Review: Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Olivia is an expert at falling in love . . . and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her.
Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward.
When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for, and Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined.

Thank you to the publisher, Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked You Should See Me in a Crown and I was super excited to receive a copy of Leah’s newest book from the publisher! In this book we follow Olivia and Toni, two best friends who are heading to a music festival. They have an agreement to have a crush free, drama free weekend at Farmland music festival, but things are never that easy, are they?

I really enjoyed this and I feel like it captured the essence of a music festival so well. Olivia’s love for music really shone through and gave me the vibes I was looking for. I love how many subplots we had throughout that were also intertwined in the music festival idea itself, and it made for a very fast paced read!

Somewhere in the light-years of space between the spiritual and the scientific, 

I read this book in less than a day, starting it one evening and finishing it late the next morning. Although this book isn’t particularly short, I found it so easy to read and didn’t want to put it down. I just wanted to know which way the plot was going to go and I had no idea exactly what the end of this book looked like. The chapters being from both characters also made this a really quick and easy read – although I don’t remember much of Toni’s story, I’ll admit!

I did like the characters but Olivia’s character did knock half a star off my rating because I just found her very annoying. Although I did appreciate how real her actions and mistakes were, I just found the way she acted throughout highly impulsive, immature and grated on me. I overlooked this for the most part and did manage to largely ignore it, but it did ever so slightly impact my thoughts and feelings.

between the known and the ineffable, there’s live music.

I loved how this book discussed friendship, grief, relationships and being true to yourself. I also loved the importance of music that shone through and I felt like the friendship group had a found family feeling, which I enjoyed a lot.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Liz has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed town. But Liz has an escape plan to attend an uber-elite college, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to college. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

This is one of those books I just knew I was going to adore. I heard about this book earlier in the year and picked it up pretty much as soon as it came out. A couple of my friends have read it and loved it too, so I was reassured that this one would be for me!

And I wasn’t wrong – I ended up adoring this book. I listened to it half on audiobook and half read the physical version depending on what I was doing. I’ve never actually read an audiobook before but I loved the experience and narrator, and it was a great thing to have on while I was driving!

I never needed this race, or a hashtag, or the king to be a queen. 

This book was so full of emotion. It made me actually laugh out loud in places and almost cry in others. I loved Liz as a main character and so many elements of the story made me feel for her in various ways. There is a big focus on friendship groups and family, which I loved. Liz lives with her grandparents and her little brother, and I adored the scenes that included them. Their relationships were portrayed beautifully.

The friendships were so well portrayed too. I felt up and down about Liz’s main friendship group and the high school drama in general, but by the end of the book I made peace with any annoyances I’d had and I felt like the issues between friends had been handled well. I also loved the friendship between Liz and Jordan because, yes to platonic male/female friendships! The relationship was also so lovely and I really enjoyed reading about it but it not being the main plot worked well.

The discussions of race and lgbtqia+ issues were also so brilliantly written. It introduced and handled these complicated social issues so well and was so readable (that feels like the wrong word, but I can’t find the one I’m looking for!), especially for an audience of young people who may be only just learning of these issues.

I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.

Overall, this book was fun and entertaining but also tackled important issues and made me so emotional. It was diverse and beautiful and I really loved it!


★★★

4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #20

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi all! I’m back with another book! I’ve been a little busy being back at work and able to go and visit my boyfriend now which is so lovely. But it means less blog posts for a while as I get used to having other commitments again!

Anyway, onto the book I bought this week. I received my copy of You Should See Me in a Crown, which I bought for Black Publishing Power. I’ve heard so many good things about this book and I’m really excited to read it!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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