Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (spoilers)

🚨 ⚠️ 🛑 First things first, there some heavy topics within this beautiful story. TW: r*pe, violence, regicide, kidnapping, sexual assault. Please do take the trigger warnings seriously. Please make sure you’re in the right place to read this before picking it up. Take care of yourself first, loves 💕

Now, I will be doing my usual dish of trash and sass. Spoilers will most definitely probably be included. If you want to skip down to the end for a spoiler-free wrap up, scroll on down!

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Trash

I mean…violence is bad. It’s life. Stuff happens. Same with sexual assault. But nonetheless, it still upset me. I wish we’d have had a clue that Madam Eira was not our friend sooner than the Moon Ball. But I guess that would have made the reveal less effective. Some characters felt like…palate cleansers. The twins and Chenna namely. Also Blue was still such a poop after Lei comforted her! What a square.

Sass

Natasha’s writing is so easy to fall into. I found myself reading 60-70 pages in a sitting without even realizing that time had passed. We have LGBTQ+ rep! Wren and Lei are a couple and that made me unbelievably happy. All the crappiness that was the life of a Paper Girl, I was happy that they had found actual love in each other.

The fighting scenes were really well described and developed. I cringed a bit when that blade flew through the King’s eye and shuttered at the thought of Lei’s broken rib.

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Overall I love when an author can bring the reader into the story to feel the characters’ emotions and feelings. I cried with Lei in the carriage ride away from her home; I chuckled with her and Aoki when they made up after their argument. Amazing read.

Take care of yourself first. If you or someone you know is it an unhealthy situation, please reach out to a help hotline or someone you trust to help. You are precious. You are worthy. You are loved.


Girls is the debut novel from Natasha Ngan, released November 6, 2018 from Jimmy Patterson Books, a division of Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Antisocial by Jillian Blake (spoilers)

Cover of Jillian Blake’s Antisocial

I recently read one of the books on my Janurary TBR, Antisocial. Alert the presses guys, I actually stayed on course with my TBR. My full review can be found here. Prepare your bodies, bookies, we’ve got a low star review coming. My first read of the year and I got hit with a 2-star. There will be dishing of trash and sass and spoilers BIG TIME, so if you don’t want any of that, skip on down to the bottom for spoiler-free closing remarks. TW: minor slut-shaming, forced outing of gay characters, weed smoking, SWAT raids, and crappy friends being crappy.

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Trash

None of the characters really connected with me. Jethro almost seemed like a last-minute addition to the story to move things along; and none of Anna’s friends were really fleshed out but her. There were some characters who were hurt by the Knock List. A gay character was outed, and then he proceeded to kick some other gay characters out of the closet too to soften his blow….NOT COOL. A bit of slut-shaming (also not okay) and even some amateur pornography round out the things exposed.

Sass

I really appreciated seeing a MC kind of like me in the fact that she has anxiety. Reading the description of a panic attack was a strange balm to my heart knowing that I wasn’t alone. Our MC also made a full turn around at the end in the span of approximately 10 pages. I love a good round character, but maaaan that was a quick circle.

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Overall

This was the author’s first book and it shows. While the concept she was working with is one that is being used frequently in YA, I don’t feel it was executed well here. (In my opinion), some books you should check out that feature the “secrets getting out and causing problems” troupe, try People Like Us by Dana Mele, One of Us is Lying & Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus.

Today’s question is: What’s a troupe you’re enjoying seeing in books lately?

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd (Spoilers)

Cover of Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Greetings and salutations my fellow book-based lifeforms! So far, I’ve only posted about books I gave 4+ stars to, but what about the opposite end? Here we are friends, Grim Lovelies, a two-star read. My full review can be found here. There will most definitely probably be spoilers so if you want to skip down to the very bottom and read my final thoughts, scroll on!

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Trash

Ugh. I was so hype for this one. I had read reviews that weren’t favorable for this one but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. It just fell flat. Things felt rushed and disjointed. I didn’t really connect with the characters, and there was a very forced insta-love that made less than zero sense. The characters discover their animal form pelts, and they make such a big deal about the person being similar to the animal they used to be….but then, no one cares, and they even leave the pelts behind on their trip to…wherever?

Also, we had a whole character who was missing the whole book because he was stuck in a box; our LGBT+ character was killed off almost as soon as he revealed he was in love with his male best friend.

But do you.

Sass

I really enjoyed the world building here! It was a little difficult to understand the social classes and the fact that the world of the Beasties/Witches/Goblins exist within our world, but once it was made clearer, things flowed together much better.

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Overall

Meh. Exceptionally meh. Instalove is hard to pull off, especially when it’s the “I’ve always loved you but now that we might die, I have to tell you” love. There was no backstory or buildup to make the sudden affection of one character for the other make sense. This one didn’t connect well with me. It lacked emotion and connectable links to bring the story together. The overall flow of the story was a bit weird as well. Why, suddenly, when Anouk has been happy living the way she has does she decide to switch up the plan? Enter at your own risk……but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Today’s question: What was a book you read that ended up being a major let down?

Vox by Christina Dalcher (Spoilers)

TW: religion, mass mysogony, extramarital affairs, brain surgery descriptions, shooting, Big Brother government, experimental drugs tested on animals, general crimes against humanity.

Cover of Christina Dalcher’s Vox

Usually I try not to read anything political or talk politics because it upsets me buuut I feel like we need to talk about Vox by Christina Dalcher. I gave this book 5 stars (see my rating scale) and finished it in a whopping 4 days. My full review can be found here. There will most definitely probably be spoilers from here on out. As usual, there will be some trash and sass, so if you don’t want to read any spoilers, scroll down the end for my closing arguments. This book is extremely upsetting for some and can bring pain and misery. Please take care of yourself first and make sure you’re in the proper headspace before reading this review, this book, or anything else that may upset you.

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Trash

The entire world that Jean and her family live in is enough to make you see red. Women have no rights, no freedom, they can’t even talk.

Jean herself is a horrible person: she’s got a loving husband who may be a bit of a pushover but, nonetheless, he loves her. She, however, doesn’t love him, at least I don’t think so. She’s actively having an affair with a work colleague and has even become pregnant by her secret lover.

Steven, Jean’s oldest son, is a bit of a poop too. He is young and impressionable, but even after he sees the damage he’s done to his baby sister by scaring her with the shock waves, he doesn’t turn away. Nothing stops him until he has his own girlfriend incarcerated for having premarital sex…with him, a crime which he faces no backlash for and the girl, Julie, is mocked and shamed publicly a la Cersei’s walk on Game of Thrones.

Sass

Wonderful writing. The science-y bits were well researched and made sense, even to myself, a layperson when it comes to neuroscience.

Though the over all concept of this book stirred feelings of anger in me, I think that was the point. It definitely makes you take a step back and see how one treats others and what the “worst case scenario” is if the wrong people end up in power. If you can vote in elections, please do. Jean never did and so she never stood against the oppressor yet she wants so be salty about the outcome that (possibly) she could have changed.

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Overall

In conclusion, Vox was an eye-opening look at the world around us with surprising parallels.

I was deeply hurt by this book. A story Peaches, my mom, likes to tell me is how when I was younger, I didn’t speak much, if at all. Most children speak frequently and in pretty good sentences by age 2; I didn’t speak like that until I was about 4. Now, I love talking. It’s one of my favorite activities. I’ve made friends by my gift of gab and I’ve stopped many an argument too. To think that that gift, something I treasure, something my parents waited for from me, could be limited by a counter….I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream and throw things (particularly this book).

This book will most likely make you a little angry, or it did me, at least. That’s perfectly okay; ask yourself why you’re angry and keep reading. You’re going to (probably) hate Jean a bit. Again, ask yourself why and keep reading.

Friends, please make sure you’re in the right headspace before diving in to this one. It is disturbing and upsetting. Take care of yourself first before you pick this one up 🙂

Today’s question: What was a book you read out of your comfort zone that you ended up liking?

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (Spoilers)

Just recently, I finished reading Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls. My full review can be found online here. I gave this book 4.5 stars (see my rating scale) and finished it in a week. There will most definitely probably be spoilers from here on out, so if you don’t want the dish, scroll alllll the way to the bottom to read my closing remarks.
TW: Shooting, sexual content, forced sexual relationships, swearing

Okay, now that it’s just us, let’s talk trash and sass.

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Trash (bad)

Honestly, this was an amazing book through and through. The only thing I would note is that some backstory about (a) Zoey & Val’s dynamic and (b) Zoey & Grayson’s relationship would have been nice.

(a) Zoey hates Val and immediately points the finger at her as soon as something bad happens…why? We know that Zoey has a friend (Thora) who was friends with Val and ended up missing. But is that the root of the issue?

(b) Zoey is asexual. Trumpets for little-known/discussed LGBTQ+ rep, and a character of color (I assume black or mixed, because she is described as having an Afro)! It is mentioned that she was previously dating Grayson and that they had tried to have sex once but Zoey didn’t like it and so she broke the relationship off. Perfectly fine. Not everyone likes the mattress mamba. However, asexuality isn’t really explained to the uneducated reader. Maybe just a scene of a heart-to-heart between Zoey and Marion would have been nice?

Sass (good)

(a) Literally everything. We’ve got a POC representing in our main cast in Zoey. All three of our main characters are in the LGBTQ+ community: Valerie is bisexual, Marion is a lesbian, and Zoey is asexual. Trumpets for representation. Trumpets for characters who are comfortable in their sexuality and express themselves.

(b) The mythos of Sawkill Island was well done. Marion, being the newcomer, knew nothing of the Collector. In various times throughout the book, more and more about the mysterious murdering Collector is revealed.

(c) World building. I believed it. I could smell the forest, and feel the rain on my skin. I understood the layout of the island, I walked place to place with the characters. I aligned myself with each girl, in turn, at different times.

(d) Emotion was there. I cried a few times in the story: poor Mrs. Althouse. Poor Marion. Valerie was a bit of a witch-with-a-capital-“b” but she didn’t deserve how her mother treated her. I also laughed a great deal. Zoey is super sarcastic and that vibes super well with me because sarcasm is my second language, after English.

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Overall:

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for a paranormal, spooky read. Great for fans of The Adventures of Sabrina, Haunting of Hill House, and American Horror Story. Some highlights include: LGBTQ+ rep, POC rep, girls helping girls, strong independent women who are actively working to smash the patriarchy. There is plenty of teenage angst to satisfy the Petty LaBelle in all of us balanced by just enough Bob-Ross-good-feelings.

So. Today’s question: What’s your favorite book with underrepresented characters (LGBTQ+ rep, POC rep, etc.)?

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