Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
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.

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) Details

TitleSpin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780525646990
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Young Adult Fantasy, Romance

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) Review

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء
    January 1, 1970
    Project Runway meets Mulan sounds interesting but I need this book for reasons that have everything to do with the cultivated vanity that’s reserving my space in hell.....I mean just look at THAT COVER.
  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    July Owlcrate Box! Click on the link below the pic to see all of the goodies! GOODIES LINKI loved this so much, it went to my favorites list!Animation: Arthur RedhawkLet me tell you people! Do not always go by what a summary says! When I read this was a cross between Project Runway and Mulan, I immediately put hitting that pre-order button aside. I'm not into those two descriptions. BUT, I saw it on Netgalley and thought I should take a chance. I'm so glad I did! SPIN THE DAWN is nothing like wh July Owlcrate Box! Click on the link below the pic to see all of the goodies! GOODIES LINKI loved this so much, it went to my favorites list!Animation: Arthur RedhawkLet me tell you people! Do not always go by what a summary says! When I read this was a cross between Project Runway and Mulan, I immediately put hitting that pre-order button aside. I'm not into those two descriptions. BUT, I saw it on Netgalley and thought I should take a chance. I'm so glad I did! SPIN THE DAWN is nothing like what I was thinking in that part of the description! This book was everything for me. Let me try to keep this simple without any spoilers. Hmmm....okay, Maia is a tailor in her own right, but girls are not allowed to become tailors. <-- What?! I was like, are you for real?! Anyhoo, her dad was a famous tailor but since Maia's mom died he's not the same and he has become sickly. (I mean we all get old right?) So Maia is the one running the shop and doing all of the mending. Maia has three brothers but things happen to them so they are not doing any kind of tailoring. THEN, one day some dude shows up saying Maia's father has to come to try out to become a Royal Tailor to the Imperial Majesty. We all know that's not happening...soooooo.. Maia pretends she is one of her brothers and goes up against some other men (some whom are real jerks) to try to win the spot of Royal Tailor. Maia is not just doing this for herself, she wants to get money to her family. All kinds of shenanigans ensue and even some people trying to kill people! Geez! Maia befriends Edan who is the Lord Enchanter and he's a bit of something else too. I wish I could tell you. I might come back with a spoiler section =) Edan takes a liking to Maia because he knows her secret and she's a good person; she has some magic too! They end up on a quest to seek these amazing things to make dresses out of for the Imperial Majesty's soon to be wife. She doesn't want to be his wife but that's how it goes in these arranged things. Anyhoo, this that and the other happens. I was so happy and then I was sad because I'm not sure what the future is going to hold AND I don't have the next book yet!? Do I want to read the next book? I'm afraid! If I'm still alive, I will be reading it! I love Maia and Edan so much and that's all that matters! Happy Reading! Mel ♥*Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for giving me a digital copy of this book to read.*MY BLOG
    more
  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    wow wow wow. i am truly blown away by how amazing this story is. the book blurb does this a slight disservice by pitching it as a cross between mulan and project runway. not because it doesnt have those elements, but because this is SO much more than that. the story is captivating with enthralling writing and charming characters. oh my gosh. edan is one of the wittiest characters i have read in a while. his banter with maia is such a delight to read. from start to finish, i was entertained with wow wow wow. i am truly blown away by how amazing this story is. the book blurb does this a slight disservice by pitching it as a cross between mulan and project runway. not because it doesnt have those elements, but because this is SO much more than that. the story is captivating with enthralling writing and charming characters. oh my gosh. edan is one of the wittiest characters i have read in a while. his banter with maia is such a delight to read. from start to finish, i was entertained with every page. but what really impressed me is the blend of cultures. the world is an array of different people and traditions and i love how this captures that so well. this story richly mixes the folklore of both east asian and middle eastern cultures and creates a vibrant setting, perfect for maia and her adventure. i love how this didnt just stick to one, like most stories do, but expanded beyond that. it made for quite an enchanting world to read.i am so desperate to get my hands on the next book - if only i could find my own enchanter to make it happen!↠ 5 stars
    more
  • Lily ☁️
    January 1, 1970
    I am actually speechless, this book is marvelous, and you need it in your life. 🌙✨Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’
  • Anissa
    January 1, 1970
    One word: WOW.This book is pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway but it was really so much more than that. I loved it!
  • Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
    January 1, 1970
    Wow what a ride! This book was really fun, and there's so much I loved about it. First of all, I have to rave about the world building. I loved everything about it - deeply woven culture meets beautifully artistic magic. Really cool folklore and mythology. I'm DYING to see some fan art! Honestly, this alone made the book worthy of five stars. I never wanted to leave the world. And the story - pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway - totally fits. The first bit gave me definite Mulan vibes! But th Wow what a ride! This book was really fun, and there's so much I loved about it. First of all, I have to rave about the world building. I loved everything about it - deeply woven culture meets beautifully artistic magic. Really cool folklore and mythology. I'm DYING to see some fan art! Honestly, this alone made the book worthy of five stars. I never wanted to leave the world. And the story - pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway - totally fits. The first bit gave me definite Mulan vibes! But then the story takes on a TOTALLY new direction. In fact, I'd say it changes directions several times, and I definitely wasn't complaining (more below).We start with Maia, who in order to save her sick father and provide for her family, takes her father's place by dressing like a boy to meet the Emperor's summons. At the palace, there's a competition to be come the Emperor's tailor - but the tailor must impress his fiancé first. But as the plot progresses, it becomes so much more. One thing after another, and all the sudden, Maia is thrust on a journey to craft three impossible dresses - one made of the sun, another of the moon, and lastly, one made from the blood of stars. (And don't worry - she isn't going on the journey alone. Wink wink.)I did like the characters. Maia has the biggest heart - and she's tough! I especially loved Edan though. Some of you saw my status update - in the beginning, he totally felt like a baby Darkling! He's the Emperor's Enchanter, and has a soft spot for Maia. But as you learn more about him, he becomes more and more unique. I loved trying to figure out his mysteries! The only issue I had was trying to follow some of the character's motivations at times, but I'll admit I was pretty under-the-weather while reading this, so it might have just been me being a bit delusional.I will say this book reads a bit younger - perfect for teens (which is the intended audience). So much of YA these days feels way older, but this one felt very appropriate for the audience. It reads very clean (meaning it's easy to follow) and the main character actually acts like a teenager (and I don't mean that in a bad way at all)! Honestly, this book was a breath of fresh air.My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter
    more
  • C.G. Drews
    January 1, 1970
    This was the magical adventure of my dreams and I am a little starstruck right now. I meeeean, wow. It mixed this whimsical fairy-tale quality in with one of my favourite ships of 2019, not to mention the ending has left me gasping like a dried out minnow on the floor. I JUST. I thought it was a standalone and now I need more and I do not have more help meeeeee.[pulls self together][barely]// can we talk about the magic firstbecause it was astoundingly and gorgeously done!! Maia is disguising he This was the magical adventure of my dreams and I am a little starstruck right now. I meeeean, wow. It mixed this whimsical fairy-tale quality in with one of my favourite ships of 2019, not to mention the ending has left me gasping like a dried out minnow on the floor. I JUST. I thought it was a standalone and now I need more and I do not have more help meeeeee.[pulls self together][barely]// can we talk about the magic firstbecause it was astoundingly and gorgeously done!! Maia is disguising herself as a boy to win a position as the Imperial Tailor (to save her very poor, very low-on-luck family). And as the story goes on, she's commanded to sew three dresses from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars. So like we have some epic amounts of whimsy going on and I LOVED IT. It meshed this fairy tale quality tone with just a good ol' epic fantasy adventure (cue roadtrips and trails etc.) Perfect mixture is perfect. Plus I confess...I get really exhausted reading epic fantasy usually. But not this?! I felt like it had perfect world building BUT still stayed really easy to read and accessible (thx from me, with only two brain cells to rub together).I also loved the magic scissors that Maia wields and the hint that, because she can use them and others can't...maybe there's more to her...I hear it pitched as a Mulan retelling, but that's really only because Maia disguises herself as a boy to enter the trials. But she's literally sewing lmao. And no one sings I'll Make A Man Out Of You so. Smh.// the characters won my heart in an instant!!!I loved Maia! She's your loving, passionate and forthright Gryffindor type; can't lie, loves her family, will plunge into danger with 2% planning. LOVE MAIA. She has a little hot temper streak and I adored that too. But oh oh we must also talk about Edan, aka the Imperial Enchanter who takes quite a shine to Maia right up. I mean, he's a magician so he can tell she's not a boy. And their banter just goes from little jabs to homey bickering and GAH I LOVE THEM. This is my favourite trope!! Mild-enemies-to-lovers ajfkdlsad. And I can't even say how much I cracked up at their arguments. Edan is absolutely ridiculous and just like this fluffy, sparky ball of magic who doesn't shut up and teases Maia so much she just wants to throttle him. But yA KNOW...the chemistry is off the charts. 😌Maia is basically yelling that he's arrogant and he's like "OH YEAH" and then she's like "YEAH NOW KISS ME YOU JERK" and I stan. (Paraphrased, hush. The book is much much better written than my meme'ing qualities.)Anyway 10/10 to their relationship ajdfklsad. I felt like Edan (all dressed in black, bound to the Emperor, mystical with dark powers) is like the inverse of the Darkling. If the Darkling was a dorky boy and flirted like a giddy pumpkin.// the story it toldOk I totally loved the story! It held a lot of homey tropes too; so like the trials of the tailors to win their position was fun and stabby. Then Part II of the book is more like a roadtrip with lots of perils. I am less, personally, fond of fantasy excursions but it didn't feel slow. I LOVED the gathering of impossible objects and all the banter there too. And did I mention THE ENDING WASN'T FAIR. It brought out the feels like nothing else. Like don't hold back punches W O W.(My only cautious negative, and I did read an ARC so I don't know if this changes, is there was several anti-queer sentiments; like Maia being horrified at the thought of gay men etc.)// overall; I'm not sure why you are still here and not reading this book.I so SO enjoyed it!! It was magical and whimsical, but also layered with humour and banter, and a couple I completely and utterly adore. EDAN AND MAIA, MY MAGICAL DISASTER LOVERS. It captured my imagination and my heart! And of course adored the full Asian/POC cast from an #ownvoices author. More of this!! And cannot frikkin' wait for the sequel.
    more
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    This is honestly the best cover I've ever encountered and holy shit the blessings. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch
  • ✨ A ✨
    January 1, 1970
    Project Runway meets Mulan was accurate indeed. Maia Tamarin has a dream of becoming the Imperial Taylor of A’landi. Growing up in a family of taylor's she definitely has the skill but as a girl it would be improper and all she can do is to make sure she marries well. Maia has endured much tragedy due to the war. Her father is broken and their family shop is failing, with little options left Maia is almost put in the position of having to take up the proposal from the bakers gross son when a roy Project Runway meets Mulan was accurate indeed. Maia Tamarin has a dream of becoming the Imperial Taylor of A’landi. Growing up in a family of taylor's she definitely has the skill but as a girl it would be improper and all she can do is to make sure she marries well. Maia has endured much tragedy due to the war. Her father is broken and their family shop is failing, with little options left Maia is almost put in the position of having to take up the proposal from the bakers gross son when a royal messenger comes with a summons from the Emperor. A summons for her father who is too sick and grief stricken. She poses as her brother and takes the place of her father. Maia decides that this is her chance. Her chance to prove that she could be a Master Taylor despite her gender, her chance to help support her family. At the palace Maia is shocked to discover that she was not the only taylor summoned. What ensues is a competition for the Master with the best skill. The first half of the book went surprisingly fast. The pace was great and there was never a dull moment. I didn't expect the competition to move so quickly. The second half of the book was packed with even more action as Maia goes on a journey and I was completely hooked and invested in Maia's story. It took me a while to connect with the other characters but in the second half my love for Eden, the Lord Enchanter, grew. Something I couldn't get over was the unrealistic-ness of how Maia could pull off pretending to be a guy. I'm sorry but how in the world do you manage to always remember to speak in a deep voice? And for that matter how in the world is that deep voice even believable? I loved how the clothing was described, it made me wish Maia could make something for me.I think this book ended off well, and I am most definitely looking forward to the sequel. I am filled with anticipation for what is install for Maia and Edan and I would love to learn more about Lady Sarnai.Publication date: 9 July 2019Buddy read with Tiffany🌷ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsHey so uh quick question.....who thought they should leave me on my own to figure out that the ending would end like: that and HURT like: that.Spin the Dawn follows Maia Tamarin, a female seamstress who is struggling to support herself and her father after her brothers went to war. When her father is invited to the Emperor’s palace to compete for the position of the royal tailor, she takes his place and dresses as a boy.Maia takes on several other magical tailors, meets the alluringly m 4.5 starsHey so uh quick question.....who thought they should leave me on my own to figure out that the ending would end like: that and HURT like: that.Spin the Dawn follows Maia Tamarin, a female seamstress who is struggling to support herself and her father after her brothers went to war. When her father is invited to the Emperor’s palace to compete for the position of the royal tailor, she takes his place and dresses as a boy.Maia takes on several other magical tailors, meets the alluringly mysterious enchanter, and embarks on a nearly impossible quest to retrieve the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars. Throughout all this, she must keep her identity a secret and learn how to use the magical scissors her grandfather passed down to her. I knew then we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn’t be undone. I wouldn’t let them. The most striking thing about Spin the Dawn is how absolutely gorgeous its writing is. Even just “the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars” is so beautiful and metaphorical, and the rest of the book is just as stunning. This is definitely one of those cases where the writing is just as pretty as the cover!!As much as I love the writing, I love Maia even more. She’s just such a strong character, in so many ways. She risks everything by posing as a boy to become the royal tailor, and she never gives up even when given an impossible task to complete. She’s determined to do whatever she can, in order for her loved ones to survive, and it’s so beautiful and inspiring to read.Edan, the enchanting magician that Maia meets, is also a character I adored! Their (flirty) banter back and forth was so much fun to read, and I loved the two’s dynamic. I also just really loved his backstory—sassy brooding magical characters are 100% destined to be my eternal weakness.And of course, the romance between them had me swooning. I honestly don’t know how else to describe my feelings about it besides my own wise words:Edan: you make me remember a part of myself I’d forgottenme:I just really loved their relationship, and it especially killed me at the end of the book! I do want to say that there is a weird age difference (as in, he’s like 500 years old, and she is… not), and some people found that to be an issue for them. I personally wasn’t that bothered by it, but still wanted to let you all know! He broke his promise to me. At first I thought it was because the war and magic had blackened his heart, but that is just the way of men. For what is a promise if it’s made to a women? I don’t normally talk about worldbuilding in my reviews, because it’s not something I really notice unless it stands out, but the worldbuilding in this book really did stand out. I really loved the incorporation of magic and demons and ghosts, and even a magic carpet. The book is inspired from Chinese mythology, and while I don’t know enough Chinese mythology to have recognized it in the writing, I know it means a lot to Chinese readers and I’m happy that it was included.The themes in this book were also very strong. Of course, the significance of family is emphasized, with how determined Maia is to help her family survive, and that made me so happy to see. And it’s also about Maia carving out her own place in the world, chasing the ambitions and dreams that only men have been allowed to have before her.Also, can I talk about the ending? I’m going to talk about the ending. I was not expecting it at all, and as much as it destroyed me, I loved it? From the way the book ends, and from what I read of the second book from an excerpt in my ARC, the sequel is sure to be dark, and I am extremely excited.If it wasn’t obvious, I truly loved this book. It’s gorgeous, inside and out, and so enjoyable to read that I didn’t want to put it down. If you’re looking for a beautiful Asian fantasy with compelling characters, I highly recommend this!:: rep :: all-Asian cast (Chinese):: content warnings :: violence, death (of loved ones), blood, imprisonment, ableism in old ARCsThank you to Knopf and the author for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a spot on this blog tour! This did not affect my opinions in any way. All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
    more
  • Clemlucian (🏳️‍🌈the villain's quest)
    January 1, 1970
    2 Angry cunt stars. (Yes, cunt Clem is back and I'm about to burn the house down.) Instagram | blog and non-gender conforming folks, welcome to another episode of "How the hell did this get published?", staring Spin the Dawn and yours truly. Please take a seat, grab yourself a drink, and hold on tight to your grandma’s underwear....because shit is about to get serious.SYNOPSIS: Some random girl from the north of somewhere (I can’t, for the life of me, tell you where) likes to sew clothes in he 2 Angry cunt stars. (Yes, cunt Clem is back and I'm about to burn the house down.) Instagram | blog and non-gender conforming folks, welcome to another episode of "How the hell did this get published?", staring Spin the Dawn and yours truly. Please take a seat, grab yourself a drink, and hold on tight to your grandma’s underwear....because shit is about to get serious.SYNOPSIS: Some random girl from the north of somewhere (I can’t, for the life of me, tell you where) likes to sew clothes in her dad’s old sewing shop. Apparently, her dad used to be famous and, 20 years later, some random dude--who we never see again--knocks on her doorstep and requires the father’s presence in court to participate in some competition to become the royal tailor. But the dad can’t go because he’s a drunk and the daughter can’t go because she’s not a man, so she disguises herself as her brother and impersonates him in court. She wins the competition and becomes the royal tailor. Now she’ll have to keep the charade of her being a man...and she’ll be under threat of being executed forever![spoilers and severe cringe ahead.] 1. So, we need to talk about this trend of having the main character in Asian fantasy having to “crossdress” to survive, but who never questions their gender identity because it’s so outrageous to even think gender identity can be fluid or not cis. I’m not saying that I want every crossdresser to be trans, I just want the perception of one’s gender expression to be discussed in novels. This trend is just an example of how unoriginal this book is. I’ve read 5 fantasy YA like this already in 2019 and I can’t, for the life of me, differentiate them from one another. 2. The worldbuilding. One word:It’s non-existent. If my bestfriend hadn’t told me that this was an Asian fantasy, I wouldn’t have known. I can’t say where this book takes place. What kind of government it has. What religions are represented (or invented). How the magic works. Who are the gods. What kind of creature exists. Why are the two sides at war… Nope, I have literally no clue.3. The characters. I dead-ass caught myself calling Mia by the name Alina for the majority of this book (the love interest being the disgusting Mal obvi). That goes to show how well developed the characters are. Whenever the female character showed a bit of personality she either passed out or needed saving. Seriously, we’re being told that Mia is “so strong and smart”, but all she does is sleep, complain, and gush over some random hobo.4. The romance.Just kidding. I have rarely been more turned off in my entire life. It was as if I was reading the script of the worst Lifetime movie ever made. The cringiness of the dialogues broke the levels of the awkwardness of After (the movie). I had chills during some of the dullest and impersonal romantic dialogues I’ve ever read in my life. Here are some examples: “You deserve someone who can be with you. That someone isn’t me.” “Kissing you was wrong. It was a moment of weakness.” And many more that I can’t even look at without gagging. In other words, just because you can write one word after the other doesn’t mean that you should write a book. (Maybe I should start to listen to my own advice.)
    more
  • Mary S. R.
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 STARS! Fun, sweet, bursting at the seems with unique myths and magic, a world unprecedented, splattered with a delicious dosage of knitting and prettily sparkling dresses (oh my), a little too cloyingly romantic, and not good with its fight scenes (oh no). “People will see what they want to see.” Spin the Dawn, in one sentence: A tailor Mulan through a royal competition alongside treacherous masters, a journey through magical, perilous lands for an impossible task, and a love story that f 3.75 STARS! Fun, sweet, bursting at the seems with unique myths and magic, a world unprecedented, splattered with a delicious dosage of knitting and prettily sparkling dresses (oh my), a little too cloyingly romantic, and not good with its fight scenes (oh no). “People will see what they want to see.” Spin the Dawn, in one sentence: A tailor Mulan through a royal competition alongside treacherous masters, a journey through magical, perilous lands for an impossible task, and a love story that fills up your heart!Sometimes finding the way is tricky, but you always do. As long as you don’t give up.Do you sing? If not, prepare to have a blast, because I want to tell you about the beautiful art of singing! (you can scroll down to the other sections where I compare it to Mulan and discussed the writing, story, and romance)Imagine a singer, inconspicuous but striking. She stands there, before you; at a nod of your head, she starts out her song with a low tone. There's no music. You have a moment of doubt, but then her voice settles deep in your bones. You sit up straight, but she doesn't care—she's been already swept up and away from your mortal world and into the magic of the melody. The enchanting rhythm.She paints a tapestry with her words, she plays with your emotions, she awes you with her talent; to sing the lower notes so artfully! Such mastery. Singers struggle for years to own those sounds and yet, here she is, the notes flying from her lips with such strength, obeying her with such devotion, you think she's an enchantress, a queen of this art. And she takes her precious time: she moves from F3 up to A3 and back down to B2, she dances on C1 and C2 then jumps on C4 and sweeps back to B3 and you catch your breath and you think, you think you are dreaming! You are in awe of her mystical voice. You smile. You sigh. There is a sneaky little teardrop full of love rolling down your cheek. Your poor heart swells.Then she goes higher. She grasps at E5 and you cringe. She tiptoes back down to the lower notes. You smile. You silently kick yourself for your reaction; all is well. But she hops up on those higher notes again and you stiffen; she slides back down, you relax, settling in for a show because what a slide indeed! You are daydreaming and humming and maybe falling in love...until there's a screech. An earsplitting, blood-all-over-the-floor type of scream. You jump out of your seat and watch her, that blessed singer, tear down the foundation of her song. You watch her stumble from one high note to the next, trying to leash the wildness of that untamed horse and you feel like crying.It is like listening to the disaster of your life.To the destruction of something special.To the sound of potential as its fuse catches fire—as it explodes. Gone.The singer sings, unaware. She runs back down and dwells on her lower notes again. It is as if nothing happened. Again, you are in awe of her mystical voice. Again, you smile. Again, you sigh. But there is no sneaky little teardrop full of love rolling down your cheek. Your heart no longer swells.Our sweet singer is Elizabeth Lim, her art not singing but spinning tales. Her song is Spin the Dawn, a swan song that fails. “What keeps you up at night?” I asked. “You’re never in your tent.”A cloud passed over his face. “Demons and ghosts.” With a faint smile, he added, “And not having enough books to read.” Content Warnings: sexism, (passing) threat of rape, and (slight) slavery. Storyline In a land where the Sun, the scorching cruel god, and his glamorous wife, the Moon, meet only one night a year through a bridge of stars that collapse and bleed...In a land where myths and magic roam the halls of kings and sneak into the hands of tailors, filling them with greed...And in a land where a girl cannot become a master or a tailor or run a shop and is nothing but a wife, expected to concede...There lives a girl who could not spin a tale for the love of her, but can spin the finest yarn, and spin the dawn.“You are meant for more, Maia.”I turned away. “How can I be? I’m not a man.”Maia Tamarin has a dream—one she tucks close to heart, sewing it there, hidden within her chest so full of pain, because she is afraid they would mock her, laugh at her...such an impossible dream: to become the master tailor for the king!That is, until her ailing father is summoned to court to be one of the twelve famed and talented masters competing for the very job she has dreamt of, night and day. To spare her family from ruin and achieve the dream she knows she is talented enough to deserve, Maia risks her life and dresses up as her limping brother, setting off for a palace where her lying, fellow competitors would do anything to prove their art is superior and win the contest.“This contest wearies me. We are craftsmen. We should learn from one another, not cut each other’s throats.”But nothing is as simple as that—if beating a band of treacherous old men in a competition while maintaining her disguise can be called simple; because the Lord Enchanter, Edan, the mysterious shadow of the emperor, seems to know just how to get under her skin, seeing all her secrets while also being immeasurably annoying.Not only that, but she is tasked with sewing the three dresses of the goddess—one from the laughter of the sun, one from the tears of the moon, and one the blood of stars—those mythical wonders many tailors have tried and failed to bring to life, for the emperor's bride-to-be. So, at dawn, she leaves for a long journey across perilous lands, deep into deserts and up, up, up, until she reaches the sky.“Some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably.”The tale of a girl who’d have to sew the sun, the moon, and the stars into three dresses, the tale of a girl whom a demon would vow to possess. It is the tale of a boy, too. A boy who can fly but not swim. A boy with the powers of the gods but the shackles of a slave. A boy who loves her.It is a tale still being written. Is This a Retelling of Mulan? This book was accused of having nothing in common with Mulan except a girl pretending to be a boy, the “retelling” part being a lie. I kept that in mind when I started reading, and my eyebrows rose a little higher every time I found a parallel, to the point that they were lost somewhere in my hair—I no longer had eyebrows :|And I tell you, trust me, this is just like the original tale, The Ballad of Hua Mulan, but with a few clever twists. I have evidence! Here (the parts not in italic are the original, the parts in italic the retelling): (view spoiler)[While Mulan Maia sits worriedly at her loom, one male master from each tailor family chosen by the emperor is called to serve in the army to defend China from Rouran invaders compete in the contest for being the court tailor that would please the empress-to-be, Lady Sarnai, daughter of the enemy, the traitor shansen, to stop the Five Winters' War.Her father is old and weak, and her younger brother is just a child who can't weild a blade maimed after the war and can't wield a needle, so she decides to take his place and bids farewell to her parents, who supports her. She is already skilled in fighting sewing, having been taught since she was a child.After 12 years of fighting competing against 12 tailors, the army returns the competition ends and the warriors are rewarded the winner is rewarded the title, but also given a new task, which she completes. Mulan Maia turns down does not turn down the official post and, by the order of the emperor, dons her old clothes the dress she made and meets her comrades the court members, who are shocked that they did not realize she was a woman. Then, Mulan Maia asks only for a camel is given a carpet to carry her home and is greeted with joy by her family. She rides the carpet back to the castle to take up her role as the first female master tailor (hide spoiler)]Andddddd...we're done here :P I gotta say, I specially love that last part where Maia did the opposite of Mulan, though in her heart she wished to follow suit. Storytelling Good: Creative Writing & Mastery of Low NotesElizabeth Lim's writing is simple and easy to read, and works best in the slower parts of the story (meaning not action scenes). Her mastery over weaving a tale exquisitely and slowly really makes Spin the Dawn special—with its precious moments of unpretentious beauty (example: We melted into each other until the dawn slid into dusk, and the sun paled into the moon, and the stars, once lost, became found again.) and slightly pretentious beauty that is still sweet and fits the YA mood (example: I knew then that we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn’t be undone. I wouldn’t let them.).But what I loved was how uniquely the tailoring was not only written in itself, making me want Maia to sew a dress for me as well, but was also deeply ingrained in the writing style, constantly used as a simile. Seams and knitting and sewing and spinning all over Maia's thoughts, and I found that a perfect choice with how she lives and breathes them. It served to fully wrap me in the soft silk of the tale.[Climbing] isn’t so different from sewing, I said to myself. Pretend you’re a needle stitching up the mountain, trying to find the way to make a perfect seam. One wrong stitch, and the fabric of the mountain will be torn.Bad: A Singer Who Can't Pull Off High NotesThe biggest failing of Lim's writing in this book was two of its most important chapters where the threat of death hung like an executioner's sword above your neck—but it tuned out the sword was dull like a bull, not whetted with skill, and the executioner a clumsy one who doesn't know how to hold a sword, let alone chops off heads with it. Chapters 30 & 31 were two of the worst written chapters I have read in my entire life.The threats? The fights? The ghosts? The demons? It was all so ridiculously managed that I can't even put words to it. It was like a 10-year-old had tried to write a dramatic scene with the stupidest villains and dialogues, senseless and laughable action all crammed up. It was a mess. I could not believe the same author who had written all those steady slow-burning but mystifying chapters had also written these two. She owned the low slow notes most writers can't pull off, but she could not, for the life of her, write a fast paced part without it seeming like a vehicle that had lost control, reeling off the road, a crash quite imminent *sighs*Bad: The Things That Did Not Make SenseI cannot deny that there were parts which were highly unrealistic. I have no complaints about Maia passing as a boy, because she was noted to not have a very girlish voice, and since no one really expected a girl, their prejudices running so deep that they didn't even believe a woman is capable of sewing well, they only saw a girlish boy. And I should add that young boys can sound like girls, as we see it's women who voice young boys in animations. Thus her voice could easily be excused as “not having matured” which is plausible because she is small and has no facial hair.BUT. Yes, but. There are implausible parts as well; such as how Maia, a girl with zero combat skills, so swiftly escapes the hold of a soldier while, simultaneously, a) jabbing her elbow into his side, b) grabbing the hilt of his dagger, and c) kneeing him in the groin. I'm sorry, have you ever been in a fight? If you have, you'll understand. If not, allow me to elaborate: it doesn't work like that.To achieve that level of skill and the ability to not fumble around in a fight and so smoothly and quickly coordinate all the muscles of your body to overpower, spin, jab, grab, and kick all at the same time...well, you need to sweat through training sessions for more than 5 years straight. If we're being generous and say it was in quick succession, that would be minus 3 years. How you doing? Wanna fight and test it out? :)My biggest problem: the scissors. (view spoiler)[How do you sew with scissors? And how, exactly, are you supposed to paint with scissors???? Look, guys, I get it—they're magical. So yes they're doing something impossible but that's magic and it's okay I'm okay. Honestly, I loved the idea (it put me in mind of Rapunzel's paintbrush, which I love) but how? What does it look like? I am supposed to imagine this in my head but all I got was an statement of what was happening (the scissors dancing with her hands and sewing and painting) but not what it looked like! This caused me to just zone out at those parts; to me, one moment there was an unfinished work, the next, it was finished. (hide spoiler)]So, while it was a great abstract idea, Elizabeth Lim made no effort to visualise it. Which, next to how she's never been in a fight (only explanation for the way the fights were written, and how the writing lagged and stumbled and fumbled in fast paced parts (the high notes), made me not be able to give this 4.5 and round it up to 5 stars as I'd initially thought I would. Characterisation “You’re used to being underestimated, so you want to prove yourself. Don’t let that be your crutch. Accept help when you need it.”Maia (MC): a girl who lives to sew but cannot sew because she is a girl :) I like Maia, she does not give up and is bold and willing to fight for herself...until fighting for herself would hurt someone else. Then, she fights for them. But she is always fighting, and that's something I appreciate.“To the West, I am known as His Most Illustrious; to the East, I am His Most Illuminating; and in every other corner of the world, I am His Most Formidable.”Edan: I wanted to punch him. I really, really wanted to punch him 😂 I love him though. A mix of the Darkling (Shadow and Bone; NOT the personality, more role) and Rhysand (ACOTAR; very much like this one), he was hilarious and so precious :') my only complaint was how he acted like a teenage boy even with 500+ years of experience under his belt (same age as both of the aforementioned).“War comes at a great cost,” Lady Sarnai said, “and from that sacrifice comes peace. Sometimes we must let go of what we value for the future of our country. Be it a beautiful fan, or our honor, or our lives. In the end, we all belong to the gods anyway.” Lady Sarnai is a really interesting character I'd like to know more about. Yes, I know, she spares our MC no pain, but I'm also entranced by how she views magic, how she grew up, and how she sees her father and the state of the empire. Mostly, I just love her, so hush. Aside from her, Keton and Longhai were the other sweethearts. Relationships “Don’t work so hard you—”“Become the kite that never flies,” I finished for him. “I know.”The family dynamics and brother-sister bonds, even though short and only at the beginning, were wonderful! As I have two older brothers myself, I found I loved seeing that bond on the page.“It is an illusion to assume we choose whom we love. I cannot change how I feel about you. I would move the sun and the moon if it meant being with you.”The romance is another tale; for 60% of the book, the two kept on with their hilarious banter and I shipped them deeply, I even posted an status update shouting at them to kiss. Then they did...and I wanted them to stop. They were cute together, yes, but now they were only kissing. The whole book took a back seat to them making out, constantly, without stop. And a journey that could've been way more fun was just slammed together. Worldbuilding The world of Spin the Dawn is probably the best and most fascinating part of it: rich with traditions like women preparing their gifts for the dead, offering someone flowers being the sign of courtship, and only courting someone with serious intentions; brimming with long titles of the likes of “Khagan of Kings, Son of Heaven, Favored of Amana, Glorious Sovereign of A’landi.” (keep going 😂); overflowing with myths of gods like the Sun with his domain in the desert, burning away everything you have, from your hope to your dignity, to your very life, and the god of thieves who once stole the stars and must now pay by holding up a bridge on his shoulders.My favourite part about the magic was, most definitely, how there was a price. I love that idea. I love how (view spoiler)[they have to surrender their freedom in exchange for the power to do impossible things (hide spoiler)]. The sense of balance this created was absolutely satisfying!One thing I'd like to note is the three trials of body, mind, and soul, which are the popular way of viewing human nature these days; the idea is vaguely alike to both the Tripartite theology in Christianity, and the body and dual soul of Chinese. I would have like more Chinese-inspired content, but I was happy all the same :) “That is just the way of men. For what is a promise if it’s made to a woman?” The world of Spin the Dawn is also a sexist one where girls can't be masters or the likes, and to me their expectations of a girl and a boy was mostly the way someone trapped inside and told to be obedient would act, against someone allowed outside and told they're the masters, would. Which is infuriating but still quite honest in displaying the truth of it—that the difference in their behaviour is more by nurture than nature. My Struggle Rating Oh was it a struggle! I shifted from 4.5 to 3.5 on a loop until I started to feel dizzy! And then I realised that, even though some parts disappointed me and others annoyed me, in the end the enchanting, unique feel of it made it a fun read all the same. But my emotions shifted only between awe and “awwwwwwwwww” and “haha” and nothing more (unlike the range of emotions The Storm Crow made me feel) and the second part could've been so much better, so I will give it just a little lower a rating than TSC, as they each had their own magic :) Companions Books in series: • Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars, #2) ☆☆☆☆☆ Book playlist: Spotify URL
    more
  • Navessa
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not gonna lie, I jammed that “Add to TBR” button the second I saw this cover. And then I read “Project Runway meets Mulan” and I turned into the physical embodiment of the I Have a Mighty Need meme.So, does this live up to the hype? For me, hell yeah.This is a sweeping, romantic saga steeped in mystery and lore that went a long way toward rekindling my love for the young adult fantasy genre.The world building in this Chinese-inspired land was phenomenal. The Project Runway portion of the sto I’m not gonna lie, I jammed that “Add to TBR” button the second I saw this cover. And then I read “Project Runway meets Mulan” and I turned into the physical embodiment of the I Have a Mighty Need meme.So, does this live up to the hype? For me, hell yeah.This is a sweeping, romantic saga steeped in mystery and lore that went a long way toward rekindling my love for the young adult fantasy genre.The world building in this Chinese-inspired land was phenomenal. The Project Runway portion of the story is mostly constrained to the grounds of the Emperor’s palace, and it’s filled with court intrigue set against the backdrop of a vibrant city bursting with life. The second half of the book is no less exciting. Because it turns into more of a quest-driven adventure romp full of danger and high thrills out on the open road.Maia is everything I look for in a heroine. She’s driven, intelligent, talented, brave, and loyal. The love interest, Edan, was just as strong for me. There’s none of that pushy, borderline abusive bullshittery here. Their relationship is rock solid. Edan, while teasing and mischievous by nature, is always there for Maia. From the moment they meet, he lifts her up and supports her. He believes in her. And she, in turn, is there for him. This is what a healthy relationship looks like.More of this in YA, please.This book is also super sex positive. I’m not going to go into detail here, because the publication date is a long way off and spoilers. Let’s just say that progressive, feminist themes pervade these pages without ever feeling preachy.I also adored all of the shades of gray that Lim added to her villains. One-dimensional bad guys are not my thing, so I always appreciate when we’re given insight into their characters. Lim excels at that. She reveals just enough of their motives and driving emotions that you think that maybe, possibly, there’s hope for redemption. Which makes it all the more painful when they do terrible things.Throughout this book, I kept vacillating between empathy for one of the villains, and abject hatred. Bravo.The last thing you need to know before going into this is that it is definitely a romance. While the blurb only mentions Edan, their relationship is one of the central pieces of this story, and it dominates the second half.Also, these characters are fallible. While Maia is intelligent, she’s still a teenager, and she exhibits some behavior that a lot of curmudgeonly adult readers like myself might find borderline TSTL later on in the book, which is what kept this rating closer to a 3.5 than a 4 star read for me.But honestly, the setting and the story more than made up for it, which is why I bumped this up to four.If you love yourself a romantic fantasy, add this one to your TBR right the hell now.Blog | FB | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr
    more
  • Hannah Greendale
    January 1, 1970
    The first half of Spin the Dawn is Disney's Mulan with war taking place at sewing stations as opposed to a battlefield. Maia Tamarin is in competition with eleven talented tailors for an honored position in the Summer Palace. This portion of the book is intriguing and imaginative with Maia facing increasingly difficult challenges to do with unorthodox materials. While the midpoint hinges on a thrilling new challenge for Maia, the second half of the book makes a significant departure from its fir The first half of Spin the Dawn is Disney's Mulan with war taking place at sewing stations as opposed to a battlefield. Maia Tamarin is in competition with eleven talented tailors for an honored position in the Summer Palace. This portion of the book is intriguing and imaginative with Maia facing increasingly difficult challenges to do with unorthodox materials. While the midpoint hinges on a thrilling new challenge for Maia, the second half of the book makes a significant departure from its first half. Readers are drawn into what feels like an entirely different book, one set in the wide outdoors that sees Maia going head-to-head with many familiar objects or entities from fantasy and lore (view spoiler)[ - flying carpets, ghost armies, demons, etc (hide spoiler)]. Maia is focused and determined throughout the second half, but she's wholly dependent on a handsome young man, which effectively undermines her admirable independence during the first half of the book. The second half of the book offers very little conflict between characters, with tasks being completed too neatly and perilous encounters resolved with ease. The dynamic between Maia and her escort is all-too-familiar and unforgivably predictable. The final chapters offer a hasty conclusion and leave one plotline unresolved as Lim clearly intends to write more books in the series. (view spoiler)[The most disappointing aspect of this book surfaces near its conclusion. Maia is gifted one wish from a powerful goddess. Does she wish for her crippled brother to walk again? No. Does she wish for stability and good health for her struggling family? No. Does she ask that the goddess restore her two brothers killed in the war? No. Does she ask for the hot guy to be free so she can be with him? *ding ding ding* Yes! And since he's bound to an oath pledged to a demon, her wish means Maia will have to take his place. To simplify: Maia sacrifices everything of herself for a hot guy she recently fell in love with. (hide spoiler)]Playful, homespun, and romantic. Spin the Dawn is sure to appeal to fans of Disney's Mulan. The humming in my head was louder now. I looked down, feeling a strange trembling at my side. At first I thought it came from my scissors, but that was impossible, so I ignored it. Then they started glowing. I grasped them to snip a loose thread and found that I was unable to put them down. Suddenly, in my mind's eye I could see the shawl, completed - just as I had sketched it. But there was no way I could accomplish it in the hours remaining.But you can, a voice assured me. My voice, but more confident somehow. [. . .]Impossible as it appeared, the scissors not only cut but embroidered. The thin silver blades split and gathered my threads and flosses to dance through the silk, embroidering intiricate flowers and birds, trees, and mountains with precision and elegance. With magic.*-*Note: Quote taken from an Advanced Reader's Copy.
    more
  • Angelica
    January 1, 1970
    Project Runway meets MulanI'm intrigued. But I also have so many questions. Let's hope this lives up to the hype!
  • Ashlee » Library In The Country
    January 1, 1970
    Why yes I did just SCREAM OUT LOUD because I got an ARC of this. One of my most anticipated 2019 releases!
  • Lucy Langford
    January 1, 1970
    4.5**** I knew then that we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn't be undone. I wouldn't let them.This was just brimming with enchantment and folklore. We are introduced to Maia Tamarin as a seamstress, working in her father's shop. Her father use to be a hardworking and famous tailor but after some family tragedies, he no longer has the passion to continue with it. Maia takes on this burden and has the dream that one day she will become the grandest tailor 4.5**** I knew then that we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn't be undone. I wouldn't let them.This was just brimming with enchantment and folklore. We are introduced to Maia Tamarin as a seamstress, working in her father's shop. Her father use to be a hardworking and famous tailor but after some family tragedies, he no longer has the passion to continue with it. Maia takes on this burden and has the dream that one day she will become the grandest tailor of the land, however, being born a girl means she can only hope to marry well.When a royal messenger summons her ailing father to court, Maia poses as his son and travels to the Summoner Palace in his place to compete to be the Emperor's tailor. She knows that she will be forfeiting her life if her secret is discovered, however, in order to save her family from financial difficulties and achieving her dream, she sees no other way of achieving this. One of twelve tailors fighting for the illustrious job, she needs to keep her secret hidden in these cutthroat trials while also trying to impress the angry, and morose, Lady Sarnai and the Emperor. However, she realises one person can see through her secret and receives unwanted attention from the court enchanter, Edan. While she works arduously hard at these tasks, nothing can prepare her for the final and seemingly impossible challenge: sew three gowns from the sun, the moon, and the stars, a task so dangerous that she will have to travel the world and risk death around every corner.This book as so magical and the artistry behind the descriptions was amazing. Part trials and part adventure, this book has Maia questioning her beliefs, realising the sinister side to her dreams, facing the possibilities of love and the deep consequences of sacrifice. Due to her past Maia is skeptical of magic and beliefs, Hoever this is upturned and Maia is faced with magic, enchanters, ghosts, demons and Gods- crashing the way she thinks about the world and discovering what is out there.Maia is a strong character and this builds over the book. She is faced with some difficult decisions with severe consequences. However, she loves shamelessly and puts those she loves in front of her own desires. This book and this character has been compared to Mulan- and I am here for it. Also the cover to this book is beautiful ! I cannot wait for the next book in the series!
    more
  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    this cover is everything
  • ✩ Ashley ✩
    January 1, 1970
    I can’t believe it!!! I’ve been approved (for the first time) for a NetGalley request?!!?!?!!!? My heart can’t handle all this excitement! 🥰
  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    ...this does not sound like Project Runway
  • ♠️ TABI ♠️
    January 1, 1970
    'Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man--even with my eyes closed. Yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.I have never had a talent for spinning tales.' First off, the above quote is a bit of a liar because this isn't a badly-woven story! If I hadn't read the blurb, maybe I wouldn't have been as thrown by the first part of the story because I guess I expected the contest to last longer than it actually did?? But this turned 'Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man--even with my eyes closed. Yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.I have never had a talent for spinning tales.' First off, the above quote is a bit of a liar because this isn't a badly-woven story! If I hadn't read the blurb, maybe I wouldn't have been as thrown by the first part of the story because I guess I expected the contest to last longer than it actually did?? But this turned out to be equally unique and yet precisely like every other YA fantasy I've read . . . which I guess meant I liked it because it stood out enough yet wasn't TOO ground-breaking??????? I dunno, man, but overall I am not disappointed in this book I was pretty hyped to read. 'The humming in my head was louder now. I looked down, feeling a strange trembling at my side. At first I thought it came from my scissors, but that was impossible, so I ignored it. Then they started glowing.' Honestly, the story was a lot simpler than I truly desired. It's part of the reason this isn't a 5-star read for me . . . and also a reason I knocked this down to a flat 3 stars. Because the plot is good, but I wanted MORE cause I'm a greedy reader who always expects too much of my fiction. But seriously, there were a lot of things glossed over in favor of the magical aspects of the book. Like the whole war!! Nothing was really said about that except one side was bad and yet the war was over, it was terrible for people, but nothing was really shown. I wanted to feel the devastation of the war, to see the toll it had taken on the land/people . . . not just be told about it a few barely-mentioned times.Also, while the questing part of the story and the following events were the most interesting . . . it still felt rushed. AND I WANTED MORE SEXUAL TENSION BETWEEN MAIA AND EDAN OKAY??? Like, his character was way too PG-13 than I feel like he should have been! He's been around a bit. He's got all this proclaimed angst and years weighing on him . . . and yet he seemed to be written with the maturity and mindset of Maia's age. So even though Edan is my favorite character, I really had hoped for some slightly steamier moments as that seemed more in-line with how the story seemed to describe his character vs how he was actually written.So, yes, this was a fun, entertaining plot. But it lacked the finesse and depth to really pull me into it and let me soak in the grandeur of a masterfully-told tale. “I hardly recognize you without your court finery,” I greeted him. “I didn’t think you owned anything except black silk.”“I thought it wise not to look too prosperous,” Edan replied, stifling a yawn. “I welcome any opportunity to sleep a few extra minutes rather than dress finely. Mornings don’t become me.” Maia is a nice MC . . . but she ain't a great one. She's tough, but whiny. She's determined, but ridiculously naive. I expected her to be more like Mulan as the blurb insinuated, but the only similarities they had was they both disguised themselves as the opposite gender because they believed it was the best way to help their families. But while Mulan was smart and creative, Maia just always seemed to need help of one aspect or another!! And I do love Edan, I really do, but he really was like a crutch to Maia so she could stay in the spotlight as the chosen MC.Edan was not given enough time despite how much he was in the story. He kinda reminded me of Morozko or the Darkling, but definitely not as developed because he was always around as plot help for Maia's story development. But as the dark, brooding enchanter character yes of course he's my favorite. And while I'm gonna complain how pretty much everything in here just wasn't ENOUGH, Maia and Edan are still pretty darn cute together But why does it still seem like I really liked this??? Well, because for SOME reason I just really enjoy these kind of stories and I end up loving them a little bit even though they don't steal my whole heart as I always hope they would. This was written well enough that I have decent hopes for the sequel, and the last part of the story was extremely fascinating to kind of cover-over the plot-holes and lacking elements of the first two-thirds of the story. So overall, this is entertaining if you enjoy decent YA fantasy heavily-influenced by East-Asian culture & mythology and yeah those are two things I really like so I enjoyed this book. a huge round of ecstatic applause in thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for surprising me with a digital ARC. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
    more
  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    Unpopular Opinion Coming-inA slow, lackluster attempt at a Mulan retelling. I make the comparison only because, if I remember correctly, that's how this was originally pitched. Here I think we might have another case of it's not you, it's me. Because while the writing itself was not bad, I struggled with this book the entire time. It was just downright boring to me. I did not care about the characters. I did not care about the journey and the romance did little for me overall. But of the three t Unpopular Opinion Coming-inA slow, lackluster attempt at a Mulan retelling. I make the comparison only because, if I remember correctly, that's how this was originally pitched. Here I think we might have another case of it's not you, it's me. Because while the writing itself was not bad, I struggled with this book the entire time. It was just downright boring to me. I did not care about the characters. I did not care about the journey and the romance did little for me overall. But of the three the romance was probably the best part. Because at least we got some flirty banter and a few sweet moments. Still, that was not enough to save this book for me. So if you're looking for a story that revolves around a Mulan-esque character that involves embroidery and is infinitely more interesting you're better off watching the Chinese drama Legend of Hua Mulan (2013). I'm disappointed, to say the least, because I really wanted to love this. I was looking forward to a bad-ass Asian heroine who would make me root for her. And sadly, for me, Maia is not it. I'm sure some will enjoy this slower paced sort of story, but I am not one of those people. Verdict: I received a free ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thank you to the Knopf books for providing me with a copy to read and review!
    more
  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    If you think that Spin the Dawn's cover is beautiful, I can now tell you that its inside is even better, and that this book is worth reading just for the descriptions and atmosphere, if you care about that sort of thing.I certainly do.One of the first things I noticed while reading this book was that I could visualize everything perfectly - from the dresses and the needlework to the landscapes and the magic - so much that I was actually happy when, once the sewing competition ended, this became If you think that Spin the Dawn's cover is beautiful, I can now tell you that its inside is even better, and that this book is worth reading just for the descriptions and atmosphere, if you care about that sort of thing.I certainly do.One of the first things I noticed while reading this book was that I could visualize everything perfectly - from the dresses and the needlework to the landscapes and the magic - so much that I was actually happy when, once the sewing competition ended, this became a travel fantasy. Travel fantasy is very hit-or-miss for me, but when I love the author's writing (especially the descriptions), I always end up loving it, and this was no exception.It was so refreshing to read about a heroine who wasn't a warrior in a book about a competition that didn't in any way involve fighting. Spin the Dawn is about a competition to become the Emperor's personal tailor; in this world of demons and magic that can spin sun rays and paint with the blood of the stars, it's exactly as beautiful as one would think, and the mythology is just as interesting.Maia, the main character, isn't good at wielding traditional weapons - her "weapons" are needles and especially her magical scissors, but this doesn't make her a damsel in distress. I always appreciate when YA fantasy portrays characters who have a different sort of strength from the usual warrior archetype.I almost wanted to give this book five stars, because I did love parts of it, and it's been a while since a YA fantasy novel captivated me so much. However, some tropes this book employed left a bad taste in my mouth - crossdressing plotlines usually have transphobic implications in some scenes (which is why I skimmed the ~gender reveal~) but what I didn't expect was the whole "I'm disguised as a boy and I'm attracted to a boy, people think we're *gasp* gay". It almost felt like the book was playing it for laughs, and... that's really not good, especially not in a book in which there are no explicitly queer characters. [there's also a really ableist trope at the end of the ARC, bus as I've heard it was removed from the final copy, I won't let it influence my rating.]It might be that this is the first straight book I've read in a month, but the romance wasn't great - it's the typical "kind of naive girl + mysterious boy with an eye color far more striking than his personality" dynamic that is everywhere in YA fantasy. I wouldn't hate m/f YA fantasy romances so much if it weren't for the fact that 90% of male love interests sound like the same person. It's also one of these mortal + old immortal romances, except the love interest doesn't sound old at all (I don't get why he had to be immortal in the first place), and I didn't get why the two liked each other at all either - their banter was fun at times, but what did they see in each other? I don't know, I liked them enough as individual characters (especially Maia) but as a couple... I just didn't feel it.
    more
  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    Author: *Writes a Mulan retelling with Disney*Author years later: *Writes a YA and compares it to Mulan*Me: hmm, why do i smell a lawsuit| Goodreads | Blog | Twitch | Pinterest | Reddit |
  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    The cover to this has to be one of my top 5 so far this year! It’s seriously gorgeous! So I did like this one but I wasn’t in love with it as much as I wanted to be. I think I wanted more from the characters? I’m not really even a hundred percent on that! What I seriously loved was the Project Runway and Mulan vibes! Give me a needle and thread right now!
    more
  • Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
    January 1, 1970
    ”Sendo used to tell me fairy tales. How he’d love mine if he were still alive: the tale of a girl who’d sewn the sun, the moon, and the stars into three dresses.”SPIN THE DAWN starts off incredibly strong. I loved the framing of the narrative - starting with the ending and then segueing into the beautiful first chapter. I think I must’ve been tired but I also really felt the emotion & grief Maia felt at losing her brothers and teared up a lil.The following 150-ish pages are all about the com ”Sendo used to tell me fairy tales. How he’d love mine if he were still alive: the tale of a girl who’d sewn the sun, the moon, and the stars into three dresses.”SPIN THE DAWN starts off incredibly strong. I loved the framing of the narrative - starting with the ending and then segueing into the beautiful first chapter. I think I must’ve been tired but I also really felt the emotion & grief Maia felt at losing her brothers and teared up a lil.The following 150-ish pages are all about the competition narrative, and I really enjoyed them! I sped through them quickly and the originality of having a tailoring competition. The following 250-ish are the quest narrative and though I loved this too, I did love it a little less - though I was very fond of seeing how they obtained the sun, moon and stars. The fact I felt these two narratives worked cohesively together is impressive, as it was something I was worried about given competition & quest narratives normally take up entire books by themselves. Maia was a fabulous heroine and I really loved her. She was really determined and I just ... really respected her grit? Edan too I thought was really humorous and interesting, and I really loved the two as a pairing. To be frank, what knocks this book down a little for me is the fact it’s not a stand-alone? I knew from goodreads there was a second book, but I thought it was a companion novel. Only when I got to the end did I realise it would be a direct sequel. And like ... the direction it’s taking I’m not sure on? I just thought Spin the Dawn would’ve worked really well as a stand-alone and then with a second book about Lady Sarnai or something, who really interests me and has clearly been crafted with a story that needs to be told. To be sure, it’s still one of my favourite reads this month and I’m in love with the cover and have preordered a finished copy. The worldbuilding is lovely too, with the story influences ranging from Mulan to the Arabian Nights. I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a good Asian fantasy, or anyone looking for a fantasy novel that’s not focused on battles/has a warrior heroine. > 4.2/4.5 stars ****heavy breathing* this cover is illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Tran Nguyen! I’m so glad to see books written by PoC also getting beautiful covers designed by PoCs (see also: Descendant of the Crane)(Can I have a magical gown made out of the blood of the stars too though pls)
    more
  • Sh3lly (GrumpyBookGrrrl.com)
    January 1, 1970
    Review also found at:https://grumpybookgrrrl.com/2019/06/2...Release Date: July 9th 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.Gorgeous cover alert!Maia Tamarin just wants to be a tailor, but she lives in a world where females are unequal to males, and the career is unavailable to her. Her family has run a tailor shop for years, but hard times have besieged the family. War, death, depression… Maia is left holding the business together by a thread.When the Emperor’s representative arrives de Review also found at:https://grumpybookgrrrl.com/2019/06/2...Release Date: July 9th 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.Gorgeous cover alert!Maia Tamarin just wants to be a tailor, but she lives in a world where females are unequal to males, and the career is unavailable to her. Her family has run a tailor shop for years, but hard times have besieged the family. War, death, depression… Maia is left holding the business together by a thread.When the Emperor’s representative arrives demanding a male from her family compete for the position of the royal tailor, Maia decides to go. At the palace, as a boy, she meets the Emperor and his new fiance – and Edan, the court magician.The Emperor’s bride-to-be wants anything but a political marriage, so concocts challenges that become more and more impossible.From the blurb here at Goodreads: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.This read like a fairytale, and I loved it. It really did remind me of Mulan, which is my favorite Disney “princess” movie. Edan was swoon-worthy, and I adored him. I definitely “shipped” it! Maia is a great female heroine who was loyal and willing to sacrifice everything for her family. I will definitely be reading the next one!Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital eARC to read and review!Previous post:I really liked this! Edan - sigh. review to come.Previous post:Gorgeous cover + Mulan? Sign me up! Digital eARC provided by publisher through Netgalley.Release day: July 30, 2019BLOG | TWITTER
    more
  • Katie.dorny
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly how did I get my hands on this book?? I adored this, honestly there was nothing I didn’t love about the book. I need the sequel immediately.Here we meet Maia, a talented seamstress who takes the opportunity of a lifetime. Disguising herself as a boy, the whole story unfolds like clockwork and just whisks you away to another time and place.We also meet other characters who were so lifelike and vibrant with their traits and dialogue it was as if I was in the room with them all.My favourit Honestly how did I get my hands on this book?? I adored this, honestly there was nothing I didn’t love about the book. I need the sequel immediately.Here we meet Maia, a talented seamstress who takes the opportunity of a lifetime. Disguising herself as a boy, the whole story unfolds like clockwork and just whisks you away to another time and place.We also meet other characters who were so lifelike and vibrant with their traits and dialogue it was as if I was in the room with them all.My favourite character though has to be Edan, the royal Enchanter. Not only is he incredibly witty, but so intelligent and mysterious and I can’t get enough of him.The story itself was beautiful, I loved the old folklore and the setting, alongside everything else that was wrapped up in this gem.Very lucky to have received an arc in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    UMMM WOWI loved the world and the story but I wasn't completely sold on the romance tbh
  • CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
    January 1, 1970
    My full review is now up on my blog, The Quiet Pond.-I... I'm amazed. This romantic-fantasy blew my expectations out of the water, and this was such a splendid and sweeping read.- Follows Maia, the daughter of a tailor who disguises herself as her brother to compete to become the Emperor's court tailor. To save her life and ensure peace in her kingdom, she is then given a test to make three dresses to symbolise the goddess Amana's children: the sun, the moon, and the stars.- Though this book sou My full review is now up on my blog, The Quiet Pond.-I... I'm amazed. This romantic-fantasy blew my expectations out of the water, and this was such a splendid and sweeping read.- Follows Maia, the daughter of a tailor who disguises herself as her brother to compete to become the Emperor's court tailor. To save her life and ensure peace in her kingdom, she is then given a test to make three dresses to symbolise the goddess Amana's children: the sun, the moon, and the stars.- Though this book sounds like a quest story - which, in a way, it is - what made me love this book was the stunning romance. Star-crossed love, where two people have to fight fate to be together, WATERS MY CROPS!!!!- The characters were excellent, especially Edan. I hope to see more of Lady Sarnai in Book #2; she is so interesting and I'd love to see where Lim takes the story and the characters. - The imagery in this was stunning, especially when Maia had to find the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars. - Also, this was just so... reminiscent of Chinese fairytales and sweeping romances. I LOVE IT. The sequel is going to be darker, I can feel it, and I am not prepared.Note: my above opinions are based on the most up-to-date eARC of this book! the author has removed the ableist trope that was at the end of the book.Trigger/content warning: (view spoiler)[physical violence, magical violence, death, death of loved one (mentions), threat of sexual assault, sex scene (not explicit) (hide spoiler)]
    more
Write a review