The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Review

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. Edited by Hope Nicholson.

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

I bought this on a whim, because I consider myself a geek (and nerd) “girl”. And my curiosity was picked. This did not disappoint.

The anthology starts with a set of cartoons from Margeret Atkinson and it goes on with a mix of short stories, essays, comics and illustrations about the many aspects of being a girl and geek. It is about the spaces we made, and then got taken and had to reclaim. But it is also about gleefully enjoying going into a comic store and being the odd one out but still loving the comics loads.

The book covers a wide range of experiences and of course not all of them rang for me but I could still enjoy them, and there were some I read and felt like they had been watching me as I grew up. Giggles, concern and sometimes a lot of nostalgia ensued.

And part of me wished I had seen this book when I was younger, I would have felt less like the only one going through it and more like part of a bigger thing, in a better way. It’s hard to capture all the stories into a single review but I had a soft spot for some of the comics in it and just enjoyed reading about others visiting shops, conventions, and more.

It is nice to know that some things never change, but that others do and they can be better, more open to others, more accepting.

I can recommend this anthology as a pick and mix read that you can read one or two stories, maybe a comic or two, and drop then come back to it for some more fun stories later on.

The Boy who Dreamed of Dragons Review

The Boy who Dreamed of Dragons by Andy Shepherd. Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie.

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

I discovered The Boy who Grew Dragons a while back and adored it so I ended up buying all three books. And then they announced there would be a fourth one and I immediately preordered it because between the cute illustrations and the adorable story, I was sold (plus, dragons, very important part).

The best way I can summarise what the book is all about is to say that it is a transition story, from what happened in the previous three to what is to come if there are more books (which I hope there are). There a lot of changes for the superhero squad, and some new characters added.

Tomas is struggling to cope with the changes and feels like things are moving too fast, but there are ways around them and change brings growth which is a lesosn he definitely has to learn in this book. Plus one of the new characters brings potentially lots of new stories to the game (and I am hoping they will come in more books for sure). We see more Flicker and more dragosn whcih was enjoyable, I just was sad that my original idea of what dreaming of dragons meant wasn’t what happened but I still liked what the title implied to (and it was more fo a “I went expecting/guessing this and something else happened but I still wish this one thing was something in this universe” maybe it will be at some point…)

One of my favourite things is the cute dragons and how unique they are which was wonderful to see here. And the relationships of family like how Tomas and his sister Lolli get along and I love that, or when he interacts with his grandfather. It is lovely to see some family around and the dynamics behind them.

As I mentioned before, the artwork is great and very enjoyable, giving the story a little bit more fun and depth. So go get the first one, or maybe the whole set, because maybe you will suddenly find an interesting fruit and need to know how to deal with the little dragon that may pop out of it!

Bringing Down the Moon Review

Bringing Down the Moon by Jonathan Emmett. Illustrated by Vanessa Cabban

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

A book with a moon? Yes please! Plus this one was a lovely gift from a sweet friend, Luce, and I am delighted to review it.

We meet a cute little mole who just discovered the moon and wants to grab it and bring it down. It’s too amazing and beautiful, so gotta have it.

He tries to jump, he tries to throw something to make it fall down, and he keeps accidentally waking up other friends. The story is super adorable and it made me feel warm inside.

Worth as a nightime story or just a story to read out loud while cuddling and hugging a soft friend. And apparently there’s more stories of the mole and friends.

Fox and the Box Review

Fox and the Box by Yvonne Ivinson

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

I got this book gifted by a friend frm my wishlist, and I loved it. I can review it here but I think the best review you will get is my reading it aloud.

I absolutely adored the story and the artwork to match, it is easy, sweet but such a delight to read as you can see from the video. It is a gorgeous fun book that I would recommend as a joy to read to anybody who wants a bit of kindness and niceness in their lives or who wants a cute book to read to their children.

Come on, it has a fox in it!

Eat, and Love Yourself Review

Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo

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I saw this while browsing for new graphic novels and it sounded interesting. It does require a few content warnings: eating disorder, fatphobia, purging, body dysmorphia. As the topic is around food and the relationship of Mindy with it and her memories, it is a tough book.

The artwork fits the story well and gives a matching vibe to what Mindy is going through, it felt right to tell the story. As for the plot, we meet Mindy who is uncomfortable with her body size and being liked at her size. So when she finds a curious chocolate bar at the shop while replenishing snacks, she buys it without much thought.

However, eating it triggers almost a “go back to the past” memory where she sees herself and some key moments on her journey to where she is. Obviously they are a bit uncomfortable at times but it also shows her what looking back does, perspective on what was actually happening and the intentions of the people around her givent he circumstances.

The story was interesting and it deals with tough topics, but it was also easy to breeze through it and feel accomplished and nice after finishing it even if at times I wanted to reassure Mindy (and I mean, I don’t have the biggest confidence in my own body but working on it).

All in all, I would say if any of the topics make you uncomfortable, I wouldn’t suggest reading it, but otherwise it was a good read and the artwork was worth it too.

The Shadow Glass Review

The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco

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

It is done! Completed. I knew this book was going to be intense as it had a lot of questions to answer, starting with what happens to Kalen (I’ve been biting my nails about it since book one!), and then there’s the whole changes in dynamics of the characters. Why is Tea doing all of what she has done? And who is traitor, maybe more than one? Will we ever find out Druj?

I kept reading and going “I am not sure how we’re going to get all the answers to everything I need to know” until suddenyl all the ribbons, hints and little things made sense. My suspicions on some characters turned out to be true (it was also fun to buddy read this and have a theory and suggest it but not be fully sure and doubt yourself and then have it confirmed) and new things kept coming that still managed to surprise me but made sense.

I think that is one of the beauties of this series. There is a LOT going on. And you get most of the answers at the end, in the last book, but they all make sense because you can remember scenes in previous books and even in the one you’re reading, and the dots connect. It takes skill to write and make all those dots connect and do so in such a way, so I can only admire Rin’s ability to write this story.

//Spoilers for content in the two previous books ahead but no spoilers for this one//

Tea and Kalen. I adored the scenes that happened between them including drunk Tea which was one of my favourite parts. And we had the relationship develop well so it felt right, it worked and the chemistry. Honestly, I was just like cooing and wanting more of them.

I also had a lot fo love for the other pairings happening in the book and how they slowly come to fruition. It was wonderful to see old characters keep up.

The one thing I would’ve loved, was a list of names and who they were plus which country they originally belong to (as at some point I had to stop and remind myself that X was actually from so and so and not the other country). But this is more due to the sheer size of the world and the amount of characters and me desperately wanting to understand it all and not miss a thing.

Honestly I can babble incoherently for a while, but all I can say is that the book shows Rin’s ability to weave a tale and bring it to completion breaking and mending your heart along the way.

A Mouse Called Julian Review

A Mouse Called Julian by Jow Todd-Stanton

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Look, picture books that have sneaky foxes in the cover or involved foxes as characters, I will most probably add to my wishlist, and this was not the exception.

I needed a small filler book while I waiting between budyd reads and this fit the bill perfectly. It made me feel good and surprisingly goes well with the whole avoiding others and staying inside because of lockdown.

Julian likes to keep to his own company and has learned how to avoid his neighbours, until a sneaky fox shows up and things change for Julian. The artwork is extremely cute, and the story was sweet for a moment making you think something may happen and then it gets better whcih was nice to read.

I liked the concept behind it and feel like feel good books about those that keep their own company are rare, but this one was cute, fun and just worth reading.

So if you like mice, foxes, cute stories or just something to cheer up, I can recommend this book!

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse Review

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

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This was a gift from the lovely Justine on one of those wishlist shares, and I had heard a lot of good things about the book.

It was tempting me since it has a fox in it, it is ink drawings and just a positive type of book, so it felt like a book to have at hand when sadness hits and when life just feels a bit not great.

I have to say, it is an easy soothing read with heavy pages and a lot of care, so I can see a lot of care in making it. As it says, you can technically read without an order and I didn’t try it this time round but as I read I noticed it does lend to an orderly or disorderly reading.

I think what got me the most was that the art is simple and yet so emotive and there’s a lot of detail and care. I was fascinated by it and the words go along well.

For some reason it reminded me a lot of Winnie the Pooh and old artwork in the books but also that kind of timeless quotes about life and friendships and just everything. It has a poetic way to it and I just found it soothing, a bit short if anything.

If you want a book that is art, coffee table material but also will make you feel good for reading it, then this is the one for you. Plus it has cute animals, particularly a fox…

The Heart Forger Review

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

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

After reading The Bone Witch, I ordered the next two books, then continued a buddy read. Life got in the way for both of us so it took us a while to coordinate again, but once we did, we flew through it.

One of my favourite things so far is the world building. You get so much in this world and it just keeps expanding more and more. The style of having Tea in the present talking to the Bard about her story of the past and what made her what she is, does a really good job in presenting items cohesively despite being different moments and different reveals.

The last 100 pages or so, they went by so fast because there was so much going on and slowly being revealed and surprisingly a lot of what I thought would happen, didn’t and things I didn’t expect did. As I reached the end I needed to know more.

The characters keep developing their layers and showing more of how grey they are and how difficult it is to know someone’s true intentions and what is going on behind closed doors but in figurative and literal sense. I have a big soft spot both for Khalad and Likh, and for their stories. But new characters also join in and add to the “team”, Mykkie is still a big part of the story and Tea keeps showing us more of who she is, what she has held inside and slowly revealing the secrets and motives that she carries as a heavy burden.

I am in awe of the story. It is deep and full and rich, and I cannot recommend it enough. Also, it is incredibly hard not to spoil it while reviewing because there is SO mcuh I’d like to say but it’d spoil it and it’s worth not doing that.

I can only say, go read The Bone Witch and have The Heart Forger ready to keep going because you will want to know more!

Ava Twist, Scientist Review

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and Illustrated by David Roberts

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I got this lovely little book from Faye from my wishlist and it did not disappoint.

Ada Twist is a very curious little one and that may get her into trouble. the artwork is wonderful, the relationship of the family and how they try to help Ada, figure out how to answer her questions (because she is absolutely crammed full of them) and just be there.

Obviously at times Ada may get into trouble and still you can feel the love from her family, the curiosity from Ada and how much she has a scientific hypothesis approach in everything.

I think this is a wonderful book to give a curious kid that has all the questions and keeps looking for answers, and to the parents too as it wil show both sides and maybe afterwards add a book about the kids best interests because I just felt like researching and diving deep into a book after reading this.

Thorn Review

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

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Thron was included in one of the recent Book Box Club boxes. However, I had it on preorder and didn’t catch that it was the same book, so I got duplicates and gifted a copy to a friend.

Obviously means I was eager to read it, right?

From the start, there is a fairy tale undertone to the story (I know it is based on the story of the goose girl, but some books that are based on fairy tales do not read like one) and it sets the tone for the rest of the book in a wonderful way.

We meet Alyrra as she is preparing to meet her future husband’s family. She is in general a resigned unhappy princess that would rather have a different life. However, she doesn’t want an adventure as one would expect. What she wants is just peace, to be able to be insignificant in a way. And she wants to not have her cruel family over her. As much as she is unsure about the alliance through marriage and who the prince is, she sees this as a way out of her family and country to somewhere that may be better.

What she doesn’t expect is to end up as the lady in company of the princess rather than the actual princess, which puts her into the position of a goose girl as ajob. Which she finds delightful. It is hard work, but it is work and she is gettign exactly what she wants. Plus there’s a wonderful talking horse, Falada, that she has for ocmpany.

The story follows the bones of the goose girl fairy tale but adds to many beautiful layers on top. One of my favourite lines is the concept of family and unity, of found family rather than the given one (which really spoke to me). Another one is the concept of justice and what that may mean. Can justice be truly fair? What does that mean and how is it decided? There is also the way Alyrra starts to figure out who she is outside of the obligations of being a “princess”. And it is interesting to see how she views herself as something but in truth she is ahead of how she sees herself. She calls herself a coward often, but has a lot of courage, and it takes her time to understand that and to see what she is doing as courageous.

I think those layers and the many characters that are very defined in the story, like Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Joa make it even better as a fairy tale on it’s own. Vety enjoyable, feels old and as if it has existed for so long and yet it is fresh and has a lot of questions. Probably the best way to describe Thorn is to say that this is what a fairytale ought to be in 2020. Something to become a classic read over and over and seen as a comfortable uncomfortable story with magic woven through it.

Highly recommend reading it and giving it a chance.

The Enigma Game Blog Tour

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

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A few disclaimers before I launch into my review of The Enigma Game. I was provided a free copy of the book for reviewing purposes, however this doesn’t influence my review at all.

The second disclaimer is that that I have most of Elizabeth’s books (including non fiction) and as you can guess from the picture, have a soft spot for World War II bombers and cryptography (yes, I was at those Turing events). So be aware that this makes this book a quick runner for a good review due to contents.

The Enigma Game is another winner by Elizabeth Wein. It depicts so many things about how life during World War II was back then and does so with her unique way that makes you want to know more of the world and how it came to be.

We get a few points of view from different characters as they each give us a little of their world to see. We start with James (Jamie, Scotty) who is the one in charge of a B-flight squadron of Blenheims in Scotland and he is feeling hit in all places by the disadvantages they have (starting with old bombers, and just not great decisions on tactics). He is technically a character that appears in some ways in other of the books so he was familiar (and it kept nagging at me why I felt like I knew who he was but couldn’t place him at the same time, obviously now I want to reread The Pearl Thief and Code Name Verity).

Then we have Louisa, who is mixed race and struggling to find a place in London as she is too young, alone and not the right skin colour. But she finds a job helping Aunt Jane in Scotland and makes the most of it. With her point of view we get Aunt Jane who is a character as is and I absolutely adored the old woman. She’s old but she’s so cunning and so full of ideas and fight, it was wonderful to read her and she reminded me of other old ladies I’ve known (none as mysterious and interesting as her but still).

And we have Ellen who is part of the WAAF as a driver for the RAF airfield but who is hiding the fact she is a traveller. Her point of view was a refreshing sight and a connection between two pieces of the story at first.

Our story centers around them coming unto an Enigma machine (the only one) and due to circumstances, they are able to decode messages and give Jamie’s squadron a secret advantage, but with doing so, they put themselves at risk and potentially everyone.

I adored the story, the characters were so unique and the ambience and setting of the world is done beautifully with tiny details that help put you right there and then with them. It is not just a story about courage but about perceptions, about wanting to be brave and how rules soemtimes are meant to be broken, or in most of the case in the book, just bent rather than broken. I am actually having a hard time writing a very coherent review due to this book hooking me in and making me feel so much and be so invested into the characters and what happened.

As for historical accuracy, at the end you get a note regarding what it is based on and what is “real” and not which it still feels wonderfully well painted and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the author’s gift for writing fiction and making it feel like it is non-fiction.

If you enjoy historical fantasy, are an aircraft nerd or just curious about cryptography or the Enigma, this is a wonderful read. Or if you just want a good story about World War II and friendship, then this is also for you.

Roller Girl Review

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

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When I was a teenager I went from artistic rollerblading to inline hockey and loved it. Derby sounded fun but it just wasn’t an option so I did the ones I had available and loved them. This meant that when I saw this book pop up in suggested reads I got curious and bought it because it sounded fun.

We start with Astrid being bullied a little about the fact she’s rollerblaidng and that it is something for little kids rather than teens/older kids (she’s 12 years old) by someone she doesn’t like and her used to be best friend.

Their friendship soured over summer camp as Astrid had fallen starry eyed for roller derby and wanted to do a roller derby summer camp whereas Nicole (the ex best friend) is a ballet dancer and didn’t tell Nicole she wasn’t going to go with her, just kinda let her assume she would join and then told her she was actually going to ballet camp. (Is there a camp for everything?)

Astrid sees this as a betrayal and this adds up to the fact that roller derby isn’t as easy as she thought it’d be and the camp is hard work.

The story is very much a “becoming a teen and dealing with confusion, new emotions and changes in your whole social life” which I got so well as it went along. Astrid has to navigate making new friends, evaluating who she is and what type of friend she wants to be versus what she used to be and relationship dynamics (not just friends but what about her relationship with her mother?).

It is a lovely graphic novel dealing with a lot of interesting topics, particularly bases of changes as you slowly turn into a teenager and hormones start making you a bundle of confusion (plus how we all do things at a different pace, and how some do it due to peer pressure whereas others just do their thing and become outcasts).

I’d happily give this book to teen me as she struggled to comprehend and deal with all the sudden changes, it would’ve made it a little easier. As Astrid did, I found skating was a wonderful activity and gave new friendships and new things to do outside of school.

All in all, it kept me in the story, I felt for Astrid but also wanted at times to shake some sense into her but at the end felt very proud of where she got to. And now I want to do some rollerblading too…

The Library of Ever Review

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

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I had The Library of Ever on preorder so it was a nice surprise the day it arrived in the post. I opened, started reading it and was hooked. Alas, I had to go work, so it was put aside until later.

The story starts with Lenora being very bored and unhappy until they end up in a library and she stumbles upon The Library of Ever. This is the coolest library ever and I loved the concept of it. It is a library will all knowledge and is accesible by librarians from all over the world and time and it is based on the motto that Knowledge is Light.

As Lenora accepts a job as fourth assistant, she gets assigned to different areas the more she grows her rank. Each time she has crazy adventures and my favourite part is that in each of them, a lot of knowledge and facts make part of it. Including challenging the concept that sometimes “common” knowledge isn’t correct (like the longest name for a place isn’t that one in Wales, for example, it may be one fo the longest one word names for a place but not the longest)

It was a joy to read and to be in the adventures with Lenora, plus learning new things at the same time (I did pause a few times just to go find out more about what Lenora was learning/doing in her adventure). Outside of those pauses, it was a fast delightful read and I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read the next one.

There Will Come A Darkness Review

There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

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

A little disclaimer, I have had this book on preorder for ages (1st of August 2019 apparently) but I also got a review copy from the publisher. Given how far back I preordered, it is pretty obvious they can’t really influence my review at all because I was already hyped for it.

And it was good and worth it. It did take me ages to read but it was mostly because it was the book I had with me while waiting in the queue for going into the shop weekly. It was a good read that kept me engrossed and made the wait not that difficult and helped it not feel like it was long or dragging. (I mean not what you want on your cover, but a book that helps pass a stressful moment and long wait much faster is always a good win).

Our story follows several POV from different characters who are linked by a Prophecy (and some in ways you didn’t expect at all, there’s definitely a few surprises that kept coming). This is a setup and build up book and not in a tell way. It is a book to know each of the characters, their personal stakes and why they are part of this end of times prophecy that isn’t even very clear.

One of the things I liked was that the characters are so varied but they each have something unique and something to move towards (or to run away from, right?). This means we have several subplots going on for the characters and as they start to intersect the stakes get higher and higher.

The concept of Graces at first I was like “meh, whatever” it felt like any other concept but as I read, the more I understood how entrenched, how much they defined the world yet at the same time, you didn’t feel like they were alien or odd in it. Probably the moment to sayt he worldbuilding was great. There’s so many places, and each has their thing but as you move through it in the eyes of the different POVs you start to see all the parts that make it what it is and why it definitely feels like the end of times.

Ephyra, Beru and Anton were my favourites out of them all (and technically Beru doesn’t really get a POV, but I am sure she will be getting one later in the next book, she has to!) even if they are completely different. Gosh, it is hard to explain why without ruining the plot much.

Another thing I liked was that gender isn’t as defining or limiting on how characters act and react. It is a corrupt world and with it a lot fo stuff is wrong and not great, but I didn’t feel like the male characters were stronger/had more agency than the female ones (given the circumstances) which was nice to see.

So in summary, I enjoyed it a lot and want to read the second book now because I need to know what will happen with each of them and also what now? The stakes were high enough as it was and now they are even higher. It is a really well written book with wonderful worldbuilding and great characters, so go read it!