The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose // The Most Perfect Storybook

Saturday, 29 October 2016 0 comments
The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story, by Nancy Rose
Publication: December 6, 2016, by Little Brown BFYR
Genre: Children, Picture Book
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

Love is in the air with another irresistible photographic story of wild squirrels in homemade miniature settings -- stopping at the bookstore, shopping for groceries, playing on the playground, and more -- delighting readers and animal lovers of all ages.
A brand new companion to The Secret Life of Squirrels and Merry Christmas, Squirrels, sure to surprise and enchant readers young and old! Mr. Peanuts spends his days climbing trees and gathering nuts--but he wishes he had another squirrel to share his time with. When he meets a special squirrel friend, he soon finds himself falling in love! They visit the bookstore, go to the park, and have a romantic candlelit dinner. Will Mr. Peanuts get his happily ever after?

My Thoughts:

This, by all means, is a book that you have to look out for. It is definitely one of the most creative stories that I've ever read, and I can just imagine the work author Nancy Rose had to put in to make it this perfect. If you know any children who have an obsession with animals and all things cute, this is the best story for them. I adore the photos taken, and the inspirations that Nancy Rose got in order to decide to write something like this. We have a cute squirrel-themed love story with scenes of the two love interests together in little chairs and beside little tables and.... agh. 

Mr. Peanuts is our main character (if that's how you would like to put it) and we readers experience a day in his life as he wishes for a companion. HE MEETS HIS SQUIRRELERELLA *puts this in a fairytale form* IN A BOOKSTORE, PEOPLE. The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story is definitely a book for us bibliophiles. It just makes you want to pick up a cup of coffee or tea and indulge in Nancy Rose's writing for children. At many points, I did not even feel that it was a children's story. It was cute, fluffy and constantly captivating. I didn't even notice that I was flipping pages; I just wanted to keep reading about Mr. Peanuts and his desired happily ever after.

I imagine this story as being a tradition for many children. A parent could read it everyday, or read it to their child(ren) when it's close to Valentine's Day. It's just amazing. I love the creativity and how it's unlike any other stories we find these days. Every snippet of it has creativity thrown into it, somehow.

The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story is one of the cutest picture books I have ever read, period. I WISH I HAD IT WHEN I WAS YOUNG. Nancy Rose, through her photos and story, proves that squirrels are not only a sign of fall or spring, but a sign of every season and mood. It is shown that they feel/experience everything we feel. And now I'm going to go on Tumblr and search through millions of squirrel images and gush. Awh.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is your recent favourite picture book? DON'T YOU LOVE SQUIRRELS?!

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven // I Am Obsessed With Niven's Writing

Friday, 28 October 2016 0 comments
Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven
Publication: October 4, 2016, by Knopf BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

My Thoughts:

You can call me the world's biggest All the Bright Places fan ever. When I discovered the beautiful Jennifer Niven's debut novel last year, I went on a huge expedition to purchase it. I did, and my world fell apart in the best way ever. I cried like a maniac or psycho person, unable to contain my feelings and just making all of my blanket wet. Looking back, that was a chaotic, beautiful day. It still stands as my most favourite book (alongside some, because you can NEVER have ONE favourite book), and then I discovered Holding Up the Universe. I NEEDED MORE OF JENNIFER'S WRITING, and hearing that this would be her second novel made the world a better place, for sure. I then was so fortunate to meet Jennifer at BEA and have her sign a copy of this beauty to me, and I knew that I wanted to read this book during a special time. I decided that I would pick it up on the plane back home from an amazing trip of a lifetime, and boy, that was the best time to pick this up. I devoured it pretty instantly. 

Holding Up the Universe was in no way similar to ATBP, and it was nowhere as good as the book that stole my heart. The same thing happened with a similar's writer's work, Nicola Yoon. (Fact: I didn't enjoy her second novel.) I really enjoyed this one, minus the fact that ATBP was perfection. Written in a similar style to All the Bright Places, with alternating perspectives of a boy and girl who are obviously destined to fall in love (with so many heartbreaking and amazing moments in between), I could definitely glue the similarities together. But then, at the same time, there are so many differences, especially when you look at the characters and their own struggles. I love how Jennifer wrote this for her fans who are struggling in similar ways that our two protagonists, Libby and Jack, are, and I love how she based some of the struggles off of her own struggles in the past. Every person who reads this could definitely relate to one thing or another in this magnificent story.

Libby and Jack seemed like polar opposites of each other, when I first began reading this. Libby has been labelled as "America's Fattest Teen," but over the years, she has gotten better with her excessive eating. She has lost so much weight after working hard and limiting herself to cravings. Since fifth grade, she has been homeschooled, and since then, crazy things have happened that she never wants to look back at. She has been cut out of her house by firefighters, has made imaginary friends with the boys who lived across the street, she has mourned her mother, who died of cancer, but most importantly, she has put a goal for herself: to be ready to go back to high school. Once there, she constantly gets laughed at, but she's so strong. Strong enough to hold her feelings inside until she meets Jack, who also has his own secret (he has prosopagnosia, where he doesn't recognize the faces of people who he should recognize), in the weirdest way. She punches him, but they both end up getting in trouble, but this is just the start of a friendship/relationship (whatever you like to call the initial phases) that readers will never forget about.

For the second time in a row, Jennifer Niven writes about subjects that readers rarely (or never) get the chance to read about. We have two contrasting characters—Libby and Jack, who I completely adored. My favourite thing about the whole story is learning about Jack's prosopagnosia. Prior to reading, I have never heard of this direct term, and have never heard/read about someone who has it. It has never been brought to my attention. Most likely, somewhere in my head, I believed that some condition like that existed, but it never really hit me. Reading Jack's perspective was something absolutely new and I know that I will never get an experience like that ever again. There is also so much diversity throughout the whole story. Jack is African-American (or half, I think) and I just appreciated that so much. There are so many different things about this book that most contemporaries never touch upon. 

(The only thing I didn't really enjoy was the slow moments of the plot where I kind of got bored. That could be because of my flight's distracting entertainment options, too. Just kidding, Jen Niven's writing is always more entertaining than anything else. Am not kidding about the occasional boredom I experienced.)

What I don't get is the whole craze that previously went up over this story. People labelled Jennifer as being offensive to overweight people, but I never saw anything wrong as I read through the story. Sure, I disliked moments of this book where EVERYTHING was geared towards Libby being overweight, but that just came from Libby's character and her occasional insecurity. There is nothing offensive, period. Why would someone even think that about Jennifer's writing? As always, she puts her heart and soul into the whole story, making it the most beautiful, emotional and moving possible. The thing we have to remember is that this is for her fans. This book is for everyone who has ever struggled, and I completely felt that dedication as I was reading.

Jennifer's writing, as usual, added light humour here and there that occasionally made me laugh out loud and feel like I'm enjoying this so much. I enjoyed all of it. Some people are against romanticizing people with mental illnesses, but this is exactly what Jennifer Niven is amazing at. That is why her books are special and different. I would seriously be dying right now if I wasn't able to read this yet. WHAT AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. 

Libby and Jack are completely beautiful together. Jibby? Lack? They are the best. I love how they are together and how they have an even better connection because of their personal demons. I now just want to know how they are doing after the book, if you know what I mean. 

Holding Up the Universe is a beautiful story that has still left me breathless. It's like a prized possession for me, and its message is extremely powerful. With beautiful characters, diversity, real-life issues (some that we have never heard/read about, ever), a beautiful ending and attachment to the characters, leaving us wondering what they are doing at this very moment, this is just unforgettable. Thank you, Jennifer! 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What do you think of Jennifer Niven's writing? What are your most anticipated contemporaries for the rest of the year?

Royally Lost by Angie Stanton // An Adorable Contemporary That Makes Me Want to Go to Europe

Monday, 10 October 2016 2 comments
Royally Lost, by Angie Stanton
Publication: May 6, 2014, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.
Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.
When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?

My Thoughts:

Royally Lost is such a lovely, intriguing story that makes you want to hop on a plane to Prague and fall in love with a hot European guy who will throw you on a motorcycle. I read this story of Becca's when on vacation a few months ago, and for some reason (SCHOOL), I had to set this review aside. I will try my very best to write this as if I just read it last night. This is an addicting, memorable (insert every positive adjective here) novel about falling in love (even at first sight) and how teenagers, even, can make relationships work. We have two different cultures clashing, seeming as if the two characters were stuck in a time frame that did not suit them whatsoever. We had Nikolai, who is the Crown Prince of Mondovia, and Becca, who is the protagonist, on summer vacation on this ultra-hip river cruise with her brother, dad and stepmother, who she *kind-of* despises. Forget about the *kind-of,* SHE DOES despise her. 

This book is basically everything you can imagine. It's about a snobby teenager who is completely upset with her life's situation. She is moping on this summer vacation of hers because right after, she'll be going off to an university she isn't so glad on attending because she split from her boyfriend. It has to be the boys, as usual. One day, she meets Nikolai, who immediately catches her eye, and they both find that their bond is strong. He follows Becca and her family off to each stop of their European trip, but a secret lies in the middle of this all: he ran away from his palace to seek independence. 

And we find ourselves feeling hyper over one question: will their bond survive? MWA HA HA HA HA. One would expect that the author would purposely put obstacles in to break the characters apart because it's expected that they will end up together. Angie Stanton kind of mended a different kind of outcome for Nikolai and Becca. Their love story certainly isn't a Romeo and Juliet one, showing that they are destined together. I guess that they only spent so much time together because (A) they were bored, (B) they decided to rebel against the norm that their parents expect them to live in and (C) they both were attractive? A major flaw was that I felt no real connection between the two characters. Maybe there was a physical attraction, but I obviously couldn't sense any of that. 

This is a light read, nevertheless. I didn't expect it to unwind with plot twists and suspense that would cause me to run to the nearest bookstore to search for more at the nearest moment. It stayed at the same base as my expectations, and I must say that I was certainly glad to see that outcome. In the end, it was pretty enjoyable, but lacked connection, whether it was a connection between the characters or a connection between the rest of the plot, tying into the ending. Each section of the plot seemed to be separate, placed there for reasons only tying to readers' enjoyment. Nonetheless, I must say that I did not enjoy this pieced plot. 

Stanton tried to create foil characters. Becca was the stupid (I said it!), plain-Jane character who basically thought that everything she wants would come to her in a snap of her polished fingers. Nikolai was the basic, attractive Prince who rebelled because duh, he didn't want to do more work for his royal family. That meant not joining his nation's Navy. I have mixed feelings about that, because he had no plan set out for him, and just went with the flow. No one has as much luck as he obtained, unfortunately. (HOW CAN YOU FIND THE SAME CHICK'S CRUISE OVER AND OVER AGAIN?!)

Reading Royally Lost actually did make me feel lost—weirded out. It seemed as if this was trying too hard to become a fairytale that Disney would approve of. It's definitely cute—that's a word I feel appropriately describes the book as a whole. I would have enjoyed a more passionate romance (even though the characters are clueless teenagers), as well as intelligent characters that would cause this to seem more believable, but hey: at least I finished it in a sitting at the beach. 

What book has caused you to want to travel to a specific place so badly? What is your dream European destination to travel to?

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins // Some Good, Some Bad

Tuesday, 4 October 2016 2 comments
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron and Jennifer E. Smith
Publication: May 17, 2016, by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Anthology
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

My Thoughts:

Hello, my fellow Stephanie Perkins fans. I am a HUGE Stephanie Perkins fan (I could not contain myself over her books), and I adored her first holiday anthology, My True Love Gave to Me. This time around, for my favourite season of the year, summer, we have twelve new stories about love, carnivals and the beautiful season. (Not that every story contains a carnival.) Some stories were certainly better than others, and I must say that I hated a bunch of them, especially those from the beginning of the anthology. I tried to give new authors whose books I have never touched upon a chance, and some of them definitely were amazing, while others continued to disappoint. Instead of speaking about this as a whole, it probably makes sense to speak about each of the twelve stories on their own, that way, I could label the good and the bad. Let's get this party started!

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo: 2/5 stars

I wanted this anthology to just be about contemporary-romances featured in the summertime, you know? Leigh Bardugo, as usual, disappointed me. I wanted to (someday) adore her writing, but this one didn't cut it for me. Yeah, it's taken place in the best place in the world, New York City, but that was just one of the things that I enjoyed about this short story. I kind of felt that I couldn't WAIT for it to end. Bardugo is such a raved author, but I feel that she's overhyped. I disliked this completely.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour: 3.5/5 stars

Nina LaCour fails to disappoint. This is probably the third story I have read by her, and I liked this one. I didn't adore it, but I really enjoyed reading another lesbian romance story by her. I was awed by the dedicated protagonist who was doing whatever it took to chase her dreams, and in this case, her dream was to be with the girl she loves. My heart feels all giggly and sweet.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray: 1/5 stars

I began reading this with high hopes, as it would be my first Libba Bray story (I still have The Diviners in my shelf), but once I began reading, I had no connection to this. I DNFed it and just moved on. Again—I didn't want fantasy. I couldn't care less about what actually happened in this story. Hopefully I'll like Bray's full-length stories.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block: 4/5 stars

I loved the way Francesca Lia Block formatted this story! None of the characters were named except for (probably) the first letter of their name. It gave us readers a better look at their characters instead of labelling them. I also enjoyed the Los Angeles setting. *wiggle eyebrows* It was great and moving and just made my heart squirm.

In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins: 3.5/5 stars

Sadly, the editor's story isn't the best story... again. This, I'm pretty sure, is a continuation of the story that Stephanie wrote in her Christmas anthology, and I really liked this, but the wow-factor wasn't there, compared to her Anna/Lola/Isla trilogy. I just want to go to North Carolina after reading this.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle: 4/5 stars

This is another LGBT story, this time, featuring two gay characters—Matt and Kieth, who are about to breakup in the amusement park that they work in. I live next to an amusement park, and after reading about their fun adventures, I feel like applying for a job there. *giggles* This one was fast-paced and compelling—I needed to know what would happen!

Inertia by Veronica Roth: 4/5 stars

I certainly do miss Veronica's writing! This one, I must say, was my most anticipated story, alongside Cassandra Clare's, because Veronica is one of my all-time favourite authors and I NEED MORE FROM HER. I cannot wait until January until her next novel is released. This had a sci-fi aspect implanted, but that did not take anything out from the romance or summer. Everything mixed in together beautifully.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron: 3/5 stars

I adored the setting and the characters, but sometimes this was just too drama filled for my liking. I wouldn't want to read this as a full-length novel which proves that the three star rating I gave it seems fine. I shipped the romance, but then that didn't seem very believable to me, and... yep. 

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert: 4/5 stars

AWWWWW. This story featured a protagonist who was getting depressed over the fact that her cousin would be jetting off away with her girlfriend. She then forms a relationship with her cousin's girlfriend's brother, if that makes any sense. This story just kept me going and being interested for the whole duration. I'm looking into Brandy's writing right away!

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare: 4.5/5 stars

CASSANDRA CLARE HAS DONE IT AGAIN WITH MY SECOND-FAVOURITE STORY OUT OF THIS ANTHOLOGY. I loved this one, even though it had fantasy aspects! This featured family drama, romance, and this super eerie traveling carnival that I adored and want to work at. Oh, and did I mention that our protagonist is goth with rainbow-coloured streaks? You cannot get better than that.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith: 5/5 stars

THIS IS MY FAVOURITE STORY. I never have given Jennifer E. Smith a 5 star rating before, but this absolutely deserves it. I WANT THIS TO BE A FULL-LENGTH NOVEL. This is about Annie and Griffin, the boy she has had a crush on forever. They finally start hanging out, and then THERE'S A PLOT TWIST AND AGH. I cannot get this out of my head. Can I meet a cute guy at the grocery store? ;)

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman: 1.5/5 stars

NOPE. This story was senseless, honestly. I currently don't remember anything about it and I only read this book two days ago, hah. 

So. My favourite story? A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong, then Brand New Attraction, then the four star ones. I love this collection, but I can only wish that some stories were better, more fluffy and satisfying. I NEED MORE PERKINS ANTHOLOGIES.

From all of the authors who wrote a story here, who is your ultimate favourite?

The Trap by Melanie Raabe // A "Mystery" About PTSD

Monday, 3 October 2016 0 comments
The Trap, by Melanie Raabe
Publication: July 5, 2016, by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister--who she discovered in a pool of blood--and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda's hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister's murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda's memories -- and her very sanity -- are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?

My Thoughts:

Melanie Raabe's The Trap was one of my most anticipated books to read from BEA this year, mainly because the Hachette booth spent so much of their time advertising this newbie and all that it has to give. I remember getting it on the first day and stroking the cover in my hotel room afterwards, wanting to read it more than anything. (Some other books came later and I then decided that I wanted to read them more than this, haha.) The Trap was promising something else to me, I felt. I looked for this to be a psychological thriller that is simple, yet intriguing for the whole time and then shocked us in the end. I had nothing but high expectations for this new release, and I felt rather disappointed by the end because instead of a thriller, we just got a contemporary about grief and PTSD. If I felt in the mood to read that kind of story, I perhaps would have enjoyed this one, but it fell rather short of my expectations. Yes, Goodreads and the publisher label this as a mystery, but looking at the way that we readers got to know the protagonist, Linda Conrads, I felt that this was more of a character-driven story about her development after the death of her sister, Anna. 

PTSD is rarely touched upon in books. This definitely is a fantastic example of how PTSD is actually portrayed (I've read a lot of articles/true stories about people who have dealt/are dealing with it currently), and unlike your cookie-cutter cases where the protagonist could possibly be a veteran/police officer/firefighter, this is the realest case possible, a victim of violence. Linda wasn't the straight-on victim herself, but she did witness the aftermath of the murder of her sister, seeing her corpse on the ground and even seeing her murderer, who later ran away. If you are curious to read about the aftermath of a brutal murder, this book is perfect for you. I didn't look for the aftermath. Okay, I kind of did, but I looked more for the mystery part of the story. Melanie Raabe gave us more of Linda's personal struggles mixed in with the plot. 

PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder, is a real mental illness that many people deal with constantly. It never goes away, and I adored Raabe's portrayal of this illness with Linda's character. It makes the murder seem more believable, that her trying to discover who her sister's murderer is is killing her on the inside. Linda's character has also never left her house after the murder, spending her spare time with her dog or people who are there to provide her aid (and buy her groceries and those things), and most importantly, she spends her time writing books. At first, they were books of a complete different genre, but Raabe does let us on into her new book, which is basically everything Linda herself has overcome with her sister's death, put into a "fictional" story. 

Yes, plot twists come in here and there throughout the story, all because Linda, at the same time as she writes her novel, is creating a trap for the murderer. I felt that there was no emphasis on the trap itself, but Linda's novel, which I couldn't care less about. I don't like books in a book. Sure, some excerpts are cool, but this was basically a half-Linda's life half-Linda's book story. I didn't want to read the same thing over and over again. Occasionally, things got interesting when something was revealed in Linda's book but was never mentioned in her actual perspective. (I hope that those things were actually real and true, now that I think about it.) 

"As you mentioned before, my life is far from normal. I don't leave the house, don't go to work, don't go to the baker's or the supermarket. I don't travel, I don't meet friends in caf├ęs or clubs. I live a life that is very secluded, which means it is not always easy to avoid boredom. Writing is my way of allowing myself to escape a bit, and I wanted to try out something different" (117).

I must admit, at first, I thought that this was a true story, hah. Melanie Raabe made it sound so believable! I started thinking that this was from Melanie's POV, until the name "Linda" was said, and I realized that this is pure fiction. Yay to Melanie for making this really believable. I just strived to read something more... action-packed, instead of the slowness that this actually provided. In terms of plot and writing, there was practically no development whatsoever. That's why I could only label this novel with three stars, instead of five or four or what the majority of readers are giving to this. I'd also like to congratulate Imogen Taylor, the translator, who did an amazing job of translating Melanie's work from German to English. I love reading translated work!

The Trap by Melanie Raabe was a trap for readers, that's for sure. I came into this expecting an action-packed thriller that will make me scared of the world (especially at night), but instead, we just received a character-driven story that was more about the reality of these kinds of events happening instead of legitimately solving the mystery. That's okay too, but I absolutely don't enjoy being fooled.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Have you ever gotten fooled by a publisher where you thought you would be reading a mystery/thriller novel? What is your favourite translated work?

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui // Graphic Novels Like This Are the Best!

Saturday, 1 October 2016 0 comments
The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui
Publication: March 7, 2017, by Abrams ComicArts
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

My Thoughts:

Occasionally, I enjoy reading graphic novels and comics just because of the format. Why not choose to read a supposed "gorgeous, moving memoir" that's a comic, which will help one boost their Goodreads reading challenge? Why not read a beautiful comic story filled with gorgeous art that will make you swoon and not be able to sleep at night, because, in addition to words that stunned you, there are astonishing drawings included? Why not read a book that you will finish fairly quickly? There are so many positive things I see about reading a comic book—and this isn't your typical Archie or Looney Tunes story. Instead, Thi Bui, the author of The Best We Could Do, stuns us readers with a true story of her childhood, and the lives of her parents when they decided that they would leave their hard lives in Vietnam and move to America during the Vietnam War. We learn about things that our history teachers may have not told us otherwise, secretive things right from the perspective of someone who has been through it all, and someone who has researched like crazy to put this story and her drawings together. 

Throughout her memoir, I learned that Thi Bui was on a mission: to find out the truth behind her culture and family. Some people simply do not care or have an interest in their family's heritage and what their home countries really stand/stood for. Although Bui was a child when she was in Vietnam, barely remembering anything, she went back, for the sake of readers and herself, going to her parents, who, afterwards, have built a better relationship with her, asking for answers about the past that is forbidden to mention. 

Bui's artwork is unstoppably beautiful. When I say beautiful, I seriously mean beautiful, not in a light way whatsoever. It makes her story come more alive, allowing readers to get a real feel for how the people she loves look like, and how Vietnam looked like, from her perspective, because I simply believe that everyone has a different outlook on what a place really looks like from their own eyes. I appreciated Bui's, because honestly? It hurts to look at how much people suffered in that country in the past, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to visit the country and learn about their history otherwise. Bui did that marvellously in a three-hundred paged memoir that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, I enjoy leaving the young-adult genre and head out to explore books in a more realistic way. In adult fiction/non-fiction, I find that there are so many more opportunities of novels explored that the possibilities are simply endless and no one will ever be able to explore every single novel that they would like to explore and read. I really enjoyed taking a break from life/YA to read this memoir. It's something new, heartbreaking but lovely to read about because we barely get to from the perspective of a survivor or someone who has looked for a better future in a place that promised that. We see Bui's family's struggles, even their struggles in America, whether it was getting a job, staying away from illnesses that they never knew they were prone to catch, or being able to have enough food on the table. Bui illustrates the fact that us humans never stop struggling, but that we could minimize the struggle if we look up at the sky and be grateful. 

I cannot, in any way, summarize Thi Bui's story. That's absolute blindness from my side if I chose to do that for my fellow reviewers/readers. That's Thi's job to do, and you will simply adore reading this story of hers, and now I have decided that I just want to find out more about Vietnam, its struggles with communism, and discover more stories from people who just want their struggles to be shared, but not to be felt sorry for, but to teach others about their histories, to give them information and to have them feel. 

Once I began reading, Bui's images honestly captured me—I was thrown into the past, in the last century where the world was hit with the most violence ever in history, and I had tears in my eyes and in my heart. Inside, I was crying hysterically, but outside, I felt strong, because I just wanted to keep reading and not be disturbed by my excessive crying and feels. Sometimes, I must admit, crying is not the way to feel a book—reading it and adoring it is, instead.

The Best We Could Do is a stunning, truly impressive story written about a stunning family who I would love to meet and just have a chat about history with. Thi Bui is an amazing artist and writer, who, during the period of time I read every page, made me feel as someone more important than just a reader of her upcoming debut memoir. Her story is one in a million, although thousands and millions of citizens of her nation, Vietnam, encountered some similar events as her family, the Buis, had. On release day, March 7, 2017, take a visit to your local bookstore and support this electrifying story. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some other comic memoirs/comic debuts that really moved you? What are some other amazing stories about the Vietnam War?