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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Overview

"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 proof that casting a wider net not only gives us a fresh story that feels unlike everything else on the shelves beside it but also allows for richer and more nuanced storytelling." —NPR

“All the cutthroat competition of a runway fashion reality show and the thrilling exploits of an epic quest… a stunning tapestry of adventure." —The Washington Post

"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: 9780525647010
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Series: Blood of Stars Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 21,565
Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
File size: 4 MB
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 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
probably+a+new+favorite%2C+this+was+everything+my+book+loving+heart+was+craving%21
Anonymous 6 months 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.
taramichelle 10 days ago
Spin the Dawn was a good start to what promises to be an enchanting series. Lim's debut novel is unique, with a wonderful mythology and intriguing characters. I loved seeing how Maia grew into her own over the course of the book. Plus I adored the competition between the tailors and how it all played out. The first half of the book was incredibly strong. The relationships between characters were well developed, there was political intrigue galore, and just enough magic to make me really curious about what would happen next. However, I thought the second half of the book was a bit rocky. The reasons why are a bit spoiler-y though (but I'll try to keep this as vague as possible) For example, Maia is faced with all of these impossible challenges that nobody has ever successfully attempted before. And she completes them all successfully in a few pages each. There wasn't any tension for me during this part of the book because it felt like there wasn't any chance she'd fail. It did pick up again toward the end and I actually loved the direction it ended up taking. There was just that bit in the middle that really didn't work for me. I'll definitely be continuing this series! I loved the romance, the mythology, and the world-building. The characters felt so realistic and I'm excited to see how some of the choices they made in this book play out. If you're looking for a unique YA fantasy, I'd definitely consider picking this one up. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
lostinagoodbook 3 months ago
Billed as “Project Runway meets Mulan”, this book is certainly original and lives up to that description surprisingly well. The main character, Maia, is a phenomenal tailor, who unfortunately lives in a strictly patriarchal society. She finds an opportunity to disguise herself as a boy, and enter into a competition to become the most prestigious tailor in the kingdom. Her skills are so good she has it in the bag. Except for the treacherous people she is competing against, the strange royal couple with their increasingly ridiculous demands and that strange magician in the court, Edan, who seems to see through all of Maia’s tricks. What follows is an epic YA fantasy romance story with an imaginative magic system and a cute love story. Their attraction is believable, which is not always true in YA. If you like needlework, sewing, crafting (as I do) then this book provides additional interest as her magic is wound up with her ability to produce magical garments. This book is a nice, easy to read introduction to this world and new series. I think a fan of YA fantasy will enjoy it. Song for this book: I Will Be There – Odessa Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
Kayladeej 3 months ago
Can I just say this first...That cover! It is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. The plot was interesting but a little flat, and the characters put smiles on my face. Overall, it was an interesting read and held my attention until the end. I just wasn't a fan of the writer's style.
Cyn_Ayala23 4 months ago
What an excellent novel. The publisher description labeled this novel as “Project Runway meets Mulan,” which already makes the novel interesting, especially when one thinks about these two concepts individually. Designing clothes, even though it seems to be a male-dominated enterprise, is often regarded as a more feminine concept. So that fact that this novel has Maia disguise herself as a man to enter a tailoring contest is already quite intriguing. It takes reality and constricts it into this mold that determines the worth of a woman in this world that Lim has created. However, that is only one aspect of the novel that Lim has created as she goes from realism to the magical. Lim slowly incorporates the mysticism and magic into the tale as she goes into the storytelling. Maia has a pair of magic tailoring scissors that help her create beautiful things. However, Maia does not trust magic. The war and loss she has suffered have disillusioned her, and her beliefs make it seem as though magic is wrong. However, then it becomes the one thing that could save her. It is an interesting take that takes her on a journey through the world. It is an eye-opening journey that lends itself to fantastic character development on Maia’s part. Maia goes from thinking the world operates in one way, to find a way to live in it in another way. Edan, the court enchanter, also opens her mind in various ways. He has been alive for centuries and has seen the world and the way it changes, offering up a new perspective to the world. It brings history to the tale, history that has been long forgotten and adds numerous layers to the story as it goes from a story about a girl entering a tailoring contest to a quest to create magical dresses. Maia is not a complex character, but the level of depth from her narrative is compelling. She has the voice to carry the novel as she embarks on this journey to create these magical dresses, and each dress, each element brings about something different about herself that she must learn and face. These trials challenge her; they challenge her mind, body, and soul, and open different aspects of herself Maia did not know she had. It is a riveting journey that she goes on and her dynamics with Edan. They make such a great team, and Edan is such an enigmatic character. The way he moves and elevates the mystical part of the story perfectly balances out Maia’s realism. Overall, it is quite an enjoyable novel. The magic that elevates the story and the way Lim intermingles aspects readers are familiar with make the story engaging. The whole story is a journey not just for the characters but for the reader as well.
geni91782 4 months ago
First, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. In a land where women can only dream of a good marriage, one girl dares to strive for her dream job as the imperial tailor for the emperor. This story follows Maia, a girl who learned how to sew before she learned how to walk. Maia has dreamed of leaving her small town and sewing for royalty, but, unfortunately, to be the imperial tailor in her country, you must be a man. But then, an opportunity for not only her dream job but to save her family from the poorhouse presents itself and Maia decides to do something incredibly risky: pose as a boy to try and win. Little does she realize that, in chasing her dream, she may find a new one. Y’all, this book was incredible! The prologue sucked me in and I found myself tearing through this book as fast as my hectic moving schedule would let me. Which wasn’t fast enough for my taste! I honestly wanted to be reading this at all moments of the day and, when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. Beyond the plot being incredibly interesting and engrossing, I found myself falling in love with the characters. Maia is young and naive, but so strong and driven. I found myself rooting for her in every step of her journey. I even didn’t mind the romance in this book, which felt natural, though I do wish more time had been spent in the beginning stages to set it up. Eventually, I was completely rooting for the two lovebirds! I think the only think that I would have wanted beyond that is more time spent in Part One, where Maia is competing with other tailors to win the place of imperial tailor. It just felt a bit rushed to me, whereas the subsequent sections felt more fleshed out. And I wanted to hear more details about all the designs! Seriously, though, if you’re looking for an atmospheric YA fantasy with magic, a strong female lead, and some romance, I would highly recommend you pick this book up! It is the beginning of a series, but it’s a series I think you will be as eager to continue as I am!
Bookyogi 4 months ago
Thank you Owlcrate for including this imaginative story in your July box. I don’t know if I would have read it so quickly otherwise. The world building is exceptional making it easy to imagine each scene. Maia is a strong and interesting character and Edan and new character to love. The folklore is seamlessly woven into the story giving it even further depth. I anxiously await book two.
FadedPages 4 months ago
5/5 stars I loved this beautifully written fantasy that will easily be my favorite retelling of the year! I honestly wasn't prepared for how much I loved this one and it may be because it had a bit of several genres within the story. Synopsis Maia longs to follow in her father's footsteps as a tailor in the emperor's court, however she's a girl. When a summons arrives for her ailing father to be a court's tailor, Maia takes his place to gain the position in hopes of supporting her family. However, she discovers she must compete in a contest as one of twelve applicants. If that's not enough, the final challenge is impossible and will require her to journey to find the makings of three magical dresses. Pacing and Points of View The overall pacing was fast and consisted of Maia's entire point of view. I fell headfirst into the beautiful writing style and didn't surface to the real world for awhile. Characters and World Building The world in this story was beautifully built and had an otherworldly feel to it. I could see the scenery, costumes and landscapes in my head so easily. I would love for this to become a movie one day just to be able to get one glimpse of the magic! Speaking of magic, Maia and Edan's characters were so much fun to read and I love them so much! It was nice to see a different kind of strong female. One that didn't have to prove her strength with physical actions or fighting, but with good deeds and caring for her family. The scenes between Maia and her family or Edan were my absolute favorite scenes! The teasing, chemistry and wondering who's side certain characters were on kept me guessing and reading every page. I'm so glad this story will have a sequel so we can explore more of these characters different sides! Overall Overall, I really loved the first book in this new duology that was packed full of fantasy, beautiful world building, gorgeous writing and Chinese mythology. I cannot wait to read the sequel and anything this author writes in the future! I'm so grateful that I was granted an advanced NetGalley copy. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Children's for allowing me the opportunity to read this amazing digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Sara Kiplinger 4 months ago
This was a great adventure/romance/fantasy read. The description says Project Runway meets Mulan and that is what it is! (Throw a bit of Aladdin in there also) There are so many fantasies out there in the YA world and sometimes I feel like they are all too similar, but this was very different. The main character enters a contest to become the Emperor's master tailor and has to pose as a male because females are not allowed to have these kinds of positions. She is given an (almost) impossible challenge and goes on a mission with the help of an Enchanter. I read this quickly and found myself wanting to go to bed at night to read more. That's always a good sign! I will definitely be putting this in the hands of my high school students!
Gabrielle Hyde 4 months ago
I received an E-ARC of this book from Random House Children's through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions on this novel are my own. WOW! This book had exceeded all of my expectations and surpassed ones that I didn't even think of going into this novel. This is the beginning of a series that follows a young woman named Maia. Maia is the best tailor in the entire country, but no one can respect her for the fact that she is a woman doing a man's job. When her father is called in to come to the Emperor's palace to make a dress for the Emperor's bride, Maia decides to pose as her brother in order to do the job for him. In this "Mulan" meets "Project Runway" urban fantasy, Maia must do everything she can to protect her identity, or she risks more than just losing a pair of needle. This novel was way more than I expected to be. The synopsis of the story leads one to believe that the reader will be following the competition and nothing more. I would have been fine to know just that, but this book went so much further than the competition. The politics of the story play more into the plot than I expected, and it only furthered my love for the complexity of the world and the story itself. I lost all expectations for how the story would end, and I was left on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. There is an incredibly slow-burn romance in the story, and I LOVED IT! The romance did not distract from the novel because of the slow burn, and it even intensified the political aspects greatly when the love interest is truly revealed for who they are and what they can become. I found that the love interest was also incredibly developed and thought out, and he had such depth to him that I was genuinely surprised at many points to see the things that he is able to do for himself and for Maia. He was one of the best love interests that I have to seen to date. The world was fascinating as well. It was clearly Asian inspired, but has vast dynamics to it. Everything in the world had variance, which I found interesting and more compelling. Many fantasy-based worlds are one-dimensional, but the one the Elizabeth Lim created was both three-dimensional in terms of the geography and the history within the world, religiously and culturally. I found no flaws in the execution of this novel. It truly felt like a labor of love and the result is this awe-inspiring story that has left me begging for the next one to come out sooner. Rating: 5/5 stars
Ana111 4 months ago
Spin the Dawn is a lush, vivid fantasy novel that follows the story of Maia, a tailor. Maia pretends to be her brother so that she may compete to be the royal tailor, hence the Mulan meets Project runway comparison. The premise of this book is so original, I couldn't wait to read. The mythology of the world in Spin the Dawn is one of the most interesting, well-thought-out parts of the story, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops in the sequel. The only thing that didn't vibe with me was the amount of exposition -- at times, it kept me from being fully immersed in the story and kept me from feeling close with the characters. Overall, Spin the Dawn was an enjoyable read, and I'll definitely be recommending it to my customers.
Brooke Allen 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 6 months 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 6 months ago
Amazing!! Couldn't put it down.
abcas100 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.