Book Review

Moon Reads: Love and Other Natural Disasters

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

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

Read before: No

Spoiler free: Yes

Let’s start this by saying that when Harper had this on their list I had to request it because it had been on my preorders list for ages. So I got a free review copy in the hopes of a review from the publisher and thats all. It doesn’t affect my review at all.

So now unto the true review. We start with Nozomi, who despite being rejected by her crush, she is taking a positive spin and trying to make the most of having to go to San Francisco and spend time with her uncle and brother helping at an art gallery. So when she meets the cutest girl, willow, who has just had a breakup and consoles her, then fate means she is close to her almost daily, she is ready to turn her life into a room com and there is a lot of positive vibes.

And come on Willow is the “ideal perfect girl” Nozomi wants, so when Willow proposes fake dating to make her ex jealous, Nozomi says yes hoping that the fake dating makes her fall for her, but life isn’t a rom-com at all and Nozomi is about to learn a lot of lessons about life, trying to make fake dating work out and that sometimes things may be different than what we think.

I enjoyed this interesting spin on a rom-com and happy go lucky girls. Nozomi tries SO hard to be positive and hope and she gets so wrapped up in her made up world that sometimes it is harsh when the real one comes breaking up all her plans including her family barging in. But it was also refreshing to see a family involved in her life and trying to make it easier or help cushion the fall.

The book made me laugh, and then it made me cry a little, and in the end I liked how it ended because it felt right and it fit what the book was trying to say.

If you like rom-coms and you like romances, this is a good book for you. It does have mentions of dementia, and family issues, alongside slight homophobia, and some mention of death, but it deals with things as a challenge and a growing forward rather than just staying, choices matter.

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.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Jasmine Throne

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Proof copy provided by Orbit, but also got a signed edition and a bookbox edition. I like Tasha’s work, a lot.

Series: Bruning Kingdoms

Spoilers: None.

Just in case you didn’t know, I really like Tasha’s books so my opinion is biased in that I came to this book knowing I would really enjoy it. If my buying several editions of it wasn’t hint enough, this is the neon sign that says I love her writing.

With that out of the way, we get into the main review of this book. I love it. That’s it. That is the review.

Ok, fine, you want more? This is a book about being a region that had power and their own traditions and lost it, alongside trying to fight a tyrant emperor that has deep religious belief. But it isn’t just that, you also get a delicious slow burn lesbian romance, an interesting take on the different sides of religious extremisms, a powerful book about identity, what being a mosnter or not is, and what your wants are.

Honestly, that part of the book reminded me of a frined who keeps asking, “yes, I understand what you’re saying but none of those things are a Moon want, they are a want about the environment you’re in, about the community you live in but none of them are about you specifically, what do you want?” And heck, Priya needs a friend exactly like that, because she has such a soft heart and yet has to wear masks and has forgotten herself and her wants because she’s living for others in a way.

Each of the characters in the story are a wonderful interesting point of view on different things, including Bhumika which I wanted to quote over and over on the motherhood aspect of her life which I thought was such a refreshing thing to read in a book.

No really, this book is an epic fantasy, it could finish here, or it could go into more books and I love that, alongside the fact that there are morally grey characters. They are ALL trying to do what is best, or rather, what they think is best, it just happens to be that no one knows entirely for sure what is exactly the best outcome and if it is genuinely the best outcome, it is just what their imaginations can provide as the best outcome.

The magic in itself was beautiful and I LOVE the botanical and natural elements of it alongside the concpet of the nameless god. The way religion is woven into this tale was for me beautiful and just a lovely breath of fresh air.

God, I am trying to not spoiler this so I can’t say much more because hoenslty there were particular scenes that I adored, and Priya had my heart, completely, but I also loved the fact that most of the female characters show strength in a very varied way, each in such a completely different way and each using that strength, the tools they had to fit their purposes and goals.

Ok, now I am writing an essay in which I will tell you that you need to read this book, and Tasha’s writing is just getting better and better with each book. If you are curious, you can read my reviews for Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash. Also full of nonsensical “I adore this book” ramblings. Forgive someone who has found the perfect combination of slow-burn romance, fantasy, magic, colonialism critique and diverse reads ever.

I can only end this review by urging you to read this book, it has morally grey lesbians with nature magic and strength in many ways.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House by Annabelle Sami. Illustrated by Daniela Sosa

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Agent Zaiba Investigates

The third book in the Agent Zaiba Investigates series, and this time the copy I have came from the publisher, but if you have read my reviews for The Missing Diamonds and The Poison Plot you know I am already sold on this story and would’ve bought my own copy anyway.

As I had predicted on my first review, this series has all the thigns to make it a modern classic for children along the lines of Fantastic Five and Baby Sitters Club. There is intrigued and drama, there is friendship and fun adventures, and on top of that a diverse set of main characters which makes it even better!

Our third detective adventure with Zaiba is when we meet a new family that moved into an old “mansion” kind of house that seems to give all the vibes that it is haunted. Zaiba has an open mind on the possibility of ghosts, but Ali and Poppy arent so sure, and when a housewarming party makes things go bump in the dark, the Snow Leopard Agency UK branch is ready to find out if it is a supernatural cause or not.

Of course the key in the books is the foreshadowing that is done subtly but effectively and therefore when Zaiba starts gathering more clues or finding new ones, piecing together things becomes easier for the reader if they recall what was discussed before the incident. And on this third book the foreshadowing is subtle and there is less of the “Zaiba took notes” kind of vibe that was seen more on the two previous ones. You can see she is starting to get more and more confident but also implementing the detective ways shes learned form her aunt and the Eden Lockett books.

What actually happens with the supernatural haunting mystery is something I wont spoil but I liked the way they get along with it and how there is a lot of building a good community alongside the finding the cause of the issue and who dunnit.

Highly recommended for young readers and middle grade and also adults because it is fun to read, the illustrations are cute and fitting and it is just a nice book to read. Your modern diverse Nancy Drew!

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: The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home by Corrinne Averiss Kristyna Litten

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Requested. A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review

Spoiler free review: Yes, but may contain hints about most of the story.

When Little Tiger UK sent the newsletter of new titles coming, this felt right up my street so I asked for a review copy and they gracefully provided me one. This does not change or influence my opinion of the book at all.

I breezed through The Long Way Home on a weekend afternoon, and it made me teary eyed. Lets start with the artwork. It is a soft palette that mostly conveys pink, purple and orange, and tones of it with some blue in there, and the style is soft with some pops of colour. It is delightful and gives a soft warm feeling already to the story even before starting to read the words.

And talking of words, the story is about a little elephant, Otto, and his grandmother, Nanu, as they go on an adventure. As we know, the saying is that elephants don’t forget, and going on adventures definitely means not forgetting the way home. But as they set off on the adventure, Nanu seems to be keep forgetting little things here and there, getting distracted and just not being herself as usual. And then she forgets the way home, and it is up to Otto to try to remember the way home, plus also put his explorer skills to the test and help himself and his Nanu.

It was a tender story that touches on dementia and Alzheimer, so it would be a story I recommend for children whose grandparents may be diagnosed or being a little “extra forgetful”, as it shows that one should be kind and cherish the memories but also, continue making memories, it isn’t that forgetfulness means the end of the story or of the relationship and that is part fo what the story tries to show. Plus encourages the young to help their elders as they struggle with new challenges.

Overall, a story to make your heart soft and your eyes slightly teary alongside lovely illustrations in full colour.

Book Review

Moon Reds: Space Detectives Blog Tour

Space Detective by Mark Powers and Illustrated by Dapo Adeola

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A copy was provided by the publisher so I could participate in the blogtour but this doesn’t influence my opinion of it.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Space Detectives is a really cute “mystery” middle grade. It is set in a space city orbiting the Earth were our two main characters are spending their summer helping in the ice cream shop. There is a fun cast of alien species making their appearance and odd flavours of ice cream.

But the main event is that as they make friends, they stumble upon a big mess where the space city is on a collition course to the Moon! Our brave pair then decide they can’t let it just stand and they should try to solvethis mystery. They are even joined by their new friend and so chaos ensues as they try to find a way in to investigate and help fix the course of the station.

Overall, I enjoyed the fun story and there were a lot of funny moments however two “science” fails really struck to me, one related to their smart suits and the other related to the actual plot of the collition course being set and “fixed” but there is also a lot of encouragement towards science and computers so I just hope it helps encourage kids to those fields rather than put them off.

The artwork is extremely cute and I had so much fun seeing how the alien species appeared in the illustrations, specially the bat rats which I kinda wanted as pets and also at the same time found slightly terrifying!

Recommended for anyone wanting a wacky space adventure with a quick mystery and save the day story.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Wolf and the Water

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A free review copy was provided by the author. I have read two of her series previously so I knew I wanted to read this book regardless. This doesn’t change the review of influence it at all.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Deluge #1

Content warnings: There is a variety of abuse and violence, murder, poisoning, ableism and a few other -isms, basically this is not a cosy book but rather brutal.

It took me a while to get to this book because Josie usually builds this incredibly intricate world so I knew I had to have the brain space for it and last year was not the right time. However, I started reading before work and waking up earlier and this was one of those books read in the early hours of the day at my leisure.

I struggled to get into it a little bit because there is a lot going on and it basically starts with finding Kala’s dad dead in the library, and knowing that it means her mother will have to remarry and that due to her limp and deformity of her leg, she may be cast out.

But it looks like her father was murdered and as Kala tries her best to adjust to a very fast remarriage, a new family to share the tribe with and a “brother” that is kind and actually treats her like a “normal” person (the people in the world think she is deformed and bad luck and a variety of bad things and therefore consider Kala lesser than even if she is of nobility)., things start getting very complicated fast.

What starts in a way fast paced, slows down just a little bit to give you a panorama of what Kala’s life is like and then it picks right up coming to a festival and Kala’s life becoming more and more in danger in a bad way. Maybe the person who murdered her father is also out for her? And what about the secrets that caused her father to die, can she unravel them and leverage them for her safety before someone ensures her silence?

Overall this is like amurder mystery in a brutal society from the point of view of someone slightly in the privileged nobility but still not considered one of them because she is too different and “not right”. I liked the interesting contrasts between characters, their situations and what causes them to make certain decisions.

As you get to the last third of the book there is a lot of new reveals happening so there is a lot to keep up with but it means you will not want to let go of the book and just finish. I ended up reading the last few pages through a couple of dead “inbetween meetings” kinda five minutes or so and I was glad to do so as it was worth getting to that ending.

Gaming

Moon Hauls: 2K UK Switch Kit

What is this? The promised gaming content suddenly appearing in 2021?! What?!

Yes! After promising gaming content when I launched the rename of the blog to The Constellation of Moon, here we are. And what better way to start than to show you the awesome kit I won from 2K UK when they did their 12 days of Christmas giveaways on Twitter?

The box was banking on three of their gaming franchises: Bioshock, XCOM and Borderlands. Now, I have never played XCOM, and I am still not hooked on Borderlands, but Bioshock is one of those pillar games for me, so I was eager to open the box and see what was inside.

The big box had three smaller boxes inside, each one with a symbol to represent the game and then content that tied in with the game in some way, so lets see what the big haul was:

  • At the very top and inside the Bioshock box, a switch case with the Big Daddy logo. It is a nice sturdy case and I have a similar one so this is like a level up of tHe design of my usual one.
  • Underneath we also have a cleaning cloth with the lighthouse design (Bioshock). The only thing that would have made it better was if it had the quote on it.
  • A Memory Infusion to mimic the Plasmids, but is actually an SD memory card (Bioshock).
  • Little Sister socks, we all know I love getting socks with cool motifs and this one definitely is great. (Bioshock)
  • Coasters with all the games symbols.
  • A Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which is really good and after using a non branded one for almost a year, this is definitely worth the price, it feels more sturdy and is a lot more comfortable. (Bioshock)
  • Bath Salts in a “test tube” for XCOM.
  • Decals based on Borderlands for the Switch. This is probably the one item I was the least excited about but it is mostly because I am not brave enough for them.
  • A Borderlands beanie.
  • XCOM neck warmer with lavender, it is quite perfumed and made the whole box smell of relaxation or like being in a spa.
  • ATOM headset, it is very customisable which is awesome and came in the Borderlands box as it has a slightly industrial feel that fits that game best.
  • A waffle fabric bathrobe for XCOM.
  • And finally a tote bag with the XCOM symbol too.

Overall, the boxes had a theme for them. Bioshock was about empowering your gaming and protecting your switch with the case, cloth, SD card and controller. XCOM was all about relaxing and papmering yourself with bath salts, neckwarmer, bathrobe, tote bag, it was only missing some slippers and it wouldve been the pack you get at a spa. And finally Borderlands box was about levelling up and customising the gaming experience. I have to say the items are pretty good and it made me want to try XCOM after opening it all and to replay Bioshock for the nth time… (I have lost count of the replays by now).

Pretty good early Christmas box win that made the whole being in Tier 4 and having to spend it home more bearable. Bonus points to 2K.

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by 2K, this was just something I won on a competition randomly, so I thought to share the cool things it had inside.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Key To Fear

The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast

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

Short disclaimer first, I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher so I could be part of the blog tour and provide a review (I only read hard copies). This doesn’t change or influence my opinion except maybe it adds a book I may not have considered if it hadn’t been brought up to me for consideration.

Now to the actual blog tour review, because apparently I have lived under a rock and hadn’t read any of Kristin’s books before so this a new author to me and new stories to read.

This is a book a little outside of my usual books but not something I wouldn’t have read when I was younger. It is a dystopia with romance and a lot of finding yourself, being a rebel and just figuring things out. When I heard the premise I immediately was of two minds, it could be quite interesting to read or too close to the present (this is basically post-pandemic semi dystopia where the Key control the areas and have brought technology to help combat this ugly virus, plus genetic modifications, so it isn’t fully dystopia but really close and touching is a no-no). Thankfully, it was done well and it only barely reminded me of the present situation (needing that escape sometimes is key and I didn’t want to try and enjoy a story that was too close to real life and therefore not a different place).

We meet our main characters, Elodie and Aiden, and Blair. I have to say that Elodie at first frustrated me a little, but as the story goes, I warmed up to her and she provided a good panorama to a relatively cushioned life under the Key even if she isn’t aware of how protected she has been up to now by not questioning the rules and having family in the right places (but also, she doesn’t know how fragile the balance is).

Then we have Aiden, who is not fitting in well with how the Key want him to integrate into society and is on the last chance to be able to do something with his life (because in this world you’re matched to your partner, and you have your career chosen after taking some tests, nothing or barely anything is left to chance, and even old books and stories are banned). And then Blair who is the side that wants to move up the ranks inside the Key and to do more, achieve and not lose power are her intense desires.

I have to say that overall I enjoyed the story and was curious as to what would come. I think it dragged a little to try to make it into more than one book (I didn’t realise it wasn’t a standalone until I saw how much of the book was left and how little actual action ahd happened). But the dragging of the plot does provide a good setting and background. However, I do think the plot could’ve gone further if we had skipped the story bits Elodie reads (those I definitely did not like and would skim read).

Still, it was interesting to see how touch had been banned, the webs of lies and how people manipulate or rise through ranks and amke their place by “following rules” without ever questioning and calling themselves loyal. Yet at the same time, that position is always so fragile even if the players do not know it.

So, what’s the prospect? If you are a fan of the young adult fiction from 5-10 years ago, this is the book for you. It has that vibe with a fresher look, like when a trend comes back, and it ha some interesting concepts of technology, power and characters, and now I am very curious as to what actually happens next and what is in Zone Seven.