February 2017 Reading Wrap Up

In the month of February I decided to tip my toe in and rediscover some romance and contemporary reads I’ve had on my radar but never really gave a chance. And it the end, it made me question why I’ve neglected the genre. YA contemporaries seem to hold this charm that I can’t shake off. And with summer right around the corner, I’ll probably end up picking more and more of them as they seem to be getting better and better.
But for now let’s focus on the 17 books I read this month:

Books I haven’t stopped thinking about:
Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian.

motherest-bookspoilsNote: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Motherestjust click on the image above to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Even weeks after, I can’t quite gather my overall thoughts and feelings on this book. I know for a fact that I can’t stop thinking about it, and that I haven’t read anything like it before. Plus, it opened up my eyes to a new and fascinating topic for me to explore in books, which promptly made me add a similar read – Rebecca Barrow’s You Don’t Know Me but I Know You – to my TBR. However, with all the positives, I can’t dismiss the fact that I found a couple of aspects to be problematic, which consequently stopped me from adding it to my all-time favorites. I’m just… really unsure and mixed up with what to take out of this.

The book is set to come out on August 1st, 2017, so I’m hoping that by then my thoughts will feel more sorted. I have a full review up for it on my blog here.

Honorable Mention:
I watched one of the most hard-hitting and moving films this month: Lion.

five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

List of things I felt during Lion:

  • I kept pausing the film so I could gather myself together and not end up like an emotional wreck. Even more so when I was reminded of the fact that the film is based on a true story.
  • The actors are beyond phenomenal, but I’ve got to give it out especially to Sunny Pawar (who played young Saroo Brierley).200 For the first half of Lion, Pawar practically carried the film on his shoulders and did so outstandingly. His performance made my eyes prick with tears more than a handful of times.
  • Also, Dev Patel, who plays Saroo Brierley two decades later, is an astonishing actor and human. GO SUPPORT HIM LIKE HE SUPPORTS SUNNY.
  • Sia, one of my all-time favorite singers, contributed a beautifully chilling song to the film:
  • Lion changed me, sparked something that I didn’t know was there before, to paraphrase Queens of Geek. And I’m eternally grateful for that if nothing else.
  • However, I think it’s important to note and warn that the film is not a light one. In fact, it might be one of the most harrowing movies I’ve seen this year. Beyond excellent, but I don’t think I’ll rewatch it any time soon. Still, it’s something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
  • And above all, Lion brings light to an important cause that’s helping protect street children.
  • Support, support, support.

That was my February wrap-up, thank you for reading!

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.

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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

 

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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

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

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

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nightlights-7-bookspoils#aesthetic


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!