Witch in Winter Review

Witch in Winter by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King

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

This is the last one of the Elsie Pickles books that are out there for now, and I just wish there were more. I had such a blast reading through the series as part of the #Februwitchy readathon. They are magical, fun and really cute.

I would’ve loved them as a child and read them over and over until the book fell apart. That kind of delightful and fun that they are.

Some of my faovurite things about them, and it applies particularly well for the things that happen in Witch in Winter, is that Elsie has a very small repertoire of magic, she only knows a few spells and none of them are the kind of spells that are impressive or anything special. They’d be classified as “child’s play” type of things. But somehow, she finds creative ways of making use of them and leveraging them to help her friends.

In Witch in Winter, it seems winter has been to long, there is just too much snow and Magenta has gone missing. And someone seems to be wanting to take over the Tower, so Elsie gets involved to try to see how to help. And she does very well, once again, making the best of the things she has at hand and her customer service skills.

Aggie/Silvine does well in this one too, leveraging her odd parts accidentally (everything is technically an accident with her) to make new friends and somehow get things to work out way better for everyone while Elsie saves the Tower from the mysterious one that may have caused Magenta to disappear.

Don’t want to spoil all the fun but I enjoyed it, thought it was a great follow up to Witches (Un)Welcome! and just want to know more fun and more adventures with Elsie and her crew of friends.

Each character is developing better into their own space and identity with their specific strengths and weaknesses and it is nice to see them not being cookie cutter characters but unique and very “human” in their own way (or as human as they can be).

Once again highly recommended for all ages!

Witches (Un)Welcome! Review

Witches (Un)Welcome! by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King.

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

The third book in the series of Elsie Pickles. If you’ve been following my reviews, I read them for #Februwitchy. I had bought the first two and wasn’t sure if I’d like them, but I did, so after finishing the first I ordered this and the fourth one (that’ll be the next review out).

The whole series if lighthearted and fun and witchy but also it is about customer service and how to interact with others.

In this particular book, Magenta, who in the previous one had her shop almost close, decides that a better way to deal with having a shop is to have a physical one rather than mail order. Less complaints through the mail, less postage, etc. But she’s not really a people person.

She doesn’t take this into consideration, and using a gift from her sister that allows her to do a shortcut for magic, sets up a magical shop in Smallbridge, where Elsie lives.

This is not exactly welcome news for the villagers who have a split in their views towards witches. And so chaos and crazy things ensue. The fact that the shop is there means it attracts magical folk, and they find the town quaint and decide to set up shop too, maybe offer their own wares, which is quite disruptive and confusing for the people in town.

Of course, Elsie, being a people person and knowing her customer service rules saves the day and surprisingly, Silvine/Aggie does too in her own chaotic clumsy way.

It was lots of fun, with a tiny bit of cringe for Silvine (I don’t think I’ll ever not feel a bit of “oh gosh, damn” for her), but still, I read it in an afternoon after dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Can still recommend it alongside the previous two. Fun for read aloud, fun for young readers, fun for older readers…

Wish for a Witch Review

Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky. Illustrated by Ashley King.

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

Wish for a Witch is the second book in the Elsie Pickles series. I reviewed Witch for a Week here. As with the first one, this was read for #Februwitchy and it was an absolute delight of a book.

In this book, Magenta has already figured out Elsie is very good at customer service and sales, so she is her first pick when she is in a particular trouble. Magenta’s shop has gotten her in the bad books since she isn’t keeping up with orders, or with complaints or anything really.

Elsie comes tot he rescue and helps organise the complaints, make a list fo things that need to be made and sent, etc. She definitely has her own kind of magic. But Magenta doesn’t have all the ingredients to make the things she has to sell and send so that means a trip to a magical bazaar!

This part was very exciting and Elsie still comes to the rescue and does wonders while Magenta does her best to try to me amicable (as little as possible) and ends up buying a mirror, some clothes for a mirror genie, and a few other things (she did promise one for each of them).

All in all, this had me giggling, with a tiny bit of cringing at some of Silvine’s antics and Magenta’s want to do things but not committing to it.

I still highly recommend this series and that you check the first book. Totally worth it!

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.

Picklewitch & Jack and the Cuckoo Cousin Review

Picklewitch & Jack and the Cuckoo Cousin by Claire Barker

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

This is the sequel to Picklewitch & Jack, I read both for #Februwitchy, and I have to say I enjoyed this one a little more than the first one. Maybe because Jack and Picklewitch have eased into a better interaction and relationship.

And they are getting into a pattern, despite Picklewitch being unpredictable and easily bored still. But she is fun and Jack is ahppy they are friends, and she respects his boundaries better. But then she gets a letter about her cousin visiting and she gets all excited and ready to be with the cousin.

Jack gets a little jealous and also terribly worried because if Picklewitch was enough to handle, a cousin can only mean more trouble, right? So it is a big surprise when the cousin turns out to be a very well behaved boy who is also very knowledgable and seems to fit almost perfectly at the school.

He doesn’t disrupt things like Picklewitch, barely uses magic and seems to good to be true. And that is exactly what it is, too good to be true.

It was fun to see the creative and clever plans Picklewitch and Jack devise (some on the spot) to try to fix the chaos that is happening due to the truth behind who the couisn is. And it just made their relationship more valuable to both of them as they each got jealous of the other having a better friendship with the cousin.

I can happily recommend this as a fun witchy book which made me laugh and feel happy after finishing it.

Witchy Review

Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

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

Another one that I had bought a while ago, had put aside for a rainy day and ended up brinign out for #Februwitchy. And at least in this case it is exactly perfect. The title and the main character fit well the readathon.

I started reading Witchy when it came out as a webcomic, then lost my craze for webcomics and forgot about it. But then saw the book, it caught my eye and here it is.

Witchy is set in a world where your magic is stated by how long your hair is and how long it manages to grow. Nyneve’s dad was killed because of his hair (to her understanding) and she despises the rules and the world that can have a loyal subject and kill him the next moment. So she hides the length of her hair and uses a charm to make it look shorter.

It helps that her magic is a bit unreliable and not very good, even if her hair is long enough that it shouldn’t be this bad. But when she is discovered to have great strategies and that it has all been a glamour, things come into question and she makes a terrible and hard decision.

I remember being surprised by her decision and sacrifice, and it was more or less as far as I had gotten on the webcomic, so it was nice to read some more. The artwork has an interesting colour palette that works with the world it represents and it changes to show different parts of it.

It’s hard to describe everythign that is going on in the world and there’s still a lot left pending, but one thing that defines Witchy is how “human” Nyneve is. She is not a hero, and she’s just trying her best to go forward and do what can bring her joy. She is interesting as a character as she’s not predictable and when you thnk “this is going to go this way” it turns out it isn’t.

There is LGBTQ+ representation, lots about magic and spells and a diverse cast of characters and creatures. I can only recommend this and hope for the next volume.

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery Review

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery by Sam Davies

It’s time for the monthly “Winged Creature Clinic” at Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice, where flying creatures from all over come to get treated. But when Glenn the Wildlife Warlock brings in an injured flying pig that looks like it may have been mistreated, panic strikes and a greater mystery unfolds. 

It’s up to everyone’s favorite vet witches in training, Nan and Clarion,  to keep everything under control at the chaotic clinic while Dr. Talon is away. Will Nan and Clarion save the day and keep their jobs? Or are their days at Willows Whisper numbered?

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

Another read for #Februwitchy. At first I thought this wouldn’t make it because it said it’d be delivered in March, but somehow it managed to get home before that and I got to read it for the readathon.

I think the biggest strenght of this series is the artwork, cute creatures and interesting ideas of what the creatures can do.

This time around the clinic goes to the skies for a “once a month” type of clinic that sees to the winged creatures. The main surgery head, Dr. Talon ends up being called on an issue that requires her attention and therefore leaves the two trainees and the head nurse on their own.

We get to see more of the head nurse and why he is a bit less nice to others. The way this is dealt with in the end was interesting and felt like a good way of saying “not everyone gets it right, sometimes we do things wrong, we apologise and try to do better”.

The flying pig is super cute and the whole adventure turns out to play into the dynamics of our two trainees with some funny moments and a few tense ones, plus some turning of tables and preconceptions that show that sometimes what you think is the thing isn’t and making assumptions can cause more trouble or make something that is going one way, go another, potentially worse way.

I enjoyed it, it still has some minor grammar/editing issues with the text, but toherwise, it is really cute, easy to read and I want to know more and read more.

Mooncakes Review

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picklewitch and Jack

Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hex Vet: Witches in Training Review

Hex Vet: Witches in Training by Sam Davies

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

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

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

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

So far that tactic has worked.

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

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

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

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

#Februwitchy TBR

It is with great trepidation that I am saying this, but I joined a readathon! I have tried joining them before but have basically been unable to stick to them. Either they’re too constrictive (one book that has a title of three letters and a unicorn in it) or they just feel like I need to read too many books or I just don’t know.

As much as I am a person that likes the security of rules and all that, I also knee jerk at them and in reading I do not like being told what to read/do (I am the one person who before school even started they would’ve read all the school books and end up reading something else during class).

Anyway, this time I have decided to join because it is hosted by Asha, and it is a topic I actually have enough books for without having to make an effort. They’re already in my shelves, or it gives me the excuse to treat myself to some books.

So without further ado, I am joining Februwitchy, which is all about witch main characters and magic. You can find the full post about it here.

Obviously, me being me, I completely forgot I needed a TBR or to look at my shelves (I knew I had the books, Compendium of Witches has been next to my laptop for ages), so on the 1st of February I haphazardly pulled witchy books out of my shelves and this (plus a couple more I have found over the last few days) is my TBR:

  • Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umanksy (they are either Stephanie’s fault or Asha’s)
  • Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky
  • A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee (this one is one of those that somehow ended up in my shelves, preorder or Waterstones shelves most probably)
  • Picklewitch & Jack by Claire Barker (this one is totally Asha’s fault)
  • The Price Guide of the Occult by Leslie Walton (preorder done way way back that I just hadn’t felt like reading)
  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (this was one of those “oh, might as well treat myself to it because it is for the readthon and has been in my wishlist for a long time”)
  • These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling (preorder)
  • Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries (I like graphic novels, follow artists on Twitter, this happened)
  • Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu (preordered because it sounded great then wanted it more after following Wendy on Twitter)
  • Compendium of Witches by Nataša Ilinčić(I stumbled upon this one, managed to get a signed sketched on edition, it was a treat I bought for myself last year).

I think it is a decent list and I may add more as I go, depending on my speed. We shall see. I am hoping this goes well and I stick to it (so far so good).