Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

dont look back

 

Publisher

Hodder Paperbacks – Published April 15th 2014.

 

Synopsis

What if you had the chance to start again…but only if you promised never to look back? Samantha is popular, rich, and seemed to have it all…until the night she and her best ‘frenemy’ Cassie disappeared and only Sammy resurfaced, with no recollection of who she is or what happened. Sammy’s a stranger in her own life – a life she no longer wants any part of. Losing her memory is a chance to start again. Then Sammy begins receiving mysterious notes warning her about that night, urging her to not look back. But she can’t let it go. As she starts poking around in her past she begins to remember…and something sinister begins to surface.

 

Review

First off, let me say that I wish I had gotten the other cover. The one with the music box is so much prettier than this one with a picture of Cassie on it. Anyway, don’t judge a book by its cover right? Moving on…

I started this book already knowing ‘whodunnit’ which I thought might impact my enjoyment, thankfully I was wrong. I have never read anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout before but I have heard great things through the booktube community. Happily, I was not disappointed with ‘Don’t Look Back’. Even knowing the culprit Armentrout had me on edge whilst reading. She had me suspecting all sorts of people even though I knew it couldn’t possibly be them. Suffice to say, if you didn’t know already, you probably wouldn’t be able to point the finger at one person. The author keeps you guessing.

Usually, I find myself rolling my eyes at any romance in a YA book. However the romance between Sam and Carson was very nicely done. Although at first it seems rushed, you find out later that they have history. There are no corny moments and it’s both believable and sweet.

The reader is kept on edge along with Sam in her journey to discover what has actually happened to her and Cassie. I think the amnesia was very well handled (obviously never having experienced it, I can’t be certain…) with information coming back to Sam in flashbacks and hallucinations, both of which she naturally finds disturbing. The letters were a nice touch and the twist involving them was unexpected and shocking.

My only issue with ‘Don’t Look Back’ is I would have liked to know a little more of Sam’s mothers back-story. I was left wondering what made her so distant as there seemed to be more going on than the fear of what her socialite friends would think. She makes several remarks hinting at her regret at marrying Sam’s father but doesn’t give any information as to why. A little explanation as to why she behaves like she does with Sam would have possibly made her a more likable character.

All in all I think that this thriller is very appropriate to the YA audience it is aimed at. The quality of writing shines through and I was never left wishing the pace would pick up. I would recommend this book to all fans of thrillers but especially if you are new to this particular genre. Armentrouts writing will leave you wanting more and I am eyeing the copy of ‘Cursed’ on my bookshelf as we speak.

Rating

gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2

 

I’m going to discuss the book a little more now but if you haven’t read it yet I suggest you stop here.

caution_spoilers

 

 

The twist involving Cassie being Sam’s sister could be guessed pretty early on in the story. When Sam first saw a picture of Cassie and her together, saying something along the lines of ‘we look so similar, we could be sisters’, I guessed it straight away and if that hadn’t given it away then their having matching music boxes certainly would have. Even so, I think this was an excellent addition and helped to explain why Cassie was so intent on having everything that Sam had.

The notes being written by Sam as a way of her subconscious trying to get through to her was genius! I would have sworn that it was Scott as he was one of the only ones with access to her bedroom.

I wouldn’t have suspected her Dad until well towards the end of the novel if I didn’t know it was him to begin with. Although he seemed shady all the way through the book, I didn’t think he was capable of that. I was torn between Scott or Del.

Who did you suspect?

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The Book Of Ivy by Amy Engel.

book of ivy

 

Publisher

Entangled:Teen  – Published November 11th 2014.

 

Synopsis

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…

 

My Review

If you have been reading my blog for a while now you will now that I love a good dystopian novel. I had heard a lot about ‘The Book Of Ivy’ from fellow bloggers and booktubers and could not wait to get my teeth into it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and finished the entire thing in one sitting.

Admittedly, while the author was setting the scene I was a little apprehensive. The whole ‘USA destroyed by war and the survivors coming together to rebuild society’ concept has been done many times before – ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Divergent’ and ‘The Testing’ to name but a few. I was struggling to see what could be different about this book. How could Amy Engel spin it to keep my interest and not just be another HG clone.  Well,she did it. Let me tell you what I love about ‘The Book Of Ivy’…

My favourite part of the book is Ivy herself. She is not just a starry eyed romantic who falls instantly in love with Bishop. She is intelligent and blessed with common sense. She didn’t want to go down the expected route and have children, she wanted a job and to keep busy. Engel writes in a way that you can relate to Ivy and feel her struggle with her loyalty to her family versus her ever growing feelings to the husband she did not want.

*Warning – Spoilers Ahead*

Ivy has been brought up in a society of two halves. The leaders marry off their sons to the daughters of the other side. Sixteen year old Ivy is to be married to the presidents son, eighteen year old Bishop. A boy she has never met and whose father she believes is responsible for the death of her mother. At least that is what her father and older sister Callie have lead her to believe. They have manipulated Ivy into thinking that Bishop is a cruel, uncaring man just like his father and that she must kill him so that her father can take charge of their society. However, as Ivy gets to know Bishop, she finds out the truth about her mother and develops feelings towards him which prevent her from carrying out her mission.

From the start of this book I thought that there was something fishy about Ivy’s father and sister. They seemed all too eager to pass her to a complete stranger just to further their plan to overthrow the government. Ivy seemed to grow to understand how she was being manipulated by them but still gave them the benefit of the doubt up until the very end of the book when they essentially threw her under the bus. It spoke volumes when even though it was obvious to Callie and her father that Ivy was developing feelings for Bishop, they still expected her to poison him just to get to his father. Ivy’s father had hidden motives for wanting Bishop dead. He was jealous of President Lattimer because Ivy’s mother had been in love with him, and had ultimately committed suicide because she could not be with him.  He wanted the President to feel what it was like to lose someone that he loved (his son). Ivy was loyal right to the end though, because just as she could not kill Bishop, she also could not let her father and sister get ‘put out’ because of the plot so she set herself up to save everyone that she loved.

This book is the best YA I have read in a long time. The plot is well thought out and the ending has left me willing November to hurry up and arrive! The romance was believable and not rushed. I cannot wait to get into book two. I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of Mark Laird, the rapist. Now that Ivy has been put out, I think he will cause problems for her. I really hope that Callie and her father get what is coming to them and that Callie doesn’t get her claws into Bishop. Hurry up November 2015!

This book gets a solid five stars from me and I would urge anyone who likes dystopian fantasy novels to give it a try. I guarantee you will not be able to put it down.

 

Rating

gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2gold-star2