Saturday, December 19, 2015

Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Seventeen: Interview with @the1bookdreamer + month long #giveaway

So we're onto our next blogger spotlight. Can't you tell how much we love bloggers! I think what I love about our next interview, is she makes me question my North American bias/privilege.

I try to make myself aware that being from the United States, there are a ton of things we don't always get right about representation, and we don't always consider what it's like outside the US especially in blogger communities.
Even now, most books or media we consume feature a dangerous over-representation of North American characters, and when it's not, we apply how we analyze things to other places, showing our bias.

I really hope we stop and think before we do this, especially because one of my first blogger friends(who showed us the ropes and really helped us make our blog better) was a blogger Italy(she knows who she is ;p).

We're even friends on Goodreads, and I love reading her reviews, because she really goes in and analyzes, which helps me make better decisions when I'm look for new reads myself!

Plus she's from Argentina! Libertad and I can't do anything but dance when we meet people from there, especially because Libertad is named after the Argentinian actress Libertad Lamarque!

I'm like, wasting so much time introducing her! Why don't you read the interview for yourself!

Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Seventeen:

Mila of The Book Dreamer

You're a first timer on Twinja Book Reviews, so you have to stand in front of the class and introduce yourself to those meeting you for the first time!
My name is Mila a twenty-one year old (Recently turned 21, so I still find it weird not to say twenty!) fashion design student and book reviewer from Argentina.

What can you tell us about your journey becoming a blogger?

It’s been quite amazing, just the other day I was talking to a friend of mine about blogging and it’s amazing all the things that happened that led me here. When I left high school I was planning to go and live on another city to study Biotechnology but because of money problems I had to stay home. So instead I chose to follow chemical engineering until I soon learned that math wasn’t my thing, imagine having to go through an entire career that consisted purely of math… no. So I was a little lost back then, I always thought that I would leave high school and start studying right away, I never planned staying a year without following a career, and I didn’t even know which career to follow if I didn’t have the money to leave town (I live in a small area so there aren’t many options).

That was when I decided to stay studying English and take the TOEFL test (an English sufficiency test for non-native speakers), I had been studying for four years so I figured, why not try and be better at it? And if I hadn’t stayed home, I would have never started reading books to practice my reading comprehension skills, or found fanfiction as a way to practice my writing skills. Before that year I could read a few paragraphs in English, but I wasn’t aware that my language was so limited! It was only when I started reading that I realized just how poor my vocabulary truly was, and that pushed me to try harder and start reading books from start to end which led to finding a huge and amazing book community I didn’t even know it existed!

What created the initiative behind your blog?

I’m not exactly sure what led me to start blogging and writing book reviews. We were once talking with another friend of mine and, I used Goodreads a lot when I was looking for a new book to read because I liked reading other people’s reviews to see if I’d enjoy the story so, I would find one that had amazing five star ratings (I didn’t have an account so only the most popular reviews would appear first) and then I started reading it and… well, most of the times I didn’t like it. I felt like crap, honestly.

Why couldn’t I see the awesomeness everybody claimed those books had? But I couldn’t, in fact I often saw a lot of problematic issues that people paid no thought of but that bothered me a lot. So I guess I started writing my own reviews to just… State my opinion and say why I didn’t think that doing those things were ok. And it’s been so amazing to be able to find so many people who are getting tired of these tropes and who want to see more diversity and respect in Young Adult books.

What draws you into a book? What themes do you look for? What makes a book an amazing read?

Honestly? The cover, it’s the first thing that I notice and it will affect me on whether I’ll pick up the book to read what it is about or move along. I’m a very visual creature and, sue me but I like pretty covers. I think a great cover is capable of not only enticing the reader but also give them a sense of what the book is about.

There are some books that have cool-looking covers but that belong to genres I’m not fond of, so I don’t bother with them. I look mostly for fantasy but I stay for amazing characters, great female representation, diversity (I can’t stress this enough, if everybody is magically white when there could easily have been a diverse cast, I’m out) and overall awesomeness.

What has been your favorite post to date?

My favorite post to date was a negative review I wrote of about 7K words. I know it’s strange to say that the favorite thing that I wrote was something negative, but ti was the first time I went into a book and analyzed every single thing about it both good and bad. It was also the first time I felt confident enough to say that I didn’t like a book everybody loved, and that I realized it was ok to have a different opinion.

We're strong believers that the way you look at books/media usually shaped by how you grew up. What can you tell us about what it was like for you growing up?

My experience growing up? Well… I don’t know what I can say that is entertaining I think I had a pretty average childhood. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, we didn’t have money period hahah but we still managed to live well. I lived with both of my parents until I was six, on a farm that belonged to my dad. We didn’t have a lot except a roof on our heads and food which was enough back then for me.

Man, it’s so weird to think back to that time! After that my parents got separated and I lived with my mom and grandma up until four years ago. Which reminds me and, I don’t know if this has anything to do with… well, anything! Hahahh but I remember when I read The Selection this year and I started thinking “How good it must have been to grow up like this author did and think that being poor only means having little make-up.”

Because America Singer (the main character) described herself as being poor because she could only afford a bit of make-up and only had a few dresses (though not high couture or anything like the upper class had) when she was a family of five and each had their own room, they had TV, a phone and abundant food. But my mom and I had to share a room for twelve years because we couldn’t afford anything else, and we also didn’t have gas during winter for three years, yet that wasn’t being poor, simply tight on the money, being poor is a very different thing. I guess that was a moment when I went “Wow! Our lives are so different!” that I guess I had never really considered before.

What types of books did you like consuming growing up?

Growing up I only watched TV, books were a foreign thing to me. Reading when I was young only came with school, and they were all mandatory readings about Latin-American literature which are not the most entertaining read when you are twelve and love Hannah Montana. So I watched TV because it was free and entertaining. But, considering how I mostly watched TV from the US (it was the sort of thing my mom liked to watch, and she controlled the remote!) there wasn’t much representation that I could identify with, though when I was a kid that wasn’t a problem for me. Things like race or culture were foreign to me.

Do you feel well represented in books and/or media?

Do I as an Argentinean feel represented in North American media? Hahahah no! Not at all. What little I have seen in shows/movies/books is Argentina=Nazis because when the Second World War was over Argentina offered refugee to many of them as they fled their own country.

Funny enough, they also went to Brazil and a bunch other countries in Latin America and other places around the world so I don’t know why but it seems like the only thing people in the US know about Argentina are Nazis. Makes no sense, especially because that had little impact in our culture or lives but North American’s are obsessed with it. It’s funny sometimes watching TV and see Argentina, because it looks nothing like here! Hahah, the other day I was watching a Bones episode that took place in Argentina, and it looked more like Cuba than anything else.

Also, everybody magically spoke perfect English! Now that’s something that pisses me off, because there aren’t a lot of people who speak English and not to mention at the magnificent level they do in most North American TV shows/movies. There was another TV show, I think it was Dexter? My friend watched it and apparently, the characters walked into a bar and everybody had their own mate (a sort of infusion made with Yerba Mate that you drink with a metal straw from a little cup that we also call “mate”) it was hilarious but honestly really offensive because it doesn’t take much research to know that’s not how it’s done.

On another show about crimes an alleged criminal had targeted “Argentina’s prime minister”… and we don’t have a prime minister. Would it have killed them to do a google search on that? It’s not hard!

Is there anything you've currently read or watched that you think gets representation right?

Orphan Black is pretty cool when it comes to representation, it’s far from perfect but it’s a great start! Sense8 is another TV show that has a lot of diversity… but it pisses me off how everybody speaks English, that’s not real!

How can we make the conversation about diversity where it needs to be?

I’m not sure if this answer the question but I think we need a lot more representation in every aspect whether we are talking about racial diversity, sexuality or mental health. And it has to start with the authors, they are the ones creating the content that goes to the mass, sure bloggers and readers can complain all we want but I’ve noticed that people don’t really see these problems unless it affects them personally.
Hardly anybody blinks an eye when a POC character is introduced solely to further a white character’s plot and is later killed as a plot device, because the story is entertaining enough or whatever the case is, people don’t care when it’s actually very important. For instance (I don’t know if I should say names, in any case if you don’t want to show it I guess you’ll edit it, right? I’m just sharing this but then you can take it out if you think it won’t suit your blog.) Sarah J. Mass is a best-selling author, her books are incredibly popular being translated to many different countries and sold around the world and yet, her books have serious issues with diversity, slut-shaming and misogyny and nobody seems to care.

All of her characters are white (and more often than not cisgender) and what little POC there are, they are only introduced to tell us just how amazing a white character is and then they are later on killed to show how good that other white character was, or to cause character development to them.

This is horrible, and it’s incredibly common. I know that most people don’t even see it as a thing, but when you start to think that Mass creates these characters simply to be killed off without even putting thought into giving them a narrative of their own, it shows that she sees them as less than those other characters she does take her time with, and it happens that these plot device that she create are “less” merely because of their skin color. She doesn’t care about killing them because she created them as something to be disposed of, and it just so happen that they are all POC.

And nobody bats an eye at that because the story is interesting. Just like her there are thousands of other authors doing the same, and little people care about that too.

Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?

People can go to my blog: 
Follow me on Twitter at @the1bookdreamer or find me on Goodreads!

Mila is a 21 year old book blogger and fashion design student who loves to rant about their favorite (and not so much) books, shows and movies! 


  1. Thanks for sharing your book blogging journey, Mila! I just got back from visiting your blog, and just want to say that I love your blog voice.


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