AHHHHH. Do you hear me screaming? This is the second blog tour hosted by Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea through Caffeine Book Tours that I’ve joined. I’m so thankful to her for selecting me to participate in the international blog tour for Spin the Dawn, one of my top anticipated releases of 2019.
On this #SpinTheDawnTour stop, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite quotes from the book, my review, and then an excerpt from the actual thing! Let me tell you that you don’t want to miss anything because spoiler alert: I LOVED THIS BOOK.
Favorite Quotes from Spin the Dawn
(taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change)
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.My chances of resisting reading my arc in advance were reduced to 0 after I read this opening line.
Seize the wind. Don’t become the kite that never flies.The perfect inspirational quote!
‘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.‘Don’t you just love banter between your OTP? Also, Edan is me.
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.The bond Maia shares with her brothers makes me want to cry. Just read the book and you’ll understand. Plus, don’t you want to know how Maia accomplished these feats??
I received a free e-arc for my participation in the blog tour via Netgalley.
I picked my e-arc of Spin the Dawn up while I was currently reading three other books. Having more than three books on your currently reading shelf may seem normal to all you chaotic people, but it isn’t for me. Ideally, I split my focus between two books–max. But I just had the urge to read the first few paragraphs of this book, and let me tell you that it was the biggest mistake (or maybe best decision?) I’ve ever made in my life.
From the start, the writing is absolutely gorgeous. It sucked me in and never let me go. I don’t think anything I can say will do this book’s writing justice, but just imagine the way fairy tales are told, but with a YA book spin to it. I will share the first chapter later in this post so that you may better understand what I’m talking about.
You’ve probably seen a main character like Maia Tamarin as the protagonist of a fairy tale–hardworking and extremely loyal to her family, but unfairly overlooked for one reason or another. In this case, Maia is a highly skilled tailor, better than most men–certainly better than her brothers–but she’s told over and over that she won’t find success in her abilities as a tailor because she’s a girl. All of this made her such a compelling character to root for. She’s more a quiet force, true to her name meaning obedient, but she’s a force nonetheless, and that makes her a stand-out main character of 2019.
Besides that, the way the relationship between her and her family is built, especially with her brothers, is so well-done that I would actually die for the Tamarins. In the first chapter (which, again, I will share later in this post), Maia talks about her brothers–their most notable qualities and what each of them taught her, and it’s seriously one of my favorite first chapters ever. All of this made seeing the state of this family in the book’s beginning all the more heartbreaking.
I am a sucker for competitions in books, so of course that aspect of Spin the Dawn immediately appealed to me. I love fictional tournaments because we get to meet a variety of personalities competing in them, and it’s so fun to figure out what characters are to be reckoned with, who’s just a bully, and who the main character can actually trust. Doubtless, these character archetypes appear in the competition to become the imperial tailor.
Not only that, but because we accompany Maia to court, we’re introduced to a political intrigue plot line. The Five Winters’ war, a war between Emperor Khanujin and the shansen, has come to an uneasy ceasefire, and Lady Sarnai, daughter of the shansen, is residing in the palace in preparation to marry Emperior Khanujin. There’s definitely more going on there than meets the eye, and I loved getting to meet Lady Sarnai and Emperor Khanujin so that we could learn more about their arranged marriage.
The competition arc did end halfway through, but I didn’t find it jarring at all. The author carefully guided her story from a competition between the best tailors in the land, to Maia and the lord enchanter Edan’s journey to capture the goddess Amana’s children. However, the fairy tale quality of the writing diminished a little during this part of the story. The writing and plot started to resemble your more typical YA quest story, but not to an extreme degree, and it didn’t bother me too much.
The romantic relationship between Maia and Edan follows the trope of a teenage girl and a centuries old magical being falling in love. Though I don’t automatically hate books that feature this trope, I can’t say that I love reading about these kinds of relationships. But I completely understand that your mileage may vary! One actual complaint I do have about Maia and Edan’s romance is that one moment, Edan was suppressing his feelings for Maia due to some very valid reasons about why they couldn’t be together, and then the next, he simply decided that he was gonna court her? Their relationship could’ve used some more development.
But I will admit that their romance still appealed to me despite my quibbles. I mean, who isn’t a trash for star-crossed lovers? The story throws so many obstacles in between Maia and Edan finally being able to be happy together, and that made the moments between them all the more special. Yes, even though the romance had its flaws, it still managed to appeal to my cold dead heart, so the point goes to this book I guess.
The land of A’landi is inspired by Asia, but I wouldn’t say that it’s overly Asian-inspired. It just has a few nods to Asia, but otherwise, A’landi and its neighboring countries have their own culture and customs that I loved learning about. But for more context, here is a quote from Vicky’s interview with Elizabeth Lim, “I often worried that it wasn’t Chinese enough or that I wasn’t researching or staying true enough to history. But as I relaxed a bit and reminded myself that it’s a fantasy and not a textbook, it became fun to create a world so personal to me, and one imbued with hints of some of my favorite fairytales!” I have definitely felt this myself with my own writing, and I don’t support this Asian-inspired fantasy critiques about this book “not being Asian enough.”
If you’re looking for a magic system with its rules and limits well-defined, then I wouldn’t say that this book is for you. Magic mainly ties into this story through a pair of enchanted scissors and Edan being the lord enchanter. The magic is akin to one you would find within a fairy tale. It can conjure food out of nothing, create illusions, and many more. Normally this type of magic system isn’t my favorite, but I loved the story’s nods to fairy tales so much that I just forgave it.
Overall, I hope I made it clear that I loved Spin the Dawn. It definitely isn’t a perfect book, but the writing, especially in the first half, was spectacular and made me gasp at the author’s skill with words. I originally rated this book four stars, but writing this review convinced me to bump it up a half star higher. So if you like fairy tales and are looking for something with amazing writing, look no further. I couldn’t recommend this book enough!
The Verdict: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.5
The Excerpt! a.k.a Feed Your Eyes on the Goodness of This Book’s Writing
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.
July 01 (Monday)
- Blog tour launch (from Shut up, Shealea)
July 02 (Tuesday)
- Review, creative feature post, and aesthetics/moodboard from Book Freak Revelations
- Review from Happy Indulgence Books
- Review from READING (AS)(I)AN AMERICA
- Review, creative photos, excerpt and favorite quotes from Snow White Hates Apples
- Review and creative photos from Star is All Booked Up
July 03 (Wednesday)
- Review, favorite quotes, and own playlist from BookwyrmBites
- Review and aesthetics/moodboard from Holed Up In A Book
- Review and aesthetics/moodboard from Librae Paints Pages
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative feature post, excerpt and favorite quotes from mybookcastle
- Review, own art, and own quote graphics from The Sparrow’s Perch
July 04 (Thursday)
- Review, creative photos, excerpt and own graphics from Artsy Draft
- Review, excerpt and favorite quotes from Caitlin Althea
- Review from Literaery Adventures
- Review and favorite quotes from Moonlight Pages
- Review and aesthetics/moodboard from Read By Tiffany
July 05 (Friday)
- Review, creative feature post, and own quote graphics from Beyond Secret Pages
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative feature post, and own quote graphics from Crowing About Books
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative photos, and own quote graphics from Lyrical Reads
- Review, creative photos, excerpt, and own quote graphics from String of Pages
- Review and own quote graphics from Utopia State of Mind
July 06 (Saturday)
- Review, creative photos, and own quote graphics from Hana Book Review
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative feature post, and own quote graphics from Phantom Paper
- Review, excerpt, favorite quotes, and own art from R E A (D) I V I N E
- Review, creative feature post, and creative photos from Unputdownable Books
- Review from Wavy Pages
July 07 (Sunday)
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative photos, and favorite quotes from Forever and Everly
- Review and creative photos from The Quiet Pond
- Review and own art from Read at Midnight
- Review, own art, and own quote graphics from The Ultimate Fangirl
- Review, aesthetics/moodboard, creative feature post, creative photos, and favorite quotes from Your Tita Kate
- #CBTTC Twitter chat hosted by @CaffeineTours
- 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- 9:00 PM Philippine Time
Title: Spin the Dawn
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09 July 2019
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.
Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.