Category Archives: Book Review

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel


Publication: November 3, 2015

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Series: The Book of Ivy Duology, Book Two

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288 pages

Rating: 5 sm

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

“That’s what love is, though, isn’t it? You don’t stop loving someone just because they disappoint you.”

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, murder, and suicide. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves. ❤

The Revolution of Ivy picks up just after the first book, when Ivy has been put out. She has nothing but the clothes on her back and has to learn how to navigate a completely new part of the world. She has to learn how to survive, and deal with the brutal people on the outside of the fence.

I thought this was a wonderful second book, and a great conclusion to the story. Again, most of this book isn’t action driven. The beginning a little, because Ivy is learning how to survive in what is essentially a new world. And the ending, because so much happens in the last fifty pages or so.

Again, I really loved the characters in this book. I can’t stand how much I love Ivy’s character development. I remember being slightly frustrated in the first book because I felt she was so brainwashed by her family. So willing to sacrifice herself for people who could barely love her back. If they even did that. She has a sort of awakening in this book that I really, really appreciated. However, that brings other issues to light that I think she works through well throughout the novel. I loved watching Ivy struggle and discover who she is and what it means to live in this post-war, post-apocalyptic world they live in.

Bishop. Oh, my little baby Bishop. He is top notch book boyfriend material, people. Seriously, there’s this huge “bad boy turned good boy” trope in Young Adult literature. And while I love that trope, and enjoy books that contain it, it’s nice to have a male character who is just good from the beginning. There’s no miracle girl that changes his ways and makes him a better person. He just is. I love his devotion and love to Ivy. I just. Ugh. I could gush about this romance for the rest of my life if someone would let me.

On top of that, we were introduced to new characters. People outside the fence that I loved, and one that I wanted to stab every time he was on the page. Once again, I loved Amy Engel’s writing. The story flowed so well and was at a perfect pace.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this sequel. This was such a wonderful duology, and is one of my new favorites. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about either book since I read them, and already want to reread them. And make everyone I know read them.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

wflp3raPublication: November 4, 2014

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Series: The Book of Ivy Duology, Book One

Format: Paperback

Pages: 282 pages

Rating: 5 sm

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…

“For the first time, it sinks in that the horrors beyond the fence are the same as those inside it. People. And the brutal things we do to one another.”

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, murder, and suicide. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves. ❤

This is one of my favorite books of all time (series too, since I read both books in a week). It certainly reminded me of what I love about dystopian novels. The questions they can bring to my mind about our society and what could cause these things to happen.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that’s made me think as much as this one did. It was such a thought provoking book, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished. It brought to mind questions about what is right and what is wrong. But also how life is too messy for things to be one way or the other. Sometimes there is this messy gray area that no one really wants to actually talk about. It was refreshing to have a light shown on it.

The Book of Ivy is about two teens on opposite sides of a political war. While I think that it would have been nice to get a little more world building, I think it had a fairly nice set up at the beginning of the book. There was a nuclear war that left most of the United States in ruin. A small group came together, and then there was an internal war over who would be in power over the people.

Sixteen year old Ivy, is the from the founding family. The daughter of the man who’s father founded Westfall. She’s raised into this household, made to believe that the Lattimer’s are bad and that they don’t care about the people in their community. Bishop, is the seemingly spoiled son of President Lattimer, the leader of their town. A man who believes in the rules and regulations put in place in their community. Both are not exactly who they appear to be.

The romance in this book is slow burning, and in my opinion, was perfect for this story. I absolutely loved Amy Engel’s writing, and the way that she chose to tell this story. It’s definitely more of a character driven plot, than an action driven plot. But I think that worked really well for this particular book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend picking this up. I need more books by Amy Engel now.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardover

Pages: 278 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 5 sm

An urgent and provocative debut from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a book about community and ambition, love and friendship, and living up to expectation in contemporary black America.

It begins with a secret, then follows that secret through the lives of three different characters-from high school into adulthood-tracing it’s impact far beyond their Southern California youth.

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken seventeen-year-old beauty. She’ll be the first in her family to go to college, if she indeed leaves home as she intends in the fall. But meanwhile, mourning her mother’s recent suicide, she has taken up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, handsome but lacking direction, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables. They are young; it’s not serious; they keep their relationship to themselves. But the secret that results from this romance-and the subsequent cover-up- will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.

As Nadia hides the truth from everyone, including Aubrey, her chaste best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults, still shadowed by the choice they made in their youth, and by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

“Oh girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”

The Mothers is such a phenomenal story. I absolutely loved Brit Bennett’s writing and the characters that she created. They all seemed so incredibly realistic, woven into a story that was breathtaking. It’s a story about life and love and loss and how the decisions we make can affect and change, not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us as well. It’s about how life happens.

All of the characters in this novel felt like real people. Like I could have walked out the door, down the street, to my neighbors house. (Okay, probably not. I live in rural America – so let’s be real here.) My point being that they didn’t feel like characters, they felt like people. And I absolutely love when an author is able to make me feel like that. They each have their flaws and their selfish moments and their mistakes. The same as any of us.

This is a book full of funny and smart and sad moments. Of fantastic, quotable moments. It’s full of life and love and hurt and regret. It’s a story about death and ruined dreams and betrayal. It is one hundred percent human. Brit Bennett is a wonderful storyteller and I cannot wait to read more from her.

I thought the ending was daring for a debut novel, but I found it fit the story perfectly. I wouldn’t have asked for it to end any differently. This story didn’t need a neat little bow on top of it. In fact, I think it’s point is made even more so without a tidy wrap up.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a remarkable debut and I’m glad that I gave it a go. I will definitely pick up whatever she writes next.

*The image was taken from Goodreads and the synopsis was taken from the book jacket. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

Catalyst by Lydia Kang

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Series: The Control Duology, Book Two

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 388 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 2½ sm

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they’ve come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something–a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister’s safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There’s more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined…aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.

I was a little bored reading this. I originally read the first book, Control, two years ago and really enjoyed it. I reread it earlier in December and didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time I read it, but still enjoyed it. I had fairly mediocre expectations for this. Like, I wasn’t expecting to be spectacular, but I was expecting to enjoy it a little bit more.

After reading almost 400 pages of this, I’m still a little confused as to what the actual plot of this novel was. To me, it felt more like she threw a few subplots together and tried to make them all work as the overall plot. Like, here’s problem number one. Oh, we solved problem number one. Let’s move on to problem number two. Oh look, we solved problem number two. Let’s move on to problem number three. Oh look, we solved problem number three. And that would have been fine, but each individual problem didn’t have much to do with the others? I just don’t think it worked as well as she wanted it to.

One of the big draws for me in the first book was the science that was involved. I’m a huge, huge fan of science fiction, and this second book felt very lacking in the actual science part. I just wanted more from this novel.

Pretty much every character in this book switched personalities from what they were like in the first book. And it just made me go “ughhhhhhh” while reading. I just don’t like it when characters change that much randomly. There were a few characters, such as Caliga, that I enjoyed more in this second novel. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the changed so drastically.

This book was just overall very anticlimactic for me. Which is not at all what I wanted in this conclusion novel. The ending didn’t feel creative and was just rather boring to be honest. There is this kind of fight scene right before the ending that just didn’t really seem to serve a purpose? It felt almost like it was there because she felt like she needed to have a fight scene at the end.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. This series overall was kind of a letdown. I’ve left it with a “meh” feeling, and that’s never a good thing.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 344 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 2½ sm

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This isn’t a three stars book but isn’t quite a two and a half. More like a 2.75, but I don’t really like to rate books that way, haha. I think the reason I had a hard time rating this is because of how much I loved the writing and the style that it was written in. I wanted to give it a high rating for that reason, but I can’t ignore the issues I had with it.

I really wanted to love this book. I did. I like the idea of love at first sight, and I think it was handled fairly well in this novel. Although, I did feel like Daniel was a little obsessed with Natasha and that made me a little uncomfortable.

I loved the diversity represented throughout the novel, with the two main characters being a Jamaican immigrant and a Korean American. I appreciated that it dealt with issues regarding immigration.

However, I absolutely hated the characters. There was not a single character in this book that I liked, and that’s a big thing for me. I have to like the characters that I’m reading about (or at least appreciate the roles that they play throughout the story). I found both of the main characters to be extremely selfish and not at all open-minded toward how the other thought/believed.

I didn’t really appreciate how the differences in belief between the two main characters all of the sudden basically became a nonissue. Especially when it was such a big deal between through the first 75% of the novel.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this book between disliking the characters and not really connecting to the romance. I think it just wasn’t the book for me, and that’s okay. I still would recommend picking it up and giving it a chance. I’ve heard a lot of people have really loved it and I’ll say it again, Yoon’s writing is fantastic. This won’t be my last book by her.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

What You Do to Me by Barbara Longley

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Series: The Haneys, Book One

Format: eBook

Pages: 260

Source: NetGalley

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 3 sm

Whether it’s repairing a home or taking care of clients’ other needs, Twin Cities handyman Sam Haney is in demand from his mostly female clientele. Despite Sam’s lothario reputation, love isn’t part of his portfolio. He’s built a lot of walls in his time, but the one that’s surrounded his heart ever since the death of his parents is his most solid yet.

Haley Cooper has had enough heartache for a lifetime. Her high school sweetheart up and moved to Indonesia—alone—just two weeks before their wedding. Her mother thinks it’s time for Haley to move on and contracts Sam to work on Haley’s wreck of a house—and anything else, if he’s got the notion.

Sparks fly and passion ignites. But Haley isn’t into Sam’s love-’em-and-leave-’em act. She wants something more. Fixing a house is one thing, but for this handyman, building a relationship will need a whole different set of skills.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Though it did take me about 35% of the way in till I reached that point. It’s sweet and fairly well-written. However, there were a few things about the writing that I didn’t enjoy all that much. Longley used an excessive amount of italics throughout the book and some of the language she used made me cringe a little. It just felt cheesy at times. I also found the story to be occasionally cliche and predictable.

There wasn’t a whole lot of character development up until the very last bit of the story. Although it felt a little sudden, I think it worked well and made sense for the book. I enjoyed the revelations that Sam’s character experiences. I found Haley’s character to be just okay. I liked Sam’s family members, I found them all to be very endearing. The character I couldn’t really stand was Haley’s mother. I found Trudy frustrating and some of her action’s not very believable.

Sam and Haley should win some kind of award for the slow burn romance between the two of them. I’m serious, if you like slow burn romances, this is the book for you. The attraction toward one another happened immediately, but that’s a fairly normal thing. The romance definitely was not instantaneous. It was like the perfect amount of flirting and sexual tension and it worked really well for the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. If you enjoy slow burn, kind of cheesy romances, you would definitely enjoy What You Do to Me.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both NetGalley and Montlake Romance for the opportunity to read and review this book. The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

Bender by Gene Gant

Publication Date: June 16, 2016

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Genre: New Adult Contemporary

Format: eBook

Pages: 86 pages

Source: NetGalley

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 3 sm

At nineteen, college freshman Mace Danner works as an escort, hiring himself out to customers who want a submissive they can dominate. Having no carnal urges himself, the sexual side of his job leaves him cold, but he sees the pain inflicted on him by his clients as punishment for causing his brother’s death when he was in high school. Pain is not enough, however, to wash away his guilt, and Mace starts binge drinking in an effort to escape his remorse.

The dorm’s resident advisor, Dex Hammel, sees Mace spiraling out of control and strives to help him. Despite the mutual attraction between them, Mace is disturbed that he still feels no sexual desire for anyone. Even with Dex’s support, Mace’s self-destructive behavior escalates, leading to a situation that endangers his life.

Trigger warnings for physical abuse, rape, and alcohol abuse. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves. ❤

Bender was a very dark story. I was very intrigued by the synopsis when I saw it on NetGalley, which is what drew me in to read it. A young male escort dealing with a fair amount of guilt who deals with it by specializing in submission as an escort. Along with the fact that Mace is asexual.

I had not, until this novella, read about an asexual main character. And although I am not asexual, it felt like a fairly good representation of asexuality. Or at least, my understanding of it.

I enjoyed the characters, for the most part. I think they fit their roles well and each had their own purposes. I appreciate Mace’s character for the struggles that he deals with. I liked the fact that Dex wanted to help Mace and be there for him. Troy is lovable and has unwavering integrity, which is always a great attribute to have.

I think the way that Mace decides to deal with his guilt is interesting, but I’m not entirely convinced that it made a lot of sense. I also wasn’t extremely attached to the romance, but I feel like that had more to do with the size of the novella than anything else. There really wasn’t much time to get attached to it.

For the first little bit of this novella, the line between consensual BDSM and sexual violence seemed fairly clear. However, as the story progresses and more events take place, that line became more blurred. I was not a huge fan of the murkiness there, but I suppose it made sense for the direction that the plot took.

Overall, this was a good, quick read. There’s a lot of hurt/comfort throughout this novella, so if you’re a fan of that I would definitely recommend giving it a read.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both NetGalley and Harmony Ink Press for the opportunity to read and review this. The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*