ARC Review: You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman

 

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You Asked For Perfect

Pub. Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire  
Format: Digital
ISBN: 9781492658276
Source: Netgalley

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Plot Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ariel has only one goal: To make it into Harvard. As first chair violin, community volunteer, and to-be valedictorian, he is doing everything he thinks he needs to do to be the perfect college applicant. Failing Calculus was not part of the plan, so Ariel scrambles through sleepless nights and reluctantly seeks out Amir to tutor him. Sparks fly between him and Amir, but can Ariel afford to add a budding new relationship to his long list of commitments?

Sophomore novels always make me nervous, but Laura hit this one right out of the park. This book contains a very honest, raw portrayal of academic pressures and the ridiculous performance standards that come with it. I’ve always maintained that there isn’t enough money in the world to make me repeat high school, and this book captures exactly why. Laura strategically uses all the subplots to press on the central conflict, layering the tension as we go through the story. While I wasn’t a valedictorian or even one of the high ranking students in school, I definitely related to the close-knit community that Ariel was placed in, and the never-ending pile of things one commits to when living in such a community. I honestly don’t remember how I managed to juggle them all, and Ariel’s growing stress and inability to say no to his family or friends resonated with me. I’m also glad that the romance wasn’t the central conflict and didn’t take over the central conflict, and the story retained the weight of the struggle. The climax and resolution of the conflict were very satisfying as well. As far as representation goes, Laura continues to do an excellent job with seamless inclusivity without it coming off as tokenism. It warmed my heart to see the close family, sibling, and community dynamics, as well as Ariel’s interaction with faith. A lot of it reminded me of my own childhood, and I’m glad this book exists for teens today. 

Overall a highly enjoyable book with a gripping storyline and well fleshed-out characters. I’m ecstatic to say that I’m still in love with Laura’s writing and storytelling, and can’t wait to read more of her work in the future. 

 

 

 

Hi, is this seat taken?

Hello friends, it’s been a while. Suffice to say that 2018 was a clusterfuck, and 2019 has been off to a rocky start. I sort of fell off the face of the reading world towards the end of last year, mostly because I didn’t have the capacity to hold space for books, reading, and the book community. Truth be told, I thought the blog was done. Mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about. There are so many wonderful bloggers out there who take the time and effort to do well by their authors and readers, and I just haven’t. This isn’t to chastise me or to seek validation, it’s just a statement of fact.

But as I slowly creep back into reading, I realize I miss it. I don’t just miss reading, I miss talking about books. I miss yelling about favourites on the internet, I miss my friends. I miss the community. I miss gushing incoherently in long form about upcoming releases. All this to say, I think, inconsistency and all, I want to retain this blog. I want this space to exist, not just for fellow nerds or authors, but for me. My regular life has so much writing stuff happening now, and I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do here besides reviews, but I’d like to have this corner of the internet to kick back and chat about books with you once again if you’ll have me.

 

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Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/reading-quirks

 

 

 

June 25, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Hi friends,

Wow, it’s been a while. Yes, yes, you may roll your eyes, I am too. One day y’all, I will get a handle on this blogging thing. One day. Meanwhile, let me get you up to speed on the life things.

First, I did promise y’all a picture of the shiny new shelves and never delivered, so here they are.

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I still tear up sometimes when I look at this to be honest. 

Updates since my last It’s Monday post: My trip to the States went well. The conference had its moments, but it was lovely to catch up with colleagues and friends. It was a bit stressful on my body, and I’m definitely feeling the effects of it. Still, enjoyable, and I’m glad I made it happen. Rehab- took a bit of hit with my two week hiatus and eating and drinking like a fratboy, but I’m finally sort of getting back into a semblance of a routine with it. 

New thing that is happening- I’m working with a couple of friends on a collaborative, sort-of-publishing project. We’ve been working on it for a couple of months now, and I’ll link y’all to social media and website things when they’re up. It’s very exciting, I get to put a variety of skills into action, I’ve learnt so much since starting this thing, and I’m really excited to share it with you soon. Also, if you see me pop up on other social media handles on the interwebz- that’s a part of this. I’ll still be active on my personal handles, so it’s all good.

Reading- well, I haven’t done any. Really. It’s nearly the end of June and for the first time in three years I’m nowhere close to having read a 100 books by the middle of the year. I’ve been hit by a slump. Hard. Any reading I’ve done has been related to the new gig, and that’s a couple of books at most. It’s been weeks since any solid fun reading has happened. It’s frustrating, because I’ve bought so many things I’ve been excited to read, and I’ve neither found the time nor made the time to get to them. I’m trying a couple of strategies to get back to it, and I’m hoping something pans out.

This week I’ll be attempting to finish:

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Reviews- not even laughably behind, just horrendously behind. I haven’t requested anything in a couple of months either because I just feel so bad not having caught up on what I already have. Most likely, that’s my only reviewing goal for the rest of the year- catching up. We’ll see.

Talk to me pals- what have you been reading? What’s happening in your lives? Jobs, friendships, partners, pets, babies, books, summer plans- I want to hear about it all. 

-J

 

 

 

May 7, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Holy cow, friends. When I typed up my last post, I had absolutely no idea I wouldn’t be blogging or reading for this many weeks after. Wow. I’m thinking of calling myself The Chaotic Bookworm or The Neglectful Reader or something. Chaos is my middle name. Chaos is my state my mind. Chaos is my new best friend. You get the idea. 

Since this still is a book blog, let’s talk books. I feel like I haven’t been reading at all, but I just checked my Goodreads, and since my last blog post, I have actually read fourteen books. Primarily romance, YA, and middle grade novels. Mostly audiobooks. Still, way more than I thought I did. Some really good books too- I highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, A Princess In Theory, Wanna Bet?A Girl Like Her, and Sunny. It’s so interesting, because you wouldn’t be able to tell I’d been doing any reading based on any of my social media updates, rather lack thereof. Hell, I couldn’t tell I’d been doing any reading. That’s something to think about. 

I’ve also been a bit off social media. Not intentionally, I just can’t seem to hold space for it, besides tweeting when I’m overwhelmed and promptly disappearing. Which is mostly fine. I do feel guilty about being so out of the loop with friends and book news and aro/ace activism, and I’m just choosing to sit with it for now.

Life- let’s see. So much going on. We’ve moved again, and this will be my parents’ permanent home. It’s a gorgeous place though it’s far away from the city. BUT I HAZ SHINY NEW BOOKSHELVES AND ALL MY BOOKS ARE OUT SO CITY, SCHMITY AMIRITE?! Pictures will happen when my room doesn’t look like a cardboard box infestation. 

I am traveling to the States in two weeks for a work conference and seeing friends and I am excited, stressed, and terrified about traveling. I will be among folx who are incredibly supportive, so my anxiety is no longer at vomit-y, just nausea. I’m choosing to focus on the being able to see dear hearts, and that’s keeping me going.

Rehab- This is the one thing that has been going really, really well. It’s so great to see and feel progress and improvements in strength. I had a follow-up with my surgeon a few days ago, while he’s not very happy with my foot still being weak, he’s cleared me for travel and is generally happy with how my sessions with my trainer have been going. 

I guess we should come back to books, eh? Here’s what I’m planning to read this week:

I am laughably behind on reviews. They will happen. Soon. 

Meanwhile, what have y’all been upto? Read anything good lately?

-J

 

February 19, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Hey there!

I WATCHED BLACK PANTHER AND IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE. PLEASE GO WATCH IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. SHURI, NAKIA, AND OKOYE ARE THE LITERAL BEST I’M GONNA NEED MORE SCREEN-TIME AND PRINT TIME AND ALL KINDS OF FORMAT-TIME ABOUT THEM. 

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Okay, I know that wasn’t necessarily book related (unless you haven’t already read the Black Panther and World of Wakanda comics in which case, please read them), but I had to put it out there.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming- books! I read some. Let’s see, quite a bit of romance in the last couple of weeks. First, The Lust Diaries series by Tasha L. Harrison (I liked the first book, had some issues with the second and third. Iffy consent, and cis men who think they can make decisions for women “because they know what’s best for them” is a trope that makes me want to smash things), and the first two books of the Cyclone series by Courtney Milan, Trade Me and Hold Me (both of which I loved).

Backlist:finally finished Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (absolutely phenomenal, I really think it got swept under the radar during awards season) and Blue Nights by Joan Didion (thoughtful written and so cathartic). 

Frontlist: I devoured An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (brilliant writing and character development) as well as This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins (tightly crafted and eviscerating).

On audio: I listened to Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam (character-led plot, well-rounded, engrossing story) and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (brutal account of an Indigenous writer on motherhood, mental illness, loss, among other things). 

Screenshot_20180217-222702_01.jpgI am going to take a moment to acknowledge that on Saturday night, for a whole ten minutes, my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf was empty because I didn’t have any partially-read books left in it. *insert GIF of shedding a single tear*

That of course, did not last long, so let me show you what I plan to read this week:

If you are trying to recover from the shock of only seeing three titles on this week’s TBR instead of the usual obnoxious number, it’s because I’ve actually got things I need to get done this week, which includes watching Black Panther again tomorrow. 

These past two weeks have been a little hazy because of a general spike in my anxiety as well as not feeling great physically. Here’s hoping for a more productive week.

Also, Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week starts today! I’m hoping to write a post about it for this week, but I’ll definitely be talking about it over on Twitter. Feel free to direct your questions there, in public or private. I’m happy to talk about this stuff with you. 

So tell me friends, what have you been reading?

 

 

 

January 15, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Happy New Year, friends!

Wow. WOW. What a year. Phew. Sometimes I laugh when I think about how terrible I thought 2016 was ’cause boy, 2017 was a humdinger. Never in my life have a been happier for a year to be over. 

If there’s anything 2017 taught me, it was not to make elaborate, overly ambitious plans because you never know when one thing could happen that sends all your plans down the drain. You’d think that’s a super obvious life lesson but I’ll be the first to admit it took me 2017 to actually comprehend what it looks and feels like. 

I spectacularly failed all of my reading and blogging goals for 2017 because so much life happened, and I’ve entered 2018 with a super low-key, attempted zen attitude. I’m not participating in any reading challenges this year- no Read Harder, no Goodreads goal, no Litsy A to Z, no Reading Women challenge, nothing. In truth, I’m a little burnt out on reading challenges, and I’ve realized I pretty much read diversely regardless of challenges, so I’m forcing myself to take a break from them this year and see where my moods take me. Likewise, I don’t have any specific blogging goals this year, and I’m already noticing that I’m looking forward to sitting down and writing posts and reviews as opposed to dreading them. That feels really good. 

Now, to the actual reading I’ve done so far. I read and loved Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (what a brilliant writer), Halsey Street by Naima Coster (stellar debut), Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano (absolutely delightful), The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (superb multigenerational novel), We Go Forward by Alison Evans (sweet friendship story), and Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about this book for the rest of the year).

Only two books I’ve read thus far have been a bit disappointing: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (I think we can blame the hype for this one), and Bad for the Boss: A BWAM Office Romance (Just For Him Book 1) by Talia Hibbert (questionable consent in erotica novels always makes me itchy). 

On the roster for this week: 

I started Furiously Happy on audio a couple of days ago and The Music Shop last night and I’m really liking both so far. I’m struggling a little to get through A Few Red Drops; the subject matter is interesting but the writing isn’t engaging. I’ll start the other two later this week once I finish a sensitivity read that I need to get done. 

That’s all I’ve got going on for now. I’m excited to do It’s Monday posts again because it’s a great way to check-in and gives me chance to chat with you all about books and other things. So, how are you? How did your 2017 go? What are you looking forward to the most in 2018? Last, but not the least, what are you reading these days? 

-J

So…Life Happened

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Retrived from: http://searchwh.com/2017/lifestyle-hobby/advantages-heroism-life/

Hey friends,

Remember me? Seems like I took my sporadic blogger moniker a little far this time. I opened my blog today for the first time since July, which is definitely the biggest break I’ve ever taken from this space. My intention was to write a review and pretend like nothing had happened, but I think I’d like to talk about the last five months and offer you an explanation as to why you haven’t seen new content at all from me in that time.

(Oh, if you follow me on twitter and such you’re totally off the hook for skipping this post because well, I think I’ve whined plenty there about what’s happened)

Trigger Warnings: Surgery, medical stuff, body stuff, fatmisia, lifestyle changes, depression, anxiety, mental health

A lot of you know I’ve been struggling with sciatica for a while now. The last time I was active on the blog, I was in the middle of a really bad flare-up that lasted longer than the usual two-three weeks, and the pain was relentless. I was on bed rest for nearly six weeks, and barely functional. Things escalated, I went in for an MRI, and was told that I had a major prolapsed disc that had probably been around for a few years now (they suspect around the onset of my sciatica three years ago), and I was admitted for surgery immediately. It happened so fast, I only met my surgeon the day after the operation had been performed. Those 36 hours were pretty surreal. I’ll spare you the gory surgical details, but it was a longer procedure than expected. 

Post surgery, here’s where I was: Months (potentially years) of nerve compression had happened leading to some neurological symptoms in my foot and tightness in my legs, and I was looking at about six months of physiotherapy to regain mobility in my foot. My surgery had been successful in that my spine was intact, no other organs or systems were damaged in the process, I wasn’t going to be paralyzed. and the nerves had decompressed.

Suffice to say my life has dramatically changed and my world has become super small since the first week of August. The first couple of months were…hell. This is actually my second major spinal surgery, but my first one was at age four and I barely remember it, so this is my first time fully experiencing and processing the upward battle that is post-op recovery. It’s this thing where you’re no longer feeling the hellish pain that put you on in the operation theatre in the first place, but your body has been sliced open and the morphine has worn off and you can feel it all. My life was eat, sleep, physiotherapy, and rest. I was too exhausted to hold a book or laptop. I was in a world of pain. PT was frustrating and slow. My incredibly supportive parents’ lives were all about looking after me. Depression and anxiety were constant companions, and I didn’t really talk about it to anyone except the internet. My best friend was my only visitor, he would faithfully spend every weekend with me, even if it meant watch me sleep after my PT sessions because I was too tired, or when I started walking, walk those hundred feet three times a day.

But, sitting and writing this, I realize I’ve come such a long way since then. I went from a walker to using a stick to walking independently. I can now walk longer distances, I’m more functional in terms of being able to stand for longer and sit for more hours. I’ve started going out by myself, and even run a few errands. I don’t have to wear a lumbar support belt anymore, which means I will no longer have to be rude to strangers on the street that stare at me or ask me really personal questions. Our extended family comes down in a couple of weeks to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, and I will be able to sit and be a part of the traditional ceremonies that will be happening. These things I’m infinitely grateful for, because six months ago I didn’t think any of this was possible.

There’s still things that are scary and overwhelming and weigh on me. My foot is still not at a hundred percent, and it scares me to think that if it doesn’t get better than this then I won’t be able to get back to dancing ever again (I’m a trained Bharatanatyam dancer). Somedays, hints of the old sciatica pain come through after an intense PT session and I worry about never not being in some form of pain for the rest of my life. My job-hunt has been on pause for the last six months, and the prospect of having to explain this really long and unexpected break in my career feels daunting. I’ve been told to lose weight so as to take off the pressure from a spine that’s been operated on twice, and I’m dealing with a megaton of internal and external fatmisia while I make some dietary and lifestyle changes. My mental health has definitely seen better days, and now that I’m mobile I need to get around to finding a therapist.

There’s so many uncertain things, and I’m trying not to let them take over, which is easier said than done.

So there, that has been (is) my life. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster, 2017, but I think the end of the year is looking less bleak than I thought it would be three months ago. I’ve finally gotten my reading mojo back, and am hoping to make my Goodreads goal by the end of the year. I’ve spectacularly failed on my blogging goals, but I’m trying not to beat myself too much about that. I’m working on some academic projects with my friends to stay sharp and have started looking for a job again.

All this to say, thank you so much for still sticking around despite my horrendously erratic blogging this year. Thanks for sticking through all of my promises to be a more regular blogger even when I’m not. Thanks for accepting this explanation for my absence. Thank you for being a source of support in any corner of the internet at any point in time. I’m back right now, I’m feeling excited to talk about books again, and I’m hoping that feeling stays with me, along with you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

So much love to all of you,

-J