Thursday, 28 January 2016

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Book of Ivy & The Revolution of Ivy Double Feature

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Published November 11th 2014 by Entangled Teen

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
Published November 3rd 2015 by Entangled Teen

The Book of Ivy takes place in a future US that has been destroyed by a nuclear war. The community of Westfall is founded as a new democratic nation. Shortly after, the Westfall & Lattimer families enter into a conflict, with the Lattimer family taking over control of the community and running it as a dictatorship. Fifty years later, peace is maintained in Westfall with an imposed law of arranged marriages between the winning and losing sides.

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Westfall has grown up with a hatred for the Lattimer family & especially for the enforced marriage law. After Ivy is paired with President Lattimer’s son Bishop to marry in the annual ceremony, she is encouraged by her father and sister to kill her new husband as part of a plan to restore the Westfall family to power.

Things become complicated and lines blurred between right & wrong, when Ivy begins to develop feelings for Bishop after the wedding.

Amy Engel has done a wonderful job of creating this world and the people who inhabit it. Most of the major characters are conveyed in such a way that you can understand what motivates them. What I found really interesting, though, is how these motivations reveal more depths to the characters and their background than was originally understood, as the story progresses.

There are so many facets to this book that gave me much to think about – the politics of Westfall, as well as the complex relationships between the Lattimer & Westfall families, the husbands and wives, the parents & children.

Ivy & Bishop are such brave and loyal characters. I never once doubted or was unsure of them, even though there were many surprises in their journey. Ivy’s relationship with Bishop evolves so realistically and naturally that it seems obvious in retrospect how inevitable it was.

The Revolution of Ivy follows on directly after the events at the end of The Book of Ivy. I don’t really want to give much away, but it is definitely a strong follow up and satisfying conclusion to the series.

I strongly recommend you have a copy of The Revolution of Ivy on hand before you finish reading The Book of Ivy, so you can read it directly after!

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy here.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Anticipated Reads for February 2016 - Part One

Anticipated Reads for February - Part One

Below is a list of my most anticipated YA reads for the first half of February, with links to their information on Goodreads.

Are there any titles I've listed you are planning to read? Are there any I've not listed you think I may enjoy, as well? Please let me know in the comments below!

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Starlight by Melissa Landers
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Monday, 25 January 2016

Current Read: Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontës

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontës by Lena Coakley

Published January 5th 2016 by Harper Collins

From the publisher: Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ own juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Dead House

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published September 15th 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The Dead House is about Carly and Kaitlyn -  two souls who inhabit the same body. Carly appears during the day and Kaitlyn at night.  Are they suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, as they are diagnosed or is there something supernatural involved? When Carly ‘disappears’, it is up to Kaitlyn to find out what happened to her.

From the moment I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down. The story is told through a series of journal entries, notes, interviews & film footage transcripts. I was concerned that this might create a disjointed and difficult to follow storyline, but that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, I found the unusual format contributed heavily to the sinister & unsettling atmosphere. While I was reading, there were quite a few creepy, crawly moments where I was looking over my shoulder!

This is a gorgeous book. If you are a fan of spine-chilling horror & psychological thrillers, I think you will very much enjoy this unique and eerie Young Adult novel.

From the publisher:
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds .

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Dead House here.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Isabella's Reading Corner: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes Series - Book 1) by Sara Raasch
Published October 14th 2014 by Balzer + Bray

Snow Like Ashes is a Young Adult Fantasy novel set in the world of Primoria which is made up of four Season kingdoms and four Rhythm kingdoms. The kingdom of Winter was overthrown by Spring, it’s ruler murdered and the majority of it’s people enslaved. Sixteen years later it is up to the remaining seven refugees to save Winter and free their people.

The story is told through Meira, one of the survivors. She is such an amazing character – strong willed, brave and a warrior. You see everything and everyone through her eyes. The story unfolds as she discovers more and more about a home she knows very little about. All the characters seemed so genuine that I really cared about what happened to them - aside from the villains!

I love snow, I love cold weather and winter is my favourite season, but these are not the only reasons I loved this book. It was action packed from start to finish. I didn’t want it to end! There is romance and a love triangle, but it is believable and doesn’t take over the story. The world created was scenic and well developed and it was easy for me to immerse myself in this exciting novel.

I can’t wait to get started on the second book in the series, Ice Like Fire, to see what happens next. I highly recommend Snow Like Ashes, especially if you are fond of Fantasy or Young Adult Fantasy Fiction.

From the publisher:
A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter's future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter's magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on Snow Like Ashes here.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Published June 9th 2015 by Dial/Penguin

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a Young Adult title and author Stephanie Oakes debut novel. The story is about a 17-year-old girl who has spent most of her life in a cult, along with her family. Minnow manages to run away after their Prophet is murdered, but ends up in a juvenile detention facility after committing a random assault. This is where the story begins…

Initially I was wary of all the high ratings & hype surrounding it, but after reading, I was not disappointed – this is a haunting and beautifully written book. The writing just flows & I found myself immersed in the strong characters. Some of the scenes were somewhat dark & disturbing, but so emotional, that at times I found myself holding my breath! I couldn’t wait to see what had really happened.

Minnow is the narrator & although you know straightaway that she is not telling the complete truth, you still begin to trust her and want everything to work out for her in the end.
If you are a fan of realistic fiction than I highly recommend this intense YA novel.

From the publisher:
The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Gorgeously written, breathlessly page-turning and sprinkled with moments of unexpected humor, this harrowing debut is perfect for readers of Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me and Nova Ren Suma's The Walls Around Us, as well as for fans of Orange is the New Black.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly here.

Current Read: Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2)

Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes Series - Book 2) by Sara Raasch

Published October 13th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Game of Thrones meets Graceling in this thrilling fantasy filled with shocking twists and heart-pounding action, the highly anticipated sequel to Snow Like Ashes. This action-packed series is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.