Moon Reads: Technically, You Started It

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

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

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”).

Moon reads: The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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

Disclaimer: I received a proof copy for free fromt he publisher in the hopes I’d review it, which I mean I have done and wanted to do anyway, so I would’ve got to it one way or another. The fact it was gifted does not affect my views at all.

What happens when you mix suffragettes, fairy tales and witches into a book? I’ll tell you what, great magical things happen with a pinch of trouble, a lot of adventure, and feminism.

Once and Future Witches is all about what defines us as women and how we stand tall and havethat fire inside us, the magic, the witchcraft that makes us persevere (in some places they’d call it grit or mother nature, or many other things).

Getting into the actual story we meet three young women, the Eastwood sisters, who inexplicably end up coming together at a suffragist meeting in New Salem after being apart and following their own path for a while.

One of the things I liked a lot here was that the relationships between the sisters and their internal struggles are not exactly fairy tale stories, but could be any of us today. Each of them carries some heavy trauma, heavy burdens and things to be worried or anxious about, and each has to figure them out in part on their own but also as they figure out where they stand as sisters.

It has a lot on sisterhood both as a family and born into it look, but also as a we’re all coming together, strangers and found family, into this. Alongside dealing with what happens when you make certain choices and act on resentment, fear, anger, etc. To me, it is those parts that shine the most in this book alongside the “retellings” and reworkings of fairy tales and “new tales” that are peppered through the book.

Probably the one part that this struggles is sometimes some odd choices on plot and behaviour of the characters (I had a proof copy so it may be different in the final version) and that the worldbuilding relies heavily on a lot of gaps to be filled by us or to be inferred meaning sometimes it is hard to remember what you thought x should be. Probably part of the problem was I read it through a long period of time due to different life interruptions and coming back to it I’d have to leaf back a few pages or just skim read back to try to place myself. This is probably the place it can do a lot better in.

Overall, if you are looking for a feminist book with lots of witchcraft, a fairy tale but not the Disney vibe and more the true Grimm brothers style, and sisterhood, this is the book for you. It was a wild ride and one that left me wondering what comes next.

Moon Reads: Splinters of Scarlet

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

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

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!

Moon Hauls: Tarot of the Divine and Beneath the Moon

This is a mix “review” of two things I got that I couldn’t really separate just for the sake of posting about them.

The first is the deck of Tarot of the Divine. This was made by Yoshi Yoshitani and the focus was to make it diverse, queer and just full or new meaning. Each card is a story, some deeper meaning and I absolutely love the artwork and the connections made, plus the fact that it features stories and lore from all over the world, not just the usuals or just the European fairytales. It goes beyond that and does an amazing job and the meanings of the story/lore matching the meaning of the card they represent in the deck.

As a tie in, there is a book, Beneath the Moon, which collects the artwork and stories that feature in the deck. It doesn’t collect everything, since it’d be a very thick book if it did, but it features the main ones, and it made me really excited to read the stories and feel like this is a perfect fairytale book to keep coming back to. It has the stories, gorgeous colourful art and a lot of diversity in cultures and countries.

As a coherent couple fo things, I am just in awe at the immense work Yoshi put into making this deck and book. Every card has packed so much detail trying to convey the story but at the same time, to make them tie in with their meaning and with the opening of many possible interpretations.

There are stories from every continent, form every type of story, I don’t even have enough words on how exciting this is for me since it is gorgeous and perfect.

Moon Reads: Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire

Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire by Beatrice Blue

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

I reviewed a while ago Beatrice’s other book, Once Upon A Unicorn Horn, so when I saw this one was coming, I preordered it. It is easy, make a book I enjoyed, I will almost always preorder your next books.

The artwork was top class, but that was no surprise given I enjoy Beatrice’s art a lot. And as per the previous book, this is a book giving things a new “origin” so in this case it is centered around a dragon and fire.

This is about two children that made up adventures and were obsessed with dragon stories so they decide to go search the dragon and thanks to them “fire” is invented.

Look it is way better than I am describing!

In all honesty the story is a great read out loud or act out one, the artowkr and pictures are full of detail and cuteness, and the story is reaffirming and all about tenderness and warmth (and some dragon fire too).

It has a dragon, fire, and a great story, so this is a definite win and I am eagerly awaiting what else we may get as an origin of this thing type of book from Beatrice Blue.

Moon Reads: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

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

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

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!

Moon Reads: Silver in the Wood

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

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

I remember reading about this book, preordering it and then somehow forgetting about it (look, that is the story of my whole TBR, I get excited, watn to read it now, the book doesn’t come out until months later and by the time it arrives I am pining for a different book that will come out in the future).

But given that my life has been a bit chaotic and I have had to steal time to read and do my own things, I put aside a few short stories and books I felt I could tackle with ease, so one Saturday morning I grabbed this lovely book, sat down to read a few pages, maybe a chapter or so. By the time I looked up from the book, I had finished it.

I immediately felt transported to the wood and the mansion and just in this world and knew I was going to stay there for as long as there was a story to tell. And it reminded me of why I love this type of books and how I sorely wish there were more green magic with lore and more, books that can take you into their own “fairy ring” world without even requiring fairies. I wanted to go and read more urban fantasy, or go travel back to Scotland and into the forest, get lost somewhere.

Silver in the Wood weaves a masterful tale and I don’t want to spoil it but honestly, make yourself a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, cuddle up with a blanket and get ready to go visit this particular woods that is rich in fantastical beings that weave into the very fabric of it.

My only complaint is that this was too short and I’d like a longer novel. Or a series, or just more. Which I guess is not a bad thing all in all, right?

Moon Reads: Notes from Small Planets – Blogtour

Notes from Small Splanets by Nate Crowley

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

Well, I was selected to be part of the blog tour of this tour oriented book, and as such I need to make it clear I received a copy of the book so i could participate in it, but this doesn’t affect my review/post about it.

Now that that is out of the way I have to say that Notes from Small Planets is a great humour book. It is meant to give that vibe of a travel guide of “how to get the most out of your trip to X”, but the trick here is that X is a bunch of small planets, each with quirky interesting settings.

In itself, each world is an exploration of fantasy and scifi world tropes, and the usual cliches and expectations we have of them (you know, people expect elves to be good, orcs to be bad, etc). Each planet/world that we visit or rather that we are suggested to visit has their own flaovur and we’re seeing everything from the “eyes” and voice of Floyd, who more or less embodies the white privileged coloniser, but we get the margin notes and foot notes from Eliza, who is adamant on setting things right.

The notes on each planet are fantastic and poke so much fun at books and other stories and yet they are they very own unique thing, that I kept trying to match them to the book they may be inpired by and then wondering if it wasn’t just a bunch of trope books.

And the other shining star is the notes, all those little quips between Eliza and Floyd. They help set the why and how and mood of the travel guide and put you on a “look at what is being written as a travel guide vs what may actually have happened”. The further along in the book the more you realise the planets and travelling may be more than meets the eye, and by the end, well, let’s just say I was a mix of giggling and exclamations on it.

Thoroughly enjoyable guide that has a lot of humour, a bit of sobering truth (maybe more than we’d like at times) and just a very original “welcome to this world, this is your intro the videogame and world” kind of feel.

Moon Hauls: Written in the Stars Owlcrate

The theme for this box was a good one so I had hopes for this box and I have to say I was quite pleased. I had another box that did the same book and similar theme and prefer the items of this one a lot more. So what was inside? Let’s start on the far left and going clockwise:

  • A booksleeve, look it is gorgeous, very celestial and just gorgeous. It is discreet and yet elegant and perfect.
  • The pin of the month, I usually really like them and this is a nice one.
  • I thought the fact they sent push pins in a cute star jar all of them silver was a great thing and also I have my own cork board and this was a perfect little thing that will not only look nice on my desk but be super useful!
  • Theme card, the Owlcrate resident illustrator has a very particular style and I love it.
  • A tie down scarf, this is like the fancy silk scarf version and I love it, it is stunning and came super well presented.
  • A star pen. I felt like a magical girl with it and thought this was just a cute and perfect little thing (the only thing that’d make this better is if it was a fountain pen, I can gleefully imagine a book box including fountain pens and a little pot of ink and I would be super happy!)
  • An A6 (?) clipboard which also super useful for desk notes and very in theme.
  • Star Daughter which is the main book and this edition of the cover is stunning!

All in all the items matched the theme really well, made me feel like I was getting my life in order with powerful stationery and a power scarf and a great book. It isn’t a super “flashy” box and there’s not really any paper items which makes it a great one in my books as I don’t feel like my money was wasted or wasn’t worth it. Every item will be gleefully usef many times.

Moon Reads: Night Shift

Night Shift by Debi Gliori

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

I bought this book as it was on sale and it had dragons and a mental health focus, plus it was illustrated so it sounded like something I’d read and review. Which it is.

The artwork is interesting and there’s deffnitely dragons and it’s mostly black and white. And the focus of the book is how the author sees depression as a dragon that is trying to set her on fire or that sets things she likes on fire, that the smoke fromt he dragon is tiring and draining. And of course, it is about hope, about how the cycles of depression can go and you can see again a little better.

I have to say I liked the metaphor of depression as a dragon and the illustrations did this well, but the prose didn’t really stick in my head or capture my attention enough, it was for the images and the metaphor that I stuck around rather than the way it was written (which is why it doesn’t have a higher rating, as I have seen a variety of comics and ways of representing depression and this was nice but it didn’t hit as well as others had done before).

Still, it is a nice book and the art is great, so I’d still recommend, particularly if you like dragons. As much as it may not have struck as well with me in with the words, it may strike better on you or a loved one to share this with.

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!

Moon Reads: Fence Volumes 1-4

Fence Volumes 1-4 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente

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

Look, fencing was intriguing to me back when I saw Parent Trap but there wasn’t anywhere I could learn to fence nearby where I lived in Mexico so I dropped that dream fast. And I had forgotten somewhat about it until my friends started talking about Fence and how good it was, and to convince me, one of them gave me the first volume as a gift for my birthday.

I ended reading it during the first few weeks after my husband’s accident since I didn’t feel like reading a full proper book and a graphic novel was the ticket. I think the best review I can give is that immediately after finishing the first one, I ordered the next 3 because I HAD to read them (tragically I received 3 and 4 before the second one so I had to wait longer to binge read them).

The art, the fencing, the drama, the personalities, everything is great about this series. The characters have me in giggles with their antics but also, they all have a very defined personality and their own depth (particularly the main cast) and you slowly get to know why they are so cold or so joyful or so whatever it is that defines them. Bobby wins my heart, but in general it’s hard to chose one since they’re all so much fun and the story is all about a pair of rivals. One of them is the 2nd best national, the other is only just making it through, and how they have to learn to work as ateam along other fencers of the same school to get better, learn from their weaknesses and maybe learn to be better with others.

Honestly, it is not only the fencing, but the interactions that make this book and I had so much joy and such intensity reading I was sad to finish the 4th one and not have the next one already (why can’t I time travel to read them all in one go?!)

I can now understand why my friends were so eager to have me read it, and I can only say, you should read it too!

Moon Hauls: Moonlit Melodies BookBox Club

A slightly moon themed box, as we know Book Box Club tends to be less “popular” books (not that they aren’t good books, but it is the kind of box I’d recommend buying for diverse and not hyped enough kind of books), but the content tends to be nice and you get the benefit of the Clubhouse, so let’s see the contents starting with theme card and going clockwise:

  • Theme card, they have a resident artist that works on making the theme card match both theme and book and they are always lovely.
  • A biscuit, this literally only lasted long enough to have the picture taken and then it was devoured by yours truly. I love that they send a gluten free biscuit so trying to make sure it is a nice experience for even more box recipients.
  • A quote pouch, I like them since they’re quite useful and like that they’re fabric.
  • A sampler for Cinderella is Dead
  • Promotional book mark for Daughter of Lies and Ruin.
  • A playlist and EP from The Bookshop Band. Look to me this was really cool because it means they’re looking at recommending things to go with the theme and the box and just more bookish items.
  • An eye (?) mask or some kind fo facemask.relaxation item with a space motif, which sounds intriguing and good for a relaxing day.
  • Moon Child stickers, they are beautifully themed and I was having a cute moment with them.
  • Clubhouse invite, this is a month or so after the box is delivered and you get to chat with the author alongisde other members. It’s really fun.
  • Door hanger to indicate you’re busy either reading or lseeping for both day and night usage. It is wooden and has gorgeous art on both sides.
  • And finally, the main book, Ghost Wood Song which I had been looking forward to reading and can’t wait to buddy read with friends.

One more thing I want to highlight is that Book Box Club have been super clear when they have had delays, and even then the delays have been minimal. They even managed to get a replacement book for a previous box when the publication date got moved and found a perfect replacement in a short span of time. I can highly recommend them as great customer care, great service and nice little perks.

Moon Reads: All the Stars and Teeth

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

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

I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange of a fair review, however I also had purchased a book box that had the book included, so as much as it is a book given by the publisher, it is also one of my own too. Nothing changes my opinion of it regardless.

The premise of All the Stars and Teeth is that we have several islands each witha different type of magic, and if you learn one type of magic you gotta live in the island of your magic and only use one type because otherwise your soul will be corrupt and your body won’t be able to use all the magics. And obviously, there is a ruling class, a fine line of magic that can kill and can see into your soul, which makes them the rulers.

Amora is the only daughter of the king. She has been preparing her whole life to show off that she can control her magic and will use it for the good of the Kingdom her whole life. But things go wrong in her ceremony, and all her plans to finally see the rest of the islands beyond the one where soul magic is performed goes a bit pear shaped. Instead she ends helping a pirate save an island of rebels and his stolen magic.

And as she sails throught the different islands, she starts to ahve her eyes opened to the fact that maybe she wasn’t allowed to see more of the world because it had all been lies her father had told her. This doesn’t put her on a revenge quest against her father but it only cements the fact she wants to help her kingdom, which I found a refreshing change. It wasn’t a “well I was chosen, lost it, found it and I am still chosen”, it is more of a “oh well, I will still do it even if I screwed up and things aren’t what I was told they were, I still love my kingdom and want the best for it”.

Amora does think quite high of herself and it is interesting to see the relationships in the book unfold as she discovers more fo her herself and how to interact with others, plus the fact that multiple magics are happening and there’s nothing to stop it.

In general I really enjoyed the story and the world at first I wasn’t convinced but it grew on me once Amora actually starts her adventure. And of course I want to read the next book because I want to know what happens next. I recommend this as a fun refreshing fantasy based on the sea but also about being a ruler and what magic is and who decides what and why.