Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper & Fire #2), Natasha Ngan

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Wren and I might not be Paper Girls anymore, but we are still capable of creating fire. And now we have a whole world to set ablaze

Slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Read my review of the first book in the series here.

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3 / 5

I adored Girls of Paper and Fire and I was delighted to receive a copy of Girls of Storm and Shadow. However, whilst the first book was a mesmerising five stars, this sequel is lacklustre in comparison. Ngan’s prose remains delightful and I still adore Lei and Wren’s difficult and morally grey relationship, but the plot was distinctly uninspired.

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The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2), Seth Dickinson

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This is the story of Agonist. Baru Cormorant as a cryptarch: secret lord of the Imperial Throne.

Baru Cormormant’s world was shattered by the Empire of Masks. To exact her revenge, she has clawed her way up razor-edged rungs of betrayal, sacrifice, and compromise, becoming the very thing she seeks to destroy. Now she strides in the Masquerade’s halls of power. To save the world, she must tear it asunder…and with it, all that remains of her soul.

Read my review of the first book in this series, The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

* * *
3 / 5

I adored The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Several months on, that book has still stuck with me and I’ve been recommending it all over the place. If someone asks me, “read anything good lately?”, they ain’t gonna get me to stop talking for the next fifteen minutes as I tell them about Baru Cormorant, light of my life. The Monster Baru Cormorant is still beautifully written, lyrical and immersive, but suffers from middle book syndrome so bad.

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Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3), Mark Lawrence

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“Nona, my fierce little Nona, remember mercy. Mercy for others in victory. Mercy for yourself too. You deserve happiness, child. Never forget it.”

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep. Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

Read my reviews of Red Sister (#1) and Grey Sister (#2).

* * * * *
5 / 5

Holy Sister sent shivers all the way down my spine. We have been travelling down the path towards the encounter that has threaded its way through the first two books: Lano Tacsis and his two hundred men, coming for Sister Thorn. Sister Thorn, it has been revealed, is Arabella Jotsis and Sister Cage is none other than Nona Grey. It is epic. It is heart-wrenching. It poked at my soul and wouldn’t stop.

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Arctic Zoo, Robert Muchamore

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He felt every bit an awkward giant. Fifteen years old and seven thousand kilometres from anyone who loved him.

Georgia gets straight As at school, writes essays for fun, has been placed first in twenty-six drone races and has a serious addiction to buying Japanese stationery. She plans to follow her older sister Sophie and become a doctor, but her worldview is shattered when Sophie commits suicide.

Julius lives in Ondo, a Nigerian state where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. But he isn’t one of them. He finds refuge in a derelict zoo with best friend Duke, but as the two of them grow close, the world outside becomes more and more hostile.

* * *
3 / 5

Robert Muchamore writes fantastic YA novels about contemporary topics concerning teenagers: racism, sexuality, the wealth gap, mental health, and family. Arctic Zoo is no different; it is bold and ambitious and diverse, but it also felt a little disjointed. I am a huge fan of Muchamore’s CHERUB series and I was thrilled to read something with his characteristic style that still managed to feel totally new with original characters.

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Crown of Feathers, Nicki Pau Preto

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Be a boy. It was simple. it was brilliant. It was exactly what Veronyka would do

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart. Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

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3 / 5

I am a total sucker for two things that this book had to offer: magical creatures, in this case phoenixes, and the trope where “girl disguises herself as boy to join the army” (thanks, Mulan and Tamora Pierce). And Crown of Feathers was good, but as I read more and more YA novels (and just novels in general), to really enjoy a book it has to have that WOW factor.

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The Binding, Bridget Collins

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Which was worse? To feel nothing, or to grieve for something you no longer remembered?

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born.

 If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. Just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it.

* * * *
4 / 5

Sometimes a novel really, truly sucks you in. Enthrals you. The Binding is one such novel; it drew me in and left me spellbound, swept away in this unique world that Collins has wrought.

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The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2), Zen Cho

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I believe I should have liked that – to have been married to magic

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade awayIf Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy.

 * * * *
4 / 5

I didn’t realise that The True Queen was a sequel Sorcerer to the Crown but it was the best kind of sequel – loosely connected to the first book, but exploring something new with new characters. In this case, we move to Janda Baik in Malaysia and two sisters, Muna and Sakti, who woke up on a beach with no memories of their past. ~ A mystery ~

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Love Like This (Seven Shores #4), Melissa Brayden

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“Follow me.” Spencer smiled. “Anywhere”

Hadley Cooper believes in happily-ever-afters with her whole heart. However, when her job as the assistant manager of Silhouette, a posh boutique on Rodeo Drive, is on the line, she realizes it’s time to pull her head out of the clouds and find a way to turn business around, and that just might mean partnering with the most stubborn up-and-coming fashion designer she’s ever encountered. 

Read my reviews of the other books in this series: Eyes Like Those (#1), Hearts Like Hers (#2), and Sparks Like Ours (#3)

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3 / 5

I felt like I ought to read the last book to round things out in this series. I liked how Brayden mixed things up a little bit, delving into the realm of fashion with her two main characters and throwing in some different relationship twists. But I also don’t think she went far enough to make it stand out: all four main characters of the Seven Shores series have the same kind of romance and life goals: all four want to get married and have kids, and it would have been great to have seen a more atypical relationship explored.

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What If It’s Us? Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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You start with nothing and maybe end with everything”

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

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2 / 5

I really enjoyed Silvera’s They Both Die At the End and many years ago (before it was cool!) I read and adored Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Unfortunately, I didn’t very much like what these two excellent authors created when they worked together. I wanted to love it. I expected to enjoy it. Instead I constantly got mixed up between the main leads, Ben and Arthur, and felt cringed-out rather than captivated by their romance.
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Girls of Paper and Fire, Natasha Ngan

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Paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. 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. 

* * * * *
5 / 5

Girls of Paper and Fire has already made my shortlist of best YA of 2018. This beautiful and tragic and explosive debut by Natasha Ngan takes a classic YA trope – a group of young, beautiful women serving an evil ruler rise up to rebel – and elevates it to something fresh. Using demons, Eastern Asian mythological influences, and a lesbian romance, Girls of Paper and Fire is a book not to be missed.

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