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?

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.

The Red Fox Clan (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger, #2) by John Flanagan 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 two of The Royal Ranger’s series by John Flanagan!

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: August 21, 2018

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy

| Amazon

”   Picking up where The Royal Ranger: A New Beginning left off, this next installment continues the story arc featuring young apprentice, Maddie, and the student-turned-master, Will Treaty. The time has come for the next generation to assume the mantle and become protectors of the kingdom of Araluen. 

     After passing her third-year assessment as a ranger’s apprentice, Maddie is called home to Castle Araluen. Forced to keep her ranger training a secret, Maddie feels trapped by the monotony of castle life and longs to find a way out. But there are whisperings of a new threat to the kingdom. The mysterious Red Fox Clan, a group of anarchists all donning fox masks, have threatened Castle Araluen and question Princess Cassandra and Madelyn’s succession to the throne. Will they succeed in unseating Cassandra and Madelyn and take the throne for themselves? 

     Bestselling author of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series, John Flanagan returns in the captivating follow-up to The Royal Ranger: A New Beginning. Perfect for fans of Tolkien, Redwall, and Game of Thrones! “

This was such a fun adventure! The action kept going from book one into book two. Maddie is a little bit older now and is falling into place quite nicely with the Rangers. She’s an extremely strong opponent. I love how the author supports strong women and gives them real abilities that you can actually learn. He also gives them strengths and weaknesses to balance them out. Any young girl would love to be Maddie! A princess AND a Ranger?! I choose that. She is smart, clever, and dangerous. But she also has a soft side to her that loves people (and horses). Her interactions with her mother in particular were so sweet and genuine. Her mom is not to be messed with either! And the secrets Maddie finds out are delicious!

I had a great time learning about tactics in small scale battle, when it was from Gilan’s POV. I kept tensing up whenever something would happen, afraid he might get hurt! It was awesome to see Horace in action too! I highly recommend for any girl who needs a boost of self confidence and is looking for adventure! This series makes me want to really take up archery!

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.

Ranger’s Apprentice: A New Beginning by John Flanagan – Blogger Reread Campaign – 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 one of The Royal Ranger’s series by John Flanagan!

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: November 5, 2013

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy

| Amazon


“Will Treaty has come a long way from the small boy with dreams of knighthood. Life had other plans for him, and as an apprentice Ranger under Halt, he grew into a legend—the finest Ranger the kingdom has ever known. Yet Will is facing a tragic battle that has left him grim and alone. To add to his problems, the time has come to take on an apprentice of his own, and it’s the last person he ever would have expected: Princess Madelyn, the daughter of Princess Cassandra. Will has to win the trust and respect of his difficult new companion—a task that at times seems almost impossible.

John Flanagan returns to conclude the series that has conquered millions of readers worldwide with this pulse-pounding adventure that brings one era to a close,  ushers in the next, starting the series anew starring Maddie, the Royal Ranger.

For fans of Tolkien, Redwall, Game of Thrones, and T.H. White, Ranger’s Apprentice delivers fantasy-adventure thrills with real-world historical details

A New Beginning is a very fun middle grade read that I highly recommend for new fans or old! I would have absolutely loved to have read this when I was younger! My middle school heart would have soared to have this story. That being said, adult me had a great time too! The writing is quite good, you can easily follow along. The plot about the Rangers letting a girl join for the first time ever was really well done. It seemed like an easy transition. I had a good time reading about the training that goes into being a Ranger and the cool moves they have skills for! One of my favorite tropes is when a princess becomes a warrior. And Maddie does not disappoint. I love the fact that the author wrote about a regular moody teenager, and giving them something to fight for. To make them feel/ do something important. Maddie’s character development was spot on. As was Will’s, even though he is a seasoned Ranger. There are still things left to learn for him as well. Their easy going banter makes this readers heart happy. They have such a sweet Uncle/ Niece relationship!

I can’t wait to see what adventures and mischief Maddie gets up to next! This was a grand adventure!

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.

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – Spoiler Free Review

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Imprint

Publication Date: January 29, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Magic

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

| Amazon


“Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.”

3.5 Stars. I know. Unpopular opinion alert. This was one of my, if not THE most anticipated release of 2019, and I felt let down. It didn’t get my heart racing, or make me feel like if I don’t know what happens I might die. It was just pretty good. So I guess I’ll start with my dislikes. It was boring. It only picked up about HALF WAY through the book. Yikes. Nina was my favorite character from the Six of Crows Duology, so I was very disappointed in her story line. Her’s never picked up. I was boring all the way through. In fact, I gave up hope that it would ever pick up, so after a while, whenever her chapters came up I just wanted to skip them. I honestly think the book would have been better if these chapters weren’t in it. That was my main complaint, but I have a small irritant as well. About 2/3 through the book, there is another random POV. And while, I like that character, I couldn’t help but feel his POV was pointless as well.

Man, that first paragraph was harsh, so let’s talk about the good stuff, because there was A LOT of good stuff! Zoya. I LOVE her. She was refreshing. She used anger and her beauty as a shield to protect herself from the world around her. She has a rough childhood. Her character growth was probably the greatest out of all of them. Nikolai. Loved him. Always will. His was the most interesting story line. Which is good, since the book IS about him… He goes through battles internally and physically. His relationship with Zoya is SO interesting to watch unfold. Their witty, sarcastic, back and forth banter was actually pretty funny at times. All of my stars go to their story. My favorite part of the whole book (don’t worry, no spoilers) is when they leave and go on a bit of an adventure and train.

I really liked the inventions mentioned in this book. I hope there will be more talk of those. It could become a pretty cool magic/ steampunk world.

As usual, the writing style is A+! Descriptive without losing you in the story.

The ending though… WOW! SO GOOD!

So I’m going to try out a new thing in my YA reviews. I am going to add a content section. I have had a few people throughout my years of reviewing book DM me (Instagram) about if a book would be appropriate for such and such age. BUT I want to put a disclaimer, I LIKE YA BOOKS. I read them no matter what the content is, BUT I am a 27 year old adult. I am asking people right now to not get in a hubbub if I put something in the content that they think doesn’t matter. This is just so the parents can decide themselves. So, I will be putting a content warning AND other content. The things in my content warning may also be things that are necessary for certain situations. So I am not saying that they are necessarily bad. That’s why I am saying I am leaving it up to the parents to decide. I am probably over explaining myself but better that than have misunderstandings. So let’s give this a try.

CONTENT WARNING FOR KING OF SCARS: Swearing, sexual innuendos, violence, blood, depression, death, a couple scenes where dead people come out of the ground, drinking, talk of worshiping saints and gods.

OTHER CONTENT: Strong female POV, strong male POV, healthy relationships, friendship, camaraderie, overcoming your fears, using your mind to think through situations, protecting others.

** Beautiful sign is from Bookish Signs and More shop! Rep Code to save on two or more items: Lauren20

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) Spoiler Free Review

Author: Brent Weeks

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon

“As the old gods awaken, the Chromeria is in a race to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe, Gavin Guile. But Gavin’s enslaved on a galley, and when he finally escapes, he finds himself in less than friendly hands. Without the ability to draft which has defined him . . .

Meanwhile, the Color Prince’s army continues its inexorable advance, having swallowed two of the seven satrapies, they now invade the Blood Forest. Andross Guile, thinking his son Gavin lost, tasks his two grandsons with stopping the advance. Kip and his psychopathic half-brother Zymun will compete for the ultimate prize: who will become the next Prism.”

Alright y’all. This one is going to be short because we start verging on the territory of spoilers. A lot of plot twists. A lot of changes. And I freaking loved every moment. Brent Weeks is the king of plot twists. Just information bombs that make your jaw drop. I know I say this every book but this one was my favorite. They just keep getting better and better!

Oh wait, Weeks is also the king of character progression. He does an amazing job of slowly, through character experience, molding the character and having them grow up. Like Kip and Teia. Let me tell you, they go through some serious stuff! Kip is becoming such a strong character. Teia too! Gavin… hmm. He needs to learn a thing or two. Ha!

I think the character I relate to the most is Karris. She sees in black and white. Something is either good or bad or someone who did bad things can become good. I’m like that. However, my favorite character, and get ready for this, is Andross! Yep. I said it. He is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about.

I hate Zymun and Sharp. They need to die. Sorry, not sorry. I hope Teia gets to kill Sharp and I hope Kip gets to kill Zymun. Liv’s chapters are boring. But I’m thinking Weeks is setting her up for something major.

Learning more about the magic and the world is sooo cool! Some of the interactions, Kip especially has, is some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever read!

That is about all I can say without any spoilers! This series has it all. Character progression, action, magic, intrigue, mystery, and a bit of romance. I’m completely obsessed.