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.


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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: The Darkest Minds

Review: The Darkest Minds

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A sickness spreads across the United States, killing a majority of its children and leaving its survivors with something uncontrollable that has the government shaking in fear. Swiftly taken from their parents, children are quickly taken away and placed in rehabilitation camps. Ruby was ten when she learnt that suppressing her skill keeps her alive. Six years later, Ruby escapes and on the run to find others like her.

The Darkest Minds has such a captivating concept. It’s a shame that it is so painfully slow. I’ll give applause to Chubs and Suzume who technically saved this book for me. The two that stood out the most for me. Without them, I wouldn’t even question my decision to not finish this series.

There’s a lot of confusion, especially when it came to worldbuilding. They gain these powers and are then categorised according to how much of a threat they are. Maybe the reason why these powers happen are revealed later down the line in the series, but there’s not much to keep you hanging but just completely confused. How a world is seemingly wiped out but still existing in some places like normal despite having locked up a majority of its youth population.

What even was the point of the romance in this? Honestly, I give most romances the benefit of the doubt but like how did Ruby and Liam even happen. She spends most of her time ignoring him, which is fair enough, but then suddenly with no warning, they’re all over each other. I just don’t think enough space was given to develop these two the way they deserved.

The narrative is an actual snail pace after Ruby escapes the first camp. There are multiple flashbacks. And even when it’s at a point where it should speed up, it’s just chapter after chapter of them on the least exciting road trip in the world. There’s a couple of car chases scenes to give us the illusion that something is happening.

There is a lot of good to this book, it wasn’t exactly terrible, I think the pacing just dragged this book to hell for me. I don’t understand how a book with a lot of plot aspects that I usually enjoy disappoint me like this.

I’m sort of in the middle of this series right now. TDM didn’t really do much for to compel me to want to continue its series. The ending was a bit of disappointment considering it chucks Ruby straight back to where she was 15% of the novel. But there’s a lot to like, a bit and pieces of it was really intriguing to me. The variety of powers and the shocking treatment these children receive. The found family aspect was a sweet shining moment in the rest of the dullness. I’ll sit on it, for now, maybe I’ll be interested later down the line to finish the series.


GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR

Content warning: Violence, sexual assault, murder, gun violence, physical violence, PTSD, unchallenged ableist language.

 

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Natasha has 24 hours to save her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel has 12 hours to decide whether he really wants to follow through with his Korean parent’s life plan for him. Moments after moments leads to the two meeting on a crowded New York street and the moments after show how they go on to change each other’s lives.

TSIAAS is one of those books where I’m genuinely in the middle. Like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I feel like there’s a bit of switch here for me. In Everything, Everything, I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel but found it’s ending was a bit disappointing but in TSIAAS, I found the beginning rather dull but it quickly picks up and finished quite well.

I’ll start off with the good. And there’s plenty of that in this book. It’s quite a touching read. I was more heavily invested in each character’s side story than their romance. Natasha and her rush to save her family and Daniel’s clash with his love for poetry and his parent’s approval. Natasha is logical while Daniel is a dreamer. It really is beautifully written. There are even inserts of other perspectives who intersect with the main lead, which would’ve been a distraction if I actually enjoyed the romance, but they enhanced the story, in my opinion, and added to the message of how everything impacts everything. Despite Natasha and Daniel being at odds with each other and their immigrant families, they find a connection which allows them to indeed be truthful to themselves.

The immigration aspect of this novel was what shined the most. It covers and explains how flawed the system that can be to those who are the least danger to it. Natasha’s whole life is being torn down because she’s forced to leave because of her father’s mistake.

What really put me off this book for so long was the romance. Of course, it was going to pull off an insta-love plotline when Natasha and Daniel only have twelve hours together. If you’re a reader that enjoys whirlwind and fast-paced romantic stories, then I have the book for you. But I just didn’t buy it. But I did appreciate the ending a lot, and I was actually really pleased with how it ended. Daniel, while a dreamer and sweetheart at his best, is literally quit obsessed with Natasha from the second he sees her. Their meeting and beginning scenes felt very off and borderline creepy.

Overall, there is clear praise for this book, and I can’t deny it of that. I just don’t think it was a strong enough book regarding its romance. But there’s a lot that I can’t deny that was great. TSIAAS discusses race in regards to the American Dream and the impact of parent-child relationships. The way Nicola Yoon jumps into different bystander’s voices without affecting the main plot brilliantly done and how we are all connected in some way or another.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Mini-review: To All The Boys and The Hunting Party

Mini-review: To All The Boys and The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

mini_thehuntingparty

Rating:  ★★★☆☆ (2.5/5)

A group of friends retreat to a quiet hunting lodge for the new year. Each chapter is narrated from a different character going back and forth in time and then leading up and after the moment one of them is murdered. It follows in the vein of a true murder mystery where we are aware a murder has happened but we don’t know who is dead and who did, with one who is killed still speaking. I think I would’ve enjoyed this much more if the characters were more bearable to read about. The voices of each character were actually difficult to distinguish since they’re so similar. I rarely step out into mysteries and it’s a shame that I didn’t enjoy this as much I wanted to.

Amazon | Goodreads | Author

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

mini_toalltheboysRating:  ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

This book has been sliding up and down my TBR list for almost four years now. I guess I’m glad I finally sat down and read this book, so I could watch the Netflix film.

Contemporary rom-coms are a bit of a hit and miss for me. I feel like this was an almost hit. From an objective view, it was an endearing story about love and family and I understand the importance of the story about family and love.

There’s a whole lot of good to this book and if you’re a bigger fan of contemporary YA then by no means, give this book a shot.  It’s sweet and charming. The moments where Lara Jean is with her family is where the books were at its best. I actually saw myself a lot through her here. But I’m actually struggling to put to words why I just didn’t like this book. From my notes, everything seemed positive, aside from the whole pining after your sister’s ex and the other seemingly romantic aspects of this book, made this book a bit unbearable for me. Overall, this book wasn’t for me and I’m alright with that. I’m just glad this book’s finally off the TBR.

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