What the Woods Keep Review

What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

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

This is one of those I preordered and then just wasn’t in the mood to read (isn’t it just a gorgeous cover?). So it suddenly felt right to read it after a few other recent reads and it was mostly read in the bath or during my lunchtime.

What the Woods Keep is an easy read book in regards to writing style. It has some “insert” pages with notes and extra parts of information. Also, Hayden has a very scientifi and logical mind so she starts almost every chapter with some kind of knowledge to compare to what is either happening or to come. I found this confusing in the beginning but afterwards was looking forward to see what would come next as tidbit of info.

This is one of those books where you can’t question mcuh how true it can be, for example the financial/economical side of it because it just doesn’t make sense or even seem to matter.

But the setting of Promise, the odd research into Nibelungs, and Del do a good job to keep you reading. It was a fun read in a slightly weird magical realism but a bit more than that kind of way with lots of creepy added for good measure. But none too creepy to like make your skin crawl and go “too mcuh” (or it didn’t feel like it to me).

My biggest complaint was that I got to the final page and thought there was a sequel but there doesn’t seem to be one at all. I need to know more!

If you want a slightly germanic inspired YA fantasy/magical realism with some myths in it, but that isn’t too serious this is a nice quick read for an overwhelmed mind.

The Never Tilting World Review

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

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

This is my first book from Rin but the premise sounded amazing and when Harper360 sent the email for proof requests I couldn’t help myself. (This is a proof provided by Harper for free, though they would prefer if I can review it but that definitely doesn’t shape my views)

I am very glad I chose it. This felt like a fairytale plus meet cute plus crazy epic adventure and mystical touches. In my head this was like a darker grown up sibling of The Spinner of Dreams (like the teenage sibling of it).

We get the story from four viewpoints, which would usually drive me MAD. But because the voices are telling two stories that will merge into one, this was easier (and probably it was due to the voices being distintc enough but not too much to break continuity). At the beginning I was totally team Odessa and Lan over Haidee and Arjun. But as the story progressed I ended up switching who my favourite couple was. (And to be fair I could see myself more in Haidee than I did in Odessa).

The middle of the book is a bit slow and feels like filling to add worldbuilding and a bit of extra intrigue, and the other thing that reduced it’s rating was that the ending isn’t a good ending (and I don’t mean I was expecting a Happy Ever After one, I know it’s a duology(?)). What I mean is that there is a LOT of mysteries they are working on finding and solving once they arrive at the Great Abyss, and most of it doesn’t get an answer and instead you end up with even more questions (plus I couldn’t believe much on Odessa’s reactions on the end, Haidee had a good build up to the what/why, whereas Odessa had no reason/motive or anything to do what she did).

Obviously, this is a proof so the final copy may have this better (also to note, there are grammar errors but I don’t usually mark those as 99% of the time they get picked up before final print). I just wish that the next book was complete because I wanted to read it after I had finished this one.

The Devouring Gray Review

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

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

This book surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as Justine warned about some animal violence and a previous book with it left me a bad flavour.

There is a lot of grief, and a lot of confusion. And at first I felt as confused as Violet. However, there was enough to keep me going rather than giving up. Each of the founder children (they’re teens but since there are technically still adults from some of them children it is for now) has their own “secret”. Justin is hiding one that will cost him his status and reputation if it is revealed.

May has a hidden ability and the cost of reading the Death Omen, meaning she has to tell the truth on what the cards say (even if it hurts, even if it is not what others want to hear).

Violet is dealing with grief and trying to figure out what her ability is and her ritual, plus, how do you manage to live in this odd town?

Harper is managing without a hand and making her best effort while being shunned by Justin who used to be her best friend (oh the betrayal of best friends, sad sad indeed)

And Isaac who is the only one from his family that stayed after his ritual happened.

All of it going on and the stakes keep getting higher and higher as Violet tries her best to figure out what she ought to do to get control of her powers. But it is hard in a town that is drowning under so many secrets and that has a Beast lurking in the Gray…

As I said, this book surprised me a lot and I was so invested in it but as the end became near I couldn’t understand why it hadn’t wrapped everything up but then it made sense that it had to be two books. However I didnt feel cheated or overfilled with other stuff to expand the book into two. Instead I liked the fact we learnt so much in this one even if it meant we didn’t get everything sorted out. The main secrets however were definitely sorted out and a lot of things that didn’t make sense suddenly did, and it was a little scary. The good thing is that it was scary because there was so much at stake, not just for the sake of scaring.

Good book, can’t wait to read the next one!

Epic Adventures Owlcrate Unboxing

May’s Owlcrate had the theme of Epic Adventures and I am a bit unsure on it. I mean, it fits the book really well, but I mean more on the items. So I will do the unboxing, starting on the theme card on the top left and going clockwise:

  • Theme card, the artwork is cute and at the same time full of longing.
  • Underneath everything there is a pillowcase that is what I would put in a kids room if I had a child or a guest room. I would need a matching duvet to go with this if I were to use it. Plus I don’t use pillows so pillow covers don’t do much for me. (And even I did this one doesn’t do much anyway).
  • A sleep mask, which I like except that is the design that is in everything SJM themed and like yeah, love a sleep mask, SO tired of the SJM mountains and stars and quote thing. There are many other options that could be quoted on a sleeping mask.
  • The collectible pin which was designed by the author of the book, so woohoo as that is pretty neat, right?
  • A sticker for Howl’s Moving Castle which is super cute and one of my favourite things from this box.
  • The book, We Hunt the Flame which I had been looking forward to so happy to have this one and it has silver instead of gold and somehow I like that more so bonus points.
  • Character artwork.
  • A passport wallet. This is a fun idea and I like it but I have never been sold on it as you still need to get your passport out of the holder when you’re going through customs… But the wallet is nice nevertheless.
  • A glass water bottle. It is smallish and apparently it has broken for people (it does come with tbhe caveat that it appears it isn’t tempered glass, and well, it really should be). Haven’t used it but a glass water bottle doesn’t appeal to me and bottles with just quotes on them in pretty calligraphy aren’t my thing anyway.

That’s all there was, the box felt a bit weaker this time than previous months and that’s a bit sad. Hopefully June’s box will be nicer.

Among the Red Stars Review

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

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

True to form, I read this book at an RAF base while my boyfriend did pylon racing (I mean, Russia really wasn’t an option just to go read a book).

Among the Red Stars was one of those books I knew I needed to read, so I preordered it and then put it on my WWII shelf and didn’t read it for a long time. Reviews to do, books to read for x or y event, and then I wasn’t in the mood for it. I didn’t want to read it in the wrong mood because I knew it’d be a book I would love, and I wasn’t wrong.

The book takes you through two points of view. Valka as a young woman joining the one all female aviation group (who would later become known as the Night Witches, the women that gave Hitler nightmares). She takes you through the nuances of joining this force and of how training goes. And her narrative takes you through her journey as a Night Witch and what it entailed.

On the other hand, we have Pasha who is a gentle soul with a knack for radios, and who is now a soldier at the front. Both exchange letters, and through Pasha we learn a lot about the nuances of religion and what socialism meant to those born in it.

Valka talks more about what happened when you are suspected of being against the system. And she explores how the women of the aviation group were initially considered inferior by all the other regiments until they proved their worth and changed things around.

One of my favourite things is that there are all this gorgeous details about the aircraft (Po-2, which was later renamed U-2, this brought a long discussion between my boyfriend and me about why they renamed it and which one I was referring to) and the world of flying for the Soviet Union. But there are also everyday details like the women adjusting their own uniforms to fit, or Pasha learning to sign hyms through one of his fellow soldiers.

And it is also relatively “true” to the actual things that happened. I didn’t at any point feel like saying “woah, too many artistic liberties here”. Never had anything to complain, except that at first the whole “letter” and then narrative part was odd, but I got used to it quickly.

At the end there is a nice note explaining who inspired each character and which ones are based on real people that lived and fought and did the things they’re known for in the book.

If you’re a WWII enthusiast or an aircraft one, do read this, it is more than worth it!

Your Majesty Illumicrate Unboxing

As you may know Illumicrate are doing monthly boxes now. This is their second monthly box, and they had kind of spoiled the book by sending the signed bookplate for it by mistake in the box (for the previous month). However, I have to say they do not cease to wow me.

Just look at that bounty! Starting from the bottom left corner and going clockwise:

  • Theme leaflet. What I like is that it “sorts” the items into categories. You have the general items, the Book, the Collectible and the Photo Challenge, all neatly inside it.
  • A Once Upon a Time Book tin. This is gorgeous and made me sqeual a little. It is delicate but also beautiful and useful.
  • We Are Blood and Thunder sampler.
  • Descendant of the Crane, the book for this month, and I have been wanting to read it so yay! Plus it has soft deep red sprayed edges that match the red of the book cover.
  • Another sampler, for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, which everyone should read.
  • Crown of Power candle, very fruity scent.
  • Moth and Mirth mug. I love this item the most because this type of mug is gorgeous. Plus the artwork is stunning. I love love love this item so much.
  • Scattered around the picture are the character cards. They were also preorder incentives so I had already seen them but they are still gorgeous and are a nice bonus to have.
  • Descendant of the Crane print with author letter on the back.
  • Travel psoters for Three Dark Crowns. I am not into paper bits but this are simple yet stunning and I don’t need to be into the fandom to enjoy them.
  • Iron Throne phone ring. I like the idea of it, but I only have so many phones (work and personal) so yeah, this won’t get used sadly.
  • And to me, the most puzzling item, the collectible. A Magnetic coin. The silly coin kept falling off the “necklace” so I do not recommend wearing it (and that only while I attempted to set this photo up, not actually wearing it, very little movement made it fall). Apparently we get collectible “magnetic coins”. It is an original collectible, I’ll give them that, but I am not into it (we shall see, giving it a chance). And most definitely will not be wearing it as a necklace.

So overall it was a box that gave me two favourite items, one puzzling one and oen I just won’t use btu the rest is good, so not bad at all. Plus it felt full of stuff even if there aren’t that many items (or not many more than usual) and absolutely feels like value for money.

Beauty Sleep Review

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Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans

Laura was dying. There was no cure for her illness. So her family decided to grasp a desperate last hope – Laura was frozen until she could be cured.

But what happens when you wake up one day and the world has moved on forty years? Your best friend is middle-aged, your parents presumed dead. Could you find a new place to belong? Could you build a new life – while solving the mystery of what happened to the old one?

Dark secrets lurk in the future of the girl from the past…

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

This caught my eye. Cryogenics isn’t a new topic, or at least not to me. It has been one of those things you hear about then the nosie about it quietens, then someone else does it, then again quiet…

Anyway, the premise sounded interesting, and I read it quite quickly. We have two POV in this book, which took me by surprise when we get to the second POV. We have Laura and we have Shem.

And as much as Laura is the main character I want to talk a little about Shem first. To begin with, we just get dropped into Shem’s chapters without any introduction on him (as in, the premise and previous chapters do not tell you anything that would make him meaningful to you in that first Shem chapter). And he’s a “homeless” boy trying to keep himself alive in a world that doesn’t like homeless people. He is experiencing this as Laura is learning that she’s been revived and the rest of the stuff. His chapters weren’t that interesting to me, and pretty much I knew Shem’s “secret plot twist” before the end of his first chapter. So by the end of that chapter I was pretty much over his chapters (and for the rest of the book, Shem chapters just didn’t grab me).

Now back to Laura. Laura’s story was what kept me reading this book. She wakes up in this future world, 40 years later. And her body is readjusting. She has to remember her memories in an “empty” mind. (I liked the take that you just don’t wake up knowing everything as if you had gone to sleep, but that due to being frozen and revived, you “reset” your brain a little and have to work for the memories to crop up).

The process of “adjusting” to the year 2028 (which isn’t that far away for us) was interesting and then her process trying to figure out who she is, where she belongs and what place Miss Lilly has in her life was wonderful. Plus the “secret” was quite interesting and it had layers to it (some of them quite predictable, maybe not to the exact detail but something along those lines and a few I did get quite close to the exact details… I read a lot, do science and play videogames, so no surprise there).

I didn’t know what to think of Laura at first, I was intrigued because as a reader you know exactly as much as she does (and maybe even a little more, but not enough) so you discover the world with and through her. That was one of my favourite parts of this story. There is also the focus on beauty and staying young, which was also interesting to read and consider to what point we are to get in the search for that perfect wrinkle free anti aging magic.

All in all the book was interesting, and the story was also quite good. My biggest issue was Shem and his whole plot line. I could’ve done without a POV from him or maybe just a lot less of his POV because there are some intersting bits in his chapters, but they contribute more to worldbuilding and to setting up plot than to helping Shem specifically. Not that this means it should be that way, just that I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more that way. (But I am learning, after reading Shadowscent that I can do without the whole one chapter POV1 the next POV2 as it tends to feel forced, I prefer the POV chapters to work with the story rather than having to stick to one and one, very few stories can pull this well).

Would I recommend this? Yes! I like that is is a take on Sleeping Beauty and not a retelling. Plus it actually ponders on the concept and cost of beauty. It was a quick read and I was pleased when I finished it.