Book Review

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha NganGirls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

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.

I wanted to love this one as much as everyone else does, I really did, but it ended up really disappointing me for various reasons. Trigger warnings for rape and assault. Representation wise, there’s a f/f romance and the main character is gay.

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The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max BrodskyThe Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 29th January 2019
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars
Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people.

But the gods have stopped listening and Omat's family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left.

Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world...or save it.

I received The Wolf in the Whale from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

I heard about The Wolf in the Whale from Jes when she gushed about it on her Booktube channel, and I thought I should give it a go. It’s set in the wilderness of what will eventually become Canada. The main character is part of an isolated tribe that is dying out, and one day strangers arrive and mess stuff up.

The parts I most enjoyed about this book were the writing style and the setting. It was incredibly atmospheric, and the author drew me in with her prose. I loved the incorporation of three different mythologies – Norse, Inuit, and Christian. It all wove together seamlessly.

I’ve realised that I need to read more books about the pre-colonised Americas, because there is so much that I know little about. I’ve read quite enough Roman and Greek history books, I think.

I loved that the main character identifies as both a boy and a girl. That was a really nice inclusion, and it worked really well with the story. Their struggle to accept themselves was tough to read in the beginning, but it all came together really well in the end.

While I did really enjoy this story, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the way that rape and assault were handled in this book. There was a lot of talk of rape, and I felt that at times the detail it went into was unnecessary. I’m not usually that put off by it, but I think the fact that it came up over and over again and I felt like I was being beaten around the head with it.

I also really didn’t enjoy the relationship in this book. The main character saw the love interest rapes multiple women in a sort of vision sequence, and yet they still fell for him?? After seeing all of that?? After being raped herself?? Nah. It didn’t fly with me.

Overall, The Wolf in the Whale is an intriguing and atmospheric read. I would go into it cautiously due to the things I mention above, but if you think you can handle it then it’s definitely worth picking up.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie WestFame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th February 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Kasie West’s newest book was super cute, as always. If you’re looking for something new and refreshing, you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re here for a cute contemporary that’s also a lot of fun, this is the book for you.

West has added a bit of mystery to the plot of this book, which was nice because it was an extra element that she doesn’t usually include in her books. This mystery sideplot made the book a bit more entertaining than her books have been lately, since I’ve been finding them to be quite repetitive.

Lacey, the main character, had absolutely no character growth at all, which was a bit disappointing. She was incredibly up herself the entire way through, and she didn’t seem to act any better towards her dad at the end. I mean, she’s alright, definitely not the worst, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity here and she could have developed a bit in 300 pages.

The lack of female rivalry was really nice. It was hinted at a tiny bit, but nothing ever came of it. I really appreciated this because I was fully expecting some cattiness or female rivalry on set of the movie.

The romance is also cute af, which really helped me enjoy the book more, despite it being quite generic and nothing standout.

Evermore by Sara Holland

Evermore by Sara HollandEvermore by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 31st December 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

Evermore was more than a little dull, really. I really enjoyed the first book, Everless, when I read it back in 2018, because I thought it was very unique with its world building. The plot itself was unoriginal, but since I enjoyed the world building so much, I didn’t really mind. Evermore, on the other hand, was entirely lacklustre and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

I thought that Evermore was lacking any originality. The time/currency thing wasn’t shiny or unique any more – in fact it was barely used. The plot was boring and it took forever to actually get going. The author threw us straight back into the world, and for no reason at all because nothing interesting was happening at that point in time. I feel like there should have been a time jump or something between books because the beginning (and middle) of this book just dragged.

The relationship, which I felt had potential in the first book, lacked any chemistry, which is a shame because I was ready for it to go somewhere by the end of the first book. All of a sudden the two characters were in love and all over each other and it was boring.

I wouldn’t recommend this one, but at least I finished a series? Yay!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona BartonThe Suspect by Fiona Barton
Series: Kate Waters #3
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 10th January 2019
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

The Suspect is a lot more intense than Barton’s previous books because the situation was a lot more personal for the main character, Kate. The previous books were a lot more focused on the characters who were directly affected by the case, like the suspects (ha) and the victims. The Suspect, however, focuses a lot more on Kate and her journey, and her relationship with her son. I really like how this series is developing, as I like Kate as a character. Her insight into the world of journalism is intriguing and informative, and it helps that the author herself used to work in the same industry.

Despite all of that, there’s still not a whole lot of substance, as is usual with an adult thriller novel. It’s very much focused on the case itself instead of character development and emotional connections. That said, I’m cool with that. I knew what I was getting into with an adult thriller.

I’m not sure where Barton was going with the detective and his side plot. She seems to have tried to add emotion with his wife being terminally ill, but we barely see him or know him at all, so should we really care? It makes me wonder if Barton is planning bigger things for his character in future books in the series.

The mystery in this was absolutely tragic, and it had me hooked from the start. Barton always writes about such dark topics, and she always does a really good job with it.

I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favourite in the series so far. I hope Barton keeps going with this series because I’m really getting into it! And as a side note, Kate’s son is a complete brat and she should have left him in Thailand.