ARC Book Review: Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Book: Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Expected Publication Is July 30, 2019 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|Expected Number Of Pages: 400

Where I Got It: I got an e-ARC of Spin The Dawn from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own

Series: The Blood Of Stars #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

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.  

I ended up really liking Spin The Stars!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I’m glad I kept reading.

The description of Project Runway meets Mulan had me a little nervous.  I’ve never watched Project Runway but I do know what it is, and Project Runway meets Mulan isn’t a horrible description.  Once a tailor was chosen, though, it felt like that aspect was pretty much gone.

I would love to see the dresses and everything else Maia came up with.  Honestly, this is one book I would love to see as a movie, for the clothes alone.  Or for when Maia is working on her final three dresses.  That part of the book was really vivid, and I could imagine it really well.

The book went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and that’s actually a good thing!  It kept me interested because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

I really liked Maia!  She seemed really good at tailoring, and while she does have a lot of obstacles, she more than proves she’s worthy of being a master tailor.  I will say, though, the romance I wasn’t completely into.  I wasn’t surprised by it, and had a feeling things would work out the way they did.  It was fine, and it worked, I suppose, but I think I would have been just as fine without it.

I also really loved how the title fit in with the book.  It’s referenced several times throughout the book, mostly at the end, and I don’t know why but I really liked the moment when the title made sense.  It was really nice to see, and I’m not sure why.

4 stars.  I really liked Spin The Dawn, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Book Review: Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Book: Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Published February 2019 by Tor Teen|480 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Glass Alliance #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

Dark Of The West is another book that sounded interesting but turned out to be just okay.

I was really bored reading it, and I couldn’t quite figure out what Hathaway was going for.  The world itself felt like it was a fantasy, though there are fighter planes and pilots and there seems to be technology.  There’s a lot of politics and war and invasion, and I don’t know if that part made it feel like fantasy or if it just had this World War 2 set in an alternate world feel to it.  It did feel like World War 2, at least a little bit, and I’m wondering if that inspired the author at all.

Names and places were thrown at me, and I felt like I was reading a history textbook with no context.  The places could easily have been solved by referring to the map, but there were so many names that I had trouble keeping track of who was who, and how they were connected to each other.  I don’t know if things will become more clear later on in the series, but I didn’t have the patience or energy to figure things out.

It was a struggle to get through, and by the end, I didn’t really care what happened.  I didn’t particularly care about the characters or the fact that they were torn apart by politics.  Though I couldn’t remember if there was an actual romance, or if we were just building up to it.  Honestly, there’s not a lot I remember, so I couldn’t give a lot of details about this book.

2 stars.  Dark Of The West just wasn’t for me.  I don’t remember enough of it to give it a lower rating, but I also can’t go higher for the same reason.

Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Book: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Published February 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent. 

When I first started reading Four Dead Queens, I wasn’t sure about it, but I ended up really liking it!

Initially, the perspectives and timelines were a little weird.  Most of the queens seemed to be a lot older than Keralie, and that was a little weird to me.  Granted, their ages were never outright stated, except for one queen, Stessa.  Margeurite’s age was never given but it seemed like she was the oldest, and the other two, Iris and Corra, fell somewhere in between.  Some of them had pretty decent length chapters, and while it gave perspective to what was going on, it still felt a little odd to me.

The timeline made sense towards the end of the book, once the mystery of everything started unraveling.  For most of the book, it seemed like Keralie was trying to figure out what happened to them.  The timeline definitely surprised me, and there were some things I had completely guessed wrong.  Once things got going, and I got further into the book, I started liking it more.

It was an adventure, and I really, honestly felt like I was with Keralie the entire time.  I liked her, though I would have loved more of her backstory.  You get bits and pieces and references, but not much is said outright.  Even though the story focuses on her unraveling this plot, she seemed like a blank slate.  It does make it easy to see yourself as Keralie, but I also couldn’t tell you a whole lot about her.  A couple of moments would have had more weight to it had we had more of her backstory, in my opinion.

The world was interesting, and we get such a great idea of how the four queens came to be, and what each quadrant represents and believes in.  I still had trouble keeping all of them straight at the end of the book, but it did help that that there was something at the beginning of the book that had something about each quadrant.  I also liked the queenly laws at the beginning of the book, and we see those at the beginning of each chapter narrated by one of the queens.

I’m glad this book isn’t part of a series, because it worked really well as a stand-alone!  I think Scholte could tell a lot more stories set in this world, focusing on other characters, but this particular story is pretty complete.  I’d also LOVE to see this as a movie.  I pictured everything perfectly, and she really did write it in a way that made it so easy to see how everything would play.

4 stars.  I really liked Four Dead Queens, but I didn’t love it.  The timelines and perspectives took some time getting used to, but once I did, it was fun to see how things unraveled.

Audio Book Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud, Narrated by Rasha Zamamiri

Book: Mirage by Somaiya Daud, Narrated by Rasha Zamamiri

Published August 2018 by Macmillian Audio|Length: 8 hours, 58 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Mirage #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

I liked Mirage!  Originally, I wasn’t sure about it, because I had a hard time getting past the first couple of chapters.  I ended up giving the audio book a try, and I’m glad I did, because I don’t think I would have made it very far otherwise.

Even with switching to the audio book, I had a hard time getting through the first few chapters.  Once I got past it, I was fine, but initially, I didn’t care about what was going on, and it didn’t really get my attention.  It took a while to get into Mirage, but once I did, I ended up liking it.

It’s your typical brutal empire takes over a planet meets being a body double for the hated princess story.  It’s a story I’m pretty familiar with, especially since the brutal empire and the rebellious people they’re ruling over seems to be pretty popular right now in both sci-fi and fantasy.  I think, if I hadn’t read other books like it, I would liked it a lot more.  I still liked it, of course, but I just wanted to like it more.

I liked Amani, though it took me most of the book to remember her name.  I completely forgot that she was her own person for a good portion of the book and she didn’t really stand out as her own person.  I wish I could say a lot more about her, but I’m having a hard time with that.  Amani and Maram felt like the same person, which was the point, but I wish there had been more to distinguish Amani as a person with her identity.

The narration pretty much saved this book for me.  Zamaimri did a great job at narrating Amani, and what she was going through.  She was great to listen to, and while I thought Amani didn’t particularly stand out as someone with her own personality, Zamamiri did add to her character.  There’s something about her Amani’s voice that worked a lot more for me, and I think it’s because I did feel like Amani was telling me her story.

3 stars.  I didn’t love Mirage, but I still liked it!  I’ll probably pick up the sequel, just to see what happens but I’m not in any rush to read it.

Book Review: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Book: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Published March 2019 by HMH Books For Young Readers|373 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Bloodleaf #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

I loved Bloodleaf!  I loved the world and the characters, and it’s really great YA fantasy!

Aurelia was a great character.  She worked so hard to hide her magic, and I loved the reason why she was able to do it.  She’s in a world that executes people like her, and I was glad she was able to leave.  She’s quirky, but she has a really good heart.  She changed a lot over the course of the book, and she went through a lot.  Things weren’t easy, but I liked her determination to get through it.

I also liked Zan, and while we don’t get enough of him, in my opinion, I still really liked what we saw.  I don’t have as much to say about him as I do Aurelia, but I really like him.  And I really like them together.  I didn’t mind the romance at all, and it felt really natural.

I loved the world and the stories.  The magic was interesting, and I wish we saw more of it, and more of what it could do.  Since Aurelia was still trying to gain control, we learned a lot but I also feel like there’s more to it.  I feel like we’ve barely touched what the magic in her world can do.

I loved the ending, and it had me sobbing.  It really made me wish we saw more of Aurelia’s mom.  It felt a little random, and it was definitely out of the blue, but that didn’t stop me from crying.  I think it would have had a lot more to it had we known her mom a little better.

One thing I’m wondering is what other stories are left to tell in this world.  It’s the first book in the series, and I’m wondering how this story is going to continue because everything was wrapped up really well.  I don’t usually say this with fantasy, especially with YA fantasy, but it would have worked really well as a stand-alone.  The story is so contained that I’m honestly not sure where we’re headed after this.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book, and I’m definitely going to read the next book.  I just wish I had more of an idea of where it was headed.

5 stars.  I loved Bloodleaf and thought the world and mythology was really unique.

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Book: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Published January 2019 by Little, Brown & Company|322 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Folk Of The Air #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were biddable. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a faerie world. 

I liked this one!  Not at much as The Cruel Prince, but I still liked it.  I haven’t been in a huge mood to review books lately, so I’m really fuzzy on the details of this one because of the gap between when I read it and when I’m actually writing it.

The ending surprised me, and I’m not sure why.  I kind of feel like I should have seen it coming after everything that happened in the book, but at the same time, it makes me curious about what’s going to happen next.  After everything that happened and with everything Jude did…maybe I should have realized there would be consequences.  Either way, I was along for the ride, and not expecting it did get my attention.  It definitely makes me want to read the next one.

I really like the world Jude is living in.  I feel like there’s so much more to it than what we’re seeing, and I’m a little sad we don’t see enough of it.  It’s definitely cutthroat and manipulative, but I feel like there’s a lot more world to see and explore.  Who knows what we’ll see with how everything ended?

The characters were okay but mostly didn’t stand out to me.  I’m not sure if it’s because we know them already or I just can’t remember anything at this point.  Jude was pretty interesting in this one, and I’m really interested to see what she’ll do next.  She’s going to have to be pretty careful in the next one.

3 stars.  I liked The Wicked King, and it was a pretty enjoyable book.  I just wish I remembered more than the ending, and that I could talk about the book more.

Book Review: Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Book: Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Published January 2019 by Balzer + Bray|454 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Circle Of Shadows #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series.

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

I was excited about Circle Of Shadows, but it ended up being okay for me.  I wish I liked it more, because it’s a really cool idea, and I really liked The Crown’s Game.

I’m really torn about the world- on the one hand, the world and history is really cool.  But at the same time, I felt like everything was just there, and wasn’t really explained.  The gemina part of the story made no sense, and wasn’t explained.  Were they supposed to be working together or were they supposed to have something a little more romantic?  It was really weird, and I wasn’t sure why everyone was paired off.

There were a lot of little details that could have added to the book.  There were a lot of descriptions I could have done without, and I definitely felt like we didn’t get the details we should have had.  It definitely didn’t have the same appeal as her previous series (though I definitely enjoyed the first one a lot more than it’s sequel).  It just didn’t have the same level of detail or world-building as her other series, and I felt like we were missing out.  To me, it felt like a step backward in terms of the world.

It’s too bad, because I liked the story.  There’s a lot of potential, and I’m sad this book wasn’t for me.  I just had too many questions about the world.  The history of Sora’s world seemed pretty interesting, and there were a few moments in the book where I couldn’t stop reading.  Those were few and far between, and for the most part, I was bored.  There was one moment at the end that was really hard to read, and even though I had the feeling it was coming, it was a little more gruesome than I expected.  If I could have read it peeking through my fingers, I probably would have.

The characters were okay, and no one really stood out to me.  The names stood out, but I think because they were not names I was expecting.  While I’m fine with taking on a new name once you become an apprentice, I also thought the names Skye went with were a little odd.  Fairy and Broomstick?  Spirit and Wolf?  The names seemed like a place-holder or a childhood nickname as opposed to a name bestowed on a magical apprentice.  But that’s just me.

It started off really well, and the interesting, while predictable, was also interesting.  It meandered a lot in the middle, and I got pretty bored.  I probably would have been a lot more interested in the ending if I hadn’t lost interest in the middle.

2 stars.  While I didn’t actively dislike this book, it was still okay.  I wanted different details than the one we got, and I had a hard time getting through it.

Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

Book: Slayer by Kiersten White

Published January 2019 by Simon Pulse|404 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Slayer #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

Slayer was a book I was both excited and nervous about.  Excited because I love Kiersten White, and I will read anything she writes.  But I was nervous because I’ve never seen Buffy, and I wasn’t sure if what to expect.  But White is an auto-buy author for me, and I knew I was going to fun and entertaining.

I actually really liked it, and I had no reason to be nervous!  I was sure I would have no idea what was going on, since this is my first introduction to Buffy.  But you don’t need to have seen Buffy in order to know what’s going on, which was really nice.  I think it does reference the show, but she does a great job at explaining what’s going on, and what got us to the events we see in this book.  I definitely want to watch the show now!  If only to see the world White was working from.

There were some things I wasn’t surprised by but I still loved seeing how everything played out.  I’m really curious to see what will happen next.

I loved Nina, and she was really easy to relate to.  I really felt for her with everything going on, and even though I understood where her mom and sister were coming from, I still found myself really hating them at times.  Nina really seemed like an underdog but there were some people who seemed really supportive of her and wanted her to do well.  I kind of wonder what would happen if some things hadn’t happened, and if things would have turned out differently.  I guess we’ll never know, but I’m still looking forward to seeing what’s next for her and everyone else.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Slayer but it was a really fun read.

Book Review: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Book: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Published January 2019 by Imprint|514 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Nikolai Duology #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

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.

I’m been pretty excited about King Of Scars for a while!  And while I didn’t love it, I still really liked it.

I loved seeing Nikolai’s story, and I was really surprised with how everything ended.  It’s definitely an adventure, and I don’t blame him for wanting to keep everything a secret.  It’s been ages since I read the Shadow and Bone series, but I did not see that coming.

We also have Nina and Zoya narrate King Of Scars, and it was nice to to see Zoya’s perspective on what was going on with Nikolai.  It was also nice to see what was going on with Nina, and while Zoya and Nikolai were dealing with what was going on with Nikolai.

I was nervous going into this book because I hadn’t re-read Shadow And Bone or Six Of Crows ahead of time.  If you haven’t read those series, you don’t need to in order to read this one.  Bardugo does a great job at explaining what’s happened before and she weaves it into the story really well.  You’ll understand what’s going on in this book, which worked out great for me because I didn’t remember anything.

Still, reading those books first is something I’d recommend, because it does set up the world we see in this book, and it does give you the background and history you need it.  It just makes understanding this world easier, but it’s not necessary.

I want to randomly switch over to Isaac for a second.  We do get a few chapters from his perspective, and while it’s a way to see what’s going on while Nikokai is dealing with things, I also didn’t particularly care for those chapters.  They didn’t really stand out to me, and all I pretty much remember is that they exist.

It seemed like it took a while for things to get going- it wasn’t until the end of the book that things really got interesting, and part of me wishes that it didn’t seem to meander for a lot of the book.  That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.

4 stars.  I really liked King Of Scars, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Audio Book Review: We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Book: We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Published February 2019 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours, 54 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: We Set The Dark On Fire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

I liked We Set The Dark On Fire!  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, but I definitely have some mixed feelings.

I’d say it’s The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Belles meets Girls Of Paper And Fire.  I’d say it’s more Handmaid’s Tale than any of the other two books I mentioned, but I think it reminded me of The Belles and Girls Of Paper And Fire because of girls chosen to do be something, and getting trained to it.  Plus the whole forbidden romance you see in Girls Of Paper And Fire.

I really felt for Dani, and what she was trying to protect.  She has to make a lot of hard choices, but I did find myself wishing that we had more with her parents.  I know she wanted to protect her secret, that her parents gave up everything so she could do better, but I never really felt like that was in danger of being revealed.  I felt like her joining the Resistance, and her falling in love with Carmen was more at stake than sacrificing what her parents did.

I really wanted to know more about the school she went to, and how it was decided who was Primero and who was Segundo.  I really wanted to know that.  It was easy enough with Handmaid’s Tale- Handmaidens were the ones who could still bear children, while wives sometimes could not.  But I wasn’t sure how it decided- if it was explained, I clearly missed it.

So, I did listen to the audio book, which I think didn’t help with the world building.  The narrator, Kyla Garcia was really great, and she did an awesome job narrating.  I loved her narration of Joyride by Anna Banks, but having finished this one, I don’t think it completely worked on audio.  At least for me.  There were details, like who was Primero and who was Segundo that were either left out, or completely forgettable.  There were quotes from the guide that the Medio School For Girls had, and they were completely forgettable as well.  I didn’t mind them, but for audio, it didn’t work.

And there was this story at the beginning of the book that explained how the world came to be.  I liked it, but by the end of the book, I had completely forgotten what it was about.  I think that’s what made me think of The Belles.

The idea was interesting, and I liked a Handmaid’s Tale-type story in a fantasy setting.  It’s not at all a Handmaid’s Tale re-telling but it was the only thing I could think of the entire time I was reading this book.  That is partly why I picked this book up, and I did like it.  The world and characters are interesting, and I do want to know where the story is headed.  I think this is the one time that a comparison to another book is dead-on.

I didn’t really care about Carmen, but I did like Dani.  I can’t say I’m surprised by some of the things that happened between them, but I did want to keep listening to see if any of my guesses were right.  It was fairly predictable, but I didn’t mind.  I liked the overall story enough that I didn’t mind the predictability.

3 stars.  If you love the Handmaid’s Tale, you really like this book.  It reminded me way too much of the Handmaid’s Tale for me to love this book, and it’s similarity to it made it hard to see it as a separate book.  Still, I liked the world and the story enough that I want to know what happens next.