Girls of Paper & Fire Book Review ** MAJOR SPOILERS**


3star
34433755

So I was a little disappointed in Girls of Paper and Fire.
It wasn't a bad book but with all the hype surrounding it I was excited to be blown away. This is a long review because I had a lot of thoughts through the whole thing. I waffled so much between a 2 or 4 star (that's a HUGE gap in book stars) so had a lot of feelings about this. You may be thinking this is great to feel so emotional during a book it should be 5!! But alas, it's the feelings I personally don't particularly like in a book for the most part. Plus the feelings aren't what brought the book down so much, it was the pacing and lack of character development. The world building was okay-ish. It wasn't great though and those 2 things if you have read ANY of my book reviews before are the MAIN things I love in books.
Seriously, Outlander is one of my favorite books. NOTHING happens hardly in that book but I love the world building and characters SO much.

This review is full of spoilers. Please do not read it if you are planning to read this book and want to be surprised by anything. Only read it if you are seriously bothered by the trigger warnings below or just don't plan to read. Or are like me sometimes and need to know details NOW. :)
Trigger Warnings in this book: attempted rape, rape, sex slavery, torture, domestic violence, animal abuse, probably more.

So yeah it's a heavy book for anyone that is easily upset. Honestly when I heard dark fantasy with a slow burn romance I immediately borrowed it from the library.
This wasn't the dark fantasy I love though. When I hear dark fantasy I think of Angelfall, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Shadow and BoneThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Caraval, etc. Those are some of my favorite dark fantasy novels I really enjoyed {the links lead you to Goodreads if you haven't read them yet}.
Girls of Paper and Fire was a different kind of dark that kind of put it in the and I darken category of dark for me. I don't really know how to explain it but while reading it I felt the same kind of way just meh and somewhat repulsed.

Here is the synopsis taken from Goodreads:

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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My thoughts were this and here are the spoilers 

Character Reviews:

Lei- I like Lei as a character but she seemed somewhat surface to me. I wish it would have explained why she had special eyes and more of her background. All that I remember being said was she lives with her father and their family friend because her mother was killed. They are paper cast (completely human) and that's about it. She's taken away to the king and either I forgot or it wasn't really explained well WHY she was so special (other than cool eyes) to be the 9th girl for the first time EVER. The synopsis stated the king was interested in her because of her eyes and I thought that was why but when I read the book it was over a month maybe before he even saw her and didn't know about her eyes or how she was chosen until he made her look at him when they were sitting next to each other at some event. She is rash with her decisions and I am just thinking "no girl no" almost throughout the entire book when she tries to be brave. Like let me try poisoning the king right before this plan that has been put into place for years is about to go down and I'm a part of. It was a facepalm moment among many. Especially in the last bit of the book when she was in on this plot to kill the king and kept doing the most idiotic things that could/would ruin it.

Wren- I didn't realize this was a f/f romance until halfway through the book and was glad it wasn't Lei and the king. Everyone said this was a slow burn romance in some reviews I read but I didn't really see a slow burn? Lei had a couple of brief conversations with Wren and then Wren brought her some food when she was trapped in isolation with nothing to eat for a week, then they are kissing in the next scene and a few scenes later they are "together" and are declaring their love.
I actually liked Wrens character the best. I wish we knew more about her and am hoping in the next book there will be more about her. For the first half of the book she didn't even really talk to anyone and then was sent away near the end so there really wasn't a lot of Wren page time to get to know her at all. The only thing that bothered me with her was that she was in on this plot since she was born to kill the king and was just as bad as Lei with some of her decisions. I just had a hard time with her traipsing off with Lei when she was a few days away from murdering the king. 

Aoki- was so sweet. She was almost my favorite in the book until she got somewhat of Stockholm Syndrome from her abuse from the king. Then it just broke my heart. Plus there wasn't too much about her to begin with. I was hoping there would be more development as the time went on but she sort of faded into the background for the middle of the book.

Blue- was the classic mean girl of the group. I didn't get to know her enough to care about her.

The rest of the girls all blended together. I can't even remember their names. There was a set of twins and that's all I remember.  One got sent away halfway through the book for sneaking around (sleeping with a guard I believe) but it didn't really make a difference and honestly don't think it mattered.

Also, just to note one of the girls were sent away right at the beginning when Lei (the 9th) arrived because she was glamouring herself or something so there really was only 8 not 9 paper girls through the book. I thought that was a little misleading with the synopsis. 

The king was so unimpressive. He was a sadistic arrogant jerk but that was about all there is to him. 
I really disliked him after his first appearance I guess I was expecting someone a little more interesting. I didn't care if he lived or was killed by Wren's plan. He was stabbed and thought to be dead by Lei and it didn't affect me at all. Then when he came to life at the end I also didn't care. I will not be reading book 2 to see what happens with him. Honestly, I'm only reading the second book in this series for the Lei and Wren story and what they are going to do now that they survived his abuse. 

I had the audiobook from the library and can't remember the name of who was in charge of the girls but she was awful. She abused Lei so bad she had to be healed at one point so there was no one really great in charge of these teenagers. It was sad.


PLOT REVIEW
Like I said about all of the characters. There wasn't much to any of them so it was hard to care what happened. The story sort of slogged along at points and then wham at the end everything happened at once. I had to keep rewinding the audiobook multiple times because so much was going on and I missed some things. I actually didn't catch what happened to the other girls at the end. I'm guessing they made it out? Or did they just stay in the castle after Wren and Lei escaped? If someone has this book and read it please let me know. I don't know where this book will go in book 2. I was hoping the king would be dead and Blue was some evil mastermind and things will take a different turn. I just hope we don't have to hear about these poor girls being forced to have sex  and endure abuse with this guy again for a whole novel in book 2. Seriously Aoki was the only one that was okay with the king and she was the youngest and easily manipulated and that just made me sick. It was disturbing. Wren coming back with bruises on her neck from being strangled by him because he had a bad day or some crap was just no. Then Lei having to be removed by a guard because the king was so close to killing her during their "time" together I just felt gross reading it. They didn't go into details during any of this but I have a vivid imagination and a past just hearing the aftermath really appalled me. 
This book I feel like had so much going on for one book it was hard to connect with any of it. 
If world and character building was spent on most of book, then book 2 was Wren and Lei getting together and later in the book learning about Wrens plan, then book 3 was the plot taking action to kill the king I would have probably given this a 5 star. 


The animal abuse TW was the fact that they killed a dog. It wasn't really too graphic I just felt it was gratuitous and not needed. The dog was never spoken about again and so almost felt it was for shock value? Some people in other review comments were bothered by it so thought I'd mention it.

So really that's about it. I give it 3 stars and ONLY because I plan to read book 2 and I didn't ever feel like DNFing it. I will be renting it from the library though because it's not one I really want to re-read ever or have on my shelf. 
Some series I absolutely hated the first book and then the second book onward they end up being my favorites like ACOTAR so I am not completely trashing this series.

I think the author will need to have a LOT more character development in the next book though and expand on some of the world building to totally hook me in. Also, Lei needs to get some kind of identity. I started this review over a month ago and just came to publish it and do the summary and all I really remember about Lei as a person is that she is a lesbian and has cool eyes which is sad for a MC.

 


First Year (The Black Mage #1) Book Review

4star
33897359
***3.5***

First Year has extreme potential to readers like myself. 
Unfortunately, in book one it falls into that gray zone of not quite a fantasy or a romance book.
I highly recommend you take a peek at Francina's YouTube video for what I am talking about. This video puts so may of the novels as of late I've read in a certain group that I could never figure out how to explain myself.
First Year didn't quite reach the romance with the paranormal background genre because we NEVER heard a lot about her love interests or the character backgrounds! 
The story is fast paced. It's a full year basically of a magical school within a very short book time. I had the audiobook so under 7 hours. 
I would pick up the next book if it were free/cheap in hopes it would have a little more depth to it.


Spellbound Book Box Review

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I purchased the debut box from Spellbound Book Box and thought I'd share the box with you all here. This isn't a paid or advertised review, I'm just sharing the box for curious minds. :)
I haven't subscribed to any box yet (just purchased singles) because honestly I'm going through as many as I can before deciding which one to subscribe to.

I feel like there isn't really a good or bad subscription box. It really depends on what you are looking for and what you like. Some boxes people loved and I didn't so that's why I figure I would try a few from each one out and decide what box is for me.
So on to the Spellbound Book Box for January 2019

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Opening the box you are greeted with a nice little thank you note which is actually the first I've seen in a book box I've purchased and I thought it was a really nice thing to include.
Also, the spoiler card which I usually put the side until the end. :)


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The theme was Heirs and Heists and here is everything that was included.
Everything was packaged nicely. There were 4 stickers for each Hogwarts house (Slytherin here!), a pin, bookmarks, book sleeve, candle, art print, fairy lights, and the book for this month was The Gilded Wolves w/signed bookplate.
The box was about $35.00 (not including shipping)
I think this was a perfect amount of product for the box. The fairy lights have already been added to my bookshelf and I needed a booksleeve since my daughter took my only other one. 
The candle smells really good and it is The Cruel Prince themed so who can not love that?

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I am excited for the bookmarks because they are perfect for flagging pages when doing reviews. Plus I tried making my own bookmarks and they looked awful. 
The only downside of this box is that I'm getting the SAME book in another box I am trying out this month. I could have cancelled one but it is fine I'll save a copy for my daughter when she gets older. 
So I'll do a review of that book box when it comes in (it hasn't even shipped yet so who knows when that will be) and then you can just rate the items on which box would be better for you if you're looking for a subscription as well. 

I plan on doing some more subscription/bookish merch reviews this year in between book reviews. It was something I always wanted to subscribe to and there are so many out there it was stressful trying to pin one down. I've purchased a couple before but didn't really log what I received and now forgot how I felt about them so this will be good blogging about them and my thoughts.

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Are you subscribed to any book crates/boxes? Let me know your thoughts below if so. I have 2 coming this month plus a candle (book themed box) as well. 

If you want to try out Spellbound Book Box for February, the theme is Assassins and Prisoners.
You can purchase a one time box here
or subscribe here
I definitely will be either subscribing or buying more single boxes in the future from Spellbound. I am maxed out for Feb though with a few other crates I'm trying out.
 


I'm Back!

Sorry I have been so behind on reading and reviews. January was a crazy month coming off the holidays. I plan to catch up on some reviews this week though and have so many fun things to share that I've got in the mail.
Some subscription box unboxings and a few exciting books and merch I've bought.

Book reviews I need to get back on track of cross posting. I think it's easier to post here then copy and paste on all the various outlets like NetGalley & Amazon.

So I'm getting back in it and am so THRILLED to have been given the chance for a few ARC's so plan on reading them this week. This year has so many amazing books coming out each week I'm going to have a hard time keeping up I'm afraid. I am going to try though.
Anyway, check back here tomorrow for a subscription book box unboxing. It's new and may interest you. :)

Emma has been joining me on my book store adventures so I have a lot of children's/middle grade books to review too. If these don't interest you just pick the bookshelf category on the sidebar and it will weed out the kids book reviews for you. 
I am so excited for 2019 and feel like I will fall in love with so many new authors and series this year. 
Should I start categorizing the fantasy and romance in separate sections as well or is that going to crazy with organizing? I don't read too many romance novels so for right now am just keeping them all together like one happy family. :)

So I haven't had a book blog for long. What are things other than book reviews you like to see on blogs? Just book reviews or are personal posts okay or you don't care? I want to make this a good blog for everyone so please let me know! I am not special or popular but if someone happens to stumble upon it would love any feedback or ideas to help them get the most from this site.

Thanks friends!


Shadow and Bone Grishaverse Book 1 2/100

4star 10194157
This book was pretty good. I think the hype is a little overboard on it but maybe that's because it's for the whole series not just book 1. I have read Six of Crows already so this one I think just wasn't AS good as that one. I can't wait to continue the trilogy though because I love Leigh's world building and just writing in general.
I will probably continute this one in Feb.

Here is the synopsis below of the book even though it's an older series and everyone has probably read it by now.

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
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Grace and Fury Book Review 1/100

4star 36546635

I have 100 books planned for 2019..let's see how it goes!
This story was verging on DNF because it was feeling like the same YA books that I've read numerous times before. Suddenly it took a turn into entertaining and I ended up really enjoying this book and am glad I didn't put it away. This my friends is why I always try so hard to finish a book instead of DNFing it. One of my fave series I DNFed...well....quite a few actually because the first half of the books didn't entertain me enough. 

Serina's story was must more emotionally and entertaining for me. Nomi on the otherhand although I tried to see her own struggles it really annoyed me her issues were in the palace while Serina was fighting for her life for something NOMI did!!! I don't have a sister so was expecting this to be a bloodbath between them both in the end but am glad they still kept supporting and hoping to save each other through the book. It was a dark gritty book (in Serina's plot) and more court/political drama in Nomi's. 
All in all I am happy this was my first read for the year it was a great book and I am anticipating book 2 like..now.

Synopsis of book below:

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace - someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
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The Fade Book Review Demitria Lunetta

4star 39076114

I thought this was a perfect creepy story for middle grade. I read it at night and was even spooked out a little. There was a plot twist and I want to go back and re-read the book now that I know about it.

The characters are likable. I think a few of them could have been developed a little more maybe? Depending on the age of the reader though they may not really care about that. I think if I had read this when I was a kid I would have loved it and I'm going to get the book when it comes out for my daughter (I have the ebook).


The ending is where I have mixed feelings on this novel. I can't really explain it without spoiling anything and maybe it is just how it needed to end to make this story but I wasn't expecting it at all and one person in particulars actions was I suppose disappointing? Still if you have a preteen/teen that loves scary stories I think they would enjoy this one. :)

Synopsis below:

We don't want to disappear. We want to be found.

Something terrible happened in her basement. Haley can feel it.

Four girls went missing several years ago, and the police never solved the case. But Haley know the missing girls were murdered. How else can she explain the hostile presence in her house?

The ghostly girls need something from her. And unless Haley can figure out what they want...she might be next

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The Hazel Wood Book Review *sorry it isn't a nice one*

1star 34275232

This book tasted like dead coffee to me (sorry I couldn't help myself).
So unpopular opinion time but this book was not for me. I love the cover so much and the synopsis sounded like this was going to be one of my top favorite books. Dark fairytales? Yes please!
It took me 2 weeks (maybe longer I'm not sure) to get through it. I rarely quit books because some of my favorite series took a very slow start but this just wasn't right for me at all. I looked and the only parts that even kept me interested were between chapter 25-30. Yes, it took me to chapter 25 to even be able to focus on the story.

The biggest thing I didn't like about this book was the same issue I had with another book I recently read. It had the Alice in Wonderland feel where the main character Alice (coincidently named enough) was just thrust into different scenes with different characters and I never connected to anyone or anything happening. The difference though between that book and this one and why the other got 4 stars is because I actually was interested in the side/main characters. The main character in The Hazel Wood I didn't like or care what happened to her and no one else was even entertaining enough to me to worry about either. The only interesting people were the ladies in the welcoming house. I forgot their names because they appeared over halfway through the book for only a chapter or two and then at the very end. One was Janie maybe? I had a library book so can't go back and reference since I finished it a day before the loan expired.

There were a lot of the flowery descriptions in this book such as something smelling of crushed grass and chlorine and tasted like dead coffee I mentioned above. If that bothers you then this book will probably get annoying to you fast. I actually don't mind that in books I usually just read over it. They don't add anything special really to a book to me though.
Another thing that annoys me in books is when authors reference real people in fantasy books. I know who Amy Winehouse is but there was someone mentioned I didn't know and I didn't bother to look up so can't remember the name. There were other references I can't remember but it always throws me out of a story if I'm in a fantasy novel. 
I disliked the ending, I really disliked the main character, and the plot just was a confusing jumbled mess. I gave it 2 stars originally but it wasn't okay for me. I actually did not like the book. I hate saying that too and rarely give 1 stars as there's usually SOMEthing redeeming about a book but not this one.


Also, there was some confusion that this was an Alice in Wonderland retelling which it isn't according to the author in the Goodreads comments. If you like Alice in Wonderland you might like this book. I liked Alice in Wonderland enough but I also liked Alice's character though  so.....

Here is the synopsis of the novel from Goodreads.

 




Hate Notes Book Review

5star 38600870
I've been having a rough patch with the YA books lately I've picked up so decided to wander into the romance genre and read something different. I am not usually a romance novel person. I dislike insta-love and love triangles, basically every romance novel I've ever read. I have Amazon Prime and know they have some free prime reading ebooks so thought I'd try one out for something quick to burn through last night. I was actually surprised I enjoyed Hate Notes as much as I did.

I usually only give 5 stars to my absolute favorite books and while I wouldn't read this again probably I could not find a single fault in it to drop it to a 4 star. It was an engaging story and I enjoyed the characters in it. 
Really, after this I may grab a couple more romance ebooks just to finish out the year.

Here is the synopsis below:


From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes an unexpected love story of secondhand hearts and second chances…

It all started with a mysterious blue note sewn into a wedding dress.

Something blue.

I’d gone to sell my own unworn bridal gown at a vintage clothing store. That’s when I found another bride’s “something old.”

Stitched into the lining of a fabulously feathered design was the loveliest message I’d ever read: Thank you for making all of my dreams come true.

The name embossed on the blue stationery: Reed Eastwood, obviously the most romantic man who ever lived. I also discovered he’s the most gorgeous. If only my true-love fantasies had stopped there. Because I’ve since found out something else about Mr. Starry-Eyed.

He’s arrogant, cynical, and demanding. I should know. Thanks to a twist of fate, he’s my new boss. But that’s not going to stop me from discovering the story behind his last love letter. A love letter that did not result in a happily ever after.

But that story is nothing compared to the one unfolding between us. It’s getting hotter, sweeter, and more surprising than anything I could have imagined.

Something new.

But I have no idea how this one is going to end...



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White Stag by Kara Barbieri Book Review **Potential Spoilers**

4star 39863517

Okay copying this from Goodreads below: It's long and the main thing to get out is I think the book needed a little more work. Still it was a good read for my holiday break it didn't take long, There are mentions (not really detailed) of Rape/Torture. Also Murder because it's definitely a DARK fantasy. If those things upset you then I wouldn't recommend. Those things upset me sometimes but I went in knowing if it got bad I could just stop reading and luckily it didn't reach that threshold for me. I am excited for book 2 though, I think Kara is a really talented writer I just needed MORE of a backstory on these characters was the main issue.
Anyway should be a spoiler free review below. :)

I would actually rate this a little below a 4...like 3.8? This one was so hard to rate I've been torn for dayssss.

  This was a hard book to rate because some parts of the book I loved but the main parts I didn't like could have POSSIBLY all been resolved by making the book longer or spreading it into 2 novels.
I wish this first book was split more throughout the series (or duology/trilogy not sure how many books are planned for it) because it almost had the Alice in Wonderland feel where Janneka was plopped into various scenes and then out within a few pages. My hope is that in the next book(s) we can revisit some of those places because I thought they were really well done and magical. I would love to know more about the Svartelves, Mother of Wolves, and the White Stag in general. There were more but I can't even remember them all without referencing because the time spent with those characters was so short.
Some people may like this type of book with non stop action and new scenes but I really love character growth and there just wasn't enough of this book to delve into that except for Janneka who was the only person I really had a connection to it seems.
Also, a few characters were introduced in the first half and died within the next few pages before I even knew anything about them so it was like what was the point of the whole thing? I didn't know enough about them to be happy or sad if they died so it was unnecessary to me.

I would really love to learn more about Seppo and Soren because it was kind of a glazed over past for them and I liked them. It could be the 1st person perspective of the book but if the book were a little longer I feel like more about them could have been told.

Okay enough of the negative because there were a lot of good things here.

The things I liked/loved though were:
--NO love triangle, You don't have that hate to love relationship with the two main characters that are in about every book now. I don't mind that trope but it's a nice change to read something different. Soren was decent and I appreciated how he handled Janneka and was patient with her etc.
--The world building was good even though the "scenes" were short. I just wish I could have learned more about some of the other creatures in this novel because I thought they were interesting.
--This was a dark fantasy, it mentions torture & rape but doesn't really go into descriptions of it which I was glad of. I don't mind that in a book but don't really enjoy gratuitous info of the scenarios. I was actually hesitant to read this after seeing some of the other reviews but luckily I decided to read and if it got bad I could've just stopped.
-- I liked the main character as she worked on overcoming her past and I enjoyed the ending even though I feel like I need to re-read that part because I'm still a bit confused now that it's been a few days of what actually happened.
--The book was definitely different. This wasn't a sparkly fantasy, these were goblins and would take the form of what you would picture a goblin to look like (sharp teeth, stringy hair, hunched back, long talon-ish fingernails) throughout the book. Janneka was tortured and has scars all over her body and face. These aren't the most beautiful characters you'll ever read about which was refreshing because every book I've read lately all the characters are flawless and it's an eyeroller these days when I read how perfect someone looks. They do have a glamour of some sorts that make them look normal but this book doesn't hold back on showing their true form at various times so you don't forget.

In the end I did enjoy this book and will be reading the second one when it comes out. I liked Kara's imagination she put into this story and hope the next one will fill in what I was missing from this one. She's definitely going on my author to keep up with list :)

 

Hopefully this review wasn't a nutshell. I usually do these when I'm home alone but it's been Thanksgiving break and I needed to hurry and just do it (I have a load of books to review piling up from the last 2 weeks) but I'm getting a LOT of interruptions. I'll go back and fix anything next week.

 

Thank you for this ARC it was so fun to go into this world