Book Review

Moon Reads: Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for my personal collection

Lily Hu has questions, particularly about herself and why the idea of two women falling in love makes her heart race, or why she clips certain butch female looks, but she is Chinese-American in the 1950s where it is dangerous to seem a little too different and to risk her father’s deportation.

So Lily keeps her questions quiet until she starts hanging out with Kathleen Miller, who is not afraid to go to the Telegraph Club with Lily and hang out there to watch a show. As her world and friendships shift, and priorities change, Lily suddenly is asking more and more questions and saying no to things she might have just shrugged away, and yes to things she would have just wished she did say yes to before.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, is a trip through the US at the time of red-scare paranoia, and particularly what it means to be defining your sexuality alongside your identity and how you fit in this world and country. The story is written with that everyday type of writing that makes you go through the day of Lily and through things as they happen and it all feels luscious and mundane at the same time.

There are so many details about what being in a country that sees you as different in not only one way feels, and what finding the deep secrets you didn’t even dare admit you kept suddenly are more accept or have somewhere to be not a secret anymore and how liberating that can be but also the risks of letting the truth show.

Wonderful read, and highly recommended overall. It is a very different feel to Malinda Lo’s fantasy books but it still ahs the beauty of being an easy read and yet telling a big story, like an epic poem that everyone knows the lines to and can recite as if it was what everyone does.

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: Goodbye, my Rose Garden (Full Series)

Goodbye, my Rose Garden by Dr. Pepperco (Full Series)

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought for my personal collection

Series: Goodbye, my Rose Garden, 3 volumes total.

I have been reading a lot of series, particularly graphic novels and manga, and sometimes it is hard to review a single book without adding spoilers, so now I will be adding some Full Series reviews.

Today I will talk about Goodbye, my Rose Garden. It is a female to female (F/F) series set in semi Victorian era England and focuses on Hanako, who dreams of becoming a novelist. Of course, this is not an easy path so she finds a job as a personal maid to a young noblewoman/lady. This seems to be a wonderful job since the lady, Alice Douglas, likes reading and encourages Hanako’s dream until she makes a very unusual request. Hanako has to kill Alice and end her suffering as she doesn’t deserve to be alive.

Initially, Hanako refuses but agrees to consider it if necessary. And so the story develops into a slow burn romance where Hanako feels it is not suitable to fall for her employer and therefore should tread lightly, but also, she is her personal maid and as such should do her best to help her lady. Alongside this, she has to figure out if she can convince Alice to bail out of the request to kill her, or why she thinks she should be killed. Add to that the path of attempting to become a novelist, Alice’s jealous fiance, and Hanako’s own past, and it is a soft romance with some high stakes.

I usually try the first volume of a series and decide, and wasn’t sure what to expect, but honestly, as I read I knew I had to get the rest. Goodbye, my Rose Garden packs a lot in very little space and it also does a good job of keeping all the plot lines and subplots going rather than abandoning them or half forgetting they are there, which was part fo what made it much dearer for me.

If you want a soft F/F manga set in early twentieth-century England, that focuses on the love of reading and on roses and just being dedicated to living life, this is the one for you.

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 Key To Fear

The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast

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

Short disclaimer first, I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher so I could be part of the blog tour and provide a review (I only read hard copies). This doesn’t change or influence my opinion except maybe it adds a book I may not have considered if it hadn’t been brought up to me for consideration.

Now to the actual blog tour review, because apparently I have lived under a rock and hadn’t read any of Kristin’s books before so this a new author to me and new stories to read.

This is a book a little outside of my usual books but not something I wouldn’t have read when I was younger. It is a dystopia with romance and a lot of finding yourself, being a rebel and just figuring things out. When I heard the premise I immediately was of two minds, it could be quite interesting to read or too close to the present (this is basically post-pandemic semi dystopia where the Key control the areas and have brought technology to help combat this ugly virus, plus genetic modifications, so it isn’t fully dystopia but really close and touching is a no-no). Thankfully, it was done well and it only barely reminded me of the present situation (needing that escape sometimes is key and I didn’t want to try and enjoy a story that was too close to real life and therefore not a different place).

We meet our main characters, Elodie and Aiden, and Blair. I have to say that Elodie at first frustrated me a little, but as the story goes, I warmed up to her and she provided a good panorama to a relatively cushioned life under the Key even if she isn’t aware of how protected she has been up to now by not questioning the rules and having family in the right places (but also, she doesn’t know how fragile the balance is).

Then we have Aiden, who is not fitting in well with how the Key want him to integrate into society and is on the last chance to be able to do something with his life (because in this world you’re matched to your partner, and you have your career chosen after taking some tests, nothing or barely anything is left to chance, and even old books and stories are banned). And then Blair who is the side that wants to move up the ranks inside the Key and to do more, achieve and not lose power are her intense desires.

I have to say that overall I enjoyed the story and was curious as to what would come. I think it dragged a little to try to make it into more than one book (I didn’t realise it wasn’t a standalone until I saw how much of the book was left and how little actual action ahd happened). But the dragging of the plot does provide a good setting and background. However, I do think the plot could’ve gone further if we had skipped the story bits Elodie reads (those I definitely did not like and would skim read).

Still, it was interesting to see how touch had been banned, the webs of lies and how people manipulate or rise through ranks and amke their place by “following rules” without ever questioning and calling themselves loyal. Yet at the same time, that position is always so fragile even if the players do not know it.

So, what’s the prospect? If you are a fan of the young adult fiction from 5-10 years ago, this is the book for you. It has that vibe with a fresher look, like when a trend comes back, and it ha some interesting concepts of technology, power and characters, and now I am very curious as to what actually happens next and what is in Zone Seven.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Technically, You Started It

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

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Technically, You Started It has a very interesting format to tell the story. It is all presented as a text conversation. There are no paragraphs, nothing except the “chat history” of the texts between Martin Nathaniel Munroe II and Haley.

For starters there are two Martin Nathaniel Munroe II in class and one is to Haley’s eyes the good one and the other one the bad one. She isn’t sure which one is texting her but it has to be good one, right?

I really enjoyed the format of the story, it was easy to read and kept it refreshing as there is that kind of freedom of not needing to describe mucha nd onyl exchange certain bits of data. And to me it was believable as a conversation between two teenagers who know about each other but don’t really know each other.

And then as the become more acquainted with each other, do they acknowledge the friendship in school or just keep it over text?

Honestly, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would, it was funny, it made me remember to my first few internet friends way back when but also the awkwardness of meeting in person. Plus I really liked both characters and how they each have certain perceptions of things and other people, particularly people they both interact with.

Honestly I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading this but if you enjoy a sweet romance, some comedy and funny nerd moments, then this is a great read, plus format is a big winner when you want a good story but your brain can’t engage enough (to me this was a slump breaking book and gosh I finished and was just like “I am so happy, this is so fun and so cool”).

Book Review

Moon Reads: I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

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

If you read my blog often, you will know that Romance is something I don’t read a lot, nor Contemporary, and yet here we are with a 4 fox review for I Love You So Mochi, what happened?

For starters, the premise of love you so mochi sounded cute. It is a meet cute of someone trying to find the best self she can be and someone who is in a mochi costume trying to help his family succeed and sell enough mochi.

Kimiko is a promising artist just like her mother, she has the way into a fancy art school just like she dreamed with her mother. But the catch is she hasn’t painted anything for a long time, no masterpieces, nothing. Sitting in front of the canvas brings nothing. Instead she is distracted creating Kimi Originals, clothing that brings the best version of yourself while you wear it (I felt like I needed Kimiko to create me some clothes). As expected, her mum finds out she is not actually painting and isntead is wasting her time with clothes. So Kimi accepts in a kinda of whim, an invitation from her estranged maternal grandparents.

Kyoto here we come. The plan is to find what Kimi’s Kimi Ultimate is. But instead she gets lost and finds Akira, who is passionate about medicine and studying and seems to have his whole life neatly planned, almost the complete opposite to Kimi. And on top of that, Kyoto is both familiar and completely strange for Kimi who has never been to Japan before but has been brougth up by Japanese parents in the US.

Overall, I found the book a good measure of cute, tiny bit of cringe moments (I don’t like too much of those, and there were barely any in this), and just a lot of looking inside yourself, finding what you want, instead of being who you think others want you to be.

As I read it, I partly understood what Kimi felt, that she had to be the Kimi other perceived and expected, because her whole identity was in that, and if you strip that away, who are you?

The romance was sweet and it developed in a fun way, considering it has to be a quick one, but it also wasn’t too loved up so that you lose the rest of the plot. And it had a lot of funny laugh out loud kind of moments to cheer you up. Probably the best kind of romance that I have read in a while, with a lot of feel good.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Taproot

Taproot by Keezy Young

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

I have a soft spot for botanical graphic novels, and if it involves ghosts, or grief, I am extra into it. I got this as a gift fromt he wonderful Lauren (aka The Bookihs Fairy) who is a bundle of sunlight.

Taproot is a story about a gardener, Hamal, who can see ghosts. This makes him a bit of a weirdo, as he may look like he’s talking to himself (to others) and also, the ghosts affect his reality a little, particularly Blue, who just can’t seem to go away.

That is until things start working a little weird wonky in the ghost world and the ghosts reach out to Hamal. Blue notices that maybe he needs to figure this out as he doesn’t want to move on and also, Hamal may be in trouble.

I loved the artwork as it made me want to live in a botanical garden type of home (I do wish I had a wonderful green thumb, which sadly I do not have), and the fact that it touches on death, grief, and hope is all up to my street and made this book even mroe precious. Plus there is some romance, some fun investigative work done by Hamal, and Blue’s story that we slowly discover (plus a few other ghosts make a story appearance too).

I kinda wanted the story to be longer, not because it was lacking but rather because I enjoyed reading it too much and wanted to hold on to it for longer. Highly recommended as soft gentle read if you’re okay with grief/death as part of a normal story.

Book Review, Books

The Upside of Falling Review

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

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

This book came as part of February’s Book Box Club. I am not big on contemporary reads and romance (if I am reading romance, I usually go full romancelandia), so I wasn’t hoping for much here (not that the book would be bad, more that I may not enjoy it much because it is just not my type of book).

However, it surprised me. It was easy to read, just quick, light reading. I could be reading, drop the book and come back to it and not have to read back a little to make sure I was in place. And it was fast to read.

The story is cute and predictable but still, easy to read, fluffy romance. A fake relationship that may not be fake after a while, which was nice to read and see them discover that they aren’t so different after all and how good each is and their strengths (and weaknesses).

Also, this book made me want to bake and eat cake a lot. Becca’s mother owns a bakery, so there’s always some kind of baked goods in there and gosh, you will be hungry!

All in all, it was a nice read for a romance and not too bothersome or over complicated just for the sake of. It kept the cuteness and the happy ever after, and all that making you want out of romance.

Book Review, Books

Hideous Beauty Review

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

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

I won this book out of a lotery during YALC, however that doesn’t change my review or do anything for or against it.

To start this review, at least one of the foxes given is purely due to the fact that I usually cringe at books that center on romance/a relationship and somehow this one didn’t annoy me, or make me frustrated or anything like that. I enjoyed the romance,so kudos to the author because somehow a 4 fox review has come out of a contemporary romance book. Someone save this one for posterity.

Maybe that should be the whole review, this book made me like contemporary romance. (But I am not going to go test the waters and ruin the experience I got out of this one book).

Now on to an actual review of it. It is a very interesting book, with a coming out, a high school dance where they are officially out, and then disaster. Both Ellis and Dylan were fleshed out as full characters and neither was just a ploy or just there, you could see and feel what they were going through. There are several parts of the story to follow. One is Dylan’s best friend and their friendship, which I enjoyed but also boy, was that intense (and no, no filthy thoughts).

Another part is what made Ellis to elusive and what was he keeping from Dylan? Why is Dylan suddenly getting pages from the sketchbook Ellis had? The mystery is there ever present but it is also something that is keeping Dylan going and in some ways keeing him from plunging deeper into his grief, but at the same time, he’s not letting go of that grief because he wants to keep searching for answers.

And of course, the last one, is grief (another grief book, definitely my type of book). It is on how his family and the rest of the world interacts with him, and it is about him reacting or interacting in return. On processing the grief, and trying to find a way in and out and somehow untangle the big tangle that grief is.

The book in general does well exploring the three points and the final discovery both surprised me in one of the things and was not that surprising in another. But it didn’t feel too far away from what could possibly be.

This is not a happy book, it is a book that is steeped in sadness an in discovery and just finding your place in the world and learning who you are and who your boyfriend was/is.

Still, definitely worth a read.