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.

Spectacle Review

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Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

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

Paris, a young journalist woman with an interesting “gift”, a morgue, a mystery… all sound good to me!

The very first thing I have to say is that the Paris we are led to is very “period” accurate and I liked that. It was fun to read about references to things yet to come, and things that are already there. All of it made it more immersive.

The second thing is that for a mystery, this one definitely was. It kept me guessing over and over and over and I was never ahead of our heroine’s own discoveries. This is a little unusual, and I have to say it was a good thing. It didn’t leave me frustrated but more like “oh wow, I genuinely have no clue, but I need to know, please, let’s find out more”.

It also made me hungry and I want pain au chocolat in a quaint cafe while I write notes.

Natalie is a heroine with depth, and I don’t know if I would be okay with visiting the morgue to go looking at the corpses to “report” on them. That was interesting, because it gave a view on what could pass as entertainment. (I admit I find cemeteries interesting with the headstones and mausoleums, but I am not so sure about seeing the actual dead bodies).

It starts with one body and an accident that makes Natalie find out she can see what happened before the victim died, but she wonders if she hallucinated it or not. This gift she has, costs something, and it was something I liked. She can’t just plunge headlong and use it willy nilly, but instead has to consider the fact that it costs her something (won’t spoil what) and she can’t control that cost. Makes for a more complex conundrum, help solve this and sacrifice something or stay as I am but let this murderer get away with it? Tricky right?

It was a good book, and I just have to say that the last two pages completely confused me, but other than that, it was superb.

 

Favourites Fairyloot Unboxing

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I bit the bullet for March’s Fairyloot because I wanted both book that would be in it, and a theme of Favourites should be pretty spectacular, right? Sadly, this box confirmed that I am not that into their boxes.

But let’s see what was inside, starting from the top left corner and going clockwise:

  • Three prints. The only one I recognised was the Warcross one. Apparently the other two are from The Cruel Prince and An Ember in the Ashes. The artwork is nice, but 3 paper items aren’t really winning me over for this box.
  • A golden metal bookmark that is embossed and inspired by Strange The Dreamer. I liked it but it’s not that amazing and the design gets lost in the metal.
  • Theme postcard.
  • Alice in Wonderland socks, probably one of the best items as I do like socks. But also, nothing special about them. I can easily buy socks like this just going to Oxford for the day and visiting the Alice shop.
  • Bookworm Page Tabs. I like page tabs and have loved the potion ones they sent in a previous box, but this ones are less striking. Still not too bad, not too good, or rather, not a favourite.
  • Theme bookmark
  • Tarot cards, not collecting them  so neither here nor there for me. The artwork was very nice which at least was a bonus here.
  • Viper by Bex Hogan. That cover is gorgeous and I am so happy with this!
  • Author letter with artwork (for To Best the Boys)
  • To Best the Boys by Mary Weber, also another book I am looking forward to reading!
  • A purple Fairyloot pin. I wasn’t crazy about it, it is a bit “blurry” so not really stunning or striking.
  • And finally, underneath it all, a scarf with “favourite” books. It has spelling errors (I proof and proof my artwork if it has text, and when I “interpret” titles, I change to other words, not just omit letters), it is too translucent to actually show the books as books when you wear it, just looks like blots of colour, so not impressed. The artwork in itself has mmostly titles I don’t care about and that aren’t favourites.

All in all I was underwhelmed by the box. My favourite items were the books only, nothing else really made me think “oh yes, my favourites”, so for me the theme missed the mark. I am sure others loved it, but since I buy too many boxes and preorder too many books I have to be picky with what I get and sadly Fairyloot isn’t for me.

 

The Burning Review

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The Burning by Laura Bates

A rumour is like a fire. You might think you’ve extinguished it but one creeping, red tendril, one single wisp of smoke is enough to let it leap back into life again. Especially if someone is watching, waiting to fan the flames

New school.
Tick.
New town.
Tick.
New surname.
Tick.
Social media profiles?
Erased.

There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.

At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own…

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

This book sounded like the kind of grippy gritty books I have recently been into, so I grabbed it. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (not to say it really wasn’t at all).

I expected the thing that Anna is trying to forget to be something else, so when it finally surfaces I was more like “oh, it’s that? meh” rather than “oh wow!”. Won’t spoil what it is, but this book certainly touches on topics like abortion, torture, abuse, bullying and the kind.

The witchy part was my favourite of it all. When they move to the new house Anna notices some odd marks scratched into the beams of the house and things like that, and turns out they’re witches marks, to try to disuade the spirit of the witch to come back and haunt the people that bought the house.

All the story of the “witch” was quite interesting, and it was intense. I was so angry for her, and I really liked that Thomas had an opinion and the part he “played” in it (yes, I wish it was different, but hey, this was way far back in time).

Another thing I really enjoyed was the friendships developed here. Partly it touches on how friends can turn on you and fall to peer pressure, which is something I had happen a lot during high school when I used to be bullied. My “best friend” would bully me in public then outside of school treat me completely different. Go figure! Regardless, it is interesting to see how each of the old and new friendships Anna slowly biulds develop, and that they are unique, most of the characters involved didn’t feel bland which was lovely because they were part of Anna’s world and not just plot props. Kudos for that.

The topic and the thing Anna deals with is important, I just imagined something else and it then fell under my expectations, but it hooked me so I read it before dinner the other day.

I guess you’d say my overall rating comes from having different expectations (my fault a little, part the blurbs fault) but it was an interesting book that I enjoyed reading.

BLOG TOUR: Sapphire Smyth and The Shadow Five: Shadows Part One by R. J. Furness // Review

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Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five: Shadows (Part One) by R.J. Furness

Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…

Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, Sapphire’s foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?

Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When Sapphire discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, she soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.

“Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five” is a six-part, serialised young adult fantasy story!

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

Well look at that, my orange rating foxes fit perfectly with this book’s cover. And before I get into the full review, as a disclaimer, I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No one forced me to write what I have written here (no drakes, no shades).

R. J. Furness was already on my radar, thanks to the Orgo stories (and the Orgo Adventures). So when he mentioned this new idea I was happy to give it a go and see what it was all about.

This is a very fast paced book, despite being short. And I had to pause and make sure I knew what had just happened. There is also a lot of “secrets” and so much to find out, when I reached the last page I kinda thought !it isn’t fair, I need answers now!”

We meet Sapphire as she is running away from her foster parents home and panicking about what to do next. I know the purpose of this is to set the story, but I kept thinking that foster parents that have kept a child for 16-18 years (which is what is implied) won’t just suddenly kick the child out. If they were the kind that just do it for the money, then Sapphire would’ve been SO ready to leave and counting down to her 18th birthday (I say this as I know a couple of people who were in situations like that). The only way I can think that Sapphire couldn’t see it coming is that she is stupid, but that doesn’t really fit with the Sapphire we meet, so this is a bit of a plot issue (but I know most will see past it, and it isn’t huge, it was just a little dissonant for me).

Otherwise, the rest of the story just keeps you trying to figure out what is going on with the shadows, what Ben knows and why Sapphire is suddenly thrown into this. I actually really liked the chapter that sets things of with Michelle and Jason. I’d like to find out more about them too.

Basically, I now have SO many questions I don’t even know where to start, but the best start is probably to keep reading the book.

R.J. was super kind and surprised me with a box of goodies(see below). I have never had blackcurrant licorice sweets, so this was an intriguing surprise. I kinda like licorice but not always, so I was a bit unsure. Also, when I got the goodies I was so puzzled by what each item meant, but now I know they fit the story so well!

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And of course, this cover wins because it is an orange fox, and there is a fox in the story and I want to know more about the shadow fox and what Sapphire is going to discover in the next “part”.

 

Gods & Monsters Illumicrate Unboxing

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This has been one of the hardest unboxing pictures I have ever taken. One handed while trying to hold the umbrella upright so you could see how gorgeous it is and trying to not kill my phone or myself. But it was worth it.

Now let’s check what else we had in the box (the umbrella is the most obvious thing here), starting from the left side and going clockwise:

  • Strange the Dreamer Umbrella, what are the odds that two book boxes would send a gorgeous umbrella in the same month? Can’t complain as living in the UK means I have an umbrella everywhere so now I can swap boring black cheap umbrellas with the gorgeous bookish ones.
  • The Orphanage of Gods, this is one book that wasn’t in my radar at all, but it looks very interesting and I am intrigued.
  • A character bookmark set from A Daughter of Smoke and Bone. (This almost seems like a Laini Taylor fanbox, not complaining though). I like the bookmarks but I am not crazy about them and they’re one of the items I am not keeping.
  • A sampler of The Binding.
  • Girls of Paper and Fire chopsticks in a little case. The chopsticks are kinda just plasticky, which is sad given that the box is gorgeous. My boyfrined was all excited since I have a pair of fancy metal ones engraved with Mushu. He was planning on stealing this pair but he felt they weren’t as cool as mine.
  • Cassandra Clare sampler. Not interested at all, not a fan.
  • Keep Me pencil case (or at least I thinkof it as a tin pencil case). I like the design and it is a nifty little thing that will end up full fo drawing/art supplies.
  • Beautiful Thing pouch. It is a gorgeous pouch but the size just isn’t right for me so another one that won’t stay around.
  • Nectar of the Gos lip scrub. I will admit I have never used a lip scrub. If I put “yummy” stuff on my lips, I end up chewing them, so I avoid anything that will leave a texture or the feeling of one. Sad because this smells SO good.
  • A metallic notebook. Aboslutely love the design!

It was a fun box, with some items I don’t love, and it feels a little underwhelming for the usual Illumicrate signature. I decided to subscribe to them for the “monthly” box and I am hoping it keeps the high quality. One thing I like is that it doesn’t feel cheap even though there’s an umbrella in it.

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!

Four Three Two One Review

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Four Three Two One by Courtney C. Stevens

In this contemporary YA novel, a girl reunites with the three other survivors of a bus bombing that killed nineteen people, and together they face the secrets, struggles, and emotional warfare that each has been enduring.

Golden “Go” Jennings wasn’t supposed to be on Bus 21 the day it blew up in New York City. Neither was her boyfriend, Chandler. But they were. And so was Rudy, a cute stranger whom Go shared a connection with the night before. And Caroline, a girl whose silence ended up costing nineteen people their lives.

Though it’s been a year since the bombing, Go isn’t any closer to getting over what happened. Since Chan shuts down every time Go brings that day up, she decides to reach out to Rudy. Just like that, the two fall right back into their easy, deep connection. Facing the past head-on with Rudy has opened up a small window of healing Go never thought was possible. So she makes an impulsive decision: Round up the rest of the survivors and head to New York City. There they will board an art installation made of the charred remnants of Bus 21.

But things are never easy when it comes to rehashing the past. Uniting the four stirs up conflicting feelings of anger and forgiveness and shows them that, although they all survived, they may still need saving.

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This was a free proof provided by the publisher but the review is all my own, not paid or whatever.

Now that that is out of the way… When I saw this as a book blurb before it was even published I was intrigued. Four people survive a bombing, each has secrets they keep and they are all building up to going back into a remade Bus that exploded, that is now an exhibition.

I don’t usually read books about terrorism (domestic or otherwise), but I found the clashing of lives something I wanted to read. And Four Three Two One was very powerful. At the beginnign we get the “bus explodes” chapter, then we meet our characters months after the explosion and days before the exhibition opens.

There a lot of concepts happening here. There is the whole “what is love” question in there, and if the things that happen to us make us, defines us, or how they affect us. But there is also the survivors guilt being explored and how that redefines us, and how much it can affect not the survivor’s life but the lives of those around that person.

As all five main characters come closer and closer to getting to Accelerant Orange and to facing Bus 21, things get more and more tense. The first question that should probably be answered is, can they step inside the bus? It is known that people that had an aircrash may never fly again, or in this case never get on a bus again. So can they? (I won’t say if they can or can’t, that’d be a spoiler, but it is a question that sticks around). But it isn’t the only question to answer. There is a why are you (each survivor) going to the exhibition? What are you holding back? What is that “secret” you’re trying to protect everyone else from?

We know the “secret” one of them holds from early on, but that doesn’t prepare you for the other secrets that come up to the surface as they share a ride towards New York, and towards the exhibition of Bus 21.

No, this isn’t a popular book, sadly it is overlooked. But it is interesting and powerful and worth reading (it is also a relatively light read, in that it is easy to read, the writing flows easily but the topic is intense, there is talk about suicide, and well, terrorism). However, I enjoyed the execution of it, and how much feeling there was in it (and I’m not always fond of adding too much feeling to stories).

Go read it, give it a chance.

Fierce Fragile Hearts Review

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Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

‘This time around, I’m going to be so much better. I’m going to prove to them that it was worth waiting on me.’

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

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I know I am late to the party and that finished copies are already out, but Sara’s books are very intense and I had to be in the right mindspace for it. (And I am glad I waited or I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much).

We find Suzanne ready to rebuild and start “over” again in Bristol. She’s an adult now, at 18 and wants to be independent. And gosh, just this part of the story was heartbreaking, because ebing an adult is really difficult, and becoming independent completely and trying to make ends meet is also hard. I loved the fact that she doesn’t just magically afford every single thing and have it perfectly fine without any issues.

The rawness of the book is one of the best things, seriously. But it also means that this book should come with the warning of saying that it deals with mental health, drugs, alcohol, relationships and abuse. This is done in a tasteful (to my palate at least) way without being too preachy but also not just like “it’s drugs and rock n roll”.

There is a lovely old lady as part of this book, and I just loved this so much. Everything about it made me smile and cry and just it is beautiful (don’t really want to spoil a lot). There’s a cute dog. And friends, and how friendships change.

Sue also has to learn that she’s not the only one having issues, and hey, she can actually try to help her friends. And discovering how to help others and how to be a friend are part of what this book touches on.

Gosh, it even made me want to go visit Bristol and find the places it mentions. And now I am not making a lot of sense. But basically, this book will give you a lot of feelings and make you emotional, different emotions at a time like sadness, happiness and anger (there are others and at times I just laughed in the middle of the bus while I was reading, weird looks were given, I didn’t care).