Moon Hauls: We Are the Resistance Illumicrate

The latest Illumicrate had a very scifi feel to it and the contents were as follows:

  • Seven Devils, just look at the gorgeous cover change!
  • A promotional bookmark for Sweet Black Waves.
  • Star Wars sunglasses (these were a bit meh, they feel like a filler item as they have nothing beyond a logo, and it’s not that amazing, plus I can’t use sunglasses).
  • A cute keyring, this will definitely be used soon.
  • Theme leaflet.
  • Another book planter, probably my favourite of the set.
  • A Bone Season notebook.
  • And some character cards.

To be fair, this definitely wasn’t their strongest box, and I wish it had been but it seems to be common that they’re not as strong for Scifi boxes than they are in fantasy boxes. There’s a lot of fun that could’ve been done here, so hopefully the scifi side gets stronger.

Moon Hauls: Ghibli Night In YumeTwins

I get YumeTwins on a one box at a time thing since I like their items lots but wasn’t using them as much so mostly only Ghibli themed boxes for me. This is their May/June box, but it was stuck in Japan for a while (they were super clear on like shipping updates and then when it was meant to arrived they chased and like the next day it was here, so good customer service). So, let’s see what was in this box:

  • A Totoro mini bag. This is SUPER cute and I am swooning over it.
  • The theme mini zine.
  • Ghibli postcard, there was a choice of different options (with YumtTwins boxes it’s always a mini roulette, so you have to be sure you’ll like most of the options offered because you don’t know which one you’ll get).
  • A Spirited Away file folder, which I have been using because it is plastified and so cool!
  • A bamboo toothbrush from My Neighbour Totoro.
  • And finally, stackable tupperware/bento boxes. I have two from a previous Ghibli box so I love stacking them and interchanging lids and boxes.

All in all, I am happy with the box, good things, and a good variety we can get, and yes, it was delayed but it did come and service was good. I shall await for another Ghibli box that tempts me or maybe some other fandom. If you like cute things and you are int Japanese fandoms, then this is a great box to get. They ship early, let you know the items and options, usually have a promotion option to get extra goodies, and if you stay subscribed you get points you can exchange for extra goodies.

Moon Reads: Sheets

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

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

I got a sampler on one of the free comic book day events, and made a mental note to buy it full at some point. That point was a lot later because I don’t have the sampler anymore. But I did buy the book, so it kinda worked to give me a sampler for it? (Honestly I wish there were more demo/sampler options for books and other items, but that’s a discussion for some other day and post).

Sheets is the story of a young girl, Marjorie, trying her best to keep her family, school and laundromat afloat after her mother’s death. And a ghost, Wendell, who isn’t fitting in the ghost world after dying.

Being outsiders and just not fitting right makes for two parallel stories that at some point join when our ghost accidentally ends up haunting the laundromat and causing a lot of issues for Marjorie who does her absolute best ot help.

Thankfully at the breaking point where things are all going wrong and there is no saving grace, Wendell pulls through and works some ghostly magic for Marjorie, changing her life in a great way, plus becoming good friends.

Reading through Sheets was emotional, bittersweet but it was also nice ot read a book about some realities some kids have when the main adult checks out and they have to take adult duties and make it look the adult is still functioning so they care for themselves and any siblings.

Sadly the artwork wasn’t really my style so I wasn’t as keen on ti and it was the story that won my over this time. Still I think this is the kind of book I’d have in a school or kids library available for those that feel like ghosts in their own home and environment.

Moon Hauls: Off the Map Tales by Mail

This is the second Tales by Mail box and I have to say I am still enjoying them a lot. As mentioned before, this is from the same people behind Book Box Club and it is all about the middle grade love. So let’s see what was included in this box:

  • The activity worksheets. Usually they encourage you to write a short review and include some other fun things to do. If you got the starter pack then it fits neatly to go after the previous pack of activities.
  • A woodmark with the theme art.
  • Several promotional pins for Pizzaz and one for the theme card.
  • A cute pencil
  • And the two main books, Wonderscape and Sky Pirates

Both books look very interesting and I am looking forward to reading them. I am also happy that there’s not a lot in the box to clutter, just activities and great reads.

Moon Reads: I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

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

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.

Moon Reads: Taproot

Taproot by Keezy Young

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

I have a soft spot for botanical graphic novels, and if it involves ghosts, or grief, I am extra into it. I got this as a gift fromt he wonderful Lauren (aka The Bookihs Fairy) who is a bundle of sunlight.

Taproot is a story about a gardener, Hamal, who can see ghosts. This makes him a bit of a weirdo, as he may look like he’s talking to himself (to others) and also, the ghosts affect his reality a little, particularly Blue, who just can’t seem to go away.

That is until things start working a little weird wonky in the ghost world and the ghosts reach out to Hamal. Blue notices that maybe he needs to figure this out as he doesn’t want to move on and also, Hamal may be in trouble.

I loved the artwork as it made me want to live in a botanical garden type of home (I do wish I had a wonderful green thumb, which sadly I do not have), and the fact that it touches on death, grief, and hope is all up to my street and made this book even mroe precious. Plus there is some romance, some fun investigative work done by Hamal, and Blue’s story that we slowly discover (plus a few other ghosts make a story appearance too).

I kinda wanted the story to be longer, not because it was lacking but rather because I enjoyed reading it too much and wanted to hold on to it for longer. Highly recommended as soft gentle read if you’re okay with grief/death as part of a normal story.

Moon Hauls: Date with Destiny Owlcrate

You have a date with destiny in the form of an unboxing!

Ok, maybe not, maybe you do? Let’s see what was int he box, starting from the top left and going clockwise:

  • Harry Potter mug. I think it is meant to be the last one and well, it is to my own tastes, not Cara’s best work. Not that it is bad, it just doesn’t compare to the others in the care put into making it and it kinda shows.
  • Simon’s Sour Cherry Scones tea blend, which I am intrigued to try, mostly because it has cherry and because Riddle’s Tea Shop is usually good at their blends.
  • The monthly pin, which looks interesting.
  • A bookmark with one side Rey, the other Kylo, so one light, one dark, it is quite clever.
  • An apron for The Raven Boys, which I like since it is a nice item, and it is big enough now that my husband steals my tiny one every now and then.
  • On top of the apron, trying to be artful, are a tin of arrow shaped paperclips, which have turned out to be super handy as somehow I never need paperclips and suddenly I do. Plus I have a soft spot for shaped paperclips.
  • The theme card, I tend to really enjoy the artowkr in those and this isn’t bad at all.
  • The main book, Goddess in the Machine which sounds intriguing, so much I started reading it after unboxing it, so so far so good and I like the colours of it!

As an overall feel, I like the contents of the box, not too much paper or “useless” items. There’s consumables and the papercips are useful beyond just looking cute. Kitchen items are usually good. And even if I am not keen on themug, there was someone who wanted it so it was easy to pass it on and not feel to bad about it (I do love that type of “camping” mug so just sad it wasn’t a design for me). It may not be their best box of the year but it is a strong box with a good assortment of items.

Moon Reads: Cat’s Cafe

Cat’s Cafe by Matt Tarpley

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

After some browsing for cute books that are either comics or graphic novels, I found this as a suggestion from similar reads and thought it was cute. Put it on my wishlist and got it as a birthday gift, so happy me.

Cat’s Cafe is about a cafe where Cat makes coffee and treats for a bunch of critters that each have their own personality, troubles, and good things, like an anxious bunny with a kind heart and the wish to make everyone happy, or the penguing who loves caffeine. There’s a wonderful cast of visitors to the cafe and each is special in their own way.

As I read the book I cmostly felt like I was sitting in a cafe, and I wanted to be in one, just sipping coffee or chatting with a friend. Each little comic feels like a hug and warmth and it just makes yu smile or go “oh yes, I ahve felt like that”, or maybe at times I wished someone would do something like what the cast did to a certain animal, so it was all in all a cheerful read with a warming loving community feel, plus it is ultra cute.

The artwork is relatively simple but that doesn’t take away from it and it does emotions well, so it conveys what it needs in cuteness, simplicity and ease, all good points for it. On top of that there are certain comical effects to put this book into comics territory completely and not just for it being panels and drawings.

All in all, if you want to give a hug in an easy to read book, this would be a great choice. Great for a friend you can’t see but would like to cheer up or have a cup of coffee with, I would recommend!

Moon Hauls: Resilient Royals Fairyloot

All about royalty surviving (?) and being around in this box. And one of the first things I noticed as I was resizing the picture is that there is a lot of paper items in it and I am not particularly fond of this. But let’s see what is what, starting from the theme card on the top left and going clockwise:

  • Theme card for Resilient Royals, the bookmark is also just underneath
  • Tarot cards.
  • A cardholder inspired by Queen’s Rising. I do like this as I love small cardholders over big purses and I am keeping it, just sad it doesn’t have more slots.
  • Shielded as the main book. I am torn betwene the green here or the original blue because both look so good!
  • A print for Bear and the Nightingale/Winternight trilogy.
  • Candle, I lit this one the other day and it is very pleasant and sweet (not sickly, just nicely sweet).
  • Crescent moon, I think SJ Maas inspired cushion cover. I am not bothered about this one, since I don’t have that many cushions and do not need that many covers.
  • A food tray (?). I would say it is more of a trinket tray but not the jewelry kind. I like this one quite a bit andit has been used a bit around the house, more than I expected!
  • Author letter with character art.

All in all, some good items, some not as good items. But the book was on my list of books I have wanted to read/order so all good. I do like that there’s new kind of items like the tray and the cardholder, but not that invested in repeats.

What are your favourite items? Is it because of the fandom or the usability/appeal of the item?

Moon Reads: 44 Tiny Secrets

44 Tiny Secrets by Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King

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

I saw this book on Twitter and it felt very tempting to read and buy, so I preordered and lo and behold, it did not disappoint.

For starters the house where Betsy lives is full of ferns and it has a piano and she’s the daughter of two famous pianists, so she has to become the next one, like them. Her very patient grandfather is happily teaching her despite the potential failures.

Betsy tries so hard to make her parents porud but something just doesn’t work, instead she gets a letter on the post with the promise of a secret way to be able to play the piano like her parents. It comes free, but the only thing is, she has to keep the method a secret.

She accepts and oh, the delightful brilliant madness of this comes true. I loved the secret method and it just made me feel happy to read the book.

There was a lot of “want to hug you and reassure you” feelings towards Betsy as she is doing her best to impress her parents. It highlights how conversations adults have can make a big impression on a child and affect their perception of themselves and of their future.

And of course there’s a lot of humour and things to make you smile and the sweetness of a good children’s book that will leave you feeling like you’ve just had a nice plate of warm cookies, your favourite kind.

I recommend this book if you like music, fun families, crazy stories and lots of little giggles, and of course, if you are curious about what the 44 tiny secrets are.

Dragons Love Tacos Review

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

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

Look, a book that mixes dragons and tacos? Yes please! And lovely friend saw it and decided it was the perfect gift sonow I have a cute tiny dragon holding a taco at home.

Isn’t it adorable?

The book is all about how dragons love tacos with cute drawings of different types of dragons, what to put on the tacos to make dragons love them more and what to avoid and even features a taco party (this felt perfectly like it was describing me as I love hosting taco parties and sharing the taco love around) so it was most certainly the right book for me and I kept cooing over it.

And it comes with the little plush toy which is a nice bonus. I recommend it is a gift for a child (or an adult like me that loves dragons and tacos) and it will mean a lot fo time spent in joy looking and playing with the taco dragon and pondering what dragons one might have over for a taco party when it is possible to do that again!

Blogtour: The Great Revolt Review

The Great Revolt by Paul Dowswell

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

Due to some technical issues (aka, my husband was in hospital) no pretty jigsaw picture this time! And as a disclaimer I was provided a free copy by the publishers so I could review the book for this tour. This doesn’t affect my review or views on it.

The Great Revolt made my reenactor and history buff heart all happy inside. We get to meet Matilda (usually goes by Tilda in the book) and her father Thomas. And let me start by saying that this is a book where both the father and the child are part of the story and it is done well. I found this refreshing to read since normally the parents get killed or out of the picture, but Thomas is part of the story as much as Tilda is.

And both have their own motives, personalities and ideas, which makes this a book with well fleshed characters, several interesting points of view and conflicting ideas and just a lot to read about in a relatively short book.

At first I felt like I wanted desperately to get to teh juicy parts of the revolt but then I just wanted to learn more and more about the characters and their world, so bonus points on making this a world I can feel I am a part of. It was also good to read Thomas being okay with his life and seeing it as “better than what other options could be”. Yes, maybe it could be better but he is content, and again, usually everyone is unhappy or if they aren’t, they’re the villain, but that is not the case here and the dynamics of interactions and relationships are a lot more grey than just black and white.

Obviously, revolution comes at a cost and Tilda gets in some interesting adventures and makes some new friends. I kinda felt happy to read all the variety of the book and to feel part of that revolt and march to London to talk to the king.

I’d say if you are into history, into sweeping tales and wonderfully interesting books this is one for you. It has a lot of interesting points I don’t see often executed this well in a book. (If you want anything to compare to, I’d say it reminded me of Sally Nichols books or that style of historical but putting in the middle of the action but not from the safe point).

A Different Kind of Magic Fairyloot Unboxing

A bit delayed, but this was June’s Fairyloot box which had two books and a magical vibe to it with some darkness too (or at least that’s how it felt to me). Starting from the left and going to the right:

  • Print. I think something to do with Sarah J. Maas? (you can see how little I care for prints in general, sadly)
  • The main book, Forest of Souls. I am increidbly excited to read it since I heard about it, so definitely happy to have it.
  • Also included an early copy of The Gilded Ones which has also been high on my list so all good books!
  • A Shadows Between Us pin.
  • And a gorgeous Starless Sea patch. I am just sad it isn’t a sticker or something more useful than a patch because they just go in a box to be admired when I remember they exist. Why are book boxes obsessed with sending patches?
  • A teapot tea strainer. It is a bit small and doesn’t have a lot of space for the tea to swish around so as cute as it is, it feels a bit not fit for purpose.
  • A pair of socks for the Bone Season.
  • Tarot cards as per usual.
  • The theme card.
  • And an elemental set of coasters.

Sadly the biggest most exciting items for me where the books. The rest wasn’t as great or useful to me and it made me sad because it didn’t match the theme as well as I expected and also it just didn’t make me smile the way I hoped. But maybe it hit everybody else’s themes and fandoms? (I think part of the thing is that the books I love aren’t big fandoms, like for example Mexican Gothic and Gods of Jade and Shadow, or the Spellslinger series… )

Blogtour: Dangerous Remedy

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

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

For my stop in this blogtour, I will do a spoiler free review of the book. This will be hard since there’s so much going on in the book.

As a disclaimer, this book was provided to me by the publisher so I could be part of the blog tour. This does not affect my views of it (and I also have a hardcover copy of it that wasn’t from the publisher).

French Revolution, interesting abilities, aristocrats in hiding trying to make a difference, and lots of schemes, yes, please!

You will find all of that, plus a lot of treason, intrigue, and interesting characters in Kat Dunn’s Dangerous Remedy. We start with a grand escapade which is set in a prison. The mission is to recover a prisoner that they’ve been told shouldn’t be. Will they be able to pull such an intense mission or not?

And what happens once they realise that what they had been told about the mission wasn’t true at all, putting them into an interesting dilemma?

My favourite part of the book was the characters, they have these grand ideas and all the secrets and motives. The ones they share with the group and the ones they keep close to their heart (and the question is if the heart ones are good for the group). Obviously, this causes some interesting questions and there is also the romance between two of the main characters that will cause some interesting disruptions in decision making, clouding judgement sometimes. All good elements to consider for the group dynamics.

It was also fascinating to see the concept of “but what if reality wasn’t exactly as it is but just a tiny bit more interesting in such a way that it involves almost a human Frankenstein experimenting part into it and it throws our cast into a bit of backstabbing, doubting and pondering where trust should be while they’re at the same time trying to fight off the outside?” Trouble not just from others but in their own ranks is like adding an extra dollop of mischief to the mix.

Oh and don’t forget that there is bi representation, that one of the characters has some interesting electric/electricity powers (I want to know more of this part) and that there’s a lot of trying to save the day when the day refuses to be saved.

If you are intrigued by the French Revolution, Frankenstein kind of ideas, heists, treason and high stakes, then this is a book for you to look into and enjoy. I recommend getting some pastries and coffee to go along with your read to set up the mood.

Mexican Gothic Review

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-García

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

After reading Gods of Jade and Shadow, I knew Silvia was an author I would keep loving in future books, and Mexican Gothic just settles that even more.

If you are interested, I did a live tweeting thread as I read it with all my opinions, and the memories it brought back as I read.

If you’re feeling lazy and your question is “is this a legit Mexican Gothic novel?” then the answer is ABSOLUTELY! As a Mexican with family from nearby the area that inspired the book and that lived for a third of my life or so near abandoned mining towns, this book struck deep in my memories of Mexico, of my childhood and teenage years and the stories my family would tell. Yes, there aren’t really any tacos, sombreros or anything that screams Mexican to a foreigner, but from a subtle mention of a Zote bar of soap to other elements in the story, it was as Mexican as can be and even better.

This is how you do great own voices representation, and how you write a POC book. You don’t need to go guns blazing stamp in your face that this is indeed about Mexico, you just subtly reveal the depth of Mexico by the small hints, by the story. The gentle hints at a life lived in a country both by someone of Mazatec origin (one of the many native people of Mexico) and by colonist (English) attempting to make money out of cheap labour and taking away our silver, are superb.

Now for the actual story, we start with Noemí having her socialite life disrupted by an odd letter from her cousin and she’s suddenly thrown into this gothic decript house where things are just a bit too odd and she can’t seem to understand fully well what’s going on.

We kow something is dodgy with the Doyle and the way they are treating her cousing and her too, and yet, what is wrong exactly because you can’t just say “they’re dodgy” as grounds for say a divorce or for sending your cousin to a psychiatrist.

If you need to compare to something this is like a wonderfully modern lavish Rebecca but 10 times better, with the horror part of it developing gently around you until suddenly you’re overcome by it and you need to read until the end because how can you not find out what is exactly going on.

Now, for sanity and to warn other readers, one trigger warning I HAVE to give is sexual assault, attempted many times, but the main attempt was quite intense (extremely well written) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Which it is absolutely meant to. And given the context and the way it was written, it had a powerful effect on me but not as badly as such scenes would have in other books. Other items to consider into your content/trigger warnings: gaslighting, manipulation, colonialims, heavy racism, eugenics.

So now I will take about the racism/eugenics and hard topics part. As I read Mexican Gothic I had moments of anger due to the view the Doyles have on race and the superior vs inferior being (this becomes a major plot point and it is done with a masterful weaving of threads to form a spectacularly spooky rebozo) but I also cheered for the intensity that Noemí mustered and how she had a way of speak her mind. She did not stay quiet. And I loved her for it.

I keep praising Silvia’s writing but you can see she has honed her craft. The writing is that of someone with experience and knowledge, she can weave that tale and have you deeply wrapped in it. And the story can be brutal, it can hurt you deeply and yet, you will love it because it does exactly what it needs to do and even more. It is a credit to her mastery of words that despite how much anger I mustered about the topics in the book, I came out of my reading it satisfied.

All I can say from here is that everyone should read this book. Even if you aren’t into Gothic books, or horror, or Mexico, honestly, you need to read this because it is absolutely a master book worth every word in it.

PS. that mouse in the picture came from Tequisquapan, México. It’s a nice little reminder of my country without it being too in your face.