Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: March 2020 – Part 2


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan, We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Girls Like Us by Randi Pink, and How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul & Maria Russo



» Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars* WhatILiked» I LOVED the overall feminist themes in Watch Us Rise.  I think this book addresses some heavy issues like sexism, sexual harassment, racism, body shaming, etc. in a very thought provoking way.

» I really enjoyed the blog posts & poetry included throughout the story.  I think these elements really enhanced the story.

» I appreciated that the authors included resources at the end of the book.

WhatIDidntLike» While I appreciated what the authors were trying to do here, this book was a bit heavy handed at times.  Chelsea’s character in particular was a bit over the top.  I also didn’t feel that Chelsea’s character grew enough throughout the course of the book.

» I don’t think the voices in this dual perspective novel were distinct enough.  In fact, I had a hard time distinguishing which character’s perspective I was reading.  I feel like this story would have worked better told only from Jasmine’s perspective.

» I wanted more development in Nadine & Issac’s characters.  For secondary characters that are so prominent throughout the story, they felt very surface level.

› Recommended to ⇒ those looking for YA books with feminist themes

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexism, body shaming, sexual harassment, etc.

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu


» We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» I thought the society that Meija built here was very interesting: men of high standings get to chose two wives.  These wives are selected from girls that have attended a special school to prepare them to either become a primera, first wife, or a segunda, second wife.  The culture of this world was very compelling.

» The audiobook was beautifully narrated by Kayla Garcia.  Her accents gave the story a very authentic feel.

» Carmen was an excellent secondary character.  She was fiery, passionate, and bold.  She actually stole the show from Dani, our main character.WhatIDidntLike» Had we started earlier in Daniela’s life with her early years & life at the Media School for Girls, I think I would have connected more with this story & the characters.  In reality, this book should have been the second book in the series.

» While I found the concept for this society intriguing, there was not enough context or background for me to connect with the political intrigue.

» The antagonist was not well fleshed out.  We were not shown any type of motive or reasoning behind their cruelty, which made for a poor villain. 

» The romance in this book felt very forced & out of the blue.  While I loved seeing these two characters come together, it just didn’t come about in a natural way.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of dystopian novels with a Latinx flavor

» Girls Like Us by Randi Pink



5-Star Rating System

Wow!  A book about teen pregnancy set in the 70s?  Yes, please!  WhatILiked» I was equally invested in each perspective & storyline of the three main characters: Izella, Missippi, and Sue.  I loved each character for different reasons.  Izella for doing everything in her power to protect her sister, Missippi for her tender heart, and Sue for her strength.

» I flew through this book.  The short chapters alternating between the three different perspectives worked very well here.

» Teen pregnancy is a topic that needs to be addressed more in the YA target audience.  I appreciated that the author explored three different unplanned teen pregnancy experiences.

» Girls Like Us features heavy themes like teen pregnancy, PTSD, sexual assault, abortion, etc.  These issues are handled with care & sensitivity.

» I enjoyed the afterword glimpse of the characters years into the future.  It felt very satisfying.

› Recommended to ⇒ YA historical fiction fans; those that enjoy reading about hot button issues

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexual assault & abortion

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult


» How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul & Maria Russo


add-to-goodreads-button5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked

School is where children learn that they have to read.   Home is where kids lean to read because they want to.  It’s where they learn to love to read.

» This was a wonderful book with realistic & practical tips and tricks on how to instill the love for reading in children.  Instead of focusing on research & the science behind the benefits of reading, or the “why,” How to Raise A Reader focuses more on the “how.”

» I think the format of this book, headings & small chunks of info, is very accessible.  This is a very quick & easy book to read.

»  I like how the authors organized this book intro age groups.  I feel this is particularly helpful for parents to be able to go to the sections that apply to them.

» The authors encourage parents to allow their children to read graphic novels!  Thank you!  I cannot tell you how my librarian heart breaks when I overhear parents saying “put that back and get a REAL book” at the library when their child picks up a graphic novel.  Graphic novels are a great way to instill the love for reading and can be more accessible for kids that are more visually oriented.

» How to Raise A Reader was well balanced with its practical tips and personal anecdotes.

› Recommended to ⇒ parents; teachers; librarians

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease & The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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1 thought on “Mini Book Reviews: March 2020 – Part 2”

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