Book Review

Moon Reads: Fine Print

Fine Print, Volume 1 by Stjepan Šejić

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought in Forbidden Planet on a trip to London because ti was a decent price.

I love Stjepan’s art style and so when I saw Fine Print in the shop I had to buy it. It is a bit more out there of my usual reads and styles for sure, but a graphic novel is a graphic novel and I actually had a good giggle reading this.

The story follows several characters through a very slow start, and to be honest, this book is very much a setup volume so read it with care, as in do not expect a perfectly polished story because we know it isn’t. But the next volumes develop more of it. We get a lot of insight even if it is all over the place about each of the characters, the two “gods” of desire that will try to win her contract and give her everything she desires, Lauren who is the main character and an absolute self-destructive being who knows what the right choice is and still does not make it because it is better to choose the worst possible one. And honestly, the story is almost written in that way, like a reflection of her own chaos and bad decisions but told into a story where you are trying to justify your actions and know as you go that there is no way to make them seem better except to try to tell the truth and add some humour because you pretty much messed up so bad there is no coming back from it.

One thing the art does suffer from is a bit of same face syndrome which as the characters have progressed and Stjepan has developed them, does change into more defined the point in part is that everyone is gorgeous and therefore apparently there is only one way. I particularly like the colour work but I am terrible at it so take it with a grain of salt.

Overall, it is a fun comic that if you have high expectations it will fail you, but if you’re here for a silly story about competitiveness, bad decisions and chaos, it will entertain.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Cursed Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Cursed, December 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.

I am slowly catching up, just 6 months behind, right? But let us investigate the contents nevertheless and see what I liked and didn’t like or what my thoughts were, starting from the book at the bottom left:

  • A Marvellous Light with an interesting jacket made of like a plastic see-through version.
  • Starcrossed Lovers calendar, I admit in general I don’t really use wall calendars so this was wasted on me and I am less into quotes but still, I appreciate the free calendar in case it would be used.
  • Gorgeous pin flag, one of my favourite ones sent so far, with a beautiful design, even if I don’t use them. You can totally see a theme of me not hanging things.
  • One of my favourite items in the box, is a pencil tin, I love the tins that protect pencils, and this one is creepy awesome and with a great quote.
  • A Winternight trilogy inspired mug is one of my favourite ones now. But in general, I love the mugs and this is the other favourite item.
  • The collectible pin which is now not a thing but still, lovely to see it.

Lovely box overall, however rnow I am here thinking about how sometimes they don’t consider we don’t all have loads of space to hang things or won our house and therefore in a rented place you cant really fillt he walls of items, so I do wish here were alternatives to hanging things like a desk calendar which would limit the hanging items here to just the one? But this is me just thinking of more possibilities that fit more people.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Gallant

Gallant by V. E. Schwab

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Proof copy provided by the publisher. Also got an Illumicrate copy with the subscription box I have.

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.

Creepy sentient houses and slightly gothic vibes? That sounds right up my street particularly since I loved Mexican Gothic. Now, I admit after reading Adie LaRue and not loving it, I had decided to not go into Gallant with high expectations. This was a good decision, however, I still had skewed ideas of what the book was aiming to do and that did mean I enjoy it less than I might have.

My overall review is that Schwab is now in comfortable quotable prose that writes beautiful phrases in almost every sentence and therefore is very good for selling to fandom and making fandom items of it. However, to me, this means the plot is sacrificed slightly for the aesthetic feel. This isn’t exactly a bad thing but I prefer less pretty words and more story.

Now that that is out of the way, Gallant has a mute orphan at the centre of it, one who longs for a place to call home and then, presto, suddenly the chance appears with an odd letter to invite her to Gallant, her family home. Now this is particularly odd but you don’t look a gifted horse in the teeth and you do not complain. But the house is spooky and there appears to be a second house, like a mirror but dark and spooky and beyond the veil kinda thing. And of course, we have the brooding family counterparts, the loyal servants and the heroine, alongside the characters in the alternative house. All pretty good for a gothic vibe, and yet it felt a little flat on gothic.

If you are not expecting as many gothic vibes it is an interesting introduction to the vibes of it and a fun quick read that has an interesting cast of characters. One thing is that once again we see Death as part of the plot and the longing to find a home and a place to belong when you don’t feel like you do, which is characteristic of Schwab. However, there is less about who makes a monster and more about finding out who the parents are and why they abandoned her.

Overall a quick read with beautiful quotes and phrases and a spooky slightly gothic vibe that will scratch a quick read itch.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Sea Witch

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought a while ago or gifted, not even sure but it was in my bookcase for a long time.

I can’t remember why I bought this one but it caught my eye and I think it was mostly that it was a retelling no of the Little Mermaid and focused as much on the mermaid but on the sea witch that provides the favours. And to be fair, that sounds interesting particularly if it is more of a general sea witch view and not a Disney specific one.

The story follows four friends, two princes and two girls, and their adventures near the sea. It appears initially very straightforward and you feel like you know where the story is going, you know you’re familiar with the Little Mermaid, so of course, you know this story, but as you keep going the story branches a little and does some odd twists.

I admit I enjoyed the book, even if it was more or less extremely focused on love and having a crush, and the feeling of being elevated to a higher status which I mean are powerful emotions to turn someone into a witch but still, it was an interesting approach.

At times it waxes too lyrical and tries hard to be mysterious about one of the characters and maybe it is maybe it isn’t, and I do wish it had tried less hard into hiding things and more into explaining why things happened, but overall it felt like a darker odd fairy tale that had modernised.

If you love the Little Mermaid this may be a book for you or if you like fantasy books that read like fairy tales or new takes on them. Like a refresh of stories, this is the book for you!

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Spellbound Book Box Club

Subscription box: Book Box Club

Theme/Month: Spellbound, December 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. Sadly they have announced they are now on their last box so you can’t buy it anymore.

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.

I am still way behind on unboxings, woops, but this December box was a lovely one to have and I am sad that I am behind because there won’t be any more boxes but also glad I’ll have a few to talk about even once they have stopped. But I digress, let us talk about the context of this one starting at the bottom left and going clockwise:

  • Spellbound theme card
  • Crane pencil holder. I love these for fountain pens or for brushes, very useful and the roll up is kinda fun to do.
  • A Rush of Wings by Laura Weymouth. I love her books, what can I say?
  • Clubhouse invite
  • A little Reading Journal notebook to keep track of that reading goal if you do one every year.
  • Stickers for the reading journal which I thought was a fun approach to encourage you to use it and adorable extra.
  • A hanging wooden sign to say “This is where the magic happens” and its witchy and spooky but cool.
  • I forgot to mention but it obviously came with a cute pencil to put in the pencil roll up case.

Overall, a lovely little box with useful items preparing you for the new year and reading goals but also a little bit of magic and decoration.

Books, Discussion, Wrap-ups and Tags

Moon Shouts: Black Water Sister Giveaway

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.


Can you believe this book came out last year and now it is out in paperback?! Crazy how time goes!

If you are curious about this book or Zen’s writing in general, I have a nice surprise for you. I am doing a giveaway sponsored by the publisher and Black Crow, so you can get a chance to win a copy.

But how do you win a copy? Just retweet the following tweet before the 22nd of May and you are in for the giveaway. Easy, right?

Who doesn’t love fantasy with mediumship, intriguing characters and lots of cultural lore that will keep you turning the page? Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

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.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Witch for Hire

Witch for Hire by Ted Naifeh

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Saw it in Forbidden Planet and it looked good so I bought it.

Witch for Hire is part high-school drama, part mystery thriller, part horror, and part fantasy. As such, it is a very odd combination that somehow works once you realise you are getting a little of everything. We have Faye who sits with the outcasts that somehow make it once good luck touches them except for Faye who wears her witch hat and doesn’t seem to care.

So when Cody who is the little sister of the popular girl finds herself shunned by her sister for not being cool enough, and into the rejects table with Faye, she thinks she’s found a good new friend.

Faye isn’t convinced of taking Cody under her arm or meddling in strange happenings that keep causing incidents and this weird series of pranks that are getting more and more dangerous until they seem to be entirely out of control. And even if Cody admits that she joined this odd challenge to become popular which is behind the pranks, it doesn’t fully explain what is going on.

Faye finds herself at odds with her way of doing things and wanting to help, but she fears the consequences and meddling despite her don’t care attitude.

It is a very interesting book and I just wish it was a little longer because the story is interesting even if quite twisted, but because of how twisted it is, it would have benefited from more back story in some places and just more context in others and tying a few loose ends that don’t detract from the story but that would make it a lot better.

As for the artwork, it is quite dark with an old school vibe and yet a twist of modern. In general, it seems to carry the effect of being a part of here and there and combining them in a way that works not just for the plot but for the artistic style and the way the story is told in pictures.

Overall a recommended not as well known witchy story to read.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Squire

Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A copy of this book was provided upon request from the publisher but I also bought a final copy, which is packed somewhere in a box currently.

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.

I’ve been following Sara and her artwork for ages, and when I found out Squire was in the making, I was super excited about it.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint and I can’t wait for more of it to come!

Squire follows Aiza, who dreams of becoming a Knight because it is a huge honour and also because it will probably mean people bully her less and she will be popular and a heroine. And finally, because she can then achieve Knighthood and have full citizenship. Initially, her parents are against it, reminding her of her heritage and why she is shunned, but in the end, they let her go.

At the training, she meets up with a few rivals and several other hopeful youngsters wanting to be knights. But as much as the training is hard, she is keeping her identity secret and this causes tensions.

To say much more would be to spoil the plot but I loved the many characters shown through it and their own unique stories and motivations, but not only that, the artwork is fun, the story has a lot to tell and it is, in general, a good read that I breezed through.

If you want new adventures of someone dreaming of becoming a Knight, of defending their country and the conundrum of their identity against what the values of this knighthood are, look no further, with fascinating and intricate artwork [some of those backgrounds are stunning] and a cast of characters that would provide you, someone to cheer for regardless of what your personal favourite type of character is, this I a book not to miss and read as soon as possible.

Discussion

Where has Moon been?

As you may have noticed, I’ve been a little absent from the blogging world and social media in general. In case you were asking where has Moon been? Here is your answer:

https://twitter.com/themoonkestrel/status/1519242891935330304

If you don’t do twitter or anything like that, the short version is that in December I had a health incident (I have a chronic condition and disability) and my housemate left me on the floor despite knowing my condition. This was a wake up call and I realised I was safer on my own and near friends than where I was currently. For various life reasons, making the move and changing my circumstances required a lot of planning that took over my life and then the move took over my life too.

However, I have finally moved house and I am now unpacking my books! This means that I will be back in full swing here very soon. For now, we will have a post or two a week and then slowly back to three a week. Hopefully you are all excited for the content here and to see what I’ve been reading!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Horizon Zero Dawn Liberation

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation by Anne Toole, Elmer Damaso, Bryan Valenza and Jim Campbell

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A friend requested it form the publisher for me because I love Horizon Zero Dawn, Horizon Frobidden West and the whole story and world.

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.

If you have read the first main book on the Sunhawk and a little bit of a taster before Horizon Forbiddne West came out, I reviewed the volumes here. It was a good book delving on Tallanah and finding new beasts, which gave a good introduction to what the new game would bring.

Liberation is different in that it is instead giving us more backstory, the parts of Erend’s story and how his sister became the amazing person she was, how they ended up being part of the Oseram who helped Sun King Avad dethrone his father, and all that. The art as usual is amazing, and the story was interesting as we have Erend trying to tell his story while they track one of the relevant characters to the past of him and his sister. Aloy is being very much herself, which I liked because she definitely sometimes feels like she has bigger priorities and bigger things, and then it is her friends who love her who bring her down back tot he world and go “hey, you have things to worry about, but so do we, and we can help each other, no one is an island”.

It was just a very very nice comic for me to read, it added to the lore, explained the relationship and love Sun King Avad had for Ersa, and just how much everyone could admire her and why. It showed too why Erend has big shoes to fill and how unfit for it he is and yet how hard he tries. And of course, it shows us how different Aloy is to this and how much she tries to understand this part fo the story and world that she was never a part of because of how she was an Outcast and set aside and then suddenly had to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders without really choosing to. And yes, we know she could have said no, but that would not be true to herself. She ahs a big heart despite sometimes forgetting it.

Highly recommend adding this book to your comic collection and to your Aloy and her friend’s collection. It is as good or even better than the first one.