The Shadow Glass Review

The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco

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

It is done! Completed. I knew this book was going to be intense as it had a lot of questions to answer, starting with what happens to Kalen (I’ve been biting my nails about it since book one!), and then there’s the whole changes in dynamics of the characters. Why is Tea doing all of what she has done? And who is traitor, maybe more than one? Will we ever find out Druj?

I kept reading and going “I am not sure how we’re going to get all the answers to everything I need to know” until suddenyl all the ribbons, hints and little things made sense. My suspicions on some characters turned out to be true (it was also fun to buddy read this and have a theory and suggest it but not be fully sure and doubt yourself and then have it confirmed) and new things kept coming that still managed to surprise me but made sense.

I think that is one of the beauties of this series. There is a LOT going on. And you get most of the answers at the end, in the last book, but they all make sense because you can remember scenes in previous books and even in the one you’re reading, and the dots connect. It takes skill to write and make all those dots connect and do so in such a way, so I can only admire Rin’s ability to write this story.

//Spoilers for content in the two previous books ahead but no spoilers for this one//

Tea and Kalen. I adored the scenes that happened between them including drunk Tea which was one of my favourite parts. And we had the relationship develop well so it felt right, it worked and the chemistry. Honestly, I was just like cooing and wanting more of them.

I also had a lot fo love for the other pairings happening in the book and how they slowly come to fruition. It was wonderful to see old characters keep up.

The one thing I would’ve loved, was a list of names and who they were plus which country they originally belong to (as at some point I had to stop and remind myself that X was actually from so and so and not the other country). But this is more due to the sheer size of the world and the amount of characters and me desperately wanting to understand it all and not miss a thing.

Honestly I can babble incoherently for a while, but all I can say is that the book shows Rin’s ability to weave a tale and bring it to completion breaking and mending your heart along the way.

The Heart Forger Review

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

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

After reading The Bone Witch, I ordered the next two books, then continued a buddy read. Life got in the way for both of us so it took us a while to coordinate again, but once we did, we flew through it.

One of my favourite things so far is the world building. You get so much in this world and it just keeps expanding more and more. The style of having Tea in the present talking to the Bard about her story of the past and what made her what she is, does a really good job in presenting items cohesively despite being different moments and different reveals.

The last 100 pages or so, they went by so fast because there was so much going on and slowly being revealed and surprisingly a lot of what I thought would happen, didn’t and things I didn’t expect did. As I reached the end I needed to know more.

The characters keep developing their layers and showing more of how grey they are and how difficult it is to know someone’s true intentions and what is going on behind closed doors but in figurative and literal sense. I have a big soft spot both for Khalad and Likh, and for their stories. But new characters also join in and add to the “team”, Mykkie is still a big part of the story and Tea keeps showing us more of who she is, what she has held inside and slowly revealing the secrets and motives that she carries as a heavy burden.

I am in awe of the story. It is deep and full and rich, and I cannot recommend it enough. Also, it is incredibly hard not to spoil it while reviewing because there is SO mcuh I’d like to say but it’d spoil it and it’s worth not doing that.

I can only say, go read The Bone Witch and have The Heart Forger ready to keep going because you will want to know more!

Thorn Review

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

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

Thron was included in one of the recent Book Box Club boxes. However, I had it on preorder and didn’t catch that it was the same book, so I got duplicates and gifted a copy to a friend.

Obviously means I was eager to read it, right?

From the start, there is a fairy tale undertone to the story (I know it is based on the story of the goose girl, but some books that are based on fairy tales do not read like one) and it sets the tone for the rest of the book in a wonderful way.

We meet Alyrra as she is preparing to meet her future husband’s family. She is in general a resigned unhappy princess that would rather have a different life. However, she doesn’t want an adventure as one would expect. What she wants is just peace, to be able to be insignificant in a way. And she wants to not have her cruel family over her. As much as she is unsure about the alliance through marriage and who the prince is, she sees this as a way out of her family and country to somewhere that may be better.

What she doesn’t expect is to end up as the lady in company of the princess rather than the actual princess, which puts her into the position of a goose girl as ajob. Which she finds delightful. It is hard work, but it is work and she is gettign exactly what she wants. Plus there’s a wonderful talking horse, Falada, that she has for ocmpany.

The story follows the bones of the goose girl fairy tale but adds to many beautiful layers on top. One of my favourite lines is the concept of family and unity, of found family rather than the given one (which really spoke to me). Another one is the concept of justice and what that may mean. Can justice be truly fair? What does that mean and how is it decided? There is also the way Alyrra starts to figure out who she is outside of the obligations of being a “princess”. And it is interesting to see how she views herself as something but in truth she is ahead of how she sees herself. She calls herself a coward often, but has a lot of courage, and it takes her time to understand that and to see what she is doing as courageous.

I think those layers and the many characters that are very defined in the story, like Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Joa make it even better as a fairy tale on it’s own. Vety enjoyable, feels old and as if it has existed for so long and yet it is fresh and has a lot of questions. Probably the best way to describe Thorn is to say that this is what a fairytale ought to be in 2020. Something to become a classic read over and over and seen as a comfortable uncomfortable story with magic woven through it.

Highly recommend reading it and giving it a chance.

The Enigma Game Blog Tour

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

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A few disclaimers before I launch into my review of The Enigma Game. I was provided a free copy of the book for reviewing purposes, however this doesn’t influence my review at all.

The second disclaimer is that that I have most of Elizabeth’s books (including non fiction) and as you can guess from the picture, have a soft spot for World War II bombers and cryptography (yes, I was at those Turing events). So be aware that this makes this book a quick runner for a good review due to contents.

The Enigma Game is another winner by Elizabeth Wein. It depicts so many things about how life during World War II was back then and does so with her unique way that makes you want to know more of the world and how it came to be.

We get a few points of view from different characters as they each give us a little of their world to see. We start with James (Jamie, Scotty) who is the one in charge of a B-flight squadron of Blenheims in Scotland and he is feeling hit in all places by the disadvantages they have (starting with old bombers, and just not great decisions on tactics). He is technically a character that appears in some ways in other of the books so he was familiar (and it kept nagging at me why I felt like I knew who he was but couldn’t place him at the same time, obviously now I want to reread The Pearl Thief and Code Name Verity).

Then we have Louisa, who is mixed race and struggling to find a place in London as she is too young, alone and not the right skin colour. But she finds a job helping Aunt Jane in Scotland and makes the most of it. With her point of view we get Aunt Jane who is a character as is and I absolutely adored the old woman. She’s old but she’s so cunning and so full of ideas and fight, it was wonderful to read her and she reminded me of other old ladies I’ve known (none as mysterious and interesting as her but still).

And we have Ellen who is part of the WAAF as a driver for the RAF airfield but who is hiding the fact she is a traveller. Her point of view was a refreshing sight and a connection between two pieces of the story at first.

Our story centers around them coming unto an Enigma machine (the only one) and due to circumstances, they are able to decode messages and give Jamie’s squadron a secret advantage, but with doing so, they put themselves at risk and potentially everyone.

I adored the story, the characters were so unique and the ambience and setting of the world is done beautifully with tiny details that help put you right there and then with them. It is not just a story about courage but about perceptions, about wanting to be brave and how rules soemtimes are meant to be broken, or in most of the case in the book, just bent rather than broken. I am actually having a hard time writing a very coherent review due to this book hooking me in and making me feel so much and be so invested into the characters and what happened.

As for historical accuracy, at the end you get a note regarding what it is based on and what is “real” and not which it still feels wonderfully well painted and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the author’s gift for writing fiction and making it feel like it is non-fiction.

If you enjoy historical fantasy, are an aircraft nerd or just curious about cryptography or the Enigma, this is a wonderful read. Or if you just want a good story about World War II and friendship, then this is also for you.

Bookish and the Beast Review

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

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

First, I got a review copy for free from the publisher in hope of a review. And it doesn’t influence my review of it at all.

So this is the third book of the Once upon a Con series. And I will admit I did not enjoy Geekerella very much because all I could picture in my head was Hilary Duff as a ginger and “A Cinderella Story”. It was a little too close to the film for me to be able to enjoy it fully. However, I enjoyed The Princess and the Fangirl more, and so I had to give Bookish and the Beast a fair go.

And it was a fun read, it definitely follows the Beauty and the Beast plot, but in a very unique way, and I had fun identifying key moments throughout the plot. It felt less like something else I’ve read/seen and more standing on its own. Some of it may be that the universe already exists and that there’s returning characters (not as main characters but they’re around), so it has the chance to stand on its own more and less of trying to be too familiar.

Still, I liked the way it was written and the bookish aspect. And Rosie’s dad had won a soft spot for me all the way through this book. Absolutely won it. In general, the spin on characters was well done and it was quite fun to read and see it develop.

And of course, the ending really got to me, it was sweet and it made me think “awwww” and feel good after I finished it. A happy ending indeed. The character growth was interesting and the miscommunications made it feel more contemporary and real than a fairytale (so I guess that helps? there’s no magic, just money that kinda helped things be where they needed to be but in truth it was the characters and chance, no magic). Makes you believe that maybe a fairy tale can happen to you too.

I’d recommend this is Beauty and the Beast is one of your favourite stories and you enjoy a good retelling with its own spin on it. Plus it has a feel good vibe that is very welcome in the current times.

Hold Back The Tide Review

Hold Back THe Tide by Melinda Salisbury

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

I’ll start by saying that this is my favourite book by Melinda so far (and that is not to say I didn’t like the previous ones, I did, this one is just better).

We meet Alva and her rules for living with a murderer, who is in this case, her Father. She is 110% sure he killed her mother and will kill her if she does something wrong or something. But she has a plan to leave and do her life the way she wants and not have to deal with her Father.

All good so far, except that suddenly some supernatural beings appear and wreak havoc and well, Alva has to make some choices.

Now, I liked Alva. She is scared, trying to make her life something more than be and survive. And she has been planning this for a while. And not just that, but living with her Father and taking care of the loch, means she’s well prepared and trained well. Obviously, she’s the daughter of the loch keeper and there’s stigma and dislike for him so she is a little bit of a loner and a stranger in the town that relies on the loch.

Then there’s Ren, who seems to be a friend who also feels shunned because who knows who his father is. And he has helped her accidentally with her plans to have a life outside of the town.

As Alva gets closer and closer to the day she is meant to leave for good, things start getting scarier and scarier and weirder. Until she sees this creature outside of her house and can’t deny that something real bad is going on.

In general I liked this as Alva is confronted with a lot of choices and sometimes it feels like she has NO choice and still she makes a choice or gives herself the option to do so. The lore was interesting and it has a very “small town” feel in the vibe of how things suddenly happen, there’s a lot of secrets, lies and cohersion or manipulation that has kept the town running the way it was, which wasn’t great.

As the supernatural beings start attacking and killing some of the villagers, obviously things slowly fall away and truth comes out, including the truth about what happened the night Alva’s mother disappeared and a gun was shot.

Book is intense but engrossing, and the writing gets you going and you forget what time is and just keep reading, which was very enjoyable even if there was a lot of scary in it and at times I had to pause.

Some trigger warnings just in case: attempted rape, murder, violence and abuse of others (non sexual). The one that got me a bit surprised was the attempted rape/sexual assault because I was most certainly not expecting that.

Oh and the ending is quite something. That’s all I can say without spoiling it!

The Last Paper Crane Review

The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery

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

I was sent a copy of this book by Hot Key Books, but as tends to be the case, it was already on my preorders list. So the fact that this came from the publishers in the hopes of a review, doesn’t affect the review at all.

We start with Mizuki, the granddaughter of a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb. She is meant to take care of her grandfather who is old and doesn’t believe that words can be of hope or help anymore, so to her he seems cranky, but he sits down and starts telling her his story.

Ichiro was a young man on a day off, spending it with his friend Hiro, when suddenly the world changed in a drastic way. He starts telling us about how he woke up after the bomb dropped and the disorientation, the chaos, everything feels so intense as you read about it. Then he manages to find Hiro, and they set off to look for Hiro’s little sister Keiko.

Thankfully Keiko is still alive, but they can see the destruction and devastation while they search for her, and Hiro is in really bad shape. However, Hiro makes a choice that leaves Ichiro with Keiko and a promise to take care of her. And he tries, but again, hard choices have to be made and he becomes separated from her.

He sets off on a desperate search for her, getting the hospital staff in Hiroshima and then in Tokyo to try to help him, however, it seems hopeless. Every place he visits, he leaves a paper crane with his details, since that was the last thing he left with Keiko before he lost her.

Ichiro, as an older man now, is still distraught that he couldn’t keep his promise and save Keiko. All he has is a note saying there are no records of her.

I have to say, while I read this, the combination of poetry and verse made it interesting and also set a clear difference between past and present and personality and the changes time has done to Ichiro. It was powerful and beautiful and amde me tear up a few times as I could feel as if I was with Ichiro through his journey, rather than reading an account of someone that this is happening to.

I even had to share with my husband because it just stuck with me so much and it left hope and wanting to be able to believe in hope and not giving up.

I can only recommend this story, and now I am myself intrigued about Kerry’s other works so may go check those out because the writing made this book work really well (the artwork was also a great help at the points where it was, which were minimal but they were well chosen).

The Bone Witch Review

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Bought The Bone Witch after reading The Never Tolting World and enjoying a lot, then thought I should read it for #Februwitchy readathon, but didn’t manage to fit it in, so in the end buddy read it for #ConquerAChonker.

At first I wasn’t sure terribly into it, not that I didn’t like it, but didn’t know where the story was going. However as it progressed I started loving it more and more. I don’t have a better way of describing this but it gave me geisha house vibes with added necromancy and magic, and I absolutely love it!

It was interesting to see her tell her story and have that “break the 4th wall” kinda view on her own past, the wiser Tea telling the story of how she got to where she is but keeping some of the mystery and giving us a potential hint as to what she is attempting to do next.

The world was richly built and the characters had a lot of personality. I was rooting for them and also wanting things to happen (some did, some didn’t) plus I was kept guessing about the two loves she had (not that I couldn’t guess who, mroe I was wondering who they’d be and what happened with each.

Now I can’t wait to see what happens next because that ending left me wanting more (plus those last few chapters of her past were definitely an interesting surprise and I loved it).

I have to say, writing a good review is hard given that I don’t want to spoil the plot and that it was a really good read!

Woven in Moonlight Review

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

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A book based on Bolivian history with moon magic? yes please! And that is just the short premise of it. We have Ximena who has been the Condesa’s decoy for most of her life, to the point she’d die for her. But she doesn’t have to die, only marry the enemy King who is intent on destroying the few leftover Illustrians and has taken over the country.

But King Atoc is corrupt and obsessed with a drug and using it to make money while makignthe population addicted to it and slowly destroying what he built after de-throning the Illustrians.

At first I was incredibly annoyed by Ximena and Catalina (the true Condesa), but the plot was what kept me wanting to find out. I could see bits of where the inspiration for the made up things in the story came from and it made it richer and more interesting.

I never really ended up caring too much about Ximena, though she does grow a lot through the book which helped as she realises not everything she has been told and knows is actually the full truth.

We get a lot about food, weaving and clothes but not enough about the politics, history or the magic. Moon magic, come on! I was dying to know more about it, but we only really find the weaving magic and what Catalina is meant to do via the stars. Not much more is mentioned other than some healing abilities and hiding things, but not detailed enough and it is almost as if magic is an afterthought and yet it is incredibly significant to the story, so it didn’t sit well in my head the disconnect between the importance of the magic and how easily it was brished off to the side unless it was plot important. Or got Ximena out of a pickle.

The animals were cute and having El Lobo be this kind of Robin Hood/Zorro figure was fun but it was easy to guess who was behind it and it felt a bit frustrating that his part in the story is only to prompt Ximena to do things or challenge her when she’s out doing the things. We only know of him as folk hero, and again, the book feels like it only birngs certain things in as needed without any concept, and given how Ximena is that felt not right that she wouldn’t do more about it before she’s “forced” to do something about it.

A few other choices of actions for some of the characters felt odd but otherwise it was interesting and I enjoyed the story and the ideas behind it. It was fun to read and it went by fast (it didn’t feel like a drag or a struggle to read).

The Upside of Falling Review

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

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This book came as part of February’s Book Box Club. I am not big on contemporary reads and romance (if I am reading romance, I usually go full romancelandia), so I wasn’t hoping for much here (not that the book would be bad, more that I may not enjoy it much because it is just not my type of book).

However, it surprised me. It was easy to read, just quick, light reading. I could be reading, drop the book and come back to it and not have to read back a little to make sure I was in place. And it was fast to read.

The story is cute and predictable but still, easy to read, fluffy romance. A fake relationship that may not be fake after a while, which was nice to read and see them discover that they aren’t so different after all and how good each is and their strengths (and weaknesses).

Also, this book made me want to bake and eat cake a lot. Becca’s mother owns a bakery, so there’s always some kind of baked goods in there and gosh, you will be hungry!

All in all, it was a nice read for a romance and not too bothersome or over complicated just for the sake of. It kept the cuteness and the happy ever after, and all that making you want out of romance.

Wilder Girls Review

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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I had seen very varying reviews of the book, but the premise had caught my eye a couple of years ago so I got it. I don’t regret it.

The book straddles the line of horror slightly and makes for a difficult one to place in a neat category. We meet Hetty, who is doing her best to survive in Raxter and to not succumb to despair. And she only really has two friends, Byatt and Reese.

Even before Byatt disappears, the panorama of how the girls are “infected” by the Tox and have this odd changes in their bodies, and they get ill and some die (and some have already died). Plus, it is hard to know who to trust out of the limited adults left taking care of them. As much as they still live in a school, there’s little of the school as a system left and it is all about survival.

There are a lot of secrets, a lot to learn about the Tox and as Hetty ends up being able to see odd things ahppening that are harder and harder to explain each day and to make sense fo them given their cirucmstances, tough choices have to be made.

And then Byatt disappears. This opens the point of view of Byatt, who shows us where she has been taken and what is going on in her world.

I found there was a lot left as secret but if you look back it slowly makes sense as you discover the truth. The idea is to make you feel as lost as Hetty and Byatt do when they’re going through. Which I did.

I did not like the ending being a bit open and not really getting much anywhere, it felt at first like it had ended and then suddenyl not sure. Are there more books to come? I don’t like having books play the “maybe a next book at some point” game.

But still, it was a good read and interesting concept.

Fight like a Girl Review

Fight like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

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

I received this book from the publisher for free in the hopes I’d review. Now, this sounded intriguing, so I had to read it, but it coming from the publisher doesn’t influence my opinions of it.

Let’s start with the fact this book packs a punch and it will hit hard. As such, it requires a few content warnings: abuse (in various forms and dynamics: parent-child, between partners, as a social construct; emotional, financial, physical), manipulation, gaslighting, murder, fighting.

I did say it packs a punch. We meet Trisha who is shaken due to the fact she accidentally ran over her father, after he wandered in front of her car and he died. She’s not really emotional about it since he was a bit of an enstranged father and it is her mother who she loves.

But love in her world is translated into violence. Her mother will hit her because she loves her and the next moment make her a nice meal. And Trisha is doing the best to try to be better, do better, so she channels all that into Muay Thai kickboxing.

The book is short, and mostly shows two parts of Trisha’s world. The one where she is trying to become a good fighter and do more, get everything out of her system and make the gym and her teacher/mentor proud. But she’s just not very “lucky” and keeps losing her fights.

The other side is her family, the dynamics of the friendship between her mother, aunt and neighbour, and then how her mother very quickly seems to replace her father after the accident. At first Trisha accepts things as they are, but as time goes by she starts questioning how things really happened and why they are happening.

There is a lot of anger in Trisha, so this is a very “emotional” book where she is trying to make sense of the whole I love you and hit you at the same time, and also trying to understand where she belongs and what she can do. And she feels slightly unbalanced, should she be asking questions and does she want to know the answers behind what her mother does, what happened to her dad and the past?

The only part that didn’t really work for me was the soucoyant stories, as they are woven in a way that they may be bordering the line of realism and not, but then the thread of that is lost and kind not followed through. There a few loose threads left that had a lot of attention and then suddenly they aren’t there anymore, as if it wasn’t important or it never mattered, yet they take a few chapters and keep being mentioned for a while. I wish more had been done to follow on that particular thread or that it hadn’t really appeared as all it did was distract and detract fromthe story since it went nowhere (it peaked my curiosity, mad eme wonder and then I was like “but what about the whole soucoyant thing? what was the point?”).

I’d say, that if you plan on reading this to be prepared for how gritt and brutal it is. The only other similar book I can think of, is Monday is not coming, which was very intense too.

Hideous Beauty Review

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

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

I won this book out of a lotery during YALC, however that doesn’t change my review or do anything for or against it.

To start this review, at least one of the foxes given is purely due to the fact that I usually cringe at books that center on romance/a relationship and somehow this one didn’t annoy me, or make me frustrated or anything like that. I enjoyed the romance,so kudos to the author because somehow a 4 fox review has come out of a contemporary romance book. Someone save this one for posterity.

Maybe that should be the whole review, this book made me like contemporary romance. (But I am not going to go test the waters and ruin the experience I got out of this one book).

Now on to an actual review of it. It is a very interesting book, with a coming out, a high school dance where they are officially out, and then disaster. Both Ellis and Dylan were fleshed out as full characters and neither was just a ploy or just there, you could see and feel what they were going through. There are several parts of the story to follow. One is Dylan’s best friend and their friendship, which I enjoyed but also boy, was that intense (and no, no filthy thoughts).

Another part is what made Ellis to elusive and what was he keeping from Dylan? Why is Dylan suddenly getting pages from the sketchbook Ellis had? The mystery is there ever present but it is also something that is keeping Dylan going and in some ways keeing him from plunging deeper into his grief, but at the same time, he’s not letting go of that grief because he wants to keep searching for answers.

And of course, the last one, is grief (another grief book, definitely my type of book). It is on how his family and the rest of the world interacts with him, and it is about him reacting or interacting in return. On processing the grief, and trying to find a way in and out and somehow untangle the big tangle that grief is.

The book in general does well exploring the three points and the final discovery both surprised me in one of the things and was not that surprising in another. But it didn’t feel too far away from what could possibly be.

This is not a happy book, it is a book that is steeped in sadness an in discovery and just finding your place in the world and learning who you are and who your boyfriend was/is.

Still, definitely worth a read.

All Fall Down Review

All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

A deadly contagion races through England…

Isabel and her family have nowhere to run from a disease that has killed half of Europe. When the world she knows and loves ends for ever, her only weapon is courage.

The Black Death of 1349 was the deadliest plague in human history. All Fall Down is a powerful and inspiring story of survival in the face of real-life horror.

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I haven’t read much historical fiction around the Black Death, so I decided to give this a go. And I’ve read another of Sally’s books before, so at least I kinda knew what to expect.

It was a very interesting book as you’re introduced to Isabel, and her world. And how it is so “natural” to just be part of it, you can see which parts they question and which ones they don’t. As a way to plunge into the world and setitng, this book does a good job at that but without feeling like you’re just reading a history book with just facts. Isabel and her family make the history become alive.

There’s not much that can’t be spoiled since we know Black Death killed a lot of people. And as the small village Isabel lives in slowly gets affected by it, and then it hits her family, tough choices have to be made, but also some questions arise about roles, responsibiltiies and status quo.

When everyone is dying around you, do the rules that kept you in that place still stand?

I didn’t love the book but it was a quick read, easy to consume without bogging down in facts, the plot was a bit broken into odd parts which is why it isn’t getting more stars, but it still got to somewhere and gave a good “ending” (or as good as you can have given the topic and circumstances).

Five Midnights Review

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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