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Girls of Paper and Fire

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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, whe 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. TW: violence and sexual abuse.


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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, whe 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. TW: violence and sexual abuse.

30 review for Girls of Paper and Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    شيماء ✨

    [Sappho’s voice] Sweet mother, I cannot weave, slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a secret warrior-assassin-goddess and her rebel girlfriend!! So, what's this book about? In Ikhara, the world our protagonist Lei inhabits, there are three castes: Moon, the reigning caste that is entirely demon; Paper, the downtrodden caste that is wholly human and Steel, who are endowed with both demon and human elements. Every year, the Moon caste’s king selects eight Paper Girls as his concubine [Sappho’s voice] Sweet mother, I cannot weave, slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a secret warrior-assassin-goddess and her rebel girlfriend!! So, what's this book about? In Ikhara, the world our protagonist Lei inhabits, there are three castes: Moon, the reigning caste that is entirely demon; Paper, the downtrodden caste that is wholly human and Steel, who are endowed with both demon and human elements. Every year, the Moon caste’s king selects eight Paper Girls as his concubines—but perhaps more aptly termed “sex slaves”. When Lei is dragged from her small village to be a Paper Girl, the only reassuring talisman against her new jarring reality is finding her mother who has been similarly taken years before. Now fear and the threat of sexual violence is a tight undercurrent through everything, but it was tempered with hope—and relief when Lei meets Wren, another Paper Girl with a feline grace and many unspoken secrets. Soon, Lei learns that she has a whole new set of fears to discover: the ones that come with loving someone you’re very likely to lose. “We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us.” Ngan deftly navigates her way through a thorny and twisted tale of morality, anguish, and trauma—taking elements of Asian mythology, her experience growing up in Malaysia and her own imagination and pasting them into a beautifully rendered fantastical collage that has representation in sorely needed ways. The setting is an enthralling blend of beauty and danger, anchored in intricate worldbuilding, imbued with color and texture and scent and drenched in evocative mythology. Lei and Wren have a friendship forged in the heat of a battle against their abusers which later engenders a feverish romance, born of mutual respect. Seriously, the sheer amount of sapphic content in this book warmed the hollows inside my heart! “Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.” The only quibbles I can point out are plot swirls that occasionally lagged and the fact that it took me some time to really warm up to Lei as I was oftentimes more intrigued by side characters than I was by her. It also felt like the book seemed to know exactly where it wanted to end up but completely insouciant about how it got there and as a result, some scenes took on a numbing sameness and the story felt padded with repetition almost as often as it felt luminous and satisfying. With all that aside, there are many aspects of the book that I think demand deeper examination: Ngan weaves in powerful themes of self-empowerment and self-love, identity and self-discovery, while fervently denouncing classism, homophobia, and the objectifying of women. Ngan delicately carves out, with the precision of a scalpel, all the subtlest ways rapists are abetted by cultures in which women are viewed as only partial people, the table scraps of men, where women's bodies are intensely politicized, where social hierarchies outrageously privilege certain members because they’re considered untouchable, and where there's a presumption of male authority and righteousness, and with equal accuracy, Ngan also hammers home the politics of power that uses rape as a tool. Ikhara is a society where misogynist sadists flourish because misogyny is justified as tradition, maleness comes with a presumption of violence and women are perceived as public property and less deserving of basic rights than men. This book prompts you to not only think about rape through the moral lens of lust, depravity and shame but as a violence that is born from power and not desire. The Moon king uses fear as his medium and his position of power as an enabler to carry out this act of violence not because of any uncontrollable urges of sexual desire, but because wrenching these girls from their homes and raping them makes him feel power over them—and ultimately over their castes. The images are haunting, the topic is difficult, but sadly all too believable and too reminiscent of our real world. This tradition of Paper Girls has generated decades of women hurtling headlong in silence, no reflection, no echo, no self—because rapists were handed license to operate and keep their victims silent, ashamed and without justice. But as these women's paths cross during the most vicious and traumatizing event in their lives, they will learn from and teach each other all the shades and colors of strength and endurance. The greatest feat of strength that’s ever been witnessed was the one these women performed every day: continuing to live for the sake of themselves and their families, when it would be so much easier to stop, and it’s that miracle of hope and rebellion that was the start of a chain of miracles that will eventually see them through their pain. The focus on recovering from trauma, forging a functional self out of the wreckage and reclaiming your body, too, is powerful. And over the course of this book, we see these women grow even further into deep, multi-dimensional characters who were not beholden to the story of the men around them, but rather had their own agency on full display. Girl of Paper and Fire is the story of survivors of sexual violence who are reclaiming their own narrative and learning that they’re not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything. They’re whole as they are and complete unto each other and so very worthy of love. “When the world denies you choices, you make your own.” Highly recommended! TW: violence and sexual abuse. BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. This was SO MUCH MORE than I expected. Girls of Paper and Fire is a lush fantasy story that goes to some extremely dark places. The light amid this darkness is the central f/f romance that evolves gradually and naturally, never overtaking the p We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. This was SO MUCH MORE than I expected. Girls of Paper and Fire is a lush fantasy story that goes to some extremely dark places. The light amid this darkness is the central f/f romance that evolves gradually and naturally, never overtaking the political machinations and drama. Ngan has done a number of exciting things here. Her fantasy world is heavily-inspired by her Malaysian upbringing, and the gorgeous descriptions really bring the setting to life: It stuns me how vast the palace is. Not just a palace really, but a city—a labyrinth of streets, courtyards, and gardens, like the veins and arteries flowing through a giant creature with the King nestled at its core, its own living, beating heart. There's echoes of The Belles in here, though I'd argue that this is a much nastier read. In this book, girls from the Paper caste (the lowest caste and fully-human) are stolen away by the royal soldiers to become the King's consorts. They are trained in obedience and seduction, waiting every day to be called to his majesty's rooms. Lei, with her strange golden eyes, is now one of these girls. Ngan does a great job of creating the dynamics of friendship and jealousy between the girls. They are all fascinating, diverse and very different in both background and attitude to their circumstances. Some of the girls are eager to please the King; others would do anything not to be there. Aoki is an especially interesting character and some moments with her broke my heart. Even the typical "mean girl" is developed into something more over the course of the story. There's also some really great sex-positivity and a frank portrayal of desire and passion. In a situation where the girls' consent has never been sought, consensual unions are celebrated. The main one being the central romance between Lei and Wren, which even a cold-hearted cynic like me was able to fall in love with. And, of course, behind it all a bigger political story is taking place. Lei and the other Paper girls get dragged into a dangerous plot that puts many lives at risk, even the lives of Lei's family. It all arrives at a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax and ends with the promise of more horrors to come. I can't wait! Content warning for rape and multiple attempted rapes (the former happens off-page but the before and after is very disturbing), one instance of animal cruelty (non-graphic) and slavery, including sexual slavery. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    THIS RELEASED TODAY!! We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. I mean, I think I knew this had My Exact Vibes from the first time I heard of it. so perhaps it’s not the biggest shock in the world that I really, really liked this, but still - this book deserves the world, and you shoul THIS RELEASED TODAY!! We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. I mean, I think I knew this had My Exact Vibes from the first time I heard of it. so perhaps it’s not the biggest shock in the world that I really, really liked this, but still - this book deserves the world, and you should DEFINITELY read it. Mayand Juand I kept calling this the angsty gaysians book, but I feel like I should give a proper blurb. Girls of Paper and Fire follows two Chinese-Malaysian girls, Lei and Wren, who meet and fall in love while essentially working as sex slaves under a demon king. Something that really stands out to me about this is the gorgeous setting depictions and, in general, sensuous writing . This is shockingly gorgeous. And though Girls of Paper and Fire did have occasional issues with off pacing - like there was a little more time spent on a generic Getting To The Palace beginning than I wanted - I think this book thrives so well off tension that in general it’s fairly unputdownable. With a starkly horrifying environment, it’s hard not to connect with Lei. The main problem I’d mention for this book is that for much of the story, Lei doesn’t have a perceptible goal - she is trying to survive, but she doesn’t feel as motivated as she should. This is perhaps why the last hundred pages are so good; once that one tiny issue is fixed, the entire book gains initiative and becomes what Natasha Ngan has the talent to write - a fantastic, gripping, gorgeously written, and emotional dark fairy tale. But then again… it’s so good. So completely badass and gorgeous. The characters are so great!! I love Lei as a heroine - she’s struggling so much but such a good soul. I love that she’s allowed to be terrified, and desperate for escape, and desperate to do something more but also unsure if she can actually fight. And Wren is such a good love interest, supportive and caring but with her own shit to deal with. I also loved several side characters - Blue and Aiko are both excellent, and I can’t wait to see more out of them. Oh, and the romance. Oh my god, the romance here is so delightfully angsty. No one's paying attention to us, their focus all on the stage, and I need her right now, need the familiar warmth of her hands to ground me, to calm my already frantic heart from spiraling so far out of control that it breaks free - and me with it. I came for a slow-burn, two girls against the world type story, and for once in my damn life I got it. There is so much tension, so much of a slow burn between these two characters, and I was living for it. So, here we are, and I loved this, and I can’t wait for book two. I hope it’s just as starkly horrifying and beautiful. TW: sexual assault. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review. “We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us.” Once I heard that this was an ownvoices Asian inspired fantasy world where two girls, who are forced to be concubines to a demon king, try to overcome it all and fall in love, I kne ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review. “We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us.” Once I heard that this was an ownvoices Asian inspired fantasy world where two girls, who are forced to be concubines to a demon king, try to overcome it all and fall in love, I knew this was going to be a book for me. But friends, I fell in love. Girls of Paper and Fire will make it onto my best books of 2018 list come December. In this world, there are castes that people are born into which determine your social standing in the world: ➽ Paper - Humans. Lowest class. They look just like you and me. ➽ Steel - Half human, half demon. Middle class. Look mostly human but will have a little bit of an animal attribute. ➽ Moon - Demons. Highest class. Take on animal characteristics. “Demon men can take what they want. Our homes. Our lives. Our bodies.” And each year, the demon King takes eight paper girls to be concubines; some willing, others completely unwillingly. And these eight girls will live an entire year in the palace, living somewhat in the life a luxury, waiting to see if the King will call one of them to his chamber every night. And the impression they leave on the king will impact how their future goes after the year is up. And no girl can afford to make a mistake, because they will be punished in unthinkable ways. This story stars a young girl named Lei, whose mother was ripped out of her life and taken by the king seven years ago. She has since grown up in a remote village with her father. But even though Lei is Paper caste, she has golden demon eyes that make her very unforgettable. So, palace guards eventually come for her. And this year, Lei gets taken to become one of the King’s paper girls. “But perhaps the gods have forgotten us, or grown bored with our small corner of the kingdom. Because here I am, about to share the last thing I’d ever want to offer the King. Myself.” To me, this is a book about rape, and rape culture, and how rape survivors will reclaim their bodies in all the different ways. And how rape is always about power, never about sex. This book is about how rapists can be charming, good looking, friendly, and have the entire world at their feet. It doesn’t matter. This is a book about reclaiming your body after someone forcibly takes it. And how everyone heals differently at their own pace. Content and trigger warnings for rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, slavery, sex trafficking, abandonment, heavy grief depictions, loss of a loved one, murder, abduction, captivity, torture, branding, violence, a forced medical/health exam, physical abuse, graphic animal death, and war themes. Please use caution, this book can get pretty dark at times. Make sure you are in the right headspace. “Order was restored the only way the King knew how. Bloodshed.” This book is also about finding love; for others but also for yourself. And it is about finding your worth and knowing that you are worthy of love regardless of what has happened to you in your life The world can be such an ugly place, but unconditional love still hides within it, and it’s so very beautiful. And love is always worth not only a risk, but it’s worth everything. And the f/f romance in this? One of my favorites of all time. It’s slow burn, but I say that in the best way possible. Without a question, my biggest ship of 2018 is within this book’s pages. “Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.” And not only is the story amazing; Natasha Ngan’s writing is out of the world. I was completely captivated by the world and felt completely teleported into this world. And the masterpiece that she created? So damn impressive. My amazing friend, May let me in on some of Natasha’s inspirations with the paper girls and the regions they are from, and I’m just blown away. It’s so impressive the amount of work and love this author truly put into this story. This is seriously a work of art, and it just made me appreciate and love this world, characters, and book even more. Overall, this meant so much to me. From the messages and the themes, to just me seeing queer, Asian girls falling in love against a world that wants to tear them apart, it meant everything. Yet, this book does end on a massive cliffhanger, so be warned. But it has hyped me so much to see what Natasha will do next! And book two will for sure be one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. But in the meantime, I can’t wait for the rest of the world to fall in love with the start of this amazing story. “Our kingdom believes words have power. That the characters of our language can bless or curse a life.” Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Dude read with Em at Runaway with Dream Thieves! ❤

  5. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one. I don’t think I can ever describe just how much this book means to me, but as soon as I’d heard that this book actually existed, I knew I needed it in my life. And I’m so happy that it’s getting all the hype, because this book is gorgeous and beautiful and a story we all need to read and listen to. In this world called Ikhara, there are three castes, and a Demon King who rules them all. There’s Paper: the lowest caste, fully human, with no an I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one. I don’t think I can ever describe just how much this book means to me, but as soon as I’d heard that this book actually existed, I knew I needed it in my life. And I’m so happy that it’s getting all the hype, because this book is gorgeous and beautiful and a story we all need to read and listen to. In this world called Ikhara, there are three castes, and a Demon King who rules them all. There’s Paper: the lowest caste, fully human, with no animal-demon features; Steel: humans with partial animal-demon features; and finally Moon: the highest caste, fully demon, with complete animal-demon features. Each year, the Demon King rips eight Paper girls from their homes and takes them to be his concubines. Everyone tells the girls it is an honor to be chosen for this life; some believe that, some do not. But no one has ever stood up to the King before without facing cruel punishment. Lei has everything to fear in going to the palace. Her mother was taken similarly years ago, and no matter the amount of people saying that it’s a privilege to be chosen as a Paper girl and she should be grateful for it, she still dreads meeting the King, living in his palace, and leaving behind her father. Still, she readies herself to submit in order to survive—a sad reflection of what happens too often in today’s world—until she meets another Paper girl named Wren, who gives her hope of a better life. Lei’s story takes some time to build up in the beginning at first, since her motivations and goals as a character aren’t quite clear yet. I’ll completely admit that I wasn’t as engaged in the beginning as I wish I could’ve been. But once that drive was initiated and the plot got moving, it was so easy to get into the book and be swept up in this unforgettably brutal yet beautiful story. “Our lives here are defined by others, every decision made for us, every turn of fate pushed by the hands of others. But you stood up and said no. Even though you knew what it would cost you.” One of the most beautiful things about this book is the way it tackles oppression. It’s a story all about oppression, in social castes/classes, appearance, and most of all, sexual abuse and rape. It is so accurately portrayed that rape is about power, and control, and entitlement, and never about sex or desire. The Demon King feels entitled to the girls he seizes, and what he takes from them he takes because it makes him feel power over them. It’s not hard to believe and scary how closely resembling this is to our world today. But it’s not only a story of oppression, but about overcoming it too. One of the most powerful things a survivor can do is to step up and tell their truth, and this is a story of survivors finding the voice to speak up for themselves. It’s about knowing your worth and reclaiming it when someone forces you to think you have none. It’s about knowing that you are worth more than the beliefs of people who follow power without recognizing or choosing to see its horrors. It’s about knowing that no matter what, you are worth everything—the fight, the right to your own self, and the love. And speaking of love, the love that Lei and Wren have for each other is so beautiful and so pure and so delightfully sapphic. It’s slow-burn, soft, and everything I wanted. Their relationship means so much to me, as a sapphic Asian myself, but even more, these two queer Asian girls fall in love in a world that will do anything to wrench them apart. Seeing them fight for each other, reclaim themselves with each other, and become stronger because of each other—it means the world. Her kisses heal the part of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. And, always, most important, you are yours. Of course, the themes and messages and romance have a huge hand in how beautiful this book is, but there’s also the fact that this writing is just gorgeous, and the world that Ngan has crafted is absolutely stunning. Reading this was like reading a love letter to Asian culture—the food, the clothing, the people. It was like returning to home, to a place of comfort, to family in Thailand and all the best Thai food. Though this book is a beautiful must-read in my eyes, it is absolutely necessary that you be prepared for the heavy content. Huge huge content/trigger warning for rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence in general. It’s a quite heavy book to get through, and I can recall at least one scene that was graphic and very difficult for me to read. I recommend this book with my whole heart but please make sure you are in the right headspace! [More content warnings at the end of this review.] Also, if you’re reading the ARC, content warning for aro/acephobic language. The author has confirmed it will be removed from the final copy (which is great!), but it is still in the ARC so take care! When the world denies you choices, you make your own. Despite the heaviness of this novel, and the slightly slow start, this is without a doubt one of my favorite books of the year and a book I will never cease to stop recommending. The story of two queer Asian girls unwilling to let anything get in between them means the world and more to me, and the book as a whole is a gorgeous voice for all Asians, queer girls, and those who keep fighting even when everyone tries to push them down. :: rep :: entirely Asian cast (including Southeast-Asian-inspired, East-Asian-inspired, and South-Asian-inspired ethnicities), sapphic Asian female MC, sapphic Asian female LI || ownvoices for Asian, queer, and sexual abuse survivor rep :: content warnings :: rape, attempted rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, death, abduction, torture, violence, loss of loved one, scenes with blood, grief depictions // buddy read with my least gayvorite person Thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way. All quotes were taken from an unfinished copy and may differ in final publication.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

    I already have 301 books on my TBR BUT this sounds so damn intriguing. An f/f romance, at a palace, nine girls that get trained as consorts? Forbidden love? OH JEEZ!!! *closes eyes and presses the "want to read" button* Oooops! *facepalm*

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    In Lei’s world, demons rule over mortals and she, a Paper girl—the lowest of the casts—has no power whatsoever. Until she is sent to serve the king—in bed, mainly—and creates allies. She then realizes she might just have power after all and be meant for more than bedding the enemy. The problem is that dear Lei feels too much. She lets her emotions show on her face at all times and reacts without thinking first. She gets in trouble because she doesn’t take the time to question and plan, someone e In Lei’s world, demons rule over mortals and she, a Paper girl—the lowest of the casts—has no power whatsoever. Until she is sent to serve the king—in bed, mainly—and creates allies. She then realizes she might just have power after all and be meant for more than bedding the enemy. The problem is that dear Lei feels too much. She lets her emotions show on her face at all times and reacts without thinking first. She gets in trouble because she doesn’t take the time to question and plan, someone else usually does that for her. The world itself stands out. I haven’t read a story with demons in some time, and there’s something interesting about having supernatural creatures and mortals live in the same dimension—you never know what could happen. And in this particular case, there’s also the question of who Lei is. Why does she have golden eyes? Why her? What’s her role in this world? Even if I complain about Lei, I’m glad she’s the main character. The other ones, aside from the love interest, thankfully, are rather two-dimensional. The Demon King himself lacks teeth. I mean, in theory, he is all-powerful and dangerous, but somehow I wasn’t able to take him seriously because he seemed to only have one single personality trait—he was arrogant through and through. It’s an exciting, romantic and bold tale—one that I would recommend to mature readers. Though this isn’t a standalone, is it? If it is indeed one, and no companion novel (at least) gets published, I am entirely unsatisfied with the ending. What of the characters? What of the world? What of the future? All seems to float in the air and nothing is quite certain. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)

    4.5 Stars ”We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. You know that special pain that comes when a book with an amazing premise fails to live up to expectations? Now imagine the exact opposite. THAT was this book for me. That special kind of joy when a book with high expectations deliver 4.5 Stars ”We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. You know that special pain that comes when a book with an amazing premise fails to live up to expectations? Now imagine the exact opposite. THAT was this book for me. That special kind of joy when a book with high expectations delivers Lei lives in a world dominated by a magical caste system. Those with demon blood, (Moon) those with human blood, (Paper) and those with both (Steel.) This caste system quickly opens a dialogue about the nature of oppression. Especially when Lei is chosen as one of the Moon King’s concubines or “Paper Girls.” At its core, this book is about sexual assault and girls reclaiming themselves. The story doesn’t shy away from discussing the nature of rape or the many faces abusers may wear, but it also focuses on the process of healing. This extremely personal and varied activity was reflected in the large cast of girls, each with their own form of processing. The cast is predominantly female, and seeing this focus on female support and friendship was amazing. The varied character dynamics were all nuanced— and really show how much more room there is to explore when there’s more than two token women. Even more, this slow-burn, beautiful romance is delightfully sapphic. The relationship isn’t over sexualized, but their femininity is beautifully expressed and celebrated. Lei’s journey with herself and her feelings was constantly contrasted with the views of those around her. It’s when she begins to challenge these expectations that the romance really flourishes and so it feels like a natural character progression instead of gimmick. As a whole, this book offers so much representation for identities often excluded. It’s fierce Asian girls in love, and while I can’t speak for the representation as a whole, I know how much it matters. The writing is actually so beautiful and it’s astounding that this is a debut? There’s this almost-resplendent quality as the world builds around this lush, devious kingdom. While there’s little use of magic itself, the writing still holds a magical quality. My only complaints are that I found the caste system a bit gimmicky? I loved the discussion it opened, but the actual demon magic and animal appearance seemed almost irrelevant to the story? And that Lei is hard to connect with until she finds her drive in the second half. At first she’s understandably distraught and disoriented, but once her goals are established she became a much more dynamic and interesting character. Overall: This subject matter is really intense, and I recommend making sure you’re in the right head space first, but this really lives up to expectations. I received an Arc in exchange for my honest opinion, thanks to Jimmy Patterson Books!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. An own-voices queer characters story about two sapphic girls who fall in love while experiencing violence and abuse as they are held as concubines to the Demon King? It totally sounded like something we had never gotten, but it wasn’t everyth We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we're given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us. An own-voices queer characters story about two sapphic girls who fall in love while experiencing violence and abuse as they are held as concubines to the Demon King? It totally sounded like something we had never gotten, but it wasn’t everything I wanted. With that being said, I still loved every character in this book and every atmospheric description. Girls of Paper and Fire is about Lei, a 17-year-old made of fire and not paper who will not let herself be held by the Demon King. Lei was born to two Paper members of the caste, the lowest and most oppressed in her world of Ikhara. She helps her father and lives in a small village where she can't forget the traumatic events of her mother being snatched and taken from her. The royals she saw, the royals she wants to forget, they're back, but this time, they're here for her, the Paper with golden eyes who have caught the attention of the Demon King. Lei knows the story of the Demon King, knows what he does and who he is. He sends his guards to take eight girls born under Paper castes and turns them to Paper Girls who serve him, become his concubines and wives of many wives. Some families and girls think of this as an advantage, a fortunate fate, but Lei holds nothing but hatred, and she can't possibly let herself be controlled by her worst nightmare. During the weeks and months of training, Lei needs to meet requirements she has no plan on learning and during the process, she not only learns more about her mother, the Demon King, and herself, but she learns about what it is to let go, to let herself make her choices, to say no, and she learns about forbidden love. During the process, she also has to realize if it was worth going as far as she could for everything she sacrificed herself for. Girls of Paper and Fire is about what it means to say no to what you don’t want. It is about self-love, acceptance, and what it means to set yourself free. It is about power, control, violence, and what advantage one can hold. It is about rape, abuse, friendship, and love and how one choice can make a difference. Trigger/content warnings for sexual violence, abuse, rape, and an animal death. In my village, the story of the Paper Girls is told in whispers behind closed doors. We lost too much in the raid seven years ago to want to share anything more with the court. Natasha Ngan paints a beautiful world inspired by Asian elements from her own experience of being biracial, specifically Malaysian-Chinese, and she brings her vivid imagination into this world of Ikhara where you can imagine the world of it with the elements of it from drinks to food, buildings to clothes, houses to camps, its as if the whole world is in front of you. Ngan gives us many different yet common fantasy elements we see in fantasy, including the beautiful atmosphere she has crafted for us to visualize with its Asian mythology playing big roles. Natasha also talks about her own story in the end and how she encourages women, especially young girls, into speaking about their experience and providing us their stories about their survival of sexual violence, because that is what this story is about. Sexual violence is a big issue and topic in this book and it makes you hate boys and love girls more than you already do, but Ngan also makes sure to provide us happiness, love, friendships, and hope in this. There are survivors, like her and many others, in this and the provide more hope and faith. It is about rape culture and the trauma and grief it leaves you with. It is also about what it is like to overcome this fear, this control you don't want to hold, and what it means to say No to your oppressor, to the person taking advantage of you because of who you are. The message in this is descriptively beautiful and heavy, but it fills you in with light. Not only is it about being held, but it is about not letting this fear consume you and make you feel worthless. Ngan gives us a character that can bring light into us while reading this because of what she overcame, what she achieved. Lei is a character who did not allow herself to be let down, held down by the Demon King who made her feel like she was not worth everything that she was made of. But Lei found herself valuable, in herself and in others. Lei was able to make a difference in her life and in others, being a first of firsts. She was a character who was broken, wounded, and left with anguish she will never forget and want to experience again. But Lei was a different kind of character, and everything that she did was beyond beautiful as if she was the one painting her world for you to see it for what it really is. Aside from Lei, Wren was my favorite. I mean, a rebellious, young and sapphic assassin warrior who will do everything she can to protect her family but also her sapphic lover because she can't stand the fact that her girlfriend is being tortured by the Demon King, a bastard who has nothing but power and control over girls and treats them as toys and objects because that is his enjoyment? Wren is also broken, but with the help of Lei, she heals from her, through her, and she shows Lei what love and friendship is, but healing through love is, and the slow-burn romance that Ngan gives us in this is truly one of the most beautiful in YA fantasy. Not only is Wren helping Lei, but she is helping herself. She has her story of anguish, of fear and loss, of abandonment, and it is heartbreaking to read about but it is also full of hope and strength. I really hope we get more beautiful moments of them together that actually have me living because there were not enough in this one. Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours. The world of Ikhara is misery and a society of misogyny. Women are treated as slaves, toys, objects, as people they are not but are wanted for. These Paper Girls are taken from their family to serve the King, to serve him with his many other wives and Paper Girls he does not love but use for himself. It is a society that is slavery and enforcement, attempted rape and abuse, wrecking and leaving torturous trauma into the minds and bodies placed into this. It is cultural and a tradition for Demons in this world to be objectifying women as if they are nothing because, for them, they are nothing. It's as if they were a treat for themselves, given to them when they are obedient. Not only is there prejudice and discrimination, but there is also classification. Girls are taken depending on what they have to offer, and then they are forced into improving their classification to offer it to the King because they need to win his heart. One thing many of these girls who think they are fortunate enough don't realize is that the Moon King does not like them for who they are, he is simply materializing and using them as tools, for his comfort and amusement, and there is no self-discovery in these girls who are misplaced, obscured and assuming this is all a blessing, as if being married to a King who has multiples wives in his bed is a fortune. Aside from everything I cherished, one thing that points to the 4 stars and not 5 is how Ngan decided to leave the plots ending until the end, even though we were given hints of what was to come. What I am trying to point out is that nothing blew me away because I knew what was gonna happen. One thing I hate about YA fantasy is that the author always gives everything away, not allowing and letting the reader experience it for themselves. It really blows the whole story away for me when the author decides to spoil the ending for us in ways they probably thought they didn't. Although the ending does end with a cliffhanger, it didn't feel enough. Girls of Paper and Fire is about overcoming the shyness a girl can hold as she is experiencing one of her most traumatic experiences to date. It is about making a difference for yourself and your own little world and how beautiful it is to find someone who will accept and love you for who you are and not for what you have. It is about learning, accepting, and loving. Demon men can take what they want. Our homes. Our lives. Our bodies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Korrina (OwlCrate)

    Wow wow wow. This book was so intense and amazing. I’m still processing how I feel about it. I absolutely loved it though.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I am so cheesed off right now that I'm having trouble putting my fury to (virtual) paper. This is CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE all over again. People were singing this book's praises for being diverse!fantasy featuring not just a heroine of color, but a heroine of color who was a lesbian. How could this be bad? I asked myself. The advance reviews were great, and almost unanimously positive. It was an F/F romance set in a fantasyscape based of Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I am so cheesed off right now that I'm having trouble putting my fury to (virtual) paper. This is CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE all over again. People were singing this book's praises for being diverse!fantasy featuring not just a heroine of color, but a heroine of color who was a lesbian. How could this be bad? I asked myself. The advance reviews were great, and almost unanimously positive. It was an F/F romance set in a fantasyscape based off Malaysia, one of the most culturally diverse places ever. It sounded so freaking good, and I could not wait for it. But it was not good. Not even close. Problem #1: The heroine is a raging Mary Sue. Per the synopsis, every year, the Demon King chooses eight human girls to be his teenage concubines (gross). This year, they've decided to go with Nine: Special Specialton herself, Lei. Lei is cast in the vein of every Mary Sue ever, although for some reason, people are adoring and forgiving her for her utter self-aggrandizing blandness in this book where they condemned Bella Swan for it. She has ~special eyes~. Even though she's fully human, she has gold eyes the color of a demon's, and if that doesn't scream, "THIS IS MY ORIGINAL CHARACTER, MOONLIGHT SONATA RAVEN EMORY RAINBOW!" at you, that's probably because you've written more than your fair share of Moonlight Sonata Raven Emory Rainbows. She has one character flaw: she's clumsy. For the first 50% of the book she's tripping over everything. I think it's supposed to be endearing. Since when does having too many inner-ear infections as a child make you better than the rest of the human - I mean, "Paper" - race? She's also shooting her mouth off all the time, and people seem to love her for that too. And her particular brand of sarcasm is basically the teenage equivalent of a toddler stomping his foot and saying "NO!" Oh, wow, so brave! So defiant! Like, please. This dumb papery-ass little shit wouldn't know Brave if she saw it at Disney. Her actual character flaw: she's a hypocrite. She is constantly railing against the Demon King, and yes, he's an awful guy. But then right after he nearly sexually assaults her, she immediately turns around and says "Haven't we waited long enough?" when kissing Wren and Wren asks her to wait. It's like, oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that consent was solely a heterosexual concept. When she says WAIT, you wait, b*tch. This becomes a pattern, with love that is definitely insta and super possessive. Lei clearly considers Wren "hers" before their relationship is even consummated, and despite being a feisty, sarcastic, papery little shit, apparently this is her trademark and no one is allowed to do it, because she is mad AF when she finds out Wren is keeping secrets from her. Lest you say, "Nenia, wait, you read bodice-rippers, and this seems kind of like cherry-picking when compared to the bodice-ripping that goes on in what you read." This is true, and I appreciate your perception and strawman reasoning. The difference between bodice-rippers and this book is that bodice-rippers don't purport to be empowering, woman-loving feminist literary masterworks, and were not advertised to me as such. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's hypocrisy. You can write garbage and I will read it gladly, but tell me it's art or classy sh*t, and I will come after you. #TheEnd Problem #2: The writing is not good The phrase "I grit back a glower at this" literally appeared in this book, in case you need an example of why the writing was not good. This is written in a style that I call "Basic B*tch YA." The language is simple, the dialogue wooden, and there's a few nice quotes thrown in for people to put on IG or Pinterest, and trick people like me into reading the book thinking it's going to be good. This is the literary equivalent of a movie trailer where the movie is so bad, the trailer is basically a reel of the only salvageable moments from the film because otherwise nobody would want to see it. Also, there was so much "purring" and "shoulder-rolling" that if I didn't know better, I would have thought that Sarah J. Maas had waltzed in and seized control of the narrative. Lord knows, Bellei Swan is just as annoying as Celery Saltine-thin. The two of them should start a bowling league. Problem #3: The world-building was not good "Lush fantasy" my sizeable rear-end! Moon-caste, Paper-caste, Steel-caste. Despite a few made-up insults to show scorn at those beneath them, I did not feel like this caste system was really adequately displayed, especially since we didn't see much of the Steel caste at all. While reading about these anthropomorphic animal-beastmans, I kept thinking longingly of Inuyasha, which I thought did a really great job of showing just how disposable humans were, and how annoyingly superior and classist demons were. Just look at how lesser demons like Inuyasha and Naraku were treated. Second, why is the Demon King still in charge if everyone hates him and he can't produce heirs? What was the dealio with the rebellion that led him taking the Paper castes to bed in the first place? Why weren't the Xia mentioned earlier so they didn't seem like a Deus-ex-Machxia later on? The world-building in this book was garbage, and the idea of the teenage concubines just seemed like a salacious hook to lure people in with the promise of reading something illicit (like me *cough*). The magical powers and totalitarian regime were so badly done, and made me think longingly of Avatar: The Last Airbender, where there was cohesion in the Asian-world-building, as well as the magic and culture and oppression tactics of those who were in power. Problem #4: The hype was a lie (for me) I'm very angry at myself for falling for the hype of this book - it's like I never learn my lesson. I really want to support PoC authors and books with PoCs, but I will never do that with a book that I, personally, think is bad. YMMV, and if this is the book to make you feel appreciated, validated, or acknowledged, then that is wonderful. But to me, it felt like just another watered-down YA fantasy. 1 to 1.5 stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    In this fantasy world, every year, the violent and oppressive Demon King—the strongest of a caste of people marked by their animal-like appearances—takes eight Paper Girls (of the plain, human Paper caste) to become his concubines. Lei never expected to become one of those girls, but even more shocking was the twist of fate she met upon her arrival at the palace—her unstoppable and desperate fall into a forbidden love with another Paper Girl. When I first heard the synopsis for this book, I was In this fantasy world, every year, the violent and oppressive Demon King—the strongest of a caste of people marked by their animal-like appearances—takes eight Paper Girls (of the plain, human Paper caste) to become his concubines. Lei never expected to become one of those girls, but even more shocking was the twist of fate she met upon her arrival at the palace—her unstoppable and desperate fall into a forbidden love with another Paper Girl. When I first heard the synopsis for this book, I was sold in an instant. An own-voice Asian fantasy story with queer girls, demons and half-demons, strong women overcoming forced slavery, and did I mention queer girls—this immediately shot to the top of my “most anticipated releases of 2018” list. → L I K E S : Perhaps the gods have forgotten us, or grown bored with our small corner of the kingdom. Because here I am, about to share the last thing I’d ever want to offer the King. Myself. There’s a lot to love in Girls! First, there’s the fantasy world and the classes of demons and humans, which were so fascinating. I know this isn’t the popular opinion on this note, but I was a teen right in the middle of the internet’s “anthro” phase and had so many positive memories of that time, so when I realized the demon or “Moon” caste were basically humanized forms of animals (as in people with horns, furred skin, etc.), I was flooded with nostalgia in the best way. The word itself—home—is a blade in my gut. It’s a call, a song. One I can’t answer anymore. I was also impressed by how in-depth much of the world-building is: we’re given a substantial amount of back story throughout the novel, and rather than dumping it all on us in the beginning, there’s constantly more to learn, even 300+ pages in. This story has a level of complexity that you don’t see often in debut authors, and I enjoyed that so much. “When the world denies you choices, you make your own.” The last major positive I want to mention is the entire character design of Wren, one of the other Paper Girls. Despite not being the main character, she was the star of the show for me; she felt the most complex and three-dimensional, and I consistently enjoyed every single scene she was present for. → D I S L I K E S : I’m cast in the shadow of that night with the King. The memory of it hovers close, a constant presence at the edge of my consciousness, like moon-shimmer on the surface of a lake. Unfortunately, there were also a few things that caused Girls to not live up to the hype I’d created for it in my own head. First, while the world-building is great, the narrative voice didn’t click well with me. I found it very difficult to immerse myself in any of the scenes, and thought the descriptions of most characters and settings were too general. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the cage is. It’s still a prison. I also struggled with most of the characters, especially Lei. Wren is the only character who felt truly complex to me, but everyone else struck me as predictable, and all of the Paper Girls besides Wren and Aoki felt over-simplified and predictable. There are a handful of lesser characters in the story that I enjoyed fine, like Zelle and Kenzo, but the amount of time we get to spend with them is practically nothing at all. I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one. Finally—and this is probably more of a “me” issue than the book, so I’m not really counting off points for it—no matter how much I wanted to root for the romance or the plotting of revenge and justice, I never could find it in myself to really care very much. I’m usually one of the most emotional readers you could ever meet, but the writing simply wasn’t capable of evoking any genuine feelings in me most of the time, so when I finished it, I found myself feeling a little empty and not particularly concerned over what would happen in the coming sequel. → F I N A L THOUGHTS : All in all, Girls of Paper and Fire is a difficult book for me to rate and review. My enjoyment of the book puts it at a 3, but the important issues tackled and the depth of world-building make it a solid 4.5—ultimately, I settled on 4/5 stars. I’m not entirely certain right now that I’ll be eagerly awaiting the sequel, but Natasha Ngan showed so much promise in this—especially with it being her first novel—that I’m definitely very keen on seeing how she improves and where she goes next in her career. → RECOMMENDING TO… : If you’re a fantasy reader who enjoys high fantasy and beautifully done queer rep, I absolutely recommend picking up a copy of Girls of Paper and Fire. Despite the fact that it wasn’t a perfect 10/10 for me, I know it’s the kind of story I will be recommending to friends for years to come because I think this book did so many things right at the end of the day. Content warnings for rape, abuse, murder, oppression, slut-shaming, violence All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lily ☁️

    ✨ My full review is now up on my blog! Also, this happened … no big deal. “I know what it means to dream about the past. To dream about things you have loved, and lost.” Some books entrance you with their devastatingly gorgeous, lush, and magical prose, transporting you to a whole new world with the magnificent imagery they weave, leaving you spellbound, and speechless. Some books draw you in with characters so full of heart and soul that you feel as if you’re living their stories, leaving you hel ✨ My full review is now up on my blog! Also, this happened … no big deal. “I know what it means to dream about the past. To dream about things you have loved, and lost.” Some books entrance you with their devastatingly gorgeous, lush, and magical prose, transporting you to a whole new world with the magnificent imagery they weave, leaving you spellbound, and speechless. Some books draw you in with characters so full of heart and soul that you feel as if you’re living their stories, leaving you helpless to do anything else but fall in love with them irrevocably. And very seldom, but every once in a while, all the stars line up, and you find a book that does both—and it’s as if a small piece of your heart that you’ve always felt was missing finds its way to you, cloaked in feelings that can’t quite be articulated, but are experienced all the more deeply. Girls of Paper and Fire is a book that gradually wound its way into my heart, and has since nestled itself snugly in a corner, radiating light and happiness, whenever I find myself reminiscing about it, even despite the heavy subject matters it incloses. “Remember, even that which seems impossible at first can be overcome by strength of mind and heart.” It tells a story of girls who are chosen as concubines for a powerful king, some more, and some less willing to serve him, some with ulterior motives, and some merely acquiescing in their servitude to preserve their lives, and that of their loved ones. And at the heart of it all, two girls who find themselves slowly falling in love with each other, as they navigate their way through a world wrought with distrust and suspicion, and faced with the impossible question—what are they willing to sacrifice for their love, and just how much are they willing to endure before they fight back? The characters in this novel are so intricately crafted, and their layers, as well as their motives, are masterfully unveiled, bit by bit—and even though the plot unfolds at an at times tantalizingly slow pace, something special about it always managed to pull me back in. I found myself pausing after every few paragraphs just to savor the startlingly beautiful prose that tastes like warm honey, sweetly melting on your tongue. “Understanding arrives then the way twilight falls: instantaneously. Just a blink, a skip in time, leaving only the before and the after, and the inescapable ripples of change.” Girls of Paper and Fire touches upon so many important themes, examines all-too familiar issues with sharp wit and sensitivity, and stands out with its powerful examination of identity, self-empowerment, and faith—in yourself, as well as others. It’s a portrait illustrating the importance of love, and friendship, and showing us that it’s possible to reclaim your power, and offer opposition to oppression. “When the world denies you choices, you make your own.” Even while I was reading it, I was filled with a deep-seated, glowing happiness that made my heart warm, and with the knowledge that, no matter how hard I try, my words simply won’t be able to capture all the ways in which merely thinking of it makes me feel lighter, and all my surroundings appear just a little brighter. Out of the two-hundred and twenty-three books I’ve read this year, Girls of Paper and Fire will be remembered by me as one of the most beautifully written ones—and the one that will stay with me for a very long time. “(…) I don’t want an easy life. I want a meaningful one.” The quotes above were taken from an ARC, and are subject to change upon publication. * This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, and I have an actual, physical ARC in my hands—I’m not crying, you are!! Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Ngan

    Yes, I'm totally biased. But guys, this really is the book of my heart. As I say in my author note: The story within these pages is a work of fiction, but also a work of love. The world I created in Ikhara has been heavily inspired by my experiences growing up in Malaysia, a country with a dense mix of cultures, and also as a person of mixed ethnicity. As such, it’s a bit of a hybrid—like me. I feel extremely lucky to come from a multicultural home, and it has shaped-and will forever continue to Yes, I'm totally biased. But guys, this really is the book of my heart. As I say in my author note: The story within these pages is a work of fiction, but also a work of love. The world I created in Ikhara has been heavily inspired by my experiences growing up in Malaysia, a country with a dense mix of cultures, and also as a person of mixed ethnicity. As such, it’s a bit of a hybrid—like me. I feel extremely lucky to come from a multicultural home, and it has shaped-and will forever continue to shape-my influences and perspectives. The conception of this story also comes from a personal, deep yearning for more diverse novels, particularly in YA. I believe it’s important for everyone, but especially young people, to see themselves in the stories they consume—to feel acceptance and kinship. To be inspired for their own stories, real and imagined. Even magical worlds have their roots in our own, and I would love to see more books reflecting the rich variety of our individual realities. Set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world where a Demon King takes human girls for concubines, this is the story of the forbidden love between two of the girls and how far they are willing to fight for their freedom - and each other. It is a story about love and friendship, about trauma and despair. It is a story about finding hope in the most hopeless of times. More than anything, it is a story about female oppression and empowerment. The girls in the book each discover their own forms of power and expression in a world that would give them none, and I am so proud of their strength. I cannot wait for you to meet them! <3

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    October Fairyloot! Pink Sprayed Edges! Yessss!! Although, I think it's next month that the US and Canada are not getting sprayed edges. Only other countries and of course that made me mad because y'all know I'm addicted to sprayed edges! =D Click on link below the pic to see the goods! LINK TO THE GOODS This was also the Owlcrate November book. I'm tired of getting the same books from both boxes. I love the Fairyloot book better with the pink edges. But here is a link to the goodies that were in October Fairyloot! Pink Sprayed Edges! Yessss!! Although, I think it's next month that the US and Canada are not getting sprayed edges. Only other countries and of course that made me mad because y'all know I'm addicted to sprayed edges! =D Click on link below the pic to see the goods! LINK TO THE GOODS This was also the Owlcrate November book. I'm tired of getting the same books from both boxes. I love the Fairyloot book better with the pink edges. But here is a link to the goodies that were in the Owlcrate box with it. OWLCRATE GOODIES

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This looks sensational.

  17. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Whoa this was perfectly magical and emotional and harrowing...so deserving of the hype! It's such a dark premise, but it's handled so well. And can I just say the amount of Asian #ownvoices fantasies coming out at the moment is incredible (!!) not only that this has an f/f romance, demons, rebellions, secret assassins, empowering female friendships aND A BEAUTIFUL COVER. bless tbh, we have been blessed ➸ WORLD BUILDING dude, this was amazing. Complex and developed, with history and lore!! the world Whoa this was perfectly magical and emotional and harrowing...so deserving of the hype! It's such a dark premise, but it's handled so well. And can I just say the amount of Asian #ownvoices fantasies coming out at the moment is incredible (!!) not only that this has an f/f romance, demons, rebellions, secret assassins, empowering female friendships aND A BEAUTIFUL COVER. bless tbh, we have been blessed ➸ WORLD BUILDING dude, this was amazing. Complex and developed, with history and lore!! the world seemed really big too, which is something I crave in YA fantasy but often find wanting?? Also the author's note said she drew inspiration from her own Chinese and Malaysian background and I think that's incredibly special too. Also the descriptions of the world, the palaces, the food (!! I'M SO HUNGRY TOO) just made you feel really in the story. ➸ ok the premise IS very dark. We do need to note this. It's about the demon king taking girls as concubines, so yes there is rape and sexual abuse and violence. (I also think it was very very good that the book had a content warning at the beginning.) It's not graphic, but it is talked about thoroughly. At first I was like "this isn't YA..." but you know, I did change my mind??? Somewhat because of the author's note too where Ngan said: "While I realise these are hard discussions, especially for teens, it is of vital important we have them. Books can be safe places to explore difficult topics. While we cannot shelter young people from being exposed to sexual violence, whether through lived experience or indirectly, we can give them a way to safely engage with and reflect upon these issues. I hope Girls provides such a space." I couldn't agree more. Especially in this day and age where (I think the stats are?) 1 in 6 women will experience sexual abuse in their life. We NEED to talk about it. And this is harrowing and awful, but the book really handles the topic so well. I still felt gutted reading it though afjskdla I ached for these girls and omfg I hate the Demon king so freaking much. ➸ A MOMENT FOR OUR FAV GIRLS, LEI AND WREN. I loved Lei so so much! She's the narrator, and omg her little snark quips gave me life. But she's so real. She was emotional and unsure and made messy decisions and had messy feels (a true teen!!). And she WAS brave and fiery, but like not in a totally stoic way?! Nothing against stoic women, I just don't often see girls who are both soft and determined in epic fantasy. She's awkward and a bit dorky and omggg when she realises she has feelings for Wren, SHE IS SO CUTE. I loved their romance so much! It wasn't rushed and it was sweet but also intense. Wren was mysterious and drop-dead gorgeous and badass and had a Secret Thing going on. I think I can count on one hand how many f/f epic fantasies I've read so *smol flail* this is amazing and more please. ➸ Like idk what else do you want from me? MORE FLAILS. I was really captivated the whole time (beginning took a while to get going but eh) and the pacing was goodness! Ok it didn't give me all-the-feels-of-ever, but I am also a tree stump. I acknowledge that. But I want more from this world, this author, THESE GIRLS, and I'm really excited this was so good and powerful. The cast is like 80% women, strong and soft and making mistakes and plotting and being enemies and being heroes. I LOVED THAT. It's not a light fluffy fantasy. It's heavy and unsettling but written very very well. I'm definitely pointing to this one ➸ very recommended!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cesar

    4.5 stars *heavenly choir* Oh my God, I love this book so much! This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 and it did not disappoint. I fulfilled all of my needs and paid off in the end. I cannot describe how much I enjoyed my time reading Girls of Paper and Fire. This may be a fantasy story, but the messages behind it are so prevalent in our time. A lot of my friends have said that the book is about rape culture, how rape is about power, and I agree with them. There are so many good message 4.5 stars *heavenly choir* Oh my God, I love this book so much! This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 and it did not disappoint. I fulfilled all of my needs and paid off in the end. I cannot describe how much I enjoyed my time reading Girls of Paper and Fire. This may be a fantasy story, but the messages behind it are so prevalent in our time. A lot of my friends have said that the book is about rape culture, how rape is about power, and I agree with them. There are so many good messages in the story about reclaiming your body and life after rape and the bonds people make who can help support each other. It was fantastic. 😁😁 CW: Rape (happens off-page but is still horrific), attempted rape, abuse, sexual assault, animal death. Girls of Paper and Fire is an Asian inspired fantasy story where there are three castes in which people are separated in. Paper - Humans. Steel - Half human half demon. They look almost human but have some sort of animal characteristic. Moon - Full fledged demons who are fully animal. Lei, our main protagonist, is a paper girl helping out her father at their herbal shop. One day, Lei is forcefully taken away from her home to be a Paper Girl. Each year, the demon king takes eight paper girls from around the country and make them his concubines. Lei is actually the ninth paper girl because of her unusual golden demon eyes, which is what got her kidnapped. Her mother got taken years ago to be a paper girl and now it's her turn. From the moment I read the first sentence of the story, I knew I was going to fall in love with it. Ngan wrote such a unique story set in an Asian world dealing with sex trafficking. The world is both beautiful yet horrific. When a fantasy world does that, it makes me all the more interested in the world building and the characters. Being that this is an Asian inspired novel, I was fascinated by how much work Ngan put into creating it. From the clothes to the architect of the buildings, it was done well. This is an ownvoices story and I absolutely loved it. Though the story does take place in one setting for a good chunk of the book, there are hints that more of the world will be explored and I am eagerly waiting for it. The character of Lei is one I really liked. She is a character who is adamant about wanting to escape being the king's concubine. She has a lot of self-worth in herself as a human and isn't afraid to say or do something if it means protecting herself, her family, and even a few of the paper girls. When she gets thrown to the ground, she gets back up. When it seems like the odds are not in her favor, she still fights on. This is a f/f story and I like the slow burn of it. It is also a forbidden romance which is usually a hit or miss. A hit if it's done right, a miss if there is unnecessary drama. Thankfully this was a hit. The developing love between Lei and Wren was cute. The one major gripe I have would have to be the villain, the demon king. Villains are complex characters because they didn't start off as villains. What happened to them becoming a villain is what makes them a complex character. The demon king, while evil, wasn't fleshed out. He was sort of one-dimensional. Verdict I very much enjoyed Girls of Paper and Fire. I had high hopes for it and it paid off well. I'm looking forward to reading the next book. Thanks for reading my review! -Cesar

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cait • A Page with a View

    Release date: November 6, 2018 Yeah, this is easily one of the best YA releases of 2018... The year might be only halfway over but I'm 100% fine calling it now. Absolutely everything about this book was incredible. The worldbuilding & writing were absolutely gorgeous, mesmerizing, enchanting — whatever enthusiastic term you can think of would totally fit. The story was SO easy to read and get invested in... it just flowed effortlessly. Sometimes I find an awesome story idea but the execution Release date: November 6, 2018 Yeah, this is easily one of the best YA releases of 2018... The year might be only halfway over but I'm 100% fine calling it now. Absolutely everything about this book was incredible. The worldbuilding & writing were absolutely gorgeous, mesmerizing, enchanting — whatever enthusiastic term you can think of would totally fit. The story was SO easy to read and get invested in... it just flowed effortlessly. Sometimes I find an awesome story idea but the execution is so poor that I don't even care to finish the book, while other times I can make my way through a boring story if it's well executed. This book is one of those rare gems where both the execution AND idea are phenomenal. The story is totally unique and so creative that part of me wants to spend a thousand words breaking it down here. Buuuut I decided not to say much about the plot because a lot of the fun in reading the book was discovering each new idea or element like The vivid, rich world was probably my favorite part of the story because it felt so real. (The author's note mentions how it's heavily influenced by her experience growing up in a multicultural home in Malaysia). But every part of this book is so well done... it's definitely one of the top 10 books of 2018 that I'd recommend libraries and schools to get! Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yusra ✨

    hOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL I AM IN TEARS THE CLIFFHANGER IS TOO MUCH -------------------------------------- wow, this is EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL IN REAL LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    chloe ✨

    4.5 stars SO GOOD!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    This was a good YA fantasy book. I’m a huge fantasy fan so I was excited to read this. While the pace was a tiny bit up and down at times, enough went on to keep me on my toes and to keep reading. It looks like this is going to be a start of a series which I’m happy about. The world is split up in a three caste system with humans being the lowest and demons on top. Lei, is a human whose beauty gets her noticed and stuck in the position of being the demon kings concubine. While supposedly an honor This was a good YA fantasy book. I’m a huge fantasy fan so I was excited to read this. While the pace was a tiny bit up and down at times, enough went on to keep me on my toes and to keep reading. It looks like this is going to be a start of a series which I’m happy about. The world is split up in a three caste system with humans being the lowest and demons on top. Lei, is a human whose beauty gets her noticed and stuck in the position of being the demon kings concubine. While supposedly an honor it is not the life Lei wants. Will she do what is expected of her or find a way to rebel? First I do have to give a trigger warning. With what the main premise is about it should not be a surprise. There are attempted rape scenes and one actually rape scene. However, the rape scene is fade to black so it’s enough for you to know it happened but the details are not there. I’m not the biggest fan of spec-fic books where the characters are passive. Meaning everything always happens to them. While that does happen some in this book, Lei and the other main character Wren are both really strong of heart. I would not classify them as passive which I was really grateful for. I thought the romance was really sweet. It is a PG-13 romance but you feel the bond between them. In such a horrible world something so lovely and sweet shines through. The friendship and possibility of more were some of my favorite parts of the book. My one complaint was the epilogue. I did not care for it. I did an eye roll with an “oh come on” after it. I think there was plenty of material for a book 2 without that kind of epilogue. It didn’t ruin the book or anything; I just thought it was a tad gimmicky. If you are a YA fantasy fan, you will probably enjoy this book. It was a good read and I will be reading the next book for sure. An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription "We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled." 🌟 It has been a week since I finished this book and I have been thinking about it the whole week. The short and direct answer is that it is a good book, but I certainly think it could have been better. I will break down my thoughts for this book which will help me giving it a final sta This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription "We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled." 🌟 It has been a week since I finished this book and I have been thinking about it the whole week. The short and direct answer is that it is a good book, but I certainly think it could have been better. I will break down my thoughts for this book which will help me giving it a final star rating. 🌟 The first thing that I liked, also the first thing that captured my attention was -you’re right- the writing style. Natasha has a magical prose and I liked many quotes in this one. 🌟 The world building started good, I like learning how these worlds function as a whole, how the common people and royalty are affected. The book started by explaining the mythology but it didn’t expand that much further. 🌟 The plot was good, I can’t say that I was surprised. It was enjoyable but I think I already read it before in other books and in other ways. 🌟 The characters were probably my biggest problem with this series. I wasn’t a very big fan of Lei and some of the minor characters were developed even more. I like slow burn romance, but I think the romance here was kind of forced upon the story and I wasn’t convinced. Also, This Emperor may be one of the fluffiest emperors I have ever seen. OK, he was bad, he raped girls, he’s disgusting but I didn’t feel that he is powerful at all. I expected more from all of the characters. 🌟 Summary: I am pretty sure that this is a story that will get many fans and success and that is good. I think the author is a nice person and she deserves it. I expected something a bit different and a bit better from all aspects except the writing. I am going to give the second book a chance and I am gibing this one a 3.5 out of 5 stars!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Malanie

    “Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.” There were some really beautiful moments in this book!!!! So, even though I’m only giving it 2.5/5 stars, I want it to be known that I support this book 100000% and feel tremendously proud that it exists. It's setting such a positive/powerful example. HOWEVER. The story itself just wasn’t my cup of tea??? I FEEL SO BITTER. my l “Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.” There were some really beautiful moments in this book!!!! So, even though I’m only giving it 2.5/5 stars, I want it to be known that I support this book 100000% and feel tremendously proud that it exists. It's setting such a positive/powerful example. HOWEVER. The story itself just wasn’t my cup of tea??? I FEEL SO BITTER. my l i f e. I truly admire + adore the premise, we have SO MUCHHH Asian rep, ft. an entirely Asian cast, Sapphic Asian main characters, a strong Asian setting, and everything is ownvoices. Sadly, it’s not necessarily the content I couldn’t get into, because the content was perfect and I wanted to hug it gently forever. “This isn't dancing the way I saw it done back home, all abandon and laughter and loose limbs. This is a kind of clockwork, technical thing.” This quote is pretty much how I feel about the story in general. The way the story is told felt technical and forced for me, especially toward the middle and end?? It was like the author was checking off the boxes to make a fantasy novel. I was bored and this hurts my soul to utter aloud because the premise is entirely perfect. Maybe I’m just burnt toast and I should be crumbled into crumbs. “A person’s appearance is much more than just their features. It’s how they hold themselves. The way they move. The things you can tell about them without words.” The story follows Eight Paper (lowest caste) Girls who are chosen to sleep with the Demon King for a year. For me, it felt like Lei didn’t really have an,,,,,,,,,objective. Or a purpose in this story. She is chosen as a Paper Girl and sort of goes along with it, with a Side Quest to search for her mother within the mysterious walls of the Demon King’s palace. Along the way Lei falls in love with Wren. And I mean FAR along the way, we don’t really get anything remotely romantic until at least half way through the book. Which was v disappointing because I went into this hoping with all my gay heart for a strong & fluffy af & passionate f/f relationship. But I just didn’t feel intense chemistry between them. “Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke. They tell me: You are strong, Lei. You are beautiful. You are mine. And, always, most important: You are yours.” ^^the most romantic thing that happens in the entire book^^ I feel like I’m going to be kicked out of the cool club forever for not liking this. In fact, I’m shredding my own Cool Gay Book Blogger certificate immediately because I feel so unhappy with myself as a person. HOW DARE I NOT ENJOY THIS BOOK WITH THE GORGEOUS COVER? Overall. *sigh* It's highly possible that I require an extended hiatus from making decisions skldfslkfj TW: Violence, torturing an animal, sexual abuse, | 💜TWITTER💜 |💜 BOOKSTAGRAM💜 |💜 BLOG 💜|

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a young adult fantasy read that again I must stress should be for the more mature audience. There are several things included in this one that deserve a bit of warning before picking it up, violence, slavery, abuse, rape along with animal cruelty. Natasha Ngan’s world she’s created consists of three different levels to the society known as castes. First we have the Paper caste which are the lowest in the world of Ikhara, this caste consists of the humans Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a young adult fantasy read that again I must stress should be for the more mature audience. There are several things included in this one that deserve a bit of warning before picking it up, violence, slavery, abuse, rape along with animal cruelty. Natasha Ngan’s world she’s created consists of three different levels to the society known as castes. First we have the Paper caste which are the lowest in the world of Ikhara, this caste consists of the humans which includes the main character Lei of the story. Then we have the Steel caste which consists of a cross between humans and demons. And then there is the Moon caste which are fully demon including the King that rules Ikhara. Lei was born with brilliant golden eyes which set her apart from other humans and draws the attention of the Demon guards who kidnapped her away from her family to take her as an offering to the King. Every year eight girls are taken to become the Paper Girls and served up as concubines to the King but this year Lei has become number nine. Now, the idea of a group of lower class citizens being taken is not a new one in young adult at all. This story reminded me of the darker edge of the Hunger Games being mixed into The Selection. When we have demons ruling the world within obviously things are not pretty but with the girls being taken to compete against one another for a promised better life serving the King you have that vibe of the Selection with some friendship, some cattiness and Ngan went one step further with a love interest among the girls. Now one may ask why bother if the story is similar to others? Well, the world is certainly different and oozing with darkness so as much as I did have those reminders I still felt as if I were dropped into something new too. Lei was the new Katniss or girl on fire who didn’t want to just go along with what was expected which leads to a deeper plot as the story goes on which certainly had my interest. With the imagery and pacing being spot on I flew right through this one so I do think readers will enjoy the dark and dangerous vibe. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    ARC provided by the best bookstore in the world, RJ Julia's in CT!!! Girls of Paper and Fire is the first book in a new YA Fantasy series featuring elements from the Asian culture as well as representing the lesbian community where girls are taken as sex slaves for an evil demon king. I honestly couldn't be happier about everything that is this book and I certainly wasn't expecting this to be a soul crushing read. I had no idea about the two lovers being girls, but quite honestly, that made everyt ARC provided by the best bookstore in the world, RJ Julia's in CT!!! Girls of Paper and Fire is the first book in a new YA Fantasy series featuring elements from the Asian culture as well as representing the lesbian community where girls are taken as sex slaves for an evil demon king. I honestly couldn't be happier about everything that is this book and I certainly wasn't expecting this to be a soul crushing read. I had no idea about the two lovers being girls, but quite honestly, that made everything so much better. The YA genre really needs more of Natasha Ngan's books and I'm now eagerly awaiting the sequel to this lush Fantasy. What I liked: Women supporting each other rather than spreading hate and jealousy amongst themselves. Imagine a book with incredibly intricate world building that feels like it's a real thing that actually happened. That's how the world in this book felt like to me. The details were amazingly woven together and there was just enough information for it not to be too overwhelming. The main character is either bisexual or lesbian but I'm strongly leaning towards lesbian and it's the most beautiful thing ever. This character has flaws and imperfections that make her seem real and approachable. I'm sick of gorgeous skinny women that make jaws drop wherever they go. That cliché has been around long enough and I'm tired of that being the go-to when authors can't think of anything else. I want gorgeous curvy women, dark skinned women, full-breasted women, women with flat chests, women with slim AND curvy waists, women with spots, scarred women and disabled women. Just like we have them in the real world. I want them to make me feel good about myself. Women are beautiful, magnificent creatures and I want authors to acknowledge and embrace that diversity.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    ARC received via publisher! The cover is so pretty!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    I’ve spent the past year thinking I’d fallen out of love with fantasy, but Girls of Paper and Fire (& Forest of a Thousand Lanterns) have proven just how wrong I was. Everything thing about this book was gorgeous. The characters and relationships were wonderfully complex and continuously intriguing. The plot was heartbreaking but equally addictive and gripping, exploring so many aspects of humanity and society in such a sensitive and intricate way. Natasha Ngan’s writing flowed beautifully a I’ve spent the past year thinking I’d fallen out of love with fantasy, but Girls of Paper and Fire (& Forest of a Thousand Lanterns) have proven just how wrong I was. Everything thing about this book was gorgeous. The characters and relationships were wonderfully complex and continuously intriguing. The plot was heartbreaking but equally addictive and gripping, exploring so many aspects of humanity and society in such a sensitive and intricate way. Natasha Ngan’s writing flowed beautifully and made for an easy read, despite its hard hitting content. Ngan somehow managed to create an stunning and vivid world, without being overly descriptive or ‘info-dumpy’. The different caste’s and the way the various demons were introduced and described were never confusing and always captured my curiosity. From the first page until the last, I became totally lost in the story and the world I found myself in. After the epic cliffhanger this book delivered, the wait until its sequels release is going to be a painful one but I’m incredibly excited for it. Simply put, Girls of Paper and Fire completely and utterly captured my heart.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    Review on my blog • Twitter • Instagram Rep: Asian mc, f/f romance  Content warnings: rape, violence  I received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review Girls Of Paper and Fire was an amazing read. It introduces the reader to a unique and complex world. The book is for fantasy for sure, but it is introduced in a unique way. In this world, demons exist and they are in the shape of animals. The world is split into three types of castes, the Moon caste which re people Review on my blog • Twitter • Instagram Rep: Asian mc, f/f romance  Content warnings: rape, violence  I received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review Girls Of Paper and Fire was an amazing read. It introduces the reader to a unique and complex world. The book is for fantasy for sure, but it is introduced in a unique way. In this world, demons exist and they are in the shape of animals. The world is split into three types of castes, the Moon caste which re people who are fully demon, the Steel caste which are people who are partially demon and partially human, and the Paper caste who are fully human.  The book follows Lei, who is from the Paper caste, which is also the poorest caste. While she is a Paper, she has golden eyes but no one knows why she would, but it's implied it has to do with her being born on New Years. She lives with her father, as her mother is missing, but one day she is chosen to be a concubine for the king, her eyes playing a role in this. Only Paper castes are chosen to be concubines, and only eight are chosen each year. But Lei being the ninth makes her stand out.  I really loved this book overall. I did find it slow at times but the story gets more intense the more you get into it. I think it's worth it in the end, and this book is clearly setting you up for the next two books. It's really worth it in the end and it gets really intense.  I loved Lei as a character. She really grew so strong emotionally throughout the book and I'm excited so see her grow even more. I also loved her romance with Wren. It's forbidden for the king's concubines to take their own lovers, and that creates this really tense and forbidden romance between them. They also had good chemistry, and I liked that it was this solace of sorts for Lei while being in a situation she didn't want to be.  I'm really excited to see where this story goes and where Lei as a character goes too. 

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and let me tell y'all IT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT my full review will be posted closer to the release date but !! mark your calendars pals, you need this sapphic Asian fantasy debut in your life!!! CW: animal death, sexual assault and rape, amisic language (Feel free to message me for more details if any of these are triggers for you/stuff you'd rather be warned about. ❤) ~~~~~ I AM HOLDING AN ARC IN MY HANDS THIS IS NOT A DRILL BR with Elise 💗💗 this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and let me tell y'all IT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT my full review will be posted closer to the release date but !! mark your calendars pals, you need this sapphic Asian fantasy debut in your life!!! CW: animal death, sexual assault and rape, amisic language (Feel free to message me for more details if any of these are triggers for you/stuff you'd rather be warned about. ❤️) ~~~~~ I AM HOLDING AN ARC IN MY HANDS THIS IS NOT A DRILL BR with Elise 💗💗

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