Aquicorn Cove Review

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Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

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

Last year I read and reviewed The Tea Dragon Society, where I fell for her artwork and story. So I had to have this little gem but somehow forgot I wanted it and it came out (why did I not preorder?!) and then I got it.

Starting the year with a graphic novel in the pile does make you feel like you’ve got this and can read through your reading goal.

Now unto the book. The Aquicorn Cove is all about awareness of the ocean and the sea and pollution, so it has a bit more of a message running through it. What I’ll say next may be a little controversial, but having that pushed as one of the main topics made the story feel rushed and took away from the rest of the topics. I felt like it was great as an awareness book given by a campaign for saving the ocean, but it felt less like a graphic novel/fantasy book.

I love Katie’s universes and that was amazing, even if this is a little confusing as it looks like the same world of Tea Dragon Society but it is also quite different. Still a lovely world to live in and the artwork more than blows me away, which was worth it. The hairdos, and creatures are so lovely I wish I could style my hair into those cute “horns”

There is also a lot about grief and friendships/relationships and how we survive and move forward (there seems to be a lot of grief topics in my reviews recently, but I promise it has been unconscious or at the very least not on purpose!) which was quite porwerful (and probably what I would’ve preferred to see explored more, as it was done so well through the scenes and artwork, the saying of a picture says more than a 1000 words works well here).

So my veredict is, I preferred The Tea Dragon Society a lot, and this felt more educational/campaign, however the artowrk was still stunning and cute and I am glad to have read it.

Moon recommends

Well, since there seems to be a theme on my reviews, pick any of my previous reviews and probably you’ll get a mention on grief. Or go check out The Tea Dragon Society, which is a big winner and quaint. (Plus it has tea and dragons, what else do you need?)

 

Fallen Kingdom LitJoy Crate Unboxing

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As you may already know, I discovered LitJoy a while ago and what made me decide for them were two things: that it was cheaper than Fairyloot (including shipping, and considering LitJoy is international shipping vs Fairyloot doing national shipping), and that it curates the box for the book. Yes, there is a theme, and the items fall into the theme, but they do because they genuinely reference either items of the book or things used in the book (and sometimes the theme). Plus it usually comes with an explanation of why they chose each item that is a little more in depth than most other boxes I’ve tried.

But let’s get into this box, going from left to right (there aren’t any more unboxings with this layout, don’t worry):

  • A ruling the world after a finish one more chapter Tumbler (I think that is the right word?), I like it more than the previous bottle type item they sent, as this one fits better but I probably won’t be using it. Nevertheless it is fun, in a great shade of purple.
  • Three trading cards. I like getting them but most of the time I barely recognise the characters and I am not too bothered by them (is anyone really into the whole trading cards thing?). They’re a consistent thing and I am ambiguos about them. (The art is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate that).
  • Once a King, by Erin Summerill. I have the two previous books (which I haven’t read yet) but it was nice to get this edition (it is such a gorgeous one! Classy, beautiful, one of the best “exclusive editions” I’ve seen). I was surprised they included a book that is considered the third in a series, but for me it wasn’t an issue, and actually made this a great choice.
  • Some Darkling (I may be lying) print. You can see how excited I am about it because I can’t even remember who it is, right?
  • If you can read this.. pair of socks. I wasn’t very keen about socks in book boxes when they first started because they weren’t great socks, but I am loving the good quality, not tacky ones that I have been receiving recently in different boxes, and this ones aren’t the exception.
  • Courage dear heart notebook, I loved the artwork. Narnia, yes please.
  • Weasley is King pin, which felt like a super cute badge and made me instantly smile.
  • The themed artwork print which also is the author letter (if I got it right, usually it is inside the book but there was an printing error, however it doesn’t bother me as it still fits inside the book, without damaging it so no biggie!)

All in all it was a nice box, and I was happy to not receive another reading journal and instead get a nice notebook that I can choose to use for whatever purposes I want (which may or may not be a reading journal, but who am I kidding? It definitely won’t be a journal because I haven’t been able to keep one ever).

As I have been saying before about boxes (in previous unboxing posts) missing out on the little things, for example, this box had the “weasley is king” pin which to me was just a wonderful little item I had. I could only have asked for a paper crown in it to make it better.

Give the Dark My Love Review

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Give The Dark My Love by Beth Revis

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

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

I can’t remember why I preordered this book (and I preordered it twice somehow, so past me, must have really wanted to read it, thanks past me), but it wasn’t a super hyped one, or one I have seen many people reviewing and that is a huge shame.

Give the Dark My Love was a punch in the gut and the brain in a very good way. (Weird way to seel this right? give me a chance). We meet Nedra when she is about to leave, and we also meet Nessie. She is her twin and you can see that even though they aren’t rich, this is a family full of love, that cares, and it is a good family (plus the parents aren’t absent exactly, and they are in a way a huge part of the story, but explaining this would be adding a spoiler and I shall leave it at that). Actually, we technically meet her in the prologue which is actually something that happens afterwards in the main story, but never mind. It is a powerful prologue and worth the read.

Then she comes to the main Academy, because she has been granted a sponsorship to help her study there. Potentially from the Emperor. And we get the usual “school/academy” intro. We also get to meet Grey, who is the other point of view for the story, and will give us his side from someone that is rich and is trying to break away from politics (because that is what his father does, and his grandfather, you get the idea).

Oh, and there is a plague happening and it starts at first quietly but it becomes worse and worse drastically, and Nedra starts toeing the line for necromancy because she can’t seem to find any other way to solve this (nor can anyone else, and her Master/senior, Master Ostrum is also trying very hard, and they both agree things just don’t seem to work).

It is very well built as a world, the alchemy part is amazing and evne the necromancy sides are very interesting.  So this book kept me hooked.

But one of the things I loved the most was that it shows grief raw, and in different forms. And it was interesting to ask the question of “what are you willing to do or not do when you’re grieving and have lost so much?”. Another wonderful thing is that not everything is blakc and white, plus there are some good twists there (I guessed some, not all, and I liked seeing the twists and the reasons behind them).

In summary, this is a dark fantasy that touches closely on death (and “zombies/necromancy) but also on the human side of grief and on what the response of people can be to plague and other issues.

Moon recommends

Dropping everything, and giving the dark some love with this book. I can’t wait for the sequel and I am very impressed with it. Other books recently reviewed dealing with grief would be: Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Letters to the Lost.

 

Dragons Fairyloot Unboxing

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I broke my “no more Fairyloot” ban because who can resist dragons, right? But somehow, despite it being a nice box, I didn’t feel like it was as great as could be. Let’s have a look at the items, starting fromt he left and going towards the right:

  • Theme postcard, this one I liked, but we already knew what the artwork was going to be.
  • Fire & Heistby Sarah Beth Durst. I had this one on my list of preorders so definite win here.
  • A Reading Journal, this one is less fancy than the one in Owlcrate, so even less excited about it than I was by Owlcrate’s. I already use Goodreads and blog about what I read. And I’ve never been good at keeping journals and sticking to it.
  • The Storm Crow ARC. My favourite item of this box, because I really want to read this book and it was great to get a proof so early for it!
  • A Gringotts Escape Dragon book sleeve. The artwork is nice, but the sleeve is bulky and not as good as most of the ones I already have (I understand that mass produced sleeves can’t compare to handmade ones, but I prefer the handmade ones much more). This is one of those items I am not keeping.
  • At the top, is a hidden “pin banner”, which is literally a piece of fabric on a stick. Mine came loose from the stick so I had to reattach it and I saw it and just went “why did you include this?!” Single banners are a bit meh already, but this one doesn’t even have any print or something on it. You could’ve added a title of “my pin/badge collection” or “bookdragon treasures/shinies” and make it a lot more attractive. This felt like a cheap item just added to pad up the box.
  • First two cards of their trading cards, I think they’re tarot based. And they’re quite big and heavy.
  • Double sided print with Toothless and Manon (why do you do double sided prints? It means I have to choose one side to display and the other to damage with whatever I use to glue/stick it to whatever way I display it?).
  • Second favourite item, a glow in the dark dragon necklace (it glows in the dark, the child in me loves this part of it and has extra points). This is also the most “dragon” item of the box.

So, half of the items or more are things I didn’t like, which means I had made the right choice to not buy more Fairyloot boxes because I wasn’t happy with the items. (I know other people may like them, but because I subscribe and try so many book boxes, I am picky with the ones I stick to).

I also felt it wasn’t as full of dragons as it could’ve been. Toothless was fun but maybe it’d be great for it to not just be a print (plus an item was missing!). I just wish the box would include a lot less paper items, and focus to keep the theme really into theme. The focus on big items is also making the rest of the box pay for it, which is kind sad.

The Twisted Tree Review

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The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

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

I got this lovely book as a proof thanks to the amazing people from Hot Key Books (they’re some of my favourite people, but don’t tell them!). When I first heard about it, I wanted to read it because it sounded creepy enough but not too mcuh (because I don’t really do horror, it gives me nightmares).

The Twisted Tree follows Martha, who lost her eye recently after falling from (pause) the twisted tree (in case you wondered). And since she has fallen, everytime she touches clothing, even if it is just a quick brush, she gets glimpses of feelings or memories from the person who owns the clothing.

So she decides to visit her grandmother, Mormor, who lives in the cabin next to the tree. But when she gets there, Mormor isn’t there. There’s someone else, a young man who likes waistcoats (immediately liked him, waistcoats are bonus points in my scale) and seems to know where everything is, better than Martha.

As Martha starts to get to know Stig (the waistcoat mystery man), the island where the cabin is (and therefore them) becomes more and more creepy, something is out there hunting and it won’t stop, until someone stops it!

Trying not to spoil any further, I have to say, I loved all the Norse/Norwegian mythology woven into this. It doesn’t feel like a stretch but rather as it it belongs perfectly and nothing was out of the ordinary (though everything is). Martha’s “power” is interesting too, and the way she reads clothing was intriguing. The fact that different fabrics/threads show memories slightly different or differnet kinds of memories was one of those little things that make it unique and special. There was SO much detail and care put into this book and it shows.

I had a hard time putting down, and I just wanted to see what happened next. And I loved it. It is a great book, plus it isn’t a huge book (bonus points because sometimes I just want a good read that is a quick read too, and this one ticks both things).

Moon recommends

Go buy this delightful frightful book that comes out tomorrow! (Can you believe it? So soon!) I have a creepy/dark read to recommend next week, so I’ll stick to that, since it is a very good one (promise!).

100 Hugs Review

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100 Hugs by Chris Riddell

This gorgeous collection of hugs from Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell is the perfect gift for a loved one, or to cheer yourself up on a dark day. It covers every possible type of hug you can think of, but one thing is for certain: every one will touch your heart.

Rating:

100 Hugs was one of my Christmas gifts and it had been on my wishlist for a while. I came upon it after having found a (signed) copy  of Art Matters by Neil Gaiman in Forbidden Planet. Art Matters had illustrations by Chris Riddell, and then I found this book and the artist in me wanted it.

It is a collection of drawings of hugs, and as the description says, it has almost every possible type of hug you can think of. The illustrations themselves were just a delight to look through and the fact that they are hugs in many different ways between many different parties made it even better.

Receiving this book was like getting a hug for when I am a little sad and there isn’t someone to give me one. I can just open this and look at it and marvel at how hugs happens and what it is like to be hugged. (I am most certainly a hugs person and I love cuddles so this is a good book).

I also find Chris’ artwork interesting in itself and inspiring.

Moon recommends

Find someone to give you a hug (or someone you can hug, plush toys, pets, etc. count) because this book really makes you want to do that. And if you’d like to see all the illustrations I’d recommend getting a copy (or gifting one to someone you know needs a hug, or a 100 of them).

Power of Illusions Owlcrate Unboxing

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Glamourous!

(I was trying to make a pun, I am not good at them).

This is December’s Owlcrate. Owlcrate were my first subscription box back in the day (2015), and introduced me to the magic of ADSOM/Schwab. I did stop my subscription but last year (this is weird to write… it doesn’t feel like last year yet, or rather like this is a new year) I started it again, with the mindset of skipping the boxes I didn’t care about or that didn’t really catch my attention.

December’s theme sounded intriguing and I had had my eye on the book, so it was a good one to have. Usually I go in a circle, but this panoramic puzzle means I am starting from the left and finishing on the right:

  • King of Fools sampler, this is an exclusive sampler for Owlcrate, and also, the book is the sequel for Ace of Shades. I wasn’t crazy about Daughter of the Burning City (it was one of the first “this is too predictable, I am not crazy about it” books I read) so this is one of those items I am a bit meh about. It also doesn’t really get me because I didn’t read Ace of Shades.
  • Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene. And it has an Owlcrate exclusive cover, which I find I like it more this way rather than the original. This comes signed and with an author letter.
  • On top of the book is an “amber pendant necklace” (not real amber, and it is golden so for me it was more of a “trinket” item but I am sure someone else would find it cute).
  • The zine with the theme artwork underneath the book.
  • A Reading Planner (collaboration with Blue Star Press), which I have never really used one of them but I like this one quite a bit. It is pretty, in a spiral bound style which helps a lot to make the most of both sides of the pages. And it is very colourful and positive looking.
  • The Crown’s Game inspired tree ornament by Juniper and Ivy Designs. It is very intricate and it went straight unto my Christmas tree.
  • Theme postcard and badge.
  • Caraval quote tote bag, by Stella Bookish Art. not particularly crazy about it, but I use tote bags for my shopping so won’t complain either.
  • A Queen Levana inspired candle by Flick the Wick. The candle smells really delicious and the fandom is The Lunar Chronicles. This is probably one of my favourite items but I am partial to candles (if the scents work for me).
  • A magnet with a Night Circus quote by Ink & Wonder Designs. Not crazy about it either.

All in all it was a nice box, there were items I liked a lot and the exclusive cover was one I liked more than the original, which is a plus. But on the other hand, I am a bit tired of seeing tote bags/cushions/quotes from Caraval in the same style or similar one. I know they choose fandoms that are “big” but I’d like to see smaller fandoms or just things that stick to the theme without being exclusively the same fandom every other box and their uncle/aunt has included already.

What would I’ve liked to see in this box? Maybe a card set and some “magic tricks” guide or maybe a small magic trick gimmick that made me feel like a magician? (Maybe a wand that brings flowers out?) It definitely would have made me smile a lot and probably laugh trying to master the trick and then trying said trick on friends and family.