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!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales

Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Christmas gift from a lovely friend (Zoe)

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Franklin and Luna #3, you can read my review for the the first and second adventure if you want to know about them.

This time the story is about Luna and the town people preparing a party for Franklin, but they’ve to distract him on his birthday so they go on an adventure.

Accidentally, while browsing books, Luna’s pet turtle goes into a locked book so they follow. Inside the book they start finding the characters of various fairy tales (I think this is the perfect opportunity to “queue” each fairy tale to be read for the next few nights after this book if you’re reading this aloud or if it is a young reader on their own and testing their wings) and as they explain that they’re searching for their turtle friend.

No one has seen the turtle until they find the right fariytale (I’ll let you guess which one, though I’d classify it is a fable rather than a tale). And then they make it to the party with some extra friends tagging along.

I like the concpet of it and that characters keep showing up but new ones come through each new book and the artwork is stunning and fun so I can highly recommend it still. It makes me happy to just read the books and chill.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Winter Tales

Winter Tales by Dawn Casey and Zanna Goldhawk

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A Christmas gift via wishlist

Spoiler free review: No

This book is a collection of short “fairy tales” from different countries around the world. Each of the tales comes with an introduction of which country the story comes from and some background on it.

The book starts with The White Bear King which is the tale of the bear prince and the princess who goes with him and then sees him at night and has to go rescue him, from Norway.

Tanuki‘s Gold is a tale from Japan about a monk and a tanuki that visits him every winter instead of hibernating which I found very sweet.

The Mitten is short and sweet and feels like the kind of story that is a verse rather than a long tale, about a boy who loses one mitten in the snow and the creatures that find it ot be a cosy home.

A Cloak for the Moon is about the moon wanting a nice cloak but being unable to find cloth for herself until a brave tailor goes around on a quest for the Moon.

The Nutcracker is a familiar tale about a young girl, and an enchanted nutcracker gifted to her.

The Poinsettia is a tale from Mexico about why the poinsettias are called “Noche Buena” which is “Holy Night/the good night” as it was a gift during Christmas season.

Wee Robin Red Breast and The Little Black Cat are both are animals and winter and finding companionship and in similar sense feel shorter tales or verse tales.

The Snow Maiden is about a child made from snow by a couple and blessed by Winter to become a snow child.

The Silver Pinecones explains the tradition of painting silver pine cones thanks to a gnome king.

The Apple Tree Man is all about wassailing and blessings by taking care of what is given to you and nature.

Sister and Brother is about a pair of siblings that dont help their mother and end up having her taken away by Blizzard so they embark on a quest to rescue her and learn to be more helpful and kind.

The Mother of the Sea is about why winter nights become shorter and we get a nicer seaosn after ward.

The Snow Queen is a traditional tale of a queen that has inspired many other tales.

Rabbit’s Gift is a fun take on how what you give comes back to you in a way.

The Children and the Sun is a Southern African tale that I hadnt read before.

The Twelve Months is a tale about two young girls and how they see the world. I know this tale as the “Seven Days of the Week” but the actual results is the same on how the one girl is blessed and the other isn’t due to how they treat others.

Brigit and the Cailleach is the tale of the origin of Brigit.

Overall it is a lovely delightful collection of wintery and seasonal tales with stunnign illustrations and as I read it I felt like I was going back in time to sitting in my grandparents living room ont he floor reading the various treasuries of tales from different countries, and it was just a really nice read. I think you could also read this one tale each night to children and itd be a nice tradition for December for example.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Once Upon A Story Book Box Club

Still behind on my unboxing posts, but will hopefully catch up soon on it. For today I am unboxing Book Box Club’s Once “Upon A Story” box, which does have a distinct fairytale vibe with all that was included. So what was inside? Starting from bottom left corner and going clockwise:

  • Personalised clubhouse invite, this is for a chat with the author which is pretty fun as you get to aks questions and interact with other people who get the box.
  • Fairytale Sparrow + Wolf designed cushion cover, which is super cute and big fairytale book vibes. It feels right for a kids room or a reading room for sure.
  • The main book, which has a middle grade feel to it but looks stunning here, D: A Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber.
  • A Weekly Book Planner all lovingly decorated with magical beings and lots of ways to record what you’ve read. I like the concept of these but I am terrible at the execution of it, somehow this blog and Goodreads are as good as it gets with my reading tracking and I don’t plan much what I read or set specific goals because then that takes the fun out of reading sadly.
  • No Place Like Home candle, I have generally no complaints abut candles since they’re usually nicely scented and I use them when I am working so all good.
  • Postcards to promote another book but also they are very dance and circus-like which I like a lot given I train aerial arts in my free time.
  • Theme card, which on the other side has the contents detailed and why alongside links to the makers.
  • A multiuse scarf with a fantasy story/fairytale vibe. I have to admit I haven’t used any of the ones they send but they are quite fun as a multiuse thing and I think if I put my head to it I would use them more, but I end up not doing much with my hair or neck, so this goes unused.
  • An Auryn pin, which is very stunning.

Overall the items look amazing together and outside of the fact I am not very good at making use of two of them I like them, they fit the theme and are generally useful rather than just clutter generating. I do wish I was more into making notes and organising things. I can still highly recommend their boxes as they bring me a lot of joy!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Splinters of Scarlet

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

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

This book was part of Book Box Club’s box a few months back and even though had had the book on my want to read list, I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond a bit of a fairytale feeling.

I think Splinters of Scarlet definitely hits the spot on having a fairy tale feeling and vibe all over it, but at the same time it is like a modern fairytale. And yet it feels lost in time. I’d say it has a more “The Girl and the Bear” kind of feel than “A Curse so Dark and Lonely”, like a happy middle between those two kinds of fairytale.

I think my most favourite thing was the magic system, the fact that you get a very unique way of using your magic and that it is literally in your blood so using it too much “freezes” your veins and kills you. From things like being good at glass blowing, or being able to sew perfectly and so fast, or just being able to detect lies, it has a lot of fun ways of being used and it was fascinating to see the interaction of those that have it and those that don’t, since as much as it is a blessing it is also a curse. Sadly, this part wasn’t explored as much as it could’ve but it was still fascinating.

The second best thing was that it touches on both dance and clothes making, and it was delightful to see those woven through the whole story. It gave it that extra magical fairy tale feeling for me even if technically none of those things are specific to fairytales.

And I really liked how the characters develop and interact. To be fair at the beginning it wasn’t as interesting because it is just before we move to where the main story happens, but it gives a precedent setting. It gets so much better when we meet the full cast and start interacting with more and more people. I liked the interactions, the resentment, the ways of living contrasting between them, and the hidden story plotline feels (though for me there was little guesswork almost from the very first chapter of what the “aha moment” would be).

Given that I knew what the main revelation would be I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t annoy me. So I can say that if you want a fairytale kind of story with an interesting magic system, this is one to read for sure!

Book Review, Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Tarot of the Divine and Beneath the Moon

This is a mix “review” of two things I got that I couldn’t really separate just for the sake of posting about them.

The first is the deck of Tarot of the Divine. This was made by Yoshi Yoshitani and the focus was to make it diverse, queer and just full or new meaning. Each card is a story, some deeper meaning and I absolutely love the artwork and the connections made, plus the fact that it features stories and lore from all over the world, not just the usuals or just the European fairytales. It goes beyond that and does an amazing job and the meanings of the story/lore matching the meaning of the card they represent in the deck.

As a tie in, there is a book, Beneath the Moon, which collects the artwork and stories that feature in the deck. It doesn’t collect everything, since it’d be a very thick book if it did, but it features the main ones, and it made me really excited to read the stories and feel like this is a perfect fairytale book to keep coming back to. It has the stories, gorgeous colourful art and a lot of diversity in cultures and countries.

As a coherent couple fo things, I am just in awe at the immense work Yoshi put into making this deck and book. Every card has packed so much detail trying to convey the story but at the same time, to make them tie in with their meaning and with the opening of many possible interpretations.

There are stories from every continent, form every type of story, I don’t even have enough words on how exciting this is for me since it is gorgeous and perfect.

Book Review, Books

Thorn Review

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

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

Thron was included in one of the recent Book Box Club boxes. However, I had it on preorder and didn’t catch that it was the same book, so I got duplicates and gifted a copy to a friend.

Obviously means I was eager to read it, right?

From the start, there is a fairy tale undertone to the story (I know it is based on the story of the goose girl, but some books that are based on fairy tales do not read like one) and it sets the tone for the rest of the book in a wonderful way.

We meet Alyrra as she is preparing to meet her future husband’s family. She is in general a resigned unhappy princess that would rather have a different life. However, she doesn’t want an adventure as one would expect. What she wants is just peace, to be able to be insignificant in a way. And she wants to not have her cruel family over her. As much as she is unsure about the alliance through marriage and who the prince is, she sees this as a way out of her family and country to somewhere that may be better.

What she doesn’t expect is to end up as the lady in company of the princess rather than the actual princess, which puts her into the position of a goose girl as ajob. Which she finds delightful. It is hard work, but it is work and she is gettign exactly what she wants. Plus there’s a wonderful talking horse, Falada, that she has for ocmpany.

The story follows the bones of the goose girl fairy tale but adds to many beautiful layers on top. One of my favourite lines is the concept of family and unity, of found family rather than the given one (which really spoke to me). Another one is the concept of justice and what that may mean. Can justice be truly fair? What does that mean and how is it decided? There is also the way Alyrra starts to figure out who she is outside of the obligations of being a “princess”. And it is interesting to see how she views herself as something but in truth she is ahead of how she sees herself. She calls herself a coward often, but has a lot of courage, and it takes her time to understand that and to see what she is doing as courageous.

I think those layers and the many characters that are very defined in the story, like Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Joa make it even better as a fairy tale on it’s own. Vety enjoyable, feels old and as if it has existed for so long and yet it is fresh and has a lot of questions. Probably the best way to describe Thorn is to say that this is what a fairytale ought to be in 2020. Something to become a classic read over and over and seen as a comfortable uncomfortable story with magic woven through it.

Highly recommend reading it and giving it a chance.

Book Review

The Witch’s Kiss Review

This lovely book is one that Maja raves about and I was curious about. And then Leafer Box sent it as part of the December box, and seriously, it was just like a sign to read it.

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The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?

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

What I knew about this book was that it was a gender bent retelling of Sleeping Beauty. However as much as it has element sof it, is it more than just a retelling and feels more like “inspired” by rather than an actual retelling (this is not a bad thing at all).

One thing I liked is that what Merry is doing regarding Jack affects her regular non magical life. This was a fresh change to read since most of the time it appears that magical adventures have no effect whatsoever on real life for the character and thankfully that was not the case here.

Now I am left wondering what happened to Jack, and how Merry copes afterwards.

Moon recommends

Retellings for the win, and this book, and anything by Robin McKinley. And I am so going to go read the next one but also I have to wait for the last one to come out and oh dear, do I wait for it to come out and binge read or do I try to space it out… Decisions, decisions…