Ghibli’s Delivery Service Yume Twins Unboxing

Everytime Yume Twins does a Ghibli box I have to have it and so far they haven’t disappointed. And obviously, the best way to present the contents is on top of a Ghibli puzzle, right?

  • An origami set, the options were My Neighbour Totoro or Kiki’s Delivery Service, and honestly I think both are great so I am happy with mine!
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service chopsticks set. The chopsticks are usually great and this pair looks awesome with Jiji.
  • A leaflet of contents and other tidbits of info.
  • A My Neighbour Totoro tubmler with a straw and everything.
  • A random Ghibli pin.
  • A mini puzzle, mine was Spirited Away. I have one for Howl’s Moving Castle and from experience know the pieces are tiny and the puzzle is a nice small size but really good.
  • A bento pile up box, mine was Jiji and I am so happy I got Jiji over Totoro even if both were super cute.

As you can see the contents were good value, delivery was fast and I am really glad I got this box. And of course, I am getting June’s because it is also Ghibli inspired and I can’t wait for it!

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!

Witch for a Week Review

Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky and Illustrated by Ashley King

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

More #Februwitchy books, and this oen was definitely one I saw Asha talk about and bought the first two, forgot about them in my middle grade shelf and dug them out for the readathon.

What a great gem they are! Once I finished Witch for a Week, I ordered books 3 and 4 so I could keep reading them, because I needed more. That good was it.

Elsie Pickles lives a “boring” simple life helping her dad in their shop and living by Customer Service rules. I have done customer service and I loved the rules. They were just so eprfectly encompasisng of the whole how to deal with customers. It made this book dearer to me. But then she gets to “house sit” for the local witch.

The house is actually a tower with a personality, and it comes with a snarky obnoxious raven, and some fun visitors who befriend Elsie. And then there is the fact that part of the offer meant more books for Elsie to read, and maybe some magic may happen. Even if Elsie isn’t too sure about it.

It was just very fun to read the story, meet the characters who come to the door and do some shenanigans. It was great to just escape to the tower (I want a tower that gives me cake or whatever I want when I knock on the larder/cupboard). The perfect mixture of cute and fun and magical in a book.

Realm of Ash Review

Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri

The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed…including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

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

How do you write a review for a book like this? Realm of Ash is the follow up (not exactly a sequel, but it does happen after) of Empire of Sand which I loved so much that it got me to draw again and do some fan art, into which I have spent countless hours because it needs to be as good as what I felt reading the book.

In Realm we follow Arwa as she joins a house for widows who do not want or can’t be a burden to their families. She is young and has survived a massacre. But she is also smart, conflicted and full of anger.

This book starts with strong women making the most in a society that doesn’t alway realise their value. And despite them having a limited way of doing things, the resourcefulness is amazing.

However, the main thing for me was how much Arwa fights against her Amithri blood and heritage, because she has been brought up to think it is tainted and foul. And the deeper she delves into this secret heritage and uses it as she attempts to help Zahir and the “heir” side they are meant to be helping, the more she realises that it was just convenient lies to trap her, and limit her, to rob her of who she is and could be.

That was a stunning thing to read as she moves through her anger and then fear and everything that comes as they desperately want to save the Empire (and how much she is conflicted internally as she finds that what the Imperial family wants isn’t the same as what is best for the Empire).

It is also a book full of court (empire in this case) politics, the complexity of families and relationships in general, and the power of hope. It is about identity, and about loss and grief (we already established books with grief in them are kinda my thing). And it is incredibly powerful.

As such, the book is hard to review without spoilers because it is so good but also to explain it in detail would be to rob those of the discovery and delight of it. All I can do is let you know that I loved it, and I will read anything Tasha writes because I need to, she has my readership through and through.

The Chicken Thief Review

The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodríguez

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

A friend I’ve known since we were 14 or so, was in Spain and made a small trip to come see me in the UK (we’re both from Mexico). On the last day she was here, she gifted us (husband and I) this book. I teared up a little.

For starters, this is about a fox “stealing” a chicken. We keep chickens and my logo is a fox. No need to say more, right? This book has no words in it, a language agnostic book. All of it is pictures and the pictures do their job amazingly well.

Our fox steals the chicken and runs away, when ehr friends find out they pursue them. And so goes th story as they are being pursued so the chicken can be rescued. But does the chicken need rescuing?

It is a gorgeous book, the artwork is brilliant, the story is very well doen and as mentioned, not even need for words. And well, it questions preconceptions and assumptions on others very well, plus choices and reactions to things.

I highly recommend it because it is a sweet one and charming.

In the Vanishers’ Palace Review

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.<

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

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

This review has taken me a while to get to, and I have been putting it off. Not because it is a bad book, rather to the the contrary, I loved this book, which is why it is harder to review. I become an incoherent mess trying to write a review that does it justice.

After a lot of thought, this will be a review that may contain spoilers, however I will do my best to keep them minimal, as this way I can do a better job at the review.

I will start by saying that Aliette has a way with words. I felt so much reading this book. Every word was like poetry, and it radiated beatuy (even for the ugly things in the book, even for the hurt, it was raw and sad but also had a beauty to it). It is almost as if she was a word magician.

Another thing is how easy pronouns and ranks and self defining fits in this world. It just is and that’s it.

And the world is an interesting one, as it is what is left after the Vanishers took it and tried to make it into an image of their own, breaking the rules and taking, all the time. Obviously if you take and take, things slowly sicken or fail and this is the world they live in.

When Aliette signed my book she wrote “a new take on an old tale” and that is the perfect way to describe it. I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast retellings, with Robin McKinley winning this one (Bridig Kemmerer comes a close second), but with Vanishers’, it doesn’t compare. It isn’t a retelling as much as it is a new classic in the making.

The cast of characters is relatively small, but they are well formed, even the ones that appear little in the story. Everyone has a purpose, everyone exists for something and they are motivated by their own ideas rather than just for the plot or to make our heroine (or our dragon) do something (this does happen, but not for the sake of).

There is also a lot of focus on filial piety which made me curious to learn more. One of the other things that was interesting was the way Vũ Côn is maternal. How she has adopted this pair of young beings and is their mother. It was interesting to see the way she tries her best to protect them, at the same time as she is trying to help them fend for themselves and learn lessons and deal with consequences, and how this is a very fine line sometimes.

One of my favourite things was that when she makes a mistake (or several), she thinks about it, ponders and then attempts to fix the mistake and not only that but to avoid repeating it in the future. She may not be entirely human, but she’s also a being that learns, that grows, that errs.

Seriously, I devoured this book and at the same time didn’t want it to end because it is so beautiful, so comprehensive for such a relatively small book. It touches on so many things and it leaves you thinking. It also left me with some saudade for things that were (sorry, it is the best word I know to describe it). A melancholic nostalgia but also, some fondness and happiness.

I highly recommend reading this beautiful story.

The Power of the Masses, and of the Internet …

Heartstream

Heartstream by Tom Pollock

Amy is trapped in the house in which her mother died, and from which she’s been streaming the progress of her illness for all the world to see and feel. Now she’s all alone, even with millions of followers, and she’s on the brink of an emotional breakdown when, on the day of her mother’s funeral, things take an unexpected turn; Amy suddenly finds herself sitting in the kitchen, and drinking tea with a stranger, who’s literally about to blow her whole existence into pieces.

Cat is a superfan of the boyband Everlasting, and she lives for the fandom, a community largely run by her older friend Evie, and built around the assumption that the front figures Nick and Ryan are secretly in love with each other. But when a large group of fans starts to believe differently, and Cat finds herself in a potentially life changing situation, things rapidly starts spinning out of hers, and Evie’s, control.

When Amy’s and Cat’s stories eventually intertwine, one thing becomes unpleasantly clear: the power of the masses, and the internet, should never be underestimated.

Rating: 🐖🐖🐖🐖🐖

Heartstream has been said to be a “psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror”, and to my utmost pleasure I found that depiction to be utterly true. I’ve always been a big fan of Black Mirror, and of other sci-fi stories focusing on how near-future technical solutions could be used to do both harm and good; often at the same time. This novel by Tom Pollock plays around the very same themes as many of the Black Mirror episodes, and it is as interesting as it is frightening.

Without spoiling anything, I can reveal that this is a fast paced and thrilling read that was very hard to put down (you all know that “just one more chapter”-feeling), and that I was shockingly surprised with the twists and turns it took at the end of every. single. chapter. If you’re in for a gripping story that keeps throwing surprises in your face, go read Heartstream at once. But if you’re looking for clear and easy distinctions between bad and good, this may not be for you. The moral is more grey than black and white, just as it is with life (and the power of the internet) in general.

Dr. Bea approves

If you liked this book but are yet to watch Black Mirror, than what are you waiting for? Go do it already! As for books, I think Warcross, though it’s a totally different kind of story, can be said to revolve around similar dilemmas. Or, if you’re here for the puzzling parallel stories, Before We Were Yours might be the next read for you.