Double Review: “The Book of Ivy” and “The Evolution of Ivy” By Amy Engel

Double Review: “The Book of Ivy” and “The Evolution of Ivy” By Amy Engel

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

 

The Book of Ivy Premise

America fell under the brutality of a massive nuclear war, destroying the whole nation. The remaining survivors split into two factions led by two families: The Westfalls and The Lattimers. Their feud expanded to new heights over the years till The Westfalls finally lost and them and their followers fell under the rule of The Lattimers. Fifty years have come and gone and the only way peace is kept between the two factions is by the Westfalls former followers’ daughters are paired up to be married to the sons from the Lattimer faction.

Now, it has come down to the marriage between Ivy Westfall, granddaughter to the original leader of the Westfalls and President Lattimer’s son Bishop. Unbeknownst to the Lattimers, Ivy has a secret plan. A plan she was raised upon to execute when the time came: to kill the President’s son. Ivy’s personal rage stems not from the original feud, but over the death of her mother. According to her father, Ivy’s mother was ordered to by murdered by President Lattimer under suspicious circumstances. Her along with her sister are raised to be ready to fight to overthrow the man who ordered the murder of their mother.

Does Ivy have what it takes to avenge her mother and murder her new husband?

 

My Review

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I originally purchased the first book from Book Outlet a few months ago and it had been resting on my shelf collecting dust. I finally gave in and devoured the whole book in less than a day. It’s not too long, but the right length. But right when it ended, it felt like the book was truly at a turning point and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel.

Our main character Ivy is not what you’d call a killer. Throughout the whole book she struggles under the weight of having to find ways to get secret information to weapons to her family and figure out a way to murder Bishop. Bishop, though, proved to be a challenge and not in ways you’d suspect.

Bishop is a complete sweetheart and gentleman towards Ivy. Not going to lie, I absolutely loved him. Ivy believed since being the president’s son, he’d be a rude, selfish guy who’d only use her for breeding purposes much like what marriage is mostly about in their community. Spousal abuse was brought up in the novel by Bishop and Ivy’s neighbors. Keep in mind, these couples are only sixteen-eighteen when they are married, practically still kids and immature.

Ivy witnesses the abuse firsthand and in the end Bishop steps in and pushes the husband off the roof in a fit of rage after the husband doesn’t agree to annul the marriage. Despite everything and the husband agreeing to annul the marriage, the wife immediately chastises Bishop and Ivy for sticking their nose into their business. Ivy constantly brings up this is a huge reason why teenagers should not be forced to get married let alone to people they do not know. In a way, we see what Bishop and Ivy’s marriage could have been, making Ivy’s “purpose” even more unsettling.

Minor Spoiler Alert!

Ivy does not kill Bishop. And rightfully so! She’s betrayed by her family and set up in order to get her thrown out of the community and “outside of the fence” to face the elements. We are left at the end of the book wondering if Ivy would survive and if her family would succeed in their deadly endeavors….

 

Goodreads Description of The Revolution of Ivy

“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.”

My Review

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The second book is not nearly as good as the first one. I sped through the second one faster than the first, but it didn’t have as much character development or growth as the first book did. We watched Ivy mature in the first book while I saw no growth whatsoever. Yeah the ends were tied up in a neat little bow but it felt rushed and not thoroughly thought through.

I must admit, I cried when Bishop showed back up to look for Ivy and stood up to his family. Yes, anyone knew it would happen, but come on….the way Bishop loves Ivy is a love I have not seen in male characters in quite awhile. Needless to say, if you do read the first one, be prepared because the sequel is quite predictable to say the least. Good short, sweet dystopian series overall though.

 

My Rating

 

Book 1:

 

Rating 8

Book 2:

 

Rating 5

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

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C.H.B. Reviews: “The Selection Series Part 1” By: Kiera Cass

C.H.B. Reviews: “The Selection Series Part 1” By: Kiera Cass

 

Available: Amazon; Goodreads

 

Oy Vey, I finally reached these books on my “To Read” List. Imagine a cross amongst The BachelorThe Hunger Games, and mix in the Royal family to bring it all together. If you haven’t read it, I’d advice to handle it with caution. If you’ve already read it, you may have mixed opinions about it like me or love it like the majority of other readers.

 

Goodreads Description

“For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”

Let’s face facts, I don’t America. She’s too…too….wishy-washy. She can’t make up her mind! I yearned for her to grow up and mature except she makes things worse by the minute. She goes into The Selection in order to get back at her ex, Aspen, and because her mother made a deal with her to go alone on her “singing jobs”.

We are thrown into a game-show type of deal with an obvious touch of The Bachelor minus the roses and throw in the possibility with becoming a princess. And who are these women’s prince? Why it’s one of the most sheltered, exhausting princes’ of all time, Prince Maxon. You know, at first, I actually liked him. I respected him and his golden perfection and actually though his innocence was kind of cute. That is, until he started doing EXACTLY what America does. NOT MAKING UP HIS MIND!

I mean, come on, you both clearly like one another and connect on a BFF level immediately. You even have your own secret signals, for goodness sake! What do you think that means? Oh yeah, and why didn’t anyone see them when they did those anyways?

And then there is the amount of crap Maxon puts up with just to keep America happy and in the castle? He is pretty much her lap dog in the first book then he finally grew a pair and gave her a taste of her own medicine and began to play the game and get to know the other girls in The Selection. Then all she does is pout, whine, and then constantly remind herself she always has her ex to lean on. Oh yeah, by the way, her EX BECOMES A GUARD AT THE PALACE. Cue in the dreaded love triangle that did I neglect to mention shouldn’t be there?

By the third book, the whole endless cycle of America whining about both of them grows exhausting. I ended up becoming acquainted very well with the fast forward button at those moments. The only parts I did like were when America stood up for her rights as a citizen and also her people. Then there is her acting like a true princess by attempting to bond with other countries and make right between the Rebels who are threatening the royal family.

I’m now reading the fourth book in Part 2 of the series and I’m already wanting to smack Maxon’s child. I’m giving it a chance to improve, however, but the author is making it truly difficult. Am I the only one who feels this way towards this series? Let me know in the comments below!

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10 Book Charms

Happy Reading,

~C.C. 

C.H.B. Review & Interview of Seneca Rebel (The Seneca Society B.1) By Rayya Deeb

C.H.B. Review & Interview of Seneca Rebel (The Seneca Society B.1) By Rayya Deeb

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Title: Seneca Rebel
Author: Rayya Deeb
Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Available: Amazon

 

Amazon Description: “What if your one chance to change the world means you have to leave everything you love behind?

In the not-too-distant future, math genius Doro Campbell is introduced to the Seneca Society: a secretive, technologically-advanced subterranean utopia dedicated to inventing and perfecting the most effective ways to benefit our planet.

But there’s a hitch. Like all that have come before her, Doro is given the ultimatum: Stay in Seneca forever, or leave now with no memory of the place, its goals, and its inhabitants.

She stays.

Her ideals are shattered when, together with biotechnology whiz, Dominic Ambrosia, Doro uncovers profound deceptions beneath the surface of this all too-perfect community.

Will one teenage girl have what it takes to go up against swarms of drones, psychological manipulation and biological attacks, to uncover the truth and change the trajectory of the world?”

~

My Review

I can’t not get over Dorothy Campbell. Here is this this intelligent, adventurous teen who is always getting into trouble. It’s not that she’s doing it for attention, though. Instead, she is doing it because, in her own words, “everyone around me was so boring, that I needed to be proactive and inventive in order to have any fun.” Her personality is one you can’t help but admire in a young character. Throughout the story, she rises to take her place amongst the other current strong woman Dystopian characters. However, she adds her own spin to her world by using her intelligence in order to discover the problems instead of them being revealed openly like in other books.

She lost her father, only to be granted the ability to explore a new society. The Seneca Society grants her the chance to use her knowledge in order to create, invent, be who she was meant to be. As we know, in every secret society, there is always a catch and secrets. If she leaves, her mind is erased of the knowledge of Seneca. The secrets, you’ll have to discover on your own.

The whole story flows in such a way where it adds another layer to the genre. It was difficult to put down the more I read. The pacing is perfect, giving you enough to want to continue the series after the last page is finished. I honestly enjoyed it better than The Hunger Games series, it’s that good. I can’t wait to see what else will happen to Doro!

~

Interview with Author Rayya Deeb

C.C.: Where did you get your inspiration for the story?

R.D.: My main sources for writing The Seneca Society Series are my two little girls and a documentary film called Transendant Man. I love reading about emerging technologies and advances in science too, so I wanted to write this story that would explore the possible future of the world that they could live in.

C.C.: When did you discover you had a passion for writing? Where did it all begin?
 
R.D.: My 3rd grade teacher at Oakton Elementary, Mrs. Cooper, told me to “never stop writing.” At the time I had no idea why she said that, but in retrospect I totally get it and so appreciate it. I absolutely loved it every time we had story exercises in elementary school– it always felt like bonus time, not work.

C.C.: I heard you were working on a sequel to the novel, can you give us any possible hints on what may happen?

R.D.: I am working on the next two books now… there are super subtle hints in Seneca Rebel, but to answer your question, things will have to get a whole lot worse for Doro before they can get better. And she is headed to South America.

C.C.: Here at Charmed Haven Book Reviews, all books are given a rating in what I call book charms. Each charm represents a certain requirement books should have. As the author, out of these Ten Charms (i.e. Charm of Intelligence, Worthiness, Agility, Romance, Length, Imagery, Learning, Character, Believability, and Everlasting) which Book Charm would you give it overall?

R.D.: Hopefully, if I’ve done my job, all of them BUT…To me the most applicable would be worthiness. I want Seneca Rebel to be something that inspires people to be curious about the future, to ask questions, and make a difference.

C.C.: Do you have another author who is your writing role model? What is your favorite book they wrote and why?

R.D.: Judy Blume– Superfudge. I couldn’t believe how fun and cool a book could be. After I read Superfudge, I took some paper and staples, made a book, wrote it, illustrated it and sent it to Ms. Blume. A month or so later I got a letter back from her that she loved my book. That had a lifelong impression on me. I hope she’ll love this one too.

C.C.: How many books are you planning for your series?

R.D.: Right now three books are mapped out, but I want to keep going. And just a little FYI– there is more to the cover than meets the eye. The Seneca storyworld already expands beyond book one, for those that take the leap to discover it…

~

My Rating: 9 1/2 out of 10 Book Charms!

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

C.H.B. Reviews: “The Descendants (The Souls Series B.1)” By Jaclyn E. Brod

C.H.B. Reviews: “The Descendants (The Souls Series B.1)” By Jaclyn E. Brod

 

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Title: The Descendants
 Author: Jaclyn E. Brod
 Publisher: Clean Reads
 Publication Date: February 2, 2016
 Length: 130 pages
 Available: Amazon; ITunes

Amazon Description: “It’s the year 2030 and the world has been waging a war thanks to Doctor Grant who experiment’s on human beings. But there’s only one experiment that can save mankind, but will she be able to before she dies?

 

I always commend dystopian writers. With a thousand dimensions to choose from, you never know what world these writers may tap into. Each story is unique unto itself in the background, the characters, and the events of the story. There may be similarities from book to book but it is the author who is the creator and the characters are their children. This book is no exception.

The world has raged a war on individuals with supernatural abilities. Deemed “the enemy”, these people have been tracked down, captured, and caged in places called “Confinement” where they are tested on like lab rats. Theo, the head guard of the facility, is granted access to an assignment of great importance. Dr. Grant, we’ll call her the Dr. Evil of this tale, has placed him in charge of one of the most dangerous supernaturals in the whole facility. Soon, we discover things are not what they seem, plans backfire, and the intensity level rises steadily as the whole Confinement operation begins to unravel it’s secrets.

I enjoyed the length of this first chapter of sorts in this series. The story is enticing, adventurous, clever, mysterious, and you instantly bond with Theo. Theo is one of those characters who is raised by lies then right when the truth is revealed, he transforms into uber fighter for justice! I’m curious to see what’s to come in this universe along with Theo and the former experiment Jax.

If you are searching for a new dystopian series that stands out, is a decent length, and has an enjoyable set of characters, try this one out!

 

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

C.H.B. Reviews: “The Other Half” By Jordyn McGuire

C.H.B. Reviews: “The Other Half” By Jordyn McGuire

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Title: The Other Half

Author: Jordyn McGuire

Available via: Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Description: When a person turns eighteen, they receive a uniquely shaped half of a necklace. The other half of their necklace goes to their soul mate, the person they are bound to marry someday. It’s been eight years since Devyn received her necklace, and she begins to wonder if she will ever find the person who has the match, the person she is destined to love and marry someday. Without the other necklace and a marriage between her and the owner, there is no hope of a bright future for her. Coupled with her feelings of confusion and her strained relationship with her father, Devyn is on the verge of hopelessness. But in a turn of events, she packs up everything and leaves to follow a possible trail to the other half of her necklace. Throughout her journey, she discovers truths about herself and the necklaces, truths that could alter her life for better or for worse.

My Review

Love is not something you can “match”. Love can’t be planned. Love is a rare, beautiful thing. Love….is not something that can be determined through necklaces.

Devyn, a twenty-six year old surfing instructor, has lived her life being raised upon the idea that her necklace will take her to her true love. According to the community, the necklaces never fails in terms of people being meant for one another. There are even stipulations placed upon women traveling or certain men and women to even eat at a restaurant. In order for them to do so, they must be matches or have their “match” with them. Devyn’s story puts all of this to the test.

Devyn’s parents were not a true match. They constantly fought to the point where her mother eventually abandoned her family altogether. This left Devyn wondering if the necklaces were right in the first place or even if her match exists. Her best friend Mark, always assures her that her match is out there, she just needs to have faith.

Finally, Devyn goes to her town’s center in order to find out more information about her match. Instead of them telling her, they give her instructions to go to another center in Denver where she will get more clues which sends her on an adventure to discover the truth about the identity of her mate.

All in all, the story is pretty good. I feel for Devyn, I really do. It sucks when people who are in your life, even your enemies, seems to be able to have the love of their life when you feel like you’re alone. I have to admire Devyn for jumping into the unknown in order to find her true love. The ending is also one for the books! A love story for anyone to enjoy!

 

My Review: 9 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

 

**I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, it doesn’t effect my review in any way.**

C.H.B. Reviews: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden Book 1) By Julie Kagawa

C.H.B. Reviews: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden Book 1) By Julie Kagawa

2012 was what I can only pinpoint as the year where books were bridging between the ending of the “Vampire Movement” and the beginning of the “Dystopian Movement”. I wrote about my personal thoughts on the Female Heroine transformation in books over the last ten years here. I bring this up because I have had great frustration with the “love triangle” or “love interest” points taking over the majority of books today. Some have been completely drowned in the element that the main plot point is placed upon the back burner in a reader’s mind.

The Immortal Rules, on the other hand, is a book filled with surprises! I am a fan of author Julie Kagawa Iron Fey series which plays upon Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. This book, though, has a story all of it’s own. I will reveal right off the bat that there are no love triangles and what love interest there is doesn’t appear till halfway through the story and the protagonist, Alison Sekemoto, doesn’t come consumed with the idea of falling for him. Instead, she is a true heroine by sticking to the task at hand.

Blood of Eden Site Description:

““You don’t dwell on what you’ve lost, you just move on.”-Allie

In the decades since the Red Lung virus decimated the human population, cities have crumbled and a new order has risen to take over the world. Vampires.

The immortals weren’t untouched by the epidemic. Now, decadent vampire princes rule fallen cities with velvet fists, jealously protecting their food supply—their blood cattle. The humans are Registered, tattooed and scheduled for regular bloodletting—the price of their food and shelter.

This is Allison Sekemoto’s reality. The vampires have taken Allie’s family and dreams—but they’ll never take her blood. Alone and defiantly Unregistered, she scavenges the Fringe to survive. She longs to escape the decomposing city, but no one can survive long outside the Wall. There are worse nightmares outside than within.

But in the face of agonizing death, Allie chooses to become what she hates. She’s Turned by the enigmatic vampire outlaw, Kanin, and taught some impressive and surprising new lessons: how to feed, how to fight, how to fine-tune her new senses. She’s a monster now. But deciding what kind of monster she becomes is up to her.

The ultimate test comes when Allie meets a ragged group of humans searching for a legendary place called Eden. It’s their kind-hearted, blue-eyed second-in-command who undoes her. Brave, noble, foolish Zeke believes Allie is a good person. Person. How long can she hide her true self? It may all come down to which hunger is strongest…”

Allie’s internal struggle with “The Hunger” is the main battle faces when she meets the humans. One in particular human, Ruth, had me practically begging Allison to bite her. Let me full you in on a little bit of her shenanigans. She kept following Allison even when Allison was asleep during the day, spreading rumors about her across the camp to the other survivors, and jumping to conclusions the majority of the time that it eventually jeopardized Allie’s immortal life. Regardless, it added an extra kick to the novel.

This book is the perfect blend of vampires and dystopian fun, it’ll make you forget the other novels that came around the same time and after for at least a few days. It’s been quite awhile for a vampire or even a dystopian novel, for that matter, to capture the struggle of a creature such as Allie attempting to hold onto what little slice of humanity you have remaining (despite being dead and craving blood) while at the same time fighting to other’s survival and putting them before yourself.

Overall, Fantastic novel and the ending left me hitting the ground, wanting desperately to locate the next one!

 

My Rating: 9 1/2 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

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Don’t forget! We are giving away Gifted (Donovan’s Circus #1) By: Liz Long!

The Deadline to enter is on the 26th and the winner will be announced the 27th!

Enter here for your chance to win today!

Library Finds: Trio of Good Reads!

Library Finds: Trio of Good Reads!

 

The past three weeks, I’ve gone back and forth from the library. After reading Nearly Gone, I found these three books. As if the book God’s smiled upon me, they showed up one right after the other. I finally finished The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa the other day and now I’m in the middle of Soundless right now and can’t wait to start The Raven Boys soon.

The library is a magnificent place. It’s the place where dreams may begin at the mere opening of a book. Readers may find their next series to fall in love with or even a book they may be selling that is considered “vintage” and may open your eyes to a whole new world.

The Immortal Rules sent me into a Dystopian world where vampires ruled the world at the outbreak of a virus. Soundless has sent me to a village where citizens have lost their hearing through generation after generation and now are beginning to lose their sight. Now, I await to enter the world of The Raven Boys.

A review of The Immortal Rules is sure to come this next week aside many others.

 

Have any of you read any of these books?

What have you thought of them?

Let Me Know In the Comments Below!

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

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Don’t forget! We are giving away Gifted (Donovan’s Circus #1) By: Liz Long!

The Deadline to enter is on the 26th and the winner will be announced the 27th!

Enter here for your chance to win today!