Book Review

Book Review: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of the Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA fantasy + romance
Length: 392 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

THE MASH-UP I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED.

Ohhhhh I’m so happy I picked up this debut! Mulan? Project Runway? TOGETHER?

IT WORKED SO WELL. I got all of the Mulan vibes (my favorite Disney movie, by the way) from Maia’s actions and decisions. Then add in the competition to be the best tailor where there were even unconventional materials challenges?! Yessssss. The vibes this book gave off alone gave it a star. This was exactly what the synopsis gave me.

Maia and Edan were absolutely precious too. I had seen on multiple reviews that the banter is on point, and I’m here to put my vote in that THEY’RE RIGHT. It’s witty, sassy, and so stinkin’ cute. I really liked the way their relationship developed. I was surprised by a few bits of information about Edan that reminded me of other books and I was cool with it. I liked those additions and thought it gave another layer to who Edan is.

The adventure that these two went on was magical and enchanting. I was surprised that this was able to take only one book. I think it could have expanded into more if it wanted and still been captivating. Since this plot kind of wrapped up I’m curious where the next story will take us.

This is one of those typical YA fantasy books that WORKS. It’s why I love and read the genre regularly. The writing is delightful, the romance is on point, and the story is full of magic. I loved the world-building and the way the magic is set-up. Maia is such an easy character to love. I appreciate her loyalty to her family and how everything circles back to them. She’s brave, but also able to accept help. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, make-outs, one or two fade to black, barely any detail love scenes
  • Violence: magic, fire, physical, arrows

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Book Review

Book Review: A Kingdom of Exiles (Outcasts #1) by S.B. Nova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 600 pages
Author: S.B. Nova
Publisher: Night Owl Publishing
Release Date: December 17th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The brightest of stars are always born on the darkest of nights.

Serena Smith is unusual.

Growing up in a backwoods village, her life is lonely and dull. Then, on her eighteenth birthday, she’s gifted a magical heirloom only to be snatched by fae and condemned to a lifetime in chains.

Dragged to Aldar, a fae kingdom ruled by a tyrant witch, Serena discovers a forbidden love, and meets fellow outcasts, each with their own dark secrets.

As the lives of warriors, rebels, and witches clash, they find a shared destiny. For only together, and with Serena’s unique gifts, can they survive long enough to build the flames of a revolution. Only together can they go to war …

DID SOMEONE SAY FAE?

Yes, I come running to a book when I hear that. And this was no different, and was a great read!

Oooo boy, finally finished this one. I read it through Amazon Prime so I didn’t pay attention to the page count, did you know this book is 600 pages? NEITHER DID I. Yet, somehow, I consistently found myself wanting to come back and read this. I would put it down to read a few chapters from another book and wouldn’t feel as invested because I wanted to dive into this story more. Yes it’s long, but it somehow feels like everything was a necessary piece of the puzzle.

I would desperately like to know who Serena’s mate is though y’all. WHO WHO WHO…who. There was kind of a roulette situation happening with multiple fae where I was convinced each time, oh this is her endgame, and then was thrown off that to someone else! I still have no inkling. The romance in this book is a bit all over the place. Her relationship (that’s supposed to be family based) seems way more than that. The one that was more romantic, didn’t have me really shipping them, AND I’m JUST LOST. If you can’t tell by my rambling sentences.

Serena is definitely a work in progress. Since this is only the first book, I am totally cool with not LOVING her character, but seeing where she can go. I wish she could do a little more for herself, yet I see that she needed to form all of the bonds because she was dealt a crappy hand in the human world. This allowed her to have friendships and people truly close to her.

I love the bit of squad goals we had with Serena’s pack. Frazer (LOVE HIM) needs to be my best friend. I would love him so! I love the team dynamics and the protectiveness that forms through the trials they go through at the military training camp.

The setting and world-building is a bit confusing at times. I really wasn’t grasping the view of the world until way deeper into the book (and a thorough read through of the map). I love maps, but feel like when I’m reading the book itself I shouldn’t have to keep checking back to confirm where I am. The story should be able to narrate that.

Some of the twists near the end had me stunned. I genuinely didn’t see them coming. I thought the lead up was great and can’t wait to get the villain on screen.

I also spent some time looking up information on the next book and stumbled upon the fact that this is supposed to be a four book series. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT THAT LONG.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, physical, skirmishes, arrows, poison, murder
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted touching, Ch. 2)

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