[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!


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[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?