Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
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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.
The Wolf in the Whale
by Jordanna Max BrodskyGenre: Fantasy Release Date:
29th January 2019 Source: Publisher Add it: Goodreads Rating:
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.
Evermore by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #2
Release Date: 31st December 2018
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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!
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Release Date: 6th November 2018
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Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.
Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren't hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.
Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.
Oh, this was a juicy fantasy book! I went into this expecting it to focus on the action during the competition where the future empress has to beat four challenging rooms, but it was so much more than that. The world building in Empress of All Seasons was excellent and was truly the most gripping part of the book. I loved it.
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns
Release Date: 21st September 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
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The battle for the crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?
With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, the elemental sister once thought to be the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.
Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must confront the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.
So I didn’t like One Dark Throne as much as Three Dark Crowns, but it was a really fun read. I think compared to the first book there is more action and less world building, which is a shame because I want to know more about this world. I’m crossing my fingers in the hope that we’ll get more of that in the third book.