Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen AND Giveaway

Hello and welcome! I hope you enjoy the book and make sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

Title: The Merciful Crow
Author: Margaret Owen
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release: July 30, 2019
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars

Synopsis:

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

You Can Find it At:
The Regulator
Goodreads
Amazon
IndieBound


First Impressions

The Merciful Crow has been on my TBR since I first discovered it. I featured it in my Crow Edition of Waiting on Wednesday here. What got me especially excited was when Margaret Owen delved into the cool linguistics she played with for the story on Twitter. You can read the thread here. For some reason, I didn't end up reading the ARC I had until literally one day before it released, but better late than never, because I absolutely loved it!

Characters

The main character Fie was amazing. I loved her from the first few pages. I knew I was in for a treat when Fie initiated the Money Dance. The Crows are feared and hated throughout Sabor, and they have learned just how to utilize that. The description of the Money Dance is so in depth that I can imagine hearing it, nails scraping on marble and thirteen people screeching. It's not something I'd ever want to hear. When Fie then goes up to the queen herself, with a deceptively simple demand, I would've quaked in my boots if I'd been wearing any. How powerful is the line: "I'll have the teeth." If got tattoos, I'd want a tattoo of that.

Back to Fie. While I love her, I do question her taste in love interest. Personally, I don't see why Fie likes Tavin, but I support her in liking who she wants to like nonetheless. I wouldn't want to date someone who I saw as a bit of a lifelong enemy, but all the power to her for breaking norms, etc. Both boys, Tavin and Jasimir, start out pretty annoying. They don't know about the daily struggles of the Crows, specifically with the Oleander Gentry. I don't know if it was purposeful or not, but the description of the Gentry reminds me of the KKK, specifically during Jim Crow. While Tav and Jas are pretty naive at the beginning of the book, as they spend time with the Crows, they start to gain an understanding of just how hard life is outside the upper castes.

World Building

The world of The Merciful Crow is incredibly large. The map at the front of the book is expansive. Sadly, it wasn't in the ARC. I would have liked to follow the book on the map since there's so much travel. While the travel on the surface is just part of the setting, it also says a lot about the characters. Crows are expected to wander their whole lives, but in this, we see purposeful travel. With each move, the characters are chasing hope. Hope that this new destination will be better, will help create change. Fie has lost most of her hope in the world, and I don't blame her. But her travel betrays something that she tries to keep hidden. Fie has a hope for a better world, one that can only be achieved by getting two teenage boys across a continent. The fact that she does this, at times with family, at times on her own, is a testament to her character.

Final Thoughts

The Merciful Crow is the series, I believe a duology. Book two, The Faithless Hawk, comes out next July. Since I loved this book, I am super excited for the sequel! The book ends with some aspects wrapped up, but there are many larger things in the world still up in the air. I can't wait to see how the story resolves, and hopefully watch the characters get their happy endings!

Author Bio:


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.

You Can Find Her At:
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Tumblr

Giveaway:

It's giveaway time! Enter to win an ARC of The Merciful Crow! This giveaway is US only due to shipping reasons. A second place winner will receive an assorted swag pack!

Yes, those are real teeth above it!
I happen to still have my baby teeth and decided to put them to use!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday (179)


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I am excited for Crier's War by Nina Varela and The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

From the description and what other bloggers have said, Crier's War is a slow burn, enemies-to-lovers, f/f romance. While the book is categorized as fantasy by a lot of people, a review I read said it was more dystopian than fantasy. Of the two main characters, one is an Automae, or made, and one is human. The human, Ayla, is working in the royal palace of the Automae as a servant in attempt to avenge her family. She plans to do so by killing the Automae Crier, the daughter of the Sovereign and our other main character. Somehow, these to young women will find a way to put aside their differences and fall in love. And let me tell you, I can't wait to read that! I have heard nothing but amazing things about Crier's War, and my ARC will probably be one of my next reads!

Synopsis:

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.


Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

Release: October 1, 2019

The second book I'm excited for is The Burning Shadow! It's the sequel to last week's book, The Darkest Star. The series is a spin-off of Jennifer L. Armentrouts' previous Lux series. In The Darkest Star, the main character Evie meets an Origin named Luc. Origins are children of a Lux alien and a human. At the end of book one, Evie learns that the past she knows is a lie. Her memory has been tampered with, but we don't know how or why. In The Burning Shadow, Evie is attempting to uncover the truth about her past while also dealing with ongoing alien/government shenanigans. Armentrout writes great paranormal romances, and I'm excited for this one! I can't wait to watch Evie and Luc fall in love while also possibly saving the world! Also, the book will apparently 'leave readers reeling' which is code for a major cliffhanger!

Synopsis:

When Evelyn Dasher crossed paths with Luc, she was thrown headfirst into the world of the Lux―only to discover that she was already far more involved in their world than she ever suspected.

Because the Luxen aren’t the only ones with a hidden past. There’s a gap in Evie’s memory, lost months of her life and a lingering sense that something happened, something she can’t remember and nobody is willing to tell her. She needs to find out the truth about who she is―and who she was. But every answer she finds only brings up more questions.

Her search for the truth brings her ever closer to Luc, the Origin at the center of it all. He’s powerful, arrogant, inhumanly beautiful, extremely dangerous…and possibly in love with her. But even as Evie falls for him, she can’t help but wonder if his attraction is to her, or to the memory of a girl who no longer exists.


And all the while, a new threat looms: reports of a flu-like, fatal virus that the government insists is being spread by Luxen. A horrifying illness that changes whoever it touches, spreading panic across a country already at its breaking point.

Release: October 8, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Interview and Giveaway: Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast





Last fall I read Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast and absolutely loved it! Recently, I was lucky enough to get on Street Team for the series. The author kindly sent me a signed paperback to giveaway and answered some interview questions! Including some fun information about upcoming Cold Falling White. Read on for all the excitement!

While you're here, check out my review of the book here!

Title: Zero Repeat Forever
Author: G.S. Prendergast
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Series: Nahx Invasions
Release: August 29, 2017
Pages: 512

Synopsis:

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…

You Can Find it At:
The Regulator Bookshop
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound
Website

Interview:

1. Zero Repeat Forever is written in two POVs. Did you have a preference writing Eighth or Raven? Was one of them much easier or harder to write?

Raven was easier to write but I loved writing Eighth's chapters. He has a very distinctive voice and the conflict within him is very concrete and specific. I found myself just writing random scenes with him (like the scene where he finds the human photographs) where I was able to express so much about not only him but the world around him.

2. The title is a reference to a poem. How did you come up with it?

My agent came up with that title! Originally I had queried the book with the title "Dandelion". Zero Repeat Forever is sooooo much better. Interestingly, the whole association with Edgar Allan Poe came about because I randomly chose the name Raven. Then I wrote the scene where Eighth gives Raven the book. Everything flowed from there.

3. What advice do you have for young and aspiring writers?

Practice your plotting skills in shorter pieces like screenplays or short stories before you try writing a novel. Read books about screenplay structure. One of the things aspiring writers struggle with is having an idea of where the story starts and roughly where they want it to go (though often not even that) but no idea how to write the path to get there. That's where plot structure comes in.

4. The book is set in the mountains of Canada. What made you decide on that setting?

Around the time I started this book I had just been on holiday in the Alberta Rockies and around Calgary so that's probably why. I grew up not far from there and the severe winters really made an impression on me. Winter is a feature of a lot of my books.

5. The romance between Raven and Eighth is unlikely and yet utterly convincing. What was your process like writing this awesome, slow-burn romance?

The romance is where this story started. I wanted to write something about a girl falling in love with someone from a group that everyone hated, that she hated. In the end the story turned out to be something a little different--less of a romance and more of a sci-fi survival story--and I kept paring back the relationship between Raven and Eighth until there was practically nothing left. But that felt right. There's is the romance you have without even knowing you're having a romance.

7. What were some of your favorite childhood books?

I loved the Narnia books and Madeleine L'Engle's Time Trilogy. I also loved Star Wars novelizations and I had a couple of books of Star Trek novelizations--really they were short stories based on the episodes of the original series--that I read over and over. I think people destined to be writers tend to be RE-readers. There are some books I read dozens of times and I think what I was doing was studying them, to see how plots worked.

8. Along with Cold Falling White, what are some upcoming YA books you're excited for?

I'm DYING to read Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. It comes out the same day as Cold Falling White so I'll be busy reading that instead of promoting my own book.

9. The description of Cold Falling White hints that Xander gets a POV in the book. What was it like adding a POV?

Xander was the easiest to write actually. Once I got into his head I began to see him differently from how Raven had seen him, which makes sense because he was hiding so much from her. But writing two POVs is hard enough. More than two is very tricky. I had to do some careful plotting and be aware of my timeline at all times.

10. Can you give us a hint as to what is to come in Cold Falling White?

Some characters who you think are dead might not be dead. You might be surprised to see some familiar faces pop up.

Giveaway:

Enter to win a signed copy of Zero Repeat Forever! Due to shipping costs, giveaway will be US only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday (178)


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm excited for Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart!

Before I go any further, I want to note that Ninth House is NOT a YA book. It is Bardugo's adult debut. Additionally, the book has graphic content that many readers won't be comfortable with. Supposedly the publisher is working on adding Trigger Warnings to the final copy, but for now, here's a link to a review with them. People on Twitter have really been loving the book. While I'm probably going to need to skim some sections due to content, I'm still excited for this book! I've heard the book has a good romance as well. There's the chance this won't end up being the book for me, but I definitely want to check it out! Also, the main character is named Galaxy. How cool is that?!?!

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?


Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Release: October 8, 2019

Scars Like Wings is very different from Ninth House. For starters, we're back to YA. In Scars Like Wings, the main character Ava is a burn survivor. Additionally, the fire that caused her burns killed her parents. She's now starting back up at school at the behest of her aunt and uncle, despite her misgivings. I've seen reviews highly praising the writing, so I can't wait to dig in and soak up the beautiful words! Ava is a survivor, and her tale of survival is one I can't wait to read!

Synopsis:

Before, I was a million things. Now I'm only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like--she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends--no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.


But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

Release: October 1, 2019

What books are you excited for this week?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Top Ten Cover Changes I Had FEELINGS About


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and The Artsy Reader Girl. These are cover changes I both loved and hated, and I'll make a note with each one.

1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - This series changed covers after the first book. While I like the feeling the new covers evoke, the character on the cover of book one looks more like the main character.



2. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - This is an instance when both covers are good, but in different ways. I loved the original covers! I feel like they do a good job of saying 'assassin nuns'. But the new cover art is gorgeous!



3. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare - I definitely prefer the new covers for this series. The old ones weren't bad, but the were very 'big chest, chopped off head'. The new covers express more emotion and give a better hint at the story.



4. Royals/Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins - For this book, I definitely like the original cover/title better. The bright pink cover with sparkles and crown gets across the spunky vibe of the main character. That said, the cover/title change does work for book two.



5. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - This cover change was without a doubt for the benefit. The original cover was more to the style of the time, but the new cover is SO MUCH prettier! I love the eyeballs, and I love how the eye style changes to reflect each book.



6. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios - In this case I prefer the original covers. The new covers are nice, but the original was just so pretty.



7. Across the Universe by Beth Revis - This book actually went through three cover renditions. I like the original cover, with the two figures kissing in space. The second cover isn't horrible, but it's a little tacky. The third cover is cool stylistically, but on the boring side.




8. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole - The new and old covers each have their benefits and drawbacks. The original cover, which I lean towards, gives a good image of the characters, but does fall into the early 2010s 'couple on a cover' trope. The new cover has no character art, but it's very pretty and does a good job of representing the world.



9. Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia - For me, the original cover is much nicer than the paperback. The cover shares the slightly dark story that also has a good romance. The white background on the new cover just doesn't work for me, and it ends up looking a little tacky.



10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - All in all, this cover design isn't too different. The main thing that changes is the background design. I think the knife works really well on both covers. I feel like the original cover gives it a bit of a historical vibe while the new cover lends itself more towards fantasy. To me, the change actually looks a bit similar to the Grave Mercy cover change. I like the new cover a bit more, only because the background is a bit nicer.

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