The Poppy War Review

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

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This is a powerful brutal book and I freaking loved it.

Rin is a war orphan and well, she does her bes tot get a scholarship to a school to avoid getting married off to an old man just so her foster family can kinda get rid of her and “sell” her well (money talks). So she manages that and goes to military school.

The best thing about this book is that it has many of the things I love in general and in books. One of them is the whole “this happens in a school” (which is part of the first part and the second part of the book). There is also a lot of military, fighting and strategy information, which I love very much (we watch documentaries on tanks, on spies, on guns, on military strategy, on yeah… you get the gist I will stop here, the point is that reading her training made me very happy).

And then we have the bonus of weird magic that is powered by a mysterious thing (because spoilers, though I did guess what it was but nevermind) or drugs (while reading this I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in Mexico and also about Carlos Castañeda’s books). Lore is what they call it.

Now this is where I would like to discuss all the spoilers and all that stuff but I really shouldn’t. I have to say, only one of the twists surprised me. This usually means I enjoy the book a little less, but not for this one. It just made it good because it wasn’t the goal that meant it but rather the “how we got there” and it was a glorious brutal journey.

This is also a great example of how side characters aren’t there just for the sake of, and they all exist as individuals. Plus Rin is a little bit of a bad person and you hate her sometimes (you also love her at times) and this doesn’t make you want to throw the book at the wall and give up. My uttermost respects to Miss Kuang for pulling such an amazing story and giving it layer over layer of information. This also includes the historical nuance.

As a bit to know, there is self harm in it (burning), there is obviously a LOT of violence and gore, implied rape and dehumanization, amongst many other vile things (I can’t even remember them all) so this isn’t a fluffy light book. But despite all the hard stuff, it was an amazing read.

You Can’t Hide Review

You Can’t Hide by Sarah Mussi

When Lexi wakes up in the Hudson Medical Center, barely in one piece, she is unable to recall how she got there.

Nobody seems to be able to tell her.

Disturbing memories haunt her daylight hours. Nightmares stalk her sleep.
With huge unanswered questions, like where is her Mom – why doesn’t she visit? What’s happened to her boyfriend Finn – and who is this friend, Crystal, who visits her a lot and of whom she has no recollection? Lexi sets out to discover what’s happened.

But the more she searches for answers, the deeper and darker the mystery gets.

And as she begins to piece the fragments together, she remembers one thing: I MUST HIDE FROM CHARLIE.

But the question is: who is Charlie? And is he still out there?

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I will start by saying that this book requires trigger warnings: domestic abuse, violence, sexual content, gaslighting and similar. (Also mentions amnesia due to an accident)

This review will include small spoilers (not the two main plot things) so decide to read ahead at your own peril.

This is a tough book. Lexi has woken up int he hospital and starts to try to write down to Finn about what is happening. She’s forgotten why she’s in an accident but one thing she hasn’t forgotten at all is that there is imminent danger and that she may not be safe even in the hospital.

To try to help herself recover those memories, she backtracks to the moment they arrived to the US from the UK after having fled from her abusive father (they being her and her mum). And throughout what Lexi writes of her memories after the exodus (as she titles it) we also get flashback scenes on things that happened when she was younger.

The flashbacks can be a little brutal, and many brought memories to my mind, so do be careful when reading this to be prepared (the book doesn’t throw stuff without building up to it). But it was well done, and as we unravel what is happening and what is true and what isn’t things aren’t as clear as they seem.

One of the things that reduced stars for me from this is that Lexi stalls and does a lot of descriptions. I understand this is because that’s probably what someone with amnesia might do as they are anchors. But it became boring and I would skip a lot of her “in the US” descriptions (you don’t miss much).

Probably the best part is her trying to be a stronger self, one that isn’t bullied and pushed like her mother and like herself when they lived int eh same house as her father. That was interesting as was the build up to how they escape, and the build up to what the danger is.

All in all, if you can and want to read this book, it is very brutal and very honest, and does a good picture of domestic violence (and why it is hard to leave, why you don’t see it until it is too late, etc).

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt Review

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton

Happy-go-lucky Narwhal and no-nonsense Jelly find their inner superheroes in three new under-the-sea adventures. In the first story, Narwhal reveals his superhero alter-ego and enlists Jelly to help him figure out what his superpower is. Next, Narwhal uses his superpower to help a friend find his way back home. In the third story, Jelly is feeling blue and Narwhal comes to the rescue. Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship and the power of believing in yourself and others through this irresistible duo.

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And we’re now on the sequel! Superpowers for everyone!

And yes, that is basically the theme of this book (and waffles, and friendship). Narwhal is a superhero, but what is his superpower? I love that Jelly’s power is to “jolt” others. Makes sense given that Jelly is a jellyfish. And there’s even more superheroes.

Super Narwhal is as cute and loving as can be. And there are a few puns to be had in the book (so yes, adults and children can enjoy, and then enjoy a re-read as you grow up). It made me laugh a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Same advice as with the first Narwhal and Jelly book, go buy it, you need it (but now you also need the first one! so go get both and maybe the next ones that aren’t out yet?)

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! Review

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly, full-colour, early graphic novel series featuring three short stories and a super fun ocean fact page – and joke page too!
The perfect first book for young readers, just moving on from picture books, discovering the joys of friendship, working together and the power of imagination.

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I found this book thanks to Stephanie Burgis, the author behind The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart book series. She tweeted something about it and it spiked my interest so I ordered this one and the sequel, plus preordered the next two. (Yeah I trust her judgement, this had to be good).

Thankfully it did not disappoint at all. My only qualm is that it is too short. Narwhal is so cute, loving and he makes me laugh so much, and Jelly is such a great contrast friend but not like a super grumpy one, just a different one.

This tiny book made me laugh, want waffles and just fall in love with it. It is highly recommended for children and adults alike, the art is “simple” in lines but still very good and it keeps you in this lovely undersea world.

My advice, go buy them all! Everyone needs this book in their home (and the similar book would be A Polar Bear falls in love.

Voices Review

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Voices: The Final Hours of Joan Of Arc by David Elliott

Author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death.

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

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I used to love playing Age of Empires II on my Windows 98 computer (yes, I am old, shush!) as a child and teenager. And one of the first campaigns is Joan of Arc. I learnt a lot about her story and France (I am not saying it was perfect, but I learned a lot, and Age of Empires sparked my interest in more history). But the point wasn’t about gaming on a 1990’s computer, rather that it sparked my interest in this book.

As starter things, this book is a poem, it isn’t 100% accurate but more of an “artistic” view as the idea was to focus on the type of poems that would be used during Joan’s time. (This part I found nice, as the poems made a little more sense than modern poetry. Apparently Medieval poems are more similar to general Spanish poems, therefore make more sense poetically speaking than other poems in English do for me). And it isn’t a book about Joan’s whole life, but rather it is meant to be a “I am about to die, my life choices are questioned, this is what led me here” type of book.

I liked the artistic take on the story, and the poems. Some are shaped, and there’s a lot of formatting in it which made the experience of reading it, more of an experience in itself. My absolute favourite is the Fire, but in general, I enjoyed the poems, and I don’t know if I have a sooty mind thanks to hanging out with my friends, but there were some interesting hidden jokes in the poems that made me raise an eyebrow and laugh quietly at it.

It was a nice change of reading, and it was a relatively familiar story, so it was a neat read as I had been suffering from head splitting headaches, and this wasn’t too hard. Which probably made me enjoy it more than I would’ve otherwise. As did my love for Age of Empires…

 

The Bear and the Piano Review

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The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

One day, a young bear stumbles upon something he has never seen before in the forest. As time passes, he teaches himself how to play the strange instrument, and eventually the beautiful sounds are heard by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. The bear goes with them on an incredible journey to New York, where his piano playing makes him a huge star. He has fame, fortune and all the music in the world, but he misses the friends and family he has left behind. A moving tale of exploration and belonging from an exciting debut author-illustrator.

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This was another whim buy, because it had a piano in the title (fox, dragon, piano, put those in the title and I’ll probably buy it…) and it looked cute. Not wrong at all.

I read it during the weekend, after months of very intense workload (I love my job so much, but there’s SO much work that my brain has been overwhelmed I have little energy for anything else) and this was a heartwarming little read.

A small bear discovers a piano and starts plonking at it. At first the sound is horrid, but after a lot of plonking, the sounds isn’t displeasing anymore and he gains a crowd of pleased bears to listen. But then the bear gets discovered and becomes famous.

Oh the fame, but then there’s this little thing making Bear want to go back to the forest…

The art is gorgeous, it has a nice palette that is very foresty and then very much glamour. I found the bears cute and it was just simple yet gorgeous.

It’s not a very long review, but if you like bears or pianos, then this is a nice book to buy for when you can’t read a lot and just want to read something and feel that you finished a book!

 

There is No Dragon in this Story Review

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There Is No Dragon In This Story by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright

Poor old dragon. Nobody wants him in their story. Not Goldilocks, not Hansel and Gretel – no one. But Dragon will not give up! He shall continue on his course of finding someone who wants him in their story. ANYONE. His boundless enthusiasm surely won’t get him into any trouble. Surely …

A glorious story about dragons, heroes and ice cream with sprinkles. From author Lou Carter, a phenomenal new talent, and Deborah Allwright, illustrator of the bestselling The Night Pirates.

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Another one of those books I randomly found and chose to buy. You can clearly see a dragon in the cover, but the title is that there is no dragon in this story. My curiosity got the best of me. Of course we had to have a dragon, right?

The book starts saying that this was supposed to be a traditional dragon story. The dragon steals a princess, the prince/knight saves her and slays the dragon. But that’s not the story because the dragon refuses to be the villain and wants to be a hero.

So Mr Dragon goes out to all the other stories in this world and kindly asks if he can help and be the hero. Maybe he can stop the wolf for the three pigs? Or do something for Goldilocks? But every story he goes to, they tell him the same thing, he can’t be the hero because “there is no dragon in this story”. Poor dragon.

He has to try one more time, and well, let’s just say this doesn’t go very well and everything goes wrong, so now every story needs a hero. Will the dragon be the hero? Or will this be another “no dragon” kind of story?

I laughed a lot and felt so much for the dragon while reading this. Throughly enjoyed this one so will recommend that you get it for a rainy day when you need an easy book or to get you out of a slump.

 

Penguin Problems Review

20190403_124139.jpgPenguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith

A penguin levels with human readers about what penguin life is really like—and it isn’t all fun and games.

Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?

Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.

Yes, it seems there is no escaping the drudgery of your daily grind, whatever it might be. Or perhaps we’ve just learned that grumps are everywhere. . . .

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The cover caught my eye while I was looking for something to read, and I bought it. It is a cute easy read, about how things can go wrong and how penguins have so many problems, but it is also about how wonderful life and the world are too.

The illustrations are “simple” but at the same quite detailed and extremely cute. I kept feeling my heart melt with each new problem the penguin talked about. One of my favourite’s is that penguin can’t fly. Each page made me think a little about penguins and life.

It was also a good balm for my aching head (big headache) as it was easy to read, and relatively short. I think it’d be a fun one to read out loud with a little one. But it is also a nice gift to try to cheer an adult up. I already have someone in mind to receive this lovely book.

There’s not a lot more to say except that a penguin has a lot of problems, but also a lot of good things around. Life is interesting and full of good things if we look for them.

Overall, it is super cute and it is both for a child, or a grumpy, or sad adult.

Magic Potions Book Box Club Unboxing

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I love the aesthetic feel of this box. And funnily enough, as you may have seen already, I have had a proof of Shadowscent and it was a book I loved the concept for, but wasn;t completely sold on the whole book. But now unto the box contents, let’s start with the book and go clockwise:

  • Shadowscent. The Darkest Bloom by P. M. Freestone. Heck I love the concept, this is the first book and I am curious about the next one. The finished copy is gorgeous!
  • A tumbler/reusable cup. It has a quote from the book and I loved this, in blue and it was perfect to keep at work where we get a discount on coffee/tea if we bring our own mug
  • Hot chocolate spoon. Of course, you can’t have a tumbler without having something to put in it, right? I love the hot chocolate spoons the girls add to their boxes when they do, so this is an absolute win to me (plus most chocolate spoons work in hot water and don’t require milk, which makes it work for me)
  • On the come up pin
  • Magic Potions theme card, the artwork is super cute and magical.
  • A Drink Me potion from Literary Galaxy. I like it however I don’t wear many necklaces so this isn’t going to be used much, but it is still gorgeous.
  • Clubhouse invite.
  • A roll on perfume that captures the scent of the “Darkest Bloom”, which is probably my favourite item from the box (and it was hard to choose a favourite), it smells amazing!
  • Two Can Keep a Secret pin, I am so happy for this book, it’s in my TBR.
  • Gorgeous Ex Libris stickers. They’re adorable, may not be used much because I would struggle to choose which book to use them on (I wish we had a whole booklet or many more of these).

I really enjoyed the whole coordination of the contents of the box and there is only one item I wouldn’t really use, so that was quite a surprise for me, and is always a bonus. I also love that a lot of it is centered on the book and the theme of the box, and it isn’t just to fill fandoms but rather unique items that you can enjoy if you’re bookish, but also if you are not bookish (meaning it makes for a nice gift to someone if you had bought it, even if they aren’t into all the fandoms). So very happy with this box, and looking forward to the March box!

Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon Review

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Franklin and Luna go to the Moon by Jen Campbell, illustrated by Katie Harnett

Luna’s best friend, Franklin, is a dragon. They love to read stories about everything from trampolining to deep-sea diving. One day, they are reading about where werewolves live and Franklin begins to wonder where he is from. He is 605 years old and has no idea where to find other dragons!

Luna suggests that they go on an adventure to find his family. They Google his family tree, they e-mail a princess, and along the way they find twenty yetis eating spaghetti, five vampires reading Shakespeare, not to mention disco-dancing unicorns . . . but no dragons!

Where on earth could they be?

Following the success of Franklin’s Flying Bookshop, Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon― a book about the joys of reading, exploring, and coming home― continues to bring the magic of classic fairy tales into the twenty-first century.

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When I saw there was a “sequel” to Franklin’s Flying Bookshop, I had to buy it! When it arrived the box was huge, so I was surpsied by it.

The artwork is still very cool, and now we aren’t setting up a bookshop (they did that in the first book), but we are finding out what they do now that they are good friends and that they read a lot. All kinds of adventures, but then they try to find Franklin’s family and just seem to not get much out anyhting (there’s a hint here of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster which I found cute).

Then they wonder if maybe there is something in the moon, so why not try to fly there? (nevermind science, it is a dragon, right?) They get to the moon and they find dragons!

The artwork is still super cute, but the story wasn’t as nice and cute as the first one. I wasn’t into it as much as I was for the bookshop one and thought I liked the idea of finding more of Franklin’s family, when we find the dragons I wasn’t elated or excited about it. I guess that defines the fact I just didn’t engage as well with it, which is sad because I was really looking forward to it.

However I can still recommend wholeheartedly the first book.

The Spinner of Dreams Review

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The Spinner of Dreams by K. A. Reynolds

Annalise Meriwether–though kind, smart, and curious–is terribly lonely.

Cursed at birth by the devious Fate Spinner, Annalise has always lived a solitary life with her loving parents. She does her best to ignore the cruel townsfolk of her desolate town–but the black mark on her hand won’t be ignored.

Not when the monster living within it, which seems to have an agenda of its own, grows more unpredictable each day.

There’s only one way for Annalise to rid herself of her curse: to enter the Labyrinth of Fate and Dreams and defeat the Fate Spinner. So despite her anxiety, Annalise sets out to undo the curse that’s defined her–and to show the world, and herself, exactly who she is inside.

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I had preordered this lovely book at the start of the year when I did a huge sweep of books to preorder, and then the lovely Asha (@cat_book_tea) had an ARC and thought I would love (which made me smile because I already thought I’d love it, so yay!). And then the author did a giveaway and I won a digital copy of it.

Due to my photosensitivity I rarely ever read anything in digital format and do not accept review copies of this kind (plus, I prefer if someone who may actually read it in that format gets a chance for it instead of “gathering electrical dust”). So I politely mentioned this to her, and lo and behold. I now have a physical copy. I felt SO seen, which automatically made me smile whenever I picked this proof copy.

But now unto the actual contents of the book. This is a middle grade book and boy! It is the kind of book I wish I had written, you know how they say, “write the books you want to read”? Well, my child/teen self would’ve loved to read this book at the time. This is the book that the me then should’ve written. And now I have written myself into a loop of writing. Nevermind that.

We start with the introduction to what, or rather who, the Fate and Dream Spinner are. You could say we start with a “fairytale”. Then we get a “more in reality” view, and finally, we meet Annalise, our main character (MC). She has purple hair (loved it!) and is cursed. The day she was born lots of bad things happened and the whole town hates her, despite how much she tries to be kind and nice (and she is, not just tries). Then hope appears and things go a bit wrong, so she decides she has to challenge the Fate Spinner, solve the Labyrinth and ask the Dream Spinner to fulfill her dream (to rule her own destiny).

And that way we begin the quest to find the way to the labyrinth first of all (I liked that this has to be done rather than just wishing and ending up in front of the Labyrinth). Along the way we meet Muse, a talking cat with a hat and monocle (huge huge Ghibli vibes from Muse, and I absolutely loved that!). We also meet Mr. Edwards, a fox also wanting to make his dream come true alongside his husband fox, Mr. Amorieux.

The labyrinth is a good quest plot, and it kept me entretained, and also rooting for each fo the characters, including the minor ones (like trees, or a cockatrice, or a pair of siblings). The character growth of Annalise is gradual, and that was something I appreciated, as sometimes the character has this magic shortcut to growth and that is that. Annalise has magic, but it is a curse in her hand, so not exactly the nice shortcut.

Another thing that made me treasure this book more was that Annalise struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. She counts in fours. I do that too. Either with my breaths or counting in German 1,2,3,4… 5,6,7,8… then restart. The German counting is the only one that kinda goes beyond four, but I do it in chunks of four. So it was nice to see that and easily identify with her.

All the little or big plot twists fit well and none felt too crazy (I figured a few out, one I got it slightly wrong, but the “nature” of it I had right). The world building is also precise, even if you only get a glimpse of it. And I found the characters charming.

Basically, everyone should read this book and maybe eat some nice cake with it. With a lovely cup of tea. Enjoy!

Aquicorn Cove Review

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Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

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Last year I read and reviewed The Tea Dragon Society, where I fell for her artwork and story. So I had to have this little gem but somehow forgot I wanted it and it came out (why did I not preorder?!) and then I got it.

Starting the year with a graphic novel in the pile does make you feel like you’ve got this and can read through your reading goal.

Now unto the book. The Aquicorn Cove is all about awareness of the ocean and the sea and pollution, so it has a bit more of a message running through it. What I’ll say next may be a little controversial, but having that pushed as one of the main topics made the story feel rushed and took away from the rest of the topics. I felt like it was great as an awareness book given by a campaign for saving the ocean, but it felt less like a graphic novel/fantasy book.

I love Katie’s universes and that was amazing, even if this is a little confusing as it looks like the same world of Tea Dragon Society but it is also quite different. Still a lovely world to live in and the artwork more than blows me away, which was worth it. The hairdos, and creatures are so lovely I wish I could style my hair into those cute “horns”

There is also a lot about grief and friendships/relationships and how we survive and move forward (there seems to be a lot of grief topics in my reviews recently, but I promise it has been unconscious or at the very least not on purpose!) which was quite porwerful (and probably what I would’ve preferred to see explored more, as it was done so well through the scenes and artwork, the saying of a picture says more than a 1000 words works well here).

So my veredict is, I preferred The Tea Dragon Society a lot, and this felt more educational/campaign, however the artowrk was still stunning and cute and I am glad to have read it.

Moon recommends

Well, since there seems to be a theme on my reviews, pick any of my previous reviews and probably you’ll get a mention on grief. Or go check out The Tea Dragon Society, which is a big winner and quaint. (Plus it has tea and dragons, what else do you need?)

 

Shadows on the Moon Review

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Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott

On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before.

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince’s men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.

Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.

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I got this book and the companion (Barefoot in the Wind) at Walker’s YA Winter Wonderland Event (which was amazing!). I had eyed it before the event but my never ending TBR meant I hadn’t prioritised it (shame on me).

The book is set in the Moonlit Lands which is similar to Japan but not exactly. There is magic, and the Moon is the “god(ess)” of this world. Suzume has a happy life, and is celebrating her birthday, when men come and kill his father and her cousin. She manages to escape by wishing herself to not be there and for them not to see her.

This is a “retelling” of Cinderella, but not the usual kind. Suzume has lost her identity with the shock of everything, and part of her suspects what caused it but then another part of her is in survival mode, and as such she makes use of her shadow weaving inadvertedly.

It was interesting to read it but at times I felt there was a lot trying to happen in one single story that maybe wasn’t necessary. However, all in all, the shadow weaving was an interesting concept and I wish there had been more on that and less on other parts of the story.

The revenge plot line isn’t an immediate “you killed my father (and cousin) prepare to die”. It takes a while for Suzume to figure out who exactly did this and why, despite the fact that it is easy to see it as a reader.

There is also her learning on how to use shadow weaving, and I like Youta, though it felt like he was just there as a plot devise, which I wished he wasn’t, because he was one of my favourite characters (and the hunting falcon).

In general, it was a good twist to Cinderella, and the ending didn’t leave me annoyed or anything. It tied up nicely and made you feel satisfied. But it didn’t stick to me as mucha s I wish it had and I didn’t care much for Suzume, but rather I was curious how the story in general would pan out rather than because I cared about her. This is an odd thing for me, since I usually become either quite invested in the world, the side stories or characters, but for this book, the main thing was the story itself.

Moon recommends

There a lot of retellings of different fairytales, like Cinder for Cinderella (and Shadows on the Moon), or Hunted by Meagan Spooner (or any of Robin McKinley’s retellings, Beauty is one of many).

Help, Thanks, Wow Review

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This will be a short informal style review, with “spoilers” as this is a non fiction book.

I don’t talk much about religion because I believe religion is a personal choice and if someone asks I am happy to talk about it, but in general I don’t really feel like pushing my thoughts and beliefs to others (nor do I want them to push theirs to me, thank you very much). However, this review will talk a bit about religion, so feel free to skip it.

Before I bought this book and it arrived I had been in a bit of a rut. I felt sad, kind forgotten and felt like I wanted to believe more, but at the same time, I am not big on churches, so wanted something that would refresh my faith and my brain. I prayed that the next book that I decided to read of non fiction would be the right one.

It was. Help, Thanks, Wow is written by Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird (one of those books that are recommended reading about how to write). And mostly it explains what she calls the 3 essential prayers. You can “sum up” all prayers into one. And I have to say it makes sense. I have never been one to pray a long flowery litany of words out loud. My prayers are full of doubts, questions, anger, pleas and so much more, they are raw. And I kept thinking this was not the best as I couldn’t pray the way others do.

This little book however explains that your prayers can be so simple. A “Help me God/being/universe/whatever, I just can’t cope with the world today” is perfectly fine. It also reminds you that each day is a new day and that things don’t work perfectly, so your prayers aren;t answered the way you want them to. This made me smile, because I hate it when people tell you that your prayer wasn’t answered because you didn’t pray hard enough or something is wrong with you, or things like that.

It can also be a “Thanks for letting something happen (or not)”. Which I tend to do a lot for example I pray “thanks for letting me catch the bus in time”. They are really short, and I do them throughout bthe day (peppered with the Help ones too).

The final prayer is “Wow”. This is are for the breathtaking, for the surprises, for the sunset or sunrise that is just amazing. For that letting out the breath you didn’t realise you were holding…

Reading through it all was refreshing and made me feel like I wasn’t all the wrong and that having questions and challenging beliefs (in my own beliefs) is not a problem or something to be afraid of. Questions, pleas, anger, are good. It means it is a faith that is alive. And I like that. This little book gave me a new breath, a refresh and it was quick and easy and good to read.

I am glad I read it and I have got some more of her books to read once I need a pump of energy and faith.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 Review

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Lumberjanes Vol 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Shannon Waters

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4

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

So as you know I have read Nimona and recently I have gone back to graphic novels/manga (I know they are not the same, it is more that I am reading more of both). I used to read a lot of both then just slowed down and now my love for them has been renewed.

This was one of those graphic novels that are a lot about craziness and characters rather than a big plot. It feels like the authors are trying hard to include as many crazy things as possible into one group of girl scouts.

I can’t say I fell in love with it as it left me feeling oddly confused and unsure if I liked it or wasn’t that crazy but I have heard good things about it and I want to give it a chance, so I have bought the next volume and will read it then see what comes next.

It isn’t the crazy kind of graphic novel as Monstress is, this is definitely more about fun craziness and just about the experience of being a scout, however, I have never been one or known anyone that has, so maybe that makes this harder to appreciate? No crazy camp experiences either.

It does make me smile to read it and it was quick and “light” so if you want some kind of mindless fun this is probably it with a touch of bizarre just to make sure.

Moon recommends

I’d suggest starting with Lumberjanes if you fancy the experience. Since Noelle Stevenson is part of the minds behind this, why not try Nimona? Or maybe you’d like to try Moonstruck? They’re both good in different ways.