Book Review

Moon Reads: Hungry Ghost

Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying

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

Nothing is perfect, and as such, the reviews in this blog are chaotic. My main aim is to share my thoughts, joy and opinions on a book, not make a publication perfect review. This blog endorses authenticity, showing up and joy over perfection.


I cant remember what made me pre-order this book, since I have been limiting my preorders a lot, trying to only buy a few preorders and read through my backlog, which is honestly terrifying. But I am glad I did.

Hungry Ghost takes is through the story of Valerie, who since she was young has felt the pressure to be perfect. And perfect is not just good grades, and being a good daughter, but being thin. And being thin comes at a cost which turns into purging and binging.

The story explains a little on why there is this pressure, and family dynamics, but you also learn a lot about Val in the way she interacts with her best friend Jordan.

I have to say that I enjoyed the art a lot and it lend itself to the story beautifully, each bouncing off the other and making it into a gorgeous graphic novel. The details are lovely, there’s a lot of keeping to a few nice palettes and themes, and there is joy in this work despite the topics included.

This leads to the fact that this is a book with a few content warnings, some of which be spoilers but still, my advise is to come at it knowing there is grief, toxic projections from a parent and of course eating disorders which then touch on fatphobia and similar issues. Still, it was nice to see Val journey through confronting her own “demons” and what her mind has created out of what everyone else has said to her, and the shape it has taken.

It also makes you question where you get your value and if chasing things like thinness or perfection truly brings you the happiness needed or if is it a failed attempt before you even start? Honestly, I breezed through this one and just felt enthralled by it.

One last thing is that it shines in showing that relationships in many ways, shapes and forms can be complex, and sometimes love is shown in a huge variety of ways, and sometimes someone only knows how to love in a certain way and all we can do is do our best to bridge the gap and show them how to love us in a way that suits us better. It is easier when you stop seeing everyone as the enemy and start understanding that we all have our own things that have shaped us to show love in a certain way. It doesn’t justify things, but it means you understand better and you try to love others better but also love yourself and know your boundaries, and be kinder to others.

I recommend it is a wonderful story with good depth and fascinating art.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

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

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.

Nothing is perfect, and as such, the reviews in this blog are chaotic. My main aim is to share my thoughts, joy and opinions on a book, not make a publication perfect review. This blog endorses authenticity, showing up and joy over perfection.


Let’s start with the fact that I really enjoyed this book, way more than I thought I would. I was expecting a cosy cute read but nothing that would fully wow me, and yet as I read I couldn’t stop reading and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much that I’ve been suggesting it to everyone I can as one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

Emily is a professor on everything faeries and expert on that topic, comfortable trekking nature and knowing how to interact with all kinds of creatures, except humans. Socual cues seem to escape her grasp and she is content with her own company. So when she goes on an adventure to complete the final chapter needed for her encyclopaedia (and in her own way what is her whole research and personal work put into one), she stumbles upon struggling with making friends with the people of Hrafnsvik (this gives me Iceland kinda vibes on where this is and what she is studying as the “Hidden Ones”).

She accidentally offends them and therefore is struggling to keep herself warm in the cottage she got and to fend for herself beyond the help of some faery folk and it isn’t until her rival and colleague, Wendell Bambleby, arrives to attach himself to her studies and “help” her that things start to work a little better on the social aspect.

Now the story covers partly the study of the Hidden Ones and I enjoyed the itneractions alongside the ways the Hidden Ones affect the village and the village people. I also adored the approach Emily has to studying and doing research and her no nonsense view of the world. It also helps that she isn’t perfect, she struggles, makes mistakes and despite being good at some things even then she is not the best ever. Instead she is a human being struggling with some parts, putting up with others, ignoring herself sometimes for her goals, and so on and so forth which was nice to read.

There is also the relationship and general “how to be with people” part of it. In some parts Emily cares a lot and in others she doesn’t, and of course, we have Bambleby, who she seems to enjoy in company but also finds slightly annoying. And yet he manages to interact with others quite well except maybe Emily herself.

Overall, this is a story full of cosy vibes with a little bit of faerie chaos included and some extra adventures but nothing too far off or too much that it is distressing, it is more about a way up and figuring yourself better, alongside learning about others (not just faerie folk). I enjoyed it a lot and it reminded me of the joy reading brings and that feeling after a good read that makes you want to not read any other book and yet read them all afterwards.

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Magic Steeped in Poison

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Somehow I ended with 3 copies of it because I preordered it twice and also had one from the publisher.


Apparently, if you say your book is about tea and magic, I might end up accidentally preordering it twice (Waterstones had a sprayed edges version that is absolutely stunning). In case anyone had doubts, I really wanted to read it. And I have no regrets.

A Magic Steeped in Poison follows the story of Ning, as she makes her way to the capital city so she can compete and maybe become the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making so she can earn a favour from the Princess and save the life of her sister.

I absolutely loved the magic system in the book, come on, it is all about tea and herbs but it is also about intent and connections and Ning is genuinely a country bumpkin who just wants to save her sister and accidentally ends up in the middle of a big political conflict plus a fierce competition. And obviously the rich people that are all fancy pansy do not want Ning, the peasant to win a competition and be the greatest, so she also has to survive that chaos of prejudice and people fighting dirty during the competition.

Alongside that, there is a lot about political scheming, Ning being used and having to play her cards close to her chest while battling the feelings in her heart and her main goal of saving her sister. She keeps accidentally being in the right place wrong time or right place right time and listening to things she should not or being involved accidentally and I loved it. Her character was refreshing and I enjoyed reading the whole story.

If you like tea, magic, meet cutes, conflict, competitions in the midst of political scheming, then this is totally the book for you.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The First Binding Blog Tour

The First Binding by R. R. Virdi

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

Ownership: Review copy provided by publisher but I have been excited to read it for ages.

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.


This is going to be probably the weirdest review first paragraph ever, so you have been warned. Have you ever grown tired of the usual fantasy tropes of clueless hero, lovely stunning lady, lots of worldbuilding, some info dump here and there, potential trigger topics used just for the plot or close to fridging? Well, fear not, because The First Binding somehow is refreshingly none of that!

Do I mean to say our hero, Ari, isn’t a bit clueless? Yes he is but not the usual fantasy trope way. And what about having stunning lady in the story? Yes we do, but she is her own mystery and worth checking out. She is not there just for plot points.

In all honesty, because I am not the wittiest review writer, the one thing I can highly the most about The First Binding is how refreshing it is. Ari is a completely different male hero/villain/grey character. He is incredibly fully fleshed and has so many shades of grey that you can’t help but want to see them all and hear all his stories. The mechanic of worldbuilding and plot deployment as stories told by Ari and sometimes nested storytelling is brilliant and it does not for once feel just as info dump or as odd chapters taken from a different book. You feel as if you are there when Ari is telling his stories, and as things happen in the present.

One of the things I noticed the most and really really appreciated was how Ari treats female characters and how R. R. Virdi writes them. There is respect in there and not just a dump of a character for the sake of needing padding in plot. All throughout the book Ari has a way of approaching things and morality that felt good to read about, to see him live by it and colour his choices, and you can see how he learns from his experiences as he goes through his stories. Eloine is surprised by his way of being, but honestly so was I and I loved it. It is probably one of my favourite things here, and trust me, the stories and adventures are also incredibly good.

I have read many good books this year, but The First Binding climbed incredibly quickly to the top and currently has wiped out every other amazing book I have read. I cannot wait to read the next book and know more.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Foxes in Love Vol. 1

Foxes in Love Vol. 1 by Toivo Kaartinen

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

Read before: Yes and no.

Ownership: Gifted by the awesome Justine for my birthday!

I love, love Foxes in Love as little comics, and when they first launched the book I wanted one but they didn’t ship it to the UK, so I waited, but now they do. And then I had it on my wishlist and Justine sent it as a surprise and I read it super quick and smiled a lot.

I really love the foxes, the comics are online so you can find them on twitter and Instagram that’s where I usually read them. But as I read through this one I realised I had missed quite a few even if several where also very familiar.

Mostly the book is about two foxes, Green and Blue who are in love and are having little adventures or declarations of love, and you just get to see their personalities, their relationship and a lot fo it made me smile either reminding of friends or situations or things I wish for, so very relatable, plus they are foxes which is always a big bonus in my books as you may know.

Overall, if you have seen the ones online, I recommend having this little book and collecting them. I want volume 2 too!

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Last Firefox

The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery. Illustrated by Laura Catalán

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered because it was irresistible

When I saw this book I knew I had to read it and add it to my foxy collection.

The Last Firefox follows Charlie as he is trying to be a little bit braver and deal with bullies at school that make fun of him, while also considering he may need to be more brave as circumstances change in his house. So when he accidentally stumbles upon some chaos and ends up with a baby firefox in his arms that needs care and may well set everything on fire plus also did anyone mention it may be the last one ever? poor Charlie is well in deep waters and needs to figure out if there is any bravery down there because it is well needed.

Thankfully he is not alone and he has Cadno, the little firefox, alongside his best friends Lippy and Roo who have bene trying to help him find his own brand of bravery and ways to stand up to the bullies. And I will actually say that it was lovely to see that the book tackles that bravery comes in different forms and we all learn to stand up strong for ourselves sin our own very personal ways so what works for one person may not work for another but that still doesn’t mean we cant do something or try to be brave. And never mind the fact that the book also features two dads, which was a lovely dynamic to see alongside the topic of adoption.

The adventures are chaotic and made me giggle but it was also how lovely and cosy this book was, the parents arent absent and there is a lot of ridiculous things going on alongside some more serious ones, plus one of the main characters is a fox that has fire and well, if you know me at all, I love fire and fire-themed things and foxes, so this si absolutely perfect. A good balance of all the good things.

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Psalm for the Wild Built

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

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

Read before: No

Ownership: My best friend threw the book at me because I had to read it, she was right.

Ok, this is a book about a monk and a robot. But it is also a book about tea, about what offering someone a cup of tea is like and what it can provide relief, for listening to them. It is also a book about identity, about what defines humanity, a soul and conscience. It is about duties and expectations.

If you expect a light book, this is not for you despite it being relatively short. Because it is a book that will make you think and reconsider your whole life. You will wonder why you are not doing something else, or if you are truly happy.

Overall, the point of this book is about the purpose and about choices. What do humans need? It depends on who you ask and when. If I am terribly tired, I would say sleep or overall peace. But who knows what we really need. It is hard to talk for the whole of humanity, as much as we are a collective we are also a bunch of individuals and this book will make you think about all of this and more. Honestly, I cannot recommend it enough even though I can barely describe it without retelling the story.

But the main character is non-binary, serves tea and does their own mixes for a living moving around in a little wagon type thing that offers tea services and a friendly ear and delicious mixes to soothe the soul. I just loved the concept of this, and I wish I could do this tea mastery serving to others the right tea, perfect for their needs and the time of their lives.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Under the Whispering Door

Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune

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

Read Before: No

Ownership: Received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a review but also preordered.

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.

Welcome to my blog tour post, but also my review, but also where I say I wish I could rate something over 5 foxes.

Under the Whispering Door is my absolute kind of book. It is about death and dying and about what comes next, but it is also about grief which is something that attracts me to books a lot [if you have been reading my reviews for a while, books with any of the themes around death and grief are huge for me]. And it is a book about a tea shop, yes, about tea, and cakes. And there is also a cosy and soft gentle aspect, but there is also fierceness and a touch of weird and I love it.

Wallace Price dies after having lived a corporate job life to the point that his job consumed and defined his life. So when he realizes he is dead and needs to move on, he isn’t quite ready for that. The book focuses on him coming to terms with the fact that maybe his life wasn’t what he thought it was or that maybe there was more to life than a job. But this means he doesn’t have much motivation to move on as he arrives at a cute tea shop where Hugo, the ferryman is there to help him be ready to move on.

There was a lot of focus on the fact that Wallace gets an ultimatum of seven days to move on, but this only really comes later in the book, and therefore it kept me guessing which took a bit off my enjoyment. However, overall the book is a little bit about Wallace learning to see himself in a different light but also to consider the privilege and also the lack of things he had in his life. But I also thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the main cast of characters and the reasons why they’re there.

If grief, death and wholesome but also intense self-review and considering what kind of human you may be, with a point to self-reflecting is not for you, then this book will miss the mark, but if you are open to this type of emotions and reflections, it is a wonderful read and it might bring tears to some readers. Not me but I have a very unusual perspective on grief and death so this was a nice read and some of the views were interesting to read, particularly because it leaves a lot open to fit various beliefs on what comes next in the afterlife, and that was nice to see that it didn’t try to pigeon hole into a single one.

One of the things I want to highlight it that obviously it is centered on death and therefore it touches on a variety of deaths and what brings them on, alongside mental health and other circumstances that may cause anxiety in some readers, or be sensitive subjects to them, so read with care, but if you can dip your toes into this book I recommend doing so.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered Waterstones paperback edition

I had heard a lot of good things about this book, but I am also wary of “hype” because it is usually not my thing. However, the premise of the story sounded like my kind of thing, wholesome but with a tinge of sadness, melancholia and grief. And it was exactly that, but softer and much better.

Linus has a predictable life, he has stuck to his job, he cares about doing his job well but only to complete his task. As a caseworker for magical children in government orphanages, he investigates incidents and helps to oversee their wellbeing. He is almost clinical about this, but he also cares and doesn’t want to be swayed by the adults. So when he is asked to report to the most high level of management, he is terrified.

They give him a very special assignment with little information since everything is classified, but the main thing is to go visit this particular orphanage that has extremely dangerous magical children: a female gnome, a powerful sprite, a wyvern, a green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and finally the AntiChrist.

But what ends up surprising Linus the most is Arthur, the caretaker of the children who works hard on helping them grow to the best of their magical capabilities while retaining dreams and their “humanity”.

Overall the story is about Linus finding what happens when your dreams suddenly fall onto your lap with some interesting strings attached and you have a choice. But it is also about equality and that being magical is not something to be afraid of just because it is different. And there are also a myriad of secrets kept in this house and in the surroundings, which Linus slowly starts finding out.

Overall, it was a feel-good story with some interesting social and cultural commentary about our times, with the help of magic it touches some intense aspects about what it is to be different and rejected, or to be labelled something and therefore dealing with prejudice, but also, about being allowed to dream even if it seems impossible.

This was a book that once I got going, I had to stay up until 2 am to finish it because I could not put it down and also because it felt like a balm to my soul. It was the exact right amount of sad, heartwarming and cosy I needed.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Far From the Light of Heaven

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Review copy provided by the publisher and preordered too.

Spoilers: No, but will talk about the plot vaguely.

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.

Far From the Light of Heaven is a heavy hitter in the space opera, thriller and murder mystery categories. And it has stuck to me, even months after having read it initially. I want everyone to read it because it is brilliant and like a good dish, it has layers upon layers of flavour that you slowly discover as you turn the pages and keep reading.

One of my favourite things in the book was the way Tade made the existence in space so real. It isn’t a perfect idea like Star Wars and Star Trek where somehow the only times there are technical issues it is for the plot. In this case, you can see the training, the pressure, the many things that may go wrong, and the inconvenience of doing long journeys (the characters don’t get a magic pass at how to go into deep sleep and wake up the same age as they went to sleep as if nothing had happened, for example). The best way to summarise is to say that he asked the question of “this is where we are now with space travel, how would it be to deal with a bunch of stuff going wrong, with a murder mystery, with AI and just have to deal with it?” and honestly, the answer to it is fascinating.

Ragtime as the AI and spaceship is an interesting and nuanced exploration of what AI can be and is at the same time, like a present and future all in one. And that is all I will say about the AI in the book even though I honestly could write an essay on it because it was also another favourite part (yes, apparently this is a review full of favourite parts, ok? the five foxes should have given you a hint).

Finally, I will say that the cast is relatively small even though there is a wider cast of secondary characters that mostly help place the main cast, but even they seem to have a life of their own even if we are not privy to it through the main story. The book also touches on what identity may be and what it is to be alien, or a foreigner, and the way you may be perceived by different groups of people. And finally, it touches on religious beliefs, not in a religious way but more as an exploration of what it is to believe or not and what you believe in.

This is probably Tade’s best work to date and my engineering heart is satisfied.

If you haven’t preordered or ordered it yet, it is coming out on the 29th of October so make sure you grab a copy and maybe read it for a wonderfully spooky and atmospheric horror/thriller feel.