Book Review

Moon Reads: Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for my personal collection

Lily Hu has questions, particularly about herself and why the idea of two women falling in love makes her heart race, or why she clips certain butch female looks, but she is Chinese-American in the 1950s where it is dangerous to seem a little too different and to risk her father’s deportation.

So Lily keeps her questions quiet until she starts hanging out with Kathleen Miller, who is not afraid to go to the Telegraph Club with Lily and hang out there to watch a show. As her world and friendships shift, and priorities change, Lily suddenly is asking more and more questions and saying no to things she might have just shrugged away, and yes to things she would have just wished she did say yes to before.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, is a trip through the US at the time of red-scare paranoia, and particularly what it means to be defining your sexuality alongside your identity and how you fit in this world and country. The story is written with that everyday type of writing that makes you go through the day of Lily and through things as they happen and it all feels luscious and mundane at the same time.

There are so many details about what being in a country that sees you as different in not only one way feels, and what finding the deep secrets you didn’t even dare admit you kept suddenly are more accept or have somewhere to be not a secret anymore and how liberating that can be but also the risks of letting the truth show.

Wonderful read, and highly recommended overall. It is a very different feel to Malinda Lo’s fantasy books but it still ahs the beauty of being an easy read and yet telling a big story, like an epic poem that everyone knows the lines to and can recite as if it was what everyone does.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Goodbye, my Rose Garden (Full Series)

Goodbye, my Rose Garden by Dr. Pepperco (Full Series)

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for my personal collection

Series: Goodbye, my Rose Garden, 3 volumes total.

I have been reading a lot of series, particularly graphic novels and manga, and sometimes it is hard to review a single book without adding spoilers, so now I will be adding some Full Series reviews.

Today I will talk about Goodbye, my Rose Garden. It is a female to female (F/F) series set in semi Victorian era England and focuses on Hanako, who dreams of becoming a novelist. Of course, this is not an easy path so she finds a job as a personal maid to a young noblewoman/lady. This seems to be a wonderful job since the lady, Alice Douglas, likes reading and encourages Hanako’s dream until she makes a very unusual request. Hanako has to kill Alice and end her suffering as she doesn’t deserve to be alive.

Initially, Hanako refuses but agrees to consider it if necessary. And so the story develops into a slow burn romance where Hanako feels it is not suitable to fall for her employer and therefore should tread lightly, but also, she is her personal maid and as such should do her best to help her lady. Alongside this, she has to figure out if she can convince Alice to bail out of the request to kill her, or why she thinks she should be killed. Add to that the path of attempting to become a novelist, Alice’s jealous fiance, and Hanako’s own past, and it is a soft romance with some high stakes.

I usually try the first volume of a series and decide, and wasn’t sure what to expect, but honestly, as I read I knew I had to get the rest. Goodbye, my Rose Garden packs a lot in very little space and it also does a good job of keeping all the plot lines and subplots going rather than abandoning them or half forgetting they are there, which was part fo what made it much dearer for me.

If you want a soft F/F manga set in early twentieth-century England, that focuses on the love of reading and on roses and just being dedicated to living life, this is the one for you.

Book Review, Books

Girls of Paper and Fire Review

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

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

You can totally see I am going through my YALC pile of books witht eh reviews that I ahve been posting, right? Sorry! But I do want to cull what I want signed or not.

I’ve had this ARC for a bit and having heard good and bad things about it I wasn’t sure what to expect. There is animal abuse/death done to show how violent and ruthless they are, but otherwise there isn’t another scene of it. There is sexual assault/violence also. Just in case you need a few pointers.

The story is intriguing. I still want to know why Lei has golden eyes (one thing that is talked about in the book a lot but doesn’t have an explanation yet). But basically, she’s made a concubine for the king for a year and then she will serve the court. It’s meant to be an honour.

One of the things that confused me (a little spoiler here) is that we get told she is the ninth paper girl as if this is a huge feat, etc, but in truth for most of the book there’s only eight of them because one gets the boot immediately after they go through a “test” to see if they are exactly what they said they were. (Also, why do you do this test to see if their beauty is legitimate and not enchanted after you’ve chosen and “finalised”? Why not test just before you finalise so that you don’t have the embarassment of ditching one because she was cheating or whatever. Bugged me through the whole book).

And as per usual, you put a bunch of girls in the same space and there’s rivalry, gossip and some love happening. The story is interesting but Lei just seems to keep moving with the plot rather than actively being part of it (or rather she is part of the plot in as much as she is useful to it and she has to be the plot butotherwise she is just there at the right time for most things).

However I liked the worldbuilding and the stories that made the world for them. The idea of being more “animal” like giving you a higher status was interesting. I did wonder where the line between Steel and Moon castes would fit. As sometimes someone was Moon but they didn’t show as much animal parts but then others Steel had a lot of animal bits and it was a little confusing. Sounded like a fursona’s dream wrold thought.

In summary, it was entertaining and I want to read the next.