Top 5 Tuesday is a fun, weekly meme that asks you to pick 5 books that fit that week’s theme. It was created by Bionic Bookworm and is currently being hosted by Meeghan Reads. You should check out their wonderful blog for more details and the list of prompts!
It’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday! For this week’s cover scavenger hunt, I’ll be looking for some of my favorite books with crowns on the cover. This was, once again, surprisingly difficult, though not as bad as last week’s keys. That being said, I managed to find five books that I truly enjoyed that also have a crown on the cover.
So let’s jump into the post!
#1. Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Are you looking for a dark fairytale that features a kickass female main character? This might be the book for you! And it has a teeny, tiny crown right about the title, so I get to include it in this list. I loved this story so much; it made me emotional in ways I wasn’t expecting and it was such an incredibly written story. It’s also the first in a series, so I get to read more about our fine gremlin girl, Vanja, and the encyclopedia who loves her, Emeric.
#2. Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
You all know how much I love Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. It’s definitely in my top five favorite books of all time! That being said, I don’t talk about the sequel, Redemptor, nearly enough. I loved this book so much! It built on what Raybearer started, growing the world and the characters in the best of ways. It also had some pretty creepy elements that I just ate up! I’m glad Tarisai is rocking a crown on the cover so I could include it on the list.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Little Thieves by Margaret Owen hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours! This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and, spoiler alert, it did not disappoint! A loose retelling of The Goose Girl, this is a young adult fantasy that blends the magic of a dark fairytale with the excitement of a heist novel. It’s atmospheric, it’s engaging, and it left me feeling like I immediately wanted to re-read it!
Before we get more into this post, though, we must do our thank-yous! Thank you so much to the team at TBR & Beyond Tours for giving me a spot on this one. Thank you to the publisher, Henry Holt & Company, and Netgalley for providing me a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation and an honest review. It is always appreciated and even more so when I ended up loving the book as much as I did! Also, seeming as this is a tour, there are of course quite a few incredible blogger/bookstgrammers that are involved. If you would like to see the schedule so see their awesome content, just click HERE.
Alright, now let’s kick off this tour post!
Top Five Reasons To Read Little Thieves
Vanja is both a gremlin and an absolute treasure! Do you like your main characters to be smart, cunning, and with a flair for the sarcastic? You’re gonna love Vanja. She makes terrible choices and you find yourself caring about her so much that you just go along for the ride.
This nails dark, wintery vibes. This is the perfect book to get you in the mood for the later part of the year. The atmosphere is top-notch! NO THOUGHTS, JUST VIBES! (But actually quite a lot of thoughts… we’ll get to that later)
A dark fairytale at it’s finest. If you like dark fairytales, this is kind of a must-read. It hits that perfect feel of being told a bedtime story but one with a lot more blood and danger. If you’ve ever read German children’s fairytales from back in the day… you know what I mean.
The LGBTQIA+ representation! This book is filled with it, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. I do love a story that casually weaves in LGBT characters because the fact that a woman has a wife should just be normal. Not some big to-do. But I also appreciate the more in-depth look at different communities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ banner.
The mental health representation! I did not expect this book to make me sob BUT HERE WE ARE. More on that later, but this book does an incredible job of showing how past trauma can affect someone.
Title: Little Thieves
Author: Margaret Owen
Publication date: October 19th, 2021
Age group: Young Adult
Content/Trigger Warnings: Discussions of child abuse and neglect, abusive environments, trauma, sexual assault (past), blood, violence
Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.
The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.
Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.
Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.“
It’s time, once again, for yet another blog tour post. This was is a little different for a couple of reasons, though. First, this is my first time working with the lovely folks at TBR and Beyond Tours! They are a new blog tour company that has put in a lot of hustle to bring the book community some pretty amazing tours. Second, the book I’ll be reviewing is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020: The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen! I cannot tell you how excited I was when I found out I had been chosen for this particular tour. Please click HERE to check out the schedule with all the wonderful bloggers and bookstagrammers participating.
I want to say thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, for a couple of things. First, for selecting me to be a part of this tour. And, second, for sending me an ARC and giving me the chance to be a part of promoting one of my favorite books of the year!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Let’s dive right in!
“Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.
As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.”
Author: Margaret Owen
Series: The Merciful Crow #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan
Publication date: August 18th, 2020
Age group: Young Adult
Content/Trigger warnings: Child death (off-page), Gore, Violence
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations
“She felt dangerous, she felt raw and undeniable, like vengeance made flesh, like a walking curse. And she was not done with any of them yet.
Oh man… how does one talk eloquently about a book that left your heart feeling full and completely gutted all at the same time? A book that is the perfect conclusion to an incredible duology? Something that you were nervous to read because you loved the first book so much but it not only lived up to expectations, it completely outstripped them?
…If you figure it out, let me know 😂 In the meantime, I’m going to try and cobble together my feelings for The Faithless Hawk into something that is more understandable than the incoherent pterodactyl shrieking that happened after I turned the last page.
“He gestured awkwardly at his shirt. “Should I be, er, not wearing clothes for this?”
“I’s rather you weren’t,” Fie blurted out, then wondered if she could knock Tavin out with a handy rock and insist he’d imagined everything when he woke up.”
First, let’s talk about how much I adored the humor in this book. It’s dry, it’s deadpan, and it usually hits in a tense situation when you least expect it. It jives so completely with my own sense of humor that it felt like hanging out with a close friend! Someone who just gets me, ya know? It also helped make the tone of the book a little less bleak. I mean… it’s still bleak as hell, but it helped to break up all the danger and darkness so you could catch your breath between the tears. Which I appreciated 😅
“What happened to Prince” – Fie fluttered her hands, warbled her voice, and mummed dewy-eyed dismay – “‘Oh no we can ‘t, it’s the la-a-a-w!‘”
“First of all, ‘we can’t, it’s the law’ is not the wildly unreasonable statement you’re pretending it is,” Jasimir said peevishly.”
“I’m fine, Jas,” she wheezed, but she hugged the prince back anyway.
Jasimir didn’t let go, but still managed to point a finger at *redacted*. “You’re not allowed to yell at her,” he said, voice muffled in her shoulder. “I – I forbid it, do you understand me?”
Second, let’s talk about the characters in this book and, more importantly, their relationships. Margaret Owen is a master at crafting real, flawed characters that you can’t help but fall in love with! Fie, our main protagonist, is just such a fantastic lead character. She has a lot to figure out, a lot she has to shoulder, and she does it in her own, unique way. She’s far from perfect but she reminds me a lot of my younger self. Especially her tendency to think that she has to do everything on her own, even when she’s surrounded by people who want to help her.
And that’s where the relationships come in. The nuance! The depth! I loved how the messiness and the joyfulness of close relationships were explored. I loved how we poke into the dark corners and look at the ugly parts of letting people into your life. But we also get to see what amazing things can happen when you open your heart to others. I think my favorite thing, though, is the friendships. I’m not a huge fan of romance, to be honest, but I absolutely love when friendships are a big part of a narrative. It was so wonderful to watch Fie and Jasimir’s friendship develop over the course of this book!
Also, can we talk about the gang of cats? Because, seriously, it’s like this book was written specifically to appeal to me. (Team J, all the way!)
“He’d always known she wasn’t immortal, that she could bleed and weep and fall like anyone else. But deep down, he’d never really believed it. He’d never believed she’d do anything but simply refuse to die”
Okay, I know I said I’m not a huge fan of romance, but the one in this duology had me feeling a lot of F E E L I N G S! It was just so well done, where it didn’t feel forced or like it was simply there as a plot point. It felt natural and definitely recalled me to what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. Instead of detracting from the overall plot, it added a beautiful wrinkle that will play with your emotions.
“We’ll make them pay.”
“We’ll burn it down.”
Speaking of plot, this one grabs you from page one and will not let you off the ride until the last word is read. Talk about a fast-paced read! There is so much happening, but it’s never to the point where you get lost or confused. You will be ripping through the pages because you need to know what’s going to happen next. The pacing is flawlessly done, where you feel neither rushed nor bored. I also loved the examination of some real-life social issues you can pick out in this tale. Just look at the caste system and how the Crows are treated… it’s important commentary about how we treat people we view as “other” or “beneath us”.
I also found myself completely engaged in the story and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even when I wasn’t actively reading it! I love when I get so wrapped up in a book that it permeates my thoughts and that definitely happened with this one. And, now that I’ve finished, I’m actively trying to fight off the book hangover because BOY IS IT A REAL POSSIBILITY! I just want to stay in Sabor and find out what happens next! Even though this is, honestly, the perfect duology, I’m still not ready to let go 😭
Final thoughts: This is an heart-pounding, teeth-clenching end to an amazing duology! Fie is an incredible main character, with a power and force of will that seeps throughout this book. The writing sucks you into the world, the characters worm their ways into your heart, and the plot is thrilling! If you’re looking for an exciting fantasy which explores some dark themes and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, I think you’ll love The Merciful Crow duology. And, if you loved The Merciful Crow and you’re wondering if the sequel would measure up… trust me, The Faithless Hawk, does not disappoint!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
But wait, there’s more! TBR and Beyond Tours is running a giveaway to celebrate the release of The Faithless Hawk! The giveaway is running from August 23rd to August 29th, so you still have time to enter. If you win, you will receive finished copies of both The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk! Unfortunately, this is US/Canada only.
If you would like to enter, click HERE to be taken to the Rafflecopter page. And good luck!