Cover Image: How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness

How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness

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Member Reviews

I was drawn to this book because of the title and that crazy, beautiful cover - I mean, look at it! 😍 Honestly, I’ve been behind on my NetGalley tbr and I’m finally catching up. I didn’t even remember what this book was about so I went in pretty much blind and wow! I read it in a day but I know it will stick with me regardless. 

How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is a fascinating, speculative tale about a future dystopia where happiness is the goal (with a time limit) but there is some disagreement about just how to reach it. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but I thought the premise and the characters were so interesting. I can’t believe I waited this long to read it. What a gem - I hope it finds its way to many more readers soon. 

Thank you NetGalley, author and publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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It was a good story. The undertone was very sombre and i has a good time reading it. It showcases if anything, the struggles of parenthood and in a futuristic kind of dystopian society, the book reads fuzzy and very warm. It was an alright book in my opinion but im not the most avid reader of this genre so others may enjoy it a lot more. The title was so so intriguing tho. I got an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.
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How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is a dystopian novel centring around the idea of finding happiness, and how different that looks to everyone around us
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DNF. Two things turned me off this book:

First, the POV is first person but it's directly address to "you" the reader in the form of a character named Eve. First person POV is always a challenge for me, but this strange hybrid blend of first/second POV just does not work for me. (I have seen other reviews mention that there are third person POV sections, but I didn't make it that far.)

Second, when I found out that all people with uteruses are forced to be impregnated at age 15 and that a 13 year old girl is impregnated in this book, I just immediately could not read any more. That is just something so horrific to me that even this book's beautiful prose and interesting premise could not save it for me. Nope. No. I cannot. That idea makes me sick to my stomach. To make it WORSE, women (and people with uteruses can only be women) can only have one child and if you accidentally become pregnant again, you are forced to have an abortion. Forced pregnancy and forced termination are not fun or interesting concepts in fiction and personally really upsetting to me so, nope! This book is a huge no for me!

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.
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This was a good dystopian, I wasn't sure how it was going to go but I wanted to find out. I was very intrigued and I enjoyed this book alot, thank you for the eArc
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In the 22nd century, a person’s goal in life is to find a job, success, and happiness. In fact, their parents’ immortal souls depend on it. If a child achieves their Life Goal before the age of 40, their parents’ souls move onto their Second Life Phase where they spend their afterlife in harmony. However, should the child fail, they parents’ souls are obliterated.

Icasia Bloom doesn’t have much ambition in life and works at Selma’s Sweets & Savories selling food. However, when she hears that the shop owner’s son is unable to find happiness and Selma’s soul is at stake, she decides to try and help them.

How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness by Jessica Bell is a dystopian tale that questions our happiness and purpose in life. It has a really interesting premise, but the story falls apart from poor execution.

First off, the second point of view in this book really didn’t work for me here. The story is told by Icasia Bloom who is addressing a woman named Eve. However, at times, Icasia is vividly accounting other characters actions and conversations for events she wasn’t physically present for like she’s an omniscient narrator. This would have made more sense for a story with an unreliable narrator who’s a storyteller that embellishes the truth (like in The Kingkiller Chronicle or The Pariah), but in the context of this novel and her character … it’s just odd.

Also, the worldbuilding in this book is extremely thin and leaves so many questions unanswered. For instance, teenage girls are required to be inseminated at the age of 15, but why that age? Why so young? This isn't the Middle Ages where people have a very short life expectancy around 30 due to disease. Also, the explanation for how the entire world became ruled by a single philanthropist because they bailed world leaders out of gambling debt feels laughably implausible and flimsy.

Overall, I found myself questioning was going on in this book so much that I found it difficult to enjoy.
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"How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness" by Jessica Bell is Dystopian, Metaphysical & Speculative Science Fiction.

The world is now referred to as the 'Globe' and is controlled by one individual who is neither seen, nor heard, only mentioned but requires all to 'Live by the Book'. This is one crazy place!

To 'Live by the Book' means you must achieve your Life Goal by age 40, then your soul goes to a Transition Grave where it remains until your child achieves his/her Life Goal. At which point, you will begin your Second Life Phase. Got that?

Your Life goal is to achieve happiness. Your happiness is measured somewhere else, by someone else and when you hit the mark, you're given 'The Letter' congratulating you on achieving your Life Goal. You're finally happy!

However, if happiness is not achieved by age 39.5, you're required to participate in DeathCare Therapy for 6 months. If 'The Letter' never arrives you are 'annihilated' on your 40th birthday! Poof! You're gone!

I won't continue with more 'Live by the Book' items from this story. What I will say is how bizarre it feels that the author plunks the reader in the middle of this nightmare 'Globe' and let's them try to figure out how this new world happened. I would like to know the backstory of how the 'Globe' evolved but those pieces are sadly missing.

The characters are not fully developed and without the opportunity to get to know them, how can you 'feel' for them?

The premise of this story is strong, but the structure is vague and as a result the story didn't carry me with it. Trying to figure out 'Eve' was distracting and although the end provided an answer, it also generated more questions.

It's obvious I'm challenged with fully embracing this book. It's just as clear that this author has a loyal following as I've seen many positive reviews & ratings for this one, so please read through them. I believe this to be a case of a book not being the right choice for me.

2.5 stars rounded up for the creative premise.

Thank you to NetGalley, BookSirens, Vine Leaf Press and Jessica Bell for a free ARC of this book. It has been an honor to give my honest and voluntary review.
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Greetings from my unhappy little corner of Outlier Land.

How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is a speculative fiction novel where your worldly existence and subsequent afterlife hinge on the happiness of your child. Society is now one big Globe community with a universal leader who makes everyone live by “The Book.” Girls are inseminated at the age of 15 with donor sperm and are only allowed to have that one baby. If you haven’t achieved happiness by 40, you’re put to death. And then your dead parents who are in some sort of transitional limbo can’t move on to their second/afterlife. I think???

Sadly there just wasn’t much about this novel that worked for me. It felt like the point was to illuminate that the key to happiness is defining it for yourself rather than living by someone else’s definition. Um, no duh. That “aha” moment is pretty ahbvious.

The story is also told in second person, where the narrator (Icasia Bloom) is talking to a character named Eve. My issue here is that she tells the story as if she’s omniscient, knowing specific details, conversations, and thoughts related to events she didn’t witness in person. I couldn’t shake the nagging “How would she know that?” question with each turn of the page.

Maybe I’m a happiness hater or something, because other people have loved this book. But I’ll apply the moral of the story to my reading experience with it. If I define happiness for myself… this isn’t it.

I received an advance copy for review courtesy of Vine Leaves Press via NetGalley. How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is slated for US publication on September 21st.
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I was firstly drawn to this book by the beautiful cover and the original title.
Secondly by the blurb because I love dystopian/futuristic stories. Not only the book didn't disappoint, but it even exceeded my expectations!

I know when a book is a good one for me, when I keep thinking about it for days after finishing it, and that's what is happening with How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness: looks like I can't keep it off my mind.

I loved the fact that the world of Icasia is something in between a utopian and a dystopian world (we could name it "a kind dystopian reality") and I particularly enjoyed how the author dealt with a theme like overpopulation inserting references to contemporary history.

Especially interesting is the idea of gaining access to a second eternal life through your children's happiness and by finding happiness yourself. This also opens a debate about what happiness really is, and how it is different for everyone.

An interesting, strange, compelling read: if you like dystopian/futuristic worlds a must read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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wow, this book left me speechless.
I still don't quite know how to describe it, actually, I don't even think I want to, for me this is the kind of book you have to start reading without knowing anything.
Not knowing anything about the story and not knowing what to expect was what made it so surprising to me.
The little I can say is that this is a quick book to read, the chapters are short and the story is engaging because you want to know what's going on, at no point did I know where this story was going.
The world created by the author is something totally fascinating, I found it very well build, even though it was complex, I didn't find it difficult to understand.
I highly recommend this story if you like dystopias especially if you like dystopias where the goal of the story is not to overthrow the government itself but to try as hard as possible to live in it, this book is not action-packed, it is a reflective book, you sure will get a lot of quotes and thoughts from this story!
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I gave this book 3.5 ⭐️

I enjoyed this book. It was a quick,
pretty fast-paced read.  I liked most of the characters, and the Utopian world the book takes place in was definitely unique.  I was actually expecting the book to go in a totally different direction..so it was nice that it wasn’t super predictable!
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“If you don’t find the courage to face the things that hurt you, you will never find the motivation to love and enjoy the things that make you happy.”

Brilliant story concept. The author has presented a well-written, dystopian, SciFi-themed plot set in the twenty-second century. The characters are interesting and relatable. It would have been more interesting if there were more backstories about Icasia's parents and how they raised her as a child. I love how savvy and quick-thinking the main character is and how she solved the dilemma presented. 

The story follows, Icasia, a twenty-year-old single mother with no stable career and survives through tattering- tit for tat. To feed her five-year-old son, Abel, Icasia needs to exchange her expertise for food. Then she met Selma Beyett, a married mom and an owner of a newly opened bakery. With most of the people living by the book, Selma needs Icasia's survival skills to help her husband Jerome find his happiness.

The story is compelling, credible and an enjoyable read. There are fascinating issues discussed like population control, birth control, death inducement, and the afterlife. It's very futuristic that you may think the scenarios presented can happen in the future. I love the core message of the story that happiness is different for every person. 

I highly recommend this book. I'm grateful to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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In an undeterminable future, life seems similar in one way but also very different in another. Reproduction is controlled, and so is the world population. In a world where you’re supposed to live by The Book, happiness matters. In fact, finding happiness is the only goal a person has in life. A successful career is supposedly all you need. But what makes a person happy?

There’s not much of a world-building. But maybe you don’t need it. I like some novels that don’t explain things in detail. But anyway, I would still like to know more about the history and some exceptions. I didn’t like some scenes with no further meaning, like the tattoo and a brief romance. The sense of mystery throughout the book is what I liked most. Especially in the beginning, when you don’t understand what is going on. And throughout the entire novel, when you don’t know who Eve is.

But I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. To conclude, I enjoyed reading this novel, so 3.5 rounded to 4.

Thanks to the Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd for the ARC and the opportunity to read this! All opinions are my own.
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Such a strange yet interesting story! 

When the population on earth was too dense, the authorities decided that human population should be controlled strictly. So they made a guide book, including the regulations of progeny, pregnancy, and life span. And during that life span, people should find their happiness, or else their soul will be annihilated and will affect their family's life too. 

Futuristic science-fiction, but instead of focus on high-tech stuff, it emphasizes scientific research and procedures. We follow the story of Beyett's family through Icasia's POV and overall it's pretty heartwarming. 

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd. for this ARC!
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This one just didn’t really work for me. I didn’t feel like the author was invested in her own dystopia world and therefore, I wasn’t. There was no hint of history as to how things got this way and a lot of the totalitarian regimes’ actions were idiopathic. Forced induced pregnancy of girls at 15 followed by forced sterilization – for what purpose?! It felt like that moment in a slasher film where blood fountains out of an obviously fake limb in an attempt to horrify the viewer. And it kind of went down hill for me from there because I hate contrivance in storytelling. I think this could have been an interesting story if it decided to follow a philosophical or political bent, or even a personal one by having the titular character question what exactly happiness is anyway and whether it wasn’t more worthwhile to live and learn rather than persue some state partyline about finding happiness according to their definition. There are shades of Solent Green and The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 here, but nothing s really done with what’s created. It was well written in terms of prose but the end result fell flat. I’m sorry I didn’t like this one more.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love a dystopic novel and this didn’t fail. Loved the characters, loved the premise and although the ending was a bit bitty for me I didn’t want it to finish. A great read.
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Thank you NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book to read and review. 

I picked this up because I was in the mood for a short, quick, dystopian read, and unfortunately this was not exactly what I was hoping for. Based on the description, it really does sound lovely, but it just didn't work for me, personally. For one, the description seems a bit misleading since the book is not based on Icasia REALLY or about how she is doomed. I feel like it should talk about her helping JEROME and about how happiness doesn't always present itself in the most obvious of forms.

I DO wish the story was more about her, or her past, or even from a younger girl's perspective who has no say in her life and is forced to get pregnant by the age of fifteen and forever has to live with knowing that she is responsible for her parent's eternal happiness.I feel like Icasia was given a past that could have made it more interesting if only we had gotten the chance to see that side of her and what shaped her into the kind of woman she became- so helpful and insightful. 

I feel like I semi-enjoyed the concept, although I am not entirely convinced that I understood it correctly. I feel like the world building and character development was severely lacking. I also think that some things (like a quick romance for example) were just thrown in there for filler, and added absolutely nothing to the story. 

I think the ending in particular was a nice little twist that I enjoyed, but other than that, I didn't find myself ever truly immersed in this world.
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As I started to read this novel, my initial thoughts were of a dystopian future based on similar lines to Logan's Run and 1984. But as I read on, I realised that there would be a need to add The handmaid's Tale to the mix. There are others as well that came to mind, but the review is about this book.
You know how we use to say George Orwell's 1984 would never happen, 24-hour surveillance, Big Brother watching you etc. big joke, yes? What about the one-child situation mentioned in the book? This sort of thing is never likely to happen in this day and age. Really!
Cast your mind back to the one-child policy program in China, implemented nationwide by the Chinese government in 1980 to limit most Chinese families to one child each. Policy, made to address the growth rate of the country's population, which the government viewed as being too rapid. Okay, they have amended it of late, but you get the point.
That is what makes this novel so thought-provoking, just as much as Orwell’s was on reading it. (Which I have done several times.)
Based on the friendship of the two main protagonists Icasia and Selma, I couldn't help but wonder how society had developed up to this point. Were all humans physically perfect? Were men different in any way whatsoever? Was there a gene pool to select the father? Did the prospective mothers have any choice in the sperm used? Was it already genetically modified? So many unanswered questions.
As I read further, the more I thought of Huxley's Brave New World and how repellent that society was. And as the book progressed, it got even more disturbing and nightmarish. I didn't want to finish the book because I knew where it was going and that Hector had probably got it bang to rights. But I did, and I felt a little disappointed by the ending. (No, skip that, I was very disappointed with how it ended.)
'How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness' is a well-written, thought-provoking book that will touch you emotionally. It is heart-warming yet is also full of sadness and dismay. The author captures the human strengths, weaknesses and virtues of her characters with love and enthusiasm.
As I have with Huxley, Orwell, Atwood, and Nolan & Johnson, I will again read this novel, and maybe in the future, we will look back and view this book in the same light.
All in all, I technically enjoyed the novel, but I felt it could have been so much more.
Thank you, NetGalley and Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd, for a digital copy of the book.
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I found this book a bit painful to read. The language felt juvenile, the world building nonsensical, many subplots never came to fruition (like the whole thing about the underground and Greece?). The doctors performed magic out of nowhere. Was this a fantasy world or just a dystopian one? 

That being said the overall theme of finding contentment and how people get there was good. I feel that the author attempted to jam too many ideas in one book.
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Humans have figured out happiness, and are trying to steer evolution toward greater contentment.  Brain wave detection allows for identifying individuals who achieve happiness, and only those people are permitted to join the life after death, but only after their mandated single child has also achieved happiness.  All others are euthanized at 60 years.  All women are forced to have a child by 15, presumably to give the maximum amount of time to find happiness.  But, there are population issues, so this deadline is reduced to 40 years.  Suddenly, people nearing 40 must find happiness quickly, or doom not only themselves but also their parents.  Icasia and her family have rejected the cult of happiness and don't even think the second life is real, but she encounters and becomes very close to Selma, whose husband is about to die unhappy, creating a crisis for the whole family.  There is something intriguing in how these characters come together in this desperate scenario.  Their encounters with the government organizations controlling the births and deaths are pretty alarming. There is no fooling this system, since they monitor all thoughts everywhere they know exactly who has found happiness and who has not.  The moment you achieve contentment for a continuous three hours, you've won, and a courier is dispatched with your second life certificate.  You don't really win though, unless your child wins too, setting up some extremely complicated family dynamics.  This all feels very dire, but there's a hopeful quality as Icasia and Selma bond over freshly baked confections and coffees at Selma's little bakery.  Very interesting story, and nicely told.
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