Book Review

Moon Reads: Tales from the Ocean

Tales from the Ocean by Chae Strathie and Erin Brown

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Provided by the publisher after I requested it for review

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.

Tales from the Ocean is a lovely collection of stories that may seem familiar alongside some new ones that each focus on at least one type of marine life. We have little seahorses crying Stingray when there are none and then not being believed when there is truly one, which is a familiar tale for many with a little boy that cries wolf. And yet the book not only tells a lovely tale but also shows the delightful camouflage abilities of the seahorse alongside their natural enemy, and this is just one of the 20 tales included in the book.

Each of the pages is beautifully illustrated and the whole book is a full-colour experience into many tales and marine life. And the familiar tales woven with true facts about the marine life or just new tales made to fit the particular place that creature plays in the ecosystem and making it a fun story. It was delightful to read. So much I basically didn’t put this book down until I finished all of them and then was left wanting even more stories to feature more creatures.

As such, I recommend this for anyone with a child interested in the ocean and fish and anything that has to do with water, or if you want to use it as educational but fun material, or just nighttime short stories to be read together or out loud to the child. It is a gorgeous book and worth having at hand.

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: Diary of an Accidental Witch

Diary of an Accidental Witch by Perdita and Honor Cargill. Illustrated by Katie Saunders.

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

Read Before: No

Ownership: Copy gifted by the publisher once it was requested from the newsletter.

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.

We’re into October and I felt like Diary of an Accidental Witch is one of those books that is great for this season.

Bea Black has just moved into Little Spellshire with her very distracted father who is a weather scientist, and there has been a mixup on which school she should be going to! Instead of going to the Academy school, she ends up enrolled at The Spellshire School for Extraordinary Arts, and well, you can definitely say they are extraordinary!

And of course, the whole book is written as Bea’s journal where she records the start of her journaling and her move to this place alongside her new school adventures.

From funny quirky remarks about being alone and having no friends or maybe just the one, to how to navigate odd homework assignments, tripping over brooms, being assigned frog duty and then learning you can actually do spells, or ride a broom [without tripping anymore]. The illustrations on the book make this amazing, and even better than it already is, with the fun adventures making it through the pages, and all that magic showing up in the words, and the adventures.

If you like young witches having adventures, or young ordinary not a magical child at all that may or not actually have magical powers in a cute and fun way, this is the book for you.

Book Review

Moon Reads: What Big Teeth

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Review copy from the publisher and preordered

Content warnings: There’s a lot of types of violence, manipulation, gaslighting and abuse, alongside disturbing scenery, basically this is a horror book and it should be read with that in mind, it is not a cute story.

I have seen this compared a lot to the Addams family and as much as it is about a family of monsters and misfits and the value of family, that is as far as it goes in the similarities. For the most part, Eleanor is unsure of her place in the family, and she is not even sure if it was worth coming back or if they are welcoming her, afraid of her or just don’t care at all. This means that the book is mostly very dark humour set into horror and creepy mode.

Because Eleanor is trying to piece together why her family is reacting to her the way they are, and why they first sent her away, there is also a lot of internal retrospection and the book at times can seem quite intense in how Eleanor feels, but that is part of the charm of it since we’re very much into her head and trying desperately to discover the truth against time and against forces trying to get rid of the family from outside and inside.

What Big Teeth relies a lot on atmosphere, a narrator that is trying to piece her life together and many elements of what sometimes can make you love your family but at the same time make it toxic and therefore it deals with very intense topics even if you take away the fantastical and horror part of it. It is the strength and probably weakness of the book, as it means it won’t be for everyone due to the particular way it depicts things and how it portrays the not so good parts quite heavily.

It is not that there is no love in the family, it is more a case of many secrets crashing against each other, some due to selfishness and some done in what a family member may have thought was a way to save the family or to protect them, and it shows that love sometimes is hard to show and it gets tangled with a lot of things when you live with your family for most of the time and it is the only thing you know.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance

Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Received a copy from the publisher after requesting it.

As per usual, just because a copy was provided by the publisher, it doesn’t influence my review and all thoughts here are my own.

Want a wholesome romance that you can actually wish you had and it is healthy rather than pining for the bad boy in the story? Add dancing and food to it and you have got Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance.

As I read this book, I kept loving it more and more with each new thing. We meet Radha first as she is in the finals for dancing and she finds out her mom is sleeping with one of the judges which then affects her confidence and means everyone thinks she’s made it by cheating rather than her own talent. Talk about a punch in the gut.

This destroys her love for dancing and causes her huge anxiety, as she has lost her dance joy. She moves schools and agrees with her mum that she will dance for one year only and then she is free to do whatever career she wants, as she is sure she doesn’t want to dance anymore.

Introduce Jai, who also likes dancing and suddenly desperately needs Radha’s help to make it to the Nationals of dancing.

This is a fun romance, with a lot of dancing, food making, negotiating boundaries and life, and a relationship. But it is also about having a healthy relationship where both sides are part of it and it isn’t just the bad boy and the girl pining after him. Honestly, one of the best and healthiest couples of YA I have read in a long time.

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: 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.