Book Review

Moon Reads: The Wolf and the Water

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A free review copy was provided by the author. I have read two of her series previously so I knew I wanted to read this book regardless. This doesn’t change the review of influence it at all.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Deluge #1

Content warnings: There is a variety of abuse and violence, murder, poisoning, ableism and a few other -isms, basically this is not a cosy book but rather brutal.

It took me a while to get to this book because Josie usually builds this incredibly intricate world so I knew I had to have the brain space for it and last year was not the right time. However, I started reading before work and waking up earlier and this was one of those books read in the early hours of the day at my leisure.

I struggled to get into it a little bit because there is a lot going on and it basically starts with finding Kala’s dad dead in the library, and knowing that it means her mother will have to remarry and that due to her limp and deformity of her leg, she may be cast out.

But it looks like her father was murdered and as Kala tries her best to adjust to a very fast remarriage, a new family to share the tribe with and a “brother” that is kind and actually treats her like a “normal” person (the people in the world think she is deformed and bad luck and a variety of bad things and therefore consider Kala lesser than even if she is of nobility)., things start getting very complicated fast.

What starts in a way fast paced, slows down just a little bit to give you a panorama of what Kala’s life is like and then it picks right up coming to a festival and Kala’s life becoming more and more in danger in a bad way. Maybe the person who murdered her father is also out for her? And what about the secrets that caused her father to die, can she unravel them and leverage them for her safety before someone ensures her silence?

Overall this is like amurder mystery in a brutal society from the point of view of someone slightly in the privileged nobility but still not considered one of them because she is too different and “not right”. I liked the interesting contrasts between characters, their situations and what causes them to make certain decisions.

As you get to the last third of the book there is a lot of new reveals happening so there is a lot to keep up with but it means you will not want to let go of the book and just finish. I ended up reading the last few pages through a couple of dead “inbetween meetings” kinda five minutes or so and I was glad to do so as it was worth getting to that ending.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales

Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Christmas gift from a lovely friend (Zoe)

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Franklin and Luna #3, you can read my review for the the first and second adventure if you want to know about them.

This time the story is about Luna and the town people preparing a party for Franklin, but they’ve to distract him on his birthday so they go on an adventure.

Accidentally, while browsing books, Luna’s pet turtle goes into a locked book so they follow. Inside the book they start finding the characters of various fairy tales (I think this is the perfect opportunity to “queue” each fairy tale to be read for the next few nights after this book if you’re reading this aloud or if it is a young reader on their own and testing their wings) and as they explain that they’re searching for their turtle friend.

No one has seen the turtle until they find the right fariytale (I’ll let you guess which one, though I’d classify it is a fable rather than a tale). And then they make it to the party with some extra friends tagging along.

I like the concpet of it and that characters keep showing up but new ones come through each new book and the artwork is stunning and fun so I can highly recommend it still. It makes me happy to just read the books and chill.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Winter Tales

Winter Tales by Dawn Casey and Zanna Goldhawk

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A Christmas gift via wishlist

Spoiler free review: No

This book is a collection of short “fairy tales” from different countries around the world. Each of the tales comes with an introduction of which country the story comes from and some background on it.

The book starts with The White Bear King which is the tale of the bear prince and the princess who goes with him and then sees him at night and has to go rescue him, from Norway.

Tanuki‘s Gold is a tale from Japan about a monk and a tanuki that visits him every winter instead of hibernating which I found very sweet.

The Mitten is short and sweet and feels like the kind of story that is a verse rather than a long tale, about a boy who loses one mitten in the snow and the creatures that find it ot be a cosy home.

A Cloak for the Moon is about the moon wanting a nice cloak but being unable to find cloth for herself until a brave tailor goes around on a quest for the Moon.

The Nutcracker is a familiar tale about a young girl, and an enchanted nutcracker gifted to her.

The Poinsettia is a tale from Mexico about why the poinsettias are called “Noche Buena” which is “Holy Night/the good night” as it was a gift during Christmas season.

Wee Robin Red Breast and The Little Black Cat are both are animals and winter and finding companionship and in similar sense feel shorter tales or verse tales.

The Snow Maiden is about a child made from snow by a couple and blessed by Winter to become a snow child.

The Silver Pinecones explains the tradition of painting silver pine cones thanks to a gnome king.

The Apple Tree Man is all about wassailing and blessings by taking care of what is given to you and nature.

Sister and Brother is about a pair of siblings that dont help their mother and end up having her taken away by Blizzard so they embark on a quest to rescue her and learn to be more helpful and kind.

The Mother of the Sea is about why winter nights become shorter and we get a nicer seaosn after ward.

The Snow Queen is a traditional tale of a queen that has inspired many other tales.

Rabbit’s Gift is a fun take on how what you give comes back to you in a way.

The Children and the Sun is a Southern African tale that I hadnt read before.

The Twelve Months is a tale about two young girls and how they see the world. I know this tale as the “Seven Days of the Week” but the actual results is the same on how the one girl is blessed and the other isn’t due to how they treat others.

Brigit and the Cailleach is the tale of the origin of Brigit.

Overall it is a lovely delightful collection of wintery and seasonal tales with stunnign illustrations and as I read it I felt like I was going back in time to sitting in my grandparents living room ont he floor reading the various treasuries of tales from different countries, and it was just a really nice read. I think you could also read this one tale each night to children and itd be a nice tradition for December for example.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Anti/Hero

Anti/Hero by Kate Karyus Quinn, Demitria Lunetta and Maca Gil (Illustrations)

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Gifted by a sweet friend who saw it on my wishlist and gifted it to me

Spoiler free review: No

Anti/Hero is about two girls who are trying to find their place in their world the way they want. Piper Pájaro is popular but not very smart and she has a secret, she is incredibly strong. So during her free time she tries to be a superhero but her clumsiness and strength work against her most of the time. On the other hand we have Sloane MacBrute who is extremely smart but has the bad rep of her evil grandfather, so everyone treats her as if she was the same. So she does what she needs to make sure her mother is fine and has a decent life.

When an accidental encounter has them have a Freaky Friday kinda of moment and they swap bodies, they have to team up to work it out. But it isn’t just a race to fix the item that caused them to swap bodies, they also have to team up to fight Sloanes evil grandfather and in a way help each other through a competition where they have to rely on what they know plus the strengths of each other.

It was a really cute read, with a fun feel to it, quite a bit of diversity and looking at how people may judge you for what they know about your family without giving you a chance to be more than their expectations and why the expectations may be wrong.

Recommended for fans of superheroes, those that like graphic novels that are self contained and new heroes.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Art of Bioshock Infinite

The Art Of Bioshock Infinite by Ken Levine and Nate Wells

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

Read before: No, but I have played the game several times before.

Ownership: Ordered through Abe Books as you can only get the German version here for some reason

Spoiler free review: No, art of books are all about the game the art is of, so spoilers may be included.

Bioshock as a series of games is one of my favourite comfort games (yes, I know it is not actually a sweet fun game) and the pushing the boundaries and asking but what if this was taken to the extreme with DNA modification and in this particular period of time, what would happen?

Which is part of the interesting part because the Art of Bioshock Infinite explores what could have happened if America had gone more religiously extreme and designated themselves and whiteness as better than others. On top of that it adds the theory of multiple universes and it was great to have a good AI character to help you through your journey.

The book has a lot of the “we knew we wanted to explore this topic, so we tried so many iterations of this and then figure we liked some parts of it and not others or had to redo some other parts”. For example, the concpet of Songbird was initially too close to another Big Daddy and you get sketches of it or way too far away mythical mechanical feel creatures that when you look at the game did not fit as well.

I always enjoy seeing some of the things that didn’t make it into the game and how they coloured the final product, for example the scene below of Elizabeth’s room gives that idea of her being a dreamer and wanting more, and how that ties to her innocence and loss of it throughout the game.

Overall, it was worth trying to get the book from the US as a version here is too expensive or only in German unsure why), but realising it was hard to get meant I ahve started prioritising Art Of books more now.

Recommended for fans of Bioshock, and for those that like Art Of books or if the topic suits your drawing isnpiration style.

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Included in Illumicrate box.

Spoiler free review: For the most part, key plot points may be touched on.

Content warnings: Violence in many ways, murder, gore, etc; several character deaths (it is a school that is trying to kill the students, it is part of the plot, if this is an issue, this is definitely NOT the book for you); black magic and use of others life force; suicide mentioned; parental deaths mentioned.

Starting this review with a few disclaimers: I am aware of the whole drama about the dreadlocks mentioned and as much as yes, probably not the best choice, context is absolutely key here and in the context it fits the character, the world and the story. Which brings me to my second point that this is a book that is probably not going to be one for everyone, it is particular in how it presents a twist on magical schools and it is all about the contradictions held within, so it requires in a way a critical view to enjoy it at its fullest.

Now on to the proper review. I really enjoyed A Deadly Education. As mcuh as Harry Potter was formative to my teenage years, I was happier in my alternative universe based on it than with the actual original story, it felt too removed from my reality and too white and British, so it was a fun “hey how would life be in the UK with magic but still class and all that stuff?” [the fact that I ended up living in the UK is another story] but it wasn’t as special as it could have been.

Enter A Deadly Education. El is holding universes in her, and I loved her flawed conflicted being. She has planned how to survive, is desperately fighting against her “nature” and what the Scholomance wants her to become while everybody around her assumes she is exactly what the appearances say she is and should be. And yet, she doesn’t want to prove that she isnt what they think of her, because in a way it is an advantage to her.

On top of that, the “white savior” comes in to save her and she just can’t seem to get rid of him which starts ruining her plans and carefully crafted status.

And then theres the whole Scholomance, a school that is trying to kill the students and eat them up and their magic while the students learn by surviving through the school. And as much as I probably wouldnt want to have to attend it, I loved the concept of this world where magic is a complicated thing.

A Deadly Education is also a full critique of magical schools, the trope of the chosen one and villains having it in their nature to be bad, but not only that. It touches on privilege and private schools and how those with money have power and aren’t even aware of the cost of the power because it is what they know and it is so natural they don’t even consider beyond their reality. Honestly, the layers of critique and poking at tropes in this book are half of the reason I loved it and then El’s constant fight to try to be more than the expectations and contradictions she is, was the other part.

As much as there is death and violence and havoc everywhere, I also had a lot of laughter and giggles and could see the humour and takes for it, and I loved it, plus the ending leaves you wanting to read the next book immediately!

Recommended for those that were left with an itch from Harry Potter never going to classes and having everything handed to him in his heroics, this book will fill you up on the magical world and not only that but will add other countries and cultures rather than just the UK. It is also for those that like a book with lots of layers and delicious content that you can read and see one more thing and read again and get more out it each time.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime A Dish Best Served Cold

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Three: A Dish Best Served Cold by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


After we finish the competition for Space Battle Lunchtime, coming second in the final, Peony goes back to “normal” life, but she is now going out with Neptunia and her success in the show has now invited her to make desserts for a royal catering gig for a space empress! We even get a small adventure trying to source some ingredients for the fancy desserts Peony is making.

But as the gala happens, and everyone is enjoying themselves, there’s trouble a foot with someone poisoning the empress as she samples the desserts that Neptunia helped Peony make. But is it that Neptunia is not trustworthy or is there something more going on that may be why the empress was poison?

Once again shenanigans and crazy trying to save people on time ensues while we also try to find out who poisoned the empress and how to save the whole party!

This was probably a much slower and less action packed book, but it is also laying a lot of groundwork on backstory for characters. We learn quite a lot about Neptunia and a little more about other characters as we go and partly also a bit more about the whole “space” dynamics, so less action and a lot of it packed tightly into it. And definitely a bit less food making and pacing a little different, but still interesting and worth reading. I hope it means there will be more to learn and come on the next volume.

Still recommended for those that love cooking shows, probably also good for murder mystery fans and revenge plots, and cute food and space shenanigans!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: A Recipe For Disaster

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Two: A Recipe For Disaster by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


Peony was about to start the final for Space Battle Lunchtime when she was stolen away to the Cannibal Coliseum which is a competitor show where you not only cook but you may end up being cooked or rather, it is very much the end point of the competition, cook or be cooked and try to present a final dish.

Neptunia realises that something is definitely wrong since Peony didn’t make the “date” they had set up for the night before, so she enlists the help of the camera man to create a distraction while she figures out how to rescue Peony. Chaos, shenaningans, and more ensue, including Peony desperately trying to cook and avoid being cooked in Cannibal Coliseum, plus finding a way to escape and get back to Space Battle Lunchtime or at the very least away from Cannibal Coliseum.

As per the previous Volume, this has a lot of mood colouring and artwork. And the artwork is super cute, the new Cannibal Coliseum competitors are interesting and the “main” enemy that Peony is competing against is extra bundles of cuteness. I had so much joy out of reading and desperately wanted to go join a cooking contest, definitely NOT a cannibal one, or bake and cook new food and items.

Overall, as previously I highly recommend it for anyone that likes food competitions, queer relationships, fun space shenaningans and great characters. Have something yummy ready while you read, as this will make you hungry!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume One: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: This was a gift from Kellybee who is an awesome friend but it was in my wishlist as something I definitely wanted.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


We start our scene with our heorine, Peony, who is a baker at a small cafe on Earth gets whisked away to a space TV show to be emergency replacement of a chef that was actually going to compete. Peony has zero clue what this is except that it is a cooking show and that she cant just give up. So she cooks and bakes and does her best.

The competition is fierce and someone is most certainly sabotaging things, but Peony’s upbeat cheer, her helpful nature and stubbornness help her out so that she makes it to the final.

Look, for starters, the art is really good. The author went for a “go for colour vibe and feel then draw the thing” and it works SO well with the story. The story flows really well, the food made makes me hungry and it is also cool to see a take on different places of space where each of the competitors comes from.

I would totally watch this show if it existed!

As for the characters, Peony steals the show for sure but Neptunia also has some points there and just the whole cast is varied enough and it fits well. I won’t spoil the actual ending or where this gets to, but I immediately had to order the next two books because I couldnt wait to read more.

I think one of the key parts of this is that it is a cooking show comic and it is about food in a positive and competitive way alongside the whole space fun and the artwork and characters just add that extra flavour and layers to it that make it chef’s kiss quality.

Recommended for those addicted to watching Master Chef, The Great British Bake Off, and anything of the kind, if you like space, queer relationships, aliens, cooking or cute graphic novels, this one is definitely for you!

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Art of Concrete Genie

The Art of Concrete Genie by Pixelopus

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Concrete Genie is a very underrated game that is probably one of the games that own the PS4 motion sensors of the controller. I absolutely loved it, it did take me a while to get used to the controls but once I did, I was hooked and didn’t want the game to end because it was so good.

But this isn’t a review of the game, that is to come, instead, I found that there was an art of book and HAD to buy it. The whole premise of Concrete Genie is that our main hero slowly brings back the town by drawing and creating “genies” in the concrete and clearing the bad graffiti and bad stuff from the town with them. Basically, the make something ugly pretty premise with a sweet story. So a book for that, yes, please!

And the book doesn’t disappoint, it is crammed full of the concepts and explanations of the details they wanted to include for each character, the concepts for the town and different areas, and many other things. For example, you get an idea into how Luna, the main genie that starts the genie thing, developed as a concept and why they chose the version of Luna you get in-game.

Overall it is the perfect kind of Art of book, with commentary, conceptual art, discussions of it, and art that influenced the final game, alongside little extras that didn’t make it into, but that would have been fun or something and yet don’t make it any less.

Recommended for gamers, if you are interested int he game but don’t want to play it, or if you like the concpet of saving a town and remaking it with beautiful art and art genies. Or you just enjoy Art Of books.