Ivory Apples

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Member Reviews

Ivy and her sisters have been brought up to keep the secret that their Great Aunt Maeve is really Adela Martin who wrote Ivory Apples. Maeve is a recluse hiding away from fans and refusing to answer their letters. Instead, the girls' father takes care of correspondence and business.

One day though while the girls are at the park, they meet Kate Burden. At first, all is fine, then Kate starts insinuating herself into their lives. Kate wants more than friendship. She wants something from Maeve. Something that Ivy already has.

The story takes some dark turns. Kate isn't the person she pretended to be. Ivy spends some time in despair. And magic of sorts is real.

Most of the book moves along at a good pace. There are a couple of spots where it is less show and more tell; and it slows the momentum. It is also a pretty dark fantasy. In some ways, it reminds me of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Magic is real, but it's not for everyone. And it always has a price.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It's good. It's well written except for a couple of slow spots. Kate is a good villain. And you will hope for the best for the girls. It's also so dark in a couple of places I had a little trouble reading on. It turned out to be a good October read. I'd recommend this book to fans of urban fantasy, magical realism, and dark fantasy.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.
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A bit of a nice easy light hearted cosy read. quirky and magical . 

Something i would recommend as a cute easy read.  thank you for chance to pre read netgalley.
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Seems like this would have been something I’d have really enjoyed. Ivy has a Great-Aunt in hiding. She is a VERY famous author with a connection to the magical world. Ivy as a young girl comes into contact with a muse, who chooses to attach itself to her. Unfortunately, a woman comes into Ivy’s life who wishes nothing but ill for Ivy and her sisters, in an effort to locate the famous Great-Aunt. Tragedy ensues.

The book has ties to fantasy themes and mythology. But the execution is haphazard and a little disjointed. Ivy’s journey was interesting at first, but she takes a hard swerve right in the middle of the book that I never was able to bounce back from. There was also some additional imagery about apples and the moon that never really landed properly.

I was not a fan of this one. I think if you liked The Thirteenth Tale, this is a little reminiscent, and probably the reason I picked it up to begin with. But the tone is much different. It is a simple fantasy.
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I liked it tho I didn't think I would. The sisters bugged me at first, but it came together nicely as the story and world building went on. Looking forward to see what she does next !
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This is a hard one to pin down, a blend of fantasy, mystery and a hint of magical realism. I was immediately drawn to the cover and the premise sounded intriguing. The book tells the story of four sisters , whose great aunt wrote one book, a much loved fantasy classic called Ivory Apples, before becoming a recluse who only has contact with the girls and their father, who acts as a type of secretary, answering fan mail etc. Numerous fan theories about the author have done the rounds online, and eventually one of her more obsessive fans tracks down the girls and manages to weasel her way into the family. Determined to find out about the real magic behind the book she loves, she goes to deadly lengths to shatter the bonds between the sisters , but the oldest, Ivy, is determined to protect her aunt, and her magic at all costs. 
Parts of this book work incredibly well, Kate, the fan with an ulterior motive is a captivating villain, and over the course of the book her actions become ever more horrific and disturbing. How magic works in the world the author has created is also very interesting , and I loved the almost mythological aspects of muses who inspire creativity through their magic. On the downside, this book is dark, and almost unrelentingly so, things continually go from bad to worse for Ivy and her family, with very little in the way of respite for her or the reader. In a weird way this book reminded me of an older style of fantasy, and I did enjoy the nostalgia, and the many layers of the story which gradually unfolded. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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In Ivory Apples , four young sisters end up at the mercy of an outsider who charms her way into their family and then takes over. Kate is a clever but overly obsessed fan of the classic children’s fantasy book Ivory Apples — not just because she loves the story, but because she suspects that the author, Adela Martin, had access to real magic as she wrote the book, and Kate wants some of her own.

Oldest sister Ivy is the only one not fully taken in by Kate’s schemes, and breaks away from the family in order to keep her aunt’s secrets, only to return in desperation when she realizes that her sisters need rescuing. Meanwhile, Kate is right about one thing — there IS a source of real magic, and Adela and Ivy both have access to it.

I enjoyed the family dynamics and Ivy herself, as well as the central role played by the book Ivory Apples and its secrets. Not all of the magical aspects made complete sense to me, and the sense of urgency throughout lagged from time to time. Still, the book is different and unusual in all sorts of ways, and Kate makes for a devious and menacing bad guy beneath her pleasant and child-friendly exterior. I’d definitely like to read more by this author.
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I wanted to love this book so so much, but unfortunately, it fell short for me. My rating is somewhere between 2 and 2,5.

The premise is incredibly exciting and exactly my jam: The great-aunt of a four girls writes a fantasy book that is loved by tons of fans. Something mysterious is going on though. A suspiciously charming person that is interested in the book appears and the girls' world starts to change.
Wow! I was so excited. I got reminded of the premise of Hazelwood a lot - an old relative writes a very famous fantasy book that people obsess about. Going into the book, we get to know that great aunt doesn't want anyone to know how real name. Also, there's a place near her house, where magical creatures live. Hmm….suspicious, no? My first though: amazing! Does she not want to be followed by the people from her fairytale book? Because this place is real? Great! Let me know more about it! (Spoiler: No, the book won't let me know more about it. The name change also seems just a precaution against crazy fans. That's all.)

Unfortunately, after the first 30% of the novel, the story went an entirely wrong direction for my taste. Throughout most of the book, we didn't really get much to know about this original fantasy book - Ivory Apples - and get to see much of the great aunt or much magic and fantasy, really.
Yes, there were these magical creatures and one of them is a big part of the plot, but it's also not doing much than being annoying to the main character, bring her into trouble, do tricks or let her take a risk and go out of her comfort zone. We got to know one little story on top of the fantasy book and had tiny tiny passages from Ivory Apples, which can all probably be summed up in one paragraph of less than 10 sentences in the end.
 So this was a huge dissappointment for me. 
Some magical reveals in the end of the book didn't help to get my mood up, as it was too little too late and I didn't know, why the fact needed to be included into the book so late either way, as it didn't change anything in the plot much and made me even more sad to think of where the book could have gone, if it had used this potential plotline.

So many things were unnecessary and just dragged on and on. Half of the plot in the middle of the book, for example. Or the romance in the end.

Also, the villain Kate annoyed me to no end. Everything that she was doing seemed way too easy to succeed. This happened mostly because of her oh so Incredible rhetorical skills. As the main character said: She can lie her way through life and get what she wants by being convincing. Weirdly, she is also reaaally awful at storytelling and it's boring to listen to her talking and her imagination is basically non-existent. How do those characteristics match? I have no clue.
Example: Someone asks Kate how the hell she knows the password of a safe and thus how the hell could she get some important documents for her plan. Kate's answer: Oh, I don't have time to answer your questions and to think of such things. Don't bother me. Result: The person lets it be. 
Why? I'll never know. 

In the beginning I really liked the plot around her, she was mysterious, creepy, weird and I would have loved her to develop into some awesome great terror. But everything she did to the girls, even though it was awful and gruesome… I don't know… I just disconnected at some point and didn't see it as so bad, as I thought that most of the things could have easily been prevented.

This leads me to another point - the girls have been just passively chilling throughout their lifes and everything that Kate did to them, they just let it happen. Apparently also no authority in this world thought of checking in on them and to see how their lifes are going. Even though it is said later in the book, that Ivy is taking on everyone's problems and works to figure them out, I really didn't see it that much in the plot. She thinks of a plan, the plan doesn't work, as she falls for traps every single time there is one, and then she's all just like, oh well, ok, I lost, I'll just stay here and let her do bad things to me. 
Towards the end of the book, as the girls suffered some Trauma due to Kate's doings, kinda nothing at all happens about it. They sit around and stare into the world, and everyone lets them be. I don't know if this is supposed to be some critics on our modern society's way of neglecting mental health issues, but if it is, I didn't get that from the writing really and am just thinking of it now in hopes of finding any kind of exuse to why this heavy topic wasn't properly discussed in the novel.

Then, the relationships between all the girls confused me to no end. In the first part of the book, I could really see them as real people, real children and teens, behaving the way that fits their age. Later in the book, I lost that feeling as well. I didn't understand any of their cctions, motives, anything. Even though the book sometimes tried to provide some weird explanation for their cctions, those didn't make much sense. And yes, I am aware that in this story many things and characters are not supposed to make sense. But you know, even in the nonsense world, there is some logic to be found to that nonsense?

To sum up the review:

The plot started strong and then dissappeared after some 30% into the book. 
The character development wasn't there, or didn't make any much sense due to previously happened events. The characters seemed like something written on paper, not real believeable actual people.
For all the talk about the famous Ivory Apples-book, we didn't really get to know much about it.
The whole last part of the book was concentrated on freeing the magical creatures, which also seemed to randomly become the most important plot point and wasn't carried through logically.

One positive thing is, that the writing style itself was quite enjoyable and so it was fairly easy to get through the book quickly.

I am really disappointed, but hope that someday someone might take this premise and finally write something amazing for readers to enjoy.
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Tired of the same boring, unoriginal fantasy books? Then Ivory Apples might just be exactly what you need. It's a refreshingly unique take on magical realism from National Book Award-winner, Lisa Goldstein. I cannot tell you how much I loved it and finished it in a mere few hours despite trying to savour it. Both the primary and secondary characters were fleshed out incredibly well and were thoroughly engaging and the mix of mystery, magical realism, suspense, fantasy and mythology worked superbly to propel the slow-burn tale forward.

It follows Ivy and her sisters who are desperately trying to guard a family secret - their Great-Aunt Maeve is actually renowned writer Adela Madden, author of a book named Ivory Apples but values her privacy fiercely. When obsessive fan Kate Burden becomes too close to finding out the truth the sisters swing into action and come to her defence by trying to keep Kate at arm's length.

The writing style is really quite exhilarating and beautiful; it had me feeling very nostalgic and remembering reading all of those wonderful 90s fantasies I immersed myself in. It's a powerful story and as it moves forward it gets darker and darker and you see exactly how many intricate layers make up the plot. A great, original read. Many thanks to Tachyon Publications for an ARC.
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This is a very difficult book to review for the simple reason that although it was well written and engaging, it was also unrelentingly dreary. There were no redeeming moments, no characters I liked or wanted to root for, and not a single upbeat or uplifting moment to relieve the bleakness.  Life sucks, the bad triumph, and magic isn't wonderful: just indifferent and damaging.  I had a hard time picking the book up again each time I put it down because I didn't want to go to such a dark place again.

Story: Teenager Ivy, her father, and her 3 sisters live a quiet life in Oregon.  Only they know that their eccentric great aunt is the author of a beloved and favorite fantasy novel whose fans are impassioned.  Ivy's great Aunt lives alone in a remote area and the kids visit her once a year while their father makes a living from answering fan mail to the author.  When the girls make friends with a lovely lady by the name of Kate Burden, they think all is well.  Until tragedy strikes and their world gets turned upside down.

It's a hard book because these young girls are psychologically and physically tortured, one lives on the street at age 15, doing casual sex, alcohol, larceny, and such, and the rest of the sisters are emotionally damaged through a repeated ordeal.  Without giving too much away here, it's a dark book with dark things happening.

The premise here is that Ivy, when young, encountered a 'sprite' or muse and bonded with 'him' - and he often takes her over and does random and often bad things.  Ivy survives her ordeals because of the spirit but she also pays a heavy price for him as well.  At the same time, Ivy is trying to figure out Kate Burden and how she came into their lives and managed to take so much control of it.  And whether Kate is another fan after Ivy's Great Aunt - and perhaps a spirit of her own.

One could say that author Goldstein put a heaping of reality checks in this book - the ambivalence of the sprites, the unrelenting darkness of a bad situation, the mistakes a young girl makes when left to her own devices. It's probably a book you don't want to read if you are a parent since it will undoubtedly trigger parental concerns.

For me, I just found this so hard to read.  It was far too depressing and dark and not what I was in a mind for at the time.  It was definitely engaging - there is a lot of mystery to solve about the great Aunt, about Ivy's spirit, about the muses themselves, about Kate Burden, etc. But it didn't make me WANT to read them either.  And that meant I finished this book because I had to for a review and not because I wanted to or enjoyed it.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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"Ivy and her sisters have a secret: their reclusive Great-Aunt is actually Adela Martin, inspired author of the fantasy classic, Ivory Apples. Generations of obsessive fans have searched for Adela, poring over her letters, sharing their theories online, and gathering at book conventions. It is just a matter of time before one fan gets too close.

So when the seemingly-perfect Kate Burden appears at the local park, Ivy knows that something isn’t right. Kate has charmed the entire family, but she is suspiciously curious about Ivory Apples. And Ivy must protect what she and her Great-Aunt share: magic that is real, untamable, and - despite anyone’s desire - always prefers choosing its own vessel."

Books within books and the passion that drives fans are favorite tropes of mine!
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Ivory Apples left me with mixed feelings. There were certain parts of the story that kept me wondering what would happen next and not watching to put it down. However, there were other parts in which the plot felt slow and dragged on too long. 

One element that worked well for me were the relationship between Ivy and Piper. It was a really intriguing relationship but felt unexpected at first and took me a while to get on board with it. I also really liked Aunt Maeve and wanted more of her in the story. Beyond the sections that moved along slowly, the end of the book felt like it went too fast. 

Overall, this book has some interesting fantasy concepts that I haven’t read about before but it was just too slow at times. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and all opinions are my own.
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I was pleasantly surprised by Ivory Apples. This was a great magical realism story. All the characters were well written and enjoyable, even the side characters. The only exception to this was the villain. I did find the villain to be a bit underdeveloped and cliche. 

The writing was good but could get a bit redundant in some parts. However, this didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the story. 

I gave Ivory Apples 4 stars.
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This is the story of Ivy and her sisters guarding a family secret.  Their great-Aunt is a famous authorr and values her privacy above all else.  When an obsessed fan, Kate starts to get too close to the truth about the book, Ivory Apples and their aunt the girls swing into action to protect her. With a touch of magic and the paranormal this is a story that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.  The story moves well and has a solid storyline.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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3.5 stars

I got this book from NetGalley to review.  A long time ago I read Goldstein’s “Waking the Labyrinth” and remember really enjoying it, so I was eager to read this book.  This was a decent story about muses and mysteries.  It was an intriguing blend of mystery, fantasy, mythology, and magical realism. 

 Ivy’s aunt is actually a famous writer of a book called Ivory Apples, the only book her aunt ever wrote.  However, Ivy’s aunt’s existence is kept a secret.  One day, when Ivy is at her aunt’s house, she finds a strange grove and a fey-like being ends up merging with Ivy.  While Ivy struggles to find balance with this cohabitant of her body, a woman named Kate Burden starts joining Ivy and her sisters at the park to play.  Kate Burden seems perfect but Ivy is convinced the woman is up to no good.

While I didn't love this story, it was an interesting read and I was engaged enough in the story to finish it.  The writing style seemed older to me, it reminds me of urban fantasies I read from the late 80's/early 90's.  The story moves slowly, parts are a bit ambiguous, and it is a strange blend of magical realism and mystery.  However, that being said it’s very different from other books being released right now which made it somewhat refreshing.  The writing style is beautiful and I enjoyed it.

Overall this is a slower read with an interesting blend of elements.  It was a bit boring but I also enjoyed how nostalgic it felt and how different it was from the majority of fantasy being released right now.  If you have enjoyed other of Goldstein's novels you will probably enjoy this one.  It also reminded me a bit of Charles DeLint’s books in the feel and tone of the story.
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Ivory Apples
Lisa Goldstein

Long-protected secrets, obsessions and the power of magic threaten to tear a family apart in this powerful fantasy from Lisa Goldstein, which I recently read courtesy of NetGalley and Tachyon Publications. It is good. Really good. It has a unique story to tell, great characters and exists in a thoroughly believable world

 Ivy and her sisters have a secret. Their Great-Aunt Maeve is actually the reclusive author Adela Madden, who wrote a wondrous fantasy - Ivory Apples, a book that still, many years after publication, inspires a steady stream of fan mail. And some of these fans can be obsessive. Dangerously so, as the girls are soon to find out.  

The mysterious Kate Burden has a way of popping up wherever the girls are, and quickly strikes up a friendship. She loves their Great-Aunt's book and easily wheedles her way in to girl's daily lives, and that of their widowed father. What once seemed harmless and innocent, now seems dark and threatening. It is, in ways the two girls cannot begin to imagine. The book is filled with magic, enchantment and lots of surprises that will leave readers guessing and afraid to turn to the next page.  

Goldstein's contemporary fantasy has a dreamlike atmosphere throughout the book which, when events turn sharply dark, just heightens their impact (and our jumpiness). It is beautifully written, with a pace that drives us through  to 'OMG what happens next.' There is an honesty to the writing, a matter-of-factness, that insists on the reader accepting that 'well, this is always the way things happen. Why do you look so surprised,'

A great read. Highly recommended.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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This was such a great read! I certainly enjoyed it. 
I loved the writing style, and I'd like to read more books from the author.

From the beginning was an eerie read, the misticism around Ivory Apples was super appealing, and the characters are interesting and engaging.

I started slowly, but once I got to the main conflict in the story, I couldn't stop reading, I was so angry that I wanted to throw the book (kindle) against the wall, but at the same time, I needed to keep reading. 

I hated the villain so much  in this book, and that was great and frustrating though. 

The ending fell down for me, it was so clean so nice for everyone, that it didn't felt right.
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I wanted to ruminate about this novel for a few days before writing a review. I'm frustrated, guys! Part of me really liked it, ultimately it fell short.

Ivy is visiting her great-aunt Maeve, when her life is changed permanently, and in a very supernatural way. Ivy and her sisters have already suffered through terrible circumstances (the death of their mother), and soon more tragedy befalls them via Kate Burden.

Kate is a terrific villain. I could read entire books about Kate, and her past adventures (misdeeds?) before her path crossed Ivy's. Ivy also had a poignant story arc and some character development, though I did struggle with her various life choices. I felt badly about her sisters, almost more than I thought Ivy did.

And that, my friends, is my biggest problem with the book. Ivy can be a very unsympathetic character, and I struggled with her relationship with her family, and her reactions to circumstances around them. It would be different if they were bad people, or had contentious relationships with Ivy, but they weren't and didn't.

I was also disappointed by the ending.
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Ivy, her three sisters and her dad keep an enormous secret, their Great aunt is a very famous author. However her book is such a masterpiece that her fans desperately try to find out who she is, some believing that her fantasy book could be true and this unknown author has access to muses. When a woman begins to take an abnormal interest in Ivy's family, she knows the woman is up to no good. When a series of unfortunate events happens, Ivy has to do everything in her power to protect her Great aunt's secret and her sisters from the strange woman.

I really enjoyed this book. The plot is very unique and keeps you on your toes. It's a book I had a hard time putting it down. The ending tied up the story nicely; there were no loose ends that I could think of. The main character is strong and uses all her resources to do what's necessary and takes responsibility for her family at a very young age. She's not at all a bumbling, weak heroine looking for someone to save her. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I had great hopes for Ivory Apples, based on the description...reclusive elderly author, young great-niece as narrator, intrusive outsider/fan, and of course, the author's magical world, which may in fact be real. Alas, I was greatly disappointed. After a promising beginning, this novel just never really came together for me.  I am, nonetheless, grateful to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for the opportunity to read the eARC in return for my honest opinion.
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