The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1) – Margaret Owen (Advanced Reader Copy)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Debut author Margaret Owen crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, survival, and sacrifice–perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake–in The Merciful Crow

“Rich, harrowing, and unafraid to tackle discrimination―perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Tomi Adeyemi.”―KirkusStarred Review 

One way or another, we always feed the crows.

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?


HOLY COW!! Or should I say HOLY CROW!! The Merciful Crow was amazing!!! MASSIVE thank you to Fierce Reads and Margaret Owen for the advanced readers copy. I was lucky enough to get a copy at C2E2 this past March.

The first time I saw the cover of The Merciful Crow I was immediately drawn in. And then I read the synopsis. I knew that I absolutely had to read The Merciful Crow. I was thrilled when I was able to get a copy at C2E2. I absolutely LOVED this book. The Merciful Crow is an action-packed adventure in an amazing, creative world! It is an incredible story of survival, vengeance, and sacrifice. It absolutely lived up to the hype and I can’t wait to find out where the story goes next.

The Merciful Crow takes place in the world made up of twelve castes, with each represented by a different bird. These castes were founded by thousands of gods who created the castes in their image and gifted each with a birthright (power). All of the castes have a birthright (fire, stealth, etc.) except for the Crows. There are also witches (who have stronger powers) born within each caste. The top caste is the Phoenixes, who make up the royalty and rule this world. The lowest caste is the Crows. They have no birthright and are universally looked down upon. They are abused, hated, and discriminated against. The treatment of the Crows is appalling. However, the castes rely on the Crows for a very important purpose . . . the Crows are the only ones immune to the Sinner’s Plague. The Sinner’s Plague is a horrible disease, highly contagious, and is fatal to anyone who contracts it. In order to stop the spread of the disease, any time someone contracts the Plague, the Crows are summoned to deliver mercy killings and to burn the bodies. This is why they are known as “The Merciful Crows.”

Our story follows Fie, a member of the Crows. Fie was born a witch and is therefore training to become chief of her clan. Crow witches are known as Bone Thieves. This is because they are able to draw out power from bones and teeth. The Crows carry teeth and use the powers associated with the tooth’s former owner. For example: Sparrows have the birthright to hide in plain sight. Fie often calls upon Sparrow teeth to hide from enemies.

Fie’s life is turned upside down when two of her clan’s mercy killings turn out to be alive and stowaways. To make matters worse . . . the two stowaways are the Prince, Jas, and his body double, Tavin! Fie (and her clan) make a deal with Jas and Tavin and start on an adventure full of twists and turns.

The Merciful Crow was exceptionally written. Margaret Owen created a vivid world that I truly felt like I was a part of. The castes and birthrights were fascinating! It was such a unique and original world and plot. And the magic system!? It was so cool!! At first I was a little creeped out by the use of teeth, but I got over it real quick. I was constantly wondering which teeth Fie would use next! The magic system was so interesting and well thought out. It also felt super fresh, which is hard to do in today’s overcrowded YA fantasy market. I loved watching Fie use different teeth to accomplish different tasks. I was fascinated by the magic!

The Merciful Crow has the perfect amount of romance. When I read the synopsis I was a little nervous that there was going to be a love triangle, but (MINOR SPOILER) I am happy to say that there was not. The romance was expertly done . . . it wasn’t rushed and it added to the characters, but didn’t take over the plot. The two characters involved in the love story are strengthened by their love. The romance does not distract from the plot or take away from each party’s personal character growth. The two characters still exist and function outside of the romance. I think it can be very easy to let a romance take of the story, but Owen was able to write a beautiful love story that enhanced the book. AND I now have a mega fictional crush on the male character involved 🙂

The Merciful Crow is part one of a duology series. I am so glad that this series isn’t over because I want more of this world and its magic. The ending is a perfect mix of wrapping up this story, but keeping me hooked to find out what happens next. And trust me . . . I am totally hooked! One thing that I really liked about The Merciful Crow is that this story has a conclusion. Don’t get me wrong . . . there is a cliffhanger and I am dying to know what happens next! However, it was nice to have this part of the plot resolved. It reminds me of the saying . . . “the battle has been won, but the war isn’t over.”

The Merciful Crow was an action-packed, fun adventure full of magic, romance, and superb world-building. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

I can’t wait to see what happens next! It is going to be a long, hard wait!! Congratulations to Margaret Owen! She is definitely on my list of new favorite authors!

The Merciful Crow will be released July 30th, 2019!

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. NOBODY PANIC.


Our favorite sci-fi writing duo is back!!! I don’t know how they do it, but Amie and Jay have done it again!!! I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how Amie and Jay could possibly follow The Illuminae Files, but I did not need to worry at all! Aurora Rising is an epic, fast-paced, action-packed adventure!!

Aurora Rising follows Squad 312 from the Aurora Legion. Tyler, aka the Golden Boy, is the Aurora Academy’s top student. He’s meant to be the Alpha of the best squad. But that all changes when he decides to go on a solo trip into the Fold to clear his mind before the squad draft. While in the Fold, Tyler comes across an abandoned ship and discovers a girl in cryo-sleep. He successfully rescues her, but misses the draft. Tyler is now stuck leading a squad with his sister, best friend, and the rejects from the draft. Squad 312 leaves on their first mission and chaos ensues.

Aurora Rising was NON-STOP! From the very first page, the story grabbed me and did not let go! Squad 312 is a magnet for danger! Everywhere they go they get into trouble! The plot is fun and full of action and epic battle scenes. The story flows and is well paced. Amie and Jay built the world of Aurora Rising perfectly. There is never information overload or dumping. I especially loved the Illuminae Files-esc pages. It was such a cool way to provide the reader insight and more information into this world.

I absolutely LOVED this cast of characters. Jay and Amie create the most original, complex, and hilarious characters. Seven point of views could be a lot, but it was not overwhelming at all. I enjoyed every single point of view chapter. My ONLY complaint would be to have more Zila. However, I have a feeling that more is coming in the next books.

If I had to pick a favorite character it would probably be Finian with Scarlett as a very close second. I just love Fin’s sarcasm and little quips. And Scarlett is just so bad ass! She is fierce!!

Aurora Rising was absolutely incredible. Amie and Jay are GENIUSES! I seriously don’t know how they do it. It is going to be a very long wait for the next book!!

Book Expo 2019 Recap

This past week I attended Book Expo in New York City with my book bestie, Kelsea. We had previously attended Book Con 2016 in Chicago and 2018 in NYC. After dealing with the pure chaos of Book Con, we decided to try to get into Book Expo. We were incredibly lucky to both get approved and in! It is important to note that Con is a fan event open to everyone and Expo is an industry event for publishers, authors, booksellers, educators, librarians, book clubs, and bloggers. We qualified in the blogger category.

Book Expo was absolutely incredible and totally worth it! It was so much less chaotic and more enjoyable than Book Con was. While BEA still had a large crowd, it was much more manageable than Book Con. The show floor is bigger and more spread out than at Con. There were still lines and a couple of areas with large masses of people (looking at you A Heart So Fierce and Broken and anything to do with Penguin). Overall, the vibe was so much more enjoyable at Book Expo. While there are obviously outliers and a few exceptions to this, the majority of people were polite, friendly, and mature. I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Book Expo.

Like Book Con, if you are going for advanced reader copies and signings, you MUST PLAN ahead of time for Book Expo. I had a schedule for each day with the panels, signings, and ARC drops I wanted to attend. Publishers release their Expo schedules in the week leading up to the event.

And now to recap my incredible three days. . .

Day 1

Day 1 at Book Expo was a shorter because the show floor was only open from 12:00-5:00. Despite the smaller time period, I still got so much in and done. Our first stop was to attempt to get tickets to Leigh Bardugo’s signing and Ninth House ARC drop. Going into this we knew that Leigh’s ticket was the hot item of the day. I knew that everyone would head to the ticket drop first and that it would go quickly. My philosophy was that I would try, but I was totally ok if I didn’t get it. And that’s exactly what happened. The line at Macmillan capped almost immediately after the show floor opened. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Leigh, but I’m not devastated about missing out on Ninth House. I always remind myself that these books will be released within the next year.

Anyway, after our fail at Leigh’s signing we explored the show floor and did some shopping at the Unbound show floor. Throughout the day I was able to grab a ton of books and swag. I purchased a jumbo booksleeve from Book Beau, and a “Rattle the Stars” pin board, a Terrasen pin, and a Children of Blood & Bone pin from Wick and Fable.

I also attended the panel “Leigh Bardugo Discusses Ninth House.” It was a great panel and I am so pumped to read Ninth House. It was so cool to hear Leigh talk about her writing process. She is so fabulous!

Day 1 Haul
  • Here There Are Monsters
  • Queen of the Conquered
  • Beyond the Black Door
  • Winterwood
  • Cursed
  • Shatter City
  • Tarnished are the Stars
  • Queen of Ruin
  • The Storm Crow
  • Rise
  • Call Down the Hawk (Sampler)

Day 2

Day 2 was the longest day at Book Expo. The show floor was open from 9:00-5:00. We started the day with a bunch of ARC drops courtesy of Source Books and Fierce Reads. Then, while walking the floor, we found free mimosas! So good!!

Jenny Slate

One of the hardest parts of Book Expo/Con is having to choose between two events. This was the case for me on Day 2 when I had to choose between going to a highly anticipated ARC drop (The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy) or going to Jenny Slate’s signing. Although I was bummed about missing out on The Memory Thief, it was a no brainer for me to choose to meet Jenny Slate. I will be able to read The Memory Thief when it is released, but I probably wouldn’t ever have another chance to meet Jenny Slate. I am so happy with my decision because I still can’t believe I got to meet Jenny Slate!! She is one of my favorite actresses/comedians! Her new book, Little Weirds, looks hilarious and I can’t wait to read it. Unfortunately there were no pictures, so please enjoy my creeper picture of Jenny signing!

After the Jenny Slate signing, I headed over to one of the biggest ARC drops of the day . . . A Heart So Fierce and Broken, the follow up to Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely. This drop was one of the more dramatic drops, but it still went smoothly and I was able to snag a copy!! One of the best things happened later that afternoon . . . National Geographic brought puppies and kittens to their booth!!! We obviously went and met them all! I wanted to adopt a kitten so badly!

For the last part of the day I had a ticket for Marie Lu’s signing for a sampler of Rebel. I have seen Marie before and I wasn’t super excited about the signing so I gave my ticket away to a fellow book lover who was super pumped about meeting her. Instead of going to Marie’s signing I went to another panel. This time it was Laugh Out Loud with Jenny Slate, Pete Holmes, and John Hodgman. It was hilarious!!

While walking around on day 2 I bumped into someone. As I turned to apologize I realized that the person I bumped into was the one and only LEIGH BARDUGO! I literally froze and was so star struck!

Day 2 Haul
  • Wicked as You Wish
  • A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  • Little Weirds – Signed
  • Last Bus to Everland
  • Havenfall (Sampler)
  • Eight Will Fall

Day 3

Our final day at Book Expo was probably the most epic (and most crowded). The show floor was open from 9:00-3:00. Our first stop was to bolt over to the Macmillan booth to get tickets for their signings of the day. Macmillan is the only booth that required tickets for their in booth signings. We rushed over to the booth and I was able to grab the tickets I wanted . . . Katy Rose Pool and Cora Carmack!

After grabbing my tickets, I explored the floor for a while. This is one of the ways to get books and swag. I would just wander the booths and look for ARCs and swag. I stopped by the Penguin booth while wandering and was able to grab an ARC of Ruta Sepetys’s new book. This was super lucky because Penguin is the most frustrating booth. They don’t release any ARC drop schedules and are very sly about when anything will happen. The play dumb and then get mad when people crowd and loiter by their tables. I tried to get my hands on a copy of The Starless Sea all week, but I was never able to. I’m totally fine with not getting the book because it comes out in the fall, but Penguin made it super frustrating.

After this I headed off to my first signing of the day . . . There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. I actually got an early ARC of this book at Chicago Comic Con (C2E2) and brought it with me to get signed. I wasn’t sure if Katy would be able to sign the ARC and the one I brought (sometimes the publisher/agent is very specific about what can and can’t be signed) but she did! She was actually so excited that I had two editions of the book to be signed. After Katy, I darted over to Blackstone Publishing for a signing with Coco Ma and Jill Criswell. I am excited about both books, but Coco’s Shadow Frost is one of my most anticipated reads from Book Expo!

After Blackstone, I headed over to Renée Ahdieh’s signing for her new book The Beautiful. I knew this line would be super long so I saved my front of the line pass (which came with my purchased avid reader pass) to use. The front of the line pass was my savior for this line and was so useful! I was like the tenth person to meet Renée which was so cool! She was so nice and her makeup looked fierce as always!!

Brigid Kemmerer, author of A Curse So Dark & Lonely

After Renée’s signing I met up with Kelsea and one of the coolest things happened. We were sitting on the floor reorganizing and posting to our instagram stories, when Kelsea spotted Brigid Kemmerer!!! We said hi and started up a conversation. She was so incredibly kind and welcoming. She actually sat down on the floor with us, signed our stuff, and even took pictures!

And then to make the moment even cooler . . . we said goodbye to Brigid and turned and saw V. E. SCHWAB! Kelsea called out her name and she turned and said “I am very attuned to my name.” She was also so kind and inviting, so we walked up to her and had a quick conversation. She gave us each a hug and then headed off to get her own ARCs.

Obviously, we were freaking out!!! I kept saying “what!?” and “what just happened!?” for the rest of the day. It was so cool to meet some of our favorite authors in such a natural way. This is a perfect example of how different Book Expo is compared to Con. If authors just walked around like that at Con they would be mobbed!! At Expo, the authors walked around and were approached by fans, but everyone was respectful and acted appropriately! It was such a cool experience!!!

Anyway, after all that excitement, we went to our last two events of the day. We went to Brigid Kemmerer’s official signing (yes even though we had just met her) and then to Cora Carmack’s signing. We thought our day was over, but we were wrong. Kelsea is a member of Cora Carmack’s street team. Cora sent out an invite to her street team (and friends) to meet up after Book Expo was over. In case you don’t know, Cora wrote Roar and its sequel Rage which will be coming out later this year. We decided to go and it was so much fun! Cora, Kelsea, myself, and three other women sat around and talked for almost 2 hours! It was so cool to sit in and have a real conversation with an author in such a natural environment. It was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

Day 3 Haul
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken – signed
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • The Beautiful – signed
  • Beasts of a Frozen Sun – signed
  • Shadow Frost – signed
  • Rage – signed
  • Imaginary Friend
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, Book Expo copy
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, C2E2 copy

Book Expo was a huge success!! I had an absolute blast and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. I was able to meet so many cool authors and fellow bookstagrammers. I received a ton of amazing advanced reader copies and swag! I had the best time celebrating all things books!!