Mooncakes Review

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

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

You want a book about witches? You’ve got it. You want representation? This book has it in spades, not just for LGBTQ+ but also for disabilities. You want a cute love story? Mooncakes has it. And if the title sounds like there should be food in it, why yes, there is also food!

Seriously, Mooncakes is a bunch of cute. Nova and Tam are fully fleshed out with worries, individual challenges and stories that still mix together by their past, present and potential future. And the grandmothers are awesome. There is so mcuh to say about all the characters and the value they add, even if some are there you make you smile and that is all, but still.

The world sounds very intriguing and I wanted to know more of how it is, and how magic and non magic coexists, as I do want to know what else they do at the bookstore/coffee shop thing Nova’s grandmothers have.

And the artwork is wonderfully detailed and you can see the care that went into making it become more than just words in a page, but to make the story and characters real and unique. At the end there is a “how this becomes a comic” and it was awesome to see the progress of the description and then how it becomes a full page.

I cannot recommend this enough because it is incredibly cute, awesome and I just need everyone to enjoy it!

Chilling Effect Review

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

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Full disclosure, I finished this book last year but because Orbit was publishing in the UK this month, I delayed my review to make it coincide with its birthday week! (Also, I bought my own copy, because seriously, psychic cats in space).

What I had kinda forgotten, was how much Latinx rep this book has which had me in sittches at all the nuance. If you read it not being Latinx, it will be a fun space opera, but knowing the meaning behidn the title chapters and the little phrases Eva keeps throwing when she’s angry or in a pickle, it was really fun.

Basically this book is bonkers and it is exactly the kind of crazy space opera that I haven’t seen or read in a long time and had been missing. It is the throw everything and the kitchen sink in just for good measure but instead of being a complaint about the fact there is so much going on, it is one of the strengths of the book.

Because the thing is that Eva is having so much happening and so many things going on that it is a bit hard to keep moving forward and she’s trying real hard to keep everything a bit sane rather than just unravelling into chaos (which does happen, because life and yeah, poor Eva). There is a lot of crazy, a lot of aliens, not a crazy amount of explaining the world to you (think how you go to Star Wars in a pub and there’s all the species and you have no clue about it but they’re there and you accept it at face value, that’s what it is like in this book). Things are and you just go along, and suddenly as you move through the book you go “oh wait, this thing, previously it was there and it was like part of it, but now it means something, I understand better”.

And there are the psychic cats, with the “boss” cat being called Mala which basically means Bad so it was real fun to have them in the mix (I want one).

All in all, if you like space opera with a lot of crazy, lot of drama and one thing after the other so you’re left with a “what now?” then definitely give this a go!

Picklewitch and Jack

Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker

The dreadful strangers moved in on a wild and windy Thursday.
‘Fudgenuts,’ cursed Picklewitch, adjusting her cracked binoculars to get a better view of the comings-and-goings. ‘This won’t do at all. I bet they haven’t even bought me any cake.’

Picklewitch is, quite literally, out of her tree. She has a nose for naughtiness, a taste for trouble and a weakness for cake. And unluckily for brainbox Jack – winner of the ‘Most Sensible Boy in School’ for the third year running – she’s about to choose him as her new best friend . . .

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

This was an odd cute book I read for Februwitchy. I got wind of it thanks to Asha and decided to puy and had had it on my shelves for a while.

My absolute favoruite thing was all the illustrations on it. They are super fun and have so many details that as you read and see the illustrations you go “ohh look at that tiny detail, and that one and that one too”. Gorgeous, seriously.

The story is fun but it had me struggling to like Picklewithc as she is causing poor Jack so much grief and he already has enough complications as it is. But her antics were funny and I also had a soft spot for her, so it was a very contradictive read where I wasn’t sure what I wanted exactly to happen and was torn between rooting for him or her.

The friendship part was nice and that school can be better with frineds and colleagues, and it touches a little on bullies. In general a fun read however for me the biggest struggle was that some of the things Picklewitch did, if she had done them to me I would’ve been devastated and questioned the whole concept of her “friendship” and just wanted to run away. But Jack somehow stoically keeps going on. Poor Jack.

Hex Vet: Witches in Training Review

Hex Vet: Witches in Training by Sam Davies

In a world where magic is an ordinary part of daily life, two young apprentice veterinarians pursue their dreams of caring for supernatural creatures. 

Have you ever wondered where witches’ cats go when they pull a claw? Or what you do with a pygmy phoenix with a case of bird flu? Nan and Clarion have you covered. They’re the best veterinarian witches of all time—at least they’re trying to be. But when an injured spectral wolf beast from another realm stumbles into their lives, Nan and Clarion have to put down their enchanted potions and face the biggest test of their magical, medical careers…outside of the clinic. 

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

This was the first book I read for #Februwitchy. And of course didn’t add it to my TBR because completely forgot. I thoguht it’d be a good start to get me wanting to read more. Start easy so I pick up and feel like I can do it.

So far that tactic has worked.

I found this book while browsing for other graphic novels and thought the premise was cute, veterinarian withces for mythical and fantastic creatures, yes please.

It did not disappoint, I want a bugbear and I just really enjoyed seeing all the critters they have in the clinic. The artwork was fitting to the story, it felt magical and cute and just a tinge scary when it needed to be. I can see that there’s a lot of more story to come and that there is potential for many plots and things alongside the already revealed interesting personal plot points of the two apprentices.

The only thing I had issues was that some panels and bubbles have grammatical errors which kept breaking the immersion that had happened. And it was short, I wish it had been longer because I was enjoying it too much and wanted to know more of the world, of the creatures, of their worlds and who they are.

All in all, a cute enjoyable graphic novel about magic, friendship, teamwork and critters.

Chaotic Good Review

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

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

Nikki recommended this book to me and somehow that turned out well for her because she joined out DnD gorup! (I am definitely chaotic good, I used to think I was lawful good but I struggle with the lawful part, woops).

Also kudos to only having dice that camouflage in the picture when you’re trying to use them as props.

The book was fun and made me want to go play another session with our group (best part is that it includes some “comic” pages about their campaigns), but it also shows some of the elitism and preconceptions from nerds to outsiders.

For starters, it tackles the whole “if you wear dresses and take care of your image and worry about makeup, you’re not a legit nerd” thought. But it also shows how trying to keep a persona can be costly and it is hard keeping up with what you said and didn’t say and to whom you said it.

There is, obviously, a lot of DnD fun, a lot of talk about cosplay and making of the items (dresses, props, etc), and about blogging and just general interactions online with communities that are fans of something.

I enjoyed reading it but it isn’t really the style of book for me and I just didn’t feel it deeply to say to everyone to go read it. But if you like Geekerella and/or like DnD, you should give this a go and enjoy the fun and shenanigans!

Hideous Beauty Review

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

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

I won this book out of a lotery during YALC, however that doesn’t change my review or do anything for or against it.

To start this review, at least one of the foxes given is purely due to the fact that I usually cringe at books that center on romance/a relationship and somehow this one didn’t annoy me, or make me frustrated or anything like that. I enjoyed the romance,so kudos to the author because somehow a 4 fox review has come out of a contemporary romance book. Someone save this one for posterity.

Maybe that should be the whole review, this book made me like contemporary romance. (But I am not going to go test the waters and ruin the experience I got out of this one book).

Now on to an actual review of it. It is a very interesting book, with a coming out, a high school dance where they are officially out, and then disaster. Both Ellis and Dylan were fleshed out as full characters and neither was just a ploy or just there, you could see and feel what they were going through. There are several parts of the story to follow. One is Dylan’s best friend and their friendship, which I enjoyed but also boy, was that intense (and no, no filthy thoughts).

Another part is what made Ellis to elusive and what was he keeping from Dylan? Why is Dylan suddenly getting pages from the sketchbook Ellis had? The mystery is there ever present but it is also something that is keeping Dylan going and in some ways keeing him from plunging deeper into his grief, but at the same time, he’s not letting go of that grief because he wants to keep searching for answers.

And of course, the last one, is grief (another grief book, definitely my type of book). It is on how his family and the rest of the world interacts with him, and it is about him reacting or interacting in return. On processing the grief, and trying to find a way in and out and somehow untangle the big tangle that grief is.

The book in general does well exploring the three points and the final discovery both surprised me in one of the things and was not that surprising in another. But it didn’t feel too far away from what could possibly be.

This is not a happy book, it is a book that is steeped in sadness an in discovery and just finding your place in the world and learning who you are and who your boyfriend was/is.

Still, definitely worth a read.

All Fall Down Review

All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

A deadly contagion races through England…

Isabel and her family have nowhere to run from a disease that has killed half of Europe. When the world she knows and loves ends for ever, her only weapon is courage.

The Black Death of 1349 was the deadliest plague in human history. All Fall Down is a powerful and inspiring story of survival in the face of real-life horror.

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I haven’t read much historical fiction around the Black Death, so I decided to give this a go. And I’ve read another of Sally’s books before, so at least I kinda knew what to expect.

It was a very interesting book as you’re introduced to Isabel, and her world. And how it is so “natural” to just be part of it, you can see which parts they question and which ones they don’t. As a way to plunge into the world and setitng, this book does a good job at that but without feeling like you’re just reading a history book with just facts. Isabel and her family make the history become alive.

There’s not much that can’t be spoiled since we know Black Death killed a lot of people. And as the small village Isabel lives in slowly gets affected by it, and then it hits her family, tough choices have to be made, but also some questions arise about roles, responsibiltiies and status quo.

When everyone is dying around you, do the rules that kept you in that place still stand?

I didn’t love the book but it was a quick read, easy to consume without bogging down in facts, the plot was a bit broken into odd parts which is why it isn’t getting more stars, but it still got to somewhere and gave a good “ending” (or as good as you can have given the topic and circumstances).