Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt


Genres: Young Adult / Magical Realism / Historical / Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Date of Publication: March 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!

An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief.

Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.

Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it…

Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort—but it tells her help will come soon.

Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed…

In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.


I really enjoyed Kathi Appelt's writing style in her children's picture book Max Attacks, so when the chance to read and review her Young Adult novel Angel Thieves presented itself, I decided to give it a read. I'm really glad I did because I fell head over heels in love with this book!

I very much enjoyed the plot of Angel Thieves and found myself immersed in the story from the very first page. It is told from different perspectives including humans, an ocelot, and a bayou which definitely made this book even more interesting! The narrative is told from 1845 through to present time. It all takes place in Houston, Texas. Every perspective is interwoven with each other. We learn about a teenage crush, a father and son duo who steal marble angel statues to make a living, an ocelot who was poached from her home and caught in a hurricane where she's left starving and unable to escape from her cage, a former slave who is trying to help her young daughters escape from being slaves themselves, a bayou who has seen it all, and some other points of view from others throughout Angel Thieves. I was constantly memorized by each chapter, and I was on pins and needles wondering what would happen next. It also helps that the author, Kathi Appelt, is such a fabulous writer who makes all her words come to life with her extraordinary talent! There weren't any major plot twists, but this isn't a book that needs to rely on plot twists to keep it interesting. The writing itself is strong enough to hold its own. There are no cliff hangers, but I would have liked to know a little more about Achsah and her children. There is some mention of them at the end, but I was heavily invested in Achsah's story where I really wanted to know more. However, this doesn't take away from the appeal of the book by no means. Because the prose is so beautifully written, the pacing flows very well. The chapters are mostly all short as well, so it's easy to read this book in one sitting. The world building was done fantastically, and it was obvious that Kathi Appelt had done her research when it came to the plot of her story. In fact, I even learned something when it came to Texas history! I'm also grateful that Kathi Appelt included an author's note at the end of Angel Thieves. It's definitely worth reading even if you don't normally read author's notes. This will give you more of an insight about the real life history that her book is based upon. 

I felt like the characters in Angel Thieves were well written and fleshed out perfectly. Kathi Appelt even made a bayou feel like a real person which goes to show how much of a talented writer she really is! I felt Soleil's frustrations with trying to get Cade's attention and her hurt when it came to losing someone close to her. I felt her joy when she was happy. Cade was a great character too. I loved his relationship with his dad. It was obvious how close the two were. It was interesting to see Cade's conflicting emotions when it came to stealing marble angels. One one hand, he wanted to make his dad happy, but he also knew that what they were doing wasn't right. I enjoyed reading about how he dealt with his feelings about that. Zorra, I absolutely loved. My heart went out to this lovely little ocelot who was helpless and taken from everything she'd ever known. I was always hoping she'd be rescued when her next chapter was up. Out of all the characters, my favorite to read about was Achsah. As a mother, I could relate to wanting to keep her children safe no matter what. As a former slave, she had her freedom when her master died, but her daughters were to become slaves to her master's friend. Achsah couldn't and wouldn't let this happen, so she risked everything to keep her girls safe. I felt like Achsah had the most interesting story to tell. I was constantly wishing good things for Achsah and her two little girls. Unfortunately, Achsah's story is based in truth on what happened with a lot of slaves during that horrible period in American history.

Trigger warnings for Angel Thieves include slavery, minor profanity, stealing, a mention of child rape (although not graphic), and some violence (nothing too graphic).

All in all, Angel Thieves is highly interesting read that is also partly educational. It definitely taught me things about Texas that I didn't even know, and I grew up in Texas! Angel Thieves also has such strong characters, and Kathi Appelt's love for this story is apparent on each page. I would definitely recommend Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt to those aged 14 and older who love getting lost in a good book. This is one book that's very easy to get lost in! An easy 5 out of 5 stars for Angel Thieves!
(A special thank you to Kathi Appelt for providing me with a hardback of Angel Thieves in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
Spiritual, succinct, and emotionally gripping.  -- School Library Journal

A heartfelt love letter to Houston that acknowledges the bad parts of its history while uplifting the good. -- BCBB

Shows the best and worst sides of humanity and underscores the powerful force of the bayou, which both holds and erases secrets.  
-- Publishers Weekly

Narrative strands are like tributaries that begin as separate entities but eventually merge into a single thematic connection: that love, whether lost or found, is always powerful. -- Horn Book

Richly drawn and important. -- Booklist, starred review

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max ... Attacks

She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their six cats. She serves as a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

(U.S. Only)

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  1. Yes, yes, yes! I am 100% with you and fell in love with this book and all the things I learned in reading it. Thanks for the post!

  2. looks like a winner and i love your fabulous review. if the writing is good, we don't always need complicated plot twists
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Thanks Sherry =) Angel Thieves really is a little gem of a book <3