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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American Royals, Katherine McGee

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Beatrice wasn’t living a story. She was living history, and history went on forever.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

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2 / 5

McGee’s other series, The Thousandth Floor, is a guilty pleasure of mine. I loved the drama, the glitz, the glamour, the rumours, the intrigue, and the imaginative setting. Instead of being set in a futuristic tower, American Royals takes the premise “what if George Washington made himself King?” and runs with it. Well, it’s more of a shuffle. 

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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.

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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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Lovestruck, Kate Watson

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It’s everything I can do not to shoot him with an arrow. And not the love kind

Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don’t stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio. The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

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2 / 5

It’s not often that I pick up a romance novel. It’s a rare occurrence in fact, but a great romance novel can be a little guilty pleasure of mine. But unfortunately whilst Lovestruck had a pretty cool premise, it devolved into a bratty girl wanting to make out with a boy who was petty and jealous whilst not loving another guy but also not wanting to let him be with anyone else. How exhausting.

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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Robin LaFevers

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Yes, I think. Yes. This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. 

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4 / 5

Grave Mercy had murder, mystery, politics, and an interesting historical setting. Against the background of the tumultuous situation of the independent duchy of Brittany, seventeen year-old girl Ismae is saved from an arranged marriage and taken to the convent of the old death god, St. Mortain, to train to become an assassin.

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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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Enchantée, Gita Trelease

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All the world comes to Versailles hoping to be someone else

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But now Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

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4 / 5

I didn’t know how much I wanted a magical realism book set against the background of the French Revolution until I read one. Enchantée is full of glitz and glamour and the seduction of wealth and power, but it’s also about poverty and fear and the struggle to survive. There’s a touch of romance, high stakes tension, and a large splash of magic.

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Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1), Joanna Hathaway

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This war is young and doesn’t yet know what it wants

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. 

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3 / 5

Dark of the West confused me. It felt like a clever book, full of plots and intrigue, but I felt lost for most of it. There was too much going on, too many betrayals and a little bit too pretentious.

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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. 

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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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