Moon Reads: Silver in the Wood

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

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

I remember reading about this book, preordering it and then somehow forgetting about it (look, that is the story of my whole TBR, I get excited, watn to read it now, the book doesn’t come out until months later and by the time it arrives I am pining for a different book that will come out in the future).

But given that my life has been a bit chaotic and I have had to steal time to read and do my own things, I put aside a few short stories and books I felt I could tackle with ease, so one Saturday morning I grabbed this lovely book, sat down to read a few pages, maybe a chapter or so. By the time I looked up from the book, I had finished it.

I immediately felt transported to the wood and the mansion and just in this world and knew I was going to stay there for as long as there was a story to tell. And it reminded me of why I love this type of books and how I sorely wish there were more green magic with lore and more, books that can take you into their own “fairy ring” world without even requiring fairies. I wanted to go and read more urban fantasy, or go travel back to Scotland and into the forest, get lost somewhere.

Silver in the Wood weaves a masterful tale and I don’t want to spoil it but honestly, make yourself a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, cuddle up with a blanket and get ready to go visit this particular woods that is rich in fantastical beings that weave into the very fabric of it.

My only complaint is that this was too short and I’d like a longer novel. Or a series, or just more. Which I guess is not a bad thing all in all, right?

Moon Reads: Notes from Small Planets – Blogtour

Notes from Small Splanets by Nate Crowley

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

Well, I was selected to be part of the blog tour of this tour oriented book, and as such I need to make it clear I received a copy of the book so i could participate in it, but this doesn’t affect my review/post about it.

Now that that is out of the way I have to say that Notes from Small Planets is a great humour book. It is meant to give that vibe of a travel guide of “how to get the most out of your trip to X”, but the trick here is that X is a bunch of small planets, each with quirky interesting settings.

In itself, each world is an exploration of fantasy and scifi world tropes, and the usual cliches and expectations we have of them (you know, people expect elves to be good, orcs to be bad, etc). Each planet/world that we visit or rather that we are suggested to visit has their own flaovur and we’re seeing everything from the “eyes” and voice of Floyd, who more or less embodies the white privileged coloniser, but we get the margin notes and foot notes from Eliza, who is adamant on setting things right.

The notes on each planet are fantastic and poke so much fun at books and other stories and yet they are they very own unique thing, that I kept trying to match them to the book they may be inpired by and then wondering if it wasn’t just a bunch of trope books.

And the other shining star is the notes, all those little quips between Eliza and Floyd. They help set the why and how and mood of the travel guide and put you on a “look at what is being written as a travel guide vs what may actually have happened”. The further along in the book the more you realise the planets and travelling may be more than meets the eye, and by the end, well, let’s just say I was a mix of giggling and exclamations on it.

Thoroughly enjoyable guide that has a lot of humour, a bit of sobering truth (maybe more than we’d like at times) and just a very original “welcome to this world, this is your intro the videogame and world” kind of feel.

The Fire Never Goes Out Review

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson

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

If you’ve been following Noelle Stevenson since the tumblr days and the Broship of the Ring, then this book will be like a walk through memory lane with a selection of comics/doodles/etc from those times. And the summary posts of her year that she had on her blog. Which may make this book feel a bit too familiar and maybe not that surprising/new.

However, for me, despite being one of those from way back then, I enjoyed it a lot. It was a refresher of whereshe was (and a reminder of her age and what she’s done so far), but it was also, a reminder of my own ghosts, successes and battles. Because in some ways I had similar things happen to me, grand things and then that fear of “will this be the last grand thing because I have used all the grand-thing-points alloted to me during this lifetime already?”. She is way better at wording this and even illustrating.

And it is a memoir of where she was before she realised a lot of her identity, but also, as her career in art got a massive kickstart and also what pushed her to find the way into it.

Reading it was fun and when I finished it (it was relatively fast since it’s art and short posts on how her year had gone and what was accomplished/not done/etc), I felt inspired to draw, to put some of my own experiences to paper. And at the same time I wanted to give her a hug. And maybe just sit down and talk because I have similar fears, I have had similar fears.

Afterwards, I even had a deep conversation with my husband pondering if I had done the most amazing thing I could’ve done already and how I felt I may have wasted that chance because life happened and well, I am relatively happy where I am, but I am doing less amazing stuff now than I was 5-10 years ago. I won’t go all into it but it was an interesting talk, and I can only recommend reading this book. Or if not the memoir, maybe give Nimona a go?

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.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro Review

Ok, I give up. I’ve typed this review so many times, several different days and it just disappears. So I am going to skip the “this is the info you can find on Goodreads that tells you what the book is about” and just go straight into the review.

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

Queen Talyien (Tali) is the combination of “strong female character” with “chosen one” with “what if it all went wrong?” and this is done masterfully.

We start the story with her explaining that she’s basically ruling alone because she kinda screwed up and her husband left her (and their son) the night before they were meant to be crowned King and Queen of a country that is factioned and fractioned and is just a lot of fighting lords for land and ruling over the others.

Then she gets a letter from her husband to come and meet him at the neighbouring country where apparently he ha been having a comfortable life for hte last 5 years without bothering to make himself known to her or you know, his son (I didn’t have much respect for the husband, despite Tali trying hard to blame herself for him leaving). She is told not to go by her counsellors but decides to try to fix her marriage, for the sake of their son.

Know, one thing to know is that Tali was born to be Queen. She was educated for it, she had an arranged marriage and everything, all her life has been centered around becoming the Queen her father wants/wanted her to be. She has a purpose to fulfill and any time she has strayed from it, she pays the consequence. Her whole being is trying to meet the expectations, to hold everything together while the rest blame her or praise her or even thwart her. I identified with her so much on this. When you are defined by the expectations of others, when you have been brought up to live to those expectations, and to be them, it becomes slowly clear that you will never fulfill all of them. Because you just can’t. You can’t be what others want you to be and forgo who you are for the sake of everyone else.

So when she chooses to try to make the most of this opportunity to make everything right, and to not be the only one holding it all together because her husband is off doing whatever it is he is doing. She goes. She is doing the best she can.

Of course, this ends up with an assasination attempt (and by ends I don’t mean she dies and that’s it) and she’s left alone and in a difficult position in a foreign country, having to figure it out as she goes. This is where she fully shines and the story truly becomes the best. It is once she is out on her own, having to fend for herself and do and be just herself that she shines, that both you as a reader and Tali as her own, slowly chip away at the expectations and find the real Talyien.

The restof the cast is well fleshed and have their own unique characteristics but to explain them, would be to ruin the experience of meeitng them and then finding where they fit in the story. All I can say is that I have a soft spot for Khine.

The book is gritty and has a lot of violence in it. There is also some attempted sexual assault, a lot of gaslighting and abuse. However, this doesn’t retrack from it but rather gives it more depth. And it also has humour to contrast it, at times I was so angry and then suddenly wanting to laugh.

To me, the book was a delight to read but it was also a book that made me angry. It reminded me of how men manipulate capable women for so many reasons, and undermine them. They chip away at them and do their best to destroy them and somehow we still come out alive and victorious. So I was angry and laughing and sad and joyous and I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what would happen and if there was hope.

So, do I recommend this book? Yes. But this is NOT a Young Adult book, Tali is an adult, she has a child, she is a Queen, not a princess. Her problems aren’t the ones a YA heroine would encounter, and the whole book is definitely more about older characters and different stages of life.

If you liked The Poppy War, then this may be feel like a great book, as it reminded me a bit fo the feeling I had after reading Poppy War (but they are not the same, this has no Academia side and is more mature, more adult). And it has that same world building magic that Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash have.

And if you follow my reviews, it has the secret ingredient that makes me love a book… grief. (This is a lot less about death of someone and more about loss of identity, about loss in general).

Blogtour: The God Game Review

The God Game by Danny Tobey

You are invited!
COme inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!

It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

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

When Stevie mentioned this “GOD” game book I was hooked. (This was a review copy, provided by the publisher for free in the hopes I would like it and join the tour, which I did) I was brought up in a religious environment and it has taken some time to work through that, and I did some work with AI(Artificial Intelligence), neural networks, machine learning and cybersecurity. This book felt like a very interesting one for me.

The God Game is a wonderful display of what an AI that has been fed all data about religion and has to then make a choice about humanity and religion and the common denominator in it. The conclusion as to what the motivations of the AI behind the God game, left thinking “oh wow, that is a very interesting question” and it made sense. It fit the way AI process data and come to questions and conclusions, and it also fit the panorama of religion.

I am aware Tobey is heavily involved in AI, so not a surprise here, however, what was interesting was also seeing each character be fleshed out as their own. They all have their own motivations to be part of the game, and to keep winning, but it is also their compasses and own morals that define how far they’re willing to go, and what parts of it they will question or go against.

Some of the concepts where very far fetched but it was still interesting to see this “futuristic” approach to AI mixed with some of the data that is already available but is too big data that processing is usually quite costly compared with the return it provides in useful information for those processing it (in this case, since it is an AI and fiction, there doesn’t seem to be that type of limitation).

Another thing explored here that was interesting was the way games and being “online” and outside of “real life” can warp you and give you an odd sense of being in control or of things being harmless and no consequences coming from it. “It is just a simple joke, a simple dare, no one was hurt”, that type of thing.

As interesting and well developed as the GOD game is, I wouldn’t want to play it. And I had the issue that every adult and “responsible” person that has more than a sentence or so of action in this book is a terrible person. They have horrid secrets, have failed the teenagers and are just a combination of selfish and bad, even if some are trying to make it better or hide it or whatever. That was my least favourite part. I know it works for what the story is trying to say, but it made it not as good as it could’ve been, because all the “NPC (non playable characters)” where more or less made to fit exactly the plot and make it make less bad of what the main cast was doing, and I just wish there had been more contrast, more to work on.

One last thing, this book explores how far someone can go towards “bad”, so there is an incredibly long list of trigger warnings that I honestly couldn’t comprehensibly list. To me, due to the context of the game they were less of a shock, but I expected that and worse given the premise, however, if you are coming to this book without expecting the worst, it is going to slap you in the face badly. Take care when reading this.

Natalie Tans’ Book of Luck & Fortune Review

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

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

First review of the year, even though I read this last year (this is so weird to write), and breaking away from the usual puzzle background because Vixy was being a good model.

Natalie has been working on learning new foods and growing her repertoire of food and has been chasing her dream away from home as she didn’t see eye to eye with her mum. And as such she also didn’t see eye to eye with her neighbours.

However, after her mother dies, she returns and decides that maybe she’ll open the restaurant she inherited and fulfill her dream. And as she does this, she also starts seeing her neighbours differently, tries to help them and cooks lots of delicious food.

The main thing was that this book made me SO hungry! Do not read while hungry or with any hint of hunger because you’ll be craving the food so bad. I kept drooling over the recipes, loving the simple and interesting magic in the “dishes” and just that hint at a slight bend between magic and reality as we see it.

The writing flowed, I felt for Natalie and her neighbours and I just wanted them all to be happy and succeed. And to make food. So bad. It was interesting to see her mother’s agoraphobia define her childhood and then to slowly find out why it got so bad and why her mother was so against Natalie’s dreams.

Another thing that I found interesting is how sometimes we think we know what is best for someone else and what the fix is, but it isn’t always what is best and meddling has consequences. Natalie has a good heart even if it is a bit broken, patched and mended, and she has a fear of commitment so it was interesting to see her grow through the story and find that confidence in herself, and to learn more about her family history, her grandmother and the neighbourhood in general.

Worth the read, keep snacks available while reading. I ended up being lucky that I was reading at a Thai restaurant while waiting for my food, so my cravings were relatively quickly satisfied but at other times, it was tricky not to want to immediately get delicious food.

Sanctuary Review

Sanctuary by V. V. James

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching

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

I read Sanctuary a while back but had a backlog of reviews, so only doing it now. My bad! Because this book was a wild ride and it kept surprising.

The only thing to consider is that this is a book about a witch hunt, a “murder” and contains rape of a minor by another minor (slightly older). There’s a lot going on in this book.

I found this book a wild ride because the beginning is a hit in the face, and then it shifted from a muder mystery/investigation to a bit of “The Real Housewives of Sanctuary”. This was the part that took me the longest to get through, as it is exactly that type of drama and relationships that I try to keep myself away from and do not particularly appreciate in personal relationships (Vic wrote it brilliantly, which is why I struggled with it, it was too “real”).

The concept of a “small” town full of secrets was very intriguing and it was good to see the secrets reveal themselves a little through Maggie but also to get them from each of the characters involved and then seeing different sides of the same story. And seeing characters suddnely connect the dots and go “oh dear”.

Abigail and Michael drove me up the wall, but I have known people like them and yeah, wide berth. No wonder Daniel was as he was.

I liked Sarah and one part I wanted to know more of was the magic system, the Conclave, everything. It is a world where being a witch is allowed and technically not persecuted (the nuance on how it can be a useful but slightly complex skill and how to use it, plus the implications on keeping records, and what actions you can do or not, was fascinating. I could read a book on how it is meant to work, or more details of it, seriously).

To be fair, in general, the characters kept me wondering or hating them very much. For some I just wanted them to stop being so obtuse, and the ending was good, as was the explanation of the mystery and if it was a murder or not. Plus all those layers of secrets on secrets and lies on lies were very intriguing and kept connecting the story throughout. Shame that the children sometimes end up having to live through everything the parents have done and undone.

Still, if you want a good witchy scary feminist book, with a murder and a mystery, go for this book. it won’t disappoint!

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.

Day 115 on an Alien World Review

Day 115 on an Alien World by Jeannette Bedard

Someone needs to be alive to call for help.

A dishonourable discharge left Margo unable to find honest work on Earth. Signing onto a colonizing mission heading to a new world promised a fresh start. Or at least that’s what she’d thought.
Strapped into a crashing colony ship, she realized how wrong she’d been.
They hit the ground and the straight forward colonizing mission becomes a scramble for survival. Accidents keep happening—too many to blame on random bad luck. A trail of evidence leads Margo to a startling conclusion—one of her fellow colonists is a saboteur.
Tomorrow is the colony’s first communications window with Earth and their only chance to send a message home.

Will Margo stop the saboteur before it’s too late?

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

I was approached by Jeannette a while ago about this book because my twitter header made her think of her heroine. This immediately made me want to read the book, so she sent me a copy (very thankful for it).

I took my sweet time to read through this book and I am so sorry for this! (Sometimes I pause books and struggle to get back to them, not that I have a problem with the book but my mind kinda thinks I should start over and at the same time, not).

Anyway, to the actual review. Day 115 on an alien world introduces us to Margo who is definitely an interesting and nuanced character (I really liked her, the more she explores around and meets the rest of the “crew” the more I liked her). And I ended up having this image of her just as my drawing did, which made her feel even more real.

It is a nice space opera with a well paced who dunnit mystery that keeps you wondering who is behind all the things happening and why. But there is also the element of being somewhere that isn’t home.

To me it was a little bit of Prey (the Bethesda game), with some Elizabeth Moon space adventure (less political) and other interesting elements. I liked the interesting aspect of them needing to be a “married” couple to be able to populate the new world (but also, there seems to be this “wanting it to fail” undercurrent in it). And I liked how Gary understands that the arranged marriage with Margo is for both, their ticket into the program, but that it may suit both of them to do their own thing and just keep appearances.

There was a lot of science in this book too (some adapted, but also, some interesting approaches) which is part of why I kept pausing the book. I kept getting distracted by the ideas in it, and it reminded me a little of the mix of science int fiction that Anne McCaffrey does and I have loved so much.

The book relies on having good characters to move the plot along (because it is a small space and there defintiely seems to be a saboteur in the program), which it did well, as the characters have layers and depth.

All in all an interesting space opera mystery. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Cookies and Clairvoyance Review

Cookies and Clairvoyance by Bailey Cates

Baker Katie Lightfoot serves up enchanted delicacies and tracks down a malicious murderer in the newest installment of this New York Times bestselling series…

Hedgewitch Katie Lightfoot is juggling wedding preparations, a visit from her father, and home renovations on top of her long hours at the Honeybee Bakery, where she and her aunt Lucy imbue their yummy cookies and pastries with beneficial magic. But when firefighter Randy Post is accused of murdering a collector of rarities, and his prints are on the statue that was used to kill the man, Katie steps in.

Randy is not only Katie’s fiancé’s coworker, but also the boyfriend of fellow spellbook club member and witch Bianca Devereaux. Bianca and Declan are both sure Randy is innocent, and so is Katie. However, to prove it she’ll have to work with ornery detective Peter Quinn again–and this time around he knows she’s more than your everyday baker.

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

I stumbled upon this book while wandering around Forbidden Planet. It caught my eye because it was a mass market paperback, it has a cat and some food on the cover and it implies magic or something. I tried to find the first ones (this is the 8th book in the series) but Forbidden Planet didn’t have them in the store. [I have bought them all now]

I enjoyed it a lot and it was exactly what I wanted. Plus it comes with two recipes at the back fo the book for two of the many pastries/cakes/muffins/cookies featured in the book. I haven’t tried baking either of them, but they read well (as in, they seem to be solid recipes with delicious results).

Of course, as you can guess, this book talks a lot about many foods. And I ended up craving some of them. It also explains why they choose certain combinations and what they are attempting to achieve with them as a “magical boost”. Calming ingredients to help calm nerves, things like that.

Which brings me to the magic. One of the things I liked is that this isn’t a “magic solves it all” kind of book. It is more of a “magic can boost things and help, but it isn’t the holy grail”. It places magic as part of your daily life, as a small boost rather than this impossible thing far far away.

Despite missing the backstory worth of seven books, I didn’t feel too lost reading the book. It feeds you enough “reminders” of backstory without being annoying or too much.

Now to plot, this was a cute story with many mini plots. Like Katie trying to solve and right a murder, clearing the name of someone innocent (or not?). But also there is the story of getting her home rebuilt and ready for her wedding (I enjoyed this part even more considering I had just had my wedding when I read it), and it is the story of the murder victim and his family/social circle. There’s a few other plot points that were interesting but they’d be considered spoilers and are worth not spoiling them.

All in all, for a cute witchy easy read, with loads of food and a murder mystery all wrapped in one, this book does well and it was a good read for a long flight (and airport time).

Magic for Liars Review

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

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

I received this book in a book blogger event from the publisher. There was no ties or anything to review it but I read it and so now I am reviewing it.

Magic for Liars had my hopes up. And sadly it deflated them. I’ll start by saying it is not a bad book, but if you come to it with high hopes, it will go wrong.

For starters Ivy is a bit bland and very maleable to the plot. And we don’t get to learn a lot about the magic and world because of it being too complex (you’re freaking investigating a potentially magical murder and somehow you can’t be explained or learn how the magic works, so why do they actually want you to solve this thing?!).

Some parts of the book where good and the writing at times really got me imagining it, but then it gets generic and that was a bit sad because it could’ve been much better.

And that whole chase and play and investigate, it finally comes to the big reveal (which if you paid attention the clues where there and I kinda knew the who but not the how/why from the first few chapters), and it just falls flat and flops. The big reveal is underwhelming, and the follow up to an ending is just sad.

I think the book was trying too hard to do magic school, and murder, and mystery, and politics, and intrigue, and romance and all the things and it was too much to juggle… Which is sad because it could’ve been much better if it had stuck to less things and focused on those more.

Nevernight Review

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.
Destined to destroy empires, the child raised in shadows made a promise on the day she lost everything: to avenge herself on those that shattered her world.
But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, and Mia must become a weapon without equal. Before she seeks vengeance, she must seek training among the infamous assassins of the Red Church of Itreya.
Inside the Church’s halls, Mia must prove herself against the deadliest of opponents and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.
The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her.
And they drink her fear.

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

I pondered what to put up today, but I felt that this was a good choice (I am getting married).

I read Illuminae before I read Nevernight, and this is a re-read to catch up for Darkdawn. I just hadn’t reviewed it, as I had first got the hardcover from Illumicrate and that was quite a while back. Anyway, this book is an interesting choice. But it is definitely my kind of book.

One of my favourite things is the way it describes how bodies work after someone dies or just as they die. (Yes, I know, I sound morbid, but a) I am Mexican and we celebrate Day of the Dead, plus we have La Santa Muerte, and b) I worked for two years in palliative care and saw people die a few times while I was caring for them). This automatically made me love the book, because I rarely ever see death displayed this way and even though here technically death is revered, it is also different to the ways I have seen it celebrated and revered.

Mia is an interesting character and probably one of the best anti-heroes I’ve read (my other favourite is Vin from Mistborn). She is selfish and has her own motives but also navigates her own moral compass and chooses t keep it despite what the Red Church requires.

The whole academia setitng is fun but this is definitely an adult book, and as such has no filters in the way it presents the information. There is sex, abuse, violence and gore and lots of swearing, including the c word.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, including the foot notes and it was worth reading, however I can understand others not liking it and the topics are quite heavy and there is a lot of death and potential death in it.

Why did I choose it for today, because it is a stellar book.

Lord of Secrets Review

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Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze

Magic is poison. Secrets are power. Death is . . . complicated.

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.

So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.

In theory, it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.

Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul . . .

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

Jo Fletcher books kindly accepted my begging for a copy of this and this is a free copy (I will be buying this because yeah it is good and I need more books!)

This has been pitched as a bit of Schwab, Trudie Canavan, Novik and a few others. It feels like a high ask for this book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love the books from all three ladies.

However, reading this, neither of those names popped into my mind (say what?!). Instead, what came into mind was Terry Pratchett. I know, I am comparing high. And this is not a Discworld book. But Lord of Secrets has a lot of humour and it is reminescent of Pratchett’s.

It is that dark, gritty, life is hard but let’s make the best/worst of it, nevermind kind of humour. The book had me laughing a lot, and also made me want to read more fantasy books like Canavan’s or Pratchett’s and go into another world.

Gray is an intriguing character, and actually, all the characters are interesting and have a lot of layers. There’s very few “plot” characters (the ones that have names but that only really move plot and have no other purpose), and the plot is mostly carried by the characters and a little by the mystery.

Also, the actual Lord of Secrets and what all that implies was a fun take on necromancy and magic. Oh! Talking of magic! The magic system is wonderful! Write the spells and then say them. Oh but lo and behold, they have a price, they are in a way poisonous and each one has a different effect on you. Makes you consider using magic a little bit more (not that this seems to stop Gray, but then again, he just seems to be frequently in trouble so spells it has to be).

After reading this, I felt refreshed and almost like a “faith restored” feeling for fantasy. This was different to most of what I have recently read, and also in a way familiar enough, which made it cosy read.

Do note that this is not a young adult fantasy book, but properly just Fantasy (saying it is for adults doesn’t mean it is full of erotica, which it isn’t, or that only adults can read it). It deals with topics of family, death, and even slavery and abuse of the self. All with an interesting sense of humour, but still, it touches on topics that are a little bit less in the front of a younger adult/teenager than they would be for an adult. This is hard to explain without revealing important plot points which are good to come to rather than be spoiled.

Echo Murder Review

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Echo Murder by Laura Laakso

Yannia Wilde returns to the Wild Folk conclave where she grew up, and to the deathbed of her father, the conclave’s Elderman. She is soon drawn back into the Wild Folk way of life and into a turbulent relationship with Dearon, to whom she is betrothed.

Back in London, unassuming office worker Tim Wedgebury is surprised when police appear on his doorstep with a story about how he was stabbed in the West End. His body disappeared before the paramedics’ eyes. Given that Tim is alive and well, the police chalk the first death up to a Mage prank. But when Tim “dies” a second time, Detective Inspector Jamie Manning calls Yannia and, torn between returning to the life she has built in Old London and remaining loyal to the conclave and to Dearon, she strikes a compromise with the Elderman that allows her to return temporarily to the city.

There she sets about solving the mystery of Tim’s many deaths with the help of her apprentice, Karrion. They come to realise that with every death, more of the echo becomes reality, and Yannia and Karrion find themselves in increasing danger as they try to save Tim. Who is the echo murderer? What sinister game are they playing? And what do they truly want?

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

The delightful wonderful human behind LWB sent me a copy of this book to review, because I have fallen so hard for Fallible Justice, and I couldn’t wait to read the next one. As the sticker says, I can do whatever about it. But even if I didn’t get this early copy, I am/was getting a copy anyway.

Now to the review. The book picks up just from where Fallible Justice ends. Yannia is making her way back to the Conclave and the Wild Folk with Dearon. Karion has stayed back to do his thing (whatever that is).

And we also meet Lizzie and Tim, who like to go on dates, and Tim really seems to be on the bad side of luck, because he keeps dying every time he goes out with Lizzie. Best/worst part? Tim doesn’t have a girlfriend, and  he’s very much alive. So who gets called in?

Yannia does (no ghostbusters in this one!).And this lady isn’t stepping down from investigating things, so she starts trying to find out what type of magic and who could’ve done this.

The tricky thing the “illusions” of the murders are starting to bleed in with the real Tim, and it is becoming more and more dangerous as time goes by. What is making this particular magic so powerful? How can it be?

I loved the writing and the story. However, I have to say that this book has a lot of violence, and some of it is domestic, there is abuse, and well, it is an intense book. But it is also extremely good. I opted for reading it in the morning during a flight. One of those “read it in one sitting”.

It was quite good, and it keep me wondering. Alas, because of the particular topic, it was relatively easy for me to figure out who was behind the Echo murders, and part of the motive. But not everything I guessed and the reasons unspooling as Yannia understood them and raced to catch the one behind it all before Tim actually dies. High stakes indeed.

Karion, Wishearth, Lady Bergamot and a few others still make an appearance, so all good for me. So my take is, read Fallible Justice, read this, and cry until the next one comes out because it is so far away. (You can come cry with me, I’ll share my blanket fort, and give you access to the Moon library).