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Girls of Paper and Fire Readalong: Day 2

Photo by @thefearlessreader

Hello my dear FairyLooters!

Welcome to the 2nd day of our Readalong of Girls of Paper and Fire! Hope you had a lovely start yesterday and are getting more and more into the book as you go. I’m glad so many of you are sharing your thoughts in the comments! Click here to be taken to the Day 1 post! We have updated our website (do you like it?! The team has been working on it for months and months now!) the Intro and Day 1 posts will be available through these links, but the rest of the days should be easy to find by clicking the Community tab on the main menu! Today we’re here to share our thoughts on chapters 6-11. This is where we meet the rest of the girls!

Let’s dive in.

Please be warned, the following will include spoilers for Girls of Paper and Fire chapters 1-11 inclusive. Read only if you’ve finished those chapters!

-!SPOILERS!-

 

Our main character is pushed into this utterly vulnerable position. She’s taken from her home, worried sick for her father, driven to a foreign palace where she knows nobody, and forced to try her best for the safety of her family when all of her instincts are telling her to flee. She is then asked all these personal questions and quite literally stripped naked. I can’t begin to imagine what she felt at that particular moment where everything seems to be falling apart and even the feeble shield of your clothing is taken away.

Off to a fun start, aren’t we?

We briefly meet the rest of the girls. We don’t really know much about them just yet but, of course, they are all very beautiful, some quite nervous, others – reserved. Is there anybody by whom you’re really intrigued by? And then there’s Blue. *sigh*

Raise a hand if she reminds you of someone *raises her hand*. Hi there, designated bully! 

But I am living for the sassy responses Lei is shooting back at her! You can tell Blue is not used to getting spoken back to. You go Lei, don’t take any of her nonsense!

One thought that seems to be giving Lei hope during this dire time is that she might see her mother again. As we know, her mother was taken in a similar manner and it’s reasonable to think she was taken to the palace. I don’t know if Lei is focusing on this because all other thoughts are too dangerous and she needs to cling to some ray of light, or if she truly believes she can find her mother here.

When she lays at night she thinks ‘’What dreams did she dream here?’ My stomach gives a kick. ‘What dreams of hers were lost?’

What do you think? Do you think we will manage to find her? Where could she be? 

I don’t think I have spoken about our little maid yet! One of my absolute favourite traits of our main character is how she treats Lei. The way Lei interacts with her (bowing to her, making her giggle) is infectious and sweet. It shows true strength that even in the darkest of times she finds it in herself to be kind to others.

The doctor inspection is so unsettling, any of us would just shut off and try to just get it over with. One of the girls is disqualified and we are back to the original number of 8 girls. The conspiracy theorist in me is wondering whether someone very traditional simply sabotaged one for the sake of keeping the number the same? Madam Himura  mayhaps? (In my original notes my autocorrect changed that to Hakuna Matata, but I don’t think this particular woman lives by that philosophy!)

There is a hidden queen??? Kept hidden for a sole purpose of breeding??? How disturbing!! Also, they say she’s not paper but maybe neither was her mother, we do have Lei’s golden eyes to consider. Maybe her mother IS the hidden Queen?! Thoughts?

My goodness, her fall whilst walking to the king.

On one hand, you have to admit it’s kind of hilarious. On the other hand, I’m terrified that either the king or our Madam will actually punish her afterwards. I hope not! So then we can put this behind us and fondly look back upon it with a giggle.

I think it’s interesting how the book inserts these little humorous moments to break the tension and how well, in my opinion, the author swaps between the moods. For example our next event is the first girl, Chenna, getting chosen. The mood shifts so suddenly it adds a certain shock value to it. Very similarly with the playful banter back at Lei’s family shop and her getting taken away. It’s a very well constructed rollercoaster.

End of day two really leaves me hoping our girl will never be chosen but I know that’s a false hope if I ever saw one.

The world the author built has already been established as cruel for the sake of cruelty and unfairness cough cough Bao cough cough. I’m certain it’s intentional. Real life is cruel and seldom do people act purely by listening to their rational brain. Do you feel unsettled? I think if you do, the author did it right.

—-

Phew – done! Don’t forget to leave your thoughts down below and check your fellow FairyLooters’ opinions too! It’s all about joining the discussion!

Hope you guys are enjoying the readalong so far! Have you discovered any nice snacks? I’m always down for some recommendations on that front. Are we surprised? Because we shouldn’t be haha.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this section and I shall see you again tomorrow!

Yours,

G

 

35 thoughts on “Girls of Paper and Fire Readalong: Day 2

  1. Wow, I loved chapter 6-11!

    We meet the group of girls and get to know the mistresses better. And of course a few girls stand out: like Blue, I’d like to call her the Draco Malfoy of the story. Blue is arrogant, seems confident, but inside I think she’s very insecure (at least I hope so, she’ll definitely be good at some point).

    And another person we meet is Aoki, in my opinion she is a little naive. She makes a good buddy for Lei. But I am afraid that something bad might happen to
    her, because she has such a bright and bubbly personality. We know what the writer did to t

    Then we have Wren, cat-girl. Ooh la la! Talking about a sassy mysterious girl. We already know that she is an important character in the story because otherwise 1) She wouldn’t have been on the character art. 2) we would not have had a Fairyloog item named after her. I’m certain we’ll learn more about her.

    Talking about what happened in the book:
    A passage that really broke my heart is the doctor scene. I really felt sorry for Lei having to experience that. Something that also shocked me how one of the girls was taken away because she cheated her way into the court. Will we ever hear of her again? And the king seemed nice at firdt, Lei described him as handsome, but he is just as cruel as his generals.

    – Also, do you trust the two mentors? Mistress Eira and Mistress Bird-lady. I think Bird Lady is fine. She is just a strict woman who wants to create peace. Bug Eira? She seems sneaky to me, I wouldn’t trust her. She just seems to be too loving and sweet. I have 2 options for her 1) she is evil 2) she is good, but she dies and everyone is heartbroken. No in between 😛

    – By the way, am I the only one between Lei’s mother and the Bull Queen, or is it just me?

    I’m really liking the book so far, there are two things that confuse me. – 1) All those names and provinces. There is so much world building information given that I just can’t remember anything that has been said. Recognizable?
    – 2) I’m kinda having a hard time imagining what the Moon Caste look like. How would you imagine them?

    – Just read chapter 11. Poor Chenna…

    – By the way, am I the only one between Lei’s mother and the Bull Queen, or is it just me?

    I’m really liking the book so far, there are two things that confuse me. – 1) All those names and provinces. At a given, there is so much world building information given that it becomes one big mess in my head. Recognizable?
    – 2) I’m kinda having a hard time imagining what the Moon looks like

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the story so far! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I also think her mother could be the hidden queen but wouldn’t that be too obvious?
    And I’m so scared when Lei will be chosen. That can’t be good!

    1. I’m not sure if her mother is the hidden queen right now but everyone’s theory it might be got me thinking… maybe the hidden queen is the favourite paper girl of the previous year, and the title changes yearly? That would be a reason to hide her – so the public didn’t know she was a different person every year!

      That would be horrific, ugh…

    2. I thought that, too. And I don’t really think that it’s too obvious. It could possibly explain the reason why Lei has those golden eyes.

  3. I was thinking the exact same about one of the girls being kicked out! I bet they just got rid of one so they could take in ‚the girl with the golden eyes‘ without changing the oh so traditional number of eight! (I was wondering though – if it’s only ever been eight, why do they have nine bed rooms in the Paper house…. ;P)

    I’m also really curious about Lei‘s mother… But I’m not sure about her being the queen, since the queen should be a moon demon, right? And how would her mother been able to hide that? Except she is some super special kind of demon… 😅

    I’m enjoying this book a lot so far! I especially like getting to know all the different girls! I like Chenna a lot so far and Wren seems really interesting!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one suspicious about that elimination!

    2. Mmmmh I’m super intrigued. Maybe she is a super kind of demon haha I’m curious…

      Oh so they would have eliminate one of the girl to keep the same number of girls as every year? I didn’t think about that…

  4. I have one big reaction to these last couple of chapters: romance is on its way!

    I’m sorry, I can’t help it, it’s just so exciting to see Lei’s growing interest in one person in particular, even before she appears to be aware of it herself – I won’t mention a name or other details here, in case it isn’t obvious to everyone just yet… But she is clearly doing some ogling and gushing over a specific beauty and I’m here for it xD

    That said, I agree the doctor’s examination scene was horrible to read about, even without it going into detail, because the hints were obvious enough, and worst of all that it took place without Lei’s consent. Though of course everything happening to the Paper Girls is without consent, that is probably the main theme of the story, and it’s tough to be confronted with at times. Like when Chenna hints that she considered her night with the king so awful that she wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else.

    Let’s hope these girls will all eventually get their revenge on the king and everyone else who has been responsible for this misogynistic and oppressive regime!

    1. Yes! I definitely have a ship in mind already. I was hoping to see someone here who saw the same thing.

  5. Omg I have attempted to post my reply about 4 times now, and every time something goes wrong and it doesn’t show up. Apologies to everyone in advance if my comment somehow shows up multiple times! 😬

    I have one major reaction to these last couple of chapters: gay – !! – uh I mean, romance is on its way!

    I’m sorry, it’s just so lovely to see Lei’s blossoming feelings – for whom, I won’t mention here just yet, just in case not everyone has picked up on this yet (I mean, from Lei’s ogling and references to ‘warm sensations’ it seems obvious to me, but no one else has mentioned it so far..?) So, for now I’ll just leave it at: I’m excited!

    Anyway, yes, the doctor’s examination scene was awful to read about, even if it didn’t go into detail, because it was so clear how the girls were touched in private places without any consent. That’s the whole problem with the Paper Girls tradition, though, isn’t it – none of it is consensual. Even the girls who believe it’s an honour : it’s not like they could freely decline if they wanted to, without severe consequences. So I really hope the story will eventually provide all these girls with freedom, empowerment, and some form of revenge on the King and anyone else who has been responsible for these misogynistic and oppressive practices.

  6. Chapters 6-11 were great. I liked how fast one mood changes into another.

    – The doctor inspection must have been horrible, really unsettling and I would have felt the same as Lei afterwards.
    – I love Lill, Lei’s maid. She’s so cute and bubbly.
    – The fact that there is a queen hidden away, only there for breeding purposes, is just horrible. I hope we get to find out more about this queen.
    – Wren is also a mysterious character we encounter. I can’t wait to find out more about her.
    – This world is cruel and I wouldn’t want to live in it. Hopefully the course of this novel will bring change to this world.

    Anne

    1. Same same same.

      I’m quite disturbed but the Queen being kept only for that purpose. I wonder if we will get to see her somehow if she even exists… I don’t know.

      I love Lill too I hope nothing bad happens to her…

  7. Okay, so wow these chapters are intense!

    The doctor scene really got to me and was completely awful. I really wish things had been explained to Lei beforehand just to allow her to at least try and prepare herself but I also like the fact that as a reader, you feel every single emotion and moment with Lei rather than having suspicions about what is going to go down.

    In regards to the other girls, I cannot stand Blue and despise her with an absolute passion. She’s such a bitch who’s too far up her own ass. Cat-Girl or Wren as we now know is a mystery and I love it. This is clearly who the love interest is (Imma hit myself if I’m wrong). Aoki is just so pure and sweet and I really hope no harm comes to her. It breaks my heart seeing how naive she is and just how happy she seems to be about this whole situation. I also adore Lill, she’s someone I think Lei will be able to count on in the palace!

    I didn’t even think about the possibility of Lei’s mother being the hidden queen but this is such an interesting theory and I’d love to see what comes of this!

    I’m really loving the world building in this novel and Natasha Ngan is amazing at describing everything so vividly! I’m really looking forward to find out what’s next for Lei and all the other girls and see how Lei gets on with being a Paper Girl.

  8. The thing that shocks me is the servant who attacked Lei’s carriage. How the people honestly believe all the women dragged to be Paper Girls have consented. Even though they said that some soldiers do go out and actively search for women who haven’t volunteered. It makes you wonder who else has deluded themselves into thinking all this is optional. The General even made it very clear to Lei that she was not to tell anyone she had been kidnapped and enslaved to the King – that she was to act ‘appropriately. Which means that her mother probably endured the same thing, which is why Blue honestly believes her mother to be a court whore. I think if Blue found out that women were truly kidnapped and what they endure, that would be when she was to turn and, maybe not help, but turn a blind eye to something Lei has done. Blue reminds me a little of Peter in Divergent. There’s only so much she’s willing to do.

    1. Yes Blue’s comment about Lei’s mum makes her seem either very cruel, or very sheltered from the truth of what women are put through.
      Guessing after her night with the King she might not be as keen to be the favourite?!

  9. Flippin’ heck, I just want to reach into this world and rip it all the shreds. The indignity and cruelty here is sick (I know it’s supposed to be) and I want to make every single person pay for what they are doing and allowed to do to the girls.
    I’ve actually read a little ahead, I just couldn’t stop reading, this is a real page turner, certainly one that makes you want to read on.
    There’s certainly romance brewing; lots of knowing looks and feelings in the gut and friendships despite it all. These girls are in competition with each other, so I understand Blue’s attitude, but she could be less bitchy. I don’t think we really needed a bully in the mix as well.
    Heading into more grief tomorrow then.

  10. So Lill is adorable, and a little naive. Hope she isn’t in for a rude awakening.

    Talking if awakenings I too picked up on the potential romance so I guess I may need to take it back aboutthe King being like the one in the Wrath and the Dawn although he could be putting on a cruel act in public.

    Very barbaric- first Bao and now the Servant. Natasha doesn’t pull punches when describing violence.

    I hadn’t thought of Lei’s mum as the potential queen 🤔

    Did anyone else get Hunger Games vibes from them being dressed up and paraded in?

    1. I hope the same for Lill

      I didn’t get any Hunger Games vibes but now that you’ve mentioned it. Yes maybe.

      Lei’s mum the potential queen? I don’t know about that but I really wonder where are all the Other Paper Girls? I mean if he gets 8 new girls each year?

  11. Ok, I have to get my theory out there because it’s all I can think of. I think Wren was trained by the Cat Clan to maybe take down the king. We saw the Cat Clan talking to Hanno men and it’s revealed that Wren is the daughter of Lord Hanno. Lei is constantly talking about how catlike she is. At first, it’s just Wren’s appearance but then Lei notices that Wren’s movements are very catlike too. We also see that her feet are really callused, maybe from some sort of training? I’m really enjoying this and I think I may go ahead and read tomorrows chapters now because I’m so hooked by this story!

    1. Ooh good theory – I did wonder about her link because of the cat comments but that would be cool.

    2. I hadn’t thought of this at all, but that is one awesome theory haha! Sounds possible to me! Now I’m intrigued to see if it goes anywhere near that direction. Having a trained assassin in the girl group would be a great twist 😎

    3. Ooooooh, yes that, I want that to happen!!

    4. Oh Gosh! I hope you’re right! That would be super interesting!

  12. Admittedly I was having trouble getting into the first chapters but today really turned ot around for me. I was so Intrigued. So a few things:

    -I dont think Mistress Eira has any intentions of passing along Lei’s letters back home. When Natasha described the character as having sadness afterwards and Lei tossing it up to just reminiscing and Mistress E possibly missing life before the palace I truly believe it was actually because she knows secretly she will never pass along the letters. I however, dont think it’s out of malice …maybe because its forbidden but she wants to give Lei hope, a little bit of light in a new very dark world she is forced to live in.

    – I love the friendships blossoming with Aoki and Lill. I especially loved when Aoki was trying to make Lei feel better about face planting when first meeting the king. Lol

    – I’m also looking forward to more relationship development between Lei and Whren. Intrigued as well that she saw the king as attractive and appreciated how the author made it point to explain how Lei was shocked as well to not be repulsed and found d herself wanting to impress him at the end.

    I’m anticipating reading tomorrow !!

    1. Now you mention that scene with Mistress Eira I’m wondering if maybe she won’t pass along the letters and looked so sad because Lei’s family are already dead? And her village has been destroyed like the ones she passed on the journey to the palace? That would be so heartbreaking!

      1. Oooooh I didnt think about that, they may very well be dead. Oh that would just be so heart shattering. Excellent point!

      2. I thought about that! Maybe you’re right!

  13. Gotta say; after the intensity of the first section this one seemed positively tame! I think having read Grace and Fury, The Selection, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, And I Darken and Traitor to the Throne this year I’m getting a little bored of harem set ups but I like Natasha’s writing style and pacing enough that she’s got me hooked anyway. Plus Wren seems like the love interest? And she is super duper swoon-worthy!

    Theories! Because I love to speculate…
    – After Bao being established as adorable and then killed off violently I do NOT have high hopes of Lill surviving this story… Aoki could be in for it for the same reason too.

    – I can’t help wondering where all the previous paper girls have gone? Im super worried the twist will be that only one gets to survive this year!

    – I think Wren might be a spy for her family. She definitely doesn’t seem to have the same intentions here as any of the other girls.

    – Mistress Eira is so nice and it’s making me NOT TRUST HER ONE BIT. 😂

    I’m so excited to continue and see where this goes. How on Earth will Lei ever escape?

    1. Oh no, not Lill! I need her to be safe.
      What if it turns out to be some type of Hunger Games scenario where only one can live on??

  14. I’ve just read yesterday’s chapters, and breathe.

    I’m loving the way we were introduced to the girls, normally a load of new characters feels like an information dump but they all stand out equally.

    A part of me doesn’t want any of the girls to get picked which will never happen, I know, but another part is hoping everyone but Blue is picked just to shut her up!

    I like Aoki, but something about her unsettles me, I can’t place it quite yet.

    Lill is so sweet, I’m so happy that Lei has someone like her by her side.

    I’m loving the air of mystery around Wren, I cannot wait to find out more about her.

    The Demon King, not at all what I was expecting, and gosh when Lei fell over, I felt embarrassed with her but I like that he laughed and made a joke about it instead of being horrible to her. For now at least.

    The comment about the queen made me think of her mother immediately, maybe that was intentional because Lei is unlike any of the other Paper Girls, perhaps her mother had a secret, or maybe the two things aren’t related at all.

    Mistress Eira is too nice, it’s unsettling, I think, if anyone knows about her mother it’ll be her.

    The scene with the Paper Girl who got killed for knocking over the carraige really unsettled me, not all of them are there by choice.

    It’s already an emotional rollercoaster, one moment I’m smiling or giggling, the next my stomach is in knots, dreading what’s coming next.

    It hurts that Lei feels guilty for laughing and smiling, she keeps thinking about her family and what she was forced to leave behind.

    Her attitude is marvellous, she’s trying to remain strong, I love her sass and her comebacks. The chopstick comment really got me laughing.

    On to today’s chapters now. I cannot wait.

    1. Hhaha I get what you mean by everyone but Blue being picked, that would, it seems, infuriate her. Appreciate how you’re sceptical and suspicious of anyone being too nice to our MC, I’m the exact same way. At the back of my head, there’s always a thought of “what do you want then…why are you being so nice!!?” haha

  15. jesus, couldn’t they make the assessment more human? We’re talking about girls that may never have seen a doctor or be evaluated by them, not a male one at least.
    Maybe her mother is hidden in the queen suite?

  16. So far I kinda like the story. I felt weird during the assessment. I mean I know they’re a low caste, but could you treat them just a bit better? I know and I understand what the story is trying to do and why it’s a part of it but still I wasn’t totally ok with it…

    I love Lill so much. She seems so positive and joyful that I just feel like hugging her haha

    Who is Wren!? I mean I’m so intrigued I want to know everything about her. She will have a big part in the story.

    We all know that Lei’s family will never see the colour of that letter. Are they even alive? Will we know that?

    By the way does that bother anyone that the king is good looking? And that there is queen kept somewhere just for breeding? I mean this is so weird. I don’t know where the story is going but yuk hahaha

  17. I suspect that Blue isn’t what she seems, and that there’s something driving her motivations which I’m excited to see properly revealed. I’d love for it to be more than straight up privilege,
    The doctor scene made me feel sick, I had to stop and get myself a cup of tea. It feels like I have to do that a lot with this book? But in a good way, like it’s so good that the story hits so hard that none of the devastation of what is actually happening is lost.
    And when she fell in front of the King? I swear, my heart stopped for a second. His reaction, the laughter, was far more sinister than anything else could have been.
    My favourite quote from this part was:
    “I know what it means to dream about the past.
    To dream about things you have loved, and lost.”
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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