Book Review

Moon Reads: The Key To Fear

The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast

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

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.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Magic Menageries Tales by Mail

Unboxing spread of Tales by Mail "MAgic Menageries" box

A great little box not focused on young adults, or even adults but actually on Middle Grade reads is Tales by Mail by the same people behind Book Box Club). One of my favourite perks is that it is focused on the books and activities that don’t require more than imagination, some time and something to fill them in. They even have a siblings option just in case you have two little ones in the same household.

So enough raving about it and lets go straight into the contents! Starting on the far left bottom with the theme pages and going clockwise:

  • The set of pages to add to your folder with space for reviewing the books included alongside some activities. These fit nicely in the binder you can get from them I love adding them to their binder once the box arrives).
  • This time we also got a patch to show off were part of Tales by Mail, which I think is a really cute touch. You’d get this when you start your subscription as far as I understand).
  • A super cute magnet with the flying tiger from the theme card.
  • The pin to match the theme.
  • Temporary tattoos of fantastical creatures. I used to love temporary tattoos as a kid and these are so cute and fun!
  • A collection of promotional items for A Clock of Stars, this includes a postcard/print, a bookmark and a sampler, it does sound super exciting and I am intrigued.
  • Another promotional bookmark but for a different book.
  • Book 1, being The Creature Keeper by Damaris Young, this sounds so intriguing and magical.
  • Book 2, which is a more wonderful tale called the The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery.

I love middle grade and Tales by Mail basically makes my life better by giving me two fun middle grades matching a cute theme every other month and with some extra goodies plus some promotional items that make me curious for more books if I like the ones included usually I do, so I end up wanting more books. My pile of books that I want to read is growing exponentially!

If you have children or if you e njoy middle grade, I can highly recommend this box!

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)

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

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.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Identity Crisis Illumicrate

Unboxing image of Identity crisis Illumicrate

Apparently I have a huge backlog of hauls to throw at you all, so why not start with an Identity Crisis box from Illumicrate? Starting on the theme card (bottom left) and going clockwise, we have the following items:

  • Theme leaflet, I have to say I love their simplicity. They match the book perfectly so it’s easy to remember which leaflet was which book and they are comprehensive on social links/websites, etc for artists and makers.
  • Mistborn art print. I have to say that at first sight I did NOT think Mistborn and I do love that series, but once I knew what it was of, I can appreciate the little details on each character.
  • The main book, the Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. I like the alternative universes and parallel universes theories so this is a very intriguing read for me and that had been on my radar for a while.
  • Hoop pin/badge holder inspired by Illuminae series and it is the first badge holder I absolutely LOVE. Honestly, I have plans for it, so many plans and love the hoop idea too. I need more of these.
  • Fable and Black pin, way better than the collectible magnetic coins.
  • Book tin, I have liked those as they look great on the shelves and also are storage so win win for me, this one is inspired by Percy Jackson series.
  • The Huntress, I can’t remember if it is perfume or aromatherapy but what I do remember is that the scent was perfection and I have used it a few times like a treat of scent.

Overall, a lovely box with useful items except for the print (not a fan of prints) but I was extremely pleased it was for Mistborn rather than an overdone fandom like many tend to do. Like the freshness of it all and that it matched the Sci-Fi theme of the book. Just a good box overall!

Announcements

The Constellation of Moon

Welcome to all! If things look slightly different it is because they are.

Apparently life changes as time passes (who knew?) and with it, this blog is evolving alongside me.

So what’s new? For starters, a new name for this blog. After a lot of pondering and to match future things to come and projects, I am now “The Constellation of Moon” because gathering all of who I am and all the opinions is like finding a constellation of stars and the exact shape of what they make. Any star constellation is just a bunch of stars at first and then suddenly they take shape and are something more, including becoming a landmark (or a celestial mark rather). Which is exactly what I am aiming for, to grab all the stars (blog posts) and make my own constellation shining bright in this sky (blogosphere).

We are back to regular programming tomorrow, with posts every other day, and some new areas to come and pique your interests, particularly if you’re someone who enjoys videogames or if you prefer seeing more art and crafts from me, those two should be making an appearance soon enough.

What do you think of the new name and look?

Do you think you’re a constellation of ideas or maybe you think of your personality and identity as something else, what would you call it?

Book Review

Moon Reads: Technically, You Started It

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Book Review, Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Tarot of the Divine and Beneath the Moon

This is a mix “review” of two things I got that I couldn’t really separate just for the sake of posting about them.

The first is the deck of Tarot of the Divine. This was made by Yoshi Yoshitani and the focus was to make it diverse, queer and just full or new meaning. Each card is a story, some deeper meaning and I absolutely love the artwork and the connections made, plus the fact that it features stories and lore from all over the world, not just the usuals or just the European fairytales. It goes beyond that and does an amazing job and the meanings of the story/lore matching the meaning of the card they represent in the deck.

As a tie in, there is a book, Beneath the Moon, which collects the artwork and stories that feature in the deck. It doesn’t collect everything, since it’d be a very thick book if it did, but it features the main ones, and it made me really excited to read the stories and feel like this is a perfect fairytale book to keep coming back to. It has the stories, gorgeous colourful art and a lot of diversity in cultures and countries.

As a coherent couple fo things, I am just in awe at the immense work Yoshi put into making this deck and book. Every card has packed so much detail trying to convey the story but at the same time, to make them tie in with their meaning and with the opening of many possible interpretations.

There are stories from every continent, form every type of story, I don’t even have enough words on how exciting this is for me since it is gorgeous and perfect.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire

Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire by Beatrice Blue

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

I reviewed a while ago Beatrice’s other book, Once Upon A Unicorn Horn, so when I saw this one was coming, I preordered it. It is easy, make a book I enjoyed, I will almost always preorder your next books.

The artwork was top class, but that was no surprise given I enjoy Beatrice’s art a lot. And as per the previous book, this is a book giving things a new “origin” so in this case it is centered around a dragon and fire.

This is about two children that made up adventures and were obsessed with dragon stories so they decide to go search the dragon and thanks to them “fire” is invented.

Look it is way better than I am describing!

In all honesty the story is a great read out loud or act out one, the artowkr and pictures are full of detail and cuteness, and the story is reaffirming and all about tenderness and warmth (and some dragon fire too).

It has a dragon, fire, and a great story, so this is a definite win and I am eagerly awaiting what else we may get as an origin of this thing type of book from Beatrice Blue.