A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray is a title that may ring a few bells. Throughout this week, a bunch of incredible, hard-working bloggers had talked and promoted this stunning YA fantasy debut novel on their platforms. They’ve all done such an exceptional job, and as the organizer of Caffeine Book Tours, I could not be more grateful to have all of them on board.
With all that said, I figured that the best way to end the #ShiftingStarsTour is to highlight aspects of A Shifting of Stars that these twenty-nine (29) bloggers greatly loved!
Before I proceed with enumerating five (5) of the many things they adored about this recently released YA fantasy debut, allow me to introduce all of you to a bit more information about this book!
by Kathy Kimbray
read the full synopsis.
A squandering emperor. A handsome stranger. A reluctant heroine. And the ancient magic that will capsize a kingdom.
Seventeen-year-old Meadow Sircha watched her mother die from the wilting sickness. Tormented by the knowledge that the emperor failed to import the medicine that would have saved her, she speaks out at a gathering of villagers, inciting them to boycott his prized gladiator tournament.
But doing so comes at a steep cost.
Arrested as punishment for her impulsive tongue, Meadow finds herself caught up in the kind of danger she’s always tried to avoid. After a chance meeting with an enigmatic boy, she’s propelled on a perilous trek across the outer lands. But she soon unearths a staggering secret: one that will shift her world—and the kingdom—forever.
REASON #1: THE BOOK COVER IS TOO GORGEOUS FOR WORDS
But let me try to use words anyway. When Kathy Kimbray reached out to me and introduced me to her debut novel, my jaw quite literally dropped. I am an unashamed practitioner of a thing called “judging books by their covers” — and wow, A Shifting of Stars truly does not fail to impress with its superb book cover.
From the array of cool blue hues to the elegant gold ornaments framing the title, there are a lot of little details to love about this book cover. I think it successfully captures the atmosphere of the book: lush, fantastical, and with delicious hints of intrigue and mystery. But don’t just take my word for it! In fact, one of the #ShiftingStarsTour bloggers, Leah from Starlight-Reads, took the time to extensively review this impeccable book cover, describing it as “purely breahtaking and elegant.”
REASON #2: THE STORY FOLLOWS AN UNLIKABLE HEROINE YOU’LL STILL REALLY ROOT FOR
The book’s synopsis hints at the presence of a “reluctant heroine,” and based on reviews from the #ShiftingStarsTour bloggers, A Shifting of Stars definitely delivers on that promise! While some outright fell in love with Meadow just from the first few chapters, some had described her character as unlikable but with great intentions and a headstrong personality. The general consensus is that 17-year-old Meadow is a strong-willed heroine you’d immediately cheer for!
Our main character is extremely well drawn. She so well defined and well rounded that she feels like she must have come directly onto the page out of some in Kimbray’s real life! That doesn’t mean that she’s a perfect heroine – she is in fact at times deeply dislikable… just like most people. However, that certainly didn’t turn me away from her! Meadow is flawed and naive, but she is also fiercely loyal to her family and true to her motivations. Kimbray’s writing is flowing and lucid, making it really easy to fall into the story.
— Read the rest of the review from The Bookish Mrs. Harding
Another remarkable aspect of A Shifting of Stars is the character development its young protagonist undergoes. Her voice grows stronger as the story progresses, as she tries to learn to be better and to make sense of the whirlwind of events happening to her.
Speaking of the main character, I wasn’t taken by Meadow immediately, but I do admire her courage and quiet strength as she faces one perilous situation after another. I grew to love her more so during the last 150 pages of the book when I understood her better. That singular moment while she reflects on her mother’s death allowed me to have a connection with her. She’s a very imperfect character, and I admire the author for not sticking with a heroine that is like a PowerPuff Girl who aims to save everyone from death and evil. All she wanted was to keep her loved ones safe, regardless of her own safety, and doesn’t aim to please others and bend to their will.
— Read the rest of the review from Celuna @ celuna maria
REASON #3: IT TACKLES HARD-HITTING THEMES SUCH AS GRIEF
In my author interview with Kathy Kimbray, she enumerated three key themes that are explored in A Shifting of Stars: strength, relationships, and certainly not the least, grief. Indeed, the loss of a parent is an incredibly sensitive, exceedingly difficult experience. How A Shifting of Stars portrays Meadow’s grief over the death of her mother, together with her gradual journey towards acceptance and healing, is thoughtful and painstakingly realistic. Some may even describe it as cathartic.
The theme of grief is the starting point of this story and Meadow’s journey, but it is also woven throughout the whole novel. It shows us people dealing with grief very differently from one another, but it also shows us acceptance: when a character thinks they should stop grieving, that they should be over it by now, they are told that it’s okay. It takes time, and that’s perfectly fine. This theme was handled with care, and the result is really well done. I related to some aspects of this, and I felt my heart breaking a few times.
— Read the rest of the review from Noémie @ Tempest of Books
Set in a fantasy world where those in power keep the kingdom’s wealth and resources among themselves, leaving the lower social classes to fight tooth and nail for their survival, grief and loss are unfortunately inevitable. It is certainly important to portray these themes with heightened sensitivity and careful thought. Especially because grief and loss are not exclusive to fictional worlds but are actually personal experiences so many readers can relate to.
REASON #4: FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ARE A CENTRAL ELEMENT IN ITS PLOT
While I was reading through all the book reviews from the #ShiftingStarsTour bloggers, I noticed that the book was frequently applauded for its focus on familial bonds, especially the relationship between Meadow and her parents. The emphasis on family is also more prominent compared to the attention given to the story’s romantic development, which is admittedly a very refreshing and welcomed change of pace in YA fantasy.
Fantasy books are filled with absent or unworthy parents, however, in A Shifting of Stars we get to see a unique bond that Meadow shares with both her parents. Speaking about bonds, I also loved the friendship between Anai and Meadow, it was heartwarming and sweet.
— Read the rest of the review from Su @ Bemused Bibliophile
As a Southeast Asian myself, I always love reading about family dynamics in stories, especially in the fantasy genre. The importance of family, together with sacrifices made for the sake of holding the family together or protecting family members, is something I can personally relate to — and reading about it in stories sort of makes me feel seen. In the case of A Shifting of Stars, I’m pleasantly surprised to encounter a remarkable, driven heroine who’s primarily motivated by her love for her parents.
Aside from really great family dynamics, A Shifting of Stars also makes the effort to highlight and to develop meaningful friendships among its cast of well-written characters.
Though there is a romantic undertone to this book, it plays a small part. The author chooses instead to focus on the love between family and friends. Seeing Meadow do whatever need to be done to protect those she loves. I found this to be utterly fresh, and think it made the story, and characters much more believable and likeable.
— Read the rest of the review from Becky’s Book Blog
REASON #5: THERE ARE WELL-WRITTEN TWISTS TO SPICE THINGS UP
I think it’s safe to say that twists can be pretty tricky sometimes. More often than not, they either really hit the mark or miss it entirely. In successfully pulling off a well-written twist in a story, it has to be both unconventional and sensible, both unexpected and meaningful.
The book also screams mystery, intrigue and action and is an absolute firecracker in terms of twists and turns. The plot twists were absolutely unpredictable and I have no idea how the author managed to connect the characters with such precision beautifully.
— Read the rest of the review from Gayatri @ Per_fictionist
Another common sentiment among the #ShiftingStarsTour participants is how most of them did not foresee the direction the story was taking, enjoying its twist-y path and appreciating how all the surprises towards the book’s ending came together. In fact, after commending the incredibly high stakes set up in A Shifting of Stars, Noémie @ Tempest of Books also praised, “The story took very surprising turns as well; all the plot twists were to some extent surprising, but they all made complete sense. The direction the novel took was not one I could have ever guessed, and these are some of my favourite stories.”
Honestly, if well-written story twists are not enough to convince you that Kathy Kimbray’s A Shifting of Stars is undoubtedly worth picking up, I don’t know what will.
Just in case you missed it: through Caffeine Book Tours, I have organized #ShiftingStarsTour, wherein an enthusiastic bunch of fantastic book bloggers are featuring Kathy Kimbray’s debut novel throughout the whole week! Follow along by checking out the tour schedule and participate through the hashtag #ShiftingStarsTour.
Moreover, in cooperation with the author herself, we are conducting a giveaway that is open worldwide! The first winner will receive a signed paperback copy of A Shifting of Stars, while the second winner will win an Amazon gift card/voucher worth $10.
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 Have you added A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray to your TBR? What do you think of its book cover?
🌻 Do you think there should be more family-centered stories in the YA fantasy genre?
🌻 What are some of your favorite YA books that sensitively deal with the theme of grief?