December 19, 2018

Abbreviations #73 | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, Girls of Paper and Fire + Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns when I read it last year, so I was eagerly anticipating this companion novel sequel. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place years after the first novel, with Princess Jade having grown up in a monastery in exile. When her stepmother Xifeng, the empress of Feng Lu, sends for her, she has no choice but to go to the palace and face what awaits her there. Jade quickly realizes that in order to reclaim her place as the rightful heir and ruler, she must embark on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords in order to beat Xifeng once and for all. Oh man, friends, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is phenomenal! It complements Forest of a Thousand Lanterns so perfectly, pulling on plot and world details from it and incorporating it into this one seamlessly. I loved the narrative and tone, particularly because it’s written like a fairytale with a journey aspect (and I’m a fan of both those things in the stories I read). Dao really pulls inspiration from East Asian lore and other fairytales, and that really made me extra giddy while I was reading. I really enjoyed getting to know Jade and her companions, and because I cared for them so much, I got really emotional at times as I read. I think Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a very strong story to wrap-up this particular story, and I hope you all will pick it up for a read as well.

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao | Series: Rise of the Empress #2 | Previous Book in Series: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns | Publisher: Philomel Books | Publication Date: November 6, 2018 | Source: ARC borrowed from Rachel

{trigger warnings: abuse, rape, torture} I’m extremely pleased to report that I loved Girls of Paper and Fire! I was a little nervous when I started it, because I had been told that it felt very Spirited Away (which is my favorite Studio Ghibli film). But my worries quickly slipped away with every page, and by the end, I was already mourning the fact that I have to wait an entire year to read the next novel. Girls of Paper and Fire is the story of Lei, who is taken from her tiny village and brought to the palace in order to become of the Demon King’s concubines. As she navigates life in the palace and forms relationships with her fellow concubines (including a budding romance), Lei finds herself caught up in a subversive plot that could change the kingdom forever. I really enjoyed this story, and it called to mind a couple of comp titles - Memoirs of a Geisha, Spirited Away, The Belles and The Bone Witch, to name a few. Lei was a main character that I enjoyed reading about (and found relatable in a few ways), and I found her personal journey very compelling. The world was interesting, the plot held my attention and I was very satisfied by this first novel - and can’t wait for more.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan | Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1 | Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books | Publication Date: November 6, 2018 | Source: ARC borrowed from DJ

I honestly can’t tell you why I waited so long to read Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, especially after many folks I know have mentioned how much they loved this one! It’s a middle grade story that follows Morrigan Crow, a child fated to die on the night she turns eleven and the person everyone blames for the things that go wrong in her town. But everything changes when a man named Jupiter North swoops in to offer Morrigan the chance to escape her fate - by competing in the trials to determine if she’s worthy of becoming a member of the Wundrous Society. And, as you might infer, the story goes on from there, as Morrigan navigates her new home, the trials and runs into mischief, mayhem and magic along the way. Townsend has woven this impossibly magical, whimsical universe (reminiscent of both Harry Potter and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my humble opinion) that I just immediately fell in love with. But not only was her setting enough to hook me, but her story and her characters were also a real treat. I loved the set-up of Morrigan’s first adventure, particularly the trials she endures (which are so interesting and definitely not anything I expected them to be)! I adored Morrigan, who is precocious and clever, as well as all of her support group (her new peers competing in the trials and her new family in the Wundrous Society, who are all wonderfully quirky). This novel is both fun and a well-plotted story, and I’m eager to see where Townsend takes Morrigan and her story next.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend | Series: Nevermoor #1 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: October 31, 2017 | Source: Hardcover gifted to me


  1. I can't wait to read Girls of Paper and Fire!

  2. YAY for enjoying all of these books so very much :D Yess. <3 And yay for the Kingdom book having been such an awesome sequel :D That is the best feeling. <3 I have not read Nevermoor, but so very curious about it. It looks gorgeous :D Lovely reviews Alexa. <3


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