Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Rebellious Royals Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Rebellious Royals, January 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.

January’s theme starts the year with a bang and a great featured read for sure, but lets consider each item in the box, starting with the main featured book and going clockwise:

  • Winter’s Orbit which is super exciting read and I am thrilled about this!
  • You should see me in a crown Fuzzy socks, who doesn’t love soft fuzzy socks?
  • Theme card/leaflet.
  • Monthly pin
  • A collection of very pretty artwork of Sarah J. Maas bookmarks. If I was into the fandom, I’d be so into them but alas I ended up gifting them to a friend who actually likes the fandom.
  • A bag of mint tea, which I haven’t tried yet but I think is just pure peppermint tea.
  • A super awesome puzzle in a box for Folk of the Air Series that looks like a book and I utterly love it!
  • This last one was a shadow box, which I have to say I have opinions on. First, I like that it is kinda building your own but it took ages and a lot of effort as the wood was “cheap” and not done so well the actual shadows are awesome, it was just the interlocking parts that wouldn’t fit well and took a lot of pushing and prodding and wondering if it would break before it was built… Also not sure I would put a tealight inside if I put the lid on top as I was worried it’d smoke or you know just leave a heat mark that would wear it down. Maybe it’s just the size of this particular one, but I was not fully convinced by the item as a whole. As I said, the actual “shadows” are awesome, it is how the shadows happen and how to build it I struggled. However, huge kudos for adding a different kind of item, I loved the concept of it for sure!

As per my opinion above, I like it included new items, that puzzle box is stunning, and fuzzy socks are great too alongside the shadow box, but some of the execution could be better, however I can’t wait to see what new ideas come through and what comes in February’s box.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Adulthood is a Myth

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

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

Read before: No I have read some of the single comics before

Ownership: Bought for myself to cheer me up

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Sarah’s Scribbles

Ok, I have read some of Sarah’s comics before on and off from instagram and blogs and the ones people share. I used to follow her on tubmlr and then stopped being so into tumblr, so probably why. But I still like them and I found a copy of the book really cheap second hand so thought you know what? Let’s find some funny good things in life and buy the book and read it and enjoy and giggle.

Of course, being part of the Sarah’s Scribbles series, this is hilarious, has a lot of “relatable” comics, I think I spent most of the time take screenshots and either sending them to my husband or sending them to my friends to what matched our relationships or anecdotes or stories and have a giggle with them.

Which is to say that probably the best review I can give for this book isn’t a very long one but can be summarised into the fact that this book will probably contain at least one strip or comic that will resonate with one or many friends and family members so you will want to share it around and make other smile or laugh or go “do you remember?” or maybe do a “this is us/me/you” to someone as you share and maybe you will also want to make others read it after you have finished because it made you smile and feel like the world wasn’t just you against it but others struggle too and we all try to make fun or it and make the most out of it, and just get on by.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow

The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

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

Read before: No

Ownership: I had ordered a signed copy from Waterstones, plus a copy came in Book Box Club Secret Societies

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: The Magpie Society, Book 1.

Content warnings: Some adult grooming and relationship between adult and underage girl implied.

Obviously this one caught my interest a lot initially because I wanted to read it and got two copies. However I have to say the lower rating is partly because I really struggled to get on with the main characters up until probably the very end.

The mystery, the murder, I was loving that and the whole Illumen Hall atmosphere alongside the rules and you know, the feeling of it being a boarding school and how the students interact and have ways around rules but also how they follow certain rules to a specific point, it was fasicnating and that part I loved, alongside the interview/podcast we get in some chapters which added to the mystery and also moved the story along with new insights.

But as much as I could understand a bit where Ivy was coming from, she had been working super hard to achieve a single person room, and to achieve so many things, and then Lola’s death crumbled some of those plans, and obviously, she’s also grieving. Like a lot has happened to her and is out of her control and also, Audrey doesn’t make it easy to fit in, but rather easy to not get along too much. However, despite understanding her, I wasn’t initially too much into her character and struggled to connect, the writing just wasn’t doing it for me. I did get there once we get more into the action and less just for the sake of, and I have to say, what happens at the boat was pretty fun and helped me like the characters more.

And we have Audrey, who was too American, too meh and just a bit self centered and trying too hard to keep her mystery to herself. Once again, I kept reading the chapters of her and just could not be interested in her except to go “oh you poor dear who is trying so hard to not fit and be trendy and fit at the same time”. Maybe I could not relate because I have never been the popular girl demoted from popularity and seeking it again, but given that I was struggling to get along with both of them, I assumed it was more to do with how the story was being presented rather than specifically the characters.

It does get a lot better as the story goes, but I was sad that barely anything happens in the book, and I think partly it was those starting chapters that could have made it much bette rif they had been trimmed down and maybe had less of them. But overall, I want to know more, want to see who the Magpie Society are and how you join them, and we still don’t know who killed Lola or why or anything.

As I said, overall, it was a good boarding school read but could have been a lot better.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Love is a Battlefield Owlcrate

Subscription box: Owlcrate

Theme/Month: Love is a Battlefield, December 2020

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

Owlcrate was my first ever subscription box way back in 2015, and usually features young adult books in a variety of genres alongside a few bookish items. Sadly due to import fees and shipping, I have had to cancel my subscription and won’t be receiving it starting with February’s box.

But since we still have this box and another, let’s make the most out of it and explore the contents of Love is a Battlefield which is an intense title to go for, did the contents match it? Starting at the top left and going clockwise:

  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, which seems to be a popular book to be in book boxes and I should read it at some point soon.
  • Owlcrate theme card.
  • Legwarmers, I think I squealed a little when I realised what they were as legwarmers help with pain management in winter keeping my legs happier than if I didn’t wear them.
  • You can’t really see well but it is a puzzle based on Ember in the Ashes series. I’ve enjoyed their puzzles before, especially now that they come in cute boxes rather than pouches and prints you easily loose.
  • This one is hard to see but it is a “winter” themed mini rolling pin for decorating pastries. My success rate with this kind of rolling pin has been negative so as much as I think this is really cute, I am not keeping this item and passing it on to someone with more patience and baking pretty success.
  • A wooden Christmas ornament, which due to the box arriving after Christmas didn’t actually make it into the tree, but hopefully this year it will.
  • The monthly collectible pin.
  • And finally a wintery peppermint hand cream, which is nice to get hand cream in winter months and this is pretty mild in scent in a good way as in you can smell peppermint but it is not overbearing.

Overall it was a very wintery box but I have to say it didn’t feel like a box that fit the theme, I did not get “wow, loving is hard, or a battlefield or a minefield or anything like that” basically I didn’t even get much of the love vibe except for the puzzle, which is confusing because as a whole I liked the box but as a theme, it kinda doesn’t do it well.

Book Review

Moon Reads: I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End.

I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. by Emma Perry and Sharon Davey

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

Read before: No

Ownership: It was a cheer up gift from my best friend.

Spoiler free review: No. Due to it being short and illustrated, this may contain spoilers.

With a title like that, I couldn’t resist adding the book to my wishlist and I assume that is why it was what Nikki sent me. This is the story of a girl called Mabel who keeps getting books as gifts, all the time. And her response is that she doesn’t like them so could people please stop gifting her more books?

However, she still uses the books, to make towers of books, as sleds, as coasters, whatever you can imagine that is not reading the book, she’s probably done it to the book and used it for it! Very creative book uses, but still she does not read them, until one night the books have had enough!

And as she explores stories and falls from book into book without actually getting the full story but just her interest piequed, she decides maybe she might just try reading one, just the one, maybe she doesn’t dislike books that much?

You can imagine where this goes so I’ll leave it there but needless to say I had a lot of fun reading this and the illustrations make it even better, starting from the many alternative book uses t the stories Mabel is missing out on. It was a good cheer up gift and I can recommend it is a funny story or a book to read aoud to kids and let them even try some of the safer alternative book uses for a giggle or something.

Recommended for kids who don’t like books, and those that do, and anyone that may not be a kid but that loves books and illustrations and fun short stories.

Book Review

Moon Reads: How It All Blew Up

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Christmas gift from my husband

Spoiler free review: Yes

As someone who has been stopped at the border simply because my residence permit is unusual, this was a book that caught my eye and also, a little bit of contemporary can be fun every now and then. As a disclaimer, reading contemporary is not my thing and I am picky about it.

Our story starts at the airport as Amir and his family had a confrontation on the airplane back from Italy. So we get the story told in an interesting format which is probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Basically you get a round robin of Amir and his family talking to the interrogators about what happened during the flight and what led them to that point in time.

The story is basically about Amir impuslvely moving to Italy and living his best gay life, but it isn’t just about figuring out his sexuality and experimenting, but it is a huge step in his own independence and trying to figure out what he wants from his life, and if italy maybe is a permanent thing rather than just a phase.

Now, overall, I enjoyed the stroy as it is a coming out and growing up story, but I was a bit put off by how easily Amir just manages to make hisi life in Italy, rent a flat and you know, set his new life, because my own experiences of moving to the UK I know, not italy, but still) were very different and it was a bit weird how lackadaisy he was about it.

Otherwise it was interesting to see him explore the city, and find other people who slowly teach him new things and how he encounters different personalities and has to decide what he will risk and who he wants to keep around and not, while at the same time we are learning about his own home life and how much his family cares for him but they do it in their very own way rather than the “American” way and therefore Amir doesn’t realise how much they love him.

Still, I enjoyed it. It was a quick read due to the format plus the adventures in Italy felt decadent and just nice to read for the most part of it. I’d say it is worth reading if you’re into stories that break the usual format of novel telling and you are into love stories and coming out stories.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Secret Societies Book Box Club

Subscription box: Book Box Club

Theme/Month: Secret Societies, November 2020

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 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 unqiue and not in other book boxes so very little chances of duplicate books and a lot of new reads discovery power.

For some reason I got my monthly boxes mixed up and didn’t show off the November one! Who knows why? Still, nevermind let’s see what the contents were starting at the bottom left and going clockwise:

  • Theme card
  • The main book, The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch. I have liked previous books by Amy so was excited to read it, I have read it now and well, review to come.
  • A Starless Sea sticker of bees and books, it is very cute.
  • A book sleeve, which to be fair I have used more as lunch bags and stuff, but they are really good and strong.
  • A cute little Unashamedly Bookish notebook for all those secret society meeting notes 😉
  • Clubhouse invite
  • Chocolate orange key, you’ll definitely lose this key in your stomach!
  • And a patch, which I can’t remember what it was about, you can totally see I am not big on patches, right?

Overall, once again the box puts a lot of effort into fitting the theme, getting a variety of fandoms included and a balanced mix of cute items and useful items. I do like the ideas they have behind choosing each item and the book was an interesting read, so all good.

Book Review

Moon Reds: Space Detectives Blog Tour

Space Detective by Mark Powers and Illustrated by Dapo Adeola

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A copy was provided by the publisher so I could participate in the blogtour but this doesn’t influence my opinion of it.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Space Detectives is a really cute “mystery” middle grade. It is set in a space city orbiting the Earth were our two main characters are spending their summer helping in the ice cream shop. There is a fun cast of alien species making their appearance and odd flavours of ice cream.

But the main event is that as they make friends, they stumble upon a big mess where the space city is on a collition course to the Moon! Our brave pair then decide they can’t let it just stand and they should try to solvethis mystery. They are even joined by their new friend and so chaos ensues as they try to find a way in to investigate and help fix the course of the station.

Overall, I enjoyed the fun story and there were a lot of funny moments however two “science” fails really struck to me, one related to their smart suits and the other related to the actual plot of the collition course being set and “fixed” but there is also a lot of encouragement towards science and computers so I just hope it helps encourage kids to those fields rather than put them off.

The artwork is extremely cute and I had so much fun seeing how the alien species appeared in the illustrations, specially the bat rats which I kinda wanted as pets and also at the same time found slightly terrifying!

Recommended for anyone wanting a wacky space adventure with a quick mystery and save the day story.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Mist Monster

The Mist Monster by Kirsti Beautyman

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself

Spoiler free review: No

Ok, a mist monster sounds cute and the artwork looked sweet so I had to get it, I have a soft spot for friendly monsters (did anyone ever watch Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends?).

Anyway, this is a story about Penny after she moves to her new house which she isn’t sure she likes, but then she goes out to play and bumps into Morris, a mist monster that joins her in an adventure and as they adventure they discover new friends.

Obviously as the mists recede, Morris disappears but that doesnt mean Penny is on her own anymore and she meets Morris every misty day.

I mean, the story is cute, its about adapting to new places and giving things a chance, but also about making friends and being open to finding them even if we’re not in our usual place, a good book to gift to a child moving house or just one who wants to make friends or feels a bit lonely.

The artwork wins and is very fitting to the story so I was super happy with reading it.

Book Review

Moon Reads: This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Gifted by a good friend for Christmas

Spoiler free review: Yes

This is one of those books that you hear a lot about but then you wonder if the hype is worth it. And for me it definitely was.

The story starts with Red and a mission being completed, and we meet Blue through a letter written for Red which is kind the next chapter). Overall the story intersects a chapter of Red, a letter, one of Blue and then a letter to respond to the previous one.

There is very little background on who they are or why they do what they do initially so it is one of those books that are character driven and the banter and interactions between alongside the slight dose of mytery of “what is exactly going on, and why is all this relevant?” keeps you going, and as things slowly, ever so slowly, in a delicious way, a mix of desperately wanting to win against time and also at the same time slowly unravelling their relationship that spans alongside enemy sides and missions through space and time, this book packs a big punch into a small set of pages.

Because this is one of those books you need to read at least once without being spoiled, I am skipping around the whole plot because to say more than what already has been said, is to deprive you the next reader of the discovery and the good of it. I was unsure at first, but after the first few chapters and once I got used to the pace of the story, I was absolutely hooked and didn’t want to stop reading.

And as soon as I finshed I felt like I had to read it again because I knew that there were clues, so many clues and Easter eggs and little details hidden in each chapter, in each letter that I had probably glossed over and missed thinking them irrelevant or just quirky and suddenly finding them interesting. For the sake of actually reading more of my ever growing collection of books, I did not re-read it as soon as I finished, but I think that will come as my mind remembers, mulls and ponders the story through and decides maybe it needs to read it once again.

Recommended for readers that like a mystery that isnt fully a mystery, books that challenge you in concept and that are out of the ordinary and yet that hold through time and space and that will leave their mark on you. And if you like a bit of action, adventure, time travel and romance.