Five Midnights Review

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

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

This book was provided to me for free from the publisher, and the hopes I’d review it. And of course I did because it is a book about Puerto Rico and el Cuco (I know it as el Coco).

The story has many points of view due to telling us the story from each of the five friends, plus Lupe’s view and a few others that add to the whole what is going on.

We start with a murder and even though you’re reading about it, you’re not entirely sure who did it. I kinda knew but was more interested in the why that person, why there and then, and everything.

After that we meet Lupe who has been acting as her own keeper and is a big too full on (I never really got on with her, she had too much of a white saviour complex at the same time as having a “but I am from here too, therefore I must find my place”). Lupe knows how to get her way and is angry at her dad but happy she has some extra freedom and takes her chances to try to come to the crime scene and meet her uncle who is part of the police force in the area.

We also meet Javier, who is a friend of the victim and who is finding this confusing. Lupe puts her detective hat on immediately as she has watched it all in TV and of course has to solve the mystery (thankfully she gets a bit of reality slapping her in the face and that it is never like the TV shows say).

All throughout the book Lupe manages to clash or endear herself with people (which causes more clashes) but somehow everything ties up relatively nicely in the end. On the other hand Javier is on a race against time to find out why someone or something is murdering his friends and wondering if he will be next.

The book not only deals with the theme of identity (for all characters there is a lot of “how do I fit here” and “this is/isn’t my place”, as well as trying to coem to terms with choices made in the past), but with drugs and becoming part of that world (the good, the bad, the ugly) and how it affects those around you. And mostly it is about consequences and retribution on what you have done, on being responsible or paying for the things done.

The pacing was a mix of fast and good and sometimes a bit too slow and sometimes a bit too fast that you felt like you had lost part of the story in it. And this isn’t a “the murders were fast” but more of a “we take ages for 24 hours” and then bam everything happens in the next 2-3 hours and it’s weird. Which is why this didn’t make it to four foxes.

As for world setting, this was well done and very rich (or as rich as can be without going too far into detail).

TL;DR A spooky paranormal Puerto Rican story about friendship, identity, retribution, choices and consequences. Worth reading.

Moon and Me: The Little Seed Review

Moon and Me: The Little Seed by Andrew Davenport. Illustrated by Mariko Umeda

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

This book was gifted to me by the publisher, because we both liked the idea of having “Moon”(me) talk about it. All opinions are my own.

It is a super cute little book, and sturdy. Plus it is very blue, all the tones of blue and it has shiny silver on the title (I am easily satisfied sometimes)

Inside it includes a series of read out loud friendly, that can be read doing voices (I kinda did the voices in my head as I read). They are centered around sleep and friendship. Obviously they feature a little seed that will grow, and all the friends contributing something.

And of course, Moon and Moon baby which was cute to find. I just found this book to be a good bed time story. The book can be read all in one go (for older children) or in small chunks that appear as mini chapters/stories (for younger children).

Artwork is cute and colourful but not crazy bright, just a lot of blue tones and a sense of happy feelings in it. Very cute, and the moon is so pretty!

My favourite page!

A story is always a good idea (or at the very least almost always). Moon recommends stories to soothe souls, encourage little ones to sleep or just make you feel good as an adult when you read a cute book.

Blog Tour: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

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

Just to clarify, that a copy of the book was provided to me for free so I could be part of the blogtour and read it by the time this was happening. I still had one copy on the way, so this is a case of “still in my list, having it for free does nothing”.

I tried to read Sabriel a few years back, but I just couldn’t get to it and was sad to have missed on that bandwagon, because it sounded like a good one. Angel Mage intrigued me, would this be the right book for me?

The answer is yes. I enjoyed it a lot and wanted to keep on reading and even after I finished reading it, it stuck in my head for a few days afterward.

I enjoyed the characters a lot and how you learn more of each as you go, but also, they are not perfect. They are fully human and they each have their quirks, which make them endearing and annoying at times. At moments you just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them, other times you think “go, go, you’ve got this!”.

And of course I had a soft spot for Dorothea, who I felt closer to and could identify better with than the rest of the cast (though for each of them I could think of someone like them).

Avoiding spoilers but this is like a magical rethinking of Three Musketeers, with names even being close to some fo the ones in Dumas’ original. And the world even though named differently is basically a fantastical Europe (I do wish this hadn’t been the case, as it made it odd. At times it felt fully independent and new world, and then it would be too European, too French).

Now, on to the magic, which is part of what left this book in my head for longer than I expected. I know that to many this magic is pretty new but to me it was a magic that felt too familiar, too close to home. It took me a while to figure out why.

The magic system works on “icons” of the angels and their various levels. You need an icon/image of said angel and then if you need what their scope covers, you may summon them and depending on level/icon quality you can summon for long. Of course, depending on level and use, this also costs you time. Summoning a powerful one means giving at the very least months of your life and ageing instantly. So cost of magic is an important consideration, and in a way, a personal one. How much do you need the magic and is it worth the cost?

What made it familiar is that in Mexico there is a big angel and saints belief system. The magic may or may not be real, but the system is very similar to the one used in Angel Mage. Certain saints can make smaller “miracles” whereas others can make bigger ones (Archangel Gabriel or say, Saint Peter are on the BIG side of the scale). And people carry icons of the entity, either in small stamps or cards, mini gold or silver coins with the likelihood of the saint, or even set up an “altar” to the entity in a room in their home. And you elevate a prayer (similar to the invocation you may have to do for the angels on Angel Mage) to request your miracle. You may even offer something in exchange and usually you are told that there is a cost to it even if you’re unaware of it.

I don’t know if it was the familiarty of the many things in this book that made it a nice read, one I didn’t want to put down, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

However, as a note, it is a stand alone but it doesn’t feel like one. There is a LOT left out and this makes it feel incomplete, so as a stand alone it doesn’t stand too well and leaves you thinking this was meant to be a duology at the very least.

All in all, an interesting familiar mixed with the new kind of book that was worth reading!

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.

The Good Luck Girls Review

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Aster. Violet. Tansy. Mallow. Clementine.

Sold as children. Branded by cursed markings. Trapped in a life they never would have chosen.

When Aster’s sister Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge – in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by the land’s most vicious and powerful forces – both living and dead – their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

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

I was provided a free review copy from HotKeyBooks, but it’s also on preorder. So I would’ve still reviewed it and read it. My views are my own and haven’t been influenced by having a proof copy.

This is a tough book. But it is like one of those biscuits that are hard on the outside and have a soft gooey chocolate center. So let’s start with some content/trigger warnings. This book touches on: rape, sexual abuse, child labour, prostitutes (coherced/forced), child grooming (implied), violence and murder, some psycological and emotional torture/abuse.

Big list, right? But it is a book about five young women (girls?) who have been sold to a “good luck” house (a prostibule) as children to pay off debts or similar reasons. There they are groomed to accept their new job and how “lucky” they are to have a home, and a relatively “easy” job. (The story doesn’t imply it is an “easy” job, but some of the society in it does).

Considering the content, I wasn’t uncomfortable or icked by the book. Instead I wanted to keep reading and know what was happening next. The world is very much a “western” (as in cowboy type, somewhere I saw it described as Westworld type and yes, that fits). But our five heroines test their luck when a chance to escape comes up.

The high stakes, the quest and the characters really make this book. And I highly enjoyed it. Didn’t want to put it down. There is a lot of asking what to do when you are just protecting and full of anger, and not only that but what to do with emotions you have had to hide.

The tattoos that mark them as good luck girls was an interesting element, same as how having a shadow or not kinda defines your status and “class”. Interesting world building.

If you like spunky heroines, westerns or cowboys, high stakes and lots of adrenaline, definitely recommend this.

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.