Book Review

Moon Reads: The Truth Project

The Truth Project by Dante Medema

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This book was provided to me as a gift from the publisher. It was one I requested since I wanted to be able to review it. The fact that the book was provided by the publisher doesn’t inform my review of the book. All views here my own.

I picked the Truth Project since I have been reading a lot of fantasy and middle grade or graphic novels, so this felt like a good palate cleanser of a read and it was the perfect book to read while in a cosy bath. If you like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, then this is definitely a book to read as it is also in verse style.

Cordelia is aceing high school and ready to go to university, she just needs to get her project sorted which she chooses to tackle a genetic test and the concept of identity through poetry. For that, she is paired up wiht the troubled boy Kodiak. It should be an easy project writing about what makes you you and what effect genetics have on it, or at least that is what she thinks will happen. But when the test results come through, her truth isn’t exactly what she thought it was, the person she calls Father isn’t her biological father.

This defintiely throws Cordelia in for a spin and her perfect record suddenly doesn’t matter as much, when it feels like everything she knws is a lie. We get the story shown as she grapples with her identity, trying to decide if she wants to meet her biological father and figuring out what she thinks about who she is and who her family is. Through her poetry, text conversations with her best friend and Kodiak, and a few email exchanges, we get a very dynamic story.

I really liked the format this was being worked with, it isnt just poetry/verse but also texts and emails, with different language depending on who Cordelia is talking to. And it was interesting to see how she tries to navigate her new truth and what it means for her, and the lies she wants to believe or the ones she starts making up to cope with the truth.

As you may know, I am not big on contemporary, usually quite picky on it, but this one won a space in my reading due to how it explores identity, family, being troubled, making mistakes and the concept of what is true and what lies one can believe or deal with.

Also, bonus points because her family is there and not just thrown around conveniently. I also could see glimpses of what her parents are actually discussing but that she doesn’t realise where things are going or how they are happening and instead interprets differently. But it was fascinating to see the layers of thigns even through her verses.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Key To Fear

The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast

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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: Splinters of Scarlet

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

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This book was part of Book Box Club’s box a few months back and even though had had the book on my want to read list, I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond a bit of a fairytale feeling.

I think Splinters of Scarlet definitely hits the spot on having a fairy tale feeling and vibe all over it, but at the same time it is like a modern fairytale. And yet it feels lost in time. I’d say it has a more “The Girl and the Bear” kind of feel than “A Curse so Dark and Lonely”, like a happy middle between those two kinds of fairytale.

I think my most favourite thing was the magic system, the fact that you get a very unique way of using your magic and that it is literally in your blood so using it too much “freezes” your veins and kills you. From things like being good at glass blowing, or being able to sew perfectly and so fast, or just being able to detect lies, it has a lot of fun ways of being used and it was fascinating to see the interaction of those that have it and those that don’t, since as much as it is a blessing it is also a curse. Sadly, this part wasn’t explored as much as it could’ve but it was still fascinating.

The second best thing was that it touches on both dance and clothes making, and it was delightful to see those woven through the whole story. It gave it that extra magical fairy tale feeling for me even if technically none of those things are specific to fairytales.

And I really liked how the characters develop and interact. To be fair at the beginning it wasn’t as interesting because it is just before we move to where the main story happens, but it gives a precedent setting. It gets so much better when we meet the full cast and start interacting with more and more people. I liked the interactions, the resentment, the ways of living contrasting between them, and the hidden story plotline feels (though for me there was little guesswork almost from the very first chapter of what the “aha moment” would be).

Given that I knew what the main revelation would be I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t annoy me. So I can say that if you want a fairytale kind of story with an interesting magic system, this is one to read for sure!

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee

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This book is loads of fun, action and crazy shenanigans! Genie Lo is a young woman with a bit of a temper and an overachiever that is dedicated to trying to get into an Ivy league university. She is even using her height advantage to totally get a win in volleyball.

But when the yaoguai of lore suddenly aren’t lore anymore and seem to be hellbent on causing mayhem for Genie, what is she to do? Add on top of that the gorgeous new student, Quentin Sun, who is adamant that Genie has to help him sort this weirdness as it is part of her destiny.

Best part is that Quentin isn’t just a student, but actually Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.

Look, I throughly enjoyed this book, the pacing is great and you get both action and quieter moments, plus a lot of humour There were many times when I just giggled thorugh it or laughed out loud to something going on, but I was also concerned. The chemistry of Quentin and Genie is brilliant and their at odds view of the world also was amusing.

And the lore, it’s very well woven into this story.

Honestly, everyone who has been a student, dreamt of being one, and or likes lore, should read this book. It pack s agreat punch!

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: A Darker Shade of Magic Illumicrate Collections

Any Illumicrate Collections box tends to be really good, so when they announced A Darker Shade of Magic being a box, I jumped at it and got it. And of course, as per usual, it was packed full of goodies (so much I struggled to fit it all on my usual table), so let’s see what it had starting at the bottom right and going clockwise:

  • Contents booklet, mostly it lists what each item is and who the artist/companies behind it are.
  • Underneath most of the goodies is a Four Londons blanket by Yoshi Yoshitani, which I like a lot (usually the blankets are gorgeous)
  • Then we have a booksleeve inspired by Lila’s and Kell “dance”, it’s a good size and slightly plastified so really nice. The artwork is by Laia Lopez and the quote typography design on the other side is by Chatty Nora.
  • Essen Tasch hanging poster, this makes me feel like I’ve been to it and got a memento poster to hang on my wall. Normally I am not crazy about posters but I somehow really like this one. Design by Sylvia Bi
  • On top are some acrylic figures of the characters and one of the author too, which I thought was a cute idea and they’ll look good on a shelf to decorate. Design by Monolime
  • There was also a set of dust jackets for all three books if you’re not that into the naked look. Those were hard to display as they had come rolled in to be protected but difficult to quickly lay flat (they’ll be flat after a few days under some books). Artwork by Rosie Thorns.
  • A pin of Lila’s mask designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt.
  • In the middle is a microfibre cloth to clean glasses and gadgets with a design by Victoria Ying.
  • And finally the hardcover book with a foiled naked cover, silver sprayed edges and front endpapers with artwork by Em Allen. It is gorgeous, honestly!

All in all it was a great box, the item I will probably love the least is the dust jackets because I am not normally fond of them in books and prefer naked covers. But they are still gorgeous. And of course all the contents are so well tailored for the trilogy that it is like magic!

Book Review

Moon Reads: I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

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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, Books

Giant Days Volume One

Giant Days Volume One by John Allison, Lissa Treiman (Illustrator), Whitney Cogar (Colors)

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At some point I got a sampler for this and then on a whim bought the first volume. Completely forgot about it. And recently I was doing a clear up and organising of my graphic novels/comics and this one popped up. I decided that since it looked short I’d give it a read and decide if I was actually into it or not.

You can guess what the result was… (I have somehow now purchased up to volume 13).

The three girls that share a dorm room/area are as interestingly differnet as can be. Innocent ray of sunshine, “normal” and drama queen. And well, this is a delightful mix. I giggled a lot and also I found it refreshing that the drama queen isn’t trying to be one and even bets against causing drama intentionally or not (it doesn’t go well for her bet), our normal girl isn’t that normal (woops, even if she tries) and the cute innocent sunshine has a bit of gloom and bad luck around her.

I like their weird adventures and the relationship between them which made this a fun read, the artwork worked well to give a laidback college vibe and keeping it fun even fi topics range from lighthearted crushes to mental health and drugs.

I obviously will keep reaidng once the next volumes arrive, so expect more reviews to come about Giant Days!

Book Review, Books

The Shadow Glass Review

The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco

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It is done! Completed. I knew this book was going to be intense as it had a lot of questions to answer, starting with what happens to Kalen (I’ve been biting my nails about it since book one!), and then there’s the whole changes in dynamics of the characters. Why is Tea doing all of what she has done? And who is traitor, maybe more than one? Will we ever find out Druj?

I kept reading and going “I am not sure how we’re going to get all the answers to everything I need to know” until suddenyl all the ribbons, hints and little things made sense. My suspicions on some characters turned out to be true (it was also fun to buddy read this and have a theory and suggest it but not be fully sure and doubt yourself and then have it confirmed) and new things kept coming that still managed to surprise me but made sense.

I think that is one of the beauties of this series. There is a LOT going on. And you get most of the answers at the end, in the last book, but they all make sense because you can remember scenes in previous books and even in the one you’re reading, and the dots connect. It takes skill to write and make all those dots connect and do so in such a way, so I can only admire Rin’s ability to write this story.

//Spoilers for content in the two previous books ahead but no spoilers for this one//

Tea and Kalen. I adored the scenes that happened between them including drunk Tea which was one of my favourite parts. And we had the relationship develop well so it felt right, it worked and the chemistry. Honestly, I was just like cooing and wanting more of them.

I also had a lot fo love for the other pairings happening in the book and how they slowly come to fruition. It was wonderful to see old characters keep up.

The one thing I would’ve loved, was a list of names and who they were plus which country they originally belong to (as at some point I had to stop and remind myself that X was actually from so and so and not the other country). But this is more due to the sheer size of the world and the amount of characters and me desperately wanting to understand it all and not miss a thing.

Honestly I can babble incoherently for a while, but all I can say is that the book shows Rin’s ability to weave a tale and bring it to completion breaking and mending your heart along the way.

Book Review, Books

The Heart Forger Review

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

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After reading The Bone Witch, I ordered the next two books, then continued a buddy read. Life got in the way for both of us so it took us a while to coordinate again, but once we did, we flew through it.

One of my favourite things so far is the world building. You get so much in this world and it just keeps expanding more and more. The style of having Tea in the present talking to the Bard about her story of the past and what made her what she is, does a really good job in presenting items cohesively despite being different moments and different reveals.

The last 100 pages or so, they went by so fast because there was so much going on and slowly being revealed and surprisingly a lot of what I thought would happen, didn’t and things I didn’t expect did. As I reached the end I needed to know more.

The characters keep developing their layers and showing more of how grey they are and how difficult it is to know someone’s true intentions and what is going on behind closed doors but in figurative and literal sense. I have a big soft spot both for Khalad and Likh, and for their stories. But new characters also join in and add to the “team”, Mykkie is still a big part of the story and Tea keeps showing us more of who she is, what she has held inside and slowly revealing the secrets and motives that she carries as a heavy burden.

I am in awe of the story. It is deep and full and rich, and I cannot recommend it enough. Also, it is incredibly hard not to spoil it while reviewing because there is SO mcuh I’d like to say but it’d spoil it and it’s worth not doing that.

I can only say, go read The Bone Witch and have The Heart Forger ready to keep going because you will want to know more!

Book Review, Books

Thorn Review

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

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Thron was included in one of the recent Book Box Club boxes. However, I had it on preorder and didn’t catch that it was the same book, so I got duplicates and gifted a copy to a friend.

Obviously means I was eager to read it, right?

From the start, there is a fairy tale undertone to the story (I know it is based on the story of the goose girl, but some books that are based on fairy tales do not read like one) and it sets the tone for the rest of the book in a wonderful way.

We meet Alyrra as she is preparing to meet her future husband’s family. She is in general a resigned unhappy princess that would rather have a different life. However, she doesn’t want an adventure as one would expect. What she wants is just peace, to be able to be insignificant in a way. And she wants to not have her cruel family over her. As much as she is unsure about the alliance through marriage and who the prince is, she sees this as a way out of her family and country to somewhere that may be better.

What she doesn’t expect is to end up as the lady in company of the princess rather than the actual princess, which puts her into the position of a goose girl as ajob. Which she finds delightful. It is hard work, but it is work and she is gettign exactly what she wants. Plus there’s a wonderful talking horse, Falada, that she has for ocmpany.

The story follows the bones of the goose girl fairy tale but adds to many beautiful layers on top. One of my favourite lines is the concept of family and unity, of found family rather than the given one (which really spoke to me). Another one is the concept of justice and what that may mean. Can justice be truly fair? What does that mean and how is it decided? There is also the way Alyrra starts to figure out who she is outside of the obligations of being a “princess”. And it is interesting to see how she views herself as something but in truth she is ahead of how she sees herself. She calls herself a coward often, but has a lot of courage, and it takes her time to understand that and to see what she is doing as courageous.

I think those layers and the many characters that are very defined in the story, like Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Joa make it even better as a fairy tale on it’s own. Vety enjoyable, feels old and as if it has existed for so long and yet it is fresh and has a lot of questions. Probably the best way to describe Thorn is to say that this is what a fairytale ought to be in 2020. Something to become a classic read over and over and seen as a comfortable uncomfortable story with magic woven through it.

Highly recommend reading it and giving it a chance.