May Wrap-Up

Hiya! Today I bring you my May wrap-up. I must say, this month was very busy for me, and I’m sure June will be the same. Nevertheless, I still tried to read as much as I could. Enjoy!

Novels I Read

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario: (3.5 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was really sweet, but also quite sad. You can read my review here!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab: (4.25 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Vicious is well, interesting, but it was a bit too emo for me. Review to come!

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson: This was somewhat infuriating, but it was also kind of wholesome?? Maybe I’ll give it three stars. Review to come!

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch: (4.25 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Sky Blues was really cheesy, but also unlike a lot of contemporaries. Review to come!

Graphic Novels and Manga read

Seven Secrets Volume 1 by Tom Taylor: (4.5 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I did not expect to love this the way that I did. The story is incredibly unique, and features a variety of diverse characters. It’s a must read for all action fans!

The Princess Who Saved Herself by Greg Pak: (3.75 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was super cute and uplifting!! I absolutely adored the whimsical and messy setting too.

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp: (4.25 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This memoir was adorable, and had such a beautiful message. Author interview to come!

Blue Flag Volume 4 and 5 by Kaito: (4.5 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Blue Flag is so incredibly emotional and gripping. It’s definitely a must read for all contemporary fans!

The Color Collector by Nick Solis: (4 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was a super cute! The story is quite unique too.

A School Frozen in Time Volume 1 by Mizuki Tsujimura and Naoshi Arakawa: (3.5 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐ It’s quite an eerie and whimsical read perfect for fans of Your Lie in April.

Ao Haru Ride Volume 13 by Io Sakisaka: (4.25 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It’s sad that I have now finished the series. Ao Haru Ride does shojou very well. I definitely recommend it to any manga lovers.

Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel: (4 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was the PERFECT morning story for kids. Bedtime stories are so common in children’s literature, so I am delighted to see that this is a book is set in the morning. 

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and Hatem Aly: (4.5 out of 5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was so cute! If you’re looking for a hijab-positive book to read to your kids, I highly recommend The Proudest Blue. It’s both an empowering and educational read that oozes out with sisterly love.

Total Number Of Books Read: 10

Total Number Of Posts Published:

Average Rating: 7.5/10 or 3.75 out of 5 stars

First, let’s recap! Last month I said I’d read five novels, read all my netgalley ARCs, and drink more water. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet any of those goals.

Some of my goals for June include…

  • Finish three netgalley ARCs, and review them
  • Read 4 novels
  • Drink lots of water

And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading about my May in books, I’d love to read about yours too! If you’d like, you can read last month’s wrap up here. Have a lovely day!

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The Other Side of Perfect | An ARC Review

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk. Feel free to read my interview with the author here! I hope you enjoy!

(Thank you Netgalley and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg — and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.
After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected — namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive castmate she just might be falling for. But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she experienced in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet — something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice. 

The original premise of The Other Side of Perfect is very unique and intriguing. Luckily, the execution was done quite well. I loved the talk about racism in the ballet industry. It’s something you never hear about, so I’m beyond happy the issue was addressed.

Our main character Alina Keeler is going through a rough patch. Due to an injury in her leg, she can’t dance Ballet anymore. At first, I thought she was unnecessarily rude and judgmental. Eventually, as time passes, Alina learns to grow from her experiences. Towards the end, I started to admire her character much more than I did when I first started reading the book.

The side characters were all quite diverse and three dimensional. Unfortunately though, Alina’s best friend Margot was very infuriating. Throughout the whole book, she’s mean and crude to others for no reason. Thankfully, our main character’s other friends are all very sweet. Each of the characters go through development, and change throughout the novel. My favorite character is Jude. I love how the he defies gender stereotypes. The topic was discussed quite a bit, and I’m so glad the author discussed it. That’s actually one of the reasons why I’m rating The Other Side of Perfect higher. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the dynamic between Alina and her younger sister Josie. It felt incredibly realistic and raw. Also, can we talk about the fact that the bullies in the novel are named Jake and Paul. Okay social commentary, I see you. 👀

Moreover, I couldn’t connect much with the dialogue. There was too much profanity for my liking, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just isn’t something I particularly enjoy.

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In addition, the writing was just okay. It wasn’t very engaging, and thus bored me a bit. The author rambled a lot as well, which caused the writing to be repetitive. However, Mariko Turk successfully created a character that actually felt like a teenager. The story is told through Alina’s perspective, and is done very well. She’s a morally grey character that’s a teensy bit selfish. But you can’t help but like her! The author captures Alina’s emotions and sentiments perfectly.

The overall enjoyment level of The Other Side of Perfect is well, fine. The first 70% was boring and uneventful. Luckily, the last 30% was very enjoyable! If you’re looking for a coming of age novel on dance, racism, and grief, than this is definitely the book for you!

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Profanity

Final Rating: 7.5/10 or 3.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Blog Tour: The Other Side of Perfect // Author Interview With Mariko Turk!

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a very exciting one because I’m going to be hosting a blog tour stop for the lovely YA novel, The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk! Before we get into the tour, here is a bit about the author’s debut novel…

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Book Info

Title: The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: May 11, 2021

Synopsis

Content Warning: protagonist is dealing with a lot of anger and some depression, various experiences of racism

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for. But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else?

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.

Find out more about The Other Side of Perfect with these links!

//Goodreads//Amazon//Barnes and Noble//Book Depository//Indigo//IndieBound//

Here is the tour schedule link! If you have time, do check out the other amazing tour stops as well!

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. Hi there Mariko! I’d just like to say how amazing it is to have you here with us today! Before we start, do you mind telling us some random facts about yourself?

Mariko: Hello and thanks so much for having me! Some random facts about me are: I love tea and tacos, I’ve lived in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Colorado, when I’m at home I exclusively wear pajamas, and my favorite flowers are hydrangeas!

2. Congrats on your debut! I’m so incredibly happy for you! If I may ask, what inspired the making of The Other Side of Perfect?

Mariko: It was inspired by a couple of different things. First, right after college, I broke my leg while dancing ballet. Second, I’ve always been interested in how people grapple with the negative aspects of the things they love. For instance, I love ballet, but I know it has its share of harmful aspects—like its lack of diversity and its reliance on racial stereotypes in many classical pieces. So I started wondering, if ballet perpetuates these negative things, does that mean I shouldn’t love it? And if I do still love and support it, what does that mean about me?

When I decided to try writing a YA novel, I imagined what would happen if a 16-year-old half-Japanese girl who dreamed of dancing professionally had a career-ending injury and had to deal with losing something she loved with all her heart and with wondering if she ever should have loved it in the first place. Her story became The Other Side of Perfect.

Saniya: Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking response Ms. Turk!

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3. The Other Side of Perfect tells the story of a young girl of color as she navigates racism, ballet, and love. The diversity is amazing! What was your experience writing the novel?

Mariko: This book is so special to me because it’s the first book I ever finished! So in a lot of ways, my experience writing it felt so new. I pantsed the first draft. I knew the general idea and some of the characters, but I figured out the themes and the plot as I went along, and it went pretty quickly. I finished in a few months. But then I spent about two years revising. I actually loved the long revision process because it gave me a chance to make the themes richer and more complex, and get to know the characters on a deeper level.

Saniya: I’m glad you loved the long revision process!

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4. If you could give your past writer self one piece of advice, what would you say?

Mariko: To just write and not worry about if it’s “perfect” or not. My tendency to edit as I wrote really slowed me down and stopped me from finishing so many projects because I’d get so caught up in individual sentences and paragraphs that I’d lose steam. The Other Side of Perfect is the first book I ever finished, and it’s because I told myself I had to keep moving. I knew I’d have lots of changes to make. Sometimes I realized what those changes should be when I finished a chapter. But I didn’t go back to change them until I had a full draft.

Saniya: I loved what you said about how you just need to keep moving. It’s so easy to get caught up in little things, when we should really just be moving forward instead of holding ourselves back. Well said!

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5. Racism is something that many people of color experience, and it really hurts my heart to see kids experiencing discrimination. Why do you think it’s important to portray authentic  and diverse characters in the media?

Mariko: I think it’s so important for all young people to be able to see themselves in the stories they read and watch. And not just in one book or movie here and there, but in many. Young people deserve multiple stories that they relate to and that speak to them and their experiences in various ways. So in other words, diverse characters shouldn’t only star in stories about racism and discrimination, but also in stories about love and friendship and family and school and everything else.

Saniya: I couldn’t agree more.

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6. Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from The Other Side of Perfect? Thank you so much for your time Ms. Turk!

Mariko: I hope one message readers take away is that there’s a way out of isolation and unhappiness. And that finding the way out might be tough, messy, and take longer than you want it to, but that it can also be funny, exciting, and full of unexpectedly spectacular possibilities. Thank you for these wonderful questions!

Saniya: This is such a beautiful message! Thank you once again for answering my questions. It was truly a delight to have you. 🙂

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About The Author

Mariko Turk grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in creative writing. She received her PhD in English from the University of Florida, with a concentration in children’s literature. Currently, she works as a Writing Center consultant at the University of Colorado Boulder. She lives in Colorado with her husband and baby daughter, where she enjoys tea, walks, and stories of all kinds.

//Website//Twitter//Instagram//Goodreads//

Thank you so much for reading this blog tour stop post, I hope you enjoyed it. Ms. Turk’s debut novel is lovely, and I can’t wait for you to read it! Have a fabulous day!

Spring TBR 2021

Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing spectacularly. Before we get into it I just want to say…Happy Spring!!! As displayed in today’s post thumbnail, the change of seasons is really just an excuse for me to use Studio Ghibli clips. 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

(PS: Click on the covers of the books to add them to goodreads.)

First, let’s recap!

In my Winter TBR post, I said I’d read five novels. I’m happy to report that I read all of them! With that said, onto the actual TBR!

1. Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

This is a gender-bent science fiction retelling of Cinderella, which sounds so unique! I’ve actually been meaning to read this one since November, so it’s about time I pick it up.

2. The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

I love middle grade novels, and this one just seems to be amazing! I can’t wait to delve into it!

3. Made In Korea by Sarah Suk

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

This YA novel sounds so exciting! I love how it’s about entrepreneurship too!

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4. Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly, Book by Clare Rees (Hardcover) | www.chapters.indigo.ca

Survival stories have always keened my interest. However, for the most part, they seem to follow a similar format. But a group of teens trapped on a giant jellyfish? Now that’s different! And just look at this sick cover!

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5. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This: Solomon, Rachel Lynn: 9781534440272: Books  - Amazon.ca

This is an exciting rom-com about two teens whose parents are involved in the wedding business. One’s parents are wedding planners, and the other’s are wedding caterers. The premise sounds super fun and I can’t wait to read it!

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6. Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

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

This seems like a heartbreaking read that reminds me of History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera…Let’s shed some tears!

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7. Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

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This is an eerie middle grade novel about a girl who’s being followed. As long as I don’t read it at night, I’m sure it won’t be too scary. 😂

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8. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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This gives me major Zuko from Avatar The Last Airbender vibes, and I am totally here for it. 😆

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9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious: Schwab, V. E.: 9781250183507: Books - Amazon.ca

I’ve been putting this one off for a while, so I think it’s finally time I give it another go. This’ll also be my first V.E. Schwab book!

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10. Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka

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I’m hoping to finish the remaining three volumes this spring. This series is such a fun ride about being in high school. (Really bad pun intended) I hope to pick up the author’s newest series too!

I hope you enjoyed reading my TBR list. What are some books on your spring TBR? I’d love to know! Have a fabulous day!

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