Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

It’s amazing that 2019 is halfway through! I’ve been seeing this tag circulate throughout June, and I’m glad that I’m finally taking part in it. I see this as a way to relieve wedding planning stress lol!
I came across this book tag through Adventures of a Bibliophile‘s page.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019
I really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read the audiobook version of this story, and it was absolutely amazing. It felt like I was listening to an actual band’s rise and fall in history. The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faraqi was a close second in favorite reads thus far.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019
I haven’t really read through a sequel yet! I’m currently in progress of reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. So far I’m enjoying it!

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year
I can’t wait to read A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney. I really love reading Alice in Wonderland reboots, and A Blade So Black was a lovely modern take on a classic story. The book features a strong, African-American character as Alice, which is very empowering.

Biggest Disappointment
I wasn’t particularly into Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. As much as it was refreshing to discover Nikolai, I found the story as mostly filler.

Biggest Surprise
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. I was pleasantly surprised in discovering how good this story was! The message of female empowerment in the face of a patriarchal society came through clearly.

Newest Fictional Crush
I would say that Joe Reynolds from Time After Time was very intriguing to learn about! He was hard-working and passionate at the same time, and that always wins me over.

Newest Favorite Character
Addison Hatta in A Blade So Black. He was a super cool individual!

Book That Made You Cry
Daisy Jones and the Six. The last hour of the story was heartbreaking!

Book That Made You Happy
Wish by Barbara O’Connor. It was so endearing, and the dog/child bond was adorable!

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation
Honestly, I haven’t watched too many book to film programs this year. I heard that Good Omens is amazing to watch on Amazon Prime, so I should catch an episode of that series.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year
I would say that the post about ‘The First Book Series I Read’ was one that I really liked writing about. I love all the posts I’ve worked on, but I enjoyed looking back on what I read when I was younger!

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto. I received it through OwlCrate a couple months ago.

What Books Do You Need To Read By the End of the Year
Definitely A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney, and Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. I’m looking forward to reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See as well.

“Girls of Paper and Fire” by Natasha Ngan: A Review

Book: ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books, Little Brown and Company
Length: 400 pgs.
Series or Standalone: Book #1
in a Series

I read ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ for Asian Readathon. I didn’t think that I would be swept into this novel so quickly. YA isn’t necessarily the genre I actively lean towards, but the subject content (women finding strength among each other among a harsh, patriarchal environment) was something I was very intrigued about. It did take me a couple weeks to finish, but I have my hectic schedule to blame for that!

‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ takes place in the world of Ikhara, where humans are Paper castes, the lowest ranking citizens. They exist to serve Steel and Moon caste citizens (Part Demon/Human & Demon form, respectively), Paper caste girls’ destiny to become consorts for the Demon King. This story follows the journey of Lei, a Paper caste girl six months shy of her 18th birthday, who works in her father herb shop in the peaceful village of Xienzo. One day, the Demon King’s crew comes for Lei, ripping her from the security of her home to become a Paper Girl. For Lei’s family, they face this horror a second time, for the same group took Lei’s mother seven years prior. Lei is then swept into the Demon King’s region of Han, where she is trained to become the Ninth Paper Girl. Along the way, she learns about the hidden politics that the Demon King and his people exist with within their daily life. Lei also goes on her own personal quest to learn what became of her mother.

Before the novel begins, both James Patterson and Natasha Ngan shares with the reader a trigger warning for violence and sexual assault, and there are certainly scenes in this book that’s difficult to absorb. Lei and the other Paper Girls range between 16-19 years of age, and they must endure varying degrees of physical abuse from the Demon King, and other members of the Royal guard. Although these parts are very difficult to read, they add to the narrative of Lei gaining strength within herself to gain the upper hand over her abusers. She yearns for freedom, yet she is entangled in traditions that are centuries old, thus she finds herself leaning on the guidance of another Paper Girl to navigate through the social graces and code that women must adhere to while living in the Palace. As the plot unfolds, it is reveled that an uprising is in the making, and hidden alliances are formed. This adds into growing tension within the story that culminates into action and dramatics that flowed beautifully.

The supporting characters in ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ share a camaraderie with Lei in the pathways that align with a YA tale, artfully written to depict the struggles these women face as they live their roles as Paper Girls: the best friend who seeks understanding from Lei as she fights to understand her emotions with the Demon King. The antagonist, set out to make Lei’s life miserable, while enduring the damaging effects of being a Paper caste woman. A blooming romance, which is a female/female relationship. Ngan detailed the growing dynamic between Lei and her partner (from acquaintances to close lovers) very beautifully. It highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of both characters involved, featuring the sacrifices each woman faced upon realizing their feelings for one another.

‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ serves to give readers a deeper understanding of women fighting for justice and empowerment, while handling the ugly face of hierarchy and assault. Natasha Ngan amazingly shares her narrative to young women, providing a strong statement to walk without shame, to understand that victims of assault are not along in their struggle, that they can rise like waves and crash over opposition.

Rating: 5/5Stars

Asian Readathon Blog #2

I’m now at Chapter 10 of ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’. There is a lot of build-up as Lei and the other Paper Girls prepare to meet the Demon King. There’s also lots of history about aristocratic women and their fashion sense, along with deep-rooted class differences between Paper and Steel castes. I really appreciate Lei’s growing bond with her personal maid. It provides her a link to a (very small) network of female companions. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, since this is an emotional story, revolving around a group of nine women vying for the King’s attention. I do like what I’m reading though.