Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: July 09, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon | Pre-Order Swag

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.

*Thank you so much to Net Galley and Knopf the the e-arc in exchange for an honest review!*

Project Runway meets Mulan is a perfect tag for this book! Y’all, I was extremely invested in this world. Lim paints a picture of fashion so alluring I wanted to see them in real life more than anything. I loved the competition in the first half and the adventure in the last! Both were very different and very interesting!

Characters. Maia was very likable and relatable. Her character progression was done very well. She was shy at first but then owned her skills. She was just a nice person to read about, without being boring. Edan was intriguing and mysterious. He was a good mix of cocky and sweet. The person I wanted to know more about was Lady Sarnai! She was straight up FIRE! I hope to get more of her in the next book! And the Emperor can go away. He’s so annoying.

World. There’s not really a magic system. It’s extremely rare in people and in enchanted items. It was interesting to learn about how the Enchanters were made though. I really enjoyed the China-like world. Lim did a fantastic job of giving detailed descriptions.

Plot. Very unique. I have not read something like this. Have I said I loved the descriptions of the fashion yet?! Lim writes like a dream! The first half of the book is very different than the last half. The first half was more Project Runway and the last half was Mulan. The journey Maia goes on to collect the magic she needs for her dresses is amazing! It’s the type of adventure I love! Magic, romance, danger, and an ending that leaves you wanting more.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY things I didn’t like were very minor. There was a time where Maia stabbed a creature with her scissors and ran but then they were with her later. Then another time where she left her cane at the Summer Palace but then randomly had it at the Fall Palace. Small details like that happened a few times. I loved this book. I didn’t really get the Sarah J. Maas vibe but I do agree that it’s like Renee Ahdieh! I highly recommend! I cannot wait for the next book! Also, officially obsessed with Lim’s writing!

Is this on your radar for this year?

Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

| Amazon

” A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end… “

Oh, buddy was this a ride! I loved it. It was pure magic, a unique tale, and just all around beautiful. Garber seriously uses all five of her senses when she imagines her world and she articulates it perfectly. At any given point I could almost close my eyes and feel like it was real. This book has some of my favorite descriptions ever. From the dresses made of magic butterflies to the color of different emotions. Magic. I will read and buy anything this woman writes.

Characters. I guess this would be spoiler-ish if you haven’t read any of the books. But I really liked Tella’s chapters a little bit better in terms of adventure. But in terms of a good message, I think Scarlett takes the cake. I’m a sucker for true love, love conquers all, love is magic, type of stories. I actually truly believe that even in our world. Julian, Legend, and yes, even Jacks were very swoon worthy to read about. For awhile at least. They all had their faults (Jacks especially, whoops). Julian loves without abandon. I’ve always liked him. Legend fights it. And Jacks… confuses love with lust and obsession.

World. The world builing… I don’t even know how to explain it. This is one of the few worlds where I want this to be real so, SO badly. This world is right up there for me with Narnia and Middle Earth. (Woah, Lauren, slow your roll, do you even know what you are saying?!) Yes, the world, my fine friend, not necessarily the book.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY thing I didn’t really like was that part of the ending felt rushed somehow. It’s hard to explain without spoilers!

I’m just so obsessed with this series!

I want more! And if you’ve read this you know Garber left a certain story line slightly open ended!

Going to be totally honest, I originally wrote out a very long review and realized that it was going to be a TLDR review. I just had a lot to say.

I want to know if you liked it! And if you didn’t, I want to know that too!

Notes: Playing cards are from Owlcrate, Book Sleeve from Love You More Studio Code: StoriedAdventures10 to save some money!

* *Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Lots of kissing, sexual talk, sexual situations, violence, death, killing, lying, stealing

OTHER CONTENT: Love is the most powerful force of all, forgiveness, friendship, healthy sibling relationship, sacrifice, healthy relationships, persevering.

Duel At Araluen (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger, #3) Spoiler Free Review

I am so excited to be a part of the blogger reread campaign by Penguin Random House!Thank you for the free books in exchange for a review!

This week is book three of The Royal Ranger series by John Flanagan!

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: May 28, 2019 (US release)

Genre: YA, MG, Fantasy, Adventure

| Amazon

International bestselling author John Flanagan returns to world of Ranger’s Apprentice in this new installment of the Royal Ranger series starring Maddie, Will Treaty’s fearless young apprentice. 

King Duncan and Princess Cassandra are trapped in the south tower of Castle Araluen and under near-constant attack from the Red Fox Clan. Sir Horace and Ranger Commandant Gilan are holed up in an old hill fort, surrounded by the enemy. And Ranger’s apprentice Maddie is the only one who can save them all.

With the help of Hal, Thorn, and the rest of the Heron brotherband, Maddie will have to break her father and his men out of the hill fort, but will they reach Castle Araluen in time?

International bestselling author of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series, John Flanagan returns in the captivating next installment of the Royal Ranger series: The Royal Ranger: Duel at Araluen. Perfect for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, Brian Jacques’s Redwall, and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones!”

This latest installment of John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series is non-stop action! The reader’s anxiety is real in this one! There were battles galore to make any young adventurer drool! I think this was probably my favorite yet! I loved seeing Maddie back in action as she figures out a way to help her trapped mother escape the enemy. The battle tactics that are in this book are extremely interesting. Flanagan has a way of making them fascinating to read about. There were a lot of really clever ways that the characters dealt with the enemy. And the ingenious way Flanagan made the south tower of the castle. It really seemed like he thought of everything. He knows his stuff! It was awesome reading some from Cassandra’s POV. She has not lost her edge at all and is still very much a feared opponent! The way she thinks of new ways to thwart her enemy was amazing! All while still leading the kingdom! The Skandians were fearsome as well! They were so fun to read about, especially their interactions with Maddie. I also loved reading about Horace and Gilan! I kept wondering what they were going to do next when they were absolutely stuck! I did miss Will in this one but was quite happily engaged in the stories of the others!

Seriously, such a fun series! I can’t wait to read more!

John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. John began writing Ranger’s Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series and its spinoff, Brotherband Chronicles. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA, Romance

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon

” Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.”

As you can see, I rated it 5 stars, so I obviously loved it. I literally have nothing bad to say.

Writing. Absolutely beautiful. Meyer paints a richly colorful story that I very desperately want to be in. I never once got lost or confused, and let me tell you there were some things in this book you really had to imagine. She writes like how you dream. The rooms in the house were so fantastical that I loved how different it was from anything I’ve read! One of the rooms had glass bobbles that had different things in them, like lightening, but when you touched them they cut you like knives. Not to mention the wonderful library! Who wouldn’t want to hop inside of a book?!

Plot. I LOVED how she did a retelling of the original East of the Sun and West of the Moon. That’s the story that beauty and the beast was based off of so naturally it’s one of my favorites. Also, I saw a movie as a kid that was based off of this and I loved it! So this read was actually kind of nostalgic for me! (Side note: I need to find that movie. :P) I really enjoyed the super sweet romance. It was perhaps a bit slow burn? Or maybe somewhere in between slow burn and insta love. The message of the book was love, but with a strong dose of forgiveness. I love when authors write about forgiveness. Not a lot of people forgive these days. It made the characters relationship quite relatable actually.

Characters. Another element that was done really well. Echo was strong and brave, but also sweet and nice. She had a nice balance. She has severe scarring on her face and even though she fights low self-esteem because of it, she knows it’s not a measure of what she’s worth. The Wolf was so sweet as well! He always tried to protect her. Hal was very interesting. He was always so mysterious and his story is extremely compelling, and how it ties in with the other characters. Mokosh… sigh. I feel so bad for her! That’s all I will say!

Final Thoughts. Um, read this. Everyone. Well, if you like fairytales and retellings. It’s such a beautiful book!

*Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, the characters share a bed but it’s more for safety reasons.

OTHER CONTENT: Learning how to be in a relationship, making friendships, forgiveness, love is the most powerful thing in the world.

Top Ten Tuesday – First Ten Books I Reviewed

This is my current favorite blog meme! It is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, so check it out! I love her blog!

Today’s top ten is: First Ten Books I Reviewed! Which are all on Goodreads. BUT I am going to do the first 5 books I ever reviewed on Goodreads then the first 5 books I ever reviewed on my blog!

Goodreads book reviews (ones I actually said something and not just rated):

  1. Stuff Christians Like – I remember this being funny. But other than that I don’t remember this book at all. I reviewed it in 2014
  2. The Help – I read this for my book club and I loved this book! Hmm I might need to reread this.
  3. Gone Girl – I remember liking it okay!
  4. The Shack – Ah. One of the few books I have ever one starred. I hated this book.
  5. Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast – I love Cameron Dokey!

Blog book reviews:

  1. The Gone World – I liked this one but it was kind of a creepy Sci-fi! It was weird for sure! But cool!
  2. A Curious Beginning – I LOVE this series!
  3. A Perilous Undertaking – The second book to A Curious Beginning! I read the first three right in a row!
  4. Meldoy’s Key – An indie contemporary that I liked!
  5. Blood and Sand – I really like this book! I really want the second book to hurry and come out!

Whew! Have y’all read any of these?

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman – Review

Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company 

Publication Date: August 18, 20015

Genre: Non- Fiction, Christian

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon


“Our obsession with bigger and faster is spinning us out of control. We move through the week breathless and bustling, just trying to keep up while longing to slow down. But real life happens in the small moments, the kind we find on Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday carries moments we want to hold onto–as well as ones we’d rather leave behind. It hold secrets we can’t see in a hurry–secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. It offers us a simple bench on which to sit, observe, and share our stories.
For those being pulled under by the strong current of expectation, comparison, and hurry, relief is found more in our small moments than in our fast movements. In “Simply Tuesday,” Emily P. Freeman helps readers 
– stop dreading small beginnings and embrace today’s work
– find contentment in the now–even when the now is frustrating or discouraging
– replace competition with compassion
– learn to breathe in a breathless world 
Jesus lived small moments well, slow moments fully, and all moments free. He lives with us still, on all our ordinary days, creating and redeeming the world both in us and through us, one small moment at a time. It’s time to take back Tuesday, to release our obsession with building a life, and believe in the life Christ is building in us–every day.”

What’s Christian Non-Fiction doing here? Well, I decided to really review every book I read. Non-Fiction takes me the longest to read, over 3-4 months, so I don’t read very many books like this. I am always glad I do though! Especially because I went through a traumatic experience while I was reading this book and it absolutely helped me with the anxiety that I have because of my experience. I used so, SO many page markers for this book. I want to make sure I remember the things that really stuck with me while reading.

This book helped me to just live today. Not tomorrow, not yesterday. Today. This hour. This minute. This second. This breath. I truly cling to that. I love that in today’s culture, which is fast moving and you always have to do more, more, MORE, someone wrote a book that just says, stop and breath. God has you where you are for a reason. Stop and listen, there you will find contentment. You CAN be happy where you are. You can find joy in every life circumstance. I have/ am learning to love this small moment. This in- between waiting time.

I loved her ideas of just finding a bench somewhere and sitting and talking with God, or your neighbors, or just breathing. I love that she says that it’s more than okay to dream and ask God for those dreams, but to just know He has something better for you than you could ever imagine. I’m not just talking about Heaven, I’m talking about right now in this lifetime. I have tried to apply some of the ways Freeman walks out her life. From her journaling suggestions to how she sees a situation. I really loved this book y’all! I plan on reading all of her books now!

Yeah, yeah, I know, what a mushy gushy post. Don’t worry, I will be back to posting regular nerdy reviews on my next one. This book was just really important to me not to share!

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Genre: Historical Mystery

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

| Amazon

“Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly’s wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband’s mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker’s help to discover the host’s true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund…”

First of all, thank you so much to Berkley for giving me a finished copy of this book!

This is the series that made me fall in love with Historical Mysteries so I pretty much will never rate it below a 4 star. Fair warning. Even though this is the fourth book, you can actually read them out of order! There are a few minor mentions of the previous books but nothing too spoiler-y!

Let’s dig in! It started out a bit slow with Veronica in a bit of a funk. She takes off for 6 months to get her head clear of Stoker. Did it work? Haha, nope! Their relationship is really rocky in the beginning of this book and it made me miss their usual repertoire. However, the added drama of Stoker’s brother, Tiberius, was a delight to read. Plus it fueled many things that, um, needed fuel. If ya know what I mean.

I really enjoyed Veronica’s character growth in this one. She grew bit by bit in the previous novels, but in A Dangerous Collaboration, she grew A LOT! So did Stoker though. They have a lot of pride. AND I loved that you got to know Tiberius quite a bit. I hope to see him in the future books more too! His and Stoker’s relationship unfolds and it is interesting to see they are indeed two peas in a pod, as Veronica points out.

Now, on to the dangers! I really enjoyed the murder mystery! Although it was the saddest in my opinion. I loved the fact that they traveled to a castle on a small island off the coast of England! It was almost magical! The side characters held their own as well, each with their own stories. It made the mystery even more intense because they all had a motive!

And the ending was everything I wanted it to be! That’s all I’ll say about that! Excelsior!

*Just adding here that these covers are my absolute favorite of any books ever.*