[Book Review] Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

39898847Synopsis: Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.


Could there have been a better book to open my 2019 reading? Absolutely not.

This book, in my opinion, was perfection.

An Asian fantasy with oppressed, abused young women who step up and take their lives back, even in the most dire of situations, with a beautiful f/f relationship, this book had everything I love in fantasy. It was thoroughly entertaining and had me gripped to its pages from the very beginning – I honestly didn’t want to put it down! It’s a shame I only have time to read on my commute, because otherwise I think I would have read it in one sitting.

I loved the social system:

  • Paper Caste: Fully Human
  • Steel Caste: Half Human, Half Demon
  • Moon Case: Fully Demon

This provided a class system away from race and nationality, but brought an equivalent that we can compare to in the real world. Paper Caste are seen as the lowest in society, oppressed and discriminated against highly by the Moon Caste. Some in the Paper Caste submitted to this, and others did not…

The thing I loved most about this book was the wide variety of characters; their personalities and backgrounds painted a technicolor rainbow, and it was a delight to read about each one of these women. One of my particular favourites was Lill, the young Steel Caste maid assigned to look after Lei in Paper House. She was bubbly, naive and witty, and honestly made me laugh out loud on several occasions. Her energy translated onto the page beautifully.

I have to say that I thought this book was incredibly well-written. The character developments were terrific, and the only thing I can ask of in the next instalment to the series, is even more world building. Whilst we got enough for this book to work, I would ideally like this to be built upon even more to create an fully immersive world, complete with all of the crazy politics and intriguing magic system that we started to get a sense of in this book.

I have so many questions left to be answered.

AND BOY, THAT CLIFFHANGER…

I sure do hope we don’t have to wait too long for Book 2!

I’m so glad I decided to open 2019 with this book, my only regret is that I didn’t read it when it was first published!


[Anticipated Releases] January 2019

I was going to do a generic “Most Anticipated Releases of 2019” post, but I realised that there are SO MANY books that I am excited about this year, that it would have taken you a year to read the list!

So instead I shall be doing an “Anticipated Releases” post on a monthly basis, starting here, in January…


The Wicked King by Holly Black

  • Publication Date: January 8th
  • Publisher: Hot Key Books

26032887Synopsis:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.


The Binding by Bridget Collins

  • Publication Date: January 10th
  • Publisher: The Borough Press

So I’ve actually already read this one and believe me when I tell you you HAVE to read it immediately! It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, it’s already my Book of the Year for 2019. The more I think about it, the more I love it and want to re-read it over and over again.

Read my review here.

39964740Synopsis:

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.


The Winter of The Witch by Katherine Arden

  • Publication Date: January 10th
  • Publisher: Del Rey

38204046Synopsis:

Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.

Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…


Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

  • Publication Date: January 17th
  • Publisher: Transworld Ltd.

36678391Synopsis:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.


King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  • Publication Date: January 29th
  • Publisher: Orion Childrens (Imprint of Hachette)

40030680Synopsis:

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


Which new releases are you most looking forward to this month?

[Beat The Backlist] 2019 Sign-Up!

Here we go… a second attempt at knocking off those books which are forever doomed to the eternal TBR pile…

Beat The Backlist is a reading challenge hosted by Novel Knight, with an aim to reading the backlist titles that we push to one side in favour of new releases. Anything published in or before 2018 counts, and the book must be started and completed between Jan 1st – Dec 31st 2019. For example, I started reading Normal People in December 2018, so although I haven’t finished it yet, it can’t go against this reading challenge!

So, without further ado, here’s a quick list of some books I hope to read this year:


January TBR:

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Further Backlist TBR:

The Silence of The Girls by Pat Barker

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Viscious by V.E. Schwab

Everless by Sara Holland

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Furyborn by Clare Legrand

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


This of course isn’t the limit to the amount of books I want to read for this challenge, nor will it remain exclusively to the ones I’ve included here as I’m very much a mood reader, but I feel like this is a great place to start!


Will you be attempting to Beat The Backlist this year? Sign up here.

[TBR] January 2019

Happy New Year!

Wowza, another year gone… but with a brand new year starting, that means more amazing new releases, a fresh start to Reading Challenges and of course, resolutions we’ll probably never stick to!

And here’s something else I’ll probably never stick to… my January 2019 TBR.

I’ve chosen some (I hope) amazing books to kick start the year with and get me started towards the glory of actually completing my goodreads challenge this year…


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

I started reading this on my commute to work this morning, and boy am I glad I decided to kick off the New Year with this! I’m only 50 ish pages in and it’s already looking to be amazing!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I’ve also started reading this one already. I’m 80 pages in and throughly enjoying it so far.

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

I had hoped to get to this one before the end of 2018 but that just didn’t work out for me… so here it is at the top of my TBR for 2019. It sounds brilliant and I’ve heard great things – very much looking forward to getting started on this!

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I swear, if I don’t read this book this month, someone needs to shoot me. I think this may be the 5th time this books has been on my TBR over the course of 2 years… THIS IS THE ONE.


What’s on your TBR this month?

[Book Review] The Binding by Bridget Collins

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

39964740Synopsis: Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Forever.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.


I was incredibly lucky to be sent an advanced copy of this book by the team at Borough Press.

Release Date: January 10th 2019


This book was incredible.
My favourite read of this year, and I can’t wait for it to be released in January so that everyone else can read it too!

It was utterly absorbing and enthralling from beginning to end. I loved everything about it; the characters were vivid, honest and fully rounded, the plot had just the right amount of twists and turns and I loved the premise on which the whole book is set around.

Just as if I were a character in the story, where reading a book was forbidden but sucked you in so that you had no concept of how much time had passed, and could picture their lives so vividly; this is how I felt reading this book. I could not and had no desire to put it down, and it has been such a long time since I’ve felt this way whilst reading a book.

The characters were morally flawed and intriguing, and all went on such incredible journeys. There wasn’t one character that I thought was under-developed. There were characters I hated, ones I loved deeply and I just wanted to stay with them long after I turned the final page of the book.

I have so many words that I just want to shout out about this book; it was utterly spellbinding, hopelessly romantic, moving, captivating, magical and simply wonderful.

A sheer delight to read.

I will be recommending this book to absolutely everyone, and I wish I could read it for the first time over and over again, just to experience that magical feeling that I was left with once more.

An easy 5 star review, there’s no question about it.


 

10 Books I Wish I’d Read in 2018

I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t been able to read absolutely every book they wanted to this year…

Here’s a list of my top 10. I’ve excluded well-established series as they will be coming in a separate post.


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Although this is a relatively new release, I still wish I could have read it immediately! It sounds amazing and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews. It’s definitely top of my TBR for 2019.

The Silence of The Girls by Pat Barker

I’ve had so many people recommend this book to me, it sounds right up my street and I’ve owned an ARC for over half a year now… A reimagining of the Iliad told from the women’s perspective – what’s not to love?! Again, this has to be up there to open up my reading for the New Year.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

This is another one which I’ve heard so many people rave about. A diverse Asian-inspired fantasy rooted in history, I really hope the hype is real on this one. It’s a bit of a tome, which is why I’ve been put off a bit so far. Clearly I have commitment issues…

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I have actually read a chapter of this one… I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t continue with it, but there we go.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Another Mermaid book here… maybe I need to do “Mermaid March” or something… is that I thing? I might make it a thing. Join me in March for all books Mermaid-y!

Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovik

This is another book which I read a chapter of (and loved!) but didn’t actually continue to read for some unknown, bizarre reason. With the second book now released, I feel like I need to read this asap!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

I have wanted to read this one since before it was released! Again, the size of it put me off, especially seeing as I have had such a hard time finding time to read this year.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Seriously, why have I not read all of these hyped up YA fantasy books that I know I’ll love?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I’ve talked about this book so much, but never actually picked it up…

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

This is one which had been on my wishlist forever, and was gifted in a Secret Santa last year. It seemed perfect for winter. Winter came and left again… so now here we are, another winter later.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This book has been recommended to me by about 5000 people. Another Greek retelling, and a gorgeous cover might I add! I wish I had read this when it was first released so I could rave about it with everyone.


Which books do you wish you had read this year?

Winter Book Recommendations

Winter.

Warm nights by the fire with a good book and cup of hot chocolate…

But what to read?!

Here are a few recommendations of books with a wintery setting that will whisk you away this jolly season:


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

A re-telling of Rumplestiltskin, this fantasy re-telling follows three young women all of whom are trapped in some way by the men in their life. Empowering and beautiful, this story will inspire you and move you. It’s truly beautiful.

(I went to link to my review for this book, only to realise I never wrote it… FAIL! I will post a full review of this very soon as I loved it!)

 


Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

img_2396

This is a middle-grade fantasy adventure story, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. It’s a wonderful tale of acceptance, belonging and self-love. I adored this book and highly recommend it! Perfect winter reading.

See full review here.

 


Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

img_2462

With “Winter” in it’s title, you can’t really question is suitability for this list! Full of music, romance, goblins and magic, this whimsical tale will warm those winter nights. I couldn’t put this one down; I found it to be very fast-paced with gorgeous, lyrical prose.

(Another one it turns out I never wrote a review for… SHAME ON ME.)

 


There are obviously many more books which would fit into this post, but I decided to limit it to ones which I have read and enjoyed this year.

Have you read any wintery book this year which I should read this season? Let me know in the comments!