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!

Finding God in Anime & Capsule Review

Hullo, world! 

I’m so excited for today, not simply because I get an excuse to ramble on about my favourite things, but also because I get to share with you some of the awesome things I’ve been able to be a part of. 

The first of those is…*inserts drumroll*

THE FINDING GOD IN ANIME DEVOTIONAL!!!

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Yes, you heard it right. There’s a brand new devotional feat. manga & anime and it’s the one thing you didn’t know was missing from your life ™. 

About Finding God in Anime

Being a Christian can be tough. Being an otaku can be tough. But being both at once?

Sometimes it seems easier to become Hokage rather than explaining your faith and passions to others. That is why we otaku have united in this devotional: To encourage otaku like you spiritually and through a medium we all cherish.

In this devotional, you will find God in the animes you know and love. Each devotional presents spiritual lessons found in animes ranging from the world-famous Attack on Titan to fan-favorite Haikyu!! to beloved classics like Cowboy Bebop. Each piece will feature a different theme such as:

  • Human Will vs. The Holy Spirit in Yona of the Dawn
  • Choosing to be Free in Free! Swim Club
  • Not by My Might in My Hero Academia

…and many others! We believe that God can be seen throughout His creation—even in places where people might not intend! So pull out your cosplay and snuggle close with your plushies as you join us in Finding God in Anime.

About the Organizers

Laura and Moriah’s life consists of giving each other manga recommendations until they see whose TBR pile will fall on them first. Rest assured they’re both still safe…until another manga releases. In the meantime, they enjoy sharing beautiful pictures of Japan and trying to make each other laugh with anime memes. They both have an appreciation for cute stickers, samurai, and pins. If they’re not chatting about all things otaku, you can find them trying to write their next story or surviving on ramen and pocky after their latest manga order. 

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MY REVIEW:

First off, how cool is it that you get your devotions done and spend time reminiscing about your favourite manga & anime?? I spent this week and the last reading from FGiA, and it has been a blast…and let me explain why you should be using this devotional as well. 

Reason #1: My mum and I have recently reached the conclusion that it’s impossible not to see biblical themes reciprocated in certain manga/anime, starting from Ghibli and extending to AoT, TPN, &c. We often spend time discussing aspects of our favourite manga & anime and tying it into our personal devotions. So, if you don’t have someone like my Mum, you can still have this discussion with FGiA!

Reason #2: As an anthology, FGiA consists of short devotional entries that’s easy to follow and enjoy even if you don’t know the specific story. It’s a great pick-me-up first thing in the morning (even if you slept in) or the go-to for those small snippets of time you might have on hand

Reason #3: All of the stories featured in FGiA are certified to be clean and God-honouring, even if some of them are darker than the others. It’s a great way to find out more about other manga & anime you were interested in but weren’t sure. I for one was reminded I was really into Yona of the Dawn a few years back and am thinking of giving Naruto Shippuden another read. 

And lastly, just a personal side note: I was super hyped Renée Le Vine included Precure. I basically grew up watching Precure since it started and it has a special place in my heart! I also love Nausicaa (esp. the manga), so I was pleasantly surprised it was featured on more than one occasion. 🙂

So, if you’re an avid manga-reader or anime-lover and would love to explore biblical themes within them, this devotional is absolutely for you!

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 31st

–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Kick-Off

–       C.O. Bonham | Special Feature

–       Author E.E. Rawls | Book Spotlight

Tuesday, June 1st

–       Angela R. Watts | Special Feature

–       Jenna Terese | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 2nd

–       The Clean Fiction Blog | Book Spotlight

Thursday, June 3rd

–       Author Hannah Carter | Book Spotlight

Friday, June 4th

–       Deeply Shallow | Book Spotlight

Saturday, June 5th

–       SJ Barnard | Book Review

Monday, June 7th

–       The Artist Librarian | Book Review

–       K.A. Cummins, Exploring Possibilities | Behind-the-Scenes Interview

Tuesday, June 8th

–       Tabitha Caplinger | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 9th

–       Piper Bee Blog | Book Review

Thursday, June 10th

–       Erudessa Gentian Blog | Book Review

Friday, June 11th

–       Bigger on the Inside | Special Feature & Review

Saturday, June 12th–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Wrap-Up


I also got to be a part of the Capsule ARC team! Mel Torrefranca’s first novel, Leaving Wishville, has been one of my highlight reads of 2021 and I’m super excited for her second book to come out on July 10th! 

Capsule

Rating: 4.5/5 stars, PG13

Contents: Thematic elements, mild romance, crime, accident, some swearing (no f-words)

Two students from Brookwood High School mysteriously go missing on the same night.

The first is Peter Moon, a heartless pescatarian who bashes students from Brookwood on his blog, turning everyone against him. The second is the adored Kat Pike, an audacious girl desperate to boost her adrenaline. Three days pass. No leads.

Indifferent to the disappearances, sixteen-year-old Jackie Mendoza remains immersed in her virtual world of video games and online friends.

When a menacing app by the name of Capsule downloads itself onto Jackie’s phone, she enters a game interlaced with reality. A game threatening to erase Peter and Kat forever. Only Jackie can save them now—but Capsule is the most ruthless game she’s ever played.

Mel Torrefranca delivers a heart-wrenching thriller about unlikely friendships, bittersweet memories, and a never-ending search for answers best left forgotten.

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MY REVIEW:

I was super excited to be able to ARC read this book as I enjoyed Mel Torrefranca’s first book, and needless to say, I was not disappointed!!!

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

1. Theme–It’s honestly refreshing how Capsule visits the themes of family, siblings, friendships, and being present in your life. I just loved how streamlined the themes were in the sense it was completely natural. I also loved the way it subtly made me think of my online presence and IRL friends.

2. Prose–Again, I’m super picky about prose, but with Mel’s books I never have to worry about it. 😉 It’s vivid and imaginative, setting a clear tone to the story as well as offering an insightful narrative.

3. Characters–I usually like “unlikeable” characters, and I found I was really drawn to all three of the main cast–Jackie, Peter, and Kat. Jackie is into online games, something I’m not interested in, but I could feel her seclusion. (Not to mention I adored the brother-sister relationship between Jay and Jackie.) Also, her character arch was really encouraging. Peter was probably my favourite character because…(trying to think of all the good things about him)…he’s human? IRL, I think he would be the type of person I’d avoid, but it made me reconsider people who might look one way but are really another. Also, I shouldn’t be laughing, but some of his comebacks and remarks about other characters were funny. I initially thought I wouldn’t like Kat, but I think three chapters in about her made me reconsider everything and she also became another character I rooted for. Or not. But I did love the way the characters all blossomed!

4. Plot–The plot is straightforward, and I was expecting it to be more sci-fi but Capsule reads like a contemporary. (I know, sorry I keep saying *insert book title* reads like contemporary. It just does!) Where Leaving Wishville had a decided dystopian/sci-fi undertone vibe, Capsule was lighter on the genre expectation which I think was refreshing because TBH, I wouldn’t have connected to the story as much as I did if it was all about gaming. #sorrynotsorry I personally love countdowns since they give a clear visual of the story. I think that although the story is simple, the ending gives it a nice twist and sharpens the focus. (Open-endings are the way to go!!)

5. Execution–Overall, Mel Torrefranca did an excellent job with Capsule’s composition. I think I would have liked one more thing, but it’s really emotionally gutting and thrilling.

If you like:

a) Contemporary with soft sci-fi elements

b) Strong relationship between characters

c) An alternate look at life vibes

This book is for you! 

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And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Are you a manga and/or anime lover? What are some of your favourite manga/anime? Are you excited for Capsule to come out? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!