Book Review

Moon Reads: The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered Waterstones paperback edition

I had heard a lot of good things about this book, but I am also wary of “hype” because it is usually not my thing. However, the premise of the story sounded like my kind of thing, wholesome but with a tinge of sadness, melancholia and grief. And it was exactly that, but softer and much better.

Linus has a predictable life, he has stuck to his job, he cares about doing his job well but only to complete his task. As a caseworker for magical children in government orphanages, he investigates incidents and helps to oversee their wellbeing. He is almost clinical about this, but he also cares and doesn’t want to be swayed by the adults. So when he is asked to report to the most high level of management, he is terrified.

They give him a very special assignment with little information since everything is classified, but the main thing is to go visit this particular orphanage that has extremely dangerous magical children: a female gnome, a powerful sprite, a wyvern, a green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and finally the AntiChrist.

But what ends up surprising Linus the most is Arthur, the caretaker of the children who works hard on helping them grow to the best of their magical capabilities while retaining dreams and their “humanity”.

Overall the story is about Linus finding what happens when your dreams suddenly fall onto your lap with some interesting strings attached and you have a choice. But it is also about equality and that being magical is not something to be afraid of just because it is different. And there are also a myriad of secrets kept in this house and in the surroundings, which Linus slowly starts finding out.

Overall, it was a feel-good story with some interesting social and cultural commentary about our times, with the help of magic it touches some intense aspects about what it is to be different and rejected, or to be labelled something and therefore dealing with prejudice, but also, about being allowed to dream even if it seems impossible.

This was a book that once I got going, I had to stay up until 2 am to finish it because I could not put it down and also because it felt like a balm to my soul. It was the exact right amount of sad, heartwarming and cosy I needed.

Writing

Moon Writes: come, come

come, come,
look for me.
run, run,
you can find me.

stop,
don’t you know 
where
i am?

wait,
if you listen hard, 
if you glance this way,
you may catch me off guard.

A glimpse of a curl, 
pale paper skin peeking through my clothes,
the rise and fall of my chest,
hands holding breasts,
to protect the rhythm that hides.

A head full of dreams,
cradled in the sleep of the just,
’til it’s interrupted by screams…

oh wake me,
WAKE me! 
save me,
if you must…

here, here,
hold my head against your skin,
wrap your arms tight around me,
we’re free, we’re meant to be.


Little odd poem about many things, but mostly about panic attacks coming in the middle of the night and needing comfort and gentleness to deal with them. Again, something a little old since I haven’t written any new poetry in years, but I still like these little snippets of a time gone by that thankfully is now far away enough to look back to.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Dark Academia Owlcrate

Subscription box: Owlcrate

Theme/Month: Dark Academia, August 2021

Ownership: One-off purchase since the shipping and tax have made Owlcrate too expensive.

When they announced the theme of Dark Academia and the hints for the book alongside the fandoms I had to order it even if it was a bit expensive. And I do not regret my choices. So let’s unbox it and see what was inside, starting from the top left and going clockwise:

  • A stationery set that looks like a school journal kinda thing and it has page tabs, sticky notes, a pen and a notepad in it. All very cute.
  • Raven Boys Book Sleeve.
  • From the Library Of stamp which is a nice design and you just need an ink pad in your favourite colour to mark all your books so no one steals them when they borrow them.
  • Riddle’s Tea Shoppe blend based on Truly Devious series.
  • Book tin from V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series, White London in this case. Sadly I don’t have the rest but this one is gorgeous.
  • Monthly Pin with a typewriter
  • A very delicate moon bookmark based on The Secret History.
  • The main book was A Lesson in Vengeance in a very soft and not dark academia type of cover which was a surprise for me.

Overall it had the right vibe with all the items in it and it felt delicate and yet dark, even if the exclusive cover was a bit of a surprise, but I liked the items and felt it was worth getting however it was still a bit steep for a regular box. Probably worth it if you are in the US and shipping isn’t prohibitive.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Gustavo The Shy Ghost

Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago

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

Read Before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself

Happy Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)! I had to post this today since it fits perfectly with the day and the book. Gustavo is a shy little ghost who loves playing the violin. He is very good at doing all the ghostly things that ghosts do: walking through walls, haunting objects, making objects fly and glowing in the dark.

But he is shy and he finds it very hard to make friends, or queueing to buy “eye” scream (love the pun, honestly), so as the Day of the Dead comes near, he decides to be brave and do something to deal with this.

The artwork is adorable, the little Mexican details all over the place and the illustrations made my heart warm and fond, and it was such a lovely sweet story about being spooky, making friends, and being a little courage. And even though it is not focused on Day of the Dead as the main theme, the spooky topic, the shyness, everything made this little adorable book a winner in my heart, and I loved it.

Absolutely recommend as a lovely spooky season gift, or read out loud book to share with children, it may be good for talking about not just Halloween but other countries and their specific traditions.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered

A while ago I reviewed The Okay Witch, which was a refreshing new graphic novel with a lovely story about family and coming into your magic powers. And then, when I saw there was a second one, I immediately preordered it.

In this sequel, Moth Hush already has magic powers, but as much as it has changed her life, in the same way it hasn’t changed her life much. She is still getting bullied at school, still a misfit and no one seems to even know she saved the day in summer because she saved it so well no one knew about it.

What is even worse is that she starts her first day to school matching with the dorkiest most ridiculous teacher, who then catches her mum’s attention and they start dating, making it even worse for poor Moth. She is so tired of magic being so awesome and yet being quite useless and not making her life better, why cant she have a better life?

So when a mysterious charm promises to help her become a new version of herself, more confident, cool and popular, Moth is attracted to it like a moth to the flame [yes, I couldn’t resist that, sorry for the bad pun use]. But is magic really the answer to her problems or is it maybe a little more complicated than that, and what could go wrong by this suddenly very well timed and placed charm making it to her life just then?

Avoiding spoilers I have to say that the book was lovely, it comes with a refresher of what happened previously and then gives you the story. The biggest thing for me was that there was a lot of tell in the first half of the book, adding lore and stories but most of it is spoken by the characters and therefore it felt a bit slow to read through it when it was just characters walking through a museum kind of thing.

However, it does pick up quite well and recover from this by the second half of the story and then it gets very interesting, and I liked the whole development of the charm and everything else, worth a read, and I recommend that if you haven’t read the first one yet, you should buy both and enjoy some witchy magical stories!

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Unbroken

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

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

Ownership: An Illumicrate copy, a proof copy and a normal copy because who doesn’t have enough books?

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.

Don’t you love it when you have a wonderful model that is very excited to see you prepare the books for pictures? Puppy was very excited and wanted to be part of this, but I don’t think he would be up to the actual story because he is too softhearted.

The Unbroken is many things in one single book, and that is a lot to balance and work in the book, which is probably why it didn’t really wow me or win me over as much as I had hoped. It does feel at times like it is all over the place trying to get all the many many threads it is balancing and weaving into this tale, but other times you can see the tapestry it is making and it is breathtaking.

Because the Unbroken is about rebellion, and the dynamics of the colonisers and the colonised. It is about those tensions and the things that are imposed or changed or put on others because one side lost and the other didn’t, and how it may change perspectives the further down the generations or circumstances go from the time of the conquest.

But it is also about loyalty, about Touraine and Luca, about being a soldier, about the meaning of family and if it is the one you are born into or the one that is made through time and that survives the trials of life.

And finally, it is also a story about love and romance and emotions and identity. And therefore it explores the depths of oneself.

It does brilliant things in all of those areas, posing interesting questions on all the perspectives that you can have, but because it trying to achieve a lot, sometimes it fell a little short or was slow where it should’ve been fast and fast where it would’ve benefitted from a closer slower lense or scope.

Still, a worthy member of the sapphic trifecta and quite an interesting read, if anything it is quite different than others.

Oh, and the final thing to highlight, it is a bit heavy on the military parts as that is a huge part of Touraine’s identity. It surprised me how much it was focused on it since I expected a bit more of other parts of the story and kept getting a lot of this soldier military side. Interesting but another thread to balance in this tale.

One definite winner where the character dynamics and the way they interact with each other but also with their environment. They aren’t just placed there for atmosphere but rather they are living and breathing that place and you do so with them.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Far From the Light of Heaven

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Review copy provided by the publisher and preordered too.

Spoilers: No, but will talk about the plot vaguely.

Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.

Far From the Light of Heaven is a heavy hitter in the space opera, thriller and murder mystery categories. And it has stuck to me, even months after having read it initially. I want everyone to read it because it is brilliant and like a good dish, it has layers upon layers of flavour that you slowly discover as you turn the pages and keep reading.

One of my favourite things in the book was the way Tade made the existence in space so real. It isn’t a perfect idea like Star Wars and Star Trek where somehow the only times there are technical issues it is for the plot. In this case, you can see the training, the pressure, the many things that may go wrong, and the inconvenience of doing long journeys (the characters don’t get a magic pass at how to go into deep sleep and wake up the same age as they went to sleep as if nothing had happened, for example). The best way to summarise is to say that he asked the question of “this is where we are now with space travel, how would it be to deal with a bunch of stuff going wrong, with a murder mystery, with AI and just have to deal with it?” and honestly, the answer to it is fascinating.

Ragtime as the AI and spaceship is an interesting and nuanced exploration of what AI can be and is at the same time, like a present and future all in one. And that is all I will say about the AI in the book even though I honestly could write an essay on it because it was also another favourite part (yes, apparently this is a review full of favourite parts, ok? the five foxes should have given you a hint).

Finally, I will say that the cast is relatively small even though there is a wider cast of secondary characters that mostly help place the main cast, but even they seem to have a life of their own even if we are not privy to it through the main story. The book also touches on what identity may be and what it is to be alien, or a foreigner, and the way you may be perceived by different groups of people. And finally, it touches on religious beliefs, not in a religious way but more as an exploration of what it is to believe or not and what you believe in.

This is probably Tade’s best work to date and my engineering heart is satisfied.

If you haven’t preordered or ordered it yet, it is coming out on the 29th of October so make sure you grab a copy and maybe read it for a wonderfully spooky and atmospheric horror/thriller feel.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Reads: Never Enough Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Never Enough, July 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing an Illumicrate subscription, you can do it on their website.

Illumicrate is a book subscription box, it usually features fantasy and sci-fi but not exclusively young adult, sometimes it features adult too. It usually contains a new release, a pin and several bookish goodies.

The box to complete the sapphic trifecta with a very summery look and some interesting item choices, starting from the book and going clockwise:

  • She Who Became The Sun, trying to rival the sun with sprayed edges and looks of the book.
  • A Descendant of the Crane fan, very good of a hot summer day to keep cool.
  • Poppy War inspired mug, which is very loved by me.
  • Another of those odd print in a glass kinda portrait holder. I like the portrait holder, not so much the print and I do not care for the fandom.
  • A compact mirror inspired by Dorian Gray
  • Lila Bard bust which I mean, a bust is cool but I don’t need it, see no use for it except gather dust and honestly not crazy about it, however I do appreciate the artwork.
  • The Upper World taster.
  • Monthly in which is stunning
  • And finally the theme leaflet!

As much as the previous box was really up my street, this one was a huge miss, between fandoms and the items, it just failed to hit the spot with almost everything except the mug and fan, which seems to be something that happens when there is a mug included, I am less keen on the rest of the items. Hopefully the box for August is more up my street.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Minority Monsters!

Minority Monsters! by Tab Kimpton

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself, after it was recommended by a friend (thanks Kayden)

Minority Monsters is like an adventure dive into a new world, where you get a two page comic of one of the “monsters” and then two pages on the particular minority this is focusing on.

The first thing you find is a map to Alphabet Soup Land where all the monsters exist and then a nice foreword followed by the very first two-page comic where you meet the not-so-invisible Bisexual Unicorn in all its glory and it is wonderful! From there you get to meet many more LGBTQ+ creatures, each with a small comic and then a helpful “encyclopaedia” mixed with “field notes” on that particular identity and what it means.

Honestly, the comics are awesome, the artwork is delightful, the details of each creature and their story, alongside the descriptions and more in-depth explanations are just the icing on the perfect cake of a good introductory book to queer identities.

I cannot recommend this enough to everyone as a wonderful book to have in your library!

*Our dog would not move and instead required copious belly rubs so he was added to this picture, he is the mythical belly rubs monster 😉

Book Review

Moon Reads: Tales from the Ocean

Tales from the Ocean by Chae Strathie and Erin Brown

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Provided by the publisher after I requested it for review

Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.

Tales from the Ocean is a lovely collection of stories that may seem familiar alongside some new ones that each focus on at least one type of marine life. We have little seahorses crying Stingray when there are none and then not being believed when there is truly one, which is a familiar tale for many with a little boy that cries wolf. And yet the book not only tells a lovely tale but also shows the delightful camouflage abilities of the seahorse alongside their natural enemy, and this is just one of the 20 tales included in the book.

Each of the pages is beautifully illustrated and the whole book is a full-colour experience into many tales and marine life. And the familiar tales woven with true facts about the marine life or just new tales made to fit the particular place that creature plays in the ecosystem and making it a fun story. It was delightful to read. So much I basically didn’t put this book down until I finished all of them and then was left wanting even more stories to feature more creatures.

As such, I recommend this for anyone with a child interested in the ocean and fish and anything that has to do with water, or if you want to use it as educational but fun material, or just nighttime short stories to be read together or out loud to the child. It is a gorgeous book and worth having at hand.