Today on the blog, I’m bringing you another tour post! This tour is being run by TBR & Beyond Tours and, when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted in. I’ll be talking about a new YA fantasy with rebels, princes, and magic called Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke. And, not for nothing, but the cover is absolutely gorgeous! Of course, I’m not the only stop on this fabulous tour. There are tons of wonderful book bloggers and bookstgrammers participating! If you’d like to see who and check out their posts, click here to see the full schedule.
Before I continue, I want to thank TBR & Beyond Tours, the publisher, Flux, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. I always appreciate it!
And now, let’s talk about the book!
“Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.
Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.
But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.”
Author: Jennifer Gruenke
Publication date: February 16th, 2021
Age group: Young Adult
Content/Trigger warnings: Torture (on page), gore, violence
It’s time for another blog tour and this is for a most unusual book which takes the concept of Medieval tavern wench and twists it into knots. I’m happy to be joining in on the tour for Wench by Maxine Kaplan! This tour is hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours, who are always a complete pleasure to work with. If you are a book blogger/bookstgrammer/Booktuber, you should definitely give their website a peek. You can find information about upcoming tours and, most importantly to this post, a schedule for the Wench book tour!
I want to give a hearty thank you to both TBR & Beyond Tours and the publisher for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my participation with the tour. It is greatly appreciated! It sometimes still boggles my mind that I’m lucky enough to participated in opportunities such as these and I’m forever grateful.
All that said, let’s jump into the post!
“A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench
Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.”
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!
If you’d like to learn more about any of these books, click on the cover to be taken to the Goodreads page.
No Truth Left to Tell by Michael McAuliffe: Y’all, I’m never going to finish this book 😫 I swear, every time I pick it up, I can only get through a few chapters before I want to read something else! Courtroom thrillers just might not be my thing… But I got this book from the publisher so I am going to finish it.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown: Remember how I said every time I started reading the last book, I wanted to pick up something else? It’s because of this book. THIS BOOK IS SO. GOOD! I just want to hide from all my responsibilities until I’m done reading this beautiful thing! I would fight for both Karina and Malik. Seriously. Just throw down with whomever. I can’t wait to finish this one!
The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas: I downloaded this audiobook after finishing The Count of Monte Cristo because A) I really loved that book and this one is by the same author and B) the same narrator performs this audiobook and his voice is just *chef’s kiss* I’ve been listening to it at work, so I’m not terribly far into it, but I’m liking it!
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker: I FINALLY FINISHED THIS! How pumped are we?! Well… I’m super excited. This book was a bit of a slog at the beginning and I ended up giving up on the e-book. Once I picked up the audiobook, however, I was completely sucked in! You can read my full review HERE.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London: This was another audiobook I downloaded mostly because of the narrator. Hint: it’s the same guy who narrated The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Muskateers. It’s a short, little classic which was compelling but, holy shit, the animal abuse 😬 Still, it kept my interest and I ended up enjoying the experience.
Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen: This book has a super fun premise that I was instantly drawn to. It was a good book, but it definitely wasn’t as engaging as I had hoped. There were a lot of conveniences that I had a hard time getting past! My full review will be up soon.
Crossings by Alex Landragin: This was such a weird, interesting book! I love the fact that there is an alternate way to experience the story: you can read it from front to back or follow the Baroness reading, which skips you around the various stories. I read it the traditional way, but I think I might try it again reading it as the Baroness intended. My full review will be up soon!
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips: I’m on a #TheWriteReads blog tour for this middle grade novel. I honestly don’t know much about it, but it looks and sounds like it’s going to be a fun time! I’m excited to pick it up.
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen: MY MOST ANTICIPATED SEQUEL OF THE YEEEEEAAAARRRR! And I’m on the TBR and Beyond Tours book tour for it!! I am both excited and scared to read this. Excited because I know I’m going to devour it. Scared because the author keeps hinting at THINGS on Twitter and my heart can’t take it!
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden: I’ll be reading this spooky middle grade for the Middle Grade Marvels book club in August and I’m so pumped! This book has been on my TBR for months and I’m eager to dig in. Plus, how often do you get to read middle grade horror?
What are you currently reading? Read any new favorites lately? Let me know in the comments!