Review: The Revolution of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

TitleThe Revolution of Ivy
Author:  Amy Engel
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 11/03/16
Length:  202 Pages
Series:  The Book of Ivy #2

Overview

Beyond the fence. I am still alive. Barely.

My name is Ivy Westfall. I am sixteen years old and a traitor. Three months ago, I was forced to marry the president’s son, Bishop Lattimer—as all daughters of the losing side of the war are sold off in marriage to the sons of the winners. But I was different. I had a mission-to kill Bishop.

Instead, I fell in love with him.

Now I am an outcast, left to survive the brutal savagery of the lands outside of civilization. Yet even out here, there is hope. There is life beyond the fence. But I can’t outrun my past. For my actions have set off a treasonous chain of events in Westfall that will change all of our fates—especially Bishop’s.

And this time, it is not enough to just survive…

My Thoughts

The path that this story has taken is a sad but expected one. If you recall from the first book, we are living at a time where nuclear war has ‘destroyed’ America, likely the planet, and there are only small groups of people assumed to be living in communities spread out all over the place. We are in Westfall, somewhere i’d guess in the middle of the country, a town that was established and founded by the Westfall family but where leadership and governance is by the Lattimers. In the first book, Ivy was forced to marry Bishop, a Westfall marrying a Lattimer, but what no one expected and understood is that Ivy and Bishop are not at all like their families, so what society hoped would happen is the polar opposite.

We saw the relationship develop and solidify between Bishop and Ivy in the first book, however there was the underlying threat that we were aware of, that Ivy’s sister and father had this master plan to kill Bishop, then his father and then to take control of the city. Ivy had always followed what she was told because she didn’t know better, secrets were kept from her that she didn’t even know existed, and when she’s with Bishop and her eyes are opened up, she quickly realizes that life is very different and she’s been given the gift of freedom and ability to see what’s real on her own.

Along with this though comes the issue that she’s been tasked to kill Bishop and she’s some how fallen in love with him. So to save him, at the end of the first book, we see her sacrifice herself which ultimately turned into her being put out of the community, to the other side of the fence, with the intent for her to die. Ivy however will not die.

The journey in this second book is one of self discovery, seeing through Ivy’s eyes what it takes to survive, to become your own person and to live by making your own opinions and thoughts, not living by what others tell you. Trust and Loyalty are the only things that matter outside the fence and that’s something that’s hard for her.

On her quest to freedom, she of course almost dies, injuries from her release, the return of a man who was put out for raping a young girl chooses to attack Ivy as well, and she’s left for dead. When she’s discovered by Caleb and Ash, two people who’ve lived their whole life outside the fence, we see the story start to turn, and we have hope. She’s able to find friends, shelter, food, and family. That’s something that she thought she had with Bishop but that’s a life that’s gone. Or is it?

I really enjoy how our author paces this story – there’s so much growth and turmoil that happens that we get to see how that develops and then when the dust starts to settle, new challenges arise. The biggest of course is the return of Bishop. We know how he felt about Ivy, and we know that he didn’t truly believe that she was going to kill him, so it’s no surprise that he turns up, but the question becomes what will that mean for everyone.

Why is he outside the fence? What did he do and what does that mean? Will he and Ivy be the same since we know that they have both changed, and we know that Ivy has put up walls against him. What does all this mean for Westfall, and of course what’s going on with Ivy’s sister and Father?

All of these are questions that we beg to have answered in this story, and of course they all are. I think that the way this story resolves itself is realistic yet a bit quick. but i think that’s what it calls for. I can tell you that not everyone that we have read and endeared ourselves to survives, and that’s ok since that’s life. But i can tell you that story lines are tied up and we see what the present looks like. I’m sad this is a 2 book series v. a trilogy so now i have to find a new story to dive into. Enjoy!

Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

TitleThe Book of Ivy
Author:  Amy Engel
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 11/11/14
Length:  227 Pages
Series:  The Book of Ivy #1

Overview

What would you kill for?

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 return 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…

My Thoughts

I’m a fan of this genre, looking into the future when we know that man kind will wipe out society as we know it, and when things return back to what it was like before technology, with different rules in place to keep peace, it makes you realize that maybe we’re all going to be lost and up a creek without a paddle if that day ever comes.

So we start this story in a point that’s roughly 10 years into the future from where we are now, which is kind of scary. Nuclear war has wiped out much of America, and there are so few people left that we know of because of what happened, and that means that there are only a few left to live in a town that was itself once divided.

There was war in this town to determine how it would be run, some were for democracy and some were for one ruler who was president and set the laws. That side one, and what it means is that there are families who draw a line in life. As a result of this divide, there’s a tradition that every year olds marry someone from the other side in the hopes that war will be avoided since it means that everyone would be warring with their loved ones, and there’s hope that marrying people off at a young age will allow for a higher chance to have more children who are healthy and can revive the country.

The president’s son has managed to delay his marriage because he’s the President’s son, but as such, he has to marry the daughter of the founder of the losing side. The irony here is that the Westfalls, the losing side, have a daughter that’s the same age as Bishop, but he delays his marriage to wed the younger daughter. As we all know, it’s always the younger daughter that’s been the spare in life, and that means that her value is unexpected, undervalued, and well, everyone thinks she’s less worthy. Everyone except for Bishop. We learn his motivation later in the story and it gives you hope.

Ivy is our leading lady, sixteen and forced to marry a man she doesn’t know, whom she hates because of who he is and what his family has done to hers, and at the same time, there are pieces of this tradition that give her freedom. That get her away from what her father and sister have been forcing her into, and gives her the opportunity to grow her own wings.

Bishop is the son of the President, a boy that everyone looks to as the future of society, and a boy who has different feelings on how things should be than his father, but he’s biding his time so that he’s able to make changes.

The development of their relationship is on par with what we see in other stories in this genre. Bishop isn’t what we expected and as such, he gives Ivy time to adjust, gives her a chance to get comfortable with him, to let some type of relationship grow and develop and hopefully make it into a marriage that’s more than in just name only.

The challenge here though is that Ivy’s family has revenge in their minds. They want to take power back from Bishop’s family and the only way to do that is for Ivy to kill Bishop and then for her father and sister to kill the President and take power over. The journey that we go on here is one where we hope there’s a way to change minds, or to avoid doing things that will go too far, but we also know that will never happen.

There are similarities of this story and several others though where there’s a fence that surrounds their community. The fence is the edge of civilization, and outside of that is deemed unsafe, uninhabitable and that’s where they put people out who break laws. From what we’ve seen in other stories, there’s far more out there than anyone knows, and it’s far more civilized, but that’s not for book 1 i don’t think.

What we worry about here though are the hopes and dreams that both Ivy and Bishop share. They both crave to know what’s out there, to see the ocean and to be free. That means that some how we know that they will go outside the fence but we don’t know the circumstances and if they will succeed, survive etc. What we do know though is that this story lets us off at the fence. One on one side and one on another, with limited hope of resolution or success. Too much is at stake for anyone to go against beliefs, but too much is at stake to sit and do nothing.

So on that note, i can’t wait to get into the second book here since i’m really curious how things will turn out. People are planting ideas, people are planting lies, and those who are in power are abusing it for their own worth. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Enjoy!

Review: Tangled Up in Christmas (Texas Heat #2) by Lisa Renee Jones

Title: Tangled up in Christmas
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 10/29/19
Length:  308 Pages
Series:  Texas Heat #2

Overview

I might be a country girl from the same small town of Sweetwater, Texas, as horse wrangler Roarke Frost, the girl next door who knows him like few know him, but I didn’t know enough to save my heart.

He’s the reason why I left Sweetwater behind.

But now fate proves she loves a wicked twist and sends me back to Sweetwater to pull together a Christmas festival—and I run smack into the man again, quite literally. His body is pressed to mine, his hands on my arms, and I’m melting like chocolate in the sizzling Texas sunshine. And I run.

I know it’s not exactly respectable, but it works, just not for long. No matter how much I try to get tangled up in Christmas, I end up tangled up in Roarke instead—and the man has me feeling the heat of our attraction and the warmth of our past friendship. He feels like Mr. Right, but history says he’s Mr. Wrong.

But if he wants a second chance, Roarke Frost is going to have to work for it. He’ll need to prove to me that this holiday is a season of new beginnings, the kind that last forever.

My Thought

Well, we were recently wrapped up in the Sweetwater lovestory that belonged to Jessica and Jason, so it’s only fitting that we get to delve deeper into Roarke – the sexy Horse Wrangler/Whisperer who lives next door, is like a brother to Jason and who provided much needed counsel when Jessica and Jason were imploding.

In this second book of the series, we get to watch how the past that Roarke can’t move on from comes fast and furious into his present, all with the help of a lady named Hannah. the girl that he grew up with, loved and never got over.

The journey in this story is quite different than that of the first book. We see a couple, who were so deeply in love that they didn’t think anything could tear them apart until something did. Then years go by and every time they tried to move on, they kept coming full circle to the memory of what they shared and what’s lost and no one compared.

Hannah, our leading lady was young when she and Rourke finally got together, but she’s grown up, made a name for herself in LA as a fashion photographer, but when her boss gets caught up in the #MeToo movement, her world crumbles and she’s forced to go home to Dallas/Sweetwater.

Roarke has always been the man that we know and love. His skill and ability matched by no one and even through the years, he’s still managed to maintain that and build. He’s pined for Hannah but couldn’t fight for her since what broke them up was tied to such a web of secrets that it would not only end them, but other friendships in town.

Back in present day when Hannah has come home and literally the moment she’s stepped for in the airport she slams into Roarke, we know that their lives are changed yet again. The heat and chemistry that they shared years ago is still there but it’s really a question on whether they can forgive AND forget what happened to make things work. That’s a huge pill to swallow and one that’s not easy.

They continue to cross paths in unexpected places and then when Hannah’s friend (a girl who’s helping her get a new business started) hurts herself, Hannah fills in on a job and is thrown right in between Jason and Roarke, two men that she has no chance with.

The story from here is quite like a dance – seeing who steps where, who avoids whom and what that means for everyone involved. We live under the pretense of a job that has to get done in town to make the community thrive, but at the same time we see this as an opportunity for conversation, for love to be rekindled and for secrets to come out. Although no one wants those secrets to come out. Least of all her parents.

In true form of our author, we have a story that pulls you in with Hope (no pun intended and when you read the end you’ll understand what i mean) breaks your faith in true love, and makes you want to see the best in people, even when it’s impossible.

We spend so much time in this second book wondering if they have a chance, and who’s help is it going to take to make love a reality. Will it be a grandmother, a friend, an animal? no one really knows, and no one knows if there’s even a chance, but everyone in this lovely town won’t give up. So on that note, read this, have faith, know that there’s love and know that when happy endings aren’t possible, there’s always something that can come out of it. Enjoy!

Review: The Truth About Cowboys (Texas Heat #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

TitleThe Truth About Cowboys
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 8/27/19
Length:  308 Pages
Series:  Texas Heat #1

Overview

I had my life figured out.

Engaged to a successful man.

About to make partner at my firm.

Bought a high-rise apartment in downtown Dallas.

And then, poof, it’s all gone. Now, like in some cheesy romantic comedy, my car has broken down in the pouring rain on my way to “find myself” in The Middle of Nowhere, Texas. Cue hot guy coming to my rescue and changing my tire. This is the part where we flirt and have a meet-cute, right? That’s how it works in romance novels, and I should know—after all, I’m coming to Texas to write my own cowboy romance. But nope. This sexy cowboy lights into me about not being prepared for the country roads and how inappropriate my high-heeled boots are.

Little did I know, Jason Jenks would tilt my world into a new dimension with his sinful smirk and his bad attitude. Every time I turn around, he’s there to reluctantly save the day. And every time, I think there may be something to that spark we ignite. But there’s a reason the majority of country songs are about broken hearts. The closer I get to this man, the closer I get to learning the truth about cowboys.

My Thoughts

I do love all things Lisa Renee Jones, so finding this lovely Texas romance is another one that i’m glad to uncover. Our amazing author does it again – she brings us a story that has enough depth and breadth to make it worth reading and you get sucked into the characters so quickly that you can’t put the book down.

As the summary says, we being the story on a journey with our leading lady Jessica when her life seems to have been perfect and then implodes. Thank you to the endless men that we find in these stories – where they manage to mess up the best thing that could have happened to them by dipping their pen in someone else’s ink. The ramifications are huge, but while we think that it should mean the end of her life, Jessica realizes that this is a good thing and moves on. To a cottage. On a Ranch. Alone.

The dramatic way that this story starts, a strong rain storm, Jessica getting her car stuck in the mud, to get rescued by a sexy cowboy who clearly hates her being on his turf. To find her way to the cottage that she rented, only to get a scare because the same cowboy walks into the house and claims that it’s his house and that she can’t rent it and that she’s squatting and needs to go. This story gets better and better because you know that with all the hatred that he exudes and all the chemistry that rolls off them somehow through this, we’re going to get an intense story.

Long story short, we spend the next 300-ish pages watching this all unfold. Jason, our leading man has had his share of glory and now is living through pain and suffering because his parents were killed in a plane crash, leaving the ranch in debt and Jason has to fix it all otherwise he and his grandmother are out of a home, as are the hundreds of people who work for them. The other thing here is that Jason was a pro baseball player who left the game when he was still hot. There’s so much behind that decision, his need to be with his family, and ‘injury’ and a woman that has scorned him for the rest of his life.

We wonder if this story is possible to have a happy ending. I mean, we see the heat and chemistry between Jessica and Jason, and yet it’s something that’s never going to happen because they are worlds apart. We see the sweet woman that is Jason’s grandmother. A lady who is still grieving but also a woman who wants people to realize that she’s not fragile. Bringing Jessica to the ranch is exactly for that purpose, that and hopefully getting Jason to realize that he doesn’t need to focus on everyone else all the time. But is that a cause that falls on deaf ears?

There are moments of hilarity when we see Jessica fail in just about every form possible, and there are moments of joy when we see everyone persevere. There are moments of frustration when we know that we’re talking to a wall on issues, and those same moments when we know that they are so far under water with things that there’s no hope at times. This story is exactly what i needed – to see the struggle and how real it is. but then to see a glimmer of hope and have faith reinstilled. So on that note – Enjoy!

Review: Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi

TitleReveal Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 10/8/19
Length:  68 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #5.5

Overview

This fourth companion novella to Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series is narrated by fan favorite character Kenji Kishimoto!

The explosive revelations in Defy Me have left readers reeling and desperate for answers. This fourth and final novella in the series will bring readers back to the world of the Shatter Me before the final novel installment hits shelves in winter 2020.

My Thoughts

The summary here doesn’t do anything for the story – you really have no idea what it is that we’re going to walk into, especially knowing that we were left with some INSANE revelations in the last book. Whatever it was that they thought they knew about each other, about the Resistance, about what it was that Anderson had tried to do, well the story is far more complex. Adam and James are pawns just like Ella and Emmaline are. Warner is caught in the middle again as are everyone else and it’s a mess.

As you’ll remember, they had safely made it across the country to Castle’s daughters complex. A place that no one knew existed because no one knew she existed and it’s a sanctuary to recoup and figure out what the next move will be. Told from Kenji’s point of view, we see how this will play out.

Remember that he was drugged and kidnapped by Nazeera (who could still be playing both sides) and then his plane is shot down by the Resistance to get him to safety. All part of a plan that he wasn’t informed about.

The biggest thing here is that you know that Kenji is driven by emotions and that’s part of his powers. He’s able to put others at ease, but what happens too is that he’s doing that by not letting his emotions take hold of him. We haven’t seen what would happen if he can’t control that and there are moments in this novella that we come close.

Because Kenji is so invested in his friendships, in his relationships, he’s the one that takes the latest rounds of information the hardest. Adam and James didn’t come with them from Omega Point and that can’t bode well for their futures because we learned who their father is and that makes things dicier. Kenji’s emotions bottle up and then explode when he learns of their fate and that takes the story on a fast turn of anger, fear and distrust.

Add to that the feelings that he had for Nazeera at one point, and the fact that he doesn’t know what her motivations are. This turns quickly into a love / hate relationship and while i would love nothing more than to see them together, we don’t yet know what’s possible.

When things seem like they can’t get worse – they’re in hiding from Anderson (shocker – he’s not dead), Adam and James are in limbo. No one knows who to trust, what their futures will hold and who’s going to be able to save them. Juilliete and Warner are finally in a good place but will that last? Will anyone find happiness and what will the world look like when this all comes to a head.

The last scene is an intense one brought to us via screams from the sanctuary, the world changing physical structure and form, the sun becoming something that no one understands, and Julliette on her knees screaming her sisters name. All of this begging for questions to be asked on what’s to come next, and now we have to wait a few months to see how this plays out. I don’t know if i can be patient but i guess i have no choice. Enjoy!

Review: Purple Magic by Lisa Renee Jones

TitlePurple Magic
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Publishing 4/15/14
Length:  105 Pages

Overview

After her friend Carrie vanishes into the hedonistic world of Manhattan’s forbidden clubs, Jolene Morrison is willing to do anything to find her. And it may come to that when she seeks the help of the vampire Drago. Jolene may be half vampire—and free from their manipulations—but the instant flourishing desire the mere presence of Drago stirs within her is undeniable.

And Drago can smell it. He can practically taste her emotions, her lust. He knows their attraction is real, and he must have her. But Drago also knows what could happen to Jolene if she were to enter one of those clubs. The thought of another vampire having her drives him wild. Now Drago must do anything to protect her—or risk losing the woman who just might be his mate.

My Thoughts

So i’m going to start off by saying that i was going through LRJ’s library to see what books I haven’t read and that’s how i came across this one. It’s definitely not my usual. While i loved Twilight and a few others that are in that realm, Vampire related stories aren’t usually my jam. However, i read it because of this amazing author and given it’s novella length, I don’t mind.

What we have here is the romance story of our innocent (but maybe not so innocent) main leading lady Jolene – a girl who is half vampire and who really has no family aside from her best friend who’s gone missing. She’s only been given bits and pieces about her past, things that we learn aren’t the complete truth (shocker) and when her friend goes missing after spending time with other Vampires (i don’t know that we ever got to the bottom of what amount human or not Carrie is tbh), Jolene takes it upon herself to rescue her since no one else will.

When she’s directed to a man named Drago, her life changes forever. She knows what the powerful “Slayer’ vampires are like – her father is one, so as soon as she meets Drago, she knows that she’s in for a tough time. That’s only the beginning of it since we quickly see that Drago has some extreme and deep draw to her, deeper than he has ever felt before and he’s not entirely sure why since he knows that she’s not a full vampire and the connection he’s feeling, the mating bond is typically only amongst full vampires.

The story that we get from here out is one where we see them struggle with the connection that they have, both in reality and that they have to fake in the hopes of rescuing Carrie. Drago has been working to shut down the operation of another vampire Alex who happens to be the one who’s got Carrie. Drago has to play a role, make it seem like Jolene is his captive so they can save Carrie, and where that takes them is an intense journey.

In true Lisa Renee Jones fashion, we see some really hot scenes, hotter than i’ve actually read on other stories so i’m impressed. I feel like her earlier stories actually got us hotter and more bothered than some of the installments lately. Not a bad thing, just something that i’ve noticed. Regardless, we see Jolene and Drago take on the world in a sense in the hopes to bring her friend hope and we don’t know if they will be successful.

At the same time, secrets about Jolene’s past are revealed and they completely blow up her world and everything that she thought she knew about who she was and what her parents are. It explains much and yet leaves so much more in question.

Because this is a stand alone and a novella length, we know that the plot can only be so complicated and so deep, but i have to say that it was a fast read and still quite enjoyable. I can’t say that i’ll stay in the vampire romance section, but i don’t mind the sojourn. Enjoy!