The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | Book Review

The Book of IvyThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre(s): Dystopia, Young-Adult
Series Status: The Book of Ivy #1
Page Count: 282
Source & Format: Bought, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

Add to Goodreads Icon

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present my review and thoughts on The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel! I’ve heard some great things about this book before reading it, and I’m so happy that I read it—It was a worthwhile read! Although there are some parts I would say could’ve been done better and didn’t fully meet my expectations, I enjoyed the story quite a bit despite its flaws. Let us go into more detail below, shall we?

Plot

There are three main things in this plot that I wanted to point out; the pacing, the concept and the world-building. While the pacing didn’t bother me as much by the end of the story, I must admit that the story was paced more slower than I was expecting from this sort of novel. While the book didn’t take its time introducing us slowly to this world (we’re put smack in the middle of something big happening, which I greatly appreciated), as the story goes on, I feel like the pace really slowed in the middle and I simply feel that could’ve been done differently. It would’ve suited the story more, and made things more action-packed, which I imagine readers would expect from the synopsis of the novel. Or at least, I did.

Apart from that, I also wanted to mention that I really liked the concept and execution of the world-building! Although there are several cliche dystopian tropes in this book, the idea of the novel was still kind of refreshing to read. It felt unique, while still being familiar. Does that make any sense? Also, I really liked that we’re not given all the information right from the start about the post-apocalyptic world we’re in. Throughout the novel we’re given more and more pieces of how this world is, which makes the whole reading experience much more engaging and interesting!

Characters

“And it is Bishop who helped me break free. He didn’t save me though. He allowed me the freedom to same myself, which is the best type of rescue.”

While I enjoyed Ivy (the protagonist), I do think there were a bit too many parts in the book where I simply see Ivy struggling to go forth with her family’s expectations. I guess I was expecting more of a backboned character, assassin-type? Don’t get me wrong, Ivy was a great character and I loved her development as she tries to form her own opinion of everything (instead of blindly following her family’s ideals), but—and this kind of goes in with the pacing thing—I was expecting more action, maybe even more time of her hating the Lattimer family? It would’ve brought out some more intriguing things like some spying maybe and/or political tension, etc.
However, aside from all that, Ivy was great, and I did like seeing her grow a bit more by the end of the novel. I will be interested in seeing how she is in the following book!

Bishop is Ivy’s love interest; and I have to say, I fell in love! Even more than I liked Ivy. He’s sweet, smart, modest—and so accepting of Ivy! (Which had a key part in the decisions Ivy makes.) I really wish we could’ve gotten some chapters through his POV.
The romance between him and Ivy was nice too. That being said, I did want to mention a few things about the romance. I will be honest and say that I did not exactly get what I was expecting in this department. I was thinking it would be more of a dangerous/forbidden and slow-burn romance, but that wasn’t exactly the case. I immensely enjoyed the romance all the same, but it’s more of a tamer romance than expected. But it was still really sweet!

Writing Style

“I want my love to be greater than my hate, my mercy to be stronger than my vengeance.”

This book is written in first person, from Ivy’s perspective, and I really liked how this really let me really get a clear perspective into how she thinks—and how she develops as the story goes on. I also found that the romance scenes didn’t come off as tacky or overtly cheesy because of the POV. (You know, how sometimes when you’re reading a romance scene in first person, and it becomes really weird and awkward to read?) And although it was pretty slow-paced for a lot of the novel, I didn’t even realize I was turning the pages at all, until there were no more pages to turn. 😉

Overall…

This book is great for those of you looking for an engaging and well-written dystopian read! However, I do recommend that you be aware that this is a more slow-paced novel than most other novels of the same genre; whether or not that’s a huge issue is up to personal preference!

The characters were great, I really sympathized with Ivy’s situation, and Bishop was swoon worthy and so sweet! The romance is pretty subjective, and I was expecting more of a slow-burn and forbidden romance, but it was pretty tame—but sweet and still heartbreaking. (And no love triangle included!) I also really loved the writing; the words simply passed swiftly, and overall it was very well-done.

Despite the flaws of the novel, I found I really enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to reading the sequel and finale! Although I’m kind of sad that my journey will be ending so quickly. 😉

Book Trailer


What do you think of this novel? Have you read it? Do you want to read it? What expectations do you have for it? Let me know in the comments below!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

(Shatter Me #3)

Published: February 4th 2014

Synopsis:

 The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.


Ignite Me_bookcover
Add to Goodreads

My Rating: 5 stars 5/5 (Outstanding)

Book Information

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, dystopia, romance

Page Count: 408

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0062318780


This book was used for the Popsugar challenge: A book you own but have never read.

I only have 1 word. Outstanding. Tahereh Mafi outdid herself in this heart-stopping conclusion to the Shatter Me trilogy! I absolutely loved this book!!!

Note: To make this a spoiler-free review, I’m skipping my usual quick summary.
Read More »

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13104080-unravel-me

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

(Shatter Me #2)

Published: February 5th 2013

Synopsis:

Juliette has escaped from The Reestablishment. Now she’s free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch. Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible. Haunted by her past and terrified of her future, Juliette knows that she will have to make some life-changing choices. Choices that may involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13104080-unravel-me
Add to Goodreads

My Rating: 5 stars 5/5 (Outstanding) | Add on Goodreads

Book Information:

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, dystopia, romance

Page Count: 461

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0062250930


Oh my god. Tahereh Mafi’s amazing-ness was shown through Shatter Me & Destroy Me, but I had no idea how much farther her awesomeness extended. This book was simply amazing!

I’m going to be skipping the quick summary this time, just to make this a spoiler-free review for everyone. 🙂 You’re welcome.Read More »

Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

(Shatter Me #1.5)

Published: October 2nd 2012

Synopsis:

Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release of Unravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me,Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.


Destroy Me_bookcover
Add to Goodreads

My Rating: 5 stars 5/5 (Outstanding)

Book Information

Publisher: Harper

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, dystopia, romance

Page Count: 109

Format: e-book


Hello! I finished this quite a while ago, but I still remember my love for this book like it was yesterday! I love Shatter Me, the first book in the Shatter Me series, and this novella was no exception!

This is going to be a more shorter review, as it is only a novella, but read on for my fangirling over this book! Note: This is a spoiler-free review, unless you haven’t read the first book. If you haven’t read the first book, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. You have been warned. Read More »

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review

(Shatter Me #1)

Published: October 2nd 2012 (first published November 15th 2011)

Synopsis:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


Shatter Me_bookcover
Add to Goodreads

My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre(s): Young-adult sci-fi, dystopia

Page Count: 340

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0062085506


Used for the Popsugar challenge: A Book Written by Someone Under 30

I finished Shatter Me… I don’t even remember anymore, which is a clear sign that I should’ve posted this review way before.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Shatter Me! I’ve heard a lot of hype around this book for a while now, and in case you didn’t understand from my rating, my expectations have been met. 😉

Quick Summary.

Juliette has a power. A curse. A gift. Whatever you want to call it. Whenever she touches someone, the worst pain beholds the person, or even worse, they die. So she’s been locked up, isolated from people. Then one day, she has a cellmate. From there on, everything Juliette thought she knew is being questioned, and she’s faced with a choice. A choice that will shape her future.Read More »

Flash Point by Nancy Kress | Book Review

Stand-Alone

Published: November 8th 2012

Synopsis:

Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.


Flash Point_bookcover
Add to Goodreads

Rating: 2.5 stars2.5 (Okay)

Book Information

Publisher: Viking

Genre(s): Young-adult Dystopia

Page Count: 502

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 0670012475


Used for the Popsugar challenge: A book set in the future

Hey there! Glad I’m finally reviewing this. I finished this sooner, but hadn’t gotten the chance to review it yet, but I got some time now so here I go!

I had this on my TBR list and started reading it a bit before I officially started the Popsugar Challenge. I finished it after a few days of my challenge, and let me just say this: It was a disappointment. A flop. As you can see from my rating, this wasn’t the best book I’ve read. I had such high hopes for this one, but it just didn’t click for me.

The only reason it does not have a 2 star or even 1.5 star rating was because I was able to finish the book without hating it, as well as the writing style helped make the book more enjoyable. It was only afterwards where my opinions changed.

Quick Summary

Our protagonist, Amy, would’ve had a comfortable life if it wasn’t for the Collapse. Now she’s desperate to keep up with financial problems while taking care of her younger sister and sickly grandmother. When she gets the chance for good pay with medical benefits by being in the running for the new TV show Who Knows People, Baby–You?, Amy is quick to audition, ignoring her misgivings. When Amy ends up being one of the people starring in the show, she realizes the show isn’t as fun and simple as it seems when her life (and the lives of the people with her) is put in jeopardy.

Plot

So starting with the plot. The concept itself was really interesting, however Nancy Kress made it fall flat. I mean, it was a super cool story line, with the whole TV show risking lives, and the Hunger Games-ish idea, but Nancy Kress just wasn’t able to pull it off.

The main point of the story is about how the TV producers are risking the lives of Amy and the other stars on the show for the sake of having good ratings from viewers. The problem however is that while there were a few scenes where it was interesting, the actual ‘flash point’ or, climax kind of flopped. It reminded me a bit of The Maze Runner, except done worse.

Another thing that added to that problem is that although in the synopsis it is said that every time the ratings slipped, the TV producers ‘up the ante’ of the scenes the stars go through, really, the scenes weren’t all that great, to be honest. There were maybe a few select scenarios that were decent and mostly interesting, but not that many.

And finally, the last problem I had with the plot is the unnecessary and confusing ‘phantoms.’ Apparently Amy is some kind of clairvoyant, and gets these ‘phantoms’ that lets her see through the scenarios set up by the producers?For something so crucial (or so Kress makes it seem) to the story, you’d expect an explanation. The true story of what was happening to Amy in those moments was not explained at all throughout the entire book, and that really annoyed and frustrated me.

Overall, there were some parts I enjoyed, such as a couple of plot twists, but the plot definitely did not live up to its full potential.

Characters

To be honest, most of the characters were pretty predictable, save for a couple which goes back to the plot twist I mentioned above. Most of the people I thought were kind of useless and bothersome. Amy herself I found annoying, someone who I couldn’t relate with at all. She came off as a bit whiny at times, easily falls for a pretty face, and although she’s supposed to be all smart and everything, the very first couple of decisions she made sucked. Overall, I didn’t find Amy that enjoyable, and she definitely wasn’t a strong female lead like I was hoping for. I don’t specifically hate her, but I’m not her biggest fan, that’s for sure.

There is some romance in here, or at least a love triangle. I’m usually fine with love triangles as long as they’re done well. Sadly, this was not done all that well. I honestly did not care for either of the interests much, especially not for the one Amy first thought herself to be in love with (the pretty face). It was so obvious who actually likes her and who has more common interest with her, that I literally felt like shaking Amy to tell her to wake up.

Writing Style

The writing style wasn’t phenomenal, however it was quite enjoyable. The writing style is one of the main things that made me decide on a 2.5 stars rating instead of something lower. It flowed nicely, and was descriptive enough when need be. Note: there is swearing multiple times. That bothered me, as it was unnecessary to use such language, however I did my best to simply ignore it.

Overall, I don’t particularly recommend this book. If you’ve read Nancy Kress’s other works and are interested in this, then by all means try it out. I actually would love to hear your opinions on it! Perhaps it will shape my perspective into a more favorable opinion.

Not that hungry? I understand, this review isn’t increasing you appetite, is it? But if you are hungry, go eat it! I’d love to hear what you think of its taste.

-A

Matched by Ally Condie | Book Review

(Matched #1)

Published: November 30th 2010

Synopsis:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


Matched_bookcover
Add to Goodreads

My Rating: 3 stars3/5 (Decent)

Book Information

Publisher: Dutton Books

Genre(s): Young-adult, utopian/dystopian, romance

Page Count: 369

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 0525423648


I had relatively high expectations for this book, firstly because of the interesting synopsis, and secondly because of the gorgeous cover. The book wasn’t bad specifically, it just didn’t blow me away. 

Quick Summary

Matched follows 17 year-old girl Cassia Reyes as she finds herself ‘Matched’ (the person who she’s going to marry) with her best friend, Xander, an oddity in itself because citizens are usually never Matched with people they already know. Cassia is delighted, until she questions who she’s really meant to be with when she sees the face of a childhood friend/acquaintance named Ky Markham in the micro card meant to show Xander’s information. Cassia is unable to stop thinking about Ky, and Cassia begins to question the Society, throwing everything–and everyone–she believed in out of balance.

Plot

As for the plot, it was alright, but nothing that outstanding or something that I haven’t seen before, sadly. The world-building wasn’t bad, but not the best, I would say. Okay, so the Society controls basically everything. There are Officials for… basically every citizen? Not sure if that’s just my jumbled up thoughts talking, but that’s what I remember. However, I did like how the world was built, as in, there wasn’t just pages upon pages of explanation of what this world was, how they lived, etc. It just was there, and we got to understand it ourselves.

Characters

I wanted to connect with these characters, but for some reason, I just couldn’t. Especially with the main characters. If I didn’t enjoy the other characters, I would’ve at least wanted to enjoy the main characters. Cassia seemed a bit uninteresting and didn’t have much to her as I would’ve liked. In the moments where she actually did something that didn’t make her boring, I could see a glance of what she could’ve become, but sadly wasn’t. Xander and Ky were the two guys in the unnecessary love triangle (remember what I said about love triangle not bothering me? Well this one is definitely an exception) and sadly I wasn’t as into them as I usually am. :/

 

Writing Style

The writing style was a bit lyrical, which was nice. However, the main problem I had with the writing style is the structure. I saw no good format during the book; no actual climax, no character development. Nothing drove this book other than Cassia and Ky’s romance. Who’s the antagonist? The whole Society? The one Society official who told Cassia to forget about Ky(who I barely even remember due to her name being mentioned, like, once)? What kind of characters are these, might I ask?

Then lastly we have the anti-climactic ending. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but it was just…I’m out of words. I would’ve thought at least there would be a better ending to the book, but alas, there wasn’t.

Overall…

An okay book. As I’m looking at this review, I’m realizing that I have quite a few complaints, and I just wanted to make it clear that I did not hate the book, and I’m not trying to bash the book negatively in any way. I know lots of people enjoyed this, but it just wasn’t for me. If you’ve read Matched, be sure to tell me your opinion in the comment section below, because I’d love to hear what you thought about this book! If you haven’t read this book, please don’t be daunted by my review! If it’s something that interests you, go for it. I don’t want to influence you to not read something that you might really enjoy. It sadly did not live up to my expectations. Hopefully it will live up to yours!

Don’t forget to check out the book trailer below, by the way!

If you’re hungry, scram and go eat this!

-A

Divergent by Veronica Roth | Book Review

(Divergent #1)

Published: February 28th 2012

Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


My Rating: 4.5 Stars4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre(s): Young-adult dystopian/utopian, sci-fi

Page Count: 487

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0062024035


I know many people are skeptical of Divergent because they believe it to be a Hunger Games wannabe. Don’t worry, it’s not. I mean, yes, of course there are similar factors (duh, it’s still a dystopia) but Divergent has several different, interesting parts to it that makes it its own book.

Divergent follows Beatrice Prior (later called Tris), a 16 year old girl who lives in a city divided into 5 factions:

Read More »