Book Review

Moon Reads: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House

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

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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: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot by Annabelle Sami. Illustrated by Daniela Sosa

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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: The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow

The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

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Read before: No

Ownership: I had ordered a signed copy from Waterstones, plus a copy came in Book Box Club Secret Societies

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: The Magpie Society, Book 1.

Content warnings: Some adult grooming and relationship between adult and underage girl implied.

Obviously this one caught my interest a lot initially because I wanted to read it and got two copies. However I have to say the lower rating is partly because I really struggled to get on with the main characters up until probably the very end.

The mystery, the murder, I was loving that and the whole Illumen Hall atmosphere alongside the rules and you know, the feeling of it being a boarding school and how the students interact and have ways around rules but also how they follow certain rules to a specific point, it was fasicnating and that part I loved, alongside the interview/podcast we get in some chapters which added to the mystery and also moved the story along with new insights.

But as much as I could understand a bit where Ivy was coming from, she had been working super hard to achieve a single person room, and to achieve so many things, and then Lola’s death crumbled some of those plans, and obviously, she’s also grieving. Like a lot has happened to her and is out of her control and also, Audrey doesn’t make it easy to fit in, but rather easy to not get along too much. However, despite understanding her, I wasn’t initially too much into her character and struggled to connect, the writing just wasn’t doing it for me. I did get there once we get more into the action and less just for the sake of, and I have to say, what happens at the boat was pretty fun and helped me like the characters more.

And we have Audrey, who was too American, too meh and just a bit self centered and trying too hard to keep her mystery to herself. Once again, I kept reading the chapters of her and just could not be interested in her except to go “oh you poor dear who is trying so hard to not fit and be trendy and fit at the same time”. Maybe I could not relate because I have never been the popular girl demoted from popularity and seeking it again, but given that I was struggling to get along with both of them, I assumed it was more to do with how the story was being presented rather than specifically the characters.

It does get a lot better as the story goes, but I was sad that barely anything happens in the book, and I think partly it was those starting chapters that could have made it much bette rif they had been trimmed down and maybe had less of them. But overall, I want to know more, want to see who the Magpie Society are and how you join them, and we still don’t know who killed Lola or why or anything.

As I said, overall, it was a good boarding school read but could have been a lot better.

Book Review

Moon Reds: Space Detectives Blog Tour

Space Detective by Mark Powers and Illustrated by Dapo Adeola

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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, Books

Roots of Corruption Review

Roots of Corruption by Laura Laakso

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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

Grimoire Noir Review

Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea and Yana Bogatch

It tells the story of a town where every woman is a witch, and what happens when one of them goes missing.

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With a name like that, it ewas hard to resist and the artwork caught my eye even further. This was a preorder and it cameon a grey day so it was the perfect read.

The book is a witchy mystery in a town full of secrets where every female (girls at a certain age and women) has some kind fo magic power, but they can’t leave the town or they will lose their powers and may not survive the “barrier” that keeps them in.

It is an interesting world, and it made me wonder if it was worth having magic if you’re stuck to a small town and area? I guess it’d depend on what the people in town are.

The story follows a young man, who’s sister has disappeared, and she was a very powerful witch even if a little bit young. He thinks it is foul play and something is going on, but the police aren’t really helping so he decides to investigate on his own.

As he investigates you get to see more and more fo the inhabitants of the town and the town itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it had a tiny bit of scary but mostly it was trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his sister and why.

The ending is interesting as it can be the end but there could be another book. I hope there’s another but if there isn’t, I am happy a is.

If you like graphic novels, witchy stuff or magic, and/or mysteries in small towns and close knit communities, this is a great one to read.

Book Review, Books

Spectacle Review

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Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

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Paris, a young journalist woman with an interesting “gift”, a morgue, a mystery… all sound good to me!

The very first thing I have to say is that the Paris we are led to is very “period” accurate and I liked that. It was fun to read about references to things yet to come, and things that are already there. All of it made it more immersive.

The second thing is that for a mystery, this one definitely was. It kept me guessing over and over and over and I was never ahead of our heroine’s own discoveries. This is a little unusual, and I have to say it was a good thing. It didn’t leave me frustrated but more like “oh wow, I genuinely have no clue, but I need to know, please, let’s find out more”.

It also made me hungry and I want pain au chocolat in a quaint cafe while I write notes.

Natalie is a heroine with depth, and I don’t know if I would be okay with visiting the morgue to go looking at the corpses to “report” on them. That was interesting, because it gave a view on what could pass as entertainment. (I admit I find cemeteries interesting with the headstones and mausoleums, but I am not so sure about seeing the actual dead bodies).

It starts with one body and an accident that makes Natalie find out she can see what happened before the victim died, but she wonders if she hallucinated it or not. This gift she has, costs something, and it was something I liked. She can’t just plunge headlong and use it willy nilly, but instead has to consider the fact that it costs her something (won’t spoil what) and she can’t control that cost. Makes for a more complex conundrum, help solve this and sacrifice something or stay as I am but let this murderer get away with it? Tricky right?

It was a good book, and I just have to say that the last two pages completely confused me, but other than that, it was superb.

 

Book Review, Books

This Splintered Silence Review

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This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson

Lindley Hamilton has been the leader of the space station Lusca since every first-generation crew member on board, including her mother, the commander, were killed by a deadly virus.

Lindley always assumed she’d captain the Lusca one day, but she never thought that day would come so soon. And she never thought it would be like this—struggling to survive every day, learning how to keep the Lusca running, figuring out how to communicate with Earth, making sure they don’t run out of food.

When a member of the surviving second generation dies from symptoms that look just like the deadly virus, though, Lindley feels her world shrinking even smaller. The disease was supposed to be over; the second generation was supposed to be immune. But as more people die, Lindley must face the terrifying reality that either the virus has mutated or something worse is happening: one of their own is a killer.

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This book came in December’s Book Box Club box, and I wasn’t sure how keen I would be about it. For some reason I kept thinking it might be similar to “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe”, and I wasn’t really up to reading a similar book.

On the good side, it was a buddy read, so it was easier to get going and it was thankfully not the same feel. Instead we meet Lindley and we learn a little about her small world (quite literally, because all she’s known is the station she’s in, so yeah).

They’ve just come out of a terrible epidemic where all the humans that were native to Earth died and were affected by it, whereas the ones born in the station have survived. ut that means that they are not older than 19, which is a bit of a tricky situation as they’ll have to “grow up” a little bit faster. The station still needs to be kept working, they all need food, and oh wait, someone’s dead and it looks almost as if the same virus is back!

Poor Lindley starts investigating it and keeps finding it just doesn’t add up, maybe it mutated? Plus there’s a lot of other issues going on in the station (I found this good, because yes, there would be and it is annoying sometimes when things just go smoothly on the vessel/place that would need people to keep it going).

Slowly, as the deaths pile up and the upkeep of the station gets too high, Lindley realises it isn’t a virus that’s killing them, because what’s killing them isn’t an “it” but rather a who. Someone in the station is killing them, but who? why? how? are very big questions and very difficult to answer when you’re also desperately trying to keep everyone alive (by providing food, water, ensuring they sleep, etc.)

For the mystery part I wasn’t that surprised, as I suspected who it was, but I wasn’t sure of the motive (I had a few theories), but despite guessing the culprit, it was still wuite good at keeping you hooked, and wanting to keep on reading, and it has a good flow so you don’t feel bored about it, or have too slow parts.

My least favourite part was the romance bits, but there were some good details about it that saved it. And it isn’t the main focus of the story, so all good.

Moon recommends

I’d give this a go, or maybe The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (because it isn’t the same but it gives a good similar vibe) or maybe any of the recent thrillers I have reviewed.

Disclaimer: All links either link back to other review posts, or to an Amazon affiliates link. You don’t have to buy it, I just do it because I was still going to try to link it to amazon so you’d know what it looks like, or if you wanted to buy it, so decided to give the Affiliates a go, which yeah, doesn’t bring me anything of revenue, but now it’s a habit.

Book Review, Books

This Lie Will Kill You Review

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This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

Clue meets Riverdale in this page-turning thriller that exposes the lies five teens tell about a deadly night one year ago.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

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I picked this book as a nice extra while I was preordering Darkdawn (and falling down a book buying black hole, but shhhh, that never happened). It sounded interesting, plus I had really enjoyed One of Us Is Lying so I was looking forward to it.

The book has several points of view, one per character (though Doll Face doesn’t really have a main point of view). All five of them have a secret and all may have a motive for killing Shane at the party that happened last year. But did they gang up and kill him? Or did one of them do it on their own?

It has a very definite CLUE vibe which made it easy to follow, but it has it’s own modern tint and some other twists. One of the side plots, has an interesting twist, and that one I guessed early on, and I had an idea of where the story was going and who the “killer” was. But that didn’t spoil the book in itself, as I was intrigued to find what had pushed each character to be at the first party and then to come to the second one.

There was also one “twist” that did surprise me, because it added a new layer and I hadn’t expected it at all. But it wasn’t bad.

There are a lot of references to “horror” films, YA books, kind of how we know a Mean Girls reference o a Legally Blonde one, you can find some references hidden here which make it nice, but also, it isn’t too stuck in referencing things by name, so it will age better than other mysteries that stick to “this is in the exact day we’re living and I will name drop all the books, songs, artists, things of the moment”. Having this ultra specific time frame was a nice thing as it meant I wasn’t getting annoyed by it trying to convince me it is legit contemporary in the here and now.

All in all, it was an enjoyable quick read (just a few hours for me) that helped me relax, rather than stress after work.

Moon recommends

You can try this book here, or you can try One of Us is Lying. I will also keep on recommending It Ends With You or Easy Prey which are recent reads.

Book Review

It Ends With You Review

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It Ends With You by S. K. Wright

‘If I’d told the truth, it would have been fiction’

Everyone loves Eva. Beautiful, bright, fun, generous – she’s perfect.

So when her dead body is found in a ditch in the local woods the only thing anyone wants to know is: Who could have done this?

It has to be Luke, her boyfriend. He has the motive, the means, the opportunity and he’s no stranger to the police.

Even though the picture is incomplete, the pieces fit. But as time passes, stories change.

Told from six narrative strands, this cleverly woven and utterly compulsive novel challenges preconceptions; makes you second, third and fourth guess yourself; and holds an uncomfortable mirror up to the way societies and systems treat those they perceive to be on the outside

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The best way to describe this book is to say that it started not too creepy and then it kept throwing plot twists at you that were surprising.

I loved finding out all of Eva’s “dirty” secrets and seeing how even then everyone was still sure Luke had done (despite the evidence that was shown). It was also sad to see how people react when someone comes from a less privileged background or are just different and that was quite interesting to read too.

The many relationships between families, between friends, between couples, and teachers, students, figures of authority and in general society were quite interesting to see.

The format made it fun to read (I do wonder if it will “age” well, as who knows how long some of the things used will stay). And even though I usually do not like having too many POV, this book makes the most of it and does it well.

Moon recommends

Read It Ends With You, I read it really fast and didn’t want to put it down. You may also enjoy One of Us is Lying or A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (coming out next year). They’re all along the same vibe and lines and all good to read.