Book Review: Pilu of the Woods – Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

This is one of the sweetest and most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. Initially drawn to the art this gave so much more, including lyrical prose. Ultimately this is a story of family, friendship and dealing with grief. While Willow and Pilu come from different worlds, they are such a sweet pair and I can’t say no to a doggie sidekick!

The art style itself is unique and while it will appeal to a younger reader as a woman in her mid-twenties I was enchanted by the illustration. Additionally, the use of colour to show the woods felt real to me. I read this at a point where I needed something to fall into and escape – something I was easily able to do.

I will warn you going in that you might get a little emotional reading. I wanted to reach in and give Willow the biggest hug. The way that Nguyen has shown emotion and the complicated feelings that are being experienced from the perspective of a child is nothing short of incredible.

It’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This really touched my heart, it’s not a complicated story, however, it can speak volumes. I really hope that there is a follow-up because I can see the relationship and story really growing and evolving. This is a wonderful book, I can’t stress enough how much I adore it.

A huge thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for giving me a chance to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: When We Collided – Emery Lord

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“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it.”

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along. Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

Well, what can I say about this novel? While initially, I wondered if this was going to be another novel about teenagers falling in love and everything is magical and great forever. I can’t read books like that anymore because there are so many. This was a refreshing read focusing on real issues and how we cope with them and showing teenagers as people.

I got this with my Illumicrate back in May and have only got around to reading it now. I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner! Emery Lord is a fantastic writer and can write thoughtful, funny and beautiful words that will suck you in. I could not put this book down, I was constantly thinking about Vivi and Jonah, their lives, their futures. Also, it’s rare that I love an ending as much as I did this one. It was absolutely perfect and just created a sense of peace for me at the end.

While the blurb hints at mental illness, it doesn’t show the extent of how the novel manages it. Both Vivi and Jonah are so real and incredible because they have flaws, they make mistakes and, for me, you can see yourself in their decisions and mistakes. The novel has so many elements to it family, friends, reflection and how people live through challenges in mental health. Jonah’s grief is explored, as are issues in Vivi’s past.

With all that said the novel is uplifting, I loved every single page. Vivi is a breath of fresh air and Jonah took my heart from the very first page. I’d love to go into the list of reasons why but I don’t want to spoil anything because it really is a treat.

Of course, I gave this novel five stars, for a while I thought it may be four but the ending bumped it up. I loved the pace, characters and plot it was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to get myself reading anything else that Emery writes because she is truly talented.