Time for another really fun interview. If you don’t follow this blogger already, then I promise you’ll want to change that by the time you finish reading our chat. Today I have the honor of introducing you to Saily @ Reading Turtle Duck!
Let’s start with an introduction: Tell me a little bit about yourself
My name is Saily (say-lee) , I live in the Miami area. I’m 22 years old and soon to be university graduate. I am Cuban and I am an immigrant which has undoubtedly shaped the way I see the world.
I started my blog in 2016 on a whim because I wanted to join the online book community in any way I could. I had been following online reviews, instagram or bookstagram, and some of booktube. Half a year in I started a bookstagram which I’ve discussed on my blog (spoiler, it’s not easy lol). I started by reading and reviewing YA books almost exclusively but in recent years I’ve been actively looking for books outside that genre and books specifically about or by Cuban Americans, but also Latin American in general. More than anything my interests have spread out to just about everything, except fantasy (sorry).
- I have a dog
- Instagram: @readingturtleduck
- I wear glasses
- Currently Reading: How to Leave Hialeah by Jeanine Capo Crucet
May I ask why you don’t like fantasy?
Also, congrats on almost finishing uni! What are you studying?
I guess I should be more specific. I don’t like fantasy series, I find that task very daunting because you have to understand the world building, the rules, and then get into the actual story that may go on for several books. I don’t mind it as much if it’s just one book or short story like Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (well until recently at least lol). However, I do admit there are exceptions but they are few and far in between (Harry Potter, Twilight, and ACOTAR last year).
I’m studying English literature.
Are you saying that you no longer like Carry On? Why is that?
Are you hoping to be an English teacher with your degree?
No I still enjoy Carry On and like I said there are exceptions and Carry On happens to be one of those now.
And no I don’t want to be an English teacher. Maybe college professor but that’s a big MAYBE and you need a masters at least to be considered for that job.
Earlier you mentioned looking for books written by and about Cuban Americans/Latin Americans. Have you found any that you would recommend to others who are also looking for that representation?
I read The Cat King of Havana and thought it was very accurate in it’s depiction of the “modern” Cuba but the author is American, which is very ironic. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Mexican American author. I also really enjoyed some of the stories in a speculative short story fiction anthology by Latinx authors from that collection “Monstro” by Junot Diaz, “Caridad” by Alex Hernandez, and “The Drain” by (I don’t remember authors name).
I have a lot more in my TBR pile that I’m excited to get to.
I would also recommend Jane the Virgin for great Latino representation on TV, but that’s not book related.
I still feel like I’m in the beginning stages of this so I’ll admit I haven’t read that many, but it also feels like there’s not that many to begin with.
Do you have any tips for bloggers of color or other marginalized identities who struggle to find good representation of themselves in media?
The best tip I can give them is to explore outside of the box. By this I mean if you always go to the same places to find new books to read or watch, find a new way, explore new ways because eventually you’ll find someone doing it right. I would also suggest to support the authors and people who are doing it right and tell other people about it too. As a Latina, it feels like there’s not much to find in the U.S. but there is plenty to find in Latin America, some of which is translated to English for those non Spanish speaking Latinos. So go straight to the origin if you can because you’d be surprised what you find. If something’s not right say it’s not right because otherwise how would people know it’s wrong? I think representation is getting better, I really do because I see more and more people celebrating diversity. I also want to say that I’m no expert, but this is what’s worked for me, a lot of googling.
Thank you for the advice that you’ve given on finding and supporting authors of color. (I had to make that quote because it is just too good)
You mentioned that your blog was started to review (mostly) YA books, do you have any YA favorites?
This very long response, because how could I choose just one? Rainbow Rowell’s books are also great whether they are YA or not. One of the things that I absolutely love about Rowell’s characters is that when she describes them, they look like real people. By this I mean she doesn’t have the stereotypical hot protagonists with the perfect slim or strong figure, perfect hair, and beautiful light eyes. She helped me realize that it is possible to have normal looking people as protagonists and have a successful book, it’s just that most YA authors for whatever reason don’t choose to do that.
Fangirl touched me the most because my personality and the way I think is a lot like the main character Cath. I can say the same thing about Auden from Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen.
One of my recent favorites from YA contemporary been has Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow was amazing for it’s brutally honest depiction of mental health and recovery, in this case self mutilation aka cutting. Although I’ve never cut myself intentionally, I found the recovery process so similar to my own severe anxiety episodes in the past. It shows that recovery is a long process and that’s okay to relapse as long as you always pick yourself up and strive to do better.
Then there’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han which I like for completely different reasons. For one, it’s fluffy and cute in a genre ruled by dark stories whether it’s contemporary, fantasy, or dystopian. It’s also unapologetically “girly” with a Korean American girl as it’s protagonist. And the most refreshing aspect of this trilogy is the family dynamics and I absolutely LOVE that the Covey-Song family is as close knit as they are, because if someone were to read YA, they’ll end up asking themselves one of three question 1) Why are the parents so horrible? 2) Where are the parents? or 3) Why are all the parents dead?
The Illuminae Files trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is also really good because it’s action packed space saga and the books are beautifully crafted in a new and original way I haven’t seen before.
While my blog was mostly YA especially in the beginning, I do feel that my interests have shifted and now it’s made up of lot of other genres.
Hahaha there’s always more than one favorite 🙂
Before we get more into your favorites from other genres, how do you feel about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before becoming a Netlfix movie?
Maybe I’m biased but I love that they are turning the series into a movie (hopefully moviesssss) but like all film adaptations I worry they won’t get things right. It’s difficult to translate it from book to movie but from what I have seen so far from trailers, they’ve done a great job, I just hope the movies not only do well but capture the same feelings / essence of the books. I hope they don’t change much to make it appealing to audiences. I’m also very happy that for once they’re not white washing the characters. I also have more trust in Netflix shows and movies then I do in big studio movie, so that helps too.
That seems to the general reaction from fans of the books (I haven’t read them) I hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations.
What genres do you enjoy the most outside of YA?
I can’t pinpoint one exact genre to be honest. Lately I’ve been dipping my feet in a lot of things most of it has been new adult, adult fiction, science fiction, and dystopian novels. Out of those my favorites would have to be science fiction and dystopian because of the imagination that goes into world building and somehow they still manage to make it about our own world.
World building is important!
Do you have and sci-fi and dystopian faves?
George Orwell hands down has written some of my favorite dystopian books with both 1984 and Animal Farm. That might sound cliche but they are classics for a reason.
As for science fiction, “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang was incredible (so is the movie, Arrival). Also, Octavia Butler is another author whose books I’m just getting into and absolutely loving them. Her short story collection is fantastic and every story is so wonderfully weird and amazing. Her book Kindred is another work of art melding genres to create such an impactful story about slavery from a modern standpoint. I’m definitely hoping to read more of her novels in the near future.
I absolutely agree! I read them both in middle school and recently bought them to reread!
I have been seeing Octavia Butler around a lot lately and I’m definitely interested in her work so thank you, I will be adding her to my TBR.
Do you have any go to or favorite authors?
That might be my fault lol I’ve been fangirling about her lately.
When I consider a favorite author I have to have
- Read the majority of their books
- Liked more than half of what I’ve read
- Series don’t count because I see all the books as one giant story. (therefore Rowling doesn’t count)
Rainbow Rowell hasn’t disappointed me yet so I buy her books blindly. Colleen Hoover is another one I love albeit with some guilt because as much as I do enjoy her books, I sometimes find them problematic. Octavia Butler is definitely going on that list as soon as I read more of her books to confirm that she needs to be on this list.
Bryn Greenwood’s novel All the Ugly and Wonderful Things but I haven’t read anything else by this author.
Those are good qualifications for favorite author, I think it’s pretty fair not to include a series in that decision.
I’m just starting to get in to Colleen Hoover, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far!
We’ve reached the end of our interview. Thank you again for agreeing to be a part of this, I really loved chatting with you 🙂