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.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: The Stranger The Better Tales by Mail

Subscription box: Tales by Mail

Theme/Month: The Stranger the Better, for August 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Tales by Mail subscription, you can do it on their website.

Tales by Mail is a bi-monthly middle-grade book box that comes with two books, some activity pages you can collect, or copy or use in various ways, a pin and one or two items.

With a very interesting theme, let’s see what was in the box, starting on the top left corner and going clockwise:

  • A Raven Heir promotional bookmark.
  • Crowfall by Vashti Hardy, which looks very intriguing to me.
  • The activity pages for the month which go into the collectible ring binder.
  • The most adorable keyring, which is the mascot for the box and I was so taken by it.
  • The Tentacle Boy which wasn’t in my radar but looks intriguing and creepy weird.
  • Promotional bookmark for The Tentacle Boy and Pizazz
  • The collectible pin

It was a very cute choice and maybe not my favourite box of the year but my absolute favourite was that keyring which I thought was super sweet and honestly, it won my heart.

Book Review

Moon Reads: 44 Tiny Chefs

44 Tiny Chefs by Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Copy provided for review upon request by the publisher

Series: 44 tiny…

Disclaimer that even though I got gifted a copy of the book but the publisher, I would’ve still reviewed it because I enjoy the series and it is on my radar all the time.

Look, I’ve been a fan of the tiny pygmy mice and Betsy and her family since the first book, 44 Tiny Secrets, and every time there’s a new one I am just utterly excited to read it. So far we learned about the pygmy mice and that they can play the piano, but then we also learned they can be marvellous acrobats since they were trained by someone that was in the circus, Betsy’s grandma.

44 Tiny Chefs now looks at Betsy’s dad and his new hobby, baking! So when the opportunity to open a bakery presents itself, the family is super happy as they have been filled too much with all the baking that has been trialled and done. And then, some interesting parts happen and they get invited to host a royal gala, but can they actually cook for so many people successfully and not fail for the Queen?

Honestly, the whole book was funny, I could imagine the distress, the confusion and all the over the sweetness of it and of course, I love the family Betsy has and the adventures they get into, and the cute little mice.

I can recommend this if you want cute musical, baking and animal shenanigans, and a family that isn’t absent for most of the book.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Raven Heir

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bid for the proof copy in aid as it was annotated.

As a fan of Stephanie’s books, and knowing the Raven Heir was in the making a few years ago, it was inevitable I’d bid and bid until I got this proof. Which then I promptly devoured and enjoyed thoroughly.

In the same delightful fun fantasy adventure style as The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, The Girl with the Dragon Heart and, The Princess who Flew with Dragons, The Raven Heir explores the power of the character’s internal magic and what makes them be unique and therefore magical or the heroine that is needed.

We meet Cordelia and her triplets, Giles and Rosalind, who are much more well-behaved than she is, and a lot less wild. She can feel it in her bones, in her being, that the woods call her, the shape-shifting is ever so tempting and it is hard to obey the rules. But Cordelia tries hard and does her best, even if sometimes this doesn’t work out.

But when the safety of her home is at stake and the triplets are suddenly in the run for their lives, it is Cordelia who seems to know more than her triplets and who will have to make very tough decisions.

Overall the book explores the power of being siblings, friendship and the weight of responsibility and knowing something. But it also has a lot of animals, and nature involved, and all the elements of a perfect Disney/Pixar film, or a good animated series that will stay with you for years to come. Actually, if it was to be made as a film, I’d say give it to the studio behind The Secret of Kells, or Wolfwalkers, because it would fit so beautifully in that style. If you have watched either film or any of their films, The Raven Heir has that magical quality and fantasy epic that is also heavily tied with nature and living and the power and weight of choices made.

As per usual, the author has made an amazing book and there is layers and layers of it to look into, starting with the world and then coming to Cordelia, her magic and the magic of her triplets, alongside her identity and the adventure they have to set off to save the kingdom.

Highly recommended to readers of all ages, anyone that loves a good story, one that will stick with you forever, this is the one to pick.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Séance Tea Party

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Owned

Spoiler Free: Not entirely, major plot points will be mentioned or touched on but not the ending.

I have a fondness for graphic novels, and one about ghosts and tea parties sounded right up my street! Plus just look at the artwork and it becomes clear it was irresistible.

Séance Tea Party is in broad strokes about friendship, identity and that awkward stage between still being a child and becoming a teenager.

Lora is slowly seeing her circle of friends disappear as their interests just do not coincide. She prefers playing on the swings and using her imagination, while her friends suddenly are interested in romance and looks and other things she has no interest in. Tea parties are better, so why not host one for ghosts and maybe try to invite one to the tea party?

When this actually works and Lora discovers Alexa, the ghost of a young girl, her friendship problems are solved, or at least that’s what Lora thinks, but is a ghost that will not be able to grow up ever the kind of friend Lora really needs, or is there maybe more to just tea parties that make up a friendship?

As Lora and Alexa explore their identity, their past, present and future together and on their own, the story takes us through finding our place in that stage of growing up when we don’t want to grow up and yet we also want very much to be a grown up, and such contradictions can wreak havoc.

It is a sweet story with a hint of magic, ghosts and a lot of tea and imagination, which makes it an adorable read that will make you want to bake a cake and invite your friends over for a cup of tea.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Borrowed from Nikki at https://booksandlemonsquash.com/

I had my eye on Amari for a while but then didn’t buy it and somehow ended up borrowing it from Nikki. I do not regret my choices.

Overall the magic concept, the invitation Amari gets, and the “summer camp” are wonderful, alongside the way they get selected for a career and to develop magic. The worldbuilding was delightful, and I could see myself enjoying this now and even more if I had gone back in time and gifted this book to my younger self at around 10-12 years old.

The one thing I did struggle with a lot was the beginning of the book, I can’t put my finger on it but it just didn’t grab my attention and I had to force myself to get through the first few chapters. They read a little like a mix of Harry Potter with Meg Murray’s anger from A Wrinkle in Time, and yet it didn’t have the casual effect both series had on me, maybe it was because I had already read those books and therefore it just didn’t make the same impact to me. Not sure, but once I got past those starting chapters and more into the world, I was more into it.

I think the strength of this book is the world-building and the characters. I wasn’t actually huge on Amari, but the rest of the cast made up for the times I wanted to grab Amari and knock some sense into her, but overall it was a good set of characters that interacted well with each other and even the grown-ups had a good part in it at times.

The overall big reveal was well prepared for and yet it still wasn’t blatantly obvious sot hat you did feel surprised and yet could say “oh that makes sense”. Of course, this is a spoiler-free review so I will not reveal what that particular event is, but I enjoyed the plot and its development. It feels well suited for the target reader age and also suitable for readers of all ages.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Lands to Get Lost In Tales by Mail

Subscription box: Tales by Mail

Theme/Month: Lands to Get Lost In for June 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Tales by Mail subscription, you can do it on their website.

Tales by Mail is a bi-monthly middle-grade book box that comes with two books, some activity pages you can collect, or copy or use in various ways, a pin and one or two items.

The funny part is that I went on a book shopping trip and told my best friend I had got the box which, she gets too, and she kindly had to stop me from buying both books since they were in the box, so I cans ay that this was a well-chosen box. So let’s see what was inside, starting from the bottom left corner:

  • Activity pages with theme card. I love collecting those in the little binder, and that they have space for mini-reviews of the books.
  • Children of the Quicksands.
  • Tote bag with the theme picture which I really like so I was happy to have it in a tote bag I do wish every now that instead of tote bags we got a backpack or a small shoulder bag for mobile, paperback and keys/wallet, but this is not a Tales by Mail wish more of a general book box and anyone that gives tote bags away).
  • Promotional bookmarks for both of the books included.
  • The Nightsilver Promise. I have had this one on my list since I knew it was coming out so it was a delight to receive it in the box.
  • If you are eagle-eyed you will find the theme pin on the tote bag too.

Overall, a well-fitting box with a useful item, aka the tote bag, and books I am looking forward to read.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Out in the Wilderness Tales by Mail

Subscription box: Tales by Mail

Theme/Month: Out in the Wilderness for April 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Tales by Mail subscription, you can do it on their website.

Tales by Mail is a bi-monthly middle grade book box that comes with two books, some activity pages you can collect, or copy or use in various ways, a pin and one or two items.

This one had an extra book which was a lovely surprise, so lets unbox it and see what I thought of it, starting on the top right and going clockwise:

  • I rarely ever take pictures with the box, but somehow decided to add it this time. I love that it is not bulky and it basically looks like a book.
  • Out in the Wilderness activity pages, with space for reviews fo rhte book and some fun activities related to them and the theme. They fit in with the rest of the pages into the binder.
  • The Weather Weaver bookmark.
  • The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori, I had been looking forward to this book for a while and squealed a little seeing it in the box.
  • Melt by Ele Fountain, sounds interesting.
  • Melt bookmark.
  • A multiuse scarf with some gorgeous matching print to the theme. You can use it as a scarf, a headband, etc, pretty useful.
  • A third book, were totally spoiled! Hope Jones Saves the World.
  • It is very very tiny but there is a little collectible monthly pin just there in front of Umbreon’s nose

Overall it was a box full of books and I felt spoiled by opening it! Very very excited by the contents of it and highly recommended still.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot 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: Preordered.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Agent Zaiba Investigates

The second book in the Agent Zaiba series, you can read the review for The Missing Diamonds here, and now that we have the Snow Leopard Agency UK branch setup, Zaiba is ready for more things to be resolved and any mystery or good investigation that may come up.

The best part is that is the sumer fete time and Zaiba has a detective “murder mystery” course setup as one of the features of it. But things turn interesting when in the middle of a baking competition, there appears to be poison added to the cupcakes and causing one of the judges to be ill.

Zaiba, Poppy and Ali waste no time in trying to find out who put the poison in the cupcake and why.

One of the things I like a lot in the book is how the foreshadowing puts the clues and items nicely there for the reader to find if they are paying enough attention but they are also not screaming “I am the clue”. It is just done well through the story, so little hints of “hey this may be what the poison was made of” that show up early in the book, help and show that sometimes data you get before the actual incident happens can be quite useful. As Zaiba and her aunt put it, powers of observation.

Overall, another good mystery for Zaiba and her friends to solve, more development on the relationships of the family, and a better view into the world Zaiba inhabits and the story of her ammi, which is nice to see. You get continuity but you could also read each on their own and it would be alright without needing to read the previous one.

Highly recommended diverse detectiving classic to be!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Missing Diamonds

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Missing Diamonds 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: Yes

Ownership: Preordered.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Agent Zaiba Investigates

First book in the Agent Zaiba series! I have been meaning to review it for ages, and then packed the house, got the second one, then got the third and ended up rereading it so I could do a review of each of them consecutively.

I would class the whole series as something to become a classic, like Baby Sitters Club, or Fantastic Five. But with a more diverse cast! We have Zaiba, her little brother and her best friend, Poppy. All of them really into detectives and investigating, so when at the engagement party for the wedding of a cousin of Zaiba, some diamonds go missing from a famous actress,,,,, alongside the dog that had the diamong collar, Zaiba takes it into her hands to find out the truth and maybe just maybe crack the case fo who stole the diamonds.

Overall, it had a lot of culture, but adventure wrapped in one, and I loved just following the trio of friends around the hotel while they find clues and make notes and figure things out, some by accident and luck and some by using the powers of observation and memory.

Highly recommend it if mystery is the game and you want something with adorable drawings and cute notes and just something that makes you feel like you are part fot he fun and the adventure.