Spin the Dawn

I had to really take a moment after reading this, because I was so angry I have to wait for the next one, and I just died over the descriptions of pretty clothing. It’s my downfall and Lim delivered.

I also waited until today because I was late on reviewing my eARC and decided to wait to post here until it hit the one month anniversary of its release. [I also read and reviewed my own preorder so no disclosure needed this go]

So congrats to Spin the Dawn on having hit the shelves a month ago!

Let’s get this party started!!

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GoodReads:
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.

 

My Review

With a beautiful start, this had my heart from the prologue. And I can’t help but want to completely and utterly root for Maia and contain so much faith for her! I enjoyed the story in its entirety but I really loved the scenes between Maia and Edan.

By the way, Edan is the cinnamon-est of cinnamon rolls, and I’ll fight anyone who argues this. [Not really, I suck at fights. I’d rather not but you all get the point]

The book is divided into parts and the first part deals with the ‘Project Runway meets Mulan’ vibe, and then it branches out after that and becomes a quest that is a perilous journey to try and deliver the ‘unobtainable’ to make the intended of the Emperor satisfied. [I have sympathy for her but I still dislike her lol]

The magical aspect was fun and really weaved in there, get it, weaved? Anyway, I thought it was all threaded together flawlessly. Okay, okay, I’m done with the puns. For now.

Being a sucker for pretty clothes, I loved the parts with the clothing best and those dresses though, if you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it but man, I want to see those in real life!

Maia clearly loves her family and her ultimate goal for them and more importantly for herself has always been to become the greatest tailor in the land. When the opportunity arises, she only hesitates briefly before taking it in both hands and running with it.

So, what happens you no longer what your life long dream?

The struggle for Maia is genuine and I loved how Edan was so supportive, and I could go on and on about the two of them, but, I’ll try to contain myself.

Another thing I thought Lim just totally mastered were the landscape descriptions, I just wanted to close my eyes at times and imagine all the beautiful lands, she painted them out for you and I was completely engrossed in this world while reading.

If you’re looking for a magical fantasy with amazing landscapes, fun world-building, pretty clothes, determined tailors, and cinnamon rolls, well this book is for you.

Four cups of coffee from me!

[TEAM MAIA&EDAN UNITE]

Head Shot – Blog Tour

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Synopsis:

A girl from a Yorkshire mining town is barely thirteen when her father kills himself – her brother finds him dying. At sixteen she’s spotted by a rock star and becomes an international Vogue model. Seven years later her brother kills himself in her New York apartment and her mother dies too. With no family left, her life is now one of extreme choices.
Fifty years later, Victoria confronts her past and takes her readers on an unflinching voyage through her experiences as a model and beyond. Speaking frankly about loss, love, friendship and ambition, Head Shot is a book of inspiration and purpose.
Packed with astonishing images by the photographers Victoria worked with, and the defiant fashions she wore throughout her career, it also bears witness to a time of unparalleled cultural energy and invention; it’s a story in which bags and shoes can, and do, sit right next to life and death.

Book Information:
Publication Date: August 8, 2019
Publisher: Unbound
PRICE: £16.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-749-6
FORMAT: Hardback 

From the epicentre of Sixties glamour to a double family suicide: how a Vogue model persevered and rebuilt her life in the face of tragedy

 

My Review

If you’re prepared for a book about the glamorous life of modelling, stories of exotic shoots and juicy gossip. Well, aside from a couple of exotic shoots, you’re going to be surprised. Nixon has given us a book that focuses on her actual experiences, and not just as a model and its lifestyle on a photoshoot but what happens afterwards. It’s not all glitz and glamour, it’s making friendships with people you’ll rarely get to see, meeting tons of new people in general, and it’s seeing just how ‘okay’ you are with being alone/just with yourself some days.

I loved how honest and down to earth Victoria Nixon’s style was, she was brave enough to show her own failings in the spotlight and brave enough to share some of her deeper pain, and these things make you connect with her and want to know her story.

Nixon lost her whole family at such a young age, yet she was able to keep moving forward. And, her modelling career is not her whole life, so it was nice to hear about what happened after the photoshoots and let’s just say Nixon is one accomplished human. It’s obvious that no matter what, no matter the time that passes she still misses her family but she doesn’t shy away from that and once again, it really helps you as a reader connect with her on a very personal and emotional level.

Not to mention it’s refreshing hearing of someone so successful making the same mistakes as say myself, choosing the wrong lovers, thinking you can sometimes fix people when that isn’t actually the issue, and sometimes just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and losing out on an opportunity because of it.

Nixon also isn’t afraid to share her lower points in life, not just in sadness but in her career, even her schooling in London. [Though I daresay Nixon had the last laugh in that case] And the way she talks about her mom is touching, it’s obvious they were close, and that she was close with her brother and father as well.

This isn’t the vapid and materialistic assumption that some are prone to make about models, this is about a real woman who is just telling her story. I loved it.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Unbound for a copy of this book and being part of the tour in exchange for my honest review.

 

About the Author

Victoria Nixon Author pic

Victoria Nixon was eighteen when she was discovered by Helmut Newton, who photographed her for Vogue. This launched her international modelling career, which led to her being named the Daily Mail’s ‘Face of 1968’. After modelling, she went on to become an award-winning advertising copywriter, television producer and magazine editor. In the 1990s she opened the first deli in the UK to ban plastic packaging, and in 2002 her first book, Supermodels’ Beauty Secrets, was published, followed by Supermodels’ Diet Secrets in 2004. She is co- founder and managing director of a company which designs and manufactures humanitarian aid products used worldwide.

 

The Rest of the Blog Tour

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The Homeless Heart-Throb Tour

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Blurb:
Alternately hilarious, shocking and sad, Crystal Jeans’ latest novel is set in Cardiff. But perhaps not the Cardiff the urban planners and WAG mavens would use in their shiny advertising campaigns. 
Each chapter is narrated by different characters linked by the street on which most of them live and the appearance in them all (to greater or lesser extent) of the title character the alcoholic vagrant who for one of the neighbours is an unusual subject of desire. Set in various homes, streets and parks, and a nearby care home for the demented elderly the story lines are darkly humorous and occasionally rude and crude – up front portrayals of people on the frontline of urban poverty, disenfranchisement, drug culture and unappreciated but essential work lives. Lit up with authentic characters and appealing voices, and the full gamut of human relationships platonic, romantic and sexual this is an unputdownable journey into the underside of contemporary Wales.

Book Information:
Publication Date: August First
Available for Sale: UK and Ireland
Format: Mass market paperback -fiction-
ISBN: 978-1-912905-01-0
Price: £8.99 

From Wales Book of the Year award winning and Bridport Prize and Polari Prize shortlisted author

Will appeal to those who love the novels and stories of Niall Griffiths and Rachel Tresize

 

My Review

I would have to say this is the epitome of quirky novels and it was nice to read something I may not have normally just checked out from the library. The synopsis intrigued me and really who isn’t curious when a book’s title is The Homeless Heart-Throb? Though there is a homeless man near the stories of the neighbors of this Welsh street, it’s really more about how all the neighbors are all connected by their proximity, it’s all quite intricate. Jeans is unapologetic in showing the gritty and honest side of people, it’s not always nice, but it is truthful and that is more important in a novel like this. There’s quite a lot of quirky vulgarity and a few chuckles thrown in along with just how crappy life can be at times and I appreciated that ‘ugliness’ [though really it was anything but ugly in her writing style].

An interesting and, again, quirky read.

A different sort of read for the different sort of reader 😉

Thanks to Anne Cater and Honno Pub for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Content Warning: Sexual cavorting lol , vulgarity, alcohol abuse, death

 

About the Author

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Crystal Jeans was born and brought up in Cardiff. She lived in Bristol before doing first a Creative Writing BA then an MPhil at the University of Glamorgan. She works in a care home, which inspired a collection of poetry about dementia (Mulfran Press). She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2010), had poetry published by Seren Press, and two short stories published by New Welsh Review.

Author Website @crystaljeans1

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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Buddha Da Review

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GoodReads:
Anne Marie’s dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member.

My Review

Reading the synopsis I was intrigued by Buddha Da and I felt the need to see what exactly made up this book. Was it a book of spiritual growth? Was it more like the Glaswegian Eat, Pray, Love? Or was I about to find myself learning more about Buddhism than ever before? [And to be frank, it wouldn’t be that hard, my knowledge of it is minimal]

I can happily say it was a little of all of that and completely different than I expected, all rolled into one.

The story swivels from three POVs of the family members, Jimmy our Buddha Da, Liz his wife, and Anne Marie his daughter.  But the POVs do tend to stick more with Liz and Anne Marie.

Jimmy has felt a need to change something in him, and at first, all he thinks is that he is enjoying a bit of meditation, a man notorious for never finishing his projects, no one imagined he would take Buddhism to heart so much more than anything else. However, he’s met by resistance from his wife as he goes deeper into a world she can’t follow, her own journey is on a different path.

This isn’t just a book about the division of a family, and it’s not that Buddhism is the cause of it, it’s how people so often can change and sometimes it’s necessary to make a few mistakes along the way to do so. It’s a coming of age story of Anne Marie, it’s a spiritual journey for Jimmy, and it’s a journey to desires of the heart and mind for Liz.

I really loved this book and it made me quite the sentimentalist while reading it, and I can honestly say I love how the characters all had to find out their own truths without anyone giving them answers. The ending was perfect and I enjoyed reading this so much I knocked it out in a day.

If you’re a fan of books all about personal journeys and don’t have a problem with understanding Glaswegian speak [ 😉 ] then I recommend this book to you!

Four cups of coffee from me! This new paperback edition is stunning as well so doesn’t hurt to have a pretty book inside & out.

Thank you to Canongate Books for sending me a copy to read and review in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

We Hunt The Flame eARC Review

Another review, I know, I know, I promise guys, non-review posts are coming! I just want to get some of these out before the books are out there. [In this case, before it hits UK shelves]

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GoodReads:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Glossary & Pronunciation Guide

 

This book was built upon layers and layers of lush landscapes, history, and culture. This was a work we all needed to help diversify the pool of fantasy, and the writer’s style is strong and enchanting. I found myself really pulled into this world, there was such a darkness in the shadows and in the characters that I loved and I praise them for not being always good or always sure, they were not just morally grey as people so often are but conflicted and constantly striving to do right [or wrong/what they think is right] and that’s important in a YA fantasy. It’s not a quick light read but engrossing and dependent on the reader’s desire or ability to get lost in its words.

I would have rated it five stars but there were times where I felt the pacing was a bit skewered, not necessarily in the plot but within the love interests and their personal journies. That and I do feel like some parts stretched on, but honestly, that could easily be attributed to me being impatient while reading this because I really wanted to know how things were going to turn out. I will be waiting -impatiently of course- for the next book.

I did adore all the characters though and cannot wait to read the next book, their zumra was amazing and there was not one character I disliked in the book, not even the villain. Faizal did a great job creating these characters and such an enriching world.

The worldbuilding as I mentioned earlier was ‘lush’ and that would even be an understatement. There’s such a history and knowledge in her writing that it’s hard to believe these lands don’t actually exist and the journey of the characters is much like every good fantasy, one of adventure and for a noble cause, well in a way a noble cause. There are many trials for them all and bonding in a land that holds more power than anyone could imagine.

We Hunt the Flame switches between the POVs of Zafira and Nasir, and I’m hoping that we’ll get to know more about Kifah. She was by far my favorite character though, I loved them all and Altair was definitely a hoot!

On a whole there was little to no fault in this read for me, I give it four full cups of coffee

Thank you to NetGalley and PanMacMillan for an egalley in exchange for my honest review.

Descended Review

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GoodReads:

Anxiety. Frustration. Fear. Trust-Issues. All Socorro wanted in life was to exist without interruption. She had no plans for the present, nor the future. At 2:15pm on her 18th birthday, the past decided it had plans for her instead. Suddenly under the guidance of Merlin and hundreds of years of history, Socorro clashes with the weight of tradition and the expectations of her new life as a descendant of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. As the descendants prepare for the second round of the battle between good and evil against the sorceress Morgan le Fay, Socorro struggles with the idea of accepting this new life, particularly all the people that are now thrust into it.

Book Information:
Title: Descended
By: Amanda Lynn Almaraz
Publisher: Amanda Lynn Almaraz
Format: Paperback, Kindle, B&N eBook

 

My Review

I did not receive this book for free, but I am best friends with the Author, just to say if you think I may be a bit biased, maybe. But, I loved this book so, just accept I’m going to fangirl over this. I already have accepted. But on a more ‘professional’ note, I’ll give you my truly honest review and hope that you decide to give this wonderful book a read.

Almaraz dips us into a YA fantasy where the characters are so realistic, that the MC Socorro and her peers are actually a breath of fresh air.

Socorro is a teenager in every sense of the word, she comes from not the easiest background but there’s love there and it’s so important that there’s a good and supportive parental figure in a YA book. Her mom is an undocumented immigrant and there are struggles because of it, and though Socorro has a father, it’s the love between her mother and her that resonates strongly with me in the story. I’ll let you figure out about her Father.

As someone who has grown up reading things by Almaraz, I can honestly say this one really is a shining example of her talent.

There’s magic, there’s foul-mouthed MCs, there’s a pretty humorous Merlin, and the best part, there’s a story that is a fun take on King Arthur.

These are the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table, of Arthur himself, but they’re not sure what any of that truly means other than they’re to finish the fight that started long before they were born.

Are they vessels, are they just heirs, are they even their own people or forced to be in the shadows of the knights they descend from?

The teenagers have tried to accept what’s been thrown at them, and they’ve done it a lot more willingly than say, Socorro, who doesn’t have time for any of the bullshit people are hefting at her. They’ve grown up with the tales, the understanding of who they are expected to be, but Socorro has never had those expectations thrust at her, so she’s not accepting anything blindly and she asks questions and puts up countermeasures wherever she cans. And I love it.

This is the start of a new fantasy series, so we’re introduced to everything from Socorro’s perspective, and as a newcomer into this magical world, she’s the perfect narrator. This also means that if Socorro doesn’t notice something, we don’t either, and if she doesn’t see something, we don’t either. Almaraz does a great job of remembering that and not making Socorro an overpowered narrator, and I’m not going to lie, Socorro made me chuckle a few times at least.

Overall, the novel is really well-paced, and though I wanted to jump right into the next book I thought it ended perfectly and will not wait impatiently to read book 2. I can’t wait to find out more about the world, the magic, and the characters.

Five cups of coffee, and if you find it sounds interesting, I’ve included the GoodReads link in the blurb section.

Miracle Creek – Blog Tour


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Blurb:
My husband asked me to lie.
Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first…
Miracle Creek is a gripping debut for fans of Celeste Ng, Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult, and about how far we’ll go to protect our families… and our deepest secrets.
In rural Virginia, Korean immigrants Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine: a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that patients enter for ‘dives’, used as an alternative therapy for conditions including autism and infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.
Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was seen smoking down by the creek? Was it a group of protestors agaist HBOT therapy, who were at the site that morning? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on the generous insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets in Miracle Creek – trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child abuse charges – as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people drive to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Book Information:
Title: Miracle Creek
By: Anige Kim
Publication Date: July 25, 2019
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardback
Price: £16.99

 

My Review

This book was unlike any other I’ve read. I’m a huge mystery/thriller fan but I’d yet to read a courtroom drama and this sets the bar exceptionally high now for the genre. Angie Kim throws a story at you where you’re forced to look at the darker side of people, but, not because they’re evil but because they are simply human. There are tough decisions to face, and even tougher consequences as ever action echoes a ‘what could have been’ had the person not made that choice. And that’s the best part, each character is held accountable to their thoughts and actions. You also face a harsher reality of what families/people face when they choose to try and better their families lives by moving to America.

There is the story of a Korean family and its choice to move to the USA and how it affects them, there are the choices of a husband and wife pushed to the point of breaking over cultural (in-laws) and lifestyle differences and what they do to ease the tension, for better or extremely worse, and there are the choices of women with children all different in their own way, and the difficulties that come from their parenting choices, their children and their needs, and outside pressure. Honestly, this book was superb in every way. I would recommend this book in a heartbeat to anyone wanting to read a gripping and dramatic contemporary work of fiction.

^^^ This was my original review on GoodReads, and you know what, reading it again in its beautiful hardcover format simply solidified just how much I LOVE this book.

Even the way it’s divided, by what day of the trial and the flashes of the past are tastefully done.

Angie Kim is not afraid to show the utter darkness that we all are capable of carrying, and how sometimes not even good intentions are enough to justify acts. There’s so much love, and heartache, and all in different ways, romantic, friendship, familial, and it’s important to recognize all of these in the larger scheme of this book.

This really has set such a high bar not just for courtroom thrillers, or even thrillers in general, but for all books that come out this year. It’s so far managed to stay at the top of my list for best reads of 2019.

Angie Kim has used her own experiences and her own education to craft a contemporary masterpiece. I know I’m gushing but I can’t help it.

The first time I read this, my notes said ‘gripping from the first page’ and it was still just as intense the second time.

Don’t believe me on how much I straight up adore this book? I also bought a copy for my sister for her birthday. This book impacted me, and all my casual lingo aside, it is a true work of art as far as novels go, like I said, a masterpiece in its own right. Why? Because it’s so honest in the way Angie Kim wrote it, it’s a true thriller and in-depth look at the flaws of humanity.

If you’ve never read a courtroom thriller or don’t typically read thrillers but find the blurb fascinating, please, please give it a read.

I expect Angie Kim to go far in her writing.

Content warning: Sexual assault, death, death of children, abuse, suicide

Thanks to Kate and Hodder Books for a chance to be part of this tour and a chance to gush about this book again. [My review has been given honestly and was given before taking part in the tour]

 

That was the thing about lies: they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick to your story.

About the Author

Angie Kim credit Tim Coburn

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the subrubs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then parcticed as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly.

Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numberous publications including the New York Times, Salon, Slate, the Souther Review, Sycamore Review, the Asian American Literary Review, and PANK.

She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons. Miracle Creek is her first novel, inspired by her own experiences as a Korean immigrat, a trial lawyer, and mother of a HBOT patient. 

 

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