Turtle Under Ice | A Review

Hiya everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario. This is actually the first time I’m reviewing a book written in verse. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive. But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone. Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

I usually read books in verse if I’m trying to get out of a slump. However, I just picked this one up spontaneously. And I’m happy that I did! Turtle Under Ice is a story full of emotion and the will to just push on. It oozes out with sisterly love, and tells us that we should always be grateful for our parents.

The story follows sisters Ariana and Rowena. It’s told through both their perspectives and is done astonishingly well. Despite disliking Ariana, I can 100% understand where she’s coming from. Ariana wants to be an older sister Rowena can look up to, but she knows she’s failing that role. I found this to be incredibly touching and relatable. Ariana is also a creative, and uses her art to cope. She actually does her summative art project on grief. Meanwhile, Rowena, or Row, uses soccer as an escape from her heartache. What really broke me is that Row sees her mother on the field when she plays. The reason behind this is that her mom was always so busy, that she could never attend any of her soccer matches. Furthermore, I ADORED the sibling dynamic. It perfectly captured the fact that no matter what happens in life, they’ll always have each other, and it was just the sweetest thing!

“Maybe hope is like a turtle under ice
breathing through its shell,
through its biochemistry, still alive. Maybe hope waits for spring to come, for the ice to thaw
for the weight of the pond that encapsulates us to melt into nothing. But maybe we are not meant to wait for springtime.
Maybe, instead, we are meant
to break the ice
and be free.”

― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

In addition, through the dialogue we got to see how Ariana interacts with other people. The way she talked to people with no care in the word was quite interesting. Aside from that, there wasn’t much dialogue. Instead, there were more monologues, which brings me to the writing!

“There was no right time for my mother to die,
because when someone we loves dies,
it will always be untimely”
― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

Juleah del Rosario’s writing is truly beautiful. Turtle Under Ice is written in verse, and is done exquisitely. The author creates such vivid yet depressing scenes that will make you want to read on! It’s absolutely stunning, and isn’t overly metaphorical or unclear.

Overall, Turtle Under Ice is a quick and emotional read perfect for those who are looking for a moving story on familial relationships and grief.

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Death of a parent (off page but talked about a lot), miscarriage, main character runs away from home

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite novel written in verse? Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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Ten YA Novels By BIPOC Authors You Need To Check Out!

Hi all! Today I’ll be talking about some YA novels by authors of color that I believe need more recognition. I tried to pick books that aren’t necessarily as present in the book community so that you could discover some new voices!

Disclaimer: Some synopsis’ are summarized by me, others are taken from goodreads.)

(PS: To add the books to goodreads, simply press on the book covers.)

1. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

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The story centers around seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan. By day, she works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. By night, Jo writes for a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” And the story takes off from there in such an intriguing way.

This is a young adult historical novel about fighting racism and gendernorms, and I am 100% here for it!

2. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1) by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer revolves around Tarisai, a teen who has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. However, The Lady wants Tarisai to kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust, as she as compelled to obey this order. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Doesn’t this sound like such a unique fantasy story? I definitely think so!

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3. Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

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Butterfly Yellow is a story about a young Vietnamese girl and her little brother. As they get ready to go to America, her brother Linh is ripped from her arms, leaving Hằng behind in Vietnam. After six long years, she makes it to Texas, USA as a refugee. Once Hằng finally reunites with her brother Linh, he doesn’t remember her! She has come so far, and will do anything to bridge the gap between them.

This is an incredibly heart wrenching and beautiful novel.

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4. The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

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The New David Espinoza revolves around a teenage boy named David. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again in the fall. Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything. 

Male body dysphoria is something I rarely see present in books, so I’m happy to see the issue being addressed! This is also an own voices novel.

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5. This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Williams

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This is a young adult romance featuring two New York teens; Isabelle and Alex. Isabellle is a dancer, and Alex, a baseball player who wants to be a poet. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

This is an authentic young adult drama with one of the best family dynamics I have ever seen!

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6. Once Upon an Eid by A Collection of Authors

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices: Amazon.ca:  Ali, S. K., Saeed, Aisha, Alfageeh, Sara: Books

This is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

This book is just the cutest thing ever! If you’re looking for an own-voices Muslim rep, this is definitely the book for you!

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7. Want by Cindy Pon

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Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost. With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

This is a perfect novel for all the science fiction and dystopian lovers out there!

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8. Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Despite being fictional, Internment tells the story of many people today. It’s an eye-opening book perfect for those who enjoyed The Hate U Give.

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9. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by A Collection of Authors

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

This is a collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.

If you want to read more Indigenous own voice books, then this is 100% the book for you!

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10. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet

Pet is a rather unusual, but gripping tale about a girl named Jam. In her city Lucille, there are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Pet is a bizarre yet astounding tale that I just know whimsical fiction lovers will come to adore!

I hope you found some great books to add to your TBR! Have you read any of these? I’d love to know. Stay safe everyone! 💙

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Yesterday Is History | A Review

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Kosoko Jackson’s debut novel Yesterday Is History. Did I binge read 240 pages of this book in one day? Perhaps. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Yesterday Is History: Amazon.ca: Jackson, Kosoko: Books

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant. He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael. And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift. Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other. Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

What initially drew me into reading Yesterday Is History was the plot. I was looking for a book that would make me 💫feel something💫, and I’m happy to say that it delivered! This debut novel is the heart-wrenching and emotional read I needed. I was ecstatic to find that the time travel concept wasn’t confusing either!

Unfortunately though, the main character Andre was a bit insufferable. What really annoyed me was how everyone, including himself, kept on saying that he was a ‘smart boy.’ It was repeated way too many times. Aside from that, I liked that Andre was a bit selfish as it made him seem more human. I’m glad that cancer was also represented as simply a part of Andre’s identity, and not his whole entire personality. People are more than just their medical situations, so I think the author handled it very well.

“The only way out is through. And the best way through something is the truth.”
― Kosoko Jackson, Yesterday Is History

What made this novel so incredibly gut punching was Andre’s relationship with the love interests. There was one love interest in each timeline. One in 1969; Arthur, and one in the present day; Blake. The main character’s relationship with Blake felt extremely rushed and sudden. It came out of nowhere. The one in 1969 felt too insta-love for my liking, but I was anticipating it, so their relationship wasn’t surprising. Furthermore, I enjoyed reading about Andre’s relationship with his parents, and with Blake’s parents. There was something so genuine about it. In addition, his relationship with his best friend Isabel felt forced and unnecessary. She barely had a role in the story. Considering that Isabel is his best friend, it felt odd that she had little to no presence.

The dialogue in Yesterday Is History sometimes felt unrealistic. It was very picture perfect, and was too formal. Luckily, there were some moments where I pondered what was said, which was nice.

“But every time I think back on it, on every spark of joy Blake gives me, I wonder, would that spark be a roaring flame if I were with Michael?”

― Kosoko Jackson, Yesterday Is History

The writing was simple to understand, which I was very grateful for considering that this is a science fiction novel. Sadly, it felt bland at times. I really wanted to this book to be emotional because it seemed like that type of book, but it just wasn’t. (But I guess that’s more on me then the book.)

I must admit, I was planning on giving Yesterday Is History 3 stars. But my oh my this was such an addicting read! I could not put it down. If you’re trying to get out of a slump, I highly recommend this novel. Overall, it was very enjoyable. If you like science fiction, or are wanting to get into it, this might just be the book for you.

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Use of alcohol

Final Rating: 8.5/10 or 4.25 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite science fiction novel? I’d love to know! Have a great day, and thank you for reading!

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