Review: Maus II by Art Spiegelman

maus-ii-6-bookspoilsSince I’d read Maus I about a year ago and Nadja Spiegelman’s enticing memoir in the summertime, I was beyond ecstatic to find this second volume on the shelves of my local library.

And since it’s been quite a while, I was grateful that this volume had a quick recap at the start of what occurred before:

Art Spiegelman, a cartoonist born after WW II, is working on a book about what happened to his parents as Jews in wartime Poland. He has made a series of visits to his childhood home in Rego Park, N.Y., to record his father’s memories. Art’s mother, Anja, committed suicide in 1968. Art becomes furious when he learns that his gather, Vladek, has burned Anja’s wartime memoirs. Vladek is remarried to Mala, another survivor. She complains often of his stinginess and lack of concern for her. Vladek, a diabetic who has suffered two heart attacks, is in poor health.

In Poland, Vladek had been a small-time textile salesman. In 1937 he married Anja Zylberberg, the youngest daughter of a wealthy Sosnowiec hosiery family. They had a son, Richieu, who died during the war.
Forced first into ghettos, then into hiding, Vladek and Anja tried to escape to Hungary with their prewar acquaintances, the Mandelbaums, whose nephew, Abraham, had attested in a letter that the escape rout was safe. They were caught and, in March, 1944, they were brought to the gates of Auschwitz.

Once again this graphic novel left me at a loss for words, so I think it’s for the best if I’ll just share those scenes that evoked certain strong emotions in me:maus-ii-1-bookspoils

It was fascinating getting to see Françoise depicted through the eyes of her husband, instead of her daughter’s (as in I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This). But that’s also what bothered me in here: I didn’t like the way she was portrayed. I kept feeling like Françoise was inserting herself in the wrong conversation. Like, this wasn’t a conversation for her to participate in. maus-ii-8-bookspoilsI mean, that comment didn’t sit well with me at all..

maus-ii-9-bookspoilsAnd this just… really??

So I was more than willing to let the focus shift from the present day. Until I realized just how utterly heart-wrecking Vladek’s past is.

maus-ii-2-bookspoilsThe scenes at the camp were one of the most hard-hitting.





maus-ii-5-bookspoilsIt’s sad, but the above three images gave me a glimmer of hope in this world full of cruel and inhuman suffering (that is to say: before I’d read the last panel, but still).

This graphic novel also educated me a lot, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought I’d heard it all – or at least most – of what there was to know about Auschwitz, but my history lessons weren’t even close. The horrors Vladek and Anja and many others had to go through were jarring.maus-ii-7-bookspoils








maus-ii-13-bookspoilsThe amount of suffering… My heart aches.

maus-ii-14-bookspoilsMy mouth is still wide open at that. THREE OR FOUR WEEKS.

All in all:  I came in unprepared with Maus II. The amount of suffering and anguish and heartbreak left me emotionally spent. (I’ll no doubt end up thinking about them for a while to come.) And it goes without saying that this remains one of the most poignant and harrowing graphic novels I’ve read to date.

4.5/5 stars

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Review: The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo

“Just because you escape one trap, doesn’t mean you will escape the next.”

With Leigh Bardugo announcing the upcoming release of her new short story collection, The Language of Thorns, I decided to take my shot with this swift tale in the meanwhile.

The Too-Clever Fox is told through the eyes of Koja, a clever and quick-witted fox. We follow his journey of outsmarting his enemies, until his trust and cunningness is bestowed upon the wrong person.

“It is always the same trap,” she said gently. “You longed for conversation. The bear craved jokes. The gray wolf missed music. The boar just wanted someone to tell her troubles to. The trap is loneliness, and none of us escapes it. Not even me.”

I loved the writing in this tale and how it put us in the mindset of the bright fox. And it helped a lot that I adored the voice of Koja with the subtle humor thrown in.

“What would he want with me? I’m too scrawny to eat and too ugly to wear.”
Sofiya smiled slightly. “Your coat is a bit patchy, but you’re not so bad as all that.”
“No?” said the fox. “Shall I travel to Os Alta to have my portrait painted?”

But I had a few issues with the ending and how the tale rapidly wrapped up. The conclusion was something I’d been thinking would happen, but since the motives weren’t that well explained, I was left a bit bewildered. I mean, I still loved the aspects of introducing a female antihero, but because of the length of the tale we didn’t have the time to fully explore the concept.

But since it’s Bardugo, I still immensely adored the writing, ideas and characters. And I can’t wait to pick up more of her stories.

3.5/5 stars

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Review: Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez

Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in little Sandy’s bedroom. She catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings that cover her room.

One day, Morfie, a mysterious pale girl, appears at school. And she knows all about Sandy’s drawings…Nightlights is a beautiful story about fear, insecurity, and creativity, from the enchanting imagination of Colombian artist, Lorena Alvarez Gomez.

This vibrant and colorful picture book with its lively drawn illustrations has to be one of the most beautiful ones out there. It’s truly a stunner of a book.

So to share my excitement, I decided to include some of my favorite exquisitely drawn pieces:nightlights-1-bookspoils







As much as I adored Nightlights , I did have a few tiny issues with the way the storyline was dived into. The exploration of reality vs. fantasy was a bit confusing, especially with how it ended so openly and abruptly. But since I loved the illustrations so damn much (THIS BOOK IS GORGEOUS!!), I’m giving it a free-pass.

And on a more serious note, I’m in awe of Gomez’s art and talent. For the next few hours, you can find me looking up and staring at every single one of their works .

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March  14th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Nightlights, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!