Luna Loves World Book Day by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers
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.
Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Tales by Mail subscription, you can do it on their website.
Tales by Mail is a bi-monthly middle grade book box that comes with two books, some activity pages you can collect, or copy or use in various ways, a pin and one or two items.
This is the first box of the year and it had some fun surprises in it! Starting from the top left and going clockwise:
Amari and the Night Brothers bookmark.
Darwins Dragons which I’ve been looking forward to since last year.
The month’s activity pages with space for reviews and some fun challenges.
The Queen’s Fool, which sounds intriguing.
A print with a quote and a signed bookplate for The Last Bear
The collectible pin.
A weekly planning notepad which I think is adorable.
A bookmark for The Queen’s Fool.
I was so excited to see a book I had wanted in the box and overall thought it had two very interesting reads alongside the bonus of that planning notepad which made me smile. It makes me happy to get the box and feel like I have great reads coming.
Dress in Detail from Around the World by Rosemary Crill, Jenniger Wearden and Verity Wilson
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.
The Long Way Home by Corrinne Averiss Kristyna Litten
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.
Ownership: Subscribed on their 12 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Book Box Club subscription, you can do it on their website.
Book Box Club is a young adult subscription box, the unique thing is the Clubhouse where you can chat to the author a month (or so) after the box was shipped and ask questions and just chat around. It also includes several goodies and usually the choice of book is one that is unique and not in other book boxes so very little chances of duplicate books and a lot of new reads discovery power.
Ok, were finally catching up with this years boxes, and this was a good one, so let’s see what was inside, starting at the top left and going clockwise:
Theme card, I like that it shows the name of the theme and the month it is from so it helps my brain remember which month it was.
Mask of Mirrors, which sounds amazing and I am looking forward to reading it with some buddies!
Some advert for the Penguin Book Club.
Sumptuous Supplies list, which is becoming a shopping list soon once I finish up the last few pages of my current one. Love getting this perfect shopping list pads.
A mini tote/lunch bag which is super cute and a wonderful size.
Slightly hidden under the book is a nucao, which is vegan chocolate bar. It was slightly more bitter than I expected it to be, so it wasn’t bad but wasn’t amazing either.
A metal bookmark inspired by Nevernight.
Extra surprise cute face mask. I am glad the boxes are sending fabric masks that are cute and fun to wear.
And finally a candle which is all gold and glittery and wonderful .
Overall, I enjoyed the contents a lot, they felt sumptuous and like you were going to a masquerade. A face mask is an interesting spin to a masquerade attendance but why not? Quite good and February is meant to be awesome, so looking forward to it!
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?
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.
Ownership: Bought January and February. If you are interested in purchasing a subscription, you can do it on their website.
Merkababox titles itself as a holistic mystic box and comes with a selection of items to help nourish your mind, body and spirit. I was quite intrigued by the contents of previous boxes, particularly the Forager’s one, and thought to give it a go.
So lets see what was inside it, going clockwise and starting top left:
Goal Digger powder is meant to enhance creativity, mental focus and stamina so you can focus on your tasks and goals. I haven’t yet added it to a drink but it does sound like an interest add to beverages or maybe food.
Theme card, which on the back explains why the theme, alongside what you can do as a ritual with all the items and some suggestions and positive paragraphs.
Myrrh incense sticks, which is probably the one item I wasn’t really convinced by since I don’t burn incense sticks but I liked the intent of them and the fact that the items basically were meant to include the three gifts the Magi brought during Epiphany 6th of January.
A tektite is meant to enhance and provide knowledge and expansion. the card that comes int he box provides a lot more detail about how tektite comes to be in the natural world and the energies it is meant to be touching. I am not really a crystals and stones person but I did like the tektite even if I won’t use it the suggested way.
The main item, a 24 carat Gold Oil with frankincense and myrrh, as I said a node to the Magi and their gifts. And the oil has a lovely scent, looks amazing and feels pretty good. It came with a comprehensive sheet of details and uses, so I highly appreciated the number of details and information provided.
And finally, a Fibonacci Altar piece or Wall Hanging, which is my favourite item in the box. It is made of wood and even more stunning than the picture shows.
Overall, I liked the contents of the box, but I think the theme wasn’t exactly for me, however I actually liked the contents and felt they were good value for money. The card shows the cost of each item and then they come with ingredients and long explanations on them so you’re not caught without knowing exactly what everything is. I highly appreciate this and if I was way more into holistic and mystic items, I would totally subscribe fully for it.
The one big failure I found was that they don’t announce the month’s theme before the payment for the month comes out which did not sit right with me and is why I cancelled the subscription part. I will only buy the ones I want and find the theme right for me. But I do recommend it as a good box if you’re looking for something of this style coming from the UK.
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.
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.