to make monsters out of girls Review

to make monsters out of girls by amanda lovelace

“What happens when the man of your dreams turns out to be a nightmare with sharp teeth and claws?”

Winner of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Poetry, amanda lovelace presents her new illustrated duology, “things that h(a)unt.” In this first installment, to make monsters out of girls, lovelace explores the memory of being in an abusive relationship. She poses the eternal question: Can you heal once you’ve been marked by a monster, or will the sun always sting?

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

I bought this one to complete the duology since I had enjoyed to drink coffee with a ghost more than I expected. And I have to say, compared to it, this isn’t as good. Or maybe it feels less powerful because it is not my first encounter with her poetry. Unsure.

It still is a powerful read. And as someone who had a terrible relationship that I am still healing from, this definitely resonated. One of the things that was interesting to see was how you adapt and sometimes become a monster yourself in self defense. I had become someone defensive and jumpy, someone who would tell you horrible things and be quite critical so you wouldn’t dish those things to me first. But before him I wasn’t as bitter or monstrous.

Still, some poems passed me by, but a lot of them where relevant, including the sun heart ones, as I found my own “sun” heart. The parts that didn’t click, at least I could feel or attempt to understand a little. Not all experiences are the same, but there are some similarities and it is that thread that ties this book together. The pain, the self loathing, the wanting to prove your love and that you are worth loving.

It is a tough book, so read with care, and it has a long list of content warnings at the beginning (something I am grateful for). If you can brave this book, it may be cathartic and helpful to read, like releasing some of the poison in your wounds. Still, do so with care and love and patience.

Fireside Favourites Book Box Club Unboxing

Since I did a mini summary about Owlcrate, and I am eagerly waiting to receive the January Book Box Club box soon, I shall do another mini summary about them.

I bought their last first box back in September 2016 (?) and haven’t looked bad. They were the first ones to do a proper author chat and it was the one thing I loved the most. Nowadays I don’t join the chat so much, but it is thanks to them I found some of my good friends and reading buddies.

But let’s see what was in the December box, which was all about being cozy with our reads, starting on the theme card on the bottom right and going clockwise:

  • Theme Card. Cute fits the theme.
  • A proof book, for me it was Are You Watching? which I already have a proof copy for, but still, extra book.
  • The main book, Dangerous Alliance which is very pink and apparently Jane Austen-ish… I am a bit unsure what to expect.
  • White chocolate and & Raspberry bar, which fits nicely with being cosy. Yum!
  • A Christmas wishes card from the girls and the new four paw addition.
  • A gorgeous beanie hat, it is a deep green that for some reason looks very black in videos and pictures. It is warm and comfortable and cute. win all around.
  • A pin to match the book.
  • The 2020 artwork calendar I’ve come to expect from them, and it is gorgeous! A great way of discovering new artists.
  • A woodmark, with the most gorgeous art ever that it put aside my woddmark dislike (plus it is a little more sturdy but not that much thicker than the usual ones in other boxes, so far better).

All in all, a very cosy box to be enjoyed and I am looking forward to the treat of two books in the January box too!

The Chicken Thief Review

The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodríguez

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

A friend I’ve known since we were 14 or so, was in Spain and made a small trip to come see me in the UK (we’re both from Mexico). On the last day she was here, she gifted us (husband and I) this book. I teared up a little.

For starters, this is about a fox “stealing” a chicken. We keep chickens and my logo is a fox. No need to say more, right? This book has no words in it, a language agnostic book. All of it is pictures and the pictures do their job amazingly well.

Our fox steals the chicken and runs away, when ehr friends find out they pursue them. And so goes th story as they are being pursued so the chicken can be rescued. But does the chicken need rescuing?

It is a gorgeous book, the artwork is brilliant, the story is very well doen and as mentioned, not even need for words. And well, it questions preconceptions and assumptions on others very well, plus choices and reactions to things.

I highly recommend it because it is a sweet one and charming.

Tales of Trickery Owlcrate Unboxing

Since it is almost the time when book boxes start shipping for January, let’s do some unboxings of the ones that came through in December. For today, it is Owlcrate. I’ve been getting them on and off. My first Owlcrate was I think their 4th box of them all, way back in 2015 (if I remember correctly), and I kept it going for quite a while until it was the same items with just a little difference. I stopped and then restarted it recently as the quality went up again.

So let’s unbox this one, starting with the book in the bottom left:

  • The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White. It was highly hinted this would be the book for December, and I am glad. Even though blue is one of my favourite colours, the green cover version they gave us is stunning. Underneath it has emerald foiling and white hardcovers.
  • Mount Ruin candle. It smells delicious and warm and cosy (maybe not actually like doom, but I am okay with that).
  • A book sleeve with a quote from Sorcery of Thorns. It is a good size, which is something I like (my favourite so far was one that has a front pocket and a popper button on the top so it is extra secure plus can add other things up front.
  • Theme card.
  • A set of colouring pencils that are meant to accompany the next item…
  • A colouring book of all the yearly pin designs that have been included in Owlcrate. I thought this was an awesome idea and a way of making the most of the amazing designs. Not only as a pin but bonus colouring book!
  • A hand warmer, based on Sky in the Deep. This was great to receive because I had been raving about them in the office and when I unboxed it, I could show it to my colleagues easily.
  • Earmuffs. A win for me since they are relatively portable and cute and comfortable. And a unique item.
  • The pin of the month.

In general I liked this box, it is very well coordinated in colour and even though not all items feel like Tales of Trickery, they do give me a cooridnated vibe and I like it.

Wish Review

Wish by Chris Saunders

Wish is a story about the power of kindness and the magic of friendship.

Rabbit has never had a wish before but one day he gets not one, but three! He asks his friends what they would do if they had a wish to get ideas. He hears their ideas, but what does he want?

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

I got this as a Christmas gift. It was on my wishlist for a while as I like having some children’s books to read sometimes when I want to read but don’t have the energy to fully commit to an older book. But with pictures it is easier and just nice.

Wish is about a bunny rabbit who gets three wishes and he isn’t sure what to wish for. So he goes around and asks his friends, and they each tell him their wishes and what they would like. Adventures, nice things, all of them very unique to each of the friends, but none of them seem to be exactly what the little rabbit wants to wish for.

So when he makes his wishes, he finds out sometimes wishes can be good and shared. It is a cute story with soft artwork, the kind that makes you believe in wishes and just makes you feel warm inside.

All in all, it was a lovely gift and it was a good book to cuddle with after being tired from all the festivities. Something to relax with and just enjoy and smile about.

The Midwinter Witch Review

The Midwinter Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag

The acclaimed graphic novel world of The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch comes to a thrilling conclusion in this story of friendship, family, and finding your true power.
Magic has a dark side . . .

Aster always looks forward to the Midwinter Festival, a reunion of the entire Vanissen family that includes competitions in witchery and shapeshifting. This year, he’s especially excited to compete in the annual Jolrun tournament-as a witch. He’s determined to show everyone that he’s proud of who he is and what he’s learned, but he knows it won’t be easy to defy tradition.

Ariel has darker things on her mind than the Festival-like the mysterious witch who’s been visiting her dreams, claiming to know the truth about Ariel’s past. She appreciates everything the Vanissens have done for her. But Ariel still craves a place where she truly belongs.

The Festival is a whirlwind of excitement and activity, but for Aster and Ariel, nothing goes according to plan. When a powerful and sinister force invades the reunion, threatening to destroy everything the young witches have fought for, can they find the courage to fight it together? Or will dark magic tear them apart?

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

I was very excited to read this and had it on preorder. The two previous books had me hooked and I wondered where this one was going to take us and what interesting adventures were coming.

The focus of it is Ariel, and the internal fight she has on being a good with rather than just evil and ruining everything. I wanted to enjoy it as much as the other two, but there was a lot of making the adults do things that didn’t go very well with their characters for the sake of making the plot a bit more intense and more confusing. I didn’t want to try to rethink my whole view of a character that I thought was good for the last two books and is now giving bad vibes (worse part, the reason for the shifty behaviour is silly, something a child might do not an adult and not the character that does). So I guess, that made it less good to me.

I still liked seeing their friendship finding new spaces and figuring out what is best and how to go along with having a new witch that is adept next to Aster. Good competition. There is still a lot of Aster having to prove himself which detracted a little from Ariel’s story. I can see the reason behind wanting to explore that part, but it meant you split the story too much between Ariel and Aster and their conflicts and tried to pack it all one book. Maybe it would’ve been better to have it be a set of four books rather than a trilogy. That way there’ll be more space to explore both things, including Ariel’s past and family and all that.

The big reveal about Ariel’s family is too short and rushed, which felt like a shame. However, their friendship between the three of them is still strong and they’re a good team of friends.

The art is still good, the world was nice to go back to, I just wished it had been done a little better, as it left me feeling like “oh, it finished already? This is the end of this story/trilogy? Really? That’s it?” rather than with a bang or at the very least some internal satisfaction of seieng htem grow into themselves (which they kinda do, but it is rushed and it feels a little forced).

Still, the trilogy itself is fun, I enjoyed it and it was an interesting concept. Wish there were more to come.

Blogtour: The God Game Review

The God Game by Danny Tobey

You are invited!
COme inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!

It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

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

When Stevie mentioned this “GOD” game book I was hooked. (This was a review copy, provided by the publisher for free in the hopes I would like it and join the tour, which I did) I was brought up in a religious environment and it has taken some time to work through that, and I did some work with AI(Artificial Intelligence), neural networks, machine learning and cybersecurity. This book felt like a very interesting one for me.

The God Game is a wonderful display of what an AI that has been fed all data about religion and has to then make a choice about humanity and religion and the common denominator in it. The conclusion as to what the motivations of the AI behind the God game, left thinking “oh wow, that is a very interesting question” and it made sense. It fit the way AI process data and come to questions and conclusions, and it also fit the panorama of religion.

I am aware Tobey is heavily involved in AI, so not a surprise here, however, what was interesting was also seeing each character be fleshed out as their own. They all have their own motivations to be part of the game, and to keep winning, but it is also their compasses and own morals that define how far they’re willing to go, and what parts of it they will question or go against.

Some of the concepts where very far fetched but it was still interesting to see this “futuristic” approach to AI mixed with some of the data that is already available but is too big data that processing is usually quite costly compared with the return it provides in useful information for those processing it (in this case, since it is an AI and fiction, there doesn’t seem to be that type of limitation).

Another thing explored here that was interesting was the way games and being “online” and outside of “real life” can warp you and give you an odd sense of being in control or of things being harmless and no consequences coming from it. “It is just a simple joke, a simple dare, no one was hurt”, that type of thing.

As interesting and well developed as the GOD game is, I wouldn’t want to play it. And I had the issue that every adult and “responsible” person that has more than a sentence or so of action in this book is a terrible person. They have horrid secrets, have failed the teenagers and are just a combination of selfish and bad, even if some are trying to make it better or hide it or whatever. That was my least favourite part. I know it works for what the story is trying to say, but it made it not as good as it could’ve been, because all the “NPC (non playable characters)” where more or less made to fit exactly the plot and make it make less bad of what the main cast was doing, and I just wish there had been more contrast, more to work on.

One last thing, this book explores how far someone can go towards “bad”, so there is an incredibly long list of trigger warnings that I honestly couldn’t comprehensibly list. To me, due to the context of the game they were less of a shock, but I expected that and worse given the premise, however, if you are coming to this book without expecting the worst, it is going to slap you in the face badly. Take care when reading this.