Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

This week Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon, the 2016 novel by Kelly Barnhill. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.
Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Sprinkles: This looks like an interesting book Marshmallow. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Marshmallow: This book is about a girl named Luna and a witch named Xan. Luna comes from a village that sacrifices one baby per year. The baby is left in the woods, supposedly to be taken by an evil witch who lives in the woods. But it turns out that the witch is actually Xan, and she is very kind-hearted. She travels every year to pick up the sacrificed baby, and takes it to a loving family in a different village. The children brought by Xan are called Star Children in that village because Xan feeds them starlight before their journey through the forest.

However, one year, Xan accidentally feeds one of the children moonlight. Moonlight is more powerful than starlight and it enmagicks her. In other words, she ends up with extraordinary magical powers. Xan decides to name her Luna and raise her as her own.

S: That is a very interesting premise. And I can see why the book is titled The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I’m guessing that is Luna. So does Luna know any of this?

M: Not really. Not for a long time. And she cannot hear the word “magic”.

S: That is weird. So the book is about Luna and Xan and their adventures?

M: No. Not quite. There are multiple stories that are going on at the same time. There is a guy who is determined to kill Xan for example, but he is a good person, he just wants to protect his own child. And eventually we see Luna’s real mom show up. Lots of things are happening at the same time, and Luna is trying to figure out how to use her magic.

S: Hmm, that sounds intriguing. I might want to read it too some day.

M: Yes, I think you should. It is about family, love, and who becomes your family. Luna’s family is made up of a dragon and a bog monster besides the witch Xan, and eventually she is reunited with her birth mom too. And there is a surprising twist towards the end, but I am not going to spoil things.

S: Hmm, I guess I will just have to read the book to find out for myself.

Marshmallow is reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.
Marshmallow is reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

S: So apparently there was a prequel published right around the time the book came out. What did you think of that?

M: I thought it was interesting to get some backstory on one of the characters. We should probably put links to them in our review.

S: Okay, here is the link to the first part of the prequel, and here is the second part. We should warn our readers that there are lots of popups and ads on the linked pages but the story seems to be worth it.

M: I’d say so.

S: Did this book remind you of any other books you have read or reviewed before?

M: No, I think it was quite unique. I’d say it is really a beautiful story.

S: What you did tell me so far reminded me of a couple of the stories in Soman Chaimani’s Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales. Or even the beginning of the School for Good and Evil stories. There, too, children are taken to save their villages.

M: Yes, I can see what you mean. And I do love the School for Good and Evil books. But I view this book as something quite different.

S: Okay, it is a book of its own, deserves its own place among your favorites?

M: I’d say so. I will definitely reread it at least once more.

S: So then would you be rating it 100%?

M: Yes!

S: And that is a good place to wrap up this review then. I might just grab the book and start reading it right away.

M: You do that! And our readers, they should stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

Marshmallow has been reviewing the illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books, and so far she reviewed  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, all written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay. While waiting for the fifth book to come out in the illustrated version, she came upon another gem: Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay, just hot off the press (publication date is October 2021). As she occasionally does, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter: A Magical Year - The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.
Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.

Sprinkles:So Marshmallow, tell us a bit about this book.

Marshmallow: This is a book that has Harry Potter quotes for every day. Like the illustrated versions of the Harry Potter series that I have been reviewing for our blog, the drawings were created by Jim Kay. All of the pages are richly decorated with related images and backgrounds.

S: That sounds interesting! So every day, you could wonder what Harry or Hermione or some other person from Hogwarts might have been doing that day and the book would tell you?

M: Not quite. The quotes are placed on a date close to when they are supposed to have happened. But for example on the days before Harry’s birthday, there are several days where we get quotes from Harry’s birthday. But still, if you wanted to have some Harry Potter magic for each day of the year, this would work perfectly!

S: That sounds perfect for a Potterhead like yourself Marshmallow!

M: Yes, exactly.

S: So have you checked the entry for today?

M: Yep! Here is me looking precisely at that page!

Marshmallow is reading the entry for today, November 13, in Harry Potter: A Magical Year - The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay. The entry is a quote from Hermione Granger, taken from Chapter 19 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: "Why don't we go and have a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, it's a bit cold, isn't it?"
Marshmallow is reading the entry for today, November 13, in Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay. The entry is a quote from Hermione Granger, taken from Chapter 19 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “Why don’t we go and have a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, it’s a bit cold, isn’t it?”

S: How about your on birthday? Did you check that out?

M: Yes, and it is kind of a sad one, so I won’t tell you about it.

S: Okay, I understand. And we don’t want to give away personal information here anyways…

Marshmallow is reading the pages corresponding to May 24, May 25, and May 26, in Harry Potter: A Magical Year - The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.
Marshmallow is reading the pages corresponding to May 24, May 25, and May 26, in Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.

S: So would you recommend this book to our readers?

M: Yes, of course. Especially people who like Harry Potter and his world will definitely enjoy this book. It is really pretty, the illustrations are amazing!

S: That is a ringing endorsement, especially coming from you!

M: Well, I always like Harry Potter-related stuff.

S: That’s true of course. So would you like to rate this book then? I think I know what the rating will be…

M: Yes, and I would rate it 100%. It is a beautiful book, especially for bunnies who like Harry Potter…

S: So then we are about ready to wrap up this review I think.

M: Yes!  I’ll again adapt Caramel’s famous closing line to myself and say: “Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!”

Marshmallow really enjoyed reading and reviewing Harry Potter: A Magical Year - The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay, and is looking forward to reading more from this author-illustrator team, in particular the illustrated versions of the remaining Harry Potter books.
Marshmallow really enjoyed reading and reviewing Harry Potter: A Magical Year – The Illustrations of Jim Kay by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay, and is looking forward to reading more from this author-illustrator team, in particular the illustrated versions of the remaining Harry Potter books.

Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper

This year Marshmallow has reviewed the first four books of Susan Cooper’s classic The Dark Is Rising series. Today she is finally ready to discuss the fifth and last book, Silver on the Tree, for the book bunnies blog. Sprinkles, who has also read the series recently, is taking notes and asking questions.

You can see Marshmallow’s reviews of the first four books here:  Over Sea, Under StoneThe Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, and The Grey King.

Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell me about this book.

Marshmallow: Silver on the Tree is the fifth and the last book in the series The Dark Is Rising. The series is about the ultimate battle between the Light and the Dark. The Light represents good and the Dark is evil.

S: So what happens in this fifth book?

M: Bran and Will, two of the characters we met in some of the earlier books, go to a different realm, the Lost Land, to obtain the last magic item the Light needs in its war against the Dark. The magical item is a sword made by the king of the Lost Land, and after some challenges, they manage to get it. Eventually though, the Dark does rise, and things look pretty bad for a while. There is an unexpected villain, someone we trust who turns out to be one of the Dark Lords. Pretty strange turn of events, and kind of confusing at times…

S: I know you had some difficulty following some of the plot at times, and you did not always enjoy the book.

M: Yes, I found it a little difficult sometimes, but overall the plot is actually quite interesting. One of the main issues I had with this book was that the style of writing felt unfamiliar to me.

S: What do you mean? Do you think the language was a bit old fashioned?

M: No, not that, but somehow the story-telling was very fluid, going from one location and time to another, and it was not always clear who was doing what. Some of the plot occasionally went over my head until a bit later, when something else happened and I had to go back to reread.

S: You are a very good and experienced reader, so this is interesting to hear. So I can say for myself that I really enjoyed reading each of the books in this series, but I can also see how sometimes things got a bit confusing. There were spots where the transitions between different times and actors were hinted at and not made very explicit, and the actual extent and implications of the threat of the Dark rising were vague, to say the least.

M: Yes, that is exactly what I think. It was not always clear what the Dark rising actually meant because the Dark was evil, but evil in humans was not always caused by the Dark. But I think it meant that once the Dark rose, there would be no more hope of good. Though they could never destroy the other side, so there would always be the Light, and some chance of good, but if the Dark did rise and win it all, humanity would be lost. They would be all slaves to evil. Which sounds kind of vague, honestly, but definitely also pretty terrifying.

S: But you were not really scared reading the books themselves right?

M: No, that was not what I meant. I was only really a bit scared while reading the first book Over Sea, Under Stone. But the Dark rising is a serious threat, I could get that.

S: I see.

Marshmallow is reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.

S: So overall, now that you are done with the whole series, what would you like to say to our readers about it?

M: I would recommend this book to people who like myths, because it blends Welsh mythology with King Arthur stories, and then adds some. There is magic, there is a big scary war between good and evil, and some quite ordinary kids having a role to play.

S: That sounds about right to me. If you could talk to the author, what would you say?

M: Well, I would say that the plots of all the books were very interesting though a bit confusing. I did love how she brought together different mythologies. But I really wished that she would have added some more female characters. The ones in the books were alright, I mean, Jane turned out to be useful in Greenwitch. And the Lady was one of the most powerful among those who fought for the Light, but more women and more girls could have made this story more captivating for me as a female bunny.

S: I cannot disagree with that! And I think you were quite disappointed by what happened to the main characters at the very end.

M: I think that is fair to say.

S: I know. But it also makes sense, no? That humans now have to make their own decisions, they cannot depend on the Light to save them nor can they blame the Dark for things that go wrong?

M: Hmm, I think you are now in spoiler territory!

S: You are right, I’m sorry. Let us stop here then. But in the end, I’d say that these are interesting books and this last one wraps things up in an overall satisfactory way…

M: Sure, I am happy to agree with that.

S: Okay, then how would you like to end the review?

M: I’ll adapt Caramel’s famous closing line to myself and say: “Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!”

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, and though she found it a bit confusing at times, she is happy to recommend the books in the series to readers who enjoy stories that blend fantasy, magic, and ancient myths.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, and though she found it a bit confusing at times, she is happy to recommend the books in the series to readers who enjoy stories that blend fantasy, magic, and ancient myths.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

This week, Marshmallow continues her repeat journey through the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and reviews the fourth book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The version she is writing about below is the gloriously illustrated edition, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

For Marshmallow’s reviews of the earlier books see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Marshmallow also reviewed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written as a sequel to the whole series.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.
Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about magic and school, or enjoyed the earlier books or any of the movies in the Harry Potter series, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Harry Potter is a fourteen-year-old boy who discovered his wizard identity on his eleventh birthday and has ever since been attending Hogwarts, a school for young wizards. This fourth book about Harry’s adventures in and around Hogwarts starts with the murder of an old Muggle, which is the word wizards use for people who don’t have magic. The Muggle is murdered by Harry’s archnemesis, Lord Voldemort, and Harry sees the whole event in a dream. Lord Voldemort is in a large house that Harry does not recognize, but he does recognize one of Lord Voldemort’s accomplices: Peter Pettigrew, who, as we all learned in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was the traitor who betrayed his parents. 

On a happier note, Harry is going to be visiting his friend, Ronald Weasley, and watching a Quidditch game with Ron’s whole family and their friend Hermione. However, after the game, Death Eaters, servants of Lord Voldemort, attack the camping grounds for the game and set the Dark Mark, the symbol of Lord Voldemort, in the sky. 

Marshmallow is reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.
Marshmallow is reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.

When Harry returns to Hogwarts for the new school year, he learns that the Triwizard Tournament is being held. The Triwizard Tournament, which had not been held for a while due to it being extremely dangerous, is a tournament in which three students, one from Hogwarts, one from a wizarding school in France named Beauxbatons Academy, and one from another wizard school in northern Europe named Durmstrang Institute. These students compete in trials and the winner receives the Triwizard Cup and a lot of money. Students who are eligible (they need to be seventeen or older) put their names in to the Goblet of Fire, and the Goblet will select the champions.

In the end, Cedric Diggory from Hufflepuff, one of the houses at Hogwarts, is selected, along with Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons, and Viktor Krum from Durmstrang. (Viktor is also a famous Quidditch player and we had heard about him before when watching the quidditch game when the Dark Mark had appeared.) Surprisingly, the Goblet also selects Harry, who did not put his name in, nor is eligible because he is too young. However, the judges decide that he will have to compete.

The Triwizard Tournament has always been extremely dangerous, and now, given the impending return of Lord Voldemort, Harry faces more danger than he can imagine. 

Marshmallow is still reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.
Marshmallow is still reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a great book and makes a great fourth book to the Harry Potter series. The author J. K. Rowling created an amazing world and we continue to learn more about it in this book. Something that really adds to the pleasure of reading these books is all the details that she adds. 

The particular version that I chose to read for this review is the illustrated one, by Jim Kay. The drawings are amazing! There are almost no pages that don’t have a special background related to the story, or a drawing or two in the corner. Sometimes there are pages that are all pictures, beautiful, eerie, haunting, whatever is needed at that point of the story. 

Some of the illustrations reminded me of the movie, which too was pretty awesome. Here is the trailer for it in case you are interested in checking it out:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Original Theatrical Trailer (2005).

The plot is very well written. There are some twists and turns that one would not expect, but the evidence is all in the story. Sprinkles tells me that this was the most moving book in the series for her. It is also one of the longest (only the fifth book is longer). But it is definitely worth the read.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay 100%.
Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay 100%.