Book Review

Moon Reads: Midnight Magic

Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison and Elissa Elwick

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Midnight Magic is all about magic and black cats born at midnight.

It is also one of those books that as a child you love and will read over nad over again and keep thinking it would be amazing to have a cat like Midnight and be so lucky to have magic around. I remember feeling like this with The Little Leftover Witch, and I got the same little hope of magic and things just coming to happen with a pinch of magic in them.

Midnight is born exactly at midnight on a stable and she is a very lucky cat but also, it means a lot of trouble, but she will soon find her way around life.

I had a lot of joy reading this book, the illustrations make it even nicer to read and the rhyming verses to go through the story are delightful. I can highly recommend this book to read, both for your own enjoyment or for your childre, or your niece/nephew, or if you’re a teacher, then for your classroom. There will be a lot of fun and imagining how life would be if you had Midnight come to your house and you adopted her. I cant wait to see if there will be more adventures for Midnight and her family.

Overall, great read for all ages, and full of magic. Highly recommended.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Truth Project

The Truth Project by Dante Medema

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This book was provided to me as a gift from the publisher. It was one I requested since I wanted to be able to review it. The fact that the book was provided by the publisher doesn’t inform my review of the book. All views here my own.

I picked the Truth Project since I have been reading a lot of fantasy and middle grade or graphic novels, so this felt like a good palate cleanser of a read and it was the perfect book to read while in a cosy bath. If you like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, then this is definitely a book to read as it is also in verse style.

Cordelia is aceing high school and ready to go to university, she just needs to get her project sorted which she chooses to tackle a genetic test and the concept of identity through poetry. For that, she is paired up wiht the troubled boy Kodiak. It should be an easy project writing about what makes you you and what effect genetics have on it, or at least that is what she thinks will happen. But when the test results come through, her truth isn’t exactly what she thought it was, the person she calls Father isn’t her biological father.

This defintiely throws Cordelia in for a spin and her perfect record suddenly doesn’t matter as much, when it feels like everything she knws is a lie. We get the story shown as she grapples with her identity, trying to decide if she wants to meet her biological father and figuring out what she thinks about who she is and who her family is. Through her poetry, text conversations with her best friend and Kodiak, and a few email exchanges, we get a very dynamic story.

I really liked the format this was being worked with, it isnt just poetry/verse but also texts and emails, with different language depending on who Cordelia is talking to. And it was interesting to see how she tries to navigate her new truth and what it means for her, and the lies she wants to believe or the ones she starts making up to cope with the truth.

As you may know, I am not big on contemporary, usually quite picky on it, but this one won a space in my reading due to how it explores identity, family, being troubled, making mistakes and the concept of what is true and what lies one can believe or deal with.

Also, bonus points because her family is there and not just thrown around conveniently. I also could see glimpses of what her parents are actually discussing but that she doesn’t realise where things are going or how they are happening and instead interprets differently. But it was fascinating to see the layers of thigns even through her verses.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Sera and the Royal Stars Vol. 1

Sera and the Royal Stars by Tsuki, Mok, Angulo & Campbell

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I can’t remember why I chose this book at some point but it obviously caught my eye and I had it just gathering dust somewhere (I put aside my graphic novels those moments of the year when my brain just cannot engage with a novel and needs the pictures and not as many words).

Thinking for some odd reason that this was a single volume kind of graphic novel I set to read it, and I have to say I like the artwork, reminds me a lot of old, or should I say traditional, comic style, with the colouring and the artwork, in a nice way. It is like the art was given a new lease in life keeping all the good of old styles but making the art better and just nicer to read through, a good middle ground between old fashioned and modern.

As for the story, it is really interesting, with a lot of myth, a lot of heroics and great characters making this something to sink your teeth into. Not superheroes but with a grander than just you storyline, gods, constellations, big stakes and more, it has all the elements of a big saga to happen and Sera is well fleshed to be the main heroine of the story with her own personal goals, but also being swept into needing to do more for the world and trying to figure out what is right and what the right things to do are when there are many paths but technically only one that will suceed.

Now, I do admit, this didn’t make grab me so much that as soon as I finished I wanted the next volume, but I think if I found the volumes in the library I’d try to get them and read through the whole series. But I did not feel like I wanted to buy all the volumes as it was not hitting me as much as other books have. I do know I am less into grand sweeping arcs that are too close to traditional superhero stories and I think that is where the fault is for me with this book, which is more of a palate one than of the story or execution.

Still, if you like traditional comic superhero stories but want a more fantasy view with gods and other interesting items, this may be the series for you, and it has a very interesting main character, so I can recommend you to look into Sera and the Royal Stars.

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Thousand Mornings

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

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I can’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon Mary Oliver’s poetry but what I can remember is that it caught my eye and that artistic par tof me wanted to read more, to have some more poems to munch and mull over for a lazy read if I could. I had a hard time choosing which one of her books to buy, but ended up settling for A Thousand Mornings since it felt like it had the right kind of poems for me and what I would like to read.

I was not wrong, and I enjoyed the poetry, it is old style, and it has a lot of story, some of it is simpler than other pieces but overall it is cohesive and it speaks well. The way Mary Oliver uses language reminded me of mornings and cups of coffee and just being awake slowly and sometimes abruptly.

So I guess the best review I can give is to say that the poetry and poems spoke to me, and the words were beautiful and charming, lyrical and magical, and I couldn’t escape them so I read until I came to the end of the book and felt like this was the book to read one poem every morning until they run out to savour it.

If you like poetry and just reading pretty phrases that stir your heart I can recommend reading this, it is quite short and concise but still good reading.

Book Review

Moon Reads: My Neighbor Hayao

My Neighbor Hayao by Spoke Art Gallery (Compilation)

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I have a weakness for Ghibli themed books, and well, this was all about art, so it was utterly irresistible when I saw it and preordered. It is curated by the Spoke Art Gallery, featuring artwork from a huge variety of artists to celebrate Hayao Miyazaki and the impact he has had in filmmaking and animation.

The curation is beautiful and you can see that they made a huge effort to chose significant pieces there, some of my favourite ones are lantern shadow cuttings for the films, or film poster style reimaginings for each of the films but to reduce the content of the book into just those pieces would be to do it a huge injustice.

What this book does is bring the art exhibition, the gallery, into your home.

I poured over the book and kept coming back as the pieces and interpretations, the tributes left a mark on me. Some stay quite close to the source whereas others reinterpret the artwork and make a newer or very unique piece matching the artists’ style and mindset, and yet they all have a little of the magic that a Ghibli film has. The beauty of the simplicity of life infused by magic and Hayao Miyazaki’s life experience.

It is utterly fascinating how his life experiences have fueled the films in such a way that war makes an appearance or his family history, but also you can see the love for food and Japanese culture, the day to day living, in a Ghibli film, it is the little details against the huge things happening, and this collection of artwork showcases how different artists have been influenced, or have immortalised even further into their work.

If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli films and Hayao Miyazaki’s work, I would suggest adding this book to your collection and enriching it. It also has a lovely ribbon and bookmark feature that meant I could stop and come back to it or highlight my most favourite piece it is a difficult choice).

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Key To Fear

The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast

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Short disclaimer first, I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher so I could be part of the blog tour and provide a review (I only read hard copies). This doesn’t change or influence my opinion except maybe it adds a book I may not have considered if it hadn’t been brought up to me for consideration.

Now to the actual blog tour review, because apparently I have lived under a rock and hadn’t read any of Kristin’s books before so this a new author to me and new stories to read.

This is a book a little outside of my usual books but not something I wouldn’t have read when I was younger. It is a dystopia with romance and a lot of finding yourself, being a rebel and just figuring things out. When I heard the premise I immediately was of two minds, it could be quite interesting to read or too close to the present (this is basically post-pandemic semi dystopia where the Key control the areas and have brought technology to help combat this ugly virus, plus genetic modifications, so it isn’t fully dystopia but really close and touching is a no-no). Thankfully, it was done well and it only barely reminded me of the present situation (needing that escape sometimes is key and I didn’t want to try and enjoy a story that was too close to real life and therefore not a different place).

We meet our main characters, Elodie and Aiden, and Blair. I have to say that Elodie at first frustrated me a little, but as the story goes, I warmed up to her and she provided a good panorama to a relatively cushioned life under the Key even if she isn’t aware of how protected she has been up to now by not questioning the rules and having family in the right places (but also, she doesn’t know how fragile the balance is).

Then we have Aiden, who is not fitting in well with how the Key want him to integrate into society and is on the last chance to be able to do something with his life (because in this world you’re matched to your partner, and you have your career chosen after taking some tests, nothing or barely anything is left to chance, and even old books and stories are banned). And then Blair who is the side that wants to move up the ranks inside the Key and to do more, achieve and not lose power are her intense desires.

I have to say that overall I enjoyed the story and was curious as to what would come. I think it dragged a little to try to make it into more than one book (I didn’t realise it wasn’t a standalone until I saw how much of the book was left and how little actual action ahd happened). But the dragging of the plot does provide a good setting and background. However, I do think the plot could’ve gone further if we had skipped the story bits Elodie reads (those I definitely did not like and would skim read).

Still, it was interesting to see how touch had been banned, the webs of lies and how people manipulate or rise through ranks and amke their place by “following rules” without ever questioning and calling themselves loyal. Yet at the same time, that position is always so fragile even if the players do not know it.

So, what’s the prospect? If you are a fan of the young adult fiction from 5-10 years ago, this is the book for you. It has that vibe with a fresher look, like when a trend comes back, and it ha some interesting concepts of technology, power and characters, and now I am very curious as to what actually happens next and what is in Zone Seven.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Oracle Code

The Oracle Code graphic novel on top of a Spirted Away jigsaw

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp (writer) and Manuel Preitano (illustrator)

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I have been on a graphic novel strike since they have been easy to read when my brain is extremely tired. This particular one caught my eye as I really like the character of Oracle in Batman (and the relationship between Batman and Oracle is a very interesting one) so I felt like I had to read this one and see what I could make of it.

For starters, this appears to completely change Barbara’s backstory (that she was Batgirl, and shot by Joker, etc) and figuring that out caused me a bit of issues to get into the beginning of the story. But once I realised it was a different “canon” and not the one I was fmailiar with, I found it intriguing. I think part of it is that this is a younger more teenage version of Barbara than the one I am familiar with (the Oracle/Barbara I love is Arkhamverse lore).

The story does some interesting mixing of items with it being about Barbara figuring out who she is after the accident and gun shot which is all about identity and what defines you, but it also covers how things around you change as a “disability” changes your life. On top fo that it has a mystery to solve and a slightly creepy haunting vibe, and includes osme fairytales, so it is doing a lot in a relatively small space. Because of that at times it leaves lots of gaps to make the mystery more mysterious or uses the tales as an aide rather than provide a clearer path, which is nice but also at times I wanted more substance.

Overall the effect is nice and I enjoyed it very much, I could read many more adventures after the end of this one in this universe/canon for Barbara, as here she isn’t really Oracle yet but more figuring out the parts of her that will make her into who she is as Oracle. It reads very much as a pre Oracle and after BatGirl kind of book but does nothing to talk about her being Batgirl, so as I said, some confusion ensued for me.

If you’re a massive fan then this may confuse you a tiny bit, but if you’re not that into the lore of Batman and Arkham, etc, then this is a lovely graphic novel with a lot of female rep, disability rep and itneresting topics. Obviously give the topics there may be some triggers, particular about institutionalising and mistreatment of people wiht disabilities, and amybe even a little about eugenics and “fixing” and failures. I’d say, the book deals with it decently (could be better, could be worse). Still, worth a read and I can recommend it.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Technically, You Started It

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

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Technically, You Started It has a very interesting format to tell the story. It is all presented as a text conversation. There are no paragraphs, nothing except the “chat history” of the texts between Martin Nathaniel Munroe II and Haley.

For starters there are two Martin Nathaniel Munroe II in class and one is to Haley’s eyes the good one and the other one the bad one. She isn’t sure which one is texting her but it has to be good one, right?

I really enjoyed the format of the story, it was easy to read and kept it refreshing as there is that kind of freedom of not needing to describe mucha nd onyl exchange certain bits of data. And to me it was believable as a conversation between two teenagers who know about each other but don’t really know each other.

And then as the become more acquainted with each other, do they acknowledge the friendship in school or just keep it over text?

Honestly, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would, it was funny, it made me remember to my first few internet friends way back when but also the awkwardness of meeting in person. Plus I really liked both characters and how they each have certain perceptions of things and other people, particularly people they both interact with.

Honestly I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading this but if you enjoy a sweet romance, some comedy and funny nerd moments, then this is a great read, plus format is a big winner when you want a good story but your brain can’t engage enough (to me this was a slump breaking book and gosh I finished and was just like “I am so happy, this is so fun and so cool”).

Book Review

Moon reads: The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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Disclaimer: I received a proof copy for free fromt he publisher in the hopes I’d review it, which I mean I have done and wanted to do anyway, so I would’ve got to it one way or another. The fact it was gifted does not affect my views at all.

What happens when you mix suffragettes, fairy tales and witches into a book? I’ll tell you what, great magical things happen with a pinch of trouble, a lot of adventure, and feminism.

Once and Future Witches is all about what defines us as women and how we stand tall and havethat fire inside us, the magic, the witchcraft that makes us persevere (in some places they’d call it grit or mother nature, or many other things).

Getting into the actual story we meet three young women, the Eastwood sisters, who inexplicably end up coming together at a suffragist meeting in New Salem after being apart and following their own path for a while.

One of the things I liked a lot here was that the relationships between the sisters and their internal struggles are not exactly fairy tale stories, but could be any of us today. Each of them carries some heavy trauma, heavy burdens and things to be worried or anxious about, and each has to figure them out in part on their own but also as they figure out where they stand as sisters.

It has a lot on sisterhood both as a family and born into it look, but also as a we’re all coming together, strangers and found family, into this. Alongside dealing with what happens when you make certain choices and act on resentment, fear, anger, etc. To me, it is those parts that shine the most in this book alongside the “retellings” and reworkings of fairy tales and “new tales” that are peppered through the book.

Probably the one part that this struggles is sometimes some odd choices on plot and behaviour of the characters (I had a proof copy so it may be different in the final version) and that the worldbuilding relies heavily on a lot of gaps to be filled by us or to be inferred meaning sometimes it is hard to remember what you thought x should be. Probably part of the problem was I read it through a long period of time due to different life interruptions and coming back to it I’d have to leaf back a few pages or just skim read back to try to place myself. This is probably the place it can do a lot better in.

Overall, if you are looking for a feminist book with lots of witchcraft, a fairy tale but not the Disney vibe and more the true Grimm brothers style, and sisterhood, this is the book for you. It was a wild ride and one that left me wondering what comes next.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Splinters of Scarlet

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

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This book was part of Book Box Club’s box a few months back and even though had had the book on my want to read list, I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond a bit of a fairytale feeling.

I think Splinters of Scarlet definitely hits the spot on having a fairy tale feeling and vibe all over it, but at the same time it is like a modern fairytale. And yet it feels lost in time. I’d say it has a more “The Girl and the Bear” kind of feel than “A Curse so Dark and Lonely”, like a happy middle between those two kinds of fairytale.

I think my most favourite thing was the magic system, the fact that you get a very unique way of using your magic and that it is literally in your blood so using it too much “freezes” your veins and kills you. From things like being good at glass blowing, or being able to sew perfectly and so fast, or just being able to detect lies, it has a lot of fun ways of being used and it was fascinating to see the interaction of those that have it and those that don’t, since as much as it is a blessing it is also a curse. Sadly, this part wasn’t explored as much as it could’ve but it was still fascinating.

The second best thing was that it touches on both dance and clothes making, and it was delightful to see those woven through the whole story. It gave it that extra magical fairy tale feeling for me even if technically none of those things are specific to fairytales.

And I really liked how the characters develop and interact. To be fair at the beginning it wasn’t as interesting because it is just before we move to where the main story happens, but it gives a precedent setting. It gets so much better when we meet the full cast and start interacting with more and more people. I liked the interactions, the resentment, the ways of living contrasting between them, and the hidden story plotline feels (though for me there was little guesswork almost from the very first chapter of what the “aha moment” would be).

Given that I knew what the main revelation would be I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t annoy me. So I can say that if you want a fairytale kind of story with an interesting magic system, this is one to read for sure!