Reviews

Ivory Apples, by Lisa Goldstein

annarella's review against another edition

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4.0

Let's say this is a 3,5 * because I'm in two minds about this novel. There're parts I loved and parts I found incredibly dreary.
It's well written, dark and it's hard to root for any of the characters as they're not very likeable.
The mix of mythology, urban fantasy not always works and I spent quite a lot of time thinking "OMG but they're so young and so traumatised".
Even if there're dreary parts I read it as fast as I could because I found the style of writing quite hypnotic.
At the end of the day I think is one of those you love or hate. In may case I'm the middle but I'd recommend it because it can be an interesting read.
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

decafjess's review against another edition

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5.0

*I consumed this story in less than 24 hours.*

Ivy and her three younger sisters live a normal middle class life with their widowed father, with one big secret -- once a month, they go out to visit their secretive great-aunt Maeve who lives in isolation away from the view of her hoards of adoring fans. Aunt Maeve is the author of Ivory Apples, a fantasy cult favorite with a huge and obsessive following, and Ivy's father manages her finances and fan mail.

After stumbling upon the supernatural during one of the visits to Aunt Maeve, Ivy finds herself with a secret supernatural companion named Piper whose capricious whimsy often threatens to overwhelm her own desires and feelings. And, at around the same time, a vaguely innocuous woman named Kate befriends Ivy's sisters and inserts herself into their lives. On the surface, Kate is a delightful lady, but something about her makes Ivy and Piper uneasy.

The author has a deliberate way with words. The mystery around Kate's intentions kept me guessing -- clearly she is going to be important in these girls' lives, but is she going to be a mother figure or the villain?

I was particularly impressed with the scene when Ivy stumbles upon the world of the supernatural in the grove behind Aunt Maeve's house. The descriptions of her first encounter with Piper were palpable. And, as only children can do, she immediately goes back to her normal life after experiencing something so incredible.

I have some criticisms of the book, mainly that it didn't end the way I wanted it to end, but it's still a good ending. And any criticisms I may have are far outweighed by the magic of the rest of the story. It was full of the grittiness and darkness and hopefulness of old fairy tales, and it's something I'd certainly read again.

arc received from the publisher

writingquills's review against another edition

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2.0

Ivory Apples had great potential to be everything I love in a dark fantasy story.

The setting was ominous, the writing was lyrical and the characters were thrown into challenging situations. The story in itself had a strange contrast where the writing flow seemed very fairytale-esque but the content was dark and mature in themes and nature. I personally, didn’t mind that too much.

Only few authors can make me feel intense, personal feelings towards characters so I was thoroughly impressed when I found myself hating the antagonist of this book with a passion.

That being said, I overall did not enjoy this book.
1. While the writing was beautiful, the book was not written well.. if that makes sense. (It probably doesn’t lol.)
We follow Ivy from age 14 to 18 or 19, and the plot just melded together in a long, laborious prose. There was no structure to the story. It seemed like Ivory Apples hadn’t been reviewed by an editor.

2. The magic system was wonderful and yet, I wanted more structure there as well. Highly interesting concept, but mediocre execution.
3. The characters were not exactly likable. Look, I don’t need the characters I read about in every book to be nice people. In fact, I appreciate unlikable characters. But I also love growth and development of said characters, and it seemed stupid to me that all of them stayed the same throughout the course of 4-5 years.

Final thoughts: The elements individually were fantastic but they were not combined very well.

Rating: 2/5 ★

leslieslibrarypages's review against another edition

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4.0

I really enjoyed this book. After reading a few chapters I was so engrossed I couldn't put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It touches on a lot of dark and uncomfortable issues and really made me think. The main character Ivy goes through so many hard things throughout the story and her development was probably one of the best parts of the book. It's also filled with action and suspense. I also loved the ending. It wrapped up so beautifully. Honestly, I could go on forever and in much more detail, but am trying to leave a spoiler free review.

stephbookshine's review against another edition

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4.0

*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Tachyon Publications and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Ivory Apples is a dark fairytale; intended for adults, rather than children.

I was reminded at first of books like Joan Aitken’s Wolves Chronicles, or Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, as there are similar themes here: orphans, corrupt guardians, terrible trials and special powers or skills. However the tone here is older and darker, and infinitely more disturbing, as it deals with loss of sanity and the inability to trust one’s own senses.

The author’s imagining of the Muses – inspiration to artists and authors alike – is enchantingly wild and yet innocent. I was as bewitched by the woodland grove as the characters themselves were, and felt a strong compulsion to search for such a place myself, gifts (and sacrifices) in hand. What I wouldn’t give for a Piper of my very own!

Well, what I wouldn’t give is my family, my mind, or my future. Ivy is faced with some serious choices over the course of the story, and doesn’t always make the morally obvious decisions. Just as in reality, her character has the potential to love and sacrifice, but also to be selfish and neglectful. Similarly, whilst the villain/s of the story are led astray by their intense jealousy and selfishness, it was hard not to feel sympathy, even pity, for them as they are excluded from a world of magic and wonder for not being ‘special’ enough.

Ivory Apples is a story about stories and inspiration; growing up and responsibility; accepting oneself, and making the best of what you already have. This is not a happily-ever-after fairytale, but a grimmer story of toil and trauma. But magic is magic, whatever the flavour; and Lisa Goldstein’s glimpse into the dark secrets of creativity casts a lingering spell on the reader that no counter-spell can completely dispell.





There were a lot of things I didn’t understand about Great-aunt Maeve when I was growing up. For one thing, although she and my father insisted that we call her Maeve Reynolds, that wasn’t her real name.

– Lisa Goldstein, Ivory Apples


Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
https://bookshineandreadbows.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/ivory-apples-lisa-goldstein/

evelyn14's review against another edition

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3.0

Actual rating: 2.5 stars

I'm kinda disappointed in this one..
Full review: http://evelynreads.com/ivory-apples-arc-review/

xanderbernhard's review against another edition

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5.0

One of my favourite writers. After being a little disappointed with her last two or three books, this story about stories - a familiar them for her - felt like a return to form. I love her style of writing and subtle character work. Ivy, the POV character is very Goldstein reserved and somewhat anti-social. So refreshing in this time of tough, sarcastic female leads. I like them too, but they feel rather overdone at the moment
Knowing that she was dissatisfied with her previous publisher, I couldn't help but wonder if the push-pull relationship with the muses in the story was metaphorical with some of the author's own experiences with writing. I like being able to read different levels into a story and there was plenty to work with here.
My actual star-rating would probably be closer to 4 1/2 stars. It wasn't perfect, the story meandered a little before it hit the conclusion, but I was enchanted the whole time and will re-read it (at least once) while I wait for her next book.

lescont01's review

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4.0

I really enjoyed this book. After reading a few chapters I was so engrossed I couldn't put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It touches on a lot of dark and uncomfortable issues and really made me think. The main character Ivy goes through so many hard things throughout the story and her development was probably one of the best parts of the book. It's also filled with action and suspense. I also loved the ending. It wrapped up so beautifully. Honestly, I could go on forever and in much more detail, but am trying to leave a spoiler free review.

annarella's review

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4.0

Let's say this is a 3,5 * because I'm in two minds about this novel. There're parts I loved and parts I found incredibly dreary.
It's well written, dark and it's hard to root for any of the characters as they're not very likeable.
The mix of mythology, urban fantasy not always works and I spent quite a lot of time thinking "OMG but they're so young and so traumatised".
Even if there're dreary parts I read it as fast as I could because I found the style of writing quite hypnotic.
At the end of the day I think is one of those you love or hate. In may case I'm the middle but I'd recommend it because it can be an interesting read.
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

theelderbooks's review

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4.0

What a quick entertaining read ! Ivory Apples is made of a magical ambiance, and I loved the mixing of fairytale and reality. They entertwine so closely you sometimes don't know what's real anymore, and somehow, in this book, this is a good thing.

Ivy and her family have a secret. Their aunt Maeve is actually Adela Martin, one of the most famous author in the country. Adela only wrote one book, "Ivory Apples" and disappeared from the publishing world altogether after releasing it. When Kate Burden slithers her way into the family, Ivy does not trust her. Kate also has a secret of her own. Who is she really and what does she want ? Ivy doesn't know, but she has a gut feeling it has to do with her aunt and "Ivory Apples"...

This book and I didn't start on the right foot. Lisa Goldstein kind of throws the reader in her world, with little introduction whatsoever, which made the first 40 pages a little hard to read for me. Fortunately I kept going on, and all in all, it was worth it. Even though the story is really fast paced and you have to really focus to keep up, I enjoyed the magical vibe I felt while reading.

As usual, I liked side characters more than the main one, and I fell in love with Ivy's sisters. It might be because they're described from Ivy's point of view, and I felt the big sis love, but I thought they were incredible characters, and their development through the book is delightful.
No spoilers, but I just want to say that Piper definitely reminded me of Peeves in Harry Potter, and I can't express enough how happy I was about him !

The only aspects bugging me were the length of some sections, in which the story felt overdevelopped, the overdescription, how the villain is a little cliché and the redundance of a few paragraphs.

It was a short book, and if you like light fantasy, this really could be a book for you. Some topics might be considered as trigger topics though (child neglection, death, etc...) but it's no highlight of the plot, and I was not shocked by any of it.

Thank you Netgalley and Tachyon publications for providing me with an e-arc of the book !