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: 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: Conspiracy of Ravens

Conspiracy of Ravens by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Sally Jane Thompson

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought a while ago and forgot to read it.

Conspiracy of Ravens is a bit of a gothic magical girls story based on the corvid family. And I mean come on that’s pretty cool as a premise. But does it hold to it?

We start with Anne who inherits her long lost aunt’s English mansion and a mysterious locket alongside a maid/caretaker. As she tries to decide what to do with her inheritance that is conveniently close to her boarding school, she starts finding a few other girls who also have mysterious lockets, and those lockets start unlocking superpowers related to each fo the corvid family birds shown in them.

However, no everyone that has superpowers is using them for good or even wants to be involved in this whole thing, so it is up to Anne and her friends to try to do the best.

I have to say I struggled initially to identifiy the characters because they all looked way too similar and changed slightly as the story developed, and as much as it was a fun magical girl story it had a few holes in it I couldn’t see why they were there.

I did like the powers they get from each bird and the mini stories of each of the characters, but they felt missing and rushed and at times it was all over the place, more like it should have been several volumes or stories rather than compile it into a single one, or maybe not add as much side stories to the main one.

So I guess it has room for improvement however I kept rushing through it once I got into the story. So if you like magical girls and gothic vibes plus a bit of steampunk and corvids, then give this a try.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Mist Monster

The Mist Monster by Kirsti Beautyman

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for myself

Spoiler free review: No

Ok, a mist monster sounds cute and the artwork looked sweet so I had to get it, I have a soft spot for friendly monsters (did anyone ever watch Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends?).

Anyway, this is a story about Penny after she moves to her new house which she isn’t sure she likes, but then she goes out to play and bumps into Morris, a mist monster that joins her in an adventure and as they adventure they discover new friends.

Obviously as the mists recede, Morris disappears but that doesnt mean Penny is on her own anymore and she meets Morris every misty day.

I mean, the story is cute, its about adapting to new places and giving things a chance, but also about making friends and being open to finding them even if we’re not in our usual place, a good book to gift to a child moving house or just one who wants to make friends or feels a bit lonely.

The artwork wins and is very fitting to the story so I was super happy with reading it.

Book Review, Books

Witch in Winter Review

Witch in Winter by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King

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

This is the last one of the Elsie Pickles books that are out there for now, and I just wish there were more. I had such a blast reading through the series as part of the #Februwitchy readathon. They are magical, fun and really cute.

I would’ve loved them as a child and read them over and over until the book fell apart. That kind of delightful and fun that they are.

Some of my faovurite things about them, and it applies particularly well for the things that happen in Witch in Winter, is that Elsie has a very small repertoire of magic, she only knows a few spells and none of them are the kind of spells that are impressive or anything special. They’d be classified as “child’s play” type of things. But somehow, she finds creative ways of making use of them and leveraging them to help her friends.

In Witch in Winter, it seems winter has been to long, there is just too much snow and Magenta has gone missing. And someone seems to be wanting to take over the Tower, so Elsie gets involved to try to see how to help. And she does very well, once again, making the best of the things she has at hand and her customer service skills.

Aggie/Silvine does well in this one too, leveraging her odd parts accidentally (everything is technically an accident with her) to make new friends and somehow get things to work out way better for everyone while Elsie saves the Tower from the mysterious one that may have caused Magenta to disappear.

Don’t want to spoil all the fun but I enjoyed it, thought it was a great follow up to Witches (Un)Welcome! and just want to know more fun and more adventures with Elsie and her crew of friends.

Each character is developing better into their own space and identity with their specific strengths and weaknesses and it is nice to see them not being cookie cutter characters but unique and very “human” in their own way (or as human as they can be).

Once again highly recommended for all ages!

Book Review, Books

Witches (Un)Welcome! Review

Witches (Un)Welcome! by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King.

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

The third book in the series of Elsie Pickles. If you’ve been following my reviews, I read them for #Februwitchy. I had bought the first two and wasn’t sure if I’d like them, but I did, so after finishing the first I ordered this and the fourth one (that’ll be the next review out).

The whole series if lighthearted and fun and witchy but also it is about customer service and how to interact with others.

In this particular book, Magenta, who in the previous one had her shop almost close, decides that a better way to deal with having a shop is to have a physical one rather than mail order. Less complaints through the mail, less postage, etc. But she’s not really a people person.

She doesn’t take this into consideration, and using a gift from her sister that allows her to do a shortcut for magic, sets up a magical shop in Smallbridge, where Elsie lives.

This is not exactly welcome news for the villagers who have a split in their views towards witches. And so chaos and crazy things ensue. The fact that the shop is there means it attracts magical folk, and they find the town quaint and decide to set up shop too, maybe offer their own wares, which is quite disruptive and confusing for the people in town.

Of course, Elsie, being a people person and knowing her customer service rules saves the day and surprisingly, Silvine/Aggie does too in her own chaotic clumsy way.

It was lots of fun, with a tiny bit of cringe for Silvine (I don’t think I’ll ever not feel a bit of “oh gosh, damn” for her), but still, I read it in an afternoon after dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Can still recommend it alongside the previous two. Fun for read aloud, fun for young readers, fun for older readers…

Book Review, Books

Picklewitch and Jack

Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker

The dreadful strangers moved in on a wild and windy Thursday.
‘Fudgenuts,’ cursed Picklewitch, adjusting her cracked binoculars to get a better view of the comings-and-goings. ‘This won’t do at all. I bet they haven’t even bought me any cake.’

Picklewitch is, quite literally, out of her tree. She has a nose for naughtiness, a taste for trouble and a weakness for cake. And unluckily for brainbox Jack – winner of the ‘Most Sensible Boy in School’ for the third year running – she’s about to choose him as her new best friend . . .

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

This was an odd cute book I read for Februwitchy. I got wind of it thanks to Asha and decided to puy and had had it on my shelves for a while.

My absolute favoruite thing was all the illustrations on it. They are super fun and have so many details that as you read and see the illustrations you go “ohh look at that tiny detail, and that one and that one too”. Gorgeous, seriously.

The story is fun but it had me struggling to like Picklewithc as she is causing poor Jack so much grief and he already has enough complications as it is. But her antics were funny and I also had a soft spot for her, so it was a very contradictive read where I wasn’t sure what I wanted exactly to happen and was torn between rooting for him or her.

The friendship part was nice and that school can be better with frineds and colleagues, and it touches a little on bullies. In general a fun read however for me the biggest struggle was that some of the things Picklewitch did, if she had done them to me I would’ve been devastated and questioned the whole concept of her “friendship” and just wanted to run away. But Jack somehow stoically keeps going on. Poor Jack.