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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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text 2018-09-07 10:06
Reading progress update: I've read 109 out of 454 pages.
The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

Third read of this wonderful book. This time I'm listening to it in audio then marking the pages in my paperback. (Reading and listening) and it may be one I've the best audio books I've ever heard. It's really atmospheric and the narration is amazing. The Southern accents are awesome.

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review 2015-11-02 11:37
Review: Weird Girl and What's His Name
Weird Girl and What's His Name - Meagan Brothers

I received a copy from Edelweiss.


This book pretty much had me at two besties who binge watch old X Files reruns. As I am a massive X Files addict. And still binge-watch the series myself. The in-depth X Files references that are a huge bulk of the plot are worth five stars alone. 


However, there are many other reasons for why this is one the best books I have read this year. The basic theme of the novel is there is no such thing as "normal" when you are 17/18 and just starting out in life. Its a journey of self discovery for two very different characters who in spite of being best friends and sharing a love of sci-fi stuff, realise they need to find their own paths in life. 


Told in first person, first from Rory's point of view. He's the weird fat kid, lives with a difficult home life - alcoholic mom, and mom's stream of unsteady boyfriends. He's also gay and seems to be afraid to tell anyone. He's also at the start of the novel in a relationship which his much older boss, a divorced father of two who runs the small town's book shop/coffee shop. They sneak around a lot for obvious reasons. Rory's best friend is Lula, who shares his obsessive love of the X Files, they watch and talk about the episodes, their thoughts on plots, conspiracy theories and chat and stuff on the fan forums. The novel is set several years in the past, just before the second X Files movie comes out. 


Rory has a delightfully snarky tone, he's enigmatic and charming (even though he doesn't seem to think so) and he's very worried about being caught with his boss, Andy. He wants more out of the relationship, but he doesn't seem to be getting it. He's afraid of telling Lula, even though she tells him everything.  He also randomly starts being friendly with the school quarterback, Seth. Who convinces him with his stocky build he'd be great for the team. Which for some reason Lula seems to think is absurd. She comes off in Rory's view points as kind of judgemental. 


When Lula catches him with Andy and gives him a piece of her mind for not trusting her enough with the truth, things rapidly fall apart. Lula disappears and Rory starts to fall apart without her. No one knows if she has run away or been kidnapped. But as Rory struggles to understand what happened with Lula and why she ran off and won't answer his emails or anything, he does start to realise that he can have his own life without needing to run everything by her. He learns there's plenty of stuff she has never told him either. 


The second half off the novel tells the story from Lula's view point. Which I was quite pleased about. As interesting as Rory's point of view was, when the novel turned to Lula's unexpected disappearance I kept thinking it would be nice to see it from Lula's point of view, or at least get some chapters from her explaining why she did what she did.


Initially I liked Lula's brassiness, her tone of voice (sci-fi and Lord of the Rings obsessions which I totally understand) but in the second half of the novel I absolutely fell in love with her. Lula had plenty of reason it turns out, to run away. She has her own drama at home. She lives with her somewhat strict grandparents, raised by them as her mother left when she was very young and had has no idea who her father is. She has a backpack of stuff left by her mother, some books and stuff she reads over and over. All she knows about her mother is mom wanted to be an actress and left for New York. Lula seems to have no idea what she wants to do with her life. She's never dated, though she thinks she might be interested in Rory, and pretty much freaks when she catches him with Andy. Its not the fact Rory's gay, its that Andy is so much older. And he didn't trust her enough to tell her about him. At some point she thought he might like her. Her thoughts on the subject are disjointed. She does some pretty stupid things when she finds out. 


All which coalesce into her running away. Lula wants to find some sort of direction in her life but has no idea how. Her struggles as she finds her answers, are deeply moving. And Lula is a much more likeable character when the story is told from her point of view and things are explained. When Lula comes home, there are massive consequences for her actions. The friendship with Rory takes an unexpected turn.


Lula is forced to deal with her mistakes. All the while still trying to figure out among other things, her sexuality. She just doesn't know. Is she straight, gay or bisexual? She finally comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if she doesn't know right now. She's 18, she's got her whole life ahead of her.


There are some wonderful side characters who help her figure this out. A cool teacher, her mother's husband Walter, (Lula's mom turns out to be kind of a bitch but at least there is some sort of closure there, the man she marries though was a brilliant character) and Seth the quarterback who started off being Rory's friend turns up again and turns out to be pretty awesome and nothing like the jock quarterback you wouldm expect in a YA novel.


While nothing turned out the way you would maybe expect it to, even though things between Rory and Lula have their ups and down, they always manage to reconnect over their love of the X Files. This was something that was really fun and nice to see they still had something in common.



I need a sequel set in modern day times where Lula and Rory run into each other and connect again over the new upcoming X Files revival series. 


It was an emotional roller coaster with deeply fleshed out characters a brilliant storyline. I loved this one from start to finish.


Thank you to Edelweiss and Three Rooms Press for approving my request to view the title. 



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review 2015-06-11 18:51
Review: Emmy & Oliver
Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

I received a copy from Netgalley.

This is one of those delightful books I knew I was going to love from reading the first few pages. This was a lovely, lovely book ranging from the most wonderful bantery fluff to deeply emotional drama and self discovery. I loved every character. Each different person was so fleshed out and real, even Emmy's incredibly annoying overprotective parents had their moments. Parental involvement (while frustrating at some points) in this book was well developed and fit the tone of the novel perfectly without being over the top.

Its also quite a thought provoking plot at times.

The story focuses on Emmy and Oliver, with the odd flashback from before Oliver disappeared and what happened after he comes back and how the two of them, their friends and family deal with his reappearance. There is some delightful witty banter, swoony romance and gut wrenching emotional turmoil. Nothing is as neat as it seems. 

Emmy was a well rounded very relatable main character, with thoughts and feelings all over the place, a brilliant snarky wit and a sweet tender side. Oliver has a difficult journey from his reappearance to how to fit in with his mom and her new husband and daughters, at the same time trying to figure out his feelings for Emmy and where he fits in with her. Emmy has some fantastic friends to stand by her, who all have their roles and everything just clicks perfectly. 

There were some incredibly deep emotion overflowing throughout and it was very moving. I just loved this book from start to finish. 

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster UK Children's for approving my request to view this title.

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review 2015-05-23 13:33
Review: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle
The Awakening and The Struggle - L.J. Smith

I've gushed time and time again over how much I loved the first three books of this series. (I found the fourth book kind of unnecessary and even though I've read it as much as the first three I just don't like it as much) I first read them when I was 14 or 15, (many many years ago) and love them and over the years since read them again and again. 


Elena Gilbert was just the type of girl I wanted to be - queen of the school popular, with great friends, and lived in an awesome town full of Civil War history. Then in comes sexy mysterious Stefan who Elena becomes entranced with but he's just not returning her interest. Its a complete shock to her system. Stefan's Italian history background is captivating. And of course there is the swoon worthy bad boy Damon. Its all very silly really. And Stefan's somewhat stalkery behavior is of course questionable. Damon is a killer with no conscience and no remorse and not above using vampire powers to get what he wants. This should not be sexy. But it kinda is, even though logically its just wrong. Elena does some insanely stupid things. She can be very selfish and stubborn.


I've read series where all these things happen and its driven me up the wall. However, logic does not really apply to reading this series. At least not to me. In spite of the silliness, the friendships, the town itself, the history, the vampires, the magic, the bitchiness of certain characters, the epicness of the romance....I love it as much as grown up as I did a teenager.


I will never get tired of reading these books. 


Reread Square crossed off for Spring 2015 Bookish Bingo. 

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