Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Review

Good morning and welcome my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. Today, I shall be reviewing Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. This was an interesting retelling of Mulan, I really liked Maia and Edan, and the plot was really good.

Book: Spin the Dawn

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary: 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.


Quote: “Seize the wind,” I whispered. “Don’t become the kite that never flies.”

*Maia. Maia was fierce, independent, and determined to make a place for herself in a world dominated by men and I loved her. Her loyalty to her family, her strength in the face of all those who tried to end her, and the lengths to which she went to save her father’s business and become the Imperial tailor were extraordinary and I was so proud of her for that. The flashbacks that she had of her family before the war were so sad, and I missed them as much as she did.

*Edan. Edan is over 500 years old, but who cares? He still seemed to be an annoying teenager, and I loved him for him for being that obnoxious and annoying but also pretty wise guy. Him and Maia bickering and arguing was amazing, and the lengths that he went to save and protect her was so sweet. His past was also heartbreaking, and it just made me want to hug his annoying self and make everything okay.

*Lady Sarnai. We don’t get much of her, but I think she’s an awesome character. Yes, she’s the villain, yes, she’s beyond cruel, but I felt so sorry for her, especially after Maia found her crying, and I really hope that she has some sort of character arc in the next book. It would be awesome, because she also kind of challenged the patriarchy in her own way, creating terror wherever she went, and I secretly wish that she and Maia become friends.

*Book in general. I loved the plot, the world-building, and the writing. I’m not one for flowery writing, but I really liked it here. The world was beautiful, and I liked the inclusion of magic and demons, and how everything was set up (minus the scissors, more on that below). It was really interesting and new. The plot, and Maia’s quest to sew three gowns from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars was super amazing. The ending didn’t really shock me, but I’m kind of excited to see what happens in the next book.

*Mulan Retelling. This had so many elements of Mulan and I loved it. Mulan is probably my #1 favorite Disney movie, and there are a bunch of similarities between Spin the Dawn and Disney Mulan (in my opinion). Some people have said that it’s not really that similar beyond Maia dressing up as a boy, BUT, a friend of mine has pointed out that it is more similar to the original ballad and she listed the evidence in her review.


Quote: “Sometimes we must let go of what we value for the future of our country.”

*Calm down please! Maia and Edan couldn’t get their hands off of each other after ~60% and it was a bit annoying to continuously read about. I mean, I’m glad they’ve finally confessed all these feelings, and all that tension is over, but calm down a bit please??

*Magical Scissors. How the scissors work is beyond me. Maia paints with scissors, sews with the scissors, and cuts, and creates completely different things with the scissors. How? Does she cut the fabric and it stitches and paints itself in its wake? Or does she wave the scissors over it and it creates on its own? How does the scissors sew?? I’d have loved for this to be explained a bit more.

*Ending. The ending didn’t wow me, which was pretty disappointing. I didn’t really feel anything, and just continued reading, and was like “oh well, it’s over”. But I am a bit excited for the second book, so it wasn’t completely horrible. I was kind of expecting something that would hurt and rip my heart out, but it was nothing like that for me.


Quote: “You will hold the seams of our family together, Maia. No other tailor in the world can do that.”

In the end, I really liked this, I would recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it! Maia’s courage, Edan’s obnoxiousness, Lady Sarnai’s cruelty, and the plot were super great. Besides the scissors, the disappointing end, and the excess touching and kissing, this was a pretty great fantasy, and I wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters in the next book.

One sentence summary: A great fantasy with awesome characters, and a few flaws.

Overall, 4 amazing stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read Spin the Dawn? What did you think? Were you also intrigued by the great Lady Sarnai? Do you think she and Maia might somehow become friends? Did the huge age difference between Edan and Maia bother you? Am I the only one who was disappointed by that ending? Chat with me in the comments below!

The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden – Review

Welcome back friends! I hope you are having a great day! Today, I’m going to be reviewing The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden. This was an okay thriller, but I didn’t really like the characters, and I found some the twists unbelievable. I was given a free copy of this book by Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.

Book: The Victim of the System

Author: Steve Hadden

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi’s life was shattered when his parents were murdered. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn’t see a murderer but instead a boy who’s been victimized by a system that’s left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents’ unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack’s name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack’s side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones’ crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack’s dead father that could hold the key to his son’s freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack—and saving himself.

This was a disappointing book. I liked the thriller aspect and the mystery of what Nick Falzone was trying to hide, and how the pacing picked up towards the end. However, I felt that some of the characters were unrealistic, the really minor romance aspect was predictable, and some of the twists at the end were really unbelievable.

Ike Rossi is a former, yet still famous, quarterback who is currently a private investigator. He also has a secret career as a formidable boxer. I was a bit skeptical of Ike and never really warmed to him. I liked his sister and Mac a little bit, but as the story continued, they became less involved in the story. I felt like the fact that Ike is famous, and apparently one of the best PIs (so much so that he frightens the Falzones), and also a tough unbeatable boxer was unnecessary. It seemed kind of convenient for him to be this super hero guy who never backs down and always does what is right. When he meets Jack, he has an internal battle because he wants to help him, but already has a prior contract. But he ends up doing the right and honorable thing and helps Jack out.

Jack was okay, I didn’t really care about him, and I was a little annoyed by the fact that he is “special” and very smart. His aunt, Lauren, really annoyed me. She is demanding, rude, and I absolutely loathed her when she yelled at Ike for refusing to take the job, and when he left later on. She had no right to do so, especially when he had a prior commitment, and it annoyed me that her self-centered (or well, it’s more for Jack) attitude, and little speech about “real commitment” was one of the reasons why Ike took the case. I really hated her character. The tiny romance aspect between Ike and Lauren did not help matters at all. It could have been eliminated, and the story would have been fine.

The Falzones were interesting, and I kind of liked Shannon. The dynamics between the two halves of the family and the increasing tension added to the suspense and intrigue.

The ending was okay, however, some of the twists thrown in did not make sense at all and they weren’t fully explained. The ending was going really great until those twists happened.

In the end, this was a meh thriller with disappointing characters, and some unbelievable twists.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

You can read a much more positive review here before deciding! Have you read The Victim of the System? What did you think? What was the last thriller that you read? Chat with me in the comments below!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – Review

Hello, my dear fellow bookworms! How are you all doing? Today, I’m going to be reviewing one of my new favorite books, A Man Called Over by Fredrik Backman. This was a sad, but also hilarious read, and I’m so excited to try the rest of Backman’s books.

Book: A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman

Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.


Quote: “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”

*Ove. He’s grumpy, he’s temperamental, he’s cranky, and he has rigid routines that can not be broken or discarded so simply. He is up at 5:45 in the morning, and you had better not turn on the lights or the radiators, lest you get a sharp telling off, or you might find yourself flung out into the snow. He is also blunt, has strict principles, and if you do not drive a Saab, or God forbid, if you drive one of those foreign cars, then you should do everything in your ability to steer very far and clear of him. But Ove is also heartbroken, he’s lonely, he’s sad. His wife has passed on, leaving him to continue in the world alone. Everyone sees a grumpy and cranky old man, but in reality, he hides behind this facade while he grieves and misses his wife terribly on the inside. As they said in the book: “But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.”

*Parvaneh and co. They were the right dose of lightness and hilarity that was needed in this heartbreak of a book. I loved how similar Parvaneh and Ove’s tempers were, and it was fun reading about them screaming back and forth at each other, before Ove grumbled and gave in. He reminded me of a little kid in those moments, and Parvaneh of an annoyed mother (which she is). I also loved how he got to know his neighbors as time went on, and he became more involved in the community. It was so sweet and made me feel so warm and happy, especially when they became like one big family by the end of the book.

*Ove’s past and Sonja. The chapters in which they talked about how Ove grew up, and then when he met Sonja were the hardest, and saddest to read. Ove lost so much early on in his life, but it helped give him a set of principles that he still abides by to this day. I really wanted to hug him, and apologize to him for the cruelty of the world. And then he met Sonja. The way he talked about her, the way she loved him even with his stiffness, and grumpiness was so sweet. They were two very different people, but they were also super compatible in a way. When she died, Ove lost something again, and was left alone, as he’d been when he was a child. These were truly the saddest and most painful chapters. Sonja came bursting into his life with all her color, her laughter, her energy, and her sunshine, and then, she was gone. Leaving him to continue life without her. Something that he didn’t want to do. “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was his color. All the color he had.”

*Suicide. At the beginning of the book, Ove is determined to die, so that he can join his wife and leave the misery and the hollowness behind. But each time, his attempts are foiled, and to his great chagrin, he continues to live. And from that, his relationship with his neighbors blossoms, until he doesn’t attempt to die anymore. He now has a purpose, a reason to keep going, and I liked that it was his newfound “family” that made him stop and continue to live his life.


Quote: “For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

*Age. Ove is 59. Fifty-nine. I find that really really hard to believe. It is the first sentence in the book, yet by the end of the chapter, I’d already forgotten how old he was, and I assumed that he was in his 70s, close to his 80s. Definitely not 59. I feel like that’s really far-fetched, and not plausible at all.


Quote: “And Ove realised that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.”

I really loved this, I would recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it! I loved the characters, the found-family aspect, and how Ove became such a loving person, despite his outward grumpiness and strict rules. I don’t believe his age to be 59, but that isn’t a big deal for me.

One sentence summary: A heartbreaking, yet funny book with beautiful characters.

Overall, 5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read A Man Called Ove? What did you think? Have you read any other book by Fredrik Backman? What was the last book that made you cry? Chat with me in the comments below!

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee – Review

Good morning! I hope you are having a great day. I am so so behind on reviews (I read this book in August!!) but I’m trying very hard to catch up. Today’s review is of one of my most anticipated releases for 2019, The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee. This was a spectacular historical fiction novel that touches on a lot of important topics from the 1800’s of the Southern US.

Book: The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee

Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.


*Jo Kuan. I loved Jo for her wit, for her outspoken attitude, and because of her love for her friends and family. By day, she is a maid for a cruel and rich society belle, and by night she writes an unconventional column that tackles issues of race and gender equality. Her form of feminism, her way of challenging society’s ideals, was amazing, and I loved how she spoke for all women, and all races, rather than just a certain group of women, like the suffragist group in this story did. Also, she and Nathan were funny and cute.

*Reconstruction Era Georgia. I love love love love love historical fiction and I love historical fiction that is set in the Victorian Era, or the 1800s the most. This is one of the rare times that I’ve read a book set in this time period in the good old American South. And I loved it. The rising tensions, the segregation/racial issues, and the general change that was happening in the South during that time period is really interesting, and reading about a strong female character trying to change society’s mindset and trying to survive the growing tensions is something that I am absolutely here for. I think all the issues were handled beautifully in this book.

*Friends and family. The support of Jo’s friends and family made the story so whole. Noemi was so much fun, and I loved how she was just as outspoken and strong as Jo. She was an amazing friend, and always managed to make me smile. Old Gin was an interesting character, and I loved his small bits of advice, and the special bond that he had with Jo. I also loved how he always put Jo first, and Jo also did the same. Nathan was adorable (I don’t know why, I just thought he was super cute??) and the slow tentative relationship that he and Jo formed was so so sweet. Even Caroline, who was beyond rude and cruel, had her moments, and I really hoped that she and Jo could eventually become friends. Honestly, all the side characters in the book were so interesting and amazing.

*Horses. I also liked the small horses aspect in the story, and that ending with the race was the best.


*Nothing. I loved this book from beginning to end.


In the end, I really loved this, I would recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it! The main character was strong and independent, the side characters were diverse and amazing, and the plot tackled many important issues that were relevant in Jo’s time, and some that are still relevant today. I also loved the family and friendship dynamic between the characters, and it made the story more whole and sweet.

One sentence summary: An interesting historical fiction novel with amazing characters and diverse topics.

Overall, 5 stars!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

That’s it for this review! Have you read The Downstairs Girl? What did you think? Did you find Nathan weirdly adorable as well? Have you read any amazing historical fiction novels this year? What was one of your most anticipated books for 2019? Chat with me in the comments!

Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2019 ft. a 200 follower Q&A form

Hey hey hey!!!! Welcome back dear bookworms! Today I’ll be sharing with you my wrap up post for September 2019!! how is it almost the end of 2019 already??? how?? where did the year go?

So September was…I guess, a kind of good month? More meh than good, but still kind of good. I think I’ve gotten used to classes and blogging, and that’s great! But I didn’t write that many reviews, wasn’t that super active in the community, and I only read 6 books. Let’s take a deeper look below!

Books:

Covers are from Goodreads

So I read 6 books, which is better than the 5 books I read in August but not by much. I am now helplessly behind on my GR challenge, and I’m so disappointed. I’m actually contemplating doing my first monthly TBR so that maybe I’d read more if I had a schedule, or an idea of books that I can read. Let me know if you’d like to see that!!

I am also behind on reviews from August, so I’m hoping to catch up on those this month (October)!


Read This Month:

Key: * = Book for review | ^ = Review to come

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich // Rating: ★★1/2 One sentence summary:  An easy and humorous mystery, with okay characters.

*Against Their Will by Carolyn Courtney Lauman // Rating: ★★★★☆ One sentence summary: This was an incredible fast-paced debut, with great characters, and a captivating plot.

^A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman // Rating: ★★★★★ One sentence summary: A heartwarming story with beautiful friendships and a sweet grumpy man.

^Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim // Rating: ★★★★☆ One sentence summary: An interesting Mulan-inspired adventure in a world of magic with a determined heroine.

^Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco // Rating: ★★★1/2 One sentence summary: An okay mystery with a strong and complex heroine and amazing side characters.

^With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo // Rating: ★★★★★ One sentence summary: A sweet and uplifting story about family, friendship, food, and community.


Reviews completed (read in August):

Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong / The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling


Total Number of Books Read This Month: 6

Total number of reviews: 4

Tags:

I did 2 tags, which is pretty low. But! I have a list of tags that I want to do, so maybe you will not see more of them this month!!

The Netflix Book Tag (Thank you so much Siobhan!)

Sunshine Blogger Award #2 (Thank you so much Kiera!)

Discussion Posts:

Let’s Talk Bookish – When An Author Has Gone Too Far

Let’s Talk Bookish – Is it bad if you don’t finish reading a book?

Let’s Talk Bookish – Should There Be A Standard for Book Reviews?

Let’s Talk Bookish – Things You Wish You Could Ask Other or More Experienced Bloggers

Great Posts From Around the Blog-O-Sphere:

50 Bookish Questions tag by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads (Guys. FIFTY questions. Grab a cup and go have a seat, because it was so nice reading all of Meeghan’s answers!)

Bookending Autumn 2019: ANNOUNCEMENT by Sam @ Fictionally Sam (I’m so excited to be taking part this October!! Be sure to check out Sam’s post to learn more about it!)

Hard Truths I’ve Learned About Book Blogging (& a few ways to cope with them) by Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea (This is an awesome discussion post written by the amazing Caitlin, and I’m sure we’ve all related to some of her points at least once or twice before.)

Do Contemporary Novels Ever Become Outdated? by Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall (I really loved this seriously in depth discussion by Kelly on contemporary novels.)

Anything Else?

I changed my blog’s design…again!! I actually had my previous design for almost 6 months which is amazing. I wonder how long this one is going to last, and I really hope I keep it for much longer.

My stats were pretty high in September, and I’m so happy and thankful to all of you who came over and read whatever I had to say!! Also, I’m kind of close to reaching 200 followers, and after being inspired by Caitlin’s post, I’m going to host a Q&A about me/blog when I also hit 200! (It was not intentional lol!! I just felt like my letter that I wrote last time wasn’t much, and I wanted to do something more fun, and I’d seen the idea of a Q&A somewhere else, and then I saw Caitlin’s post that she did earlier this year, and it seemed like a fun way to say thank you, so here we are!)

Thank you to everyone who is following me, and if you’d like, you can fill out the form below to ask me your question, and to give me feedback about my blog!! I would really appreciate it 💚

That’s A Wrap!

That’s it for this month. In total, I read 6 books, did 4 reviews, 2 books tags, and wrote 4 discussion posts (YAY!! Honestly, can you believe that I shied away from writing discussions before??). 2 of the books I read were 4 stars, and another 2 were 5 stars so that is great! However, I am still behind, by 10 books, on my reading challenge.

For October, I hope to read maybe 8 books, catch up on 5 reviews, and try to do maybe 4 or 5 BE Autumn posts. At the very least, I’m going to do 3.

And that’s it for this wrap-up! How was September for you? Did you get as much reading as you wanted done? Are you behind or ahead on your reading goal? Will you be taking part in Bookending Autumn? Should I do a monthly TBR post? Anything you’d like to share? Let’s chat in the comments below!