned. In the bigger sphere of things, that makes it 593, 566 words written so far in mostly fiction writing. 

Now, some of you may be thinking, Gahh, I loathe numbers! It’s giving me a headache!! In which case, thank you for bearing with me. 

Personally, I find numbers to be comforting because it gives me a clearer picture of where I’ve been and  how far I’ve come. Although I couldn’t make it to the halfway mark of 150K by June, I’m really glad of what I have so far. It’s roughly 40% of my word count goal, and knowing I’m almost there makes it easier for me to plan out my next stage–I’ve come this far, I can make it to the end.

And if you feel discouraged for whatever reason today, remember this: You’ll always move forward one step at a time, one word at a moment. 

Courage, dear heart. We’ve got this. 

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Thank you for reading!  Are you excited for Ignite? (And if you’ve already read it, are you on the #aresfanclub?) How is your writing going so far? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Afternoon Tea with SJ Blogiversary Edition

Good afternoon to you! 

Today is my second blogiversary…and I can scarcely believe it’s been two years since I started blogging. There’s so many things I want to say, share with you, but first of all this: Thank you. Thank you for being a SJ Barnard reader and being a part of my reading-writing journey. It’s been incredible every part of the way, and I could not have done that if not for you!

-June ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beach House

Tea: Sayama-cha, Iced-peach strawberry, Iced-lemon mint

Offered with: Peach-strawberry parfait, lime-lemon-mint sherbet, pink champagne/green tea macaron 

Without further ado, let the celebration begin!

Stats ‘21

Views–4,121

Visitors–1,995

Likes–331

Comments–201

Best Month–May, with 1.1K views!

Total Followers–169

Total Email List Followers–31


Top 5 Posts

  1. 5 Ways to Write (Without Actually Writing) 
  2. AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days 
  3. The Original Outstanding Blogger Award + WIP 
  4. Happy First Blogiversary! 
  5. 12 Classic Loves Collab with Samantha 

Wow. I mean, compared to my last blogiversary, I’ve definitely seen growth. (A lot of the stats have doubled or tripled!) I think I also grew into my blogging style so it’s quite comfortable for me. 🙂 

Q’s

More tea, anyone? I personally love iced-lemon-mint tea! Also, the peach strawberry parfait and pink champagne macarons are absolutely gorgeous. 

Okay, this is my impromptu Q & A session! (Note: I actually forgot to ask questions ahead of time and did this kind of last minute, so thank you to everyone who sent their questions in. You can still ask me questions in this post!)

Nicole Dust

1. Current fav. song? 

Ooh, this is a tough one…Maybe Name of Love by Cinema staff?? Listening to it makes me tear up every time. 😭 Also, I’m really in love with most songs in my Toumei-sei (Transparency) playlist. 

2. What’s an anime you’d recommend to literally anybody?

I want to say AoT except I wouldn’t recommend it to literally anybody, so I’ve got to say Future Boy Conan, which was one of Miyazaki’s earliest works and also one of the awesome-est. It literally has every theme he’ll explore in the coming years!!

Paperstrider 

What’s your favourite blog post you’ve ever written?

That’s a great question. Hmm, favourite blog post…If I had to choose, it would be between The Narnia Tag (I still think it was the most genius idea I’ve ever come up with), AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days, and any Afternoon Tea series!

Jenna Terese

What’s one thing you’d want to tell the whole blogosphere?

New Aesthetics & Direction

I’m getting a little thirsty…I think I’ll have a classic green tea, Sayama-cha. Would you like some sherbet?

Finally, I’d just like to share a few things about my blog. 

You might have noticed I rebranded my blog a few weeks ago. I loved my old blog identity, but felt like it didn’t completely resonate with me anymore, partly because I’ve been discovering a wider range of aesthetics than what I’ve previously known, and partly because my philosophy has gone back to the simplest form of Ecclesiastes 12:12-13. 

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

So, I’m trying to find my stride with a more minimal, Lewisian-vibe aesthetic. Obviously it might change again, but for the time being this is what I’m going with!

(P. S. Some of my favourite aesthetics are: minimalism, academia, beige milk tea, cottagecore)


At the same time, I just love reading and writing. It’s something I’d keep on doing even if the world was ending. 

All this is to say, I’ll keep on posting as I am–with focus on mental health, reading classics and modern books, ranting about my favourite fandoms, and talking about my writing journey. 

So, thank you once more for being a part of this journey. And shall we say, The road goes ever on and on. 

Thank you for celebrating my two-year blogiversary with me! How has your month been? Is there anything you’re curious about my writing/blogging journey? What are your favourite aesthetics? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!