Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars Series #1)

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars Series #1)

by Elizabeth Lim


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"Looking for your next big YA fantasy series? We've got our eye on this stylist blockbuster." --Entertainment Weekly

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping 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 is pure magic. Romance, artistry, and deep enchantment." --Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked

"What an amazing creation! Every time I thought I knew where it was going, I was wrong. This is a white-knuckle read." --Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Tempests and Slaughter

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525646990
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Series: Blood of Stars Series , #1
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,438
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

ELIZABETH LIM grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was raised on a hearty diet of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Before becoming an author, Elizabeth was a professional film and video game composer, and she still tends to come up with her best book ideas when writing near a piano. An alumna of Harvard College and the Juilliard School, she now lives in New York City with her husband and her daughter.

Spin the Dawn is her first original novel, and its companion in the Blood of Stars series, Unravel the Dusk, will be published in summer 2020. For more information, visit her online (elizabethlim.com) or follow her on Twitter (@LizLim) or Instagram (@elimpix).

Read an Excerpt

I had three brothers once.
Finlei was the oldest--the brave one. Nothing frightened him, not spiders or needles or a flogging from Baba’s cane. He was the quickest of us four children, fast enough to catch a fly with only his thumb and a thimble. But along with his dauntlessness came a craving for adventure. He despised having to work in our shop, having to spend the sun’s precious light sewing dresses and mending shirts. And he was careless with the needle, his fingers constantly bandaged from pricks and his work marred with uneven stitches. Stitches I would unpick and redo to save him from Baba’s lectures.
Finlei didn’t have the patience to become a tailor like Baba.
Sendo had patience, but not for sewing. My second brother was the poet in the family, and the only weaving he loved was of words, especially about the sea. He would tell stories about the beautiful garments Baba could sew, with such exquisite detail all the ladies in town clamored to buy them--only to find they didn’t exist.
As punishment, Baba made him sit on the pier behind our shop, unraveling thread from silkworm cocoons. Often I stole out to sit with him, to listen to his tales of what lay beyond that never-ending horizon of water.
“What color is the ocean?” Sendo would ask me.
“Blue, silly. What else?”
“How will you be the best tailor in A’landi if you don’t know your colors?” Sendo shook his head and pointed at the water. “Look again. Look into the depths of it.”
“Sapphire,” I said, studying the ocean’s gentle crests and troughs. The water sparkled. “Sapphire, like the stones Lady Tainak wears around her neck. But there’s a hint of green . . . jade green. And the foam curls up like pearls.”
Sendo smiled. “That’s better.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and hugged me close. “One day, we’ll sail the seas, you and I. And you’ll see the blue in all the world.”
Because of Sendo, blue was my favorite color. It painted the white of my walls when I opened my window each morning and saw the sea glittering in the sunlight. Sapphire or cerulean. Azure. Indigo. Sendo trained my eyes to see the variations in color, to appreciate the dullest brown to the brightest pink. How light could bend something into a thousand possibilities.
Sendo’s heart was for the sea, not for becoming a tailor like Baba.
Keton was my third brother, and the closest to me in age. His songs and jokes made everyone laugh, no matter what mood we were in. He always got in trouble for dyeing our silks green instead of purple, for carelessly stepping on newly pressed dresses with dirty sandals, for forgetting to water the mulberry trees, and for never spinning yarn fine enough for Baba to knit into a sweater. Money slipped through his fingers like water. But Baba loved him best--even though Keton didn’t have the discipline to become a tailor.
Then there was me--Maia. The obedient daughter. My earliest memories were of sitting contentedly with Mama as she worked the spinning wheel, listening to Finlei, Sendo, and Keton playing outside while Baba taught me to roll Mama’s thread so it wouldn’t tangle.
My heart was for becoming a tailor: I learned to thread needles before I could walk, to make a line of perfect stitches before I could talk. I loved my needlework and was happy learning Baba’s trade instead of going out with my brothers. Besides, when Finlei taught me to spar and shoot arrows, I always missed the target. Even though I soaked up Sendo’s fairy tales and ghost stories, I could never tell one of my own. And I always fell for Keton’s pranks, no matter how often my older brothers warned me of them.
Baba proudly told me I was born with a needle in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other. That if I hadn’t been born a girl, I might have become the greatest tailor in A’landi, sought after by merchants from one coast of the continent to the other.
“A tailor’s worth is not measured by his fame, but by the happiness he brings,” Mama said, seeing how disappointed Baba’s words made me. “You will hold the seams of our family together, Maia. No other tailor in the world can do that.”
I remembered beaming at her. Back then, all I wanted was for my family to be happy and whole like this--always.
But then Mama died, and everything changed.
We had been living in Gangsun, a key city along the Great Spice Road, and our shop occupied an entire half block. Baba was a well-respected tailor, known throughout southern A’landi for his skill at dressmaking. But ill times fell upon us, my mother’s death opening the first crack in Baba’s strong will.
He began to drink heavily--a way to drown his sorrows, he said. That didn’t last long--in his grief, Baba’s health deteriorated until he was unable to stomach any sort of spirits. He returned to his work at the shop, but he was never quite the same.
Customers noticed the decline in quality of Baba’s sewing and mentioned it to my brothers. Finlei and Sendo never told him; they didn’t have the heart. But a few years before the Five Winters’ War, when I was ten, Finlei convinced Baba to leave Gangsun and move into a shophouse in Port Kamalan, a small coastal town along the fringes of the Road. The fresh sea air would be good for Baba, he insisted.
Our new home occupied the corner of Yanamer and Tongsa Streets, across from a shop that made hand-pulled noodles so long you could get full on just one, and a bakery that sold the best steamed buns and milk bread in the world--at least it tasted that way to my brothers and me when we were hungry, which we often were. But what I loved most was the beautiful view of the ocean. Sometimes while I watched the waves roll along the piers, I secretly prayed that the sea would mend Baba’s broken heart--the way it was slowly healing mine.
Business was best in the summers and winters, when all the caravans traveling east and west on the Great Spice Road stopped in Port Kamalan to enjoy our temperate weather. My father’s little shop depended on a steady supply of indigo, saffron, ocher--colors for our dyes. It was a small town, so we not only tailored garments but also sold fabrics and threads. It had been a long time since Baba had crafted a gown worthy of a great lady, and when the war began, there was little business to be had anyway.

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Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars Series #1) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book follows the journey of Maia Tamarin, a talented tailor in a small town who just wants her work to be recognized and her family to be happy. The book is extremely fast paced, especially at the end where it is rushed, but Elizabeth Lim still manages to weave a beautiful story through her descriptions of not only the clothing that Maia creates but the places she visits. The concept and plot of the story is reminiscent of Mulan and Project Runway at the beginning but grows into so much more. The way Lim presents magic in this world is creative and I can’t wait to read more about it. Maia is a very likable character and you can’t help but want her to succeed. Her only fault would be that she is young and naive and with that makes some rash and questionable decisions. I fell in love with the love interest (for spoiler reasons I won’t say who it is) but I also felt that his character could have been fleshed out better. I just wanted to know more about his story. The one thing that frustrated me about this book was actually the love story even though I really liked both main characters. I’m not sure if it’s because I read this book in 2 days or because the story was so fast paced but I felt the love story was very rushed. It really took a long time for Maia to even warm up to him but within a couple months of that she is in love and can’t live without him. They are constantly doing the love/hate trope throughout the book which was frustrating as a reader and made the book feel like it was geared to a younger crowd. They are both self-sacrificing fools and are continuously putting themselves in danger to save the other which usually causes the fighting between the two. They are both talented, powerful characters and I felt it would have been better to have them work together to save each other. I hope to see this happen in future books. I also hope to learn more about the minor characters in future books, especially Lady Sarnai. I was surprisingly drawn to her and wanted to know more of her backstory. I felt that her story was not explored enough and it made it hard to form an opinion on her character. Overall I did enjoy this book and could not put it down. I did feel that it was geared to a younger crowd (I am 27 years old) but I still liked all the characters, just questioned some of their decisions. I look forward to future books in this series and seeing how the characters and they story lines progress.
Brooke Allen 5 hours ago
I loved this book! Can a book about sewing be exciting? Oh yes it can! I love the main character, Maia. The world is interesting and vast, and the characters are intriguing. Maia is an excellent seamstress in a world where tailoring is a man's domain. She has dreams of being the tailor to the emperor, but she's afraid that dream will be squashed and she'll have to end up marrying one of the local boys instead. Of course, that would make an awful story. Instead, she is summoned to the king's palace to try out for the chance to be the Emperor's tailor instead. Well, she isn't, but one of her male family members is. Her father is too broken-hearted to go, and her brother can't sew to save his life. To save the family name, she impersonates her brother and off she goes. But that isn't the end of the story. I can't say more without giving away spoilers, but she makes powerful enemies and finds the love of her life. There is beautiful prose here, like "I knew then we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn't be undone." But even love is complicated in this story. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the second book in this exciting series!
Sophohno 4 days ago
I pre-ordered this book months ago and was so absolutely excited to read it when it came in the mail! Elizabeth Lim has created a new fantasy world that feels both like our own and also inherently magical with ghosts and creatures and omnicient gods. Its been a long time since I read a book that had me gasping and cheering and squealing along with the story. I read this book in two days and I wish I could take a magic potion to make me forget, so I can read it for the first time all over again! I aboslutely fell in LOVE with this book. Once I read the last line, i was already itching to read Unravel the Dusk, the upcoming sequel. If you love daring adventure quests, headstrong protagonists, embroidery and magic, this is the book for you!
Anonymous 4 days ago
All I have to say is WOW. This was a phenomenal book and I couldn't put it down. It's the Mulan meets Project Runway story that I never knew I needed! I will gladly accept book 2 anytime now! The writing is wonderful and I easily lost myself in the world that Lim created. The settings and descriptions are rich and colorful, a perfect fit for a story about a tailor. The lush, Asian-inspired culture and scenery were enough to make me want to travel to the places of their origins. I absolutely adored the characters, the love story I didn't really see coming, and the bravery of the female protagonist. She's the powerful character we need to be reading more of!
HollyLovesBooks4 7 days ago
I read the blurb about this book but got much more out of it than I expected. This is a lovely, enchanting book that is a YA Fantasy and I highly recommend it. I will look for the physical copy as well. #SpinTheDawn #NetGalley
TeresaReviews 8 days ago
A huge thank you to NetGalley, Elizabeth Lim, and Random House Children's for the opportunity to read Spin the Dawn in exchange for an honest review. Like protagonist and tailor Maia Tamarin, author Elizabeth Lim stitches each word together in this book to create a beautifully embroidered masterpiece of a YA novel. While heavily inspired by Chinese culture, history, and lore--especially the Silk Road, among other inspirations--I also noticed a number of references that lean toward Japanese as well (though I do not know if that is intentional or if it is meant to be solely of Chinese pull). The draw to this book for me was not only the beautifully woven Asian culture but also the girl-dresses-as-a-guy trope, my favorite trope of all time. With a tag line like "Project Runway Meets Mulan," how can I not be interested? In A'landi, war rages with another country. Maia Tamarin loses two of her brothers, while the third returns from the war presumably never able to really walk again. After the loss of her mother, her father has never been quite the same, and Maia is the one left running their tailor shop. When a man arrives on the Emperor's behalf to invite one of the Tamarin's to be the Imperial tailor, Maia jumps at the opportunity, for surely no one can sew better than she can. But she is a woman. A woman could never hold such a fanciful position of power. Thus, Maia disguises herself as Keton, her crippled younger brother and makes her way to the palace. When she arrives, she finds eleven other tailors have been invited. It's a contest! The winner will gain the position of the job. Maia just has to keep her disguise tight and her will-power strong. When others in the contest try to sabotage her, finding a crippled young boy as no part for the job, Maia uses the special scissors her father gave her for the journey. Little does she know just how special they are! She can think an image of sewing and embroidery in her head, and the enchanted scissors bring her image to life with very little effort. While the first 30% of the novel is based in the contest to create garments for the shansen's daughter, the soon-to-be wife of the Emperor, an alliance to be built with the very ones the country was at war with, Maia loses faith when she is asked to do an impossible task: sew the light of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars into three amazingly beautiful wedding dresses. Edan, the Emperor's Imperial Enchanter, not only has discovered Maia's secret, but grows feelings for her as well. He will not allow her to take on the journey alone. The later 70% of the book follows Maia and Edan as they face trials and overcome hardships to gain these legendary magical items to sew into the garments. Mistakes are made along the way, and both Maia and Edan will pay a heavy price for them. An absolutely stunning novel, I never thought I would be so very intrigued by a book about sewing. The first 30% was definitely my favorite, though the journey to create mythical dresses pulled me into the story in a very different way. Altogether, this novel is one of those books to keep one reading late into the hours of the night (and early morning). This is a book I would love to use in my classroom for an Asian Culture book group or Mythology book group, or just to have on my shelf for students to read. While the protagonist is a bit over the YA age, it is also a coming-of-age story as Maia ventures out into the world for the first time and d
Amy Smith Carman 8 days ago
Title: Spin the Dawn Author: Elizabeth Lim Pages: 397 Release Date: July 9, 2019 Genre: Fantasy, YA Series or Stand-Alone: Book 1 of the Blood of Stars series Stars: 5 People of Color?: Yes, Chinese characters and culture LGBTQ?: No Bechdel Test: Yes Trigger Warning: No I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The book follows the main character, Maia Tamarin, whose now impoverished family once designed gowns for the elite in the capital of the empire. The war forced them to move to a small seaside village on the brink of starvation. Maia is the sole income earner of the family as she darns socks for fishermen. A representative of the Emperor shows up unexpectedly looking for her father, the once-great dressmaker. The Emperor requires his skills as a potential royal dressmaker for his soon to be bride. As only men can be professional tailors, the representative expects to bring her father or one of her brothers in his place. Shy and awkward Maia goes in his stead, disguised as a boy, She soon enters a world she is not ready for. The bride-to-be keeps issuing increasingly difficult challenges in order to postpone her wedding, Maia faces off against cut-throat tailors, and strangest of all, the court magician Edan. The final challenge requires her to travel the entire continent in search of magical material for three bridal gowns. With her family's lives at stake, she takes Edan's offer of assistance but get's much more than she bargains for! The ending left me hungry for book 2!
Anonymous 9 days ago
Anonymous 9 days ago
The author has succeeded in spinning quite a yarn! (pun intended). It was full of suspense-- I couldn't wait to finish it as quickly as possible!
Anonymous 10 days ago
Amazing!! Couldn't put it down.
abcas100 13 days ago
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, the world that was created, and the magic. It was well written and I will be reading the sequel when it comes out. Maia's father was a well respected tailor. He taught Maia all that she knows. Her wish is to be the best tailor her country has ever seen, but girls are not allowed to have a trade. They must marry and help their husbands. In recent years, her father has experienced ill heath. Most of the work is secretly being done by Maia. When a royal messenger summons her father to the court, Maia dresses as a boy and takes his place. Maia becomes one of 12 tailors competing for the position of court tailor. She must keep her true identity a secret while working around 11 other tailors, who will do anything to win. To top it all off, she meets the court magician, Edan, who seems to see right through her disguise. This book was hard to put down. The first half of the book is about the contest and all of the challenges that Maia faces. She is a wonderful character, hardworking, strong, and loyal to those that she loves. In the second part of the book. Maia and Edan go on a quest for the necessary ingredients to make the last 3 dresses in the contest. It is a very dangerous undertaking. I really liked Edan as well. He is a great character. From the ending of this book, it is clear that there will be a sequel. I will be anxiously waiting for it to come out. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
thegeekishbrunette 13 days ago
The plot for this story is unique in its own way as it combines fantastical myths and alluring magic. No other book, as far as I know, has a magical pair of scissors that create such enchanting clothes and even then, Maia doesn’t use it as a crutch because she takes pride in her own work and doesn’t want to rely on magic. Maia is a hardworker and loyal. She wants to do anything that will help her family get money besides marrying off for it. I felt for her when it came to her family but there wasn’t anything that made her unique. The relationship she stumbles into felt forced and I couldn’t get behind it. Edan was a more interesting character in the beginning but as their relationship progresses my like for him fizzled. None of the characters grasped my attention as they all felt flat. The world building was also lacking and I really wanted more. Overall, I wanted to love this book because the cover and synopsis are wonderful but it just lacked in too many areas for me. I know others will enjoy this book and I am sure its me and not the book. (I received a digital copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
Yolanda_LM 13 days ago
**4.5 stars ** Thank you to Random House Children’s and Netgalley for allowing me to read this e-arc book for an honest review. I loved it. And I wasn’t quite sure, even with the synopsis, what I was getting myself into. But the first few sentences let me know right away I was going to be taken on a magical journey and the story held to it’s promise. The writing reads like a dream. It’s very beautiful and reminds me of a fairy tale – but with a twist. Maia Tamarin’s idyllic life is torn at the seams due to unfortunate life events and to help her family she poses as a boy to compete for the chance to become the imperial tailor for the emperor. It sounds like Mulan, but with fashion involved. Here’s where things take on a Project Runway spin and yes, I used to love that show! So did I enjoy that part of the book? Oh yes! The backstabbing, the challenges, the fashion, and wondering who will be eliminated, makes for great drama. Then there is the impossible challenge which takes Maia and the imperial enchanter, Edan, on a quest. I love how Maia and Edan’s romance builds. She is not impressed by him and he helps her because he is intrigued by her but it stays that way for awhile. Edan is snarky and flirty but she doesn’t put up with it. The relationship grows deeper as they open up to one another during the quest. Yet, after the impossible becomes possible, Maia makes a choice that has consequences for both of them. I found the characters likable and memorable. Maia is strong, brave, and willful for her age. She loves hard – it’s present in her love for her family and for Edan. I hope in the second book she gets to appreciate her feminine side since throughout Spin the Dawn, she is living in a male dominated world and has to pretend be a boy. Even in her family she was surrounded by men – so I think it would be nice for her to have a female friend who knows she’s female. The only other female in this story who has a big role is Lady Sarnia, who is the emperor’s future wife. She comes off as a villain, but she is someone trapped in a man’s world also, so I hope she gets more of a spotlight in book two because there is more to learn about her. This story was filled with emotion, magic, love and epic adventure. It was more than I expected and I can’t wait for the next book.
Anonymous 13 days ago
This book blasted past every one of my expectations. The pitch of Mulan meets Project Runway is accurate but this book is so much more than that! Everything about this book was absolutely magical. The worldbuilding, steeped deeply in Chinese culture and mythology, is easily one of the most beautiful settings out there. The setting changes a few times throughout the book and Lim doesn't hesitate to write about how gorgeous each place is with fantastic prose. And considering this book revolves around tailoring, the descriptions of the clothes were just beautiful. Everything was just pretty. Maia & Edan, our main characters, were very sweet together. A lot of YA these days seems marketed towards adults in a way that makes me a little concerned for younger readers, but this romance felt like something a thirteen year old girl would be totally enchanted by. Maia is headstrong and stubborn but cares deeply for her family. Edan is your typical snarky love interest, but in no way did I ever feel like this romance was a stereotype. The lack of love triangles was a huge relief. This book goes a lot of different ways. While rooted in the original Project Runway comparison, there are so many twists and turns. Our characters go on a great journey both physically and emotionally. An isolated competition leads to a sprawling continent-wide adventure that I never would have expected just by reading the description. Much thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a digital copy of this book. It's not even out yet and I can't wait for the sequel.
Kamisha 13 days ago
When the tag line for this book says, “Project Runway meets Mulan,” add in some magical sewing scissors and they were not exaggerating! And that’s only the very beginning of this magical little story! I absolutely adored this and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairytales, girls sticking it to the patriarchy, and magic! Spin the Dawn is about a girl named Maia who dreams of being a tailor and ultimately becoming master tailor to the Emperor. The only problem is, women aren’t allowed to be tailors in the empire. When tragedy strikes her family and there are no available men to take advantage of an opportunity presented to her family, she decides to dress up as her brother and enter a contest to become the master tailor. The second part of this story is equal parts fairytale quest and blossoming romance. Maia and Edan go on a quest to hunt down the moon, sun and stars so that Maia can sew the emperor’s betrothed three magical dresses for her wedding. Their quest is full of interesting creatures, difficult choices, and a little bit of falling in love. I’m not a huge fan of romance, but I appreciated the way the romance developed in this story. It wasn’t insta-love, and it felt very sweet and believable, and didn’t take away from the plot. The only thing I had a small qualm with was that Maia and her love interest both seemed to change personalities a little bit when they fell in love. They were previously very sarcastic and quick to tease, but that witty banter kind of dropped off once their romance started. And I love me some witty banter, so that was a little bit disappointing. But other than that small aspect, I can’t think of anything about this story that didn’t keep me entertained! I loved the fairytale element, the characters and the way the magic worked. I also really enjoyed the supernatural characters that featured towards the end of the story as well. Definitely a five star read for me and I can’t wait to see where Maia goes next! Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this ARC in-exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I would like to begin this review by apologizing if everything I'm about to write is very confusing. Spin the Dawn spun my emotions to a point that left me an emotional mess. No, it did not make me cry, but its beautiful imagery, its powerful characters, and the magical storytelling threw me into a turmoil of emotions until the very last page. Now, before plunging into my review, can we simply admire the stunning cover for a few seconds? Storytelling: As I mentioned one mile-second ago, Spin the Dawn is a marvellous book. This book is so much more than Project Runaway meets Mulan. The tale spun by Elizabeth Lim is divided into two parts: while in a first part the story introduces the political intrigues at the court (this is a very fast-paced part), the second part takes the reader and Maia on a quest filled with unthinkable dangers. Throughout the pages, the story conveys soul crushing loss, shattered dreams, political intrigue and heartbreaking romance and uses these elements to build an intricate and bewitching story. As Maia sew magical and dazzling dresses with thread and needle, so did Elizabeth Lim wove an extraordinary tale with her pen. This is one of the most beautiful and unique books I read this year and I truly believe everyone needs to have it in their life. The storytelling stole my heart! Gosh, I could not be more excited about the sequel. Characters: After experiencing so much loss due to the war that ravaged the Empire, Maia finds herself taking care of her shattered family and does everything she can to keep their little shop open. One day an Imperial messenger summons her father to the palace and knowing that he would never make the journey due to illness and being grief-stricken, Maia decides to disguise herself as a boy and take her father's place in the competition for the next Imperial Tailor. I must write that I loved Maia's protection regarding her family and her will to prove that a woman could sew as better - or even better - than any man. I also loved her passion for sewing, how she worked so hard to be the very best. In the end, Maia becomes everything I could wish in the main character of a novel. She faces perilous challenges, but never gives up or bows down, even when she is forced to make choices that may endanger her own life. She is very determined and, throughout the story, she outgrows the naiveté of girl who had never left her small town - the war did steal from her those she loved, but only after facing death and evil first-hand does Maia understand the grey shades that the world is made of and becomes a strong powerful woman. Regarding the Lord Enchanter, Edan, a veil of mystery surrounded him since the first moment he was introduced in the story. As the Emperor's sorcerer, Edan has the opportunity to watch the competition for Master Tailor closely and because of such he discovers very early on Maia's secret. Nevertheless, he does not expose her. Instead, Edan keeps an eye on her and attempts to help her hide her secret from the other contenders and the man he serves. I quite appreciated his mischievous nature (it's surprising that he didn't lose it after doing going through so much) and how supportive he was of Maia, even if it meant to put himself in harms' way. He believed in her even when she did not believe in herself. Needless to say, I found these two too adorable together and I'm pretty sure that that ending shattered my heart. World Building: This Asian-inspired world crafte
CaitsBooks 13 days ago
*An ARC was provided by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.* Quick Stats Overall: 5/5 Stars Characters: 5/5 Setting: 5/5 Writing: 5/5 Plot and Themes: 5/5 Awesomeness Factor: 5/5 Review in a Nutshell: Spin The Dawn is a fun, fast paced fantasy. It was pitched to me as Mulan, Project Runway, and a hint of Aladdin, and honestly, that is the best way to describe it. "Artisans such as you are soldiers in times of war." // Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Alcoholism, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder // "'I, too, once journeyed beyond the stars' 'What did you find?' His voice turned lethally soft. 'That it's just the beginning.'" I absolutely adore the writing in this book. Elizabeth Lim has a gorgeous writing style that adds to the fairytale feeling of this book. Her prose is beautiful, but not too flowery. She describes the setting well and builds the characters and their relationships beautifully. The world itself is well built with a fascinating mythology and plenty of history interwoven into the fantasy aspects. It's the perfect mix of grounded to reality yet completely magical and fascinating. "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." Spin the Dawn is a fast-paced book. There is constant action to the point where I literally could not put it down. I tried and failed (and lost a couple of hours of sleep because of it). It’s split into parts, focusing on the competition and an epic journey. Typically, traveling in novels bores me, but despite the journey taking up a large part of the book, there was always something interesting going on, or a trial to undergo, which made the pages fly by. "'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.'" The main character, Maia, is great. She loves her job, which isn't something often emphasized in YA, and her passion is something I really admired about her. She’s also a very strong character, who is determination, loyal, and kind. I just really liked her. There was also a great emphasis on her relationship with her family. After the war ended, her family was left in pieces and I love that Elizabeth Lim didn’t shy away from the tragedy and the pain it brings. The romance aspect was really well done, and absolutely adorable while still feeling realistic and earned (definitely not a case of insta-love here, thank god). Edan, the court magician, is fascinating. He’s mysterious, powerful, and always has the best banter with Maia. I can’t wait to learn more about him! I also found myself really interested in Lady Sarnai even though I probably shouldn’t. I’m really curious about her story, and that of the Emperor, and where it will lead in the sequel. Did I mention that I’m dying for this sequel?? Because I need it. "I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably." - Conclusion - Pros- Fast paced, cute romance, fascinating world Cons- sequel please?? I really, really need it Overall- 5/5 stars. Spin the Dawn is an utterly addictive read that will captivate you and give you dreams of dresses painted with the blood of the stars. *All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change*
marongm8 13 days ago
This book was received as an ARC from Random House in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. This was such an intense YA Novel that I could not stop reading it. The adventure, the trials, and the tribulations displayed in this book were so invigorating that it was such a great book to read. Who would have never guessed that a story can be so intense just by being a tailor and seamstress competing for the ultimate job. A story filled with magic, obstacles and the ultimate reward is sure to leave the young readers at the edge of their seats wanting more. I really hope this becomes a series and I can not wait to see what happens next. We will consider adding this book to our YFantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
magicalreads7 13 days ago
**I received an ARC from the publisher. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** I've been heavily anticipating Spin the Dawn, and I was so, so excited when I was approved for an ARC! I mean, look at that cover and tell me you wouldn't be excited to read this book. I can definitely tell you that the gorgeous cover accurately captures how great this book was. Spin the Dawn is a tale of love, of magic, and of defying expectations. The prose is exquisite; I loved every moment of it. This is the first book of Lim's that I've read, and I need to read more of hers because her writing is just so lovely. I was definitely pulled in just by the prologue alone. The plot was a bit more scattered than I would have liked because it was about three different plot lines in one book, but all of them were equally thrilling and exciting. The world building was cool, although I think it could have been fleshed out a little bit more, especially considering that this is supposed to be inspired by the Silk Road. I loved the detail of the religion though; Maia and Edan embark on a quest to find the sun, the moon, and the stars to make the magical dresses of Amana.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I am still recovering from how much I adored Spin the Dawn. Even days later, my mind keeps drifting back to Lim’s magical characters and immersive fantasy world. This first entry in the Blood of the Stars series completely touched my heart and will not be a book I soon forget. Following years of grief and financial struggle, Maia Tamarin is offered the chance of a lifetime to become the imperial tailor to the emperor. Unfortunately, this opportunity comes with a catch; the imperial tailor position is only open to men. To be eligible, Maia must disguise herself as her brother. As teased in the book’s official plot overview, the initial chapters do follow a Mulan meets Project Runaway storyline (which already had me hooked). However, what makes Spin the Dawn such a standout addition to the YA fantasy genre is how the plot unfolds once Lim’s story becomes her own and the adventure really begins. My favorite aspect of Spin the Dawn, hands down, was the author’s lush, imaginative writing style used to weave this tale. Lim’s descriptions played into the reader’s five senses and truly brought each page to life, without slowing the pace. As I read through each chapter, I was transported into the world of Spin the Dawn and traveled alongside Maia on her journey to find the sun, the moon, and the stars. There were moments that really reminded me of classic Disney movies, like Aladdin, which only made this book more magical to me. Additionally, the romantic storyline completely made me swoon (forbidden love and hate-to-love are a few of my favorite tropes). However, my only critique was that the character’s emotions alternated back and forth between love and hate too quickly at times, which felt out of character (especially for Maia). That being said, I absolutely adored every second I spent in Elizabeth Lim’s mesmerizing world on this unforgettable journey. Thank goodness a sequel is already planned to continue this series!
princesslillia 13 days ago
I loved this book so much it was such an enjoyable read. I loved the characters and the story. Highly recommend to fantasy type readers. The author did a great job hopefully she writes more books like this.
tpolen 13 days ago
I've never watched Project Runway, and it's been years since I've watched Mulan. It was the stunning cover and enticing description that drew me to this book. The solid, imaginative world-building, and Chinese-inspired land are a perfect backdrop for this story. Descriptions of Maia's creations and her world are done to perfection, and the magic system is original and explained well. Maia is everything I enjoy in a main character - feisty, competitive, intelligent, stubborn. She dreams of becoming the emperor's tailor, a position only men are permitted to fill. To Maia, that's a minor setback, and she finds a way to enter the competition pitting her against eleven men who are far more experienced in the craft. I initially thought Edan would be detrimental in her quest, but he turned out to be my favorite character. Charming, intuitive, and mischievous, he's supportive from their first meeting, and has many secrets of his own. While the first half of the book is all about the competition, the second half is vastly different, with some nail-biting moments. Along with lots and lots of romance. That's not an issue for plenty of readers, but it comes close to monopolizing the last 50% of the book, and is something I didn't expect from the description. The relationship between Maia and Edan is well-portrayed, if a bit predictable, and isn't without its challenges. Spin the Dawn is a unique YA fantasy inspired by Chinese culture and mythology, and is set in a magical world, but leans heavily on more romance than I prefer - and I know I'm in the minority in that opinion! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
onemused 13 days ago
SPIN THE DAWN is an unbelievably fantastic read with some elements of a high-stakes PROJECT RUNWAY, some elements of FLAME IN THE MIST, and a whole new adventure, romance, and captivating plot. Maia is the only daughter of a tailor in a kingdom where women are wives and men can have trades. Her three older brothers have talents that have nothing to do with the tailoring trade, and so, it is unfortunate that Maia is the one with the skills, but born female. The kingdom is at war, and her brothers must go fight. Maia is left alone with her father, as her mother died when she was young. As her father is ailing, he cannot work and thus, they would starve. Maia instead takes on the work, running the shop and doing the tailoring. The war is barely ended with peace won by the emperor agreeing to marry the daughter of his rival. When the imperial tailor dies, Maia’s father is called to the imperial city to work for the emperor, based on some work Maia had done with her skill. Instead, Maia poses as her brother, Keton, and travels in his stead. Once she arrives, she enters a contest with eleven other men who will compete at difficult tasks to become the imperial tailor. The competition is high stakes with short time allotments and increasingly strange requests (much like PROJECT RUNWAY)- as well as competitors who are willing to sabotage and maybe even murder to win. Reluctantly aided by the scissors gifted to her from her father and the imperial enchanter, Edan, Maia is eager to prove herself and her skills to win the competition. However, her trials are soon to become even more difficult when the bride-to-be requests dresses of legend that would require Maia to undergo impossible tasks and face incredible odds to create them- but the alternative is too terrible to imagine. What I loved: The world and character building in the book are incredible. Maia leaps off the page, as do the many other characters that appear- her family and the people at the imperial court- they are all so beautifully crafted that they are easy to imagine. With lyrical prose, this world blooms before our eyes as Maia must compete and then accomplish the impossible. With the addition of a forbidden romance, this book completely enchanted me from start to finish. I loved it at the expense of sleep, and I have absolutely no regrets. With feminism, adventure, danger, and sacrifice, this book is simply gorgeous. The plot is unbelievably engrossing, and the writing style is simply perfect. Information is revealed in a seamless way to keep the reader engaged without bogging down any part of the story with details. With magic, myths, and romance, this book is other-worldly amazing. Final verdict: Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, and Sabaa Tahir will revel in this incredible new YA fantasy. I highly recommend for anyone of any age looking for an extraordinary read. This book builds a new world and characters who quickly intrigued me and became close to my heart- readers will not regret picking up this gorgeously lyrical and lush YA fantasy/adventure! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
TooImpureNAngel 13 days ago
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Shallow note: I was absolutely entranced by the cover. Excellent job there. The plot is a wild mash up of Mulan, Project Runway, and...Ladyhawke? Yeah, it sounds kind of bonkers but absolutely works. Disguised as her brother Maia is asked to make three impossible dresses. The character interactions were fascinating. I find myself so intrigued by Lady Sarnai.