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review 2019-11-11 10:56
Paper Girls Vol. 1
Paper Girls Volume 1 - Cliff Chiang,Brian K. Vaughan

I had heard a lot about Paper Girls before sitting down to finally read the first volume. I liked the girl setting and the 80s theme. Even though I wasn't even born at the time, with all the current enthusiasm for the period, it is difficult not to like it.

I thought the setting was very nicely executed, just I couldn't really get into the story at this point. However, I would like to someday read a couple more of these to explore where it is going.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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text 2019-06-04 13:14
Hugo: Best Graphic Story
Abbott - Saladin Ahmed,Sami Kivela,Jason Wordie
Black Panther: Long Live the King - Nnedi Okorafor
Monstress, No. 3 - Sana Takeda,Marjorie M. Liu
Paper Girls Volume 4 - Brian K Vaughan
Saga Volume 9 - Fiona Staples,Brian K. Vaughan

So I started reading them yesterday and I'm mostly done.  On a sunbeam is a web comic (I can't link from work) and I'm making my way through it, I've read the first few episodes and find it interesting.

 

Again it was hard to choose within an interesting bunch, my favourite was Abbott, ranking the rest was hard.  

Eventually I just decided an order but it was work.

 

Abbott features a female investigative journalist who can see more than she wants to at scenes and a series of grotesque murders.  Stands alone and leaves room for sequels.

 

Black Panther: Long Live the King - Black Panther at home in Wakanda fighting a creature that is destabilising the country.

 

Monstress: Volume 3: Haven - this is so pretty, the artwork is very special and the story winds around and keeps me reading.  You need to have read the previous two books before this.

 

On a Sunbeam is a story of some people travelling around in a spaceship exploring buildings along with some exploration of the past of some of the characters.   Unusual and interesting.

 

Paper Girls - Volume 4 - this one really needed that I read the rest before embarking on it, lost doesn't quite describe it enough.

 

Saga - Volume 9 - I've read the previous stories, the artwork is lush and the story interesting, now I want to know what's going to happen next.

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review 2019-01-19 03:58
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

There were some things I liked about this book and some things I didn't, so I'm trying to go middle of the road and rate this a solid 3 stars.

 

I'll start with the things I didn't like:

  • Lei had super special pretty beautiful eyes that made her super special and she was treated differently because of this, not because of any internal characteristics.
  • Lei didn't have to go through the trials the other girls did to become a Paper Girl because of her super special pretty eyes, and that's because she would have failed.
  • One of the characters told Lei she was the strongest person she'd ever met. Lei had done absolutely nothing to warrant this praise.
  • Lei was the only Paper Girl ever who refused the king and he let her get away with it.
  • Sometimes Lei said something that wasn't particularly cutting but the person in authority she said it to always looked like she'd slapped them, because the author was trying to show how brave/mouthy/spontaneous/witty Lei was, but the reaction seemed really weird and out of place.

The betrayer was way too obvious and it would have been more interesting and a better conflict if the person betraying them was a different character who did it not because 'it wasn't fair' but because of loyalty to the king. And also, I love reformed bad guys so I would have loved it if Lei's enemy/rival had NOT been the one to betray her and become almost begrudging friends.

When Lei was confronted, she didn't even TRY to deny anything, and no one even had any proof.

(spoiler show)

 

What I did like:

  • The romance was really well written, like really. It's probably worth reading for that alone. And not because it's LGBTQ, which I didn't know going in to this (I don't really move from my corner of the interwebz and I don't really feel any kind of hype because I'm not active on social media, so I legit had NO idea), but because it's just really well written. And as unprepared as I was, it didn't seem out of place. I can safely say this is NOT instalove, and maybe even a slow burn, and really enjoyable.
  • The worldbuilding was kinda cool. The different caste systems, the magic. I mean, it's pretty easy to see the Eastern influences but I think it was solid worldbuilding. I've been reading a lot of diverse YA fantasy about oppressed women living in luxury lately (The Bone Witch, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Grace and Fury etc) and it fit in really well with those books.
  • I liked the descriptions of the clothing and food.

 

Other things to note:

The blurb is kind of innocent and mentions that Paper Girls 'serve' the king as a 'consort' and that it's a high honour, but it was actually [spoiler] sexual slavery[/spoiler]. This book was just as dark as Damsel by Elena K Arnold but definitely aimed at a young adult audience.

Lei complained again and again about how the demons treated her and the other Paper caste like they 'weren't even human' and that language doesn't work at all because the demons are superior to the humans, so to treat them like they're human would mean something completely different in this world where humans are little better than animals.

It seems that to most demons, being Paper caste already makes you less than human.

and

Think of all the Paper castes he has his soldiers capture as slaves and kill as easily, as if we weren’t even human.

I wish the author had thought more about this language when Lei made that complaint multiple times. I really hope this is changed for the final version.

I actually think that this whole story could have been more interesting if it was told from another character's point of view.

 

 

(Wren's.)

(spoiler show)

 

If you are more invested in the romance part of fantasy romance, you'll probably enjoy this forbidden romance as much as I did.

(I actually already own The Elites by this same author and I'm pretty keen to give it a read now!)

 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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review 2018-12-05 19:27
Review: Girls of Paper and Fire
Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I went into reading this one with minimal expectations, sounded good but wasn’t really expecting much as I have read so much fantasy this year, and most of it has been a mixed bag. The premise was interesting enough as was the Malaysian inspired premise – but reading in the blurb protagonist chosen to be part of a king’s harem and does the unthinkable – falls in love with someone else.

 

Initially there was a bit of eye rolling on my part and a guess – oh she’s going to fall for some guard or male servant or a prince who’s going to wind up helping her some way. Did I ever get a surprise on that department!

 

I found myself absolutely loving this book. I had started reading by ebook review galley, to find this was the book of the month in my Fairyloot subscription box and got a signed edition with the prettiest cover and pink sprayed edges. This is one of my top ten books of this year.

 

Trigger warnings – sexual assault. There is actually a warning for this on the inside cover of the hardback.

 

The world building is rich and well developed, in this fantasy there are three castes – Paper, the lowest caste, the humans, Steele – half human, half demons  - the middle cast – these people have demoneseque features and powers. Moon caste are the highest – complete demons form. The demon form is usually some sort of animal basis.

 

The heroine Lei lives a hard but happy life in her village with her father in his shop, they are both Paper, they live with her father’s assistant, a Steele class lady who has worked there as long as Lei can remember and is like family to them. Lei’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, taken by a demon army.

 

Every year a number of girls are chosen (read taken) by the Demon King’s army to be Paper Girls – the King’s Concubines – it’s not a request if you’re chosen. Lei finds herself taken by the army, she has unusual gold eyes – goddess touched – which earns her the army chief’s attention and he takes her thinking he can gain favour with the king.

 

Lei’s world is shattered. Lei has a strong voice and is fiery and determined. She was a brilliant lead, full of personality and promise, without being overly head strong or making stupid decisions and rash actions. She’s naturally completely against being a Paper Girl but figures once she’s at the Imperial Palace she might be able to find out what happened to her missing mother.

 

Paper Girls for this year’s crop have already been chosen so Lei’s addition is unusual. Her goddess touched gold eyes make her a viable option. Some of the girls there have been training for this for years and are from high class families, and your typical mean girls. Others are colder and more remote, and one girl is nice and friendly, if very naïve.

 

Lei reluctantly starts to settle into life at the Palace – an elevated life of culture and learning. The girls have a maid who helps them, and lessons, it’s very exclusive and luxurious – but there’s something quite oppressive about it as well. As there is always the threat of the reason why they are there – to serve as concubines to a demon king who doesn’t care if this is something the girls want or not.

 

The girls have to attend various Court events after they are presented to the King. The King makes his choices and one by one the girls are called on to perform their duties. The reactions they have after their night with the King is different for each girl. It’s very uncomfortable to read about.

 

The King is a young man, very handsome, but brutal, a bully, he has moments where you think there might be more to him than a cold ruler who has very little thought for anyone else other than what he wants. But just as quickly as you get that glimpse – something happens and he’s horrible again. And gets worse and worse throughout the novel.

 

While regular Paper Girl life is going on Lei finds herself becoming enamoured with one of the other Paper Girls. This is one the best slow burn romances I’ve come across in a long time. It’s so so slow but the build of anticipation is brilliant as Lei gets to know the girl, Wren. Wren was one of the ones who was cold and dismissive at first, but Wren is as mysterious as she is beautiful. Lei’s yearning comes through so vividly, as she tries to figure out her ceilings, worrying about waiting for her own turn with the king.

 

As the romance slowly blossoms, Lei starts learning some of Wren’s secrets. The plot starts picking upwards the end. There’s a few mysteries and some plot twists and a good burst of action towards the end. And a really WTF cliffhanger at the end. Just when you think everything might actually be okay… of course it’s not!

 

I can’t find enough words for how much I loved this book. There’s not much more I can say without being overly spoilerly about the overall plot. It’s hard to read in some places and deals with some serious issues. It gets uncomfortable. Other places it’s beautifully written with a moving romance, and some lovely female friendships.

 

I can’t wait for more of this series.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2018-07-21 15:25
Paper Girls Volume 1 - Cliff Chiang,Brian K. Vaughan
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I loved this graphic novel. I was hooked from the very start. The characters are awesome, the story is confusing as heck but very intriguing, and the whole idea of the thing is just amazing. It is a science-fiction adventure set in the 1980s. This is basically Stranger Things with more time travel and a diverse cast of paper girls. Another win from Brian K. Vaughan. 

One of the things I think this book did extremely well was show some of the homophobic views of the time, but also address them. Mac's character is very outspoken and says some not-so-nice things such as calling someone an "AIDS patient" or expressing disgust about a boy with a boyfriend. But each time, the other characters call her out for it ("You shouldn't call anyone the other f-word."). This was a good way of showing the views of the characters during the time period without accepting them or leaving them unaddressed. Very well-done.

The characters themselves were phenomenal. I instantly wanted to learn more about them.

Also, the artwork is very cool. It really draws you in. 

Fantastic read. I really enjoyed it. I will definitely be checking out the second book. 
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