A memoir turned into thrilling fiction; Moon in Bastet is based on the life of author E. S. Danon. The story follows a fourteen-year-old girl named Eva, an orphan living in the Negev desert of Israel who is working as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme.
Her life is controlled by a volatile drunk named Bella who favors a group of equally volatile teenage bullies, the Christian boys. Bullied, neglected, and alone - Eva's only friends are an odd, thirteen-year-old Sephardic boy named Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives.
On the brink of giving up on life, Eva stumbles upon a mysterious cat in the middle of the desert. Or really, did the cat stumble upon her? Filled with mystery, magic, and symbolism - Moon in Bastet is a story of resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, and women empowerment.
This is a work filled with Jewish mysticism that can be enjoyed by people of all races, ages, and religions everywhere.
Elizabeth Danon received her B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University before working as a Marine Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She traveled the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico: collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels and dredges.
Her favorite show is Schitt’s Creek, as she feels a special bond to her fellow comedians - and Sephardic brethren. Growing up half-Jewish herself, Elizabeth eventually converted to being full-Jewish with Temple Israel as a student of Rabbi Panitz.
Her enriched, but complicated, heritage has been an inspiration for most of her creative writing. Being an Aries, she has always felt like a leader and has therefore integrated her feminist beliefs into her work, albeit dropping every women’s studies course that she ever elected in college.
Additionally, her writing has an unmistakable international presence. Elizabeth wanted to discover as much as she could about her Sephardic Heritage and went on Birthright, followed by her independent travels to over ten other countries… carrying nothing but a red bookbag.
"You will find all of the answers you need in the darkest night of your soul. Change is inevitable; everything that happens - happens for a reason. Don't be afraid of anything, not even death. For death is only the start of another life."
E.S. Danon has taken her the story of her life and weaved it into an incredible tale of magic and mysticism. The author has created a work of fiction that explores many real world issues; the oppression of women, the complicated nature of friendships, child neglect and abuse, and religious oppression. I could not put this book down and read it in just two sittings. My heart broke for Eva and the injustices she had to endure at the hands of her guardian Bella. I enjoyed watching the evolution of her relationship with her only friend Jack, as she learned what it is to love someone unconditionally regardless of their flaws. Through her mystical journey, she begins trust herself and find self love. It was an inspiring story that reminds us that no matter the obstacles that are placed on our path, we all have the power of greatness within us. I'm already looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
Thank you to Hurn Publications for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
10/10! What an amazing book to read! Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. While the book is fictitious, the connections to religious discrimination, sexism and the author’s life was eye opening. The character development of Eva is inspiring as she fights societal demands to find her true identity. I cannot wait to read the second book, Sun in Anubis, and read how Eva and Jack’s brother-sister relationship blossoms as Eva continues to find herself. I recommend everyone to read this book as we embark on our own journey through life!
I received a review copy of Moon In Bastet in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in a blog tour for this title with Silver Dagger Book Tours. Thank you to E.S. Danon and Silver Dagger Book Tours for making it possible for me to read this great book! To be completely honest, I've been returning to the tour booking page for this title with Silver Dagger for weeks wondering when the stops would be announced and if I would get a copy and nervously resisted double booking myself for the title with another tour host just in case.
Moon In Bastet is, as the official synopsis indicates, a fictionalization of the author's life leading into a supernatural adventure that is steeped in Jewish traditions and mysticism. As a lover of cats, the title and cover hooked me. As a former history student and simply someone who is curious and fascinated by world religions, I stayed with this book because of the unique way it set about teaching me more about Judaism. As a lover of science fiction and fantasy novels, the interdimensional travel and mystic battle to survive were the cherry on top of this rich cake.
I particularly enjoyed the complicated relationship between the main child characters, Eva and Jack, and of course I loved Eva's relationship with her special cat. I can't remember now if the cat Andy was described in detail or not, but in my mind's eye, he's a chocolate (brown) Burmese. Without spoiling anything, I'd like to admit at this point that I've asked both my cats if they're keeping the same secrets Andy kept. So far they have not answered, but I suspect Pebbles knows exactly what I'm talking about.
In all seriousness, I very much enjoyed this book. I think it will empower Jewish kids, Middle Eastern kids, and individuals of feminine persuasion everywhere. This book has important and impactful things to say about sexism, religious freedom, and what it means to be family.
After hearing all this praise you may be wondering why I've chosen not to rate this book a full five out of five stars, so let's address that. First, even though mysticism plays an enormous part in this book's plot and message, we don't experience much of it at all for the first half of the book. I understand that there was a lot of set-up to be done, and I am sensitive to the fact that this book is partially autobiographical, but as a stranger to the author with no connection to the real events and experiences that inspired this book, the first half felt quite slow. It felt like at least 100 pages were spent doing nothing but introducing characters and establishing the dynamics between them. I frequently and openly admit to being the type of reader who likes to spend a little extra time just "hanging out" with the characters, but that has to come after the plot has been established. Again without giving specific spoilers, once mysticism really comes in and the plot picks up, there is a series of life or death events that take place. The pacing changed very abruptly at this point, and to an extent that is to be expected, but I found myself wanting to have little bits of downtime hanging out with the characters at that point, between those events. Do enough to establish who these characters are and what they mean to one another, get to this big turning point with the plot, and THEN let's have moments of hanging out with the characters and building upon what we know.
In addition to this I have two smaller "complaints" and one minor note, should the appropriate person read this, for whoever ends up making formatting decisions in the sequel and future editions.
The temporal setting, the when in time that this novel takes place, is quite ambiguous for most of the first half of the book while we're getting to know the characters (technology or lack thereof isn't highlighted, major events in history aren't brought up, etc.) so it could be any time... until one of the teens said "amazeballs," which puts it in the first decade of the 21st century, likely at least indirectly in contact with North American pop culture through media or internet access. Then later on the same character sees a working electric light for the first time. I struggle to reconcile in my mind that a pair of teenagers being held in near-isolation in a circus in the Middle East in a time and/or location that doesn't have electric lighting would have come across the phrase amazeballs.
I was also disappointed that despite the title and cover of this book hanging a lamp on the whole Egyptian goddess thing and the fact that this book is set in Israel, the main characters don't seem to have any prior knowledge of the Egyptian pantheon. It felt like a matter of plot convenience that a 13 and 14-year-old in Israel (apparently in the 21st century) were completely in the dark on this topic.
My note for anyone involved in formatting future books and editions is to avoid switching to fancy script fonts when characters read something written in a letter or on a sign, as these are difficult-to-impossible for individuals with certain learning disabilities to decipher, and at least two of these occurrences contained vital information that was not repeated or implied later on in the regular text.
Despite these flaws, overall Moon in Bastet did prove to be an amazing story and the second half was nearly perfect. I look forward to the sequel, Sun in Annubis, and hope to review that title as well.
A very interesting book, I love learning little things that are scattered throughout a book so this was a treat for me. Moon In Bastet is an allegorical memoir. It raises themes of sexism, abuse, social tensions, disability, family, mysticism, and identity. The book is detailed in it's descriptions. The setting was interesting, I think the book did well in creating it's intended atmosphere. The struggle of Jack and Eva's relationship felt complex and real. For teenagers it can be especially hard as they have their own struggles, so even though it frustrated me, it was just a reminder that human beings are very complex and we all need compassion and wish to be understood.
Also can we just appreciate for a moment how pretty the cover is:
The merch for this is going to be so pretty.
On to the characters, they felt raw to me. As a personal preference I like books where the emotions are dissented over a long period of time, and since I'm more of a stoic so for me the emotions were a lot to handle (I've read some pretty intense classics and I've noticed that it's just a bit too much for me to read about). But that's just a bit of a personal preference of mine.
The book gave me a different perspective on some things. The book was not what I expected, after a certain point it felt a bit like Alice-in-Wonderland but with addition of mysticism and religion. I was expecting mythology, I think this book goes under mysticism so this book added some variety to my bookshelf that I needed.
I also love that the book has a glossary of words in case the readers may not know a certain word or custom. I find that books feel more authentic when I just plunge into a book without the author explaining every little thing when it's in the glossary or can be inferred. It helps keep the atmosphere and maintain the narrative flow of the book.
I would think this is for those that love allegorical memoirs, or religion, or mythology, or mysticism. It would be interesting to see how the worldbuilding in the book is developed in the next book. Even though it is very much mysticism, it also had a sci-fi feel to it (I love those kinds of myth/sci-fi books). Overall a good book with something for everyone to learn and think about.
A thank you to the author for sending me a review copy.
***I received a review copy from the author through Voracious Readers*** ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Hi everyone! Moon In Bastet is a symbolic account of my life, set in a fictional realm with a nonspecific time period (which changes as the characters travel between the realms.) Eva is very much my inner child, and I am her other self.
I set the knowledge realm in Israel because of the Jewish diaspora and also, because Israel helped bring me back to Judaism. My mother is Catholic and my father is Sephardic. If I could have chosen from the start, I would have chosen Judaism and gone to Hebrew school, but nobody ever asked me what I wanted. They chose for me. Jewish law chose for me, which is why I’m a strong proponent for either parent being Jewish to pass on Judaism. I wish I didn’t have to convert to be “Jewish”, but that’s the sad reality of many kids today with Jewish lineage.
The knowledge realm was unspecified in time because it’s where all history of the universe is stored - past, present, and future. It’s my take on the Akashic records, symbolic of the fact that I believe my life is fated, and so is Eva’s, as well as everyone else’s.
I chose Bastet as one of the mystics, and my guardians, because I love cats and have always been intrigued by Egypt. Also, the Hebrews and Egyptians have a long standing, and overlapping history, so it’s my way of giving a nod to our shared story. Also, there are many Jews who have Egyptian ancestry, myself included. Genetically I am part Levantine.
When it comes to Sephardic culture and history, I tried to weave our story into Moon In Bastet by it’s characters. For example, my mother and Queen Isabella inspired Bella, and Ferdinand was inspired by King Ferdinand. I also used my grandparents, my guardian angels, as a way to explain some of the places Sephardic people have lived, although it’s not entirely comprehensive. Also, let’s not forget when Eva, Jack, and John made burmelos.
When it comes to the Bedouins, I wanted to show a few things. First, that Arabs and Jews can coexist peacefully and with love, and that we have more similarities than differences: especially when it comes to food. Believe it or not, kanafeh is both an Arabic and Sephardic dish. Also, many Jews are Arabic, and vice versa. There are even Palestinians finding out that they have Jewish ancestry - even more reason for peace. For more information on this I highly recommend learning more about Sephardic Jews and Mizrahi Jews.
When it comes to feminism, I wanted to bring light to the Women of the Wall because not many people know of what’s happening in Israel when it comes to the oppression of women. Female rabbis and cantors aren’t even allowed to hold services at the western wall, albeit the men being able to do so, simply because of their gender.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
With little knowledge of Jewish religion and mysticism, my eyes were opened to it, after reading this book. E.S. Danon knows how to target her young audience in this exciting YA story. It’s primarily based around a young girl, Eva—a fourteen-year-old orphan who has to learn to survive the harsh reality of her circumstances: being bullied, neglected and abused by those she’s been forced to live with—ignorant individuals who have no time for her. However, she has a true friend in Jack—a thirteen-year-old Sephardic (a member or descendant of the Jews) boy who wants to help and look out for her. Typical of young teenagers, though, they pick on one another, occasionally arguing, and even falling out. But, deep-down, this is a friendship which blossoms as the story progresses, especially when the two find themselves embroiled in a world of mystery, forced to take on dangerous challenges, to save the life of a mysterious cat called, Bastet. But all is not as it seems. Without giving too much away, Eva and Jack’s fight for survival makes them stronger, bonding them together. This is a story of discovery, while highlighting the struggles many teenagers today are faced with, regardless of their religion or an affliction they may have to bear. But, with the right person alongside them, E.S. Danon shows how they can survive, over-come those hurdles, to become something—someone—great… and good. This is a great read for young adults, with the addition of mysticism; and who doesn’t love a bit of mystery and adventure? For this, aware of the underlying message, I award FIVE STARS. N/B: check out the glossary at the back of the book, explaining many words and phrases, some of us may not be familiar with. Also, I love the cover; when you look closely at it, it’s symbolic of the story, emphasizing the note-worthy parts of it.
"Judaism is not just a religion. It's a culture. A remembrance. I believe that a Jew's DNA still remembers all of our exiles. Our genocides. Our strength."
This book was totally out of my comfort zone. I don't typically read mystic fiction, but I picked this up because I wanted a book with Jewish rep and because I've interacted with E.S. Danon a couple times on social media and wanted to support her. I didn't really know what I was going to get into, but I couldn't put it down.
From the first page, I was excited to see the Jewish history, and I especially loved that the chapters were separated by phases of the moon since the Hebrew calendar goes by the moon. The symbolism in this book is like no other and was so beautifully done. It's a symbolic telling of the author's life set in the Negev. It's the telling of Eva's journey with real-life themes such as female empowerment, mental health, discovering one's inner self and of course, Judaism. There's also a lot of history of Sephardic culture wrapped into this book, both in plain sight and in a symbolic way.
I don't know what it was, but the epilogue made me tear up. I especially loved the representation of feminism within the Jewish community with the Women of the Wall as well as the reminder that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. People who converted and people whose Judaism comes from their patrilineal side are just as Jewish as I am, and should not be treated any differently.
I had a very unique experience reading this book. This author deserves many praises for writing a story about inequalities of the Sexes regarding chores, Religion, and freedom too be yourself. Eva cleaned up the circus area while the men were so awful to her and bullied her throughout her daily routine. This within itself is reason enough to read this book. Eva is only 13 years old, but she managed to always hold on to her religious beliefs. Eva prayed on a continuous basis at some points in the book, it appeared that she and G-d had a love hate relationship.I realized that this story is truly about the strength of finding one's best self in any situation. I want to thank Voracious Readers and the author for my free copy of this fabulous book. This book is a worthwhile investment in yourself. I definitely did so soul-searching while reading this story.
Moon In Bastet is inspiring, stunning and thought-provoking!
I swear with this book...ugh. I cannot express my love enough for the writer and her honesty and unique approach in telling her own story through fiction.
I found this story absolutely beautiful because it touches on so many important topics, including strength-of-self and listening to our own intuitions.
The information about the Women of the Wall was wonderful to learn about and I'm so glad it was included in the book. I'll be looking more into it and seeing how I can support their movement as well. I hope the author and the group are working together to bring these social issues to light together so we all can have an open dialog.
Thank you so much to Hurn Publications for my ARC of Moon In Bastet!!
Love this story! The attention to detail was amazing! It was also very educational and magical at the same time. I am on the edge of my seat for the next book! I look forward to reading it! Highly recommend!
This book revolves around Eva, an orphan who lives in Negev dessert of Israel. She is controlled by bella. Eva works as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme along with some teenagers who constantly bullies her. Here she meets jack, a thirteen years old boy with whom Eva creates an unbreakable bond.
In the middle of Nowhere Eva comes across one cat who saves her life. she decided to adopt that cat as she is under the eye of Bella, she has to be careful that the cat is not noticed.
Eva, Jack and cat will fight many battles. this is a story of Eva discovering her true destiny, this is story of how we create an breakable bond with a creature who can't even speak that we are ready to give my life for, this is the story of Magic, friendship, brotherhood, women empowerment, etc.
The writing style of this author is lucid. I like the way there's illustrations of a moon at the beginning of the every chapters.
Will highly recommend this book and in this navratri such powerful books are must. Excited for the next book in this series
Absolutely loved it! Everytime I opened the book I was immediately sucked in to Eva's world. I could feel the sand on my feet as Eva walked over the dunes in the desert. I could also feel her pain as she dealt with many unfortunate circumstances in her life from having no real family to dealing with religious oppression. Thankfully she had her trusty sidekick Jack to encourage her through her struggles regardless of their slightly complicated relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed learning tid bits of Jewish religion and mysticism through the story of a very brave teenager. Speaking as someone who is not a part of the Jewish community, the glossary at the back of the book was very appreciated.
This story was unlike anything I've ever read. I felt thrust into a world I knew nothing about and barely understood, pulled by the imagery and descriptive language to keep reading. I won't pretend I fully followed along with the plot, but the twists and turns surprised me. It was more emotional and painful than I expected for a story revolving around such a young character. I felt Eva was portrayed realistically because of this, rather than a watered down, idealized version of a girl her age and in her situation. Not being too familiar with Jewish mysticism, I feel there are some elements that may have slipped past me. It was overall an engaging read, as fanciful as it was dark, and as uplifting as it was painful.
Moon In Bastet by E.S. Danon is a memoir turned thrilling fiction about the author’s life.
We follow an orphan fourteen-year-old girl named Eva who lives in the Negev desert of Israel and works as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme, controlled by a drunk woman. Eva's only reprieve from her life is her thirteen-year-old friend Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives.
There's mystery, magic, and symbolism all compounded into one fantastic book. Danon's prologue is powerful, with poetic descriptions and abstract ideas, but the rest of the book didn't pull me in as the writing didn't hit me as hard, and the story felt more YA.
This book wasn't for me, but you may like this if you enjoy mystical YA stories!
Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me with an ARC of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
This was one of those books that sounded incredibly intriguing, but didn't quite come through for me in the execution.
I do enjoy a period of getting to know the characters before jumping into the plot, but this book took a long time to acclimate us to the characters. It came across as repetitive and slow-moving for a long time, and it didn't help that Eva's character isn't exactly easy to like. She's difficult and prickly, dismissive and hurtful towards the one friend that she does have, Jack. Understandably, it can be tough deal with a friend who struggles with what appears to be OCD at the best of times, and Eva isn't at the best of times, although I found it reductive at best, ableist at worst at how his diagnosis is constantly referred to as "being crazy" or a neurosis. Eva is constantly expressing suicidal thoughts, although she doesn't actually take any action towards it, and she appears to struggle with faith. However, she does have some supports in her life, which she seems to take for granted, constantly focusing on the negative things in her life instead. I had a hard time empathizing with Eva, and instead found myself empathizing with Jack more, which I wasn't sure was exactly the intended aim of the author.
After this especially long getting to know you period, we are suddenly thrust into a period of change, followed by intense, non-stop action. It was a bit overwhelming, and didn't really allow me enough time to quite process everything that was going on, and at times, it read as very young YA, although others it felt more geared towards adults.
Since I read this as an audiobook, I have to also note that the choice of narrator perhaps wasn't the best for this book. She seemed unfamiliar with even the most simple of any of the Jewish terms, and mispronounced just about every single one of them, such as saying the word "shiksa" as "shiska" and being unable to pronounce the hard, guttural "ch" that's required for so many of the Hebrew words. I found it frustrating to hear all of these words pronounced wrong throughout the story, and while it should have made me feel more connected to the story, instead it took me out of the story every time one of these words was pronounced.
Ultimately, I just don't think that this book was a good fit for me, and what I was hoping to gain from reading this wasn't what it was offering.
This book was rife with symbolism. Eva is the main character and she is being raised by a crazy woman in a circus in Israel. The Christian boys in the circus are treated much better. She has a Jewish friend named Jack with many obsessive behaviors.
Set to give up her life, Eva runs into a cat; but the cat isn’t all he seems.
I loved the allusions and allegories in this book as well as the symbolism and social commentary between genders and religions.
Thank you to #NetGalley and #DreamscapeMedia for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook in exchange for my honest opinion. .
This was a super cute story with a very important underlying story about abuse of power, patriarchial BS, sexism, and religious freedom. I loved the happy ending for Eva and would love to learn more about the author E.S. Danon's life since this book is based on parts of it. Definitely will be looking for more books by this author!
This was a hard book to get into at first. However, it was a decent story when you actually got further into the book. I liked the outcome of the book, and I really enjoyed some of the characters. Over all a decent book.
NetGalley and the publisher provided a copy of the audiobook.
Danon's Moon In Bastet is a young adult historical fantasy novel loosely based on the life of the author.
The whole package together was an enjoyable novel. That being said, it takes a long time to get to the meat of the magic in the story, and I felt a lot of the mysticism was more window dressing than truly being featured.
Still, I think there are many young individuals who can relate strongly to Eva, our protagonist, and I feel she's incredibly well written.
While the world built lacks depth and the plot is a little unstable, the characters, especially the protagonist and those who support her, are quite well-written and see some very positive growth. I have a feeling this book would function perfectly as a library gem, the kind where a young person finds the book in a library, reads it, and falls in love with the library and reading in general.