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. . . .

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

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

20190223_085712.jpg

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

20190301_121239.jpg

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.

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

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

20190213_114901.jpg

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.

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

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

20190105_113921.jpg

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.

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

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

20181220_134551.jpg

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.

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

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

20181208_104413.jpg

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.