Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Girls is set in a world where there are three castes, Moon (reigning and demons), Paper (lower and human) and then Steel, a mix of the first two. Every year, eight girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. Lei is girl number nine. She’s forced back into the very place her mother was forced into years ago. Slowly, she learns the way of the palace, honing her skills to benefit the king’s comfort only. Until she falls in love.

Girls of Paper and Fire was surprising. I really enjoyed it a lot. Ngan’s storytelling skills are beyond amazing. It was so tense, and her writing is so elegant and smooth. The stakes are high in this, and I was quickly hooked from the first page. The vivid worldbuilding where Ngan creates this devastating but beautiful world and created characters that weave so well into it, and in all makes it an enchanting but compelling read.

I think the most powerful thing of this book is its message of self-empowerment and discovering one’s self while discussing classism and the objectification of women. Girls show the subtle way of how Ikhara, the fictional society, allows misogyny to flourish and aides its abuser by only viewing women as nothing but lesser beings. The Moon King is a disgusting man who uses his position of power to act out violence towards anyone around him. These girls groomed to believe they’re doing something good slowly come together and unravel the trauma they’re facing. Not everyone is exactly happy to be here. The strength of the friendship between all the Paper girls is beautiful – they grow into even stronger women and reclaim themselves and decide what they’re capable of.

Despite the moments of slowness, I would advise you to watch out for this new YA fantasy birthed from Asian mythology and Ngan’s own experiences from growing up in Malaysia. It’s a dazzling and immersive read with a pulse-racing conclusion that will leave you wanting more.


Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Content and warnings for rape, sexual assault, slavery, sex trafficking, loss of a loved one, murder, captivity, torture, branding, violence, physical abuse, graphic animal death, and war themes. (More to be added.)

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Review: Sadie

Review: Sadie

Rating: ★★★★★

“And Sadie, if you’re out there, please let me know.

Because I can’t take another dead girl. “

After her little sister was murdered, Sadie goes in search for revenge. West McCray is a radio personality who stumbles across her story and begins his own podcast to track her down. Slowly, he starts to trace Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened before it’s too late.

Sadie hits hard. Words like perfect and amazing does not do this book justice.  Sadie is basically half book/half podcast. We follow Sadie as she leaves her dead-end town in search of the man who hurt her sister. Sadie having raised her sister, Claire, from a young age, she loved her sister fiercely. When she’s gone, she’s thrown in a path to find her sister’s murderer and kill him. Radio star West McCray follows a bit after, filling in the gaps that Sadie doesn’t mention and reveals all new information that she wouldn’t have known.

Sadie was a haunting read, a story of loss and betrayal, anger and grief. These two sisters relied on each other to handle the ugliness of the world around them, the world that failed to protect them. The sense of urgency you get and the feeling of rush, especially in the audiobook, is honestly exhilarating.

The podcast portions were so great and worked well, especially when you alternate from the messiness of Sadie’s mind as she’s coming to terms with the fact that her journey must end with a dead man. West McCray’s voice is soothing, and his podcast provides a different insight into Sadie’s life.

Overall, this story is uncomfortable and powerful. It’s cast of characters genuine and believable. I would recommend listening to the audiobook because it honestly was an experience.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Content warning: pedophilia, child sexual abuse, parental neglect, mentions and descriptions of substance abuse.

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

41212987Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5)

June Bana is a growing make up artist whose looks are gaining traction by the day on social media. But to June, the real her is a quiet homebody and lives a life less eventful than the pictures on her feed. Then she meets Selena Clarke, drop dead gorgeous model, who loves June for who she is.

A soft sweet tale of two women learning each other and falling in love. A rapid contemporary read with little to none conflict. This title is very fitting. Soft on Soft is precisely what you get. This story centres two women of colour falling in love. The writing is simple and easy to follow. Pop culture references abound!

Its uneventful plot makes a bit tricky to read since you can hardly tell what is going on at the moment. I don’t expect something tragic to happen to make it interesting, but something a little more eventful would’ve improved the pacing a lot.

Overall, there’s something to love in this. Em Ali has a bright future in of them. I know I’ll read more.

UPDATE: Purchase links for Soft on Soft are not currently available as the author has taken them offline for further edits. I will upload a longer review once it’s available. 

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Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism – Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glorywhen a woman tells her own life story
she lives forever

A feminist poetry collection that discusses race, gender identity and sexuality. I really enjoyed the variety of poetry styles that each contributor used. There’s a variety in content and form. I am not sure each piece is beautiful and exciting. The collection encompasses the works of a diverse range of poets who I’ll definitely want to check out. I don’t read that much poetry, but this collection of works from such inspiring people was indeed a hidden gem. 

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected by opinions of the book.


Review: Vicious (Villians #1)

Review: Vicious (Villians #1)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Victor and Eli began as college roommates, almost friends, where curiosity leads to near-death experiences and development of supernatural powers. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison determined to exact revenge on his old friend. Both are armed with terrible controls, a product of their actions ten years prior, but who will survive? 

I think I’ve found a new favourite book. And I haven’t found one of them in a while. Vicious was a delightful surprise. I have never read a V.E (or Victoria) Schwab before, and Vicious sounded like the safest options out of all her books to try. And, is this what all her books are like? Because you can now count me in the Schwab hype train.

Vicious from the get-go was so different. A true twisted tale of a friendship gone wrong. Victor and Eli, former friends, now current foes, are reunited after Victor breaks out of prison for revenge. Both developed supernatural powers from experiencing near-death experiences. In their case, they forced it to happen to test a theory that Eli was developing. Eli believes his capability puts him above others and sees others like him as a rodent that must be exterminated. And Victor may be the only person that can stop him.

Victor and Eli both see themselves as the hero and the other the villain, but neither can be categorised as good or evil. And that’s what makes me them so appealing. Schwab really is a killer at this. The story unfolds in a way that would appear disorienting, but it’s deliberate, and it works well. The constant jumping back and forth between everything, it goes from their time at college, their time in prison before bouncing back to the present time.

Overall, I loved Vicious. It’s a grim tale that had me gripped from the beginning all the way to its sinister ending. A story of corruption with its evil moments and moments of sweetness that worked well. Extremely thrilling with a cast of complex characters, Vicious was a difficult book to put down and once finished, I never wanted it to end.


Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Content warning: self-harm, suicide, extreme violence, torture, murder.

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 going on 3/5)

Rachel Chu agrees to come to Singapore to celebrate her boyfriend’s best friend’s wedding. She expects a traditional wedding like any other. But what she doesn’t realise is that Nick comes from one of the wealthiest families in the world. And she has no idea how big the target on her back truly is.

Crazy Rich Asian was weirdly entertaining and strangely absurd. And I think that is the best I could say about this book. I wouldn’t call this the best book ever, but it was reasonably entertaining. The way these characters behave are so over the top. Reading this was like looking into a whole new and different world. It was fascinating to read. Kwan has a talent for writing interesting descriptions of this affluent society, its architecture, fashion, cuisine and goods. I read this frustrated at every single of these characters, but there is some humour within. It’s more outrageous than it is funny.

When it comes to the flaw of this book, I don’t know what else I can say that hasn’t already been said. (x, x – note that these articles are about its 2018 movie adaptation but nonetheless they can still be applied to the novel) I didn’t expect this book to the answer to all Asian representation and I don’t think it can be done in one book. But here it’s evident that Asian effectively means east Asian or ethnically Chinese. And there’s a whole lot of ugly in this book. That includes racial slurs towards Black people, Indian people and Romani. A ton of classism and loads of prejudice from Asians towards other Asian ethnicities.

Overall, there’s a lot that goes unchallenged, but the sheer outrageousness of this novel was probably why is it so well received. The plot is a rollercoaster ride, with one bad thing happening after another with this group of wealthy elites. I’m entirely sure if I want to continue the series yet.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Content warning: TBA.

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post begins at the end of her parent’s life. Cameron is relieved because now they’ll never know she had a kissed a girl. But the struggle doesn’t end there, we follow Cameron from the ages of 12 and as she grows to 16. Life is different, but Cameron is an expert at blending in. Until she meets Coley Taylor. And then one thing leads to another, and Cameron’s forced to join a conversion camp by her ultrareligious Aunt to “fix” herself.

This was a very detailed and passionate read. The story shifts with its array of characters, each vibrant and different from one another. The story starts off with a summer fling, a more happier vibe, where everything seems to be going well. Until it takes a dark turn and punches you straight in the stomach. While I didn’t find it emotional, but nonetheless, it was difficult.

For me, there are two parts to this story. The first is Cameron coming to terms with her sexuality and learning who she is. The second is where its all ripped away from her, and she’s forced to join a conversion camp. There’s a middle lull in this book where nothing really seems to happen. And this is where, from other reviews, everyone seems to drop off from the book. I’m not going to lie, even my interest started to falter after a few chapters but I held on and I’m glad I did, but I don’t expect anyone to force themselves through a book they find slow.

I can’t speak for certain rep in the book, like the Native American rep. I’ll link to this post that speaks on it much better. There’s a lot of language that’s quite negative towards Native Americans and very ableist so watch out for that.

Overall, Cameron Post was an intriguing read, while I didn’t love it, the story is important.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR 

Content warning: ableism, anti-Indigenous language, use of multiple slurs (f*g, d*ke etc.), lesbophobia, sex scenes, a lesbian character being outed, underage drinking, conversion therapy, self-harm with a suicide attempt that is graphically described. (TO BE ADDED)