Spin the Dawn

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This book was an automatic approval for work (I work at a bookstore). It did not mesh with my reading tastes, but I think there is definitely a market for this kind of book! Those who like teen fantasy and/or teen sci-fi might really enjoy it!
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**For more reviews visit me at https://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/

Legitimately, the best way to describe this book is Mulan meets project runway with a dash of magic added for flavor. Who ever came up with that is spot on, I can't even imagine a better way to sum this story up. Using skill and potentially magic to create outfits that should not even exist was so cool to see, I loved the cut throat nature of the competition and see the creations come together. It doesn't hurt to have a pair of magic scissors though...

But that is only the first part of the book, the second is best described as an adventure quest, which kinda sorta reminded me of the quest and side tasks that makes up the East of The Wind, West of the Sun fairytale. (there may be a Chinese equivalent of that tale but I am unaware of it). I love love love that story, but I will admit that I wanted the first part to go on longer because it was such a cool unique idea and I ate it up. The adventure quest was interesting, but very familiar, with a girl being sent on a task where she meets people along the way, some help some hinder.

The story had a LOT of complexities and so many moving pieces, at times I was almost uncertain of who to root for (besides Maia) because everyone else had some sort of ulterior motive or master who controlled them. The story was a mix of magic, hidden identity, court politics, spies, a dangerous competition, war, lies, questing, epic wonderful heartbreaking romance, scary demons, curses... and probably more that I am just not thinking of now. This was a very enjoyable read that I was not completely expecting and I need the next book to see how everything will play out.
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This was such an awesome beginning to this series, and an even better debut!!! Absolutely loved the characters, the world, the spins, and the plot!!! Could not recommend it enough.
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I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. I was not sure how I would feel about this book when I first started to read it, but it just pulled me in and I had to read it all in one setting. I felt like I was right there along with Maia on her journey to become the royal trailor. Those three legendary dresses had me intrigued. The materials they were made out were impressive as well. The world was so detailed I had not issues picturing it all in my head. The love story did come off a little forced and pushy at the beginning but I found that it did develop the more the story went on. It was a very magical adventure and well done debut novel.
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Excellent book that is horribly underserved by it's description as Project Runway meets Mulan. Like there is SO LITTLE there to compare it to those two things and in the best way! I loved that this book would have been a satisfying cute ending halfway through but THEN we get to the meat, the true character change, the good quest! I think the book was great but I think especially the second half was fantastic. I. Also very pleased with the ending and where it's allowing this series to go. Definitely looking forward to continuing this one
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Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of  Knopf. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

Buddy Read with the all powerful and magical Rendz from Reading With Rendz! Make sure to check her out!
Well, a buddy read that wasn't a complete and utter mess and actually brought some major enjoyment??? I'm taking this for a win. In the past, when buddy reading with the wonderful Rendz, I am been a bit of a party pooper - I mean, I one crowned those books so hard - so I was a bit scared for this one. A bit of luck and a name drop of two things I love - Mulan and Project Runway - was on my side, and there was enjoyment to be had! 

The thing that I loved the most about this book was the world. I was in deep with this magical world, and I loved how lush and intriguing it was. It was steeped in magic, and it was totally immersive. The author created such an interesting atmosphere, and it was wholly complex and dynamic. There was a mix of historical vibes along with intricate magic systems and gods. I really enjoyed it, and both Rendz and I fully agreed on this one. 

The characters were great as well. Rendz and I both really loved Maia. She was a great narrator, and she totally kicked so much butt. I loved how much she wanted to make a name for herself, and really cared so deeply for what she believed in. Rendz coined Edan a "tragic magic boy but also very charming" and honestly that is the best way to describe him. He's totally the cliche tragic magic boy, but he certainly had charm to him. Other characters were intriguing as well. Perhaps not as dynamic, but still good enough to be in the background. 

The plot was interesting. Both Rendz and I agreed that the Mulan and Project Runway selling point really was so so accurate. The first part of the novel took me back to the wonderful PR days, and it was a shame there wasn't a Tim Gunn telling people to make it work. The second part of the novel was quite as exciting for me, but it did have some intriguing moments. The plot twist at the end totally got me and Rendz, and we are super eager to see what will happen in the second novel. 

The writing was pretty good. Both Rendz and I totally marveled at just how much the mini excerpt that begins the story comes back into play. That is a perfect addition to the story and was really crafted brilliantly. I did like Lim's writing for the most part. The biggest issue that I had with the story was the pacing. I felt like the beginning of the story was so so so much fun with the competitions and everything, but I felt like it started to stall about 50% in. It just slowed down a bit for me, and I felt like it had a lot to go through before it picked back up at the end. 

The romance was cute. Both Rendz and I admired the banter that was between. I felt like it might have gotten a little too cliche and cheesy at points, but it was good enough.

Overall, this was a really intriguing read with a brilliant world and great characters. The pacing was the ultimate downfall for me, since I did get a bit bored in the middle despite everything that it had going for it. Definitely lives up to its selling points, for sure. 

rating: Jasmine because I think I messed a bit of the hype on this one
representation: Asian setting/main characters
content warnings: n/a
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I absolutely loved this book!! I read this book in three sittings. It has everything I could want; adventure, romance, danger, you name it! It was well written in my opinion. I am very excited for the sequel.
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This was a fun and exciting book. It starts as a mix of Mulan and Project Runway in that you have a woman dressing as a man in order to replace her father in a tailor competition. Some readers may be annoyed by how silly the Project Runway part is, complete with unusual material challenge and not at all fitting the time period. However, about halfway through, the book shifts to a traditional three quest story line (sun, moon, stars) with the tailor and not the purposed groom doing the quest, and the love interest takes a bigger part. Despite this being what one might call, a rather hard transition, I think this part allowed for more character development and world development as well as set up more of the long-term politics and conflicts. The love interest’s “secret” as you will is easily guessable for anyone who has read even a few fantasy books before, but that did not affect my enjoyment of the book. I should have been more annoyed at how it felt like two different books, but since I enjoyed both of them, I was ok with it. I will be back to read the second book when it is published. (I received an ARC of this book).
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Very rarely does a tagline, let alone the pitch of a book, really do the book justice. Plenty of us have been suckered in with ye olde “blank meets blank” setup, wherein blank is some super hot media. This could just be me being cynical, but I usually find when a book has shades of another, well-loved book, movie, or show to it, it’s not touted but it’s still evident. But let’s be fair, marketers gotta market. As someone who’s done internwork pretty close to that jurisdiction, I feel the struggle. That said, as a reader, I always wish those parallels were a little more accurate and less steeped in gotcha!'

And then we have Spin the Dawn. Project Runway meets Mulan is not inaccurate. There is fashion, and a contest, and there is some gender swapping. It’s not a bad or a wrong tagline. It’s just wonderfully not the whole plot. When I went into Spin the Dawn I figured I was in for The Hunger Games or Scorpio Races—the contest being the climax and the entire rest of the plot being buildup. I was wrong, and that was so, so good. Because once the contest plot unfurls to its end, the reader finds themselves somewhat off script. The book becomes something else, and when it does, it really finds its identity and can be set apart from other books in the market.

Which, honestly, made me giddy. Because I already had a great prose (I reread sentences and was surprised by how simple but poignant Maia’s voice was), a protagonist I appreciated (Maia is straight-laced and no nonsense, but she isn’t a drudge or a prude; she’s just less frivolous), and a lush and lovely setting. Whether it be Maia’s hometown on the seaside or the palace, the writing puts you there, which is what you want when you’re dealing with such a visual medium as tailoring. Like Maia, the descriptions stay practical and understated, but with flourishes of the fantastic, and it makes everything that much more vivid.

Between that and the power plays of the contest, the intrigues of the palace, Edan and Maia’s own secrets, and the sense that there is a bigger threat looming, Spin the Dawn went for something less safe than a straight competition plot and stuck the landing.

So why only three/four stars? Well, the middle of the book relegates Maia a little bit. Even though it’s her journey, it’s Edan she relies on for both knowledge and experience. Which is fine. Save for the fact that the entire middle of the book Maia goes from navigating the cutthroat competition on her own wits and merit to being shuttled around by Edan: here, take this and do this here. Now do this. Now this is what you’ll do next. Here’s this thing, go do this. it’s just less engaging than watching Maia imperfectly work her way through something on her own. Yes, it’s to build the relationship, but it sort of does so at the expense of Maia’s being forced to step up for herself. The plot works better when she has to adapt to a less than optimal situation she created.

That said, I really liked the ending because again she goes off-script, does her own thing, and spins the plot in a direction I hadn’t expected.  

So what I’m saying here is Spin the Dawn, when it makes its own choices, does them very well and it definitely stands out. It’s a lovely read with a plot willing to take risks, whose characters I thought were nicely built (save maybe Edan who does fall into ya trope territory) and whose ending makes me want to pick up the second book without a doubt.

Is it Project Runway meets Mulan? Sure. But it’s also better than the sum of its parts and its own wonderful creation. There. Hardly a sewing pun in sight.
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This book in so freaking cool! It's pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway and I think that's a perfect mashup to describe it. I haven't ever read anything quite like this before and I am very much looking forward to book 2 in 2020!
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Interesting concept, intriguing fairytale atmosphere, overall not that strong, but I will definitely read the sequel.
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I cannot fully express how stunning this book was. It took me on a unique and wild adventure that left my heart in shreds and a desperate longing for the next book in the series. The world-building and especially the characters wrapped around one another to create a tale that one cannot soon forget.
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I received this book an e-arc from netgalley. I read this book in about a week. It was a fun and enjoyable read.
     This book is a Mulan retelling. It’s about a girl who lives in China a long time ago. Her dad is old and sadden by his wife’s passing and the 2 older boys dying in the war. He has a daughter and a son remaining. 
    He use to run a tailor shop. Now the daughter does most of the work even though she isn’t allowed because she’s a woman. Then, a palace soldier comes and demands the dad go to the palace and tailor for the emperor. He knows he can’t refuse. The daughter sneaks off to go as her brother who was injured in the war. 
     When she gets there it turns out to be a competition to see who can become the next great tailor. It’s a wonderfully book. It’s been marketed as Project Runway meets Mulan.
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I had such high hopes for this book, and, in the beginning, I was thoroughly enjoying it. The story follows Maia, a young girl who has taken over as the seamstress for her father’s shop. Business has not been going well for her family, and they have been severely affected by the recent war. Just when Maia starts to run out of options, someone from the royal court comes to her family shop, requesting that her father travel to the palace to become the imperial trailer. However, Maia must go in his place and pretend to be her brother, as no females are allowed to be tailors. Upon arriving at the palace, Maia finds out that there is actually a competition between the best tailors in the land to become the imperial tailor. They are set with various tasks to prove their skill, and Maia finds both enemies and friends. The end of the story sets her on an imperative journey for one final task, one that comes with a heavy price that she must find a way to pay. I loved reading from Maia’s perspective and seeing her fight for the recognition that she deserves. However, I felt that most of the other characters were somewhat undeveloped, and certain plot points were barely glanced over before the story moved on. I really just wanted a lot more out of this book. Several things were just laid out for the reader, and I wish there had been a little more intrigue. Other things were so obvious to me that it felt ridiculously overdone when Maia finally found out for herself. The ending, however, has me entirely intrigued and awaiting the next book. I’m hoping that the author continues the arcs of the other characters and maybe explains a bit more of the history and culture of the setting.
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Spin the Dawn had me at Mulan meets Project Runaway! The description of this book had me hooked and I was so excited to dive into this world! Maia Tamarin is such a strong, female main character. She is an amazingly talented seamstress, but because she is a woman she is looked down upon as never being able to become a master at her craft. The emperor calls on Maia's father to come compete in a sewing competition to become new Emperor's new seamstress. Maia's father is not able to travel and compete, so Maia goes in his stead disguised as her brother. Of course, there is lots of trials and trouble along the way. There are so many interesting characters and this book had such unique elements in it! I loved this book so much and am so excited for book 2!

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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FINALLY managed to get to this and I'm kind of mad it took me so long to do so. This was nothing I expected it to be and I loved it! i loved the tournament aspect and Maia's interactions with Edan, and the journey part! I cannot wait to see what comes next!
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I... did not see this coming. DNF @ 82%

This was very unexpected. Considering all the hype and my general obsession for this book the first time I saw it, I expected nothing less than to love it. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen the way I expect it to.

I loved the writing and how original the plot is. But the romance fell flat to me. The chemistry was nonexistent. And I couldn't care enough about Maia and her journey. I think the only reason I got as far as I did was because I was just too damn stubborn to give up on this. Alas, it's time to throw in the towel and admit defeat.

I wanted to love this book so much. No one is more disappointed than I am, trust me.

I received an e-arc from the publisher via Netgalley to read and review.
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This was an amazing book. disguising herself as a boy and going to the imperial city to become the royal tailor is such a good spin on the Mulan legend
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This was a good debut novel and I really liked the Asian inspired representation of the characters. But the story just felt a bit generic and nothing different from so many other YA novels. I also didn’t connect much with the romance which lowered my enjoyment of the book. I still would recommend it to readers of YA fantasy and those looking for diverse representation.
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This was my first book by this author, and it wont be my last! Such a great book! 5 stars! Quick and easy read!
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