Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie WhippleHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Published by HarperTeen on April 15th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

You know those dogs that are so ugly they’re cute? This book is kind of like that. It was so ridiculous, that it became entertaining in its absurdity. I went into this expecting a more Gothic kind of witch read, and what I got was more Sabrina the Teenage Witch kind of fantastical (except Sabrina did it well!). I mean, if you go into this with the right mindset maybe you’d like it better?

The witch lore starts out intriguing with some interesting aspects. I liked how there’s no good vs evil or white vs dark, it’s all black magic and the way you use it is what matters. That’s how far my liking of this book went, unfortunately, as the more pages I turned, the more nonsensical it all got. To give you perspective, we have a talking cat with an attitude, spells that require items like bear-hearts and cub stomachs they just happen to have in their cellar, a grandma fighting evil with a lion-jaw dagger. At one point a ghost appears, the protagonist gives it a baggie with pig eyes and it happily goes back inside the book it popped out of. You’re thinking it too, right? IT BROUGHT PIG EYEBALLS IN PLASTIC TO THE AFTERLIFE!!

When we learn more about spells and magic, we also learn how much it encourages self mutilation, and most annoyingly, how easy this is made out to be. These characters pull their own teeth (is this even possible?), fingernails, flesh, and hair, without much difficulty. This girl gets up and rips off a handful of her hair in one quick motion for a spell. Like it’s just this everyday thing she does. Then another girl pulls out her own fingernail to prove she’s the bestest BFF ever with nothing more than yelp and a couple of ice cubes. Uhuh. Though intelligence in general is not a prominent characteristic in these characters so maybe they were too dumb to feel pain.

Lets back up a bit though so I can tell you more about this protagonist of ours. Josephine used to be this awkward, bucktoothed ugly duckling kid, then from one day to the next (literally!) she looked into the mirror to realize she was pretty! Every day since, she’s been getting prettier until she was the most beautiful girl in town! (Are you barfing yet?) Naturally, the hottest boy at school is now interested in her, causing all the girls to give her jealous eyes when they see her with him. Everybody either wants her or wants to be her. Obviously, the universe is her bitch!

“He doesn’t have to say anything, because I can see it all over his face. There’s no denying he wants me.”

Clearly, she is the shiz! And who needs a brain when you’ve got beauty? My eyes were rolling so much I thought they would fall out! Like when she arrives at some guy’s house and after he opens the door all sweaty, she asks herself if he’s sweaty because he’s been dancing… because that’s the obvious conclusion. Or when she finds her teenage nemesis at this old witch’s house and immediately assumes he’s there to seduce her. Wait, what?

“And then I’m laughing, because “ridiculous” sounds hilarious. Which rhymes! I think.”

About the ending… keep your eyes peeled because if you blink at the wrong time, you might miss the climax. Though it might save you from seeing how easy and illogical the solution is.

And what’s with all of the freaking pudding?

Time to go remove a toenail so I can magically purge this book from my mind. I hope it doesn’t tickle too much!


1 Cold Espresso

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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23 Responses to “Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple”

  1. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I don’t think I’ve read one single positive review for this book; 2 is the highest star rating I’ve seen so far which doesn’t bode well. Such a pretty cover too, oh well. I’m definitely steering clear of this one. Hopefully your next read will be better.

  2. Pili

    I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t like this one at all! I preordered it cause I loved the sound of the synopsis, so hopefully I’ll like it more than you did!
    Thanks for your very honest review as always, Giselle!

  3. Anatea

    I was kinda hoping this book will be great, as I only read one review about it, and it was pretty good. But now reading your review, I don’t know what to think :/
    As much as I love magic and witchcraft the “old” way, this all seems a little bit to much.

  4. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    I don’t know if I’ve just not seen this low-rated of a review from you, or if I just didn’t notice it when I did, but your “1 cold espresso” is CRACKING me up, LOL!

    And I hate covers that lie. It’s so pretty. And so is Josephine. “There’s no denying he wants me”? Ungh<—–that's my barfing sound, fyi. Hopefully in a few weeks this will all seem funny . . .

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    LOL. This review was really funny, Giselle. I’m sorry that this didn’t work out for you. I haven’t been hearing great things about it and your review just confirmed how I would most probably not enjoy it myself.
    Gosh, I’m so sick of pretty covers, horrible stories, especially those from Harper Teen. They always have gorgeous covers and then the story turns out to be terrible. Ugh. This does sound like a lamer version of Sabrina. I’m going to give it a try and if by 10% I find myself being annoyed, I’ll give it a skip.
    Great hilarious review, Giselle!

  6. Erin

    Haha this review was great! I’ve only read one other review and it was a good one so I was surprised to see such a low rating! Honestly though, after seeing the two quotes you put in, I’m gonna have to take your word for it!

  7. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    Oh Giselle, I am rolling on the floor laughing right now! You cracked me up. I actually have this to review, but I may give it a miss. I’m so tired of YA books that feel like they are actually written for middle schoolers. (At least that’s what I get from your review). Thanks for the heads up!

  8. Christianna

    I have this one to read. But now I don’t know if I really want to. I kinda don’t want to. Maybe I won’t? You can’t read everything. Thanks for the honest review and I’m glad that you still kinda had fun with it even if you didn’t love it!

  9. Roro

    So sorry this did not go well . Let’s hope the next one is better . It sad that is has a bootiful cover though ( channeling miranda sings eyup ) ^^

  10. Robin

    I hate to hear that this book was just meh. The cover of it looked so promising. lol Funny review! I enjoyed reading it, you had me giggling. 🙂

  11. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Aww sorry you didn’t really like this one, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. A lot of the logic seems kind of weak, especially how Josephine literally transforms into a new person overnight. I saw a pretty positive review for it the other day and I was like, “Hey this looks kind of cool maybe it’ll be better than her other book” but I feel like it wouldn’t be any different. Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  12. Carina Olsen

    lol, I love this review. Thank you so so much for being honest. I downloaded this back in September, but I never got myself to read it. Then I peeked some more yesterday; and I decided not to read it. Not for me. And now reading your review.. I’m so glad I didn’t try to read it. It sounds awful. At least not like a book I would like. Sigh. But anyway. Thank you for sharing. <3

  13. Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    Oh, that sounds awful. I was never really interested in this book, which I’m glad about now. But I can’t help but want to find out just how ridiculous it is for myself. If the opportunity arises, I think I just might have to pick this book up for the nonsense alone.

  14. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I remember when this came out I was itching to request and arc but for whatever reason, I didn’t end up doing so…yeah, I’m glad I didn’t now o_O I went through an array of ‘wtf faces’ as you were describing the magic and apparent non-existent afterlife rules?!? I’m not even going to start on that whole pretty-ness factor going on there. Yikes! Only good thing about this book sounds like it’s reading your review for it! Thanks Giselle ^^

  15. Hershey

    This book seems to be getting a lot of negative reviews. When it came out I was pretty excited to read it but eventually I lost my interest in this book.

  16. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    Mmmm pudding!!! Lol!! I am reading this one now and it’s okay for me so far, but I am only at like chapter 7 or something. I could already tell this was going to be a bit cheesy, but it sounds like it gets worse. Oh, well. I will push on to finish. I am having a great sense of guilt over DNF’ing too many books already this year. Your review had me laughing.