Posts Categorized: Review

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Revived My Love for Fantasy: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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I received this book for free from Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Revived My Love for Fantasy: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth LimSpin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 9th, 2019
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Buy on Amazon

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Spin the Dawn is the book I didn’t know I needed and I want to cry from how happy I am that I read it and that it could revolutionize my life. As a baby blogger, I rarely read contemporary. I exclusive read fantasy. These past few years though, fantasy has not really been holding my attention and I find myself avoiding it for the most part except for a few books here and there. Before Spin the Dawn, the last high fantasy I read was Wicked Saints back in April. I rated in 4 stars at the time but in retrospect it was not a 4 star read given that for half the book, my attention wandered. For the first time in literal years, I don’t want to read contemporary. I want to read fantasy now and find the books that work for me. 

Spin the Dawn is a book that captivated me from the first page and I struggled to put it down. It’s the fantasy I didn’t even know I was craving and I am so happy, so so so happy that I picked it up. I’ve also realized that my issue with fantasy books might not be the genre itself but more that the fantasy that comes out these days isn’t always my thing. I love hero’s journeys and adventures. I don’t always love blood & gore and that seems to be more common in fantasy these days. 

Maia Tamarin wants to become the emperor’s tailor and prove herself to a world that claims she would be unfit for such a profession. She also wants to provide for what’s left of her family after the war all crushed their spirits and took away her two brothers. When the emperor’s orders summon her father to the capital to compete for a position as the emperor’s tailor, Maia decides to go in his place. Little does she know that a whole world of magic and betrayal await her. 

Neither Maia or Edan are wholly unique as characters. Badass female leads and snarky boys are a dime a dozen in YA, but that doesn’t mean I love that any less or that I didn’t scream any time they so much as glanced at one another. It also doesn’t mean that their voices weren’t unique or that they weren’t incredibly well-written. 

Maia is smart and talented but also stubborn to a fault sometimes. She wants to prove herself so badly that she will refuse help even when her competitors don’t. Yes she grows but she also doesn’t become a completely different person. Just… a more mature version of herself who can ask for help (but also more.) I love that even with all the extraordinary magic and power around and in her, she seems completely ordinary at times. She isn’t ‘not like the other girls.’ She has goals she wants to accomplish and people she wants to protect.

Not to be dramatic or anything but the romance b/w Maia and Edan is to die for, imho. The BANTER. The SUPPORTIVENESS. The slow build up??? Dying just thinking about it tbh. I loved Maia and Edan as individuals and I loved them even more together.

If that wasn’t enough, Spin the Dawn takes us on a journey to find three magical items to make three magical dresses from that could award the wearer with godly powers. The pacing was ~just~ right for me and I honestly went through 387 pages faster than I do with some contemporaries of a similar length.

Anyone who loves hero’s journeys set in luscious fantastical worlds will love this book. But beware, those who do not enjoy cliff hangers will want to wait until the sequel is out to read this one because YES, this book will also punch you in the feels. And yes, you will be desperate for the sequel upon finishing. I am honestly so glad a sequel is already in the works because I would have died otherwise. Anyway, to sum up, I have not loved a fantasy as much as I loved Spin the Dawn in ages and I truly think that it is worth the read. 


4.5 Hot Espressos

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim

Posted by on 07/19/2019 • 0 Comments

Here is the thing about Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune, it is sweet with a dash of magic and an incredible amount of food porn. For those reasons, I was immediately drawn in and enjoyed the book. But, the writing is not quite there so even though the story itself is wonderful, the way it is written and told isn’t? 

First things first, this book is not a romance for those romance readers eyeing this book. It is a story about love but not necessarily romantic love. 

Natalie Tan comes home for the first time in years after her mother passes away. They parted on bad terms and Natalie never got to bridge the gap that emerged between the two. A letter her ma-ma left behind for her imparts her…

Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Posted by on 07/16/2019 • 1 Comment

A truly cinematic and unique novel, House of Salt and Sorrows begins during a funeral where we learn that one by one, the Thaumas sisters have been tragically dying. Soon our MC, Annaleigh, starts to wonder if Eulalie’s death was not accidental after all. This novels starts off fresh with a lot of faces, a ton of personalities, and plenty of mystery. I found myself engrossed from really early on, and looking forward to the wild ride this was bound to be. 

After the intriguing beginning, though, I found the pacing to be a little off. The story would lag in places until I was getting close to being bored. However each time that happened, the plot would suddenly jump forward to reveal something new, something exciting, even horrific, saving…

Cute But The Science is Lacking: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Cute But The Science is Lacking: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Posted by on 07/15/2019 • 1 Comment

While I never got the chance to read Alienated, I have read Lander’s romance novels so when I heard about Blastaway, I was immediately onboard. I expected something akin to Alienated (even though I hadn’t read it) and in my excitement, missed that Blastaway wasn’t YA. It is middle grade. I read middle grade so that didn’t really turn me off but this book wouldn’t really hit the mark for adult middle grade readers the way it would for middle grade middle grade readers – aka the intended demographic of the book.

Blastaway is incredibly cute and I love that it uses its sci-fic setting to draw attention to very real world issues in an accessible manner to younger readers. My biggest issue – keeping in mind that I was…

Heartbreaking, Swoony & Funny: Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

Heartbreaking, Swoony & Funny: Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

Posted by on 07/10/2019 • 0 Comments

Remember how back in 2012 the only book anyone ever talked about was The Fault in Our Stars? I wish Symptoms of a Heartbreak was around back then because it is infinitely better and hits a lot of the same emotional notes that TFIOS hit for many people. While this book is pitched as a medical romcom, I’d actually describe it as less of a romcom and more of a family comedy with a smidgen of romance and a lot of growth and development. 

Saira is Girl Genius and the youngest doctor ever. But all that genius cannot prepare for her first year as an intern at the place where it all started – when she diagnosed her best friend with cancer at the age of 6. It also cannot…

Review: The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone

Review: The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone

Posted by on 07/09/2019 • 0 Comments

The Arrival of Someday is a very emotional, very realistic novel that has all of the feels – yet has so much charm and wit that you won’t help but find yourself falling in love with all of its characters, no matter the gloom that follows the story. 

Amelia was born with a liver disease that hasn’t ever been an issue until now. Until its become so very real, so very scary, very fast. From the very first page I loved Amelia’s voice. Her personality and wit makes it impossible to dislike her. She’s got a lot of crap to deal with, and you can feel her anger, her despair, and also her passion for life. She wants to live, she has so many plans, so many wants and hopes….

A Soft, Low-Stress Book: Some Like it Scandalous by Maya Rodale

A Soft, Low-Stress Book: Some Like it Scandalous by Maya Rodale

Posted by on 07/05/2019 • 0 Comments

I will fully admit to not reading book 1 in this series but I have read Maya Rodale before and when I saw that Some Like it Scandalous was hate to love, I was sold. I did go in expecting good romantic tension but I was a little surprised by how much I was taken in by this book. Rodale must have done a lot of research to help immerse us within the gilded age. 

I wouldn’t categorize it as a true love to hate because their dislike is based on misunderstandings and apologies are made quite early on but… their relationship is still amazing. It is founded on their mutual agreement that they do not want to get married, then they become business partners and finally something more. They…

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted by on 07/02/2019 • 8 Comments

I’ve been going through a reading slump lately and starting a book takes a lot more effort than I would like. When, I picked up Ayesha a couple days ago, I was really sad I couldn’t get into it so I put it down and continued binging Brooklyn Nine Nine. Because I had it for review though, I decided to pick it up again  and push through. I ended up going to bed at 5:30 AM because I legitimately did not want to put Ayesha at Last down.

I first read P&P in 10th grade and watched the BBC adaptation alongside reading it. I thought the Colin Firth adaptation was the peak of P&P adaptations. Reading Ayesha at Last has made me completely reevaluate that opinion. This thoughtful, creative retelling…