Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

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Series:
Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Release Date: November 6th 2018
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 385
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local bookshop
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

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 demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-28T161834.015Girls of Paper and Fire is a book that has been on my TBR for absolutely ages. I’ve heard incredible things about it so going in I had some pretty high expectations. The story follows Lei, a young girl forced to become a courtesan for the Demon King. Being a Paper Girl is the worst fate imaginable for Lei, who wants nothing more than to remain at home with her family. While forced to learn skills befitting a woman at court, Lei falls in love – a forbidden romance that if discovered, could be her death.

Girls of Paper and Fire has a really fascinating premise and while I really enjoyed it, I had expected to love it a lot more than I did. I really enjoyed Ngan’s writing style, but felt the world building could have been a little stronger in this book. There is quite a bit of info dump at the beginning and it took me a little while to wrap my head round the castes and rules of the world.

The story is well paced, and the last hundred pages are incredibly gripping as the action heats up. Girls of Paper and Fire ends with the promise of even higher stakes and more drama in book two, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Girls of Storm and Shadow will bring. The characters Ngan has created in this book are probably what I enjoyed most about this story. I really liked Lei and the other paper girls, it was fascinating seeing them come from different backgrounds and cope with the horrors of being a paper girl. The romance is well done too, it doesn’t overtake the main plot and Ngan gives it plenty of time to develop. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the Demon King. He felt like a bit cookie cutter for me.

Natasha Ngan has weaved a clever tale full of action, political intrigue and romance. A word of warning that the story is quite a dark one, and will have trigger warnings for rape and abuse. It’s an impressive start to this exciting YA fantasy series, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Natasha Ngan. Though it didn’t completely live up to my expectations I still really enjoyed this one, and if you’re curious about picking it up I’d recommend trying it out!
4 Stars

Book Review: A Conjuring of Assassins – Cate Glass

Book Review: A Conjuring of Assassins – Cate Glass

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Series:
Chimera #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: February 7th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 455
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: I bought a copy of this from BookDepository.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

A Conjuring of Assassins is Cate Glass’s second adventure with the Chimera team, a ragtag crew who use their forbidden magic for the good of the kingdom.

Romy and her three partners in crime—a sword master, a silversmith, and her thieving brother—have embraced their roles as the Shadow Lord’s agents, using their forbidden magic to accomplish tasks his other spies cannot.

Now, the Shadow Lord needs them to infiltrate the home of the Mercediaran Ambassador and prevent him from obtaining information that would lead to all-out war with Cantagna’s most dangerous enemy.

To succeed, they will have to resurrect long-buried secrets, partner with old enemies, and once again rely on the very magics that could get them sentenced to death.

Review

Copy of book cover (2)A Conjuring of Assassins is the second instalment in Cate Glass’s Chimera Series, featuring Romy and her rag tag band of magic users. Magic is forbidden in Cantagna, so when Romy and the gang become entangled in a secret plot to incite revolution, they must use all their whits and schemes to foil the plot and stop their magic being discovered.

An Illusion of Thieves was one of my favourite books of 2019. I loved the world building and the heist aspects of the story, so I was incredibly eager to pick up this second instalment. The story dives in pretty much straight where An Illusion of Thieves leaves off, dropping the reader straight into the action. The story is a fast paced one, full of magic, action and scheming, it’s the perfect read if you’re a fan of heist novels.

One of things I love most about this series are the magnificent characters – Romy, the Shadow Lord’s dismissed mistress turned scribe, Neri her rebellious younger brother, Dumond the blacksmith who does whatever he can to protect his family and Placidio the wise and mysterious duellist. They’re all fascinating each with a complex back story and I loved seeing the characters continue to grow through this second instalment. We are also introduced to a new character – the mysterious Teo who I have so many questions about – making me all the most desperate to get my hands on book three.

A Conjuring of Assassin’s is a clever tale, full of mystery and intrigue. It will have you hooked from the very beginning and this is definitely a book I found hard to put down. As a sequel it definitely did not disappoint and I am so looking forward to finding out what the gang get up to next. If you haven’t had the chance to pick up An Illusion of Thieves yet, now is definitely the time – the beautiful writing, fascinating world building and brilliant characters will make you completely fall in love with this series.
4 Stars

Waiting on Wednesday: A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

Waiting on Wednesday: A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

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Synopsis

Lesson One of the Scholomance

Learning has never been this deadly

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.

Thoughts

Copy of book cover (1)A Deadly Education is the first in a new series from fantasy author Naomi Novik and it sounds INCREDIBLE. I love a magic school setting and everything about this book just sounds like my perfect kind of read. I’ve actually never read a Naomi Novik book, but I have Spinning Silver and Uprooted on my TBR. I’ve heard amazing things about her books so I’m really interested in trying A Deadly Education. It’s been pitched as ‘a dark feminist Harry Potter’ and I was pretty much sold from that alone. I’ve seen a few early reviews and they’ve all been extremely positive so that gives me really high hopes for this one. I also completely adore that cover! A Deadly Education is definitely one of my most anticipated releases and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. There’s not too much longer to wait, A Deadly Education is publishing September 29th from Del Rey Books.

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down – Seanan McGuire

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down – Seanan McGuire

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Series:
Wayward Children #5 (Read my review of book one here!)
Release Date: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 208
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I listened to this via Scribd.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister—whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice—back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.

Again.

Review

Copy of book coverCome Tumbling Down is the fifth instalment in Seanan McGuire’s incredible Wayward Children series. I was so excited to learn that this next instalment would be following Jack and Jill again, the characters we followed in my favourite book of the series – Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Come Tumbling Down follows Jack as she returns to Eleanor West’s Home after the events of book one, and has to enlist the help of her fellow wayward children in a quest to save the moors.

I must admit I had pretty high expectations for this book. I hadn’t been so keen on Beneath the Sugar Sky, but this instalment was following my favourite characters from the series. After just a single chapter I was completely hooked on this story and I think Come Tumbling Down is probably my favourite book of the series so far. This instalment is fast paced, full of action and features a whole host of characters travelling to the moors in an attempt to help Jack. It’s a clever, twisty story and I definitely didn’t want it to end. Like the other instalments McGuire manages to pack so much into just a short novella. The story concludes well, but I would absolutely love a full length novel about these magnificent characters.

Come Tumbling Down gives the reader an opportunity to get to know some of the other characters a bit more and it has definitely made me want a book based on Christopher and his world. Come Tumbling Down is a fantastic addition to the series and I can’t wait to see what Seanan McGuire comes up with for the next book. If you haven’t yet picked up this newest instalment, it’s definitely worth giving a go.
5 Stars

Book Review: Bloodchild – Anna Stephens

Book Review: Bloodchild – Anna Stephens

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Series:
Godblind #3 (See my review for Darksoul here!)
Release Date: September 5th 2019
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Pages: 508
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local bookshop
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Rilporin has fallen and Corvus, King of the Mireces, reigns over an occupied land. The raiders and their dark religion have conquered, but victory came at a terrible price – the death of a god – and sparks of resistance glimmer on all sides.

In the south, Mace gathers the survivors of Rilpor’s armies. Among the fierce tribes of Krike, Crys and Dom search for allies and for the truth of what binds them to the Gods of Light. And in the royal palace itself, Tara – once a soldier, now a slave – hopes to ignite a rebellion.

But time is against them. A child will soon be born with the power to return the Dark Lady from death, and the long-prophesied final battle for the future of Rilpor and Mireces, of humans and gods, is near.

Review

Copy of book cover (22)Bloodchild is the third and final instalment in Anna Stephens’ dark and brutal Godblind trilogy. Picking up straight after the events of Darksoul, the story follows our group of protagonists as they fight for supremacy. But Rilpor’s army is severely depleted, the Dark Lady is gone and Rilirin is soon to have her child that is integral to the Mireces plans – who will survive?

Godblind and Darksoul both made it to my favourite books of the year lists so going into this I was pretty prepared for it to be epic and unputdownable. The stakes in Bloodchild are even higher – the story is dark, brutal and addictive. Stephens has such an incredible writing style that I didn’t want to look away from this book for a second. Bloodchild follows the same characters as the previous books and we are treated to multiple POVs as we see each character attempt to survive and win the war. There are so many characters I’ve grown to love over the three books – Crys, Tara and Rilirin to name but a few and I loved seeing them in the last part of this epic tale.

Rounding up such a massive story is pretty difficult but Stephens does an incredible job. The ending was spectacular, not only was it fast paced and gripping but it was heart breaking too. One of the things I love most about this series is the way you get to know and love characters from both sides of the war – those fighting for the Red Gods and those for the Light. It’s a fascinating and compelling tale and if you love Grimdark fantasy this is a series to get reading immediately – you won’t be disappointed.
5 Stars

Book Review: In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire

Book Review: In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire

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Series:
Wayward Children #4 (Review of book one is here!)
Release Date: January 8th 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 204
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I listened to this book via Scribd.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

Review

Copy of book cover (9)Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series is one that I have grown to absolutely love. It was something I had had on my TBR for a while and I ended up reading the whole series in one month. Fast paced and magical, I never want this series to end. This fourth instalment follows Lundy, a character we met in book one as she travels through her door to the Goblin Market.

I must admit to being particularly intrigued about this instalment as Lundy was a character I found pretty interesting in Every Heart A Doorway. I was really excited going in, I knew her story would be a fascinating one. Like the previous instalments McGuire does a brilliant job explaining the world to us, giving the reader the chance to get to know the rules and magic of this new world.

The Goblin Market is such an interesting setting and McGuire’s writing really brings the world to life. The story very much has a dreamlike quality to it, something I think really shines through in McGuire’s writing style. Like the previous instalments it is quite a short book and so sets a pretty quick pace from the outset. This story felt much sadder than the others, and I must admit that Lundy’s tale is an emotional and heartbreaking one.

In an Absent Dream is an incredible instalment to what really is one of my favourite new fantasy series. If you’ve read the first few I would definitely recommend the fourth book, and if you haven’t had the chance this is absolutely the perfect series to binge.

                             

 

Book Review: Burn – Patrick Ness

Book Review: Burn – Patrick Ness

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Release Date:
May 7th 2020
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 480
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an ARC of this through Tandem Collective
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

Review

Copy of book cover (20)Burn is the latest release from acclaimed YA author Patrick Ness. The story is set in world where humans and dragons co-exist and the story follows Sarah Dewhurst, a young girl whose father has hired a dragon to help on their farm. Sarah soon learns the dragon has other reasons for coming to the farm and she finds herself entangled in a prophecy to stop a war that could threaten the whole planet. But Sarah and Kazimir aren’t the only ones who know about this prophecy, when an assassin arrives at the farm Sarah must fight for her life and those she loves.

Burn is my third Patrick Ness book and definitely my favourite. I loved this unique and engaging idea – 1950s America where dragons and humans have to tolerate each other. It’s a fascinating tale and tackles a whole range of themes from racism, homophobia, grief and family. The world building in this book is truly superb. The dragons and humans idea worked so well and felt very natural. I loved that Ness gives the reader a chance to learn a bit about dragon history too. I found this really intriguing and added another layer to this complex tale.

The story is quite a fast-paced one, with plenty of action to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I ended up reading the book pretty quickly, especially the latter half of the book as the tension began to climb. Ness has created a gripping tale with quite a few surprise twists that I definitely didn’t see coming.

Burn features a really fascinating cast of characters. I really liked our main protagonist Sarah, as well as scholarly dragon Kazimir. Assassin Malcolm is probably the character I liked most. His story arc is really engrossing, as he goes from a member of the cult like Believers to an assassin. There is an immense amount of character growth in this book and it really kept me hooked.

Burn is an addictive read than fans of Patrick Ness are absolutely going to love. I definitely didn’t want it to end and if you’re curious about this one I’d definitely recommend picking it up!
4 Stars