Blog Tour: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons + Guest Post: Behind the Cover Story + INTL Giveaway!

There’s nothing you can’t do.

I’ve been waiting too long for this blog tour but it’s finally hereee! Today is my stop for 100 Days of Sunlight Blog Tour and without further ado, I’m delighted to not only share 1̶5̶0̶0̶+̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶d̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶x̶c̶i̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶a̶b̶b̶l̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ my review, but I’ll also have a guest post from Abbie herself where she talks about how she came up with those lovely, gorgeous, shiny cover! Also, don’t forget to stay tuned ’til the end of this post because you don’t want to miss the opportunity to join the International Giveaway of 3 eBook Copies of 100 Days of Sunlight! Now, let’s get into the review, shall we?!

100 Days of Sunlight follows our main character, the 16 years old Tessa Dickinson, who recently got into a car crash and is now temporary blind. Being a poet who consistently shares her works on her blog, this obviously took her by surprise because now she feels she can’t do anything and trap in the darkness. Trying to find a way to cheer up their granddaughter, Tessa’s grandpa and grandma decided to post a newspaper ad to look for a typewriter, someone that could help Tessa back to the comfort of her blogging and writing zone. Enter 16 years old Weston Ludovico, a bright, confident, and obnoxiously optimistic amputee, who happened to saw the ad and decided to help Tessa to come out of her misery and get her back up on her knees. Through many ups and downs, and after Life knocked both of them down with different challenges during different times, we got to witnessed how the two started as barely a stranger, and become each other’s biggest support system.
 
If you ask me how I found out about 100 Days of Sunlight in the first place, it’s not a special story, really. But believe me, after I read the ARC twice (yes, you read that right), it definitely leaves a special mark in my heart. Long story short, I was doing my usual core, browsing mindlessly on NetGalley, and that’s when I saw the cover for the very first time. I’m not trying to sound overdramatic when I said it’s love at the first sight, but it is love at the first sight. I read the synopsis and I knew I had to read this story. I immediately went to do more research about the book and I ended up on Abbie’s blog, which completely amazed me due to her wonderful blog posts, her joyful videos, and the fact that 100 Days of Sunlight is her debut book and she’s going to publish it independently. Right at that second, I signed myself up to become a part of the blog tour and I was screaming (okay, not screaming, more like an ugly squeal) when I received the email from Abbie, saying that she’d be happy to have me as the part of the tour!
 

Title: 100 Days of Sunlight | Series: – | Author: Abbie Emmons | Genre: ContemporaryYoung Adult | Publication Date: August 7, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: Author | Links: Amazon

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]
→ Graphic description of accidents.
→ Mention of PTSD and traumatic experiences.[/su_spoiler]

A fearless coming-of-age love story wrapped in a relatable modern setup with a wonderful representation of mental health disorder and disability.
I’m always a big fan of classic coming-of-age love story. What’s not to like about it? It’s fun, reckless, and it reminds me of the good ol’ days (I just realized I sound super old by saying that, when in fact I’m not even 25 yet… but let’s skip that). 100 Days of Sunlight feels close to one, but the fact that it didn’t feature your typical mainstream couple, is what makes me love it even harder. The characters are definitely my most favorite thing about this story (and I’ll ramble more about them later!), but I’d be lying if I say that the plot didn’t amaze me. The simplicity yet complexity of it feels perfect and it really balanced the strong presences from the characters. Tessa was miserable and Weston wanted to help her, because he was in her position once and he knew how it feels like. That’s really it. That’s what this whole story is about. But Abbie managed to develop such simple premise into a well-crafted and intriguing plot. We got to see how Weston worked for his goal to help Tessa through four incredible chapters: smell, taste, sound, and touch, and every one of them didn’t fail to make me smile and swoon over their relationship.
 
Remarkable characters with a contrast personality between the reserved Tessa and the spontaneous Weston, and the different path that they chose to heal themselves.
The characters from 100 Days of Sunlight is definitely my personal favorite aspect about this book and I couldn’t help but rooting for each and every single one of them. The main characters, Tessa and Weston, are obviously the center of this story and it will be impossible to not like them, but I’m surprised to find myself to be falling for the other side characters too, starting from Rudy — Weston’s most loyal best friend, Tessa’s caring grandpa and grandma, to Weston’s adorable three little brothers — Noah, Aidan and Henry. I also adore Tessa’s internet friends and their cute interaction, although I wish we got to see them a bit more in the story!

This story delivered through a dual POV, Tessa and Weston, and the best thing about it is you can tell exactly the differences between them, and not just because they had different chapters, but their contrast personality completely shines through the way they were talking and thinking. And the multidimension of these characters was priceless. Tessa is not just a shy girl and Weston is not just a spontaneous boy. We got to see how both of them evolved, both for better or worse, and I think it’s crucial to show a character’s complexity, not just when they were at the top of the world, but also when they drowned and stucked at the bottom.

Tessa Dickinson — The story started with Tessa’s nightmare about her car crash and how she lost her sight because of it. This incident shocked Tessa to the core and now she had to get through her day in the darkness. Abbie delivered Tessa’s emotions with choice of graceful words, and it was impactful. She didn’t use any complex or complicated words, but instead decided to go with simpler ones and combine them into an exquisite prose. Surprisingly, many of my favorite lines from this book are coming from Tessa’s thought and not from her actual poems. They were fierce and raw, and I got chills from reading them.

I drag my fingernails down the glass; I clench my teeth together; I curl my toes. It’s the opposite of falling apart; the opposite of exploding. I’m like a star before it goes supernova. Collapsing inward.

Weston Ludovico — If Weston is a book cover, it will looks exactly like the cover of this book. He’s a ray of sunshine for everyone that knows him, but especially for Tessa. I enjoyed his character so much because you can’t never guess what’s he’s going to do or to say next. His candidness was not jerky and it was refreshing. My favorite thing about him is how he chose the hard path to face the world again after losing his legs. For me, his character development was one of the most intense to watch. The moment he lost his legs, he kept saying to himself that he wanted to be normal. Because for society, normal is having a complete and functioning body parts. But then, he decided to face his biggest fear (which is to appear as dependent and weak) and he worked hard to change that into his strength. He didn’t want to be normal anymore. He wanted to be treated as a normal person. And that’s the most intense change and development that I’ve ever seen.

It’s the first time in three years anyone has ever met me without that look of pity on their face. The first time anyone has ever looked at me and not seen me. The first time anyone has stood before me — with perfectly normal legs — and complained about their own problem. The feeling is exhilarating.

Rudy Kaufmann — I just want to say… where do I get myself a best friend like Rudy Kaufmann?! His friendship with Weston was beautiful, pure and solid. I cried once, well, twice because I read this book twice, and it was during the same scene between Rudy and Weston at the hospital. I’m not sure if I can explain more about the scene without spoiling too much here, but this scene was flawless. The emotional intensity involved in this scene was one of the most genuine interaction that I’ve ever seen. Will I re-read this book, fully knowing that I’ll cry during this scene again? 100% I will.

I felt like every drop of energy and life had drained out of my body through one of those tubes. But I could feel the warmth of Rudy’s hand, strong and desperate. It was like a rescue, someone pulling me out of a black ocean. I would have drowned if he wasn’t there. I would have drowned.

The only thing that keeping me from giving a full five stars, was the using of repetitive words and sentences. I’m not familiar with this method and I’m not completely sure how I feel about them, but I’m sensing that the point of it was to make a scene appears as more intense.

final thoughts

Overall, I was having a wonderful time with this book. I wish I could write a better review so I can truly express how I experienced it, but reading 100 Days of Sunlight feels easy, yet after I finished the story, it left me with impactful messages that I kept thinking for days. If you’re planning to go on a book haul very soon while also wanting to support a debut and indie author, please consider picking up a copy of this book!

★★★★½

Thank you, Abbie, for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

bonus contents

Before officially ending my review, I just want to give a massive appreciation to Abbie for her incredible hard work to publish her debut independently. I’ve never seen such a well-prepared marketing campaigns and contents, and SHE DID THAT ALL BY HERSELF! If you ever decided to pick up her book, don’t forget to also check out 100 Days of Sunlight Website to get access to all fun bonus contents! From author Q&A, aesthetic boards, book playlist, official merchs (which looks superb!) to a giveaway! I’ll attach the playlist below because I’ve been listening non-stop to it!
And that’s my review! If you’re still reading until this point, thank you! Now, let’s get into the fun part, where Abbie talks all about that gorgeous cover! If you’re ever wondering about what’s inspired her, how she came up with the idea, and how’s the matter of technicality, you’re in luck, my friend. Read further to get all the answers! 

HOW I DESIGNED MY BOOK COVER? by ABBIE EMMONS

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a phrase we hear a lot. It’s usually meant metaphorically, but this maxim gained its popularity because it’s true in a literal sense – most people judge books by their covers. If a book cover catches our eye, we’re more likely to pick it up and read it.

Needless to say, designing a great book cover is no easy task. So what made me want to design my own?

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to do pretty much everything myself. (Hence the reason I’m an indie author, lol) That’s the biggest reason why I ended up designing my own book cover. As I was writing 100 Days of Sunlight, I knew exactly what I wanted the cover to look like: an explosion of happiness and sunshine and different elements of the book, so that it would be kind of like a hidden picture that you only really understand after reading the book. Since I’m pretty handy with Photoshop, I thought it would be easier to design my own cover rather than explain my vision to someone else.

But let’s start at the beginning.

THE INSPIRATION
The cover art was inspired by a lot of things. First, the title of course! I knew a book with the word sunlight in the title had to be yellow. So after lots of playing around with colors, I decided on the perfect shade of sunshiny yellow.

I always knew that I wanted the cover art to be like a hidden picture – a bunch of elements from the book hidden in the artwork. (I was also very inspired by the cover art for Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin) I knew I wanted TONS OF FLOWERS, and I knew the perfect place to find them: the public domain. On sites like Biodiversity Heritage Library, there are so many beautiful botanical prints and other artwork available to use for free in artistic works like book covers!

GETTING CREATIVE
The fun part of any graphic design is getting creative with it. How can you repurpose something, flip it upside-down, use a piece here and a piece there, etc? It takes a lot of trial and error, but when everything works together to create something beautiful, it’s all worth it.

One thing I’m not talented with is a paintbrush. So for the specific illustrations I knew I wanted on the cover art (ie: a yellow ukulele, a waffle, etc.) I had to reach out to a freelance artist to help me. I ended up working with the very talented Stasia and she made my imaginings a reality. Her watercolor illustrations paired beautifully with the public domain flowers, birds, and butterflies. Right from the start, I knew it was going to look beautiful!

Like I said before, I have a little bit of background in graphic design and I’m pretty familiar with Photoshop. So it was actually super fun to play around with the cover art. I started with the typography and then worked everything else around the title.

GETTING TECHNICAL
The not-so-fun part of cover design is the technical side of it. You have to make sure you’re using the right dimensions and resolution so that your book prints high-quality. You also have to make sure you’re using press color profiles – CYMK, not RGB. All the details made my head spin after a while, but it had to be taken care of!

Another technical thing to do is jacket art. Because for a paperback, you need an image that wraps around an entire book, includes a spine, and doesn’t bleed over any lines where it’s not supposed to. Hardcovers get even more complicated with the inside leaves that fold over the front and back covers of the book. It’s a long, tedious process of correcting files, uploading files, ordering books, waiting for them to ship to you, finding errors and fixing them, rinse, repeat.

But, in the end, it all pays off – when I get to hold paperback and hardcover copies of my book in my hands and marvel at how beautiful it turned out!! I’m very proud of the cover art and jacket design, and I can’t wait for other readers to hold this book in their hands. Nothing is quite as satisfying as putting in hard work on a project and being happy with the finished product.

Let’s talk! Are you an indie author? Have you ever considered designing your own book cover? What would it look like?

about the author

Abbie Emmons
Abbie Emmons has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil.

What started out as an intrinsic love for storytelling has turned into her lifelong passion. There’s nothing she likes better than writing (and reading) stories that are both heartrending and humorous, with a touch of cute romance and a poignant streak of truth running through them.

Abbie is also a YouTuber, singer/songwriter, blogger, traveler, filmmaker, big dreamer, and professional waffle-eater. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new stories, you can find her road-tripping to national parks or binge-watching BBC Masterpiece dramas in her cozy Vermont home with a cup of tea and her fluffy white lap dog, Pearl.

If you want to see Abbie in her element (ranting about stories) check out her YouTube channel.

Author’s Website | Author’s Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

international giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Are you a fan of contemporary? Do you think about adding 100 Days of Sunlight into your next reading list?

Blog Tour: The Black Veins (Dead Magic #1) by Ashia Monet + Wallpapers

Once upon a time, a young girl lost her family and discovered a new one.

Woohoo, it’s time for another blog tour! But first of all, let me tell you how sorry I am to deliver this post in such late timing. Yesterday was my stop for The Black Veins Blog Tour which hosted by the lovely CW @ The Quiet Pond! Thank you, CW, for selecting me as one of this tour’s participant! The first time I heard about this book was when CW announced about this blog tour and I immediately knew that I 👏 NEED 👏 TO 👏 READ 👏 IT 👏 What makes this book a lot more wholesome is the fact that it’s Ashia Monet’s debut and she’s also publishing it independently! Say whaaat! We support badass, strong, and independent authors in this house! Okay, I’m going to stop rambling now and share more details about the book along with my review and of course, some free wallpapers inspired by The Black Veins from yours truly! ✌

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.

Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

Title: The Black Veins | Series: Dead Magic #1 | Author: Ashia Monet | Genre: FantasyYoung Adult | Publication Date: July 17, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: Author | Links: AmazonApple BooksBarnes & NobleIndigo

These trigger warnings below are written at the beginning of the book:

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]
→ Discussion of deceased parents, siblings, and potential parental and familial death
→ Description of mild bloodshed in violent scenes 
→ Mention of drugs and drug use, primarily marijuana 
→ Gun use Supernatural horror in the form of monsters, primarily found in Chapters 6, 12, and 25 
→ Car accident in Chapter 19 
→ Discussion of anxiety disorders and panic disorders primarily found in Chapters 22, 23, and 25 
→ Racial n-word slur, ending in-a, found in Chapter 21 (before you drag me, yes, I am Black) 
→ Mild anxiety attack in Chapter 25 [/su_spoiler]

And while there lies a story in where the melody has come from, more interesting is the story of where it is going.

quick thoughts

I recommend this book if you’re into:
⇾ Urban fantasy
⇾ Diverse and POC all around
⇾ Character-driven story
⇾ Adventureous quest
⇾ Teens actually act like teens
⇾ SUPERPOWER ✨

Things to be considered before picking up this book:
This book contains a lot of triggering contents. Check trigger warnings above.

more thoughts

The Black Veins is an outstanding fantasy debut from the indie author, Ashia Monet, full of action packs and dangerous quests yet balanced with strong bonding and relationship among its characters. The story started with our main character, Blythe Fulton, controlled by an unknown voice in her head to sleep-walk to her roof. Lucky for Blythe, her father grabbed her at the very last second before she jumped. A little later, we get informed that the Fultons are a magician family, and Blythe was one of the seven guardians that hold a great power (even though she can’t do any magic yet). We also get informed that a war was about to happen between two governments, The Black Veins and The Trident Republic. This war doesn’t really have any correlation to Blythe, whatsoever, but that was before she heard the voice inside her head that lured her to the roof and The Trident Republic was suspected to be the mastermind behind it. That was before her family got kidnapped and her best friend got hurt right in front of her eyes. Now, this war becomes personal and Blythe will do anything to save her family.

And while there lies a story in where the melody has come from, more interesting is the story of where it is going.

I rarely said this, but I found that almost all of the characters in this book to be loveable, yes, even the ones who were not being so kind. Each cast is so interesting and unique and even though it’s pretty obvious that Blythe is the lead in this story, it certainly didn’t feel like it because instead of solely focusing on her (well, the story is still focusing on her journey to save her family), we got many strong appearances from the other characters as well! And Monet did this so flawlessly. Each character got enough screen time for us to get to know them more, whether it’s their personality, backstory or just some random things that they like or dislike, and personally, it made me feel like I’m the part of the gang too! I could be… um, the Guardian of Books? Guardian of Ice Coffee? Where do I sign up to apply as one? Anyway, I love the fact that the relationships in this book are always changing. Someone can initially dislike the other but end up loving them and it was a great way to show how these characters developed along the process.

Kindness is underrated. We’re all focused on being self-sufficient, on being ‘strong’, but people like you? People like you are the reason the world is a place worth living in. You’re not dumb. You’re kind. You help each of us. Without you, we’d go down from one hit when we’re inches away from the finish line. You’re the one that helps us get back up again. You’re Support.

Image result for happy cry gif
me, being proud of my guardian children

Also, not to mention the wonderful concept of the magical world in this story. The universe that Monet’s created was magnificent. I don’t think I would do justice if I have to explain it because you really need to read this story by yourself to understand what I’m referring to, but The Black Veins universe feels familiar yet brand new to me. Instead of throwing massive details all at once about how this universe works, Monet managed to reveal fun detail as we go through each page, which to be honest, I really enjoyed!

final thoughts

I was truly had a good time with The Black Veins. It was a dynamic and character-oriented story with excellent diverse representation in a well-crafted universe that won’t be so easy to forget. I’m definitely looking forward for the sequel and see where the story goes next!

★★★★

Thank you to the author for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review and thank you CW @ The Quiet Pond for hosting this blog tour!

about the author

Photo of Ashia, smiling into the camera.

Ashia Monet is a speculative fiction author whose work almost always includes found families, diverse ensemble casts, the power of friendship, and equal parts humor and drama. Some of her favorite things are The Adventure Zone, Ariana Grande, and the color pink. You can follow her on Twitter @ashiamonet and Instagram @ashiawrites.

Twitter | InstagramDead Magic Series Twitter

wallpapers

I was having so much fun designing these two wallpapers! I really wanted to include a portrayal of every Guardian, but soon I realized it’s going to be impossible without the wallpapers turning into a chaos design! This one is inspired by Blythe Fulton and her endless courage to save her family. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Desktop WallpaperPhone Wallpaper

Are you a fan of urban fantasy? Do you think about adding this book into your next reading list?

Blog Tour: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim ft. Excerpts, Wallpaper & Giveaway!

My whole life, I’d been told what I couldn’t do because I was a girl. Well, this was my chance to find out.

It’s finally here! Today is my stop for #SpinTheDawnTour that hosted by Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea on Caffeine Book Tours! Thank you, Shealea, for selected and trusted me as one of the lucky bloggers that got to participate in this wonderful tour! I’m so excited for my stop because today, I’m going to e̶m̶o̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ share my review (well, more like a gush), some excerpts from the book (that will make you add it immediately to your own TBR), some wallpapers that I designed in honor of this debut release and of course (🥁🥁🥁) the international giveaway! So, stay tuned ’til the end of this post!

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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. 

★★★★★

Title: Spin the Dawn| Author: Elizabeth Lim | Genre: FantasyYoung Adult | Publication Date: July 9, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley | Read for: Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019 (current progress) | Links: Amazon Book Depository (Affiliate)

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Death, death of loved ones, sexism, violence.[/su_spoiler]

Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man—even with my eyes closed. Yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.

Quick Thoughts

One of my immediate reaction when I finished Spin the Dawn is that it was truly a magnificent fantasy retelling, even for someone who doesn’t read as much fantasy such as myself! So, if you’re usually not a fan of fantasy tale, but you’re looking forward to expanding your reading and going out of your comfort-reading-zone, I couldn’t recommend this enough!

More Thoughts

Spin the Dawn is a mesmerizing fantasy retelling of Mulan mixed with Project Runaway from debut author, Elizabeth Lim. Starring Maia, a young girl who born into a family of tailor and aspired to be one. Not just any regular tailor, but the best tailor in A’landi and eventually become the imperial tailor. Here’s the deal. Girls are not supposed to be tailor, just because. So, fighting this sexist tradition while also trying to save the remains of her family after the war, the day an imperial messenger came to her house to invite her unwell father to become the imperial tailor, Maia stepped in and disguised herself as her only remaining brother, Keton and her journey started.

This is where it would begin. Where I would restore the honor to my family’s name. Where I would prove that a girl could be the best tailor in A’landi.

Oh my gosh, how do I even started? I just freaking love everything about this book! Starting with the plot itself and how this book pitched, I’m always in for everything competition and quest-related, especially when it involves a badass female protagonist with a noble mission. This book divided into three main parts, the trial, the journey, and the oath. All three delivers a very different atmosphere and intensity, yet everything blends in and completed each other perfectly.

During the first part, I couldn’t help but amazed with the incredible worldbuilding, thanks to Lim’s magical hands. As I mentioned previously, fantasy is not something I usually read because I often stuck just when the story started, because I was getting overwhelmed with every little detail thrown in my face in such a short amount of time. But with Spin the Dawn, Lim really took her time to build a realistic yet magical universe. I can practically imagine everything so vividly, while also take pleasure in Lim’s enchanting proses and words. Character-wise, Maia is a strong main character that you couldn’t help but root for. Her tragic past and her pure ambition turned her into a character that won’t be so easy to forget.

Although I wish that the first part could be longer, as I found myself to enjoy the competition between Maia and the other eleven tailor master, the initial encounter between Maia and Edan, and the glimpse of interaction involving Lady Sarnai and Emperor Khanujin himself, the second part delivered more action pack to the story and it was intense. I enjoyed Maia’s journey and how her relationship with Edan started to grow stronger. My favorite thing about this part is that we got to learn how the magic works in this story, including how it works on Edan. The back and forth witty banter between these two made me swooning too hard!

“Will you be able to find your way back?” “To you, always.”

The third part is obviously the hardest to read, that lead us into the ending that made me internally scream “I need the second book right at this very second!!!”. Overall, I just had a freaking good time with this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The compelling and magical universe of Spin the Dawn combined with such strong characters and even stronger plots mixed with a solid #ownvoices rep, will give you a one of a kind reading experience.

About the Author

Image result for elizabeth limElizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Author Website (and newsletter)GoodreadsInstagramFacebook Twitter

Excerpts

[su_spoiler title=”→ Read excerpts!” style=”simple”]I had three brothers once.

Finlei was the oldest—the brave one. Nothing frightened him, not spiders or needles or a flogging from Baba’s cane. He was the quickest of us four children, fast enough to catch a fly with only his thumb and a thimble. But along with his dauntlessness came a craving for adventure. He despised having to work in our shop, having to spend the sun’s precious light sewing dresses and mending shirts. And he was careless with the needle, his fingers constantly bandaged from pricks and his work marred with uneven stitches. Stitches I would unpick and redo to save him from Baba’s lectures.

Finlei didn’t have the patience to become a tailor like Baba.

Sendo had patience, but not for sewing. My second brother was the poet in the family, and the only weaving he loved was of words, especially about the sea. He would tell stories about the beautiful garments Baba could sew, with such exquisite detail all the ladies in town clamored to buy them—only to find they didn’t exist.

As punishment, Baba made him sit on the pier behind our shop, unraveling thread from silkworm cocoons. Often I stole out to sit with him, to listen to his tales of what lay beyond that never-ending horizon of water.

“What color is the ocean?” Sendo would ask me.

“Blue, silly. What else?”

“How will you be the best tailor in A’landi if you don’t know your colors?” Sendo shook his head and pointed at the water. “Look again. Look into the depths of it.”

“Sapphire,” I said, studying the ocean’s gentle crests and troughs. The water sparkled. “Sapphire, like the stones Lady Tainak wears around her neck. But there’s a hint of green … jade green. And the foam curls up like pearls.”

Sendo smiled. “That’s better.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and hugged me close. “One day, we’ll sail the seas, you and I. And you’ll see the blue in all the world.”

Because of Sendo, blue was my favorite color. It painted the white of my walls when I opened my window each morning and saw the sea glittering in the sunlight. Sapphire or cerulean. Azure. Indigo. Sendo trained my eyes to see the variations in color, to appreciate the dullest brown to the brightest pink. How light could bend something into a thousand possibilities.

Sendo’s heart was for the sea, not for becoming a tailor like Baba.

Keton was my third brother, and the closest to me in age. His songs and jokes made everyone laugh, no matter what mood we were in. He always got in trouble for dyeing our silks green instead of purple, for carelessly stepping on newly pressed dresses with dirty sandals, for forgetting to water the mulberry trees, and for never spinning yarn fine enough for Baba to knit into a sweater. Money slipped through his fingers like water. But Baba loved him best—even though Keton didn’t have the discipline to become a tailor.

Then there was me—Maia. The obedient daughter. My earliest memories were of sitting contentedly with Mama as she worked the spinning wheel, listening to Finlei, Sendo, and Keton playing outside while Baba taught me to roll Mama’s thread so it wouldn’t tangle.

My heart was for becoming a tailor: I learned to thread needles before I could walk, to make a line of perfect stitches before I could talk. I loved my needlework and was happy learning Baba’s trade instead of going out with my brothers. Besides, when Finlei taught me to spar and shoot arrows, I always missed the target. Even though I soaked up Sendo’s fairy tales and ghost stories, I could never tell one of my own. And I always fell for Keton’s pranks, no matter how often my older brothers warned me of them.

Baba proudly told me I was born with a needle in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other. That if I hadn’t been born a girl, I might have become the greatest tailor in A’landi, sought after by merchants from one coast of the continent to the other.

“A tailor’s worth is not measured by his fame, but by the happiness he brings,” Mama said, seeing how disappointed Baba’s words made me. “You will hold the seams of our family together, Maia. No other tailor in the world can do that.”

I remembered beaming at her. Back then, all I wanted was for my family to be happy and whole like this always.[/su_spoiler]

Wallpaper

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The credit of original images goes to Fabian Struwe, Daniel Leone & Jackson Hendry

International Giveaway

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But wait… There’s More!

It’s only Day 3 of #SpinTheDawnTour, so don’t forget to check other’s fun posts! You can see the completed schedule below! There will also a fun Twitter on the last day of the tour, so make sure to join if you want to have a fun, spoiler-free discussion with the others!

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Are you planning to pick up this book for your next read this summer?

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

So, it’s Day 8 of the #UltimateBlogTours for After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward that hosted by the wonderful Dave aka TheWriteReads! Today is my stop and I’m excited to share my initial thought about this dystopian book! Also, you can check out the other posts from many amazing bloggers on #AfterTheGreenWithered and #UltimateBlogTours on Twitter!

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

They tell me the country looked different back then. They talk of open borders and flowing rivers. They say the world was green. But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

Title: After the Green Withered | Author: Kristin Ward | Publisher: Independently Published | Genre: DystopianScience Fiction | Publication Date: May 18, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: Author + Dave @ TheWriteReads (Thank you!) | LINKS: Book Depository (Affiliate)

My initial thought about this book is the massive info-dumping in the prologue. While this is highly informative and could be useful to help readers to understand the backstory of how the Earth ended up like how it told in the story, I personally struggled to get through it since it felt very technical and textbook-y, but I’m glad this writing style is over at the end of the prologue and continued with a totally different take on the first chapter.

The first chapter felt like a totally different book. While it’s full of narrative with no dialogue, I was completely surprised that I get to enjoy it. While the issue is far from light, the story was told cleverly by Ward as it was incredibly descriptive and easy to follow, especially for a slow reader like me. Not going to lie, many aspects of this first chapter made me nostalgic as it reminds me of a lot of popular books and movies back then. The general storyline was very Divergent, as we introduced to Enora, the main character who lived with her parents and was about to graduate and pick her job. The government-controlled universe was very Hunger Games as it really reminds me of the big ol’ Capitol. And the water-currency system was very In Time (2011), except it’s water and not time. Even the barcode system on the wrist was almost similar!

I’m really intrigued to see where this story going and how it’s going to end. 

Are you a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic book? Have you read After the Green Withered?

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Hey everyone! I’m back with a book review post after I’ve been MIA for the past five days. Two days long graduation ceremonies + slight fever really got the best of me. But, I’m so excited to share with you that I’ve got selected to be a part of The Weight of Our Sky’s SEA blog tour. This blog tour is specifically targeted bloggers with SEA backgrounds and here is the complete schedule of the blog tour, in case you want to check out everyone’s post!

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Melati Ahmad has imagined her mother’s death countless times. Plagued by gruesome thoughts she believes are put into her head by a djinn, Melati has developed an intricate set of tapping rituals to tame the monster within and keep her mother safe.
 
But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in  her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.
 
With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

★★★★ ½

Title: The Weight of Our Sky | Author: Hanna Alkaf | Publisher: Salaam Reads | Genre: Historical Fiction | Publication Date: February 5, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley + Vicky Who Reads (Thank you!) | LINKS: Amazon • Goodreads • Barnes and NobleBook Depository (Affiliate) • IndieBound • Bookalicious!

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Anxiety triggers, death, graphic violence, OCD & racism.[/su_spoiler]

Gripping and a hair-raising story of a prominent historical fiction, built with the perfect balance of culture, mental health, and religion representation.

First of all, I’m not really a big fan of historical fiction. I’m having a hard time to enjoy and relate them, especially when I’m not familiar with the said historic event. Second of all, the moment I realized about the existence of this book, I was hype. The Weight of Our Sky is an extremely tough book, right from its first sentence. It’s not a light reading that you can enjoy underneath the sunshine with a glass of ice tea in your other hand (But if that’s how you read your book, then go ahead! Don’t mind me here!) However, Hanna Alkaf successfully brings out the ugly part of historical event in a form of beautifully crafted fiction and it was fascinating. The integration of cultural references, mental health representation, and religious aspects made this book remarkable and won’t be very easy to forget.

All of the cultural references in this book made my Asian heart burst of happiness. I finally get to read something and relate to everything mentioned. Even though I’m Indonesian, the similarity of Indonesian and Malaysian culture is very close, and to witness them throughout this story, it was truly an experience. Non-Asian readers might not notice these references since they’re tiny and seems like just a random explanation. Details such as going to market with your best friend after school and buy local snacks and ice-cold drinks because we’re living in a tropical country and it’s burning hot during the day, visiting small shops just for the heck out of it and not buying anything, Melati’s favorite food and drink, the mentioned of woman devil who sucks blood, and many more. All of these are something that I’m very familiar with. I grow up by actually experiencing these references and it made me ecstatic to see them properly written in this book.

“You’re not worried about Pontianaks, are you? And if you’re naughty, I’ll tell her to come and take you, too!”

As for the mental health representation, this book summarizes it all together. Anxiety and OCD is a big part of Melati and Alkaf wonderfully presented it in such a graceful way. The inner conversation between Melati and the so-called Djinn and the description of Melati’s tapping as a way to cope with her anxiety/OCD was greatly written. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where I truly get to understand the MC’s mind and sense their emotions and feelings. I also very much appreciated that Alkaf brings out these issues and created a flawed MC, where their flaws are actually a part of them and affect their lives and decision making and not just to enrich the story.

“You can’t trust him, you can’t trust him, he’ll think you’re crazy, he’ll leave you.”

Lastly, as a Muslim, to read a story where my religion was a big part of the story, I feel extremely proud. The mentioned of Djinn, going to Ustaz for seeking medication, Melati’s confused thought about the using of ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attacks instead during the prays, it all happened then and it all still happening to me. We do believe that Djinn existed, and even some Muslims still believe that when you’re not being faithful and close enough to God, that’s the cause of your anxiety, depression, and stress. Being a Muslim herself, Alkaf delivered all of these intricate perspectives from Muslims and made the best sense out of it in this book.

Overall, The Weight of Our Sky was an incredible historical book. It got the right balance of everything without pushing too much. I love how the plot was at a steady pace yet it was still just as thrilling. The horror will haunt you and the drama will wreck your heart. It’s definitely one of my favorite read for this year!

For my stop, I got the opportunity to also share an aesthetic design (in this case, a lockscreen) along with the review that I have written previously. Here’s the one that I made, inspired by Melati and her fierceness in The Weight of Our Sky! Feel free to use it/share it wherever you want! 🙂

About the Author

Hanna Alkaf graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and spent over ten years writing everything from B2B marketing emails to investigative feature articles, from non-profit press releases to corporate brochures. She worked in Chicago as an online copywriter for several years upon graduation before coming home. She’s been a senior writer at Marie Claire Malaysia, the communications manager of education non-profit Teach For Malaysia, and a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in the Malaysian iterations of Marie Claire, Shape, and Esquire, as well as a host of other media both print and online.

Hanna now spends her time making it up as she goes along, both as an author of fiction and as a mom. THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY is her first novel. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family.

(Photo credit: Azalia Suhaimi)

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Giveaway

The prize: a copy of The Weight of Our Sky & a Kampung House coloring book! The coloring book consists of gorgeous line drawings of wooden kampung houses that would have been common in 1969–more info here!

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US/INTL Pre-Order Giveaway

Preorder or request The Weight of Our Sky from your local library to receive

  • an enamel pin designed by Rizal Aziz
  • a bookmark
  • a signed bookplate illustrated by Hanna Alkaf
  • a pop-up card featuring scenes of old-school Malaysia from Loka Made, illustrated by Fei Giap

For more information, check out the full preorder giveaway here.

Malaysian Bookalicious! Pre-Order Giveaway

Info here and here.

Preorder your special signed copies of The Weight of Our Sky in either paperback or hardcover from Bookalicious! to receive

  • a bookmark (paperback)
  • a bookmark and enamel pin (hardcover)

(Please note that preorders through Bookalicious! come with their own giveaway items and are not eligible for the US/INTL giveaway.)

Find more information on the prizes hereFind more information on the Bookalicious! promotion here.