Book Review

Moon Reads: Paradise Kiss

Paradise Kiss (20th Anniversary Edition) by Ai Yazawa

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: Yes, just not this particular omnibus presentation

Ownership: Bought as a treat once I found it existed.

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Paradise Kiss, this edition contains the full series.

Content warnings: Nudity, mild violence, mild sadomasochism, sexuality/sex

Paradise Kiss was one of my first mangas I ever read and to this day I still love it. It is about a young student, Yukari, who is trying to find meaning in her life and is doing her best to fulfill expectations, until she accidentally gets “discovered” by a group of fashion design students who think shed make the perfect model for their final project.

The full story follows Yukari and George, alongside the rest of the atelier and Yukari’s own friends and family as she initially rejects the proposal to be a model and then realises that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So she “joins” the atelier as their model and starts spending more and more time with them, which also means more time with George, with whom she establishes a relationship.

The manga is full of fashion desing, lots of amazing looks, a lot of relationships happening and things going on and it is just a delight to read, or at least it was to me. One thing ot mentionis that George has an interest in sadomasochism and can be manipulative nad abusive at times to Yukari, but it is part of the story that their relationships develops as it goes. There is also the relationship of the other atelier members and how they visualise George.

Overall, it has a special vibe and the young me that wanted to be a fashion designer loved it, plus it explores bisexuality, has a queer character and a lot of representation and alternative ways of life that show that it isnt all one way to make it and way to live. On top of that, the story doesn’t end when Yukari models for them, instead it suddenly opens a world of opportunities for her and a modelling career, so it is a good interesting show of what choices one can make and opportunities that we take or not.

I cannot recommend this enough as a manga to read, however, as per above I do highlight that it has some interesting topics and some content warnings that are there for a reason. This isn’t all honey and fashion and good vibes. It has a lot of tough topics and a lot of hard moments.

If manga isn’t your thing, you can always go the anime or live action way. I have watched the anime a few times but still haven’t the live action. It is good fun and only 12 episodes long. And overall, regardless of format, it is a well contained story that shows many sides of a coin and about making choices and taking opportunities.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Flying Witch Volume 1

Flying Witch Volume 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Gifted by a friend from my wishlist

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Flying Witch, Volume 1.

I added Flying Witch to my wishlist after Asha over at A Cat, A Cup Of Tea, And A Book talked about it, and as soon as I read her review plus the about of the book, I knew it was one I’d enjoy too.

Now, Flying Witch is a soft slow book, there isn’t technically a lot going on, or at least on in the Western fast-paced need for adventure and plot advancing at a high-speed kind of pace. Instead, things just slowly happen and overall there is little progress from Makoto moving in to live with her distant cousins and the end of the first volume.

And yet, I was happy to read through her trying to set up a garden, or figuring out what she actually wants to do beyond follow the path to becoming a full-fledged witch. There is the fact that her sense of direction is apalling and therefore, small hiccups and fun things happen on her day to day, plus there is also her little cousin who is a bit confused and surprised about Makoto being a witch. Plus there is obviously some excitement about magic.

Overall, it is a soft hedge witch story with slow pace and a lot of day to day little things that suddenly build up a bigger nicer thing. A good soft Ghibli vibe with a little less intense moments and more of smaller moments building up to a bigger one. It feels like a softer more Japanese version of Kiki’s Delivery Service, with a slightly older witch and family receiving her rather than just selecting a completely new city.

Partly, the relationships between Makoto and her cousins and family is what adds a nice flavour to this story and enriches it with new things to explore including dynamics of how to settle into a new house with family and not disrupt too much but also how to accommodate for a budding witch trying to find her way in the world.

Recommended for fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service, lovers of slow soft stories and magic, and overall if you want a feel-good story.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Foxy Fashions

Foxy Fashions by Yoshi Yoshitani

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Ordered from Yoshi’s website

Ok, this was an impulse buy. I saw the Yoshi had a sale a while back, wanted some prints, bought some prints, found there was a collection titled Foxy Fashions and well, there was a book with all the illustrations, and it was on sale, so obviously I had to have it. Come on, it says “foxy” and it is about fashion. It was utterly irresistible for me.

The book is a collection of fashions seen through Yoshis eyes per era/type and with the wearers having their face masked by fox masks. It is gorgeous and honestly if you check the store and see some of the prints youll find the joy of just flicking through this book and revelling in it.

All I can do is share my favourite page and say that I recommend it because it is stunning!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Luna Loves World Book Day

Luna Loves World Book Day by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought myself

Every year I browse the selection of books that will be available for “World Book Day”. The UK celebrates it in March which confuses me but apparently there are reasons for it, and I don’t need to get into an essay about them. Still, I browse books and saw this one which caught my curiosity and bought it.

I ahve to say the artwork is what wins in this book for sure. There are a lot of unicorns and cuteness. Sweet illustrations make Luna feel more alive and her story be what it is, you barely need the words to understand it. Which is why I was a bit meh about the words, the story feels a bit like it was written to fit and therefore wasn’t as well prepared as other books.

Now I have not read other books in this series, so not sure if that is the style of them, but I read enough children’s books to feel one that is a bit odd and just doesn’t capture the attention with the words. That was a shame because the story is about a little girl excited for dressing up but things keep going worng until thankfully she still manages to enjoy the day and love it as much as she can. That is in itself a sweet story and it was beautifully illsutrated.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Dress in Detail From Around the World

Dress in Detail from Around the World by Rosemary Crill, Jenniger Wearden and Verity Wilson

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought second hand

Found Dress in Detail as I was searching for a more varied and less Western focused costume encyclopaedia. It was a gamble since I found it extremely cheap second hand and it looked like it’d have a lot of photographs on the details of patterns, embroidery and other items of clothing.

Let me say, this was one of the best gambles I’ve done in a while. Each pair of pages is a stunning set of information. On the right page, you get a photograph of the details, and on the left, you get one or two flat lay illustrations of the garment composition, almost like a pattern of the piece of clothing included alongside a description of where it came from, its history and a few other details. This is even better than I had hoped to find, as I bought it as a reference to draw and write, and that extra details page with the full item drawn is like finding a perfect treasure. I cannot convey how amazing this was.

The book is laid out to highlight in sections different parts of clothing items, starting with necklines, or showing buttons, and it shows the many incredible details fo each piece alongside a good variety of garments, if I remember correctly theres about 150 of them with a good variety of countries and periods alongside occasions for those garments to be worn. As I went through the book I was in awe of the amount of details, and everything in it.

This is exactly what I wanted, and now I wish there was one per country and their costume history which I find fascinating and would like to know more about it. Definitely setting it up as a source of inspiration and reference for future works.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home by Corrinne Averiss Kristyna Litten

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Requested. A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review

Spoiler free review: Yes, but may contain hints about most of the story.

When Little Tiger UK sent the newsletter of new titles coming, this felt right up my street so I asked for a review copy and they gracefully provided me one. This does not change or influence my opinion of the book at all.

I breezed through The Long Way Home on a weekend afternoon, and it made me teary eyed. Lets start with the artwork. It is a soft palette that mostly conveys pink, purple and orange, and tones of it with some blue in there, and the style is soft with some pops of colour. It is delightful and gives a soft warm feeling already to the story even before starting to read the words.

And talking of words, the story is about a little elephant, Otto, and his grandmother, Nanu, as they go on an adventure. As we know, the saying is that elephants don’t forget, and going on adventures definitely means not forgetting the way home. But as they set off on the adventure, Nanu seems to be keep forgetting little things here and there, getting distracted and just not being herself as usual. And then she forgets the way home, and it is up to Otto to try to remember the way home, plus also put his explorer skills to the test and help himself and his Nanu.

It was a tender story that touches on dementia and Alzheimer, so it would be a story I recommend for children whose grandparents may be diagnosed or being a little “extra forgetful”, as it shows that one should be kind and cherish the memories but also, continue making memories, it isn’t that forgetfulness means the end of the story or of the relationship and that is part fo what the story tries to show. Plus encourages the young to help their elders as they struggle with new challenges.

Overall, a story to make your heart soft and your eyes slightly teary alongside lovely illustrations in full colour.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Sad Ghost Club

The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered a signed copy form Waterstones

Spoiler free review: Probably. Mild spoilers.

I have been enjoying branching out on graphic novels beyond my usual, and when Waterstones had a sale I popped this in my basket and then read it in an afternoon.

We mostly follow a sad ghost who suffers with anxiety and just sadness and is trying ot do a little bit more, dare a little more, so when they get invited to a party, after a lot of maybe yes maybe not, they decide to go.

Obviously it isnt a case of just going to the party and we see all the mulling and thought that go through their head, but at the party they spy someone else who is lonely and ask if theyd like company. Surprises do happen when you dare a little bit and well, the rest is more left to the reader once they get on the story and for me not to spoil anymore.

Overall, I liked it, but it does have a sad undercurrent not unexpectedly) so its a bit of a double edged sword. I think it is a bit undecided too if it is middle grade or young adult. Part of it feels older than middle grade, but the art style and the way the dialogue happens have a more middle grade vibe to it, so this is probably bordering both genres rather than fitting neatly in one or the other.

Art style is relatively simple since its mostly ghosts and just following the one character for a while, but it does keep you int he world and the dialogue moves it along. And itd be a good graphic novel to gift to someone struggling with loneliness and sadness. Not that this is a solution, but maybe a little bit of hope or to feel seen and identify a little with the characters in it.

Overall, it was enjoyable if sad, but I did hope for a little bit more and maybe that was more my expectations than the book itself, so who knows?

Book Review

Moon Reads: Fireheart Tiger

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered because how could I resist?

Spoiler free review: Probably, will try not to spoiler.

Content warnings: abuse, attempted rape (not graphic, implicit, trauma is dealt with but it’s still there), violence, colonialism

I really like Aliette’s writing, her way with words is like no other, as you can see from my review of In the Vanishers’ Palace and the F/F February exclusive interview for Beyond a Bookshelf. And then you comp this book with The Goblin Emperor and Howl’s Moving Castle.

I’ll start this review with my biggest complaint. It is not long enough. I mean by novella standards it is perfect, but I do wish this was a bigger book. That is in itself I guess also a compliment? Because I’d read a much longer book with Thanh and mischievous fires.

Now, this is a book about a negotiation, of Thanh trying to be a diplomat and help save their country as it is being colonised, seen as an exotic cute small country being fought over by other countries. It reminds me of various countries that had different colonisers and how that went on in actual history, so it was interesting to see the little signs, which I suspect some might miss if you’re not from a background that pays attention to those signs. And then there’s the whole relationship with Eldris, who is very interested in Thanh, but the question is why? It is a fun romance but is it worth becoming more?

In such a small book it packs a massive punch and I highly recommend reading it, since you can not only see Thanh trying to navigate the diplomacy task and knowing that in a way they are doomed and have to find a way out and choose the lesser evil. It is a tricky situation. Plus the slight magic touches and fire that seems to stick to Thanh no matter what is causing her to question her sanity, which is absolutely a delight and also a curious little thing opening up new choices to Thanh.

We also see Thanh navigate her relationship with her mother and in a way, how she sees herself and her abilities to navigate the world and find her own place in it. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so will stop here, but I do recommend you read it.

One last thing I do have to note is that for survivors and those of us who have lived through some of the things Thanh does, the red flags are extremely obvious, but for others they may not be, and my point to that is that yes, it is easy to overlook them if you don’t know. Do not judge without knowing.

Finally, as I said, as a survivor, the power in the words behind this book was inmense, and I felt extremely emotional as I read and as I saw the story develop, my heart soared, and hoped and hurt and it was intense, but so worth it. Hope you find it as good as I did or even better.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Arthur and the Golden Rope

Arthur and the Golden Rope by Joe Todd-Stanton

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Read before: No

Ownership: Wishlist gift from Jenn who is a sweetheart.

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Brownstone’s Mythical Colletion, Book 1

I love fun adventure illustrated stories, and this one is one that falls into the “child reads on their own but still wants fun illustrated books rather than more words than pictures” and it is gorgeous. The artwork makes me smile and is full of fun details that add to the story.

But overall the story starts with an introduction about the Brownstones who are adventurers by blood, and yet the very first Brownstone was anything but adventurer material, and that was Arthur. He was a smart curious boy who was most certainly not an adventurer, until his curiosity saved him from mishap and he was the only elegible one for one adventure to save their town and recover the golden flame.

Chaos, shenanigans, and lots of fun ensue as Arthur tries to get some of the Norse gods involved to help him recover the flame and capture the one who took it away. The story is sweet, full of adventure and challenges Arthur by making him use his intellect and problem solving in unusual ways.

Obviously after reading this, I added all the rest of the series to my wishlist because it was a delight to read and I would like to have more adventures with the Brownstones.

Recommended for kids who want adventures or are curious about Norse or other mythology.

Book Review

Moon Reads: What Cats Want

What Cats Want by Dr. Yuki Hattori

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought as a mood treat when I was a little annoyed. Who can resist cat illustrations?

Spoiler free review: No

What Cats Want is a fun format guide to cats, but also a collection of cute cat illustrations. I basically read it cover to cover even though I do not have a cat nor am I planning to have one any time soon.

I think it makes the how to make sure you take good care of your cat accessible given that it has a lot of illustrations, comes with small paragraphs, and more of a basic guide but at the same time it is quite comprehensive from what to do, where to touch a cat, how to deal with certain behaviours or understand their body language amongst a myriad of other details.

It was a case of opening the book going “oh, its a cat owners manual but cute and illustrated” and then I suddenly had finished the book and knew what to do about litter boxes, and how to make sure the cat is not bored and one interacts well with a cat, etc. It has a lot of common knowledge items but it also has little details or things one takes for granted or may not know how to navigate when choosing and owning a cat.

Id say, if you know of anyone wanting to have a cat for the first time, or someone who likes cats or someone getting a cat already who could do with a handy guide then this is the book for them.