Book Review

Moon Reads: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House 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: 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: Adulthood is a Myth

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

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

Read before: No I have read some of the single comics before

Ownership: Bought for myself to cheer me up

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Sarah’s Scribbles

Ok, I have read some of Sarah’s comics before on and off from instagram and blogs and the ones people share. I used to follow her on tubmlr and then stopped being so into tumblr, so probably why. But I still like them and I found a copy of the book really cheap second hand so thought you know what? Let’s find some funny good things in life and buy the book and read it and enjoy and giggle.

Of course, being part of the Sarah’s Scribbles series, this is hilarious, has a lot of “relatable” comics, I think I spent most of the time take screenshots and either sending them to my husband or sending them to my friends to what matched our relationships or anecdotes or stories and have a giggle with them.

Which is to say that probably the best review I can give for this book isn’t a very long one but can be summarised into the fact that this book will probably contain at least one strip or comic that will resonate with one or many friends and family members so you will want to share it around and make other smile or laugh or go “do you remember?” or maybe do a “this is us/me/you” to someone as you share and maybe you will also want to make others read it after you have finished because it made you smile and feel like the world wasn’t just you against it but others struggle too and we all try to make fun or it and make the most out of it, and just get on by.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Wolf and the Water

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

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

Read before: No

Ownership: A free review copy was provided by the author. I have read two of her series previously so I knew I wanted to read this book regardless. This doesn’t change the review of influence it at all.

Spoiler free review: Yes

Series: Deluge #1

Content warnings: There is a variety of abuse and violence, murder, poisoning, ableism and a few other -isms, basically this is not a cosy book but rather brutal.

It took me a while to get to this book because Josie usually builds this incredibly intricate world so I knew I had to have the brain space for it and last year was not the right time. However, I started reading before work and waking up earlier and this was one of those books read in the early hours of the day at my leisure.

I struggled to get into it a little bit because there is a lot going on and it basically starts with finding Kala’s dad dead in the library, and knowing that it means her mother will have to remarry and that due to her limp and deformity of her leg, she may be cast out.

But it looks like her father was murdered and as Kala tries her best to adjust to a very fast remarriage, a new family to share the tribe with and a “brother” that is kind and actually treats her like a “normal” person (the people in the world think she is deformed and bad luck and a variety of bad things and therefore consider Kala lesser than even if she is of nobility)., things start getting very complicated fast.

What starts in a way fast paced, slows down just a little bit to give you a panorama of what Kala’s life is like and then it picks right up coming to a festival and Kala’s life becoming more and more in danger in a bad way. Maybe the person who murdered her father is also out for her? And what about the secrets that caused her father to die, can she unravel them and leverage them for her safety before someone ensures her silence?

Overall this is like amurder mystery in a brutal society from the point of view of someone slightly in the privileged nobility but still not considered one of them because she is too different and “not right”. I liked the interesting contrasts between characters, their situations and what causes them to make certain decisions.

As you get to the last third of the book there is a lot of new reveals happening so there is a lot to keep up with but it means you will not want to let go of the book and just finish. I ended up reading the last few pages through a couple of dead “inbetween meetings” kinda five minutes or so and I was glad to do so as it was worth getting to that ending.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Illumicrate Editions

Subscription box: Illumicrate Editions

Theme/Month: Special Edition for Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Ownership: Preordered the special edition box when it was available in the presale. If you are interested in purchasing an Illumicrate subscription, you can do it on their website.

I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone a long time ago and the whole trilogy was fun to read so when they announced a special edition box I decided to buy it and also the rest of the trilogy. But what was in the box? Starting on the bottom right and going clockwise:

  • A gorgeous booksleeve with a scene on one side and a quote on the other.
  • A gold foiled print with all the characters of the series.
  • A wishbone enamel pin (I am unsure about this trend of two part/chained enamel pins, why?)
  • The hardcover edition with blue sprayed edges, special reversible jacket (another thing I genuinely do not understand the hype for, I am not going to flip the cover around to see the reversible one, plus it’ll just damage it if I keep flipping one way or the other and it’s not like you can see the full picture if you have the book facing anyway unless you had it on a rotating platform) and signed.
  • A gorgeous book tin (also it is huge, you can almost fit the book inside it, I haven’t tried, an experiment for another time) with a “stained glass” feel to the artwork which is cool.
  • A soul thurible replica from the book, which is cool but sadly for me it is a dust catcher and nothing more? (I do like the idea of making a replica, it is cool but it just sits there, I can’t do much with it and I don’t think it is safe to burn incense in it anyway…)
  • My favourite item which was the mug, the artwork is stunning!
  • Angel and Demon bookends. I get the concept behind them the cool idea but they feel a bit flimsy (not due to material more on the design being so cut out and delicate, makes them easy to catch on things and not as durable as one would wish). 100% to the concpet, not so keen on final product.

Sadly, I was kinda expecting more and didn’t really click with the box as much as I have clicked with previous ones, which is sad because the items where awesome, just not for me. I am not one to go crazy about prints (I am bad at seeing the characters unless I am making fanart myself, and I struggle to remember names so it is a bit like “cool art but means very little to me unless I make a massive effort to remember everything”), however the book is cool and I like it is a tin, unsure about the size of it but otherwise really cool and I am always happy for a good mug.

My takeaway is that I need to be more conscious of the special editions I chose as in the end the items may not be my cup of tea and I have to make sure it is worth it for me. If I displayed prints and decorative items on my shelves I probably would’ve totally loved this box.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Art of Bioshock Infinite

The Art Of Bioshock Infinite by Ken Levine and Nate Wells

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

Read before: No, but I have played the game several times before.

Ownership: Ordered through Abe Books as you can only get the German version here for some reason

Spoiler free review: No, art of books are all about the game the art is of, so spoilers may be included.

Bioshock as a series of games is one of my favourite comfort games (yes, I know it is not actually a sweet fun game) and the pushing the boundaries and asking but what if this was taken to the extreme with DNA modification and in this particular period of time, what would happen?

Which is part of the interesting part because the Art of Bioshock Infinite explores what could have happened if America had gone more religiously extreme and designated themselves and whiteness as better than others. On top of that it adds the theory of multiple universes and it was great to have a good AI character to help you through your journey.

The book has a lot of the “we knew we wanted to explore this topic, so we tried so many iterations of this and then figure we liked some parts of it and not others or had to redo some other parts”. For example, the concpet of Songbird was initially too close to another Big Daddy and you get sketches of it or way too far away mythical mechanical feel creatures that when you look at the game did not fit as well.

I always enjoy seeing some of the things that didn’t make it into the game and how they coloured the final product, for example the scene below of Elizabeth’s room gives that idea of her being a dreamer and wanting more, and how that ties to her innocence and loss of it throughout the game.

Overall, it was worth trying to get the book from the US as a version here is too expensive or only in German unsure why), but realising it was hard to get meant I ahve started prioritising Art Of books more now.

Recommended for fans of Bioshock, and for those that like Art Of books or if the topic suits your drawing isnpiration style.

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: Space Battle Lunchtime A Dish Best Served Cold

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Three: A Dish Best Served Cold by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


After we finish the competition for Space Battle Lunchtime, coming second in the final, Peony goes back to “normal” life, but she is now going out with Neptunia and her success in the show has now invited her to make desserts for a royal catering gig for a space empress! We even get a small adventure trying to source some ingredients for the fancy desserts Peony is making.

But as the gala happens, and everyone is enjoying themselves, there’s trouble a foot with someone poisoning the empress as she samples the desserts that Neptunia helped Peony make. But is it that Neptunia is not trustworthy or is there something more going on that may be why the empress was poison?

Once again shenanigans and crazy trying to save people on time ensues while we also try to find out who poisoned the empress and how to save the whole party!

This was probably a much slower and less action packed book, but it is also laying a lot of groundwork on backstory for characters. We learn quite a lot about Neptunia and a little more about other characters as we go and partly also a bit more about the whole “space” dynamics, so less action and a lot of it packed tightly into it. And definitely a bit less food making and pacing a little different, but still interesting and worth reading. I hope it means there will be more to learn and come on the next volume.

Still recommended for those that love cooking shows, probably also good for murder mystery fans and revenge plots, and cute food and space shenanigans!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: A Recipe For Disaster

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Two: A Recipe For Disaster by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


Peony was about to start the final for Space Battle Lunchtime when she was stolen away to the Cannibal Coliseum which is a competitor show where you not only cook but you may end up being cooked or rather, it is very much the end point of the competition, cook or be cooked and try to present a final dish.

Neptunia realises that something is definitely wrong since Peony didn’t make the “date” they had set up for the night before, so she enlists the help of the camera man to create a distraction while she figures out how to rescue Peony. Chaos, shenaningans, and more ensue, including Peony desperately trying to cook and avoid being cooked in Cannibal Coliseum, plus finding a way to escape and get back to Space Battle Lunchtime or at the very least away from Cannibal Coliseum.

As per the previous Volume, this has a lot of mood colouring and artwork. And the artwork is super cute, the new Cannibal Coliseum competitors are interesting and the “main” enemy that Peony is competing against is extra bundles of cuteness. I had so much joy out of reading and desperately wanted to go join a cooking contest, definitely NOT a cannibal one, or bake and cook new food and items.

Overall, as previously I highly recommend it for anyone that likes food competitions, queer relationships, fun space shenaningans and great characters. Have something yummy ready while you read, as this will make you hungry!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume One: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

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

Read before: No

Ownership: This was a gift from Kellybee who is an awesome friend but it was in my wishlist as something I definitely wanted.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


We start our scene with our heorine, Peony, who is a baker at a small cafe on Earth gets whisked away to a space TV show to be emergency replacement of a chef that was actually going to compete. Peony has zero clue what this is except that it is a cooking show and that she cant just give up. So she cooks and bakes and does her best.

The competition is fierce and someone is most certainly sabotaging things, but Peony’s upbeat cheer, her helpful nature and stubbornness help her out so that she makes it to the final.

Look, for starters, the art is really good. The author went for a “go for colour vibe and feel then draw the thing” and it works SO well with the story. The story flows really well, the food made makes me hungry and it is also cool to see a take on different places of space where each of the competitors comes from.

I would totally watch this show if it existed!

As for the characters, Peony steals the show for sure but Neptunia also has some points there and just the whole cast is varied enough and it fits well. I won’t spoil the actual ending or where this gets to, but I immediately had to order the next two books because I couldnt wait to read more.

I think one of the key parts of this is that it is a cooking show comic and it is about food in a positive and competitive way alongside the whole space fun and the artwork and characters just add that extra flavour and layers to it that make it chef’s kiss quality.

Recommended for those addicted to watching Master Chef, The Great British Bake Off, and anything of the kind, if you like space, queer relationships, aliens, cooking or cute graphic novels, this one is definitely for you!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Happy Narwhalidays

Happy Narwhalidays by Ben Clanton

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

Read before: No

Ownership: Preordered as I love this series.

Spoiler free review: No

Before the year ends and the holiday season is behind us, I had to share my review for the fourth Narwhal and Jelly book, which is all about their version of the holidays. There is a magical mermaid unicorn that brings gifts just for giggles to the sea creatures and as per usual Jelly is skeptical but ends up wanting to give a gift to Narwhal, and Narwhal is the cheerful bundle of joy as usual.

I had a lot of fun reading this just before setitng the Christmas tree up and while trying to finally get a feel for the Christmas spirit which I wasnt feeling very much this year due to circumstances *points at world and situation*. But Narwhal is so chirpy and so hopeful that you just can’t resist it and suddenly you feel a little bit more cheerful, a little bit more into the holiday spirit and maybe even wishing a magical mermaid unicorn had brought you a gift or something to spread the holiday cheer.

The artwork is simple but it doesnt take away anyting from it, as it is very expressive and fits well the story, there are still waffles and a lot of sea creature friends alongside Jelly and Narwhal and I can recommend it as a feel good cheer up read where you need all the books from this series because one is just not enough, in a good way.

Recommended for those who love sea facts, narwhals, jellyfish, friendship and cute cartoons. It is a read on your own, or just look at the pictures or share a giggle with someone kind of book.