November 21, 2014

The Book of Ivy Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Book of Ivy! Today I'll be sharing my review with you - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.

The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1)
Author: Amy Engel
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen


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…
The Book of Ivy is the phenomenal first book in a new young adult science fiction/dystopia series that will have readers begging for more. The story opens with our main character, Ivy Westfall, getting ready for her wedding. She's not excited about this - her marriage is prearranged and she knows who her husband will be - Bishop Lattimer - the president's son. The Westfall and the Lattimer families go back to the establishment of the country they formed after the world was torn apart by war. The Lattimer's eventually gained control of the nation and the Westfall's have never forgiven them for it. In order to keep peace between the two families, and the two sides of town, they have a yearly ritual where several girls of the "losing group" are married off to guys from the "winning group." This year it's Ivy's turn to wed - and it's none other than the president's son she must marry. The families believe that by bonding the the families through marriage, the peace and control in the nation will continue. Only Ivy isn't looking to become someone's wife. She's been trained by her father and sister for years for a single mission: to kill her husband, Bishop Lattimer. This is a vital part of the plan for the Westfall family to take control of the nation. But the more time Ivy spends with Bishop, the more she begins to question herself and her mission. But there's no going back, no matter how she feels. Her father is depending on her to kill Bishop and help bring their family back into power. What's Ivy going to do when her mind is telling her one thing, but her heart is screaming the complete opposite?

When it comes to books like this one, I find it really hard to review them. It's strange that I find talking about a book that I loved is so difficult, but it's just because I tend to fangirl and ramble on forever - making the review really long and most likely boring. I'll try my hardest to keep myself under control and review this book just like any other. No promises though. The story takes place in the future - in a world that was torn apart by war. Some survivors found one another and eventually decided to create a small nation of their own. The history of the war and how things came to be the way they are between the Westfalls and the Lattimers is explained in great detail, so the reader knows exactly what's going on and why. I liked the world the author created for the book because although it's dystopian in nature, it's not far-fetched at all. I could imagine this actually happening in our world today, if a major nuclear war were to occur. It was those believable details mixed with the familiarity of the town - again, just like ours today, only devastated by war. Because I could actually believe the history and how the world came to be as it is in the book, I was able to completely lose myself in the book - which I normally can't do with science fiction/dystopias. The characters were incredibly well rounded - especially Ivy and Bishop. I loved Ivy as the heroine of the book. She's a fantastic example of a strong female lead - she's smart, loves her family, is fully devoted to her father's cause, and is strong - both physically and mentally. She has her flaws like everyone else - like her stubborn attitude and the inability to stop herself from going too far and saying things she shouldn't. She was very realistic and I found myself identifying with her as well as rooting her on from the very beginning of the book. The story itself is written from Ivy's point of view, so the reader gets to know her on a deeper level than most characters. We're privy to her thoughts, fears, dreams, desires - everything that makes her tick. I fully believe that this writing style gives the reader a much stronger connection to the main character as well as a deeper layer the the book itself. I'll be as brief as I can about Bishop. Ivy's father and sister have been teaching and training her for her mission for years. They've taught her to believe that Bishop will be cold, calculating, entitled, and heartless - just like they believe his father to be. But Bishop is anything but these things - he's basically the polar opposite. He's thoughtful, kind, wants nothing to do with the presidency, and really listens to Ivy and wants to get to know her. I normally don't swoon over guys in books or have "book boyfriends" - but I'll make this exception. I'm pretty sure I fell in love with Bishop right along with Ivy. He's pretty much the perfect guy - and he's hot - what more could you ask for?! I want to pluck him out of the book and marry him right now. The further into the book I got and the more we get to know Bishop - the more I loved him. Aside from having him for myself, you could feel the tension building between Ivy and him as the story progressed. I loved the little gestures he makes with her - simple things like holding her hand when she needs it, really listening to her thoughts and opinions, taking her to a hidden swimming spot after she's had a hard week - and so many others. Totally and completely swoon and drool worthy. (Of which I did both). 

The plot was more complex than I thought it would be, which I really enjoyed. There were several smaller story lines going on all at once throughout the book - but they all ended up weaving together to create this amazing story. You have Ivy trying to make her father and sister proud by completing her mission of killing Bishop, then her realizing that she's been slowly falling for him because he's not the person she was told he would be - he's the complete opposite. Then there's the political unrest that her father is stirring up - basically a revolution to gain control over the city. He hates the president for the things he does as a leader and because of the bad blood between the two families. Ivy gets a huge twist thrown at her in the book and it throws her completely off balance. She has been raised to believe in one thing - her father's opinions and his beliefs about the president. She's beginning to have her own doubts about her father's plan and his ideas when this huge bomb is dropped on her. Who is she supposed to trust? Her family, who has loved her and been there for her during her entire life? Or should she believe in her own instincts and ideas, even though they don't always align with her father's? It's a huge, life changing situation that definitely makes Ivy open her eyes and mature. Where will things go from here, after the ending of the book? I was so freaking excited when I saw that this was just the first book in a series because I didn't want the story to end. I hate having to wait until the next book is released to climb back inside Westfall alongside Ivy and my Bishop, but at least I have the consolation that there will be more, and I'm really excited to see where the author will take the story next. The book was nothing short of amazing, and I was incredibly surprised to see that it's the author's debut YA novel. I couldn't believe it! The immense talent that the author possesses shines through every sentence in the book. I was mesmerized right from the beginning by the writing and the story itself - to the point where I forgot about everything else around me and ended up reading the whole thing in about 3 hours. I couldn't - and still can't - get enough of this world, the story, and the characters. This is an author to watch - I know I'll be reading anything else she comes out with. Especially the second book in the series, which I hope she's working on. *Hint, hint.* I can't say anything more to reiterate all of the amazing qualities of this book and I certainly can't do it enough justice with this review. My final words of advice to readers - fans of science fiction/dystopias along with those who love every other genre out there - READ. THIS. BOOK. NOW. I promise you won't regret it - but just remember that Bishop is mine. ;)

Ridiculously Amazing and A Definite New Favorite! Without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year; possibly ever.
Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids. Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV. When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at or @aengelwrites. 

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