Book Review – Merged

Title: Merged

Author: Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl

Publisher: Month9 Books

Publication date: September 17th, 2019

300 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress. 

But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost. 

Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and sixteen-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor. 

Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation. But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel. 

As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone’s a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels. 

As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.

Review

**Thank you to Month9 Books, Jim Kroepfl, and Stephanie Kroepfl for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Merged is a new novel by the author duo, who also happen to be husband and wife, Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl. Merged is about a futuristic world where scientists have discovered how to “merge” one consciousness with another. Mostly, they want to put brilliant individuals of various disciplines into 16 year olds (Nobels) with a proclivity for their topics of expertise. The merged consciousness will be able to communicate with their Nobel in their dreams. The Nobel would then continue the work left behind by the deceased genius.

Lake and Orfyn are two Nobels, Chemistry and Art respectively. They begin to notice that not everything is as it seems with the organization that has started this experiment. When other Nobels begin to suffer negative effects from the merged consciousness, they begin to investigate and unravel the plans of adults with far more power than they have.

I really enjoyed reading Merged, and I thought the plot was well conceived and well executed. Chapters are told from 3 different Nobels points of view, and then also from the Darwinians (the organization running the experiment). It was really interesting to be able to have the insider information provided by the Darwinian chapters, especially as it coincided with what the Nobels were experiencing.

My only critique is that I want MORE. No spoilers, but that ending doesn’t seem to wrap up the book well, and I desperately want to know what happens to Lake, Orfyn, and Stryker after the fact. If you are interested in science fiction, definitely go check out Merged!

Happy reading, book friends! 🙂

Book Review – Sky in the Deep

Title: Sky in the Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: April 24th, 2018

340 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Review

We find things, just as we lose things. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.

Adrienne young, sky in the deep

Okay, friends. I ordered Sky in the Deep from Amazon because it was on a super sale and I’d heard great things about it on Bookstagram. What I didn’t know, was that it was going to jump up to one of my favorite reads of this years! I’ve never thought I would be into Viking style books, but I’ve read several this year and they were all amazing!

Two tribes, the Aska and the Riki have been at war for decades in order to curry favor with their gods. Eelyn is of the Aska tribe, and she recently became of age to participate as a warrior. During a battle with the Riki, she sees her brother, who was thought dead for several years – fighting for the Riki. When trying to find out how this happened, she was captured by the Riki and turned into a slave for them. Sky in the Deep explores love, friendship, and to what lengths those will go to for their family.

I think Sky in the Deep is a great example of how different factions of people are from each other, but more importantly how similar they are. When a common enemy forces the Aska and Riki to join forces, everything that was once concerned fact is thrown into question.

Eelyn goes through a real journey during this book. It was absolutely fascinating to read and see exactly how her worldview changes based on the events she is living through. Adrienne Young did an amazing job with the characters arcs in Sky in the Deep. It’s normally hard to do as much as she did in a standalone novel, because you just don’t have as much time to take your characters on their journey.

I am now a huge Adrienne Young fan, and she is a new auto-buy author. Definitely go check out Sky in the Deep. There is another book in this world (not sequel though) that just came out a few weeks ago, so I’m going to go get that book and read it too!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – The Stone Rainbow

Title: The Stone Rainbow

Author: Liane Shaw

Publisher: Second Story Press

Publication date: September 17th, 2019

288 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she’s been doing her best to be understanding, it’s obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay. Complications go into hyperdrive when a new student arrives at school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he’s never allowed himself to feel before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes it’s time to stop hiding from himself and everyone around him, and he decides to organize his small town’s first Pride Parade.

Review

**Thank you to Second Story Press, Netgalley, and Liane Shaw for providing me an ebook copy of The Stone Rainbow in exchange for an honest review**

Trigger Warning: homophobia, suicidal ideation, violent acts

Jack is a high school senior who is going through a lot. He lives in a very conservative, small town that doesn’t accept who he is as a homosexual male. He was saved by his friend Ryan after walking into a river without being able to swim. Unclear if he was trying to commit suicide, but he was very overwhelmed about not being himself. Now he’s known as the suicidal, gay kid, which isn’t the best in high school. He is just trying to keep his head down and make it to graduation.

That is, until Benjamin shows up as the new Vice Principal’s kid, and Benjamin is out and proud. Jack is instantly attracted to Benjamin but has no idea how to be attracted to someone, or even date someone. Benjamin also has these crazy ideas about bringing their small town out of the dark ages – like hosting a Pride Parade. Jack has to face his fears about homophobia and expressing himself. When the unimaginable happens, Jack is forced to make a choice…

The Stone Rainbow was a good representation of many areas of the United States. It’s a coming of age story that I’m sure many can relate to and find comfort in. It brings up a conversation around sexuality that has been growing over the last few decades in this country.

I did enjoy this book but it did not wow me. Worth a read, and those who really enjoy contemporaries will enjoy this. There is awesome LGBTQIA and disability representation here, with most of the main cast falling into either category.

Happy reading, book friends! 🙂

eARC Review – We Met in December

Title: We Met in December

Author: Rosie Curtis

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Publication date: September 5th, 2019

376 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

This December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

Review

**Thank you to Avon Books UK, Netgalley, and Rosie Curtis for providing a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

I was excited to read this book because it was Christmas themed (and of course I’m looking forward to Christmas in the middle of September) and because it seemed like a lovely romance/love story. I ended up being disappointed with this one, and I’m pretty bummed about it.

Jess is 29, living in a small town in England, and just broke up with her boyfriend of several years. She is working a job she doesn’t love, and when she is offered a promotion she realizing this is NOT the job she wants to be in forever. She applies to a publishing house in London and gets it, to her surprise, and makes the move to pricey London. Miraculously, her college friend Becky inherited a multi-million dollar home in Notting Hill and is willing to rent a room to her for pennies. She moves in, and there is immediate romantic chemistry between her and another house mate, Alex. Problem is, Becky has a no relationships clause in the lease to cut down on drama. We Met in December follows Alex and Jess in their life for about a year in London.

Alex and Jess met about 3% into the book. And then proceed to have the. slowest. burn. romance. ever. A year of time goes by and they are still just friends – no flirty glances, no almost kisses, no anything. They both date other people, and most of the book is just random happenings of all the characters. I really didn’t feel like the plot was moving forward at all.

It was well written, I will say that. I never wanted to DNF the book, I kept holding out hope that something would happen. It wasn’t a bad story, just not at all what I was expecting and it was disappointing for me.

If you enjoy contemporary books with light romance, We Met in December will be right up your alley. Just because it wasn’t an insta fave of mine, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be for you!

Happy reading, book friends! 🙂

Book Review – The Crowns of Croswald

Title: The Crowns of Croswald (The Crowns of Croswald #1)

Author: D. E. Night

Publisher: Stories Untold Press

Publication date: July 21, 2017

314 pages

4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret… 

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

Review

**Thank you to Stories Untold Press for providing me a copy of The Crowns of Croswald in exchange for an honest review**

Hello again, all! I read The Crowns of Croswald while on a road trip to/from Louisville, KY with my boyfriend. I had some difficulties getting into this book in the beginning, and actually needed to take a break from it before I could finish it.

Ivy is an orphan who has grown up as a scaldrony maid (scaldrons are lizards that power the ovens) before she is sent away by her boss. As she is dismissed, she is picked up by a strange man who tells her she is meant to be attending the magical school at the Halls of Ivy – where students with magical blood go to be scriveners or Royals (depending on their birth). She is revealed to have magical blood, so she goes to attend school. While there, she deals with bullies and a secret that no one can remember, but everyone is protecting. The Crowns of Croswald follows Ivy as she discovers who she is, her destiny, and also save the world from the Dark Queen.

So basically, this book is a gender bent Harry Potter. This is why I had to take a break from it in the beginning, because it really felt too close to Harry Potter for me to get into. I love Harry Potter, but this was a bit too much. I gave it a day and read something else before I came back to it. I’m very glad I did because I really ended up enjoying it as the story progressed.

One critique I will say is that the magic system didn’t seem very well fleshed out, and there were some confusing scenes that I had a hard time following. Other than that, it was a good story.

Happy reading, book friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Realm of Knights

Title: Realm of Knights (Knights of the Realm #1)

Author: Jennifer Anne Davis

Publisher: Reign Publishing

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

270 pages

4.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Review

Special thanks to Netgalley and Reign Publishing for sending me this ebook in exchange for an honest review! I flew through this book in just a few hours (it’s on the shorter side), which just shows how into it I was! (I also feel like I say this about every book I read… I swear I actually have a life and a real job outside of reading!)

Realm of Knights follows Reid Ellington, who is a woman pretending to be a man so her fathers duchy can stay in their family. Under Marsden law, a female can not inherit land – so Reid’s father made the difficult decision to force Reid to be a male in public. Reid’s secret almost gets out when the Princes of the Realm come knocking on their door – blackmailing Reid into riding with them to the capital. Prince Ackley has a special mission that only Reid can accomplish. Reid is quickly swept away into a world she has no experience in, but is uniquely qualified to succeed in.

I adore reading about knights, kings, queens, and epic quests. This sub-genre of book is what first captivated me and made me love reading. Add in a woman pretending to be a man, and I am SOLD. I loved the plot, the twists & turns, and all of the characters. The budding love story is such a slow burn, with an element of being unrequited as they are unable to be together. All told, this is a very well constructed book.

One critique I have is that I wanted more. I felt like the plot could have been expanded upon to explain more. The book is fairly short, not even hitting 300 pages. I would have loved to see more, and I can only hope that she will write longer books as the series continues. I will definitely be coming back to read sequels. After that ending, I need to know who the good/bad guys are!

For fans of Tamora Pierce, Jennifer Anne Davis weaves a tale straight out of Medieval times, with a hint of progression towards modern age thinking. If sword fights, political intrigue, and wily Princes get your bookworm senses tingling, I suggest you give this one a try!

Happy reading, bookish friends 🙂

Book Review – Sorcery of Thorns

Title: Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: June 4th, 2019

456 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Review

Knowledge always has the potential to be dangerous. It is a more powerful weapon than any sword or spell.

Margaret rogerson, sorcery of thorns

Good evening, friends! I’m here bringing you my thoughts on the June OwlCrate book of the month! Sorcery of Thorns was spectacular, and I was lucky enough to read it during a buddy read with Treat Yo Shelf Book Club on Instagram. I absolutely adored this book and would recommend it to any YA Fantasy lovers out there.

We start off with Elisabeth, an orphan who has grown up in a Great Library, the home of dangerous grimoires. She has learned that sorcerers are evil, but she’s an inquisitive young woman and isn’t afraid to question those in charge. When her favorite warden is killed in a suspicious grimoire attack, she falls under suspicion as the saboteur – so she must work to clear her name. She meets Nathaniel Thorn, a powerful sorcerer who makes her question the library’s teachings. Elisabeth must determine who the real saboteur is, clear her name, and stop a plot that threatens to tear the very fabric of the kingdom apart.

My absolute favorite part of Sorcery of Thorns is any scene where Silas is in attendance. Silas is Nathaniel’s demon, very powerful and old from the Otherworld. Much of the book brings into question the morality of demons, and whether they can experience human emotions and feelings. No spoilers here in my reviews, but Silas is my favorite non human character of the year.

Elisabeth and Nathaniel share a slow burn love connection, but it’s all very tame and fitting for YA readers. This is a standalone novel, but I would love to read more about Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas. Especially after THAT ENDING. Y’ALL. The ending slayed me, and I was not okay. But it was amazing. I need more.

Outside of the fact that I love any book that is literally set in a LIBRARY, this book was amazing and please go check it out. This is my first book by Margaret Rogerson, but I definitely feel the need to pick up her backlist titles after reading Sorcery of Thorns. Her world-building and writing is just beautiful and so elegant.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂