Beneath the Rising Review

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

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

I don’t usually read books that cross into “scary” land because I am not big on horror. But I like Premee and her twitter, and the fact that Johnny (one of the main characters) is a young female “genius” sold me to it.

One of the strengths of the book is setting the mood and the progression of the story. We start with a very “normal” (or as normal as having a genius world saving best friend can be) part of the story and Nick trying his best to figure out what comes next as Johnny goes further away and is less and less around due to all the amazing discoveries and inventions she is making, while he is the one working a bakery job to help his family.

Almost immediately I had a lot of things I wanted to quote as Johnny talks about how it is to be female, young and a scientist and have to compete against the established older male scientists. I don’t talk a lot about what I used to do for work and what I do now, but I used to be very similar to Johnny (sans the Ancient Ones). I was the one everyone expected great things. Had a big research career before I even graduated university. Doing big things, and everyone expecting great things… in Johnny’s words “everything”. So it was easy for me to engage with this book and to feel it to heart. Which made the scary a little less scary and more like “oh, that is scary but kinda interesting”.

Another strength is the relationship between Johnny and Nick. They are friends, but could they be more, and how can you keep a relationship (of whatever kind, friends or more) when the people in it are so different and understand each other’s challenges so little? Nick struggles to understand how despite Johnny being white and a genius, she still has barriers men wouldn’t have. And at the same time, Johnny fails to see what being brown and not being rich does to Nick. There are moments were they are as close as close can be and then you realise that at the same time ther eis this big chasm between them. It was masterfully done and it is proof of the craft that Premee can write an apocalypse/end of the world horror and at the same time have this intense view of a relationship as it moves and tries to define itself into adulthood.

Gosh, the Ancient Ones in themselves and the whole part of the plot that goes around it kept getting more and more interesting. The connections between cataclysms and ends of civilizations was also a bonus point for my history focused heart and just seeing all the little hints about geeky or nerdy stuff kept me smiling despite also being scared and worrying about the fate of the world and about Johnny and Nick.

And those last few chapters, well, that was magnificent and sad and intense and a big relief. A lot of emotions to be felt throughout it, and I couldn’t help but side a little with both of them and not be sure what exactly I wanted to happen because it was so hard to think what would be the best outcome for everyone involved.

Also, Ben and the genetically modified dung beetles that wouldn’t roll dung but might steal satsumas or other round objects made me giggle. The sarcams levels are great too, if you need a serving of that.

If you like history, science, geniuses and friendships put to the test with an end of the world, this is definitely your book. It gets my scarydorsement and my full endorsement as a read worth reading.

Narwhal’s Otter Friend Review

Narwhal’s Otter Friend by Ben Clanton

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

This is the fourth book in the Narwhal and Jelly series and it is as delightful as the previous ones have been.

The artwork is “simple” but it still manages to convey a lot of emotion and environment, plus the text is big and eays to read. Tehre is a lot of cuteness and humour and you get some true facts about the characters (or rather, the animals behind the characters).

In this book, we encounter an otter who insists it has had all sorts of adventures, one crazier than the other, and Jelly is very skeptical about this. But also, Jelly is a little jealous of how easily Narwhal seems to have replaced their friendship for Otter.

So Jelly sets out to find a new friend.

As per usual, the level of cuteness, amount of necessary waffles (yum, this is always a perfect thing), plus the superhero mini comic and the facts we get make it a fun easy read. It is also great for children and I find it a great read as an adult when I want something to give my brain a respite from work or a tedious/intense task. It is a little bit of sunshine and joy in the day.

The only complaint is that the books are too short, I wish they were longer, but they definitely are great and I will keep getitng thema s they come out (I certainly hope for more of them). Highly recommended!

Wilder Girls Review

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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

I had seen very varying reviews of the book, but the premise had caught my eye a couple of years ago so I got it. I don’t regret it.

The book straddles the line of horror slightly and makes for a difficult one to place in a neat category. We meet Hetty, who is doing her best to survive in Raxter and to not succumb to despair. And she only really has two friends, Byatt and Reese.

Even before Byatt disappears, the panorama of how the girls are “infected” by the Tox and have this odd changes in their bodies, and they get ill and some die (and some have already died). Plus, it is hard to know who to trust out of the limited adults left taking care of them. As much as they still live in a school, there’s little of the school as a system left and it is all about survival.

There are a lot of secrets, a lot to learn about the Tox and as Hetty ends up being able to see odd things ahppening that are harder and harder to explain each day and to make sense fo them given their cirucmstances, tough choices have to be made.

And then Byatt disappears. This opens the point of view of Byatt, who shows us where she has been taken and what is going on in her world.

I found there was a lot left as secret but if you look back it slowly makes sense as you discover the truth. The idea is to make you feel as lost as Hetty and Byatt do when they’re going through. Which I did.

I did not like the ending being a bit open and not really getting much anywhere, it felt at first like it had ended and then suddenyl not sure. Are there more books to come? I don’t like having books play the “maybe a next book at some point” game.

But still, it was a good read and interesting concept.

The Way of the House Husband Vol 1 Review

The Way of the Household Husband Vol 1 Review

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

Ok, the best way to tell you about this is to let you watch this video, but if you watch it you probably won’t need to read my review to know about the book.

I thought the idea of an ex-yakuza boss becoming a house husband was intriguing and would do for a lot of fun. And it definitely does. He takes his house chores very very seriously. It isn’t just the cooking or the cleaning, but even going to a sale and shopping and the best part is that he is good at it.

But it isn’t just that he is a house husband and that he takes his chores seriously, we also meet his wife (and kinda understand why he chose this new path and calling) and we meet an an ex “colleague” who is still part of the yakuza but struggling without the “boss”. This ensues in hilarious interactions. There is so much fun between our main character just trying to be a man and have a clean home and present his wife with delicious food, and his past trying hard to catch up with him.

And it does try a few times.

I giggled a lot at this and remembered how much I enjoy silly comedy in manga and I haven’t seen this take before, so I had a blast!

So, if you want a laugh about super “intensive” yakuza version of being a the one in charge of house chores, this is a brilliant funny read to enjoy!

Fight like a Girl Review

Fight like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

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

I received this book from the publisher for free in the hopes I’d review. Now, this sounded intriguing, so I had to read it, but it coming from the publisher doesn’t influence my opinions of it.

Let’s start with the fact this book packs a punch and it will hit hard. As such, it requires a few content warnings: abuse (in various forms and dynamics: parent-child, between partners, as a social construct; emotional, financial, physical), manipulation, gaslighting, murder, fighting.

I did say it packs a punch. We meet Trisha who is shaken due to the fact she accidentally ran over her father, after he wandered in front of her car and he died. She’s not really emotional about it since he was a bit of an enstranged father and it is her mother who she loves.

But love in her world is translated into violence. Her mother will hit her because she loves her and the next moment make her a nice meal. And Trisha is doing the best to try to be better, do better, so she channels all that into Muay Thai kickboxing.

The book is short, and mostly shows two parts of Trisha’s world. The one where she is trying to become a good fighter and do more, get everything out of her system and make the gym and her teacher/mentor proud. But she’s just not very “lucky” and keeps losing her fights.

The other side is her family, the dynamics of the friendship between her mother, aunt and neighbour, and then how her mother very quickly seems to replace her father after the accident. At first Trisha accepts things as they are, but as time goes by she starts questioning how things really happened and why they are happening.

There is a lot of anger in Trisha, so this is a very “emotional” book where she is trying to make sense of the whole I love you and hit you at the same time, and also trying to understand where she belongs and what she can do. And she feels slightly unbalanced, should she be asking questions and does she want to know the answers behind what her mother does, what happened to her dad and the past?

The only part that didn’t really work for me was the soucoyant stories, as they are woven in a way that they may be bordering the line of realism and not, but then the thread of that is lost and kind not followed through. There a few loose threads left that had a lot of attention and then suddenly they aren’t there anymore, as if it wasn’t important or it never mattered, yet they take a few chapters and keep being mentioned for a while. I wish more had been done to follow on that particular thread or that it hadn’t really appeared as all it did was distract and detract fromthe story since it went nowhere (it peaked my curiosity, mad eme wonder and then I was like “but what about the whole soucoyant thing? what was the point?”).

I’d say, that if you plan on reading this to be prepared for how gritt and brutal it is. The only other similar book I can think of, is Monday is not coming, which was very intense too.

Roots of Corruption Review

Roots of Corruption by Laura Laakso

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

I am a big fan of The Wilde Investigations series. You can find my review for Fallible Justice here and for the second book, Echo Murder, here. The general thing I like is how big the magical world is and how it mingles with the non magical world in the books. Another great thing si the amount of representation here of so many things (class divide, EDS, chronic illness, familiar pressures, duties, LGBTQ+, etc.) There’s a lot to explore and a lot to learn in each of the books.

Now specifically for Roots of Corruption, it is focused on Lady Bergamot (who despite the fact that it centers around her, is actually off page for a big part of the book) and it is a window into a little bit more about who she is, and the mystery of her garden.

When Lady Bergamot is attacked in her own garden, Wishearth reaches out to Yannia for help. What they find is not exactly what they expected, and Yannia starts having to do some quick decisions and trusting Wishearth a LOT. (And breaking some rules).

What seemed likean attack to Lady Bergamot becomes a race to try to find a serial killer with a purpose. Each kill brings the killer closer to something and they all seem to point at Lady Bergamot, but is she innocent or playing Yannia for a fiddle?

Karrion, Wishhearth and even Dearon make an appearance in the book, and we get to learn a little more about the politics of Old London, a little about the Fae Court, Selkies and Lady Bergamot. But Yannia is also trying to find who to trust and how far she does. It is hard to investigate objectively when it is a friend that has been ttacked and who may be the one behidn the crimes!

Of course, I had theories and theories about who it was and what was going on, and I still didn’t figure it out completely, but I enjoyed the whole story and it went by too fast. Partly because the way Laura writes is so immersive that you are instantly there in Yannia’s world and that’s it, you go along as part of the team, as if you were just strolling with them and riding in the car, beign a part of it. It isn’t just happening to them, you’re in it too.

Higly recommend this botanically focused book with murder, mystery and a heckload of magic!

The Guinevere Deception Review

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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

This book was one that came in Tales of Trickery Owlcrate, and a few of us decided to buddy read it. Now, from previous reading of the author’s books, I was a bit unsure if I’d like it as I haven’t really clicked much with her books. But this is a book about Guinevere, and Arthurian legend which automatically makes me want to give it a chance (which I did).

Guinevere is one of those “naive, don’t know much about the world and the reader discovers through my eyes”. This kinda works but at the same time it doesn’t. Maybe because I’ve read other books about King Arthur and watched Merlin and all that, that the whole “oh, discover the world” wasn’t as intriguing and got old relatively fast. But it did help see the interpretation of the Arthurian world int he book, and how magic is banned and there’s some magic supporters but it is a tough decision for Arthur and he’s sticking by it.

Now, we know little of Guinevere except that she isn’t actually her and has another name she has to forget (mild spoiler alert: we never really find out her name, she conveniently forgets it, somehow, which really put me off because it is solely for the purpose fo making you read the next book). And she knows magic and is being married of to Arthur so she can protect him and make sure everything is fine. I found the concept of the whole she isn’t who she is, and the “is magic good or should it be banned, but there’s bad magic?” intriguing.

However, this quickly became a guide to “knot magic” without actually even telling you how to do the know magic. What do I mean by this? Her magic is knots, and she makes them for everything. So every few pages, she decides she needs magic to protect Arthur or set a warning or some odd thing and goes on about needing knots and how the knot makes magic but it isn’t like Merlin’s magic. And it gets old fast as there is nothing new there except what we already know from fae lore and from Arthurian legend.

In general, the book feels like it dragged to try to make a full book just to sell more books into the story. Some fo the twists on characters were refreshing and made me like the book, but it just felt like it dragged and some of the twists felt like they went against everything and were plot characters rather than actual fleshed out characters and solely relied on you being familiar with Arthurian legend (or maybe not so you don’t care) to fill in the gaps.

All in all, I just really wish this had been a duology or a better fleshed book. There’s not enoguh of the magic explained, and just barely anything explained to move the plot forward much except sending Arthur on adventures to keep him busy so Guinevere can do more knots (I ended up rolling my eyes at this all after a while), and getting cryptic chapters to fill int he gaps with more useful information (that only really gets useful closer to the middle-end).

Not sure if I will buy the next one or read it. Depends on if someone thinks it is great and redeems the story.