Book Review

Moon Reads: Run Rebel

Run Rebel by Manjeet Mann

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Purchased to read

Content Warnings: Domestic abuse, violence, gaslighting, arranged marriage, racism, bullying, mental health, drinking/alcoholism

I don’t always start a review by comparing the book to others, but due to the huge amount of content warnings, I want to place it right. Rub Rebel is powerful, but it is as if you had mixed Poet X with Monday’s Not Coming or Fight Like a Girl.

Now, if you have read any of those books, you will know they are gritty intense books about the not so pretty side of being a girl and trying to live life in a complicated family situation. And Run Rebel is about a girl who loves running and is good at it but her dad expects her to marry and not go on studying and she struggles to keep rising through the world when she keeps feeling the punches coming down.

It is a story about reacting and then acting, being reactive to proactive, but also about appreciating the things you have, the small respites, the little things sometimes you don’t consider or how opportunities may come.

I had to take some time as I read this as it is intense and you really feel for the characters, so please read it carefully, but the poetry approach is intense and also good at conveying the story quickly, in a way that makes it understandable. In the poem form of the story, the verses take away the fluff and give the narrator a voice unique to them that is as if they are writing the poems to tell their story, to vent and to breathe, like bleeding on the page.

Recommended for readers of intense stories, fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and any for the titles mentioned above or the authors.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Change Your Stars Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Change Your Stars, May 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.

This is probably the one box I was looking out for the most because I love Tasha’s books but of course, this would be the one box that got lost in the post and therefore I had to wait for a replacement for a whole month, but now I have it and I am a very happy critter, so what was in the special box?

  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, you can find my review here, but this one has edges that have a botanical motif and are gorgeous.
  • The monthly pin is inspired by it and it is basically the building where a lot of the story happens.
  • A weird Illumicrate key that is probably my least favourite part of the box.
  • A gorgeous book sleeve which I think is inspired by the Winterwood series.
  • A dress pin, it is cute but not entirely sure I want it as a pin.
  • A notebook inspired by V. E. Schwab and probably Addie LaRue, but I like the botanical style and the quote overall.
  • The theme leaflet
  • And finally a tea caddy which is now holding some Earl Grey I got gifted for my birthday.

Overall I really enjoyed the box except for the weird key, however I have to say I am not particularly sold on the fact we had a monthly pin, another pin and the key taking space as items in the same box, it feels a little bit like the same type of item, but otherwise it was good and quite nice, and the book wins over everything.

Book Review

Moon Reads: For the Wolf

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

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

Series: Wilderwood

Ownership: Proof provided by Orbit but also preordered since like last year.

Spoilers: No, however, may allude to some events in the book.

As per usual, disclaimer that a book provided by the publisher doesn’t influence my opinion or review of it, and normally I only ask for books I know I will read which is why the rating is usually high for those.

For the Wolf is a very interesting book, but it may not be for everyone. For starters, the premise was initially a little misleading to me, as it felt like it was aiming more for a Red Riding Hood vibe and overall the story is more about an empowering take on Beauty on the Beast with influences from other tales and folklore.

Once you come to it with the understanding of what tale it focuses more on, then you can immerse yourself in the world of the Wilderwood and enjoy the ride. It does have a good interesting start, then a bit of a slow post start where it tries hard to set the character of the twins and their lives, and particularly how Redarys is leaving things behind and Neve doesn’t want her to be sacrificed and she is her world. This is key long term to the story, but initially, it is a bit too full on your face and I think there would’ve been subtler ways to make it click.

The lore of the Wilderwood and why Red has to be sacrificed, alongside how the world functions and what each region provides and why the religion is predominant is fascinating and I enjoyed some of the magic systems and learning more about it all.

The romance is a very slow burn and this is definitely adult fantasy rather than a young adult, and therefore completely shows that side of itself with the development of plot and subplots and it is delightful in doing so.

Overall the curses, sentient woods, and everything in the Wilderwood were what won me.

The not so fun parts for me were the Neve chapters and the views into the religion and what was happening you could see what it was and wanted to stop it but knew it would not stop and it just was frustrating to know where things were going on Neve’s side. This almost made me stop reading a few times but I basically raced through those chapters and returned to the Wilderwood wanting to understand it better and know more about it.

The main cast of characters is relatively small for each twin sister and therefore it relies a lot on the characters and what they bring to the story and how they help move it forward, and definitely, my favourite character was the Wilderoowd, as it was seeing Red develop some agency in her own life. That was probably the best part, the change from “I am doomed to this” to more of a “I can do this and more”.

Recommending it to fans of fairytale retellings in the style of Naomi Novik or Robin McKinley, and for those that like botanical/forest curses and magic systems, as that was a huge win for me and part of what made me enjoy it a lot, alongside the mix fo a good slow-burn romance.

Book Review

Moon Reads: There is No Big Bad Wolf in this Story

There is No Big Bad Wolf in this Story by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright

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

Ownership: Preordered one but also got a copy from publisher

Series: There is no… in this story

So, when I found this book existed, I preordered it, but then Bloomsbury contacted me to see if I would like a review copy which I did. I was excited to read it, since I enjoyed a lot There Is no Dragon in this Story which I have reviewed previously. So basically, as much as I had a copy from the publisher it doesn’t define my review or influence it.

Finn was a fan as you can see, and it is a delightful cute story on a take about how the poor wolf is always the big bad wolf in things like The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood amongst others. And our poor “big bad wolf” in the story is tired of having to be chased around and be the baddie, and not being appreciated for his hard work in being the bad guy, so he stops doing his job and ends up just chilling with the dragon.

The story characters try to make do without the wolf, and things get interesting to say the least.

It was a cute story, with a fun kudos to other fairy tales and stories for children and I liked the artwork a lot, it is quite vibrant and fun and full of expression, and it works well as a second book to go with the Dragon one.

If you want a fresh take on the big bad wolf, and a new read aloud or starting to read book for children, this is a great one for sure and obviously do recommend the first too!

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: This Ravaged World Book Box Club

Subscription box: Book Box Club

Theme/Month: This Ravaged World, April 2021

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 few chances of duplicate books and a lot of new reads discovery power.

The box for April had two books which is always a fun thing, I like extra books. So let’s see what was in the box, starting from the bottom centre and going clockwise:

  • Clubhouse invite.
  • The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne bu Jonathan Stroud. Now, I did not really vibe with his previous book so I also did not get along with this one much sadly.
  • The Supreme Lie by Geraldine McCaughrean. This was a very interesting read, better than I expected.
  • Bite me, eco tooth brush, I like it when boxes include ecological items that will be used and have an end life or some kind of purpose beyond looking pretty.
  • A sleeve or sandwich bag with art inspired by the Handmaid’s Tale
  • Small cup with a quote, I like that this would go well as a cup to put your toothbrush in.
  • Conditioner bar, which I appreciate as being a very ecofriendly option.
  • And of course, the theme card.

Overall the box was very ecofriendly and conscious and the books talked about what might happen in the future, so it was definitely in them and well thought out.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Demon Prince of Momochi House

The Demon Prince of Momochi House by Aya Shouoto

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

Ownership: Bought the first one to try, enjoyed it a lot, and bought the rest of the series.

Total volumes: 16

Series: Yes, it is complete.

This is a series review, which means I won’t review just one of the books but rather the series as a whole, mostly because it is hard to not spoil a review when you do it by volume, but doing the whole set is probably a better way to bring others to read it.

The Demon Prince of Momochi House follows the story of Himari Momochi as she inherits a house at 16. When she comes to it, she finds there’s already a young boy and his companions living there as “squatters”. But in truth, they are there because it is their duty to protect the gate between the Ayakashi and the humans.

Himari decides to stay as she owns the house and she is the “landlady”. The manga follows the story of Himari and Aoi, who is the appointed Nue, or keeper of the House and the powers that keep Ayakashi at bay from entering the human world. There are several plots going through the volumes and several subplots that may last for a volume of two.

The central plot points are around Aoi and his past, and what made him come to Momochi house. We also explore a little of Himari and her past, but mostly we explore her own feelings, how she is managing with moving and what she wants to do in the future. She’s a cheerful and loving person so this whole thing is interesting. Then we have the Shikigami of Aoi, who are Ayakashi bound to him, and we follow their stories and why they came to be with Aoi. There is also a plotline about the human world and Himari being in school, and the friendships she makes there.

Overall, it is a fun book to read, it does have some slightly cringy moments, but in general, it does a good job at developing each of the plots and giving the characters life. As I got closer and closer to the final volumes I kept wanting more and by volume 14 I couldn’t believe there were only two more to go before the story ended. But by the end of it, initially, I was surprised by how it was meant to end, or at least how the volume was setting it up to end, but actually was satisfied with the true ending of it.

I like the fact it is a closed story, and complete, the magic and spiritual elements kept it fun and the characters that appear and become regulars become quite dear to you. Overall it is a silly cosy story about a house that has personality and the people in it trying to keep everyone safe in their own way.

Book Review

Moon Reads: All Our Hidden Gifts

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

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

Ownership: Came in a Book Box club box.

Spoiler Free: Mostly, there may be plot points discussed.

When we first meet Maeve, she’s having a hard itme and has to help clean a cupboard forgotten behind in school, so when she finds some tarot cards, and they keep coming back to her, she decides to do some readings for fun. All she feels is that she doesn’t belong in her family and that she doesn’t belong in school, and even then she has become slight enemies with the person that used to be her best friend.

And hey, reading tarot in school is suddenly making her popular and having friends, so why not? And if they decide to push for a reading for Lily, her ex best friend, it isn’ther fault Lily it ends in screams and ebign upset. So when Lily disappears, Maeve feels slightly responsible and puzzled, she is sure the cards have something to do with it, and the city is becoming a bit odd.

As she slowly tries to confront her own ghosts, what caused the rift between her and Lily, her growing feelings for Roe, who is Lily’s sibling, and her overall place in the world, will they find a way to bring Lily back and find out what happened to her?

At times this went a bit too intense but it was interesting to navigate it frm the point of view of Maeve, who I didn’t really vibe on initially, but as the story develops I understood it better and it made sense. I like how it touches on unusual ways and the characters aren’t the out of the box kind but have very particular quirks and elements to each of them touching on diversity in various ways.

If you like tarot, a bit of the mystical and also some queer representation this is a book for you.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Dearly Departed Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Dearly Departed, April 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.

Apparently, I have a backlog of boxes to show and share, and since the bookplate for the book came in the July box, might as well go through this one, starting on the top right corner with the theme card:

  • Dearly Departed theme leaflet.
  • Nevernight inspired book bag, not entirely sure what the right name for it is, but basically, you can turn it into some kind of self-standing basket, and honestly, I love it. Because you can also turn it into a floppy bag that you can carry upstairs, so I have it downstairs to hold items I need to move upstairs, and then it gets emptied and comes back. It looks amazing instead of just a lot of clutter to be sorted, but I can see other uses for it, and obviously, I like it since I rarely ever write so much about an item.
  • Monthly collectable pin, a skull made of flowers, which is a good concept.
  • Woodmarks, which I was less interested in even if they are Mucha style.
  • Gideon and Harrow the Ninth magnets.
  • In the Ravenous Dark as the main book.
  • And a mason jar for drinking out of it. I am not really crazy about them since it is difficult to drink out of the rim and without a lid, you cant easily transport the liquids in it, so they rarely ever get used at home.

Can you guess what my favourite item was? In case you had any doubts, it was the Nevernight basket bag. It was a cohesive in theme box and not bad though I do wish there was more death oriented items without being too fandom exclusive.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Séance Tea Party

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Owned

Spoiler Free: Not entirely, major plot points will be mentioned or touched on but not the ending.

I have a fondness for graphic novels, and one about ghosts and tea parties sounded right up my street! Plus just look at the artwork and it becomes clear it was irresistible.

Séance Tea Party is in broad strokes about friendship, identity and that awkward stage between still being a child and becoming a teenager.

Lora is slowly seeing her circle of friends disappear as their interests just do not coincide. She prefers playing on the swings and using her imagination, while her friends suddenly are interested in romance and looks and other things she has no interest in. Tea parties are better, so why not host one for ghosts and maybe try to invite one to the tea party?

When this actually works and Lora discovers Alexa, the ghost of a young girl, her friendship problems are solved, or at least that’s what Lora thinks, but is a ghost that will not be able to grow up ever the kind of friend Lora really needs, or is there maybe more to just tea parties that make up a friendship?

As Lora and Alexa explore their identity, their past, present and future together and on their own, the story takes us through finding our place in that stage of growing up when we don’t want to grow up and yet we also want very much to be a grown up, and such contradictions can wreak havoc.

It is a sweet story with a hint of magic, ghosts and a lot of tea and imagination, which makes it an adorable read that will make you want to bake a cake and invite your friends over for a cup of tea.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Borrowed from Nikki at https://booksandlemonsquash.com/

I had my eye on Amari for a while but then didn’t buy it and somehow ended up borrowing it from Nikki. I do not regret my choices.

Overall the magic concept, the invitation Amari gets, and the “summer camp” are wonderful, alongside the way they get selected for a career and to develop magic. The worldbuilding was delightful, and I could see myself enjoying this now and even more if I had gone back in time and gifted this book to my younger self at around 10-12 years old.

The one thing I did struggle with a lot was the beginning of the book, I can’t put my finger on it but it just didn’t grab my attention and I had to force myself to get through the first few chapters. They read a little like a mix of Harry Potter with Meg Murray’s anger from A Wrinkle in Time, and yet it didn’t have the casual effect both series had on me, maybe it was because I had already read those books and therefore it just didn’t make the same impact to me. Not sure, but once I got past those starting chapters and more into the world, I was more into it.

I think the strength of this book is the world-building and the characters. I wasn’t actually huge on Amari, but the rest of the cast made up for the times I wanted to grab Amari and knock some sense into her, but overall it was a good set of characters that interacted well with each other and even the grown-ups had a good part in it at times.

The overall big reveal was well prepared for and yet it still wasn’t blatantly obvious sot hat you did feel surprised and yet could say “oh that makes sense”. Of course, this is a spoiler-free review so I will not reveal what that particular event is, but I enjoyed the plot and its development. It feels well suited for the target reader age and also suitable for readers of all ages.