Book Review

Moon Reads: Tails of Magicat

Tails of Magicat by magicatchoo

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

Read before: Not as a book.

Ownership: Backed on Kickstarter

Spoiler free review: No

I had read some of Tails of Magicat before on Tapas and when the kickstarter popped up I knew I wanted it. It did take a long time to get it, but the quality of the book is absolutely stunning. The paper is thick and gorgeous, the book is full colour and it is a chonky one. And obviously the art is extremely cute.

It mostly follows the story of a little cat as he learns magic, makes new friends and explores the forest, plus slowly grows up. It is ADORABLE and made me both smile, and laugh and be emotional and the story is varied. For example, he goes hunting and makes frineds with a frog, and then he makes friends with his bullies and things like that.

Magicat lives with his grandma who cooks delicious meals and is the elder in magic to him, so she teaches him too. This means we get illustrated recipes throughout the books. The first one is just for carrots, but as the story goes through it gets more complex and with fancier recipes, including bear claws and a roast. Each of the recipes also features as part of the story so your mouth is already watering by the time you get to read the full recipe and then it even shows variations and ideas to make it more of your own at the end.

Honestly, it was a slow joy to read this one and it cheered me up plus it made me want to cook a lot too. I want to make those bear claws soon. I can highly recommend it, and if you’re interested in a cute black cat learning magic and making friends and taking care of his community, then you can buy it here.

Book Review

Moon Reads: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Included in Illumicrate box.

Spoiler free review: For the most part, key plot points may be touched on.

Content warnings: Violence in many ways, murder, gore, etc; several character deaths (it is a school that is trying to kill the students, it is part of the plot, if this is an issue, this is definitely NOT the book for you); black magic and use of others life force; suicide mentioned; parental deaths mentioned.

Starting this review with a few disclaimers: I am aware of the whole drama about the dreadlocks mentioned and as much as yes, probably not the best choice, context is absolutely key here and in the context it fits the character, the world and the story. Which brings me to my second point that this is a book that is probably not going to be one for everyone, it is particular in how it presents a twist on magical schools and it is all about the contradictions held within, so it requires in a way a critical view to enjoy it at its fullest.

Now on to the proper review. I really enjoyed A Deadly Education. As mcuh as Harry Potter was formative to my teenage years, I was happier in my alternative universe based on it than with the actual original story, it felt too removed from my reality and too white and British, so it was a fun “hey how would life be in the UK with magic but still class and all that stuff?” [the fact that I ended up living in the UK is another story] but it wasn’t as special as it could have been.

Enter A Deadly Education. El is holding universes in her, and I loved her flawed conflicted being. She has planned how to survive, is desperately fighting against her “nature” and what the Scholomance wants her to become while everybody around her assumes she is exactly what the appearances say she is and should be. And yet, she doesn’t want to prove that she isnt what they think of her, because in a way it is an advantage to her.

On top of that, the “white savior” comes in to save her and she just can’t seem to get rid of him which starts ruining her plans and carefully crafted status.

And then theres the whole Scholomance, a school that is trying to kill the students and eat them up and their magic while the students learn by surviving through the school. And as much as I probably wouldnt want to have to attend it, I loved the concept of this world where magic is a complicated thing.

A Deadly Education is also a full critique of magical schools, the trope of the chosen one and villains having it in their nature to be bad, but not only that. It touches on privilege and private schools and how those with money have power and aren’t even aware of the cost of the power because it is what they know and it is so natural they don’t even consider beyond their reality. Honestly, the layers of critique and poking at tropes in this book are half of the reason I loved it and then El’s constant fight to try to be more than the expectations and contradictions she is, was the other part.

As much as there is death and violence and havoc everywhere, I also had a lot of laughter and giggles and could see the humour and takes for it, and I loved it, plus the ending leaves you wanting to read the next book immediately!

Recommended for those that were left with an itch from Harry Potter never going to classes and having everything handed to him in his heroics, this book will fill you up on the magical world and not only that but will add other countries and cultures rather than just the UK. It is also for those that like a book with lots of layers and delicious content that you can read and see one more thing and read again and get more out it each time.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Midnight Magic

Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison and Elissa Elwick

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

Midnight Magic is all about magic and black cats born at midnight.

It is also one of those books that as a child you love and will read over nad over again and keep thinking it would be amazing to have a cat like Midnight and be so lucky to have magic around. I remember feeling like this with The Little Leftover Witch, and I got the same little hope of magic and things just coming to happen with a pinch of magic in them.

Midnight is born exactly at midnight on a stable and she is a very lucky cat but also, it means a lot of trouble, but she will soon find her way around life.

I had a lot of joy reading this book, the illustrations make it even nicer to read and the rhyming verses to go through the story are delightful. I can highly recommend this book to read, both for your own enjoyment or for your childre, or your niece/nephew, or if you’re a teacher, then for your classroom. There will be a lot of fun and imagining how life would be if you had Midnight come to your house and you adopted her. I cant wait to see if there will be more adventures for Midnight and her family.

Overall, great read for all ages, and full of magic. Highly recommended.

Book Review

Moon reads: The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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

Disclaimer: I received a proof copy for free fromt he publisher in the hopes I’d review it, which I mean I have done and wanted to do anyway, so I would’ve got to it one way or another. The fact it was gifted does not affect my views at all.

What happens when you mix suffragettes, fairy tales and witches into a book? I’ll tell you what, great magical things happen with a pinch of trouble, a lot of adventure, and feminism.

Once and Future Witches is all about what defines us as women and how we stand tall and havethat fire inside us, the magic, the witchcraft that makes us persevere (in some places they’d call it grit or mother nature, or many other things).

Getting into the actual story we meet three young women, the Eastwood sisters, who inexplicably end up coming together at a suffragist meeting in New Salem after being apart and following their own path for a while.

One of the things I liked a lot here was that the relationships between the sisters and their internal struggles are not exactly fairy tale stories, but could be any of us today. Each of them carries some heavy trauma, heavy burdens and things to be worried or anxious about, and each has to figure them out in part on their own but also as they figure out where they stand as sisters.

It has a lot on sisterhood both as a family and born into it look, but also as a we’re all coming together, strangers and found family, into this. Alongside dealing with what happens when you make certain choices and act on resentment, fear, anger, etc. To me, it is those parts that shine the most in this book alongside the “retellings” and reworkings of fairy tales and “new tales” that are peppered through the book.

Probably the one part that this struggles is sometimes some odd choices on plot and behaviour of the characters (I had a proof copy so it may be different in the final version) and that the worldbuilding relies heavily on a lot of gaps to be filled by us or to be inferred meaning sometimes it is hard to remember what you thought x should be. Probably part of the problem was I read it through a long period of time due to different life interruptions and coming back to it I’d have to leaf back a few pages or just skim read back to try to place myself. This is probably the place it can do a lot better in.

Overall, if you are looking for a feminist book with lots of witchcraft, a fairy tale but not the Disney vibe and more the true Grimm brothers style, and sisterhood, this is the book for you. It was a wild ride and one that left me wondering what comes next.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Silver in the Wood

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

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

I remember reading about this book, preordering it and then somehow forgetting about it (look, that is the story of my whole TBR, I get excited, watn to read it now, the book doesn’t come out until months later and by the time it arrives I am pining for a different book that will come out in the future).

But given that my life has been a bit chaotic and I have had to steal time to read and do my own things, I put aside a few short stories and books I felt I could tackle with ease, so one Saturday morning I grabbed this lovely book, sat down to read a few pages, maybe a chapter or so. By the time I looked up from the book, I had finished it.

I immediately felt transported to the wood and the mansion and just in this world and knew I was going to stay there for as long as there was a story to tell. And it reminded me of why I love this type of books and how I sorely wish there were more green magic with lore and more, books that can take you into their own “fairy ring” world without even requiring fairies. I wanted to go and read more urban fantasy, or go travel back to Scotland and into the forest, get lost somewhere.

Silver in the Wood weaves a masterful tale and I don’t want to spoil it but honestly, make yourself a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, cuddle up with a blanket and get ready to go visit this particular woods that is rich in fantastical beings that weave into the very fabric of it.

My only complaint is that this was too short and I’d like a longer novel. Or a series, or just more. Which I guess is not a bad thing all in all, right?

Book Review

Moon Reads: All the Stars and Teeth

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

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

I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange of a fair review, however I also had purchased a book box that had the book included, so as much as it is a book given by the publisher, it is also one of my own too. Nothing changes my opinion of it regardless.

The premise of All the Stars and Teeth is that we have several islands each witha different type of magic, and if you learn one type of magic you gotta live in the island of your magic and only use one type because otherwise your soul will be corrupt and your body won’t be able to use all the magics. And obviously, there is a ruling class, a fine line of magic that can kill and can see into your soul, which makes them the rulers.

Amora is the only daughter of the king. She has been preparing her whole life to show off that she can control her magic and will use it for the good of the Kingdom her whole life. But things go wrong in her ceremony, and all her plans to finally see the rest of the islands beyond the one where soul magic is performed goes a bit pear shaped. Instead she ends helping a pirate save an island of rebels and his stolen magic.

And as she sails throught the different islands, she starts to ahve her eyes opened to the fact that maybe she wasn’t allowed to see more of the world because it had all been lies her father had told her. This doesn’t put her on a revenge quest against her father but it only cements the fact she wants to help her kingdom, which I found a refreshing change. It wasn’t a “well I was chosen, lost it, found it and I am still chosen”, it is more of a “oh well, I will still do it even if I screwed up and things aren’t what I was told they were, I still love my kingdom and want the best for it”.

Amora does think quite high of herself and it is interesting to see the relationships in the book unfold as she discovers more fo her herself and how to interact with others, plus the fact that multiple magics are happening and there’s nothing to stop it.

In general I really enjoyed the story and the world at first I wasn’t convinced but it grew on me once Amora actually starts her adventure. And of course I want to read the next book because I want to know what happens next. I recommend this as a fun refreshing fantasy based on the sea but also about being a ruler and what magic is and who decides what and why.

Book Review, Books

The Bone Witch Review

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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

Bought The Bone Witch after reading The Never Tolting World and enjoying a lot, then thought I should read it for #Februwitchy readathon, but didn’t manage to fit it in, so in the end buddy read it for #ConquerAChonker.

At first I wasn’t sure terribly into it, not that I didn’t like it, but didn’t know where the story was going. However as it progressed I started loving it more and more. I don’t have a better way of describing this but it gave me geisha house vibes with added necromancy and magic, and I absolutely love it!

It was interesting to see her tell her story and have that “break the 4th wall” kinda view on her own past, the wiser Tea telling the story of how she got to where she is but keeping some of the mystery and giving us a potential hint as to what she is attempting to do next.

The world was richly built and the characters had a lot of personality. I was rooting for them and also wanting things to happen (some did, some didn’t) plus I was kept guessing about the two loves she had (not that I couldn’t guess who, mroe I was wondering who they’d be and what happened with each.

Now I can’t wait to see what happens next because that ending left me wanting more (plus those last few chapters of her past were definitely an interesting surprise and I loved it).

I have to say, writing a good review is hard given that I don’t want to spoil the plot and that it was a really good read!

Book Review, Books

Roots of Corruption Review

Roots of Corruption by Laura Laakso

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

I am a big fan of The Wilde Investigations series. You can find my review for Fallible Justice here and for the second book, Echo Murder, here. The general thing I like is how big the magical world is and how it mingles with the non magical world in the books. Another great thing si the amount of representation here of so many things (class divide, EDS, chronic illness, familiar pressures, duties, LGBTQ+, etc.) There’s a lot to explore and a lot to learn in each of the books.

Now specifically for Roots of Corruption, it is focused on Lady Bergamot (who despite the fact that it centers around her, is actually off page for a big part of the book) and it is a window into a little bit more about who she is, and the mystery of her garden.

When Lady Bergamot is attacked in her own garden, Wishearth reaches out to Yannia for help. What they find is not exactly what they expected, and Yannia starts having to do some quick decisions and trusting Wishearth a LOT. (And breaking some rules).

What seemed likean attack to Lady Bergamot becomes a race to try to find a serial killer with a purpose. Each kill brings the killer closer to something and they all seem to point at Lady Bergamot, but is she innocent or playing Yannia for a fiddle?

Karrion, Wishhearth and even Dearon make an appearance in the book, and we get to learn a little more about the politics of Old London, a little about the Fae Court, Selkies and Lady Bergamot. But Yannia is also trying to find who to trust and how far she does. It is hard to investigate objectively when it is a friend that has been ttacked and who may be the one behidn the crimes!

Of course, I had theories and theories about who it was and what was going on, and I still didn’t figure it out completely, but I enjoyed the whole story and it went by too fast. Partly because the way Laura writes is so immersive that you are instantly there in Yannia’s world and that’s it, you go along as part of the team, as if you were just strolling with them and riding in the car, beign a part of it. It isn’t just happening to them, you’re in it too.

Higly recommend this botanically focused book with murder, mystery and a heckload of magic!

Book Review, Books

The Guinevere Deception Review

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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

This book was one that came in Tales of Trickery Owlcrate, and a few of us decided to buddy read it. Now, from previous reading of the author’s books, I was a bit unsure if I’d like it as I haven’t really clicked much with her books. But this is a book about Guinevere, and Arthurian legend which automatically makes me want to give it a chance (which I did).

Guinevere is one of those “naive, don’t know much about the world and the reader discovers through my eyes”. This kinda works but at the same time it doesn’t. Maybe because I’ve read other books about King Arthur and watched Merlin and all that, that the whole “oh, discover the world” wasn’t as intriguing and got old relatively fast. But it did help see the interpretation of the Arthurian world int he book, and how magic is banned and there’s some magic supporters but it is a tough decision for Arthur and he’s sticking by it.

Now, we know little of Guinevere except that she isn’t actually her and has another name she has to forget (mild spoiler alert: we never really find out her name, she conveniently forgets it, somehow, which really put me off because it is solely for the purpose fo making you read the next book). And she knows magic and is being married of to Arthur so she can protect him and make sure everything is fine. I found the concept of the whole she isn’t who she is, and the “is magic good or should it be banned, but there’s bad magic?” intriguing.

However, this quickly became a guide to “knot magic” without actually even telling you how to do the know magic. What do I mean by this? Her magic is knots, and she makes them for everything. So every few pages, she decides she needs magic to protect Arthur or set a warning or some odd thing and goes on about needing knots and how the knot makes magic but it isn’t like Merlin’s magic. And it gets old fast as there is nothing new there except what we already know from fae lore and from Arthurian legend.

In general, the book feels like it dragged to try to make a full book just to sell more books into the story. Some fo the twists on characters were refreshing and made me like the book, but it just felt like it dragged and some of the twists felt like they went against everything and were plot characters rather than actual fleshed out characters and solely relied on you being familiar with Arthurian legend (or maybe not so you don’t care) to fill in the gaps.

All in all, I just really wish this had been a duology or a better fleshed book. There’s not enoguh of the magic explained, and just barely anything explained to move the plot forward much except sending Arthur on adventures to keep him busy so Guinevere can do more knots (I ended up rolling my eyes at this all after a while), and getting cryptic chapters to fill int he gaps with more useful information (that only really gets useful closer to the middle-end).

Not sure if I will buy the next one or read it. Depends on if someone thinks it is great and redeems the story.

Book Review, Books

Wish for a Witch Review

Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King.

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

Wish for a Witch is the second book in the Elsie Pickles series. I reviewed Witch for a Week here. As with the first one, this was read for #Februwitchy and it was an absolute delight of a book.

In this book, Magenta has already figured out Elsie is very good at customer service and sales, so she is her first pick when she is in a particular trouble. Magenta’s shop has gotten her in the bad books since she isn’t keeping up with orders, or with complaints or anything really.

Elsie comes tot he rescue and helps organise the complaints, make a list fo things that need to be made and sent, etc. She definitely has her own kind of magic. But Magenta doesn’t have all the ingredients to make the things she has to sell and send so that means a trip to a magical bazaar!

This part was very exciting and Elsie still comes to the rescue and does wonders while Magenta does her best to try to me amicable (as little as possible) and ends up buying a mirror, some clothes for a mirror genie, and a few other things (she did promise one for each of them).

All in all, this had me giggling, with a tiny bit of cringing at some of Silvine’s antics and Magenta’s want to do things but not committing to it.

I still highly recommend this series and that you check the first book. Totally worth it!