Book Review

Moon Reads: Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

I had no werewolves at hand but puppy was happy to pose for book pictures in exchange for belly rubs.

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Review copy provided by Black Crow PR/publisher so I could be part of the blog tour but this was on my radar beforehand. (Why will make sense as I review this book)

Spoiler Free Review: Technically yes, since we know Brigid is a werewolf…

Normally I give a little introduction on why the book caught my eye, but it isn’t a secret that I suffer chronic pain due to, up to very recently, undiagnosed causes which kept moving the goalpost on why and how to fix it. I mean, I am not a werewolf or a werefox for that matter, and as much as I joke about being a vampire due to photosensitivity, I am alas not one.

But as I read this book, I couldn’t help but keep seeing myself in it a lot more than I expected.

I can’t speak for all the conditions listed in the book fully, but I do have part of one, hypermobility, and a lot of what they discuss about symptoms, trying to live a “normal” life, and making the best out of it was interesting. Then thre’s Brigid who is chaotic as hell and adorable, a bonanza of fun and intense that made me want to smush her and mother her and befriend her all at the same time! And Priya herself is trying her best to deal with her own diagnosis, her friendship and how to focus her energy and deal with feeling like she’s failed at normal life.

If I have to summarise in a few words I would say this is peak chaotic friendships of early social media teens with a little bit f urban fantasy, a lot of humour and just a book that makes you either see a side you hadn’t seen of how those with an illness that affects their daily life and is chronic may feel and manage it, or you feel a little bit seen and end up with a lot of laughs at the little hints of things that remind you of your own journey.

For me it was just fun to read, find myself in it, and feel seen. So if you like urban fantasy, friendship, family, wholesome stories and chaos, this is the book for you, also werewolves and chronic illnesses!

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: A Legacy to Protect Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: A Legacy to Protect, December 2020

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.

Decembers theme was anything but festive but it was still a box packed full of goodies I do admit to feeling nostalgic about the boxes that used to be actually crammed full with items and had way more items than we tend to get nowadays). But let’s unbox it and see starting on the top left and going clockwise:

  • The Cousins by Karen McManus, so far I have enjoyed her books a lot and this one has black sprayed edges, excited to read.
  • The monthly collectable pin inspired by The Ravens.
  • No Peak Clan photo magnets, the idea is interesting the problem is that I don’t see a huge appeal to have these around on my fridge.
  • A Daevabad inspired mug which is super exciting to see as I don’t have a lot of items form this fandom and I like it.
  • Yip Yip nail file, my husband needed one so this was perfect timing and he’s a happy man.
  • Destiny is a myth notepad inspired by Poppy War and I like the feel of it.
  • The Ravens with pink sprayed edges, another exciting read!
  • And finally a print album. I like the idea behind this as I sometimes don’t know what to do with prints but I was confused by it initially and also it’ll depend on having a standard size for all the prints preferably or not too big ones.

Overall I liked the box, it felt a tiny bit disjointed in the contents and not as theme focused as others have been and I was less excited by the items but I have learned that boxes with mugs usually aren’t that exciting otherwise and to be fair this had two books and a mug which is like double nice bonus. Those are my favourite things from it!

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Truth Project

The Truth Project by Dante Medema

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

This book was provided to me as a gift from the publisher. It was one I requested since I wanted to be able to review it. The fact that the book was provided by the publisher doesn’t inform my review of the book. All views here my own.

I picked the Truth Project since I have been reading a lot of fantasy and middle grade or graphic novels, so this felt like a good palate cleanser of a read and it was the perfect book to read while in a cosy bath. If you like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, then this is definitely a book to read as it is also in verse style.

Cordelia is aceing high school and ready to go to university, she just needs to get her project sorted which she chooses to tackle a genetic test and the concept of identity through poetry. For that, she is paired up wiht the troubled boy Kodiak. It should be an easy project writing about what makes you you and what effect genetics have on it, or at least that is what she thinks will happen. But when the test results come through, her truth isn’t exactly what she thought it was, the person she calls Father isn’t her biological father.

This defintiely throws Cordelia in for a spin and her perfect record suddenly doesn’t matter as much, when it feels like everything she knws is a lie. We get the story shown as she grapples with her identity, trying to decide if she wants to meet her biological father and figuring out what she thinks about who she is and who her family is. Through her poetry, text conversations with her best friend and Kodiak, and a few email exchanges, we get a very dynamic story.

I really liked the format this was being worked with, it isnt just poetry/verse but also texts and emails, with different language depending on who Cordelia is talking to. And it was interesting to see how she tries to navigate her new truth and what it means for her, and the lies she wants to believe or the ones she starts making up to cope with the truth.

As you may know, I am not big on contemporary, usually quite picky on it, but this one won a space in my reading due to how it explores identity, family, being troubled, making mistakes and the concept of what is true and what lies one can believe or deal with.

Also, bonus points because her family is there and not just thrown around conveniently. I also could see glimpses of what her parents are actually discussing but that she doesn’t realise where things are going or how they are happening and instead interprets differently. But it was fascinating to see the layers of thigns even through her verses.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Technically, You Started It

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

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

Technically, You Started It has a very interesting format to tell the story. It is all presented as a text conversation. There are no paragraphs, nothing except the “chat history” of the texts between Martin Nathaniel Munroe II and Haley.

For starters there are two Martin Nathaniel Munroe II in class and one is to Haley’s eyes the good one and the other one the bad one. She isn’t sure which one is texting her but it has to be good one, right?

I really enjoyed the format of the story, it was easy to read and kept it refreshing as there is that kind of freedom of not needing to describe mucha nd onyl exchange certain bits of data. And to me it was believable as a conversation between two teenagers who know about each other but don’t really know each other.

And then as the become more acquainted with each other, do they acknowledge the friendship in school or just keep it over text?

Honestly, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would, it was funny, it made me remember to my first few internet friends way back when but also the awkwardness of meeting in person. Plus I really liked both characters and how they each have certain perceptions of things and other people, particularly people they both interact with.

Honestly I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading this but if you enjoy a sweet romance, some comedy and funny nerd moments, then this is a great read, plus format is a big winner when you want a good story but your brain can’t engage enough (to me this was a slump breaking book and gosh I finished and was just like “I am so happy, this is so fun and so cool”).

Book Review

Moon Reads: I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

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

If you read my blog often, you will know that Romance is something I don’t read a lot, nor Contemporary, and yet here we are with a 4 fox review for I Love You So Mochi, what happened?

For starters, the premise of love you so mochi sounded cute. It is a meet cute of someone trying to find the best self she can be and someone who is in a mochi costume trying to help his family succeed and sell enough mochi.

Kimiko is a promising artist just like her mother, she has the way into a fancy art school just like she dreamed with her mother. But the catch is she hasn’t painted anything for a long time, no masterpieces, nothing. Sitting in front of the canvas brings nothing. Instead she is distracted creating Kimi Originals, clothing that brings the best version of yourself while you wear it (I felt like I needed Kimiko to create me some clothes). As expected, her mum finds out she is not actually painting and isntead is wasting her time with clothes. So Kimi accepts in a kinda of whim, an invitation from her estranged maternal grandparents.

Kyoto here we come. The plan is to find what Kimi’s Kimi Ultimate is. But instead she gets lost and finds Akira, who is passionate about medicine and studying and seems to have his whole life neatly planned, almost the complete opposite to Kimi. And on top of that, Kyoto is both familiar and completely strange for Kimi who has never been to Japan before but has been brougth up by Japanese parents in the US.

Overall, I found the book a good measure of cute, tiny bit of cringe moments (I don’t like too much of those, and there were barely any in this), and just a lot of looking inside yourself, finding what you want, instead of being who you think others want you to be.

As I read it, I partly understood what Kimi felt, that she had to be the Kimi other perceived and expected, because her whole identity was in that, and if you strip that away, who are you?

The romance was sweet and it developed in a fun way, considering it has to be a quick one, but it also wasn’t too loved up so that you lose the rest of the plot. And it had a lot of funny laugh out loud kind of moments to cheer you up. Probably the best kind of romance that I have read in a while, with a lot of feel good.

Book Review, Books

Eat, and Love Yourself Review

Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo

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

I saw this while browsing for new graphic novels and it sounded interesting. It does require a few content warnings: eating disorder, fatphobia, purging, body dysmorphia. As the topic is around food and the relationship of Mindy with it and her memories, it is a tough book.

The artwork fits the story well and gives a matching vibe to what Mindy is going through, it felt right to tell the story. As for the plot, we meet Mindy who is uncomfortable with her body size and being liked at her size. So when she finds a curious chocolate bar at the shop while replenishing snacks, she buys it without much thought.

However, eating it triggers almost a “go back to the past” memory where she sees herself and some key moments on her journey to where she is. Obviously they are a bit uncomfortable at times but it also shows her what looking back does, perspective on what was actually happening and the intentions of the people around her givent he circumstances.

The story was interesting and it deals with tough topics, but it was also easy to breeze through it and feel accomplished and nice after finishing it even if at times I wanted to reassure Mindy (and I mean, I don’t have the biggest confidence in my own body but working on it).

All in all, I would say if any of the topics make you uncomfortable, I wouldn’t suggest reading it, but otherwise it was a good read and the artwork was worth it too.

Book Review, Books

Roller Girl Review

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

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

When I was a teenager I went from artistic rollerblading to inline hockey and loved it. Derby sounded fun but it just wasn’t an option so I did the ones I had available and loved them. This meant that when I saw this book pop up in suggested reads I got curious and bought it because it sounded fun.

We start with Astrid being bullied a little about the fact she’s rollerblaidng and that it is something for little kids rather than teens/older kids (she’s 12 years old) by someone she doesn’t like and her used to be best friend.

Their friendship soured over summer camp as Astrid had fallen starry eyed for roller derby and wanted to do a roller derby summer camp whereas Nicole (the ex best friend) is a ballet dancer and didn’t tell Nicole she wasn’t going to go with her, just kinda let her assume she would join and then told her she was actually going to ballet camp. (Is there a camp for everything?)

Astrid sees this as a betrayal and this adds up to the fact that roller derby isn’t as easy as she thought it’d be and the camp is hard work.

The story is very much a “becoming a teen and dealing with confusion, new emotions and changes in your whole social life” which I got so well as it went along. Astrid has to navigate making new friends, evaluating who she is and what type of friend she wants to be versus what she used to be and relationship dynamics (not just friends but what about her relationship with her mother?).

It is a lovely graphic novel dealing with a lot of interesting topics, particularly bases of changes as you slowly turn into a teenager and hormones start making you a bundle of confusion (plus how we all do things at a different pace, and how some do it due to peer pressure whereas others just do their thing and become outcasts).

I’d happily give this book to teen me as she struggled to comprehend and deal with all the sudden changes, it would’ve made it a little easier. As Astrid did, I found skating was a wonderful activity and gave new friendships and new things to do outside of school.

All in all, it kept me in the story, I felt for Astrid but also wanted at times to shake some sense into her but at the end felt very proud of where she got to. And now I want to do some rollerblading too…

Book Review, Books

Bookish and the Beast Review

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

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

First, I got a review copy for free from the publisher in hope of a review. And it doesn’t influence my review of it at all.

So this is the third book of the Once upon a Con series. And I will admit I did not enjoy Geekerella very much because all I could picture in my head was Hilary Duff as a ginger and “A Cinderella Story”. It was a little too close to the film for me to be able to enjoy it fully. However, I enjoyed The Princess and the Fangirl more, and so I had to give Bookish and the Beast a fair go.

And it was a fun read, it definitely follows the Beauty and the Beast plot, but in a very unique way, and I had fun identifying key moments throughout the plot. It felt less like something else I’ve read/seen and more standing on its own. Some of it may be that the universe already exists and that there’s returning characters (not as main characters but they’re around), so it has the chance to stand on its own more and less of trying to be too familiar.

Still, I liked the way it was written and the bookish aspect. And Rosie’s dad had won a soft spot for me all the way through this book. Absolutely won it. In general, the spin on characters was well done and it was quite fun to read and see it develop.

And of course, the ending really got to me, it was sweet and it made me think “awwww” and feel good after I finished it. A happy ending indeed. The character growth was interesting and the miscommunications made it feel more contemporary and real than a fairytale (so I guess that helps? there’s no magic, just money that kinda helped things be where they needed to be but in truth it was the characters and chance, no magic). Makes you believe that maybe a fairy tale can happen to you too.

I’d recommend this is Beauty and the Beast is one of your favourite stories and you enjoy a good retelling with its own spin on it. Plus it has a feel good vibe that is very welcome in the current times.

Book Review, Books

The Last Paper Crane Review

The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery

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

I was sent a copy of this book by Hot Key Books, but as tends to be the case, it was already on my preorders list. So the fact that this came from the publishers in the hopes of a review, doesn’t affect the review at all.

We start with Mizuki, the granddaughter of a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb. She is meant to take care of her grandfather who is old and doesn’t believe that words can be of hope or help anymore, so to her he seems cranky, but he sits down and starts telling her his story.

Ichiro was a young man on a day off, spending it with his friend Hiro, when suddenly the world changed in a drastic way. He starts telling us about how he woke up after the bomb dropped and the disorientation, the chaos, everything feels so intense as you read about it. Then he manages to find Hiro, and they set off to look for Hiro’s little sister Keiko.

Thankfully Keiko is still alive, but they can see the destruction and devastation while they search for her, and Hiro is in really bad shape. However, Hiro makes a choice that leaves Ichiro with Keiko and a promise to take care of her. And he tries, but again, hard choices have to be made and he becomes separated from her.

He sets off on a desperate search for her, getting the hospital staff in Hiroshima and then in Tokyo to try to help him, however, it seems hopeless. Every place he visits, he leaves a paper crane with his details, since that was the last thing he left with Keiko before he lost her.

Ichiro, as an older man now, is still distraught that he couldn’t keep his promise and save Keiko. All he has is a note saying there are no records of her.

I have to say, while I read this, the combination of poetry and verse made it interesting and also set a clear difference between past and present and personality and the changes time has done to Ichiro. It was powerful and beautiful and amde me tear up a few times as I could feel as if I was with Ichiro through his journey, rather than reading an account of someone that this is happening to.

I even had to share with my husband because it just stuck with me so much and it left hope and wanting to be able to believe in hope and not giving up.

I can only recommend this story, and now I am myself intrigued about Kerry’s other works so may go check those out because the writing made this book work really well (the artwork was also a great help at the points where it was, which were minimal but they were well chosen).