Book Review

Moon Reads: Minority Monsters!

Minority Monsters! by Tab Kimpton

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself, after it was recommended by a friend (thanks Kayden)

Minority Monsters is like an adventure dive into a new world, where you get a two page comic of one of the “monsters” and then two pages on the particular minority this is focusing on.

The first thing you find is a map to Alphabet Soup Land where all the monsters exist and then a nice foreword followed by the very first two-page comic where you meet the not-so-invisible Bisexual Unicorn in all its glory and it is wonderful! From there you get to meet many more LGBTQ+ creatures, each with a small comic and then a helpful “encyclopaedia” mixed with “field notes” on that particular identity and what it means.

Honestly, the comics are awesome, the artwork is delightful, the details of each creature and their story, alongside the descriptions and more in-depth explanations are just the icing on the perfect cake of a good introductory book to queer identities.

I cannot recommend this enough to everyone as a wonderful book to have in your library!

*Our dog would not move and instead required copious belly rubs so he was added to this picture, he is the mythical belly rubs monster 😉

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Marvellous Light

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Proof copy provided by publisher upon request

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.

A Marvellous Light has an intense start about the circumstances that place our pair of main characters into the plot. Robin has been given a new job and has to make the most of it, even if it appears to be the wrong job and he is way out of his depth. He seems to have a lot of family drama and the book in this sense feels like a very Downton Abbey kinda thing but make it gay.

Then we have Edwin Courcey who is the liaison for the magical world and therefore has to work with Robin. Edwin is prickly and a bit not amused by how little Robin knows but slowly warms up to him. He gives the impression that he has better things to do than his actual role and therefore is just doing it out of politeness.

The plot centres mostly on the romance developing between Edwin and robin, which is probably where I went wrong with this book. I was looking forward to a historical kinda fantasy with romance, whereas the best way to describe A Marvellous Light is that it is a romance with some historical fantasy happening around it.

The magic system and the world are interesting and being dropped in as Robin does was also quite a good way to learn. We also have Miss Morrisey and her sister who are probably the best characters in the book and are the most developed secondary characters of this book outside of the main characters, which again is a shame because, given the development of the characters, it could’ve been something I liked more.

Overall, if you want a sweeping romance with plot and magic happening around it, with a lot of angst and romance and things to force the characters to make quick decisions and maybe have to put their lives on the line, that may read a little like good Downtown Abbey fan fiction with magic and gay, this is the absolute book for you. If instead, you’d like a magical fantasy set in a historical world with some romance in it that is gay, then this may not be exactly for you. You end up getting less of the plot as the book goes and more romance, which I felt sad about because the magic sounded very interesting and I would’ve liked more of that.

Book Review

Moon Reads: I am NOT Starfire

I am NOT Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani

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

Read Before: No

Ownership: Preordered because I like Starfire and the art fo Yoshi Yoshitani

Spoilers: Free of spoilers but will discuss plot.

I was really into Teen Titans when I was younger (the original Cartoon Network ones were so cute) and therefore I have a soft spot for them and when I saw Yoshi Yoshitani was the artist for this I had to get it.

The premise is that Starfire’s daughter is most certainly not like Starfire. Mandy is more of an outcast, less of an extrovert, prefers black and darkness and not the fame and bubbly spirit that her mum is. And also, she is keeping secrets form Starfire who is trying to save the world and keep her daughter well.

Things suddenly get in motion when Mandy gets paired up with other class crush, Claire for a project and therefore starts to feel like she’s making friend,s but also, Starfire’s past is catching up with her and may affect Mandy, and Mandy may have to make big decisions before she feels ready.

If anything this comic is a love letter to Starfire, to not knowing fully your identity, maybe of being first-generation and trying to figure out how to fit in the world but also with the expectations of your family. And it is about being mixed and having doubts, cracks in your identity. It was a very interesting exploration of various themes and at the same time you could see it as a very cute romance and fun superhero book. To me it was both and the art was amazing, alongside a very interesting plot.

Recommended for Teen Titans fans, and anyone who wants a wacky fun superhero and family, and identity graphic novel. I sped through this one and then shared with my friends so they could enjoy it too.

Book Review

Moon Reads: RWBY The Beacon Arc (Full Series)

RWBY: The Beacon Arc (Full Series) by Bunta Kinami

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

Read Before: Yes, I tried to read the first volume but wasn’t in the mood, apparently, later on I was.

Series: RWBY The Beacon Arc

Ownership: Bought and preordered respectively.

Another Full Series review and this was a short series. For some reason, I had high hopes for it and I struggled a lot to get on with the art of it mixed with the writing. I did enjoy the characters a lot but they were a little too similar in the manga to be able to distinguish them as much as I would have liked, which is why it didn’t get a high rating. It also assumes you have watched the anime, which is all fine but there is no catch-up, nothing beyond “hi, welcome to this story where we gloss over 90 of everything and just do action scenes”.

The story is basically about Ruby getting to the Beacon Academy because she is very talented and can become a Huntress against the Grimm which are monsters in this world. As she starts, she defeats a big villain no one else can and then becomes the captain of her team because she wins a challenge, and then goes on about hunting the big villain and making her way as a team with her enemy.

It felt a little too much of a “perfect one heroine” that does no wrong and if she does, the day still gets saved, her clumsiness is cute and basically it is a collection of all the possible cliches and Mary Sue like things you’d expect but in drawn form in a fantasy world, plus a lot of fan service in how the characters are dressed nad how they show in the manga. It was still an interesting plot and the world is interesting but it was too much a “perfectly perfect cute lady that wow, does no wrong, saves the day can think better than the best adults ever, and wow, so young, much amazing”.

Still, it was a good waste of time and therefore I decided to review it.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Out of the Woods Illumicrate

Subscription box: Illumicrate

Theme/Month: Out of the Woods, June 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.

Despite last month’s box being my most anticipated read and a great box, I think this is one of my favourite boxes of the year from them, so let’s see why I think so, starting from the leaflet in the middle of the lower row:

  • Out of the Woodes leaflet with the photo challenge and contents detailed.
  • A wordmark with a quote about it, but I love the sleepy fox and yes I won’t use it as a bookmark but the design wins me over.
  • The main book which was stunning, The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid.
  • A creepy kinda print which goes well with some others and I just like the artwork.
  • The Lord of the Rings puzzle in a “book” case, my puzzle-loving heart is extra happy since it is from LOTR.
  • A beautiful and delicate glass bottle with birch trees and a quote woven around, the design of it looks amazing when you fill the bottle.
  • The monthly pin, which as per usual is a nice pin.
  • A woodpin for We Hunt the Flame
  • Probably my least favourite item, a print that hangs in a fancy hanging way for Holly Black, I think?

Overall, the theme and items completely matched and the vibe was spot on with it, the designs were delicate and forest and had a tinge of the creepy and the beautiful. I felt like the whole box was a good one and I am very happy.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Raven Heir

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bid for the proof copy in aid as it was annotated.

As a fan of Stephanie’s books, and knowing the Raven Heir was in the making a few years ago, it was inevitable I’d bid and bid until I got this proof. Which then I promptly devoured and enjoyed thoroughly.

In the same delightful fun fantasy adventure style as The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, The Girl with the Dragon Heart and, The Princess who Flew with Dragons, The Raven Heir explores the power of the character’s internal magic and what makes them be unique and therefore magical or the heroine that is needed.

We meet Cordelia and her triplets, Giles and Rosalind, who are much more well-behaved than she is, and a lot less wild. She can feel it in her bones, in her being, that the woods call her, the shape-shifting is ever so tempting and it is hard to obey the rules. But Cordelia tries hard and does her best, even if sometimes this doesn’t work out.

But when the safety of her home is at stake and the triplets are suddenly in the run for their lives, it is Cordelia who seems to know more than her triplets and who will have to make very tough decisions.

Overall the book explores the power of being siblings, friendship and the weight of responsibility and knowing something. But it also has a lot of animals, and nature involved, and all the elements of a perfect Disney/Pixar film, or a good animated series that will stay with you for years to come. Actually, if it was to be made as a film, I’d say give it to the studio behind The Secret of Kells, or Wolfwalkers, because it would fit so beautifully in that style. If you have watched either film or any of their films, The Raven Heir has that magical quality and fantasy epic that is also heavily tied with nature and living and the power and weight of choices made.

As per usual, the author has made an amazing book and there is layers and layers of it to look into, starting with the world and then coming to Cordelia, her magic and the magic of her triplets, alongside her identity and the adventure they have to set off to save the kingdom.

Highly recommended to readers of all ages, anyone that loves a good story, one that will stick with you forever, this is the one to pick.

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: Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Borrowed from Nikki at https://booksandlemonsquash.com/

I had my eye on Amari for a while but then didn’t buy it and somehow ended up borrowing it from Nikki. I do not regret my choices.

Overall the magic concept, the invitation Amari gets, and the “summer camp” are wonderful, alongside the way they get selected for a career and to develop magic. The worldbuilding was delightful, and I could see myself enjoying this now and even more if I had gone back in time and gifted this book to my younger self at around 10-12 years old.

The one thing I did struggle with a lot was the beginning of the book, I can’t put my finger on it but it just didn’t grab my attention and I had to force myself to get through the first few chapters. They read a little like a mix of Harry Potter with Meg Murray’s anger from A Wrinkle in Time, and yet it didn’t have the casual effect both series had on me, maybe it was because I had already read those books and therefore it just didn’t make the same impact to me. Not sure, but once I got past those starting chapters and more into the world, I was more into it.

I think the strength of this book is the world-building and the characters. I wasn’t actually huge on Amari, but the rest of the cast made up for the times I wanted to grab Amari and knock some sense into her, but overall it was a good set of characters that interacted well with each other and even the grown-ups had a good part in it at times.

The overall big reveal was well prepared for and yet it still wasn’t blatantly obvious sot hat you did feel surprised and yet could say “oh that makes sense”. Of course, this is a spoiler-free review so I will not reveal what that particular event is, but I enjoyed the plot and its development. It feels well suited for the target reader age and also suitable for readers of all ages.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Wood Bee Queen Blogtour

The Wood Bee Queen by Edward Cox

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Provided by the publisher to participate in the blog tour. This does not affect what I say in the review.

Spoilers: None

As mentoned above, I am part of the blog tour and thankful to Gollancz for the copy provided, but my review is still my own thoughts and not affected by this. Now unto the actual review.

The Wood Bee Queen reads as a tale told by someone who lived it or was a descendant of someone who lived through it. This is great in a way since you get a very intimate feeling at times, in certain parts of the plot, as if you could hear your grandma recalling the story and see her eyes get all watery or emotional. I really enjoyed this part of the intimacy of the tale and the magic and folklore of it. However, due to that particular feeling, it was also at times quite slow, particularly at the start of the book felt to just be setting up forever and not really saying much or doing much.

The story goes through parts of a town that has a dual aspect, under and over the Sea, and as much as they are parallel places, there seems to have been some characters moving from one side to the other. Ebbie is a librarian who likes his routine, is struggling to come up with a plan for his future and is actually kind and gentle. His life up until the library is sold seems to be the right kind of gentle life one could live forever, but then events are set in motion and Ebbie gets dragged into fulfilling the will of someone and help save Wood Bee House. Then we have Bek, who is a thief and trying to get out of the area, that accidentally keeps stumbling upon things she shouldn’t and getting into trouble. Also an unsuspecting piece in the game.

Oh, I do want to add that if the title wasnt meant as a pun, I still love it.

Now back to the sensible review. Wood Bee Queen is a story about petty gods playing with the world and trying to one-up the other, and the mortals playing along and “helping” them or placing themselves in the path of the gods. It gave me slight vibes of reading Trudi Canavan and her Age of the Five books, not as epic as those but the same kind of gods and interactions. But that is as far as it goes, the rest is a tale of its own that has a feel of being familiar and also new.

I enjoyed it but I did wish it was not as slow in parts and that it had a bit more something special since, in the end, it did not stand out enough from other fantasy tales for me to scream excitedly about it. It was good, and it was like a comfort read, and if that is what you are looking for then it is absolutely perfect.