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?

Advertisements

The First book To Beat me.

I have never before simply looked at a book and felt like I couldn’t read it. This post is about the first book in my twenty-something years long love affair with reading to have stopped me in my tracks like a ten foot brick wall.

I received this book in August of 2014 from Bookbridgr. It had everything I usually love in a book. Horror, suspense, supernatural entities. All these things add up to my ideal read. Yet here I sit, on December 12th 2014, typing a blog post about this damned book and how it has, for the last five months, had me in a choke hold in the worst reading slump I have ever found myself in.

This 432 page novel has sat on my bookshelf taunting me. It’s menacing cover challenging me to read it. I picked it up many times and opened up the first page but I could manage 0nly a paragraph or two before I became frustrated and gave up. I did everything I could to conquer this book. Even signing up to Audible and downloading the audio book. I have sat all afternoon today trying to listen but could not make it past chapter one. It is not the narrators fault. She spoke with enthusiasm and expression. It is not the authors fault. Despite it being his debut this novel has many four and five star reviews on Goodreads with an average rating of 3.68.

What is this book I hear you ask? ‘The String Diaries’ by Stephen Lloyd Jones. Here is the synopsis.

A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity.

The String Diaries opens with Hannah frantically driving through the night–her daughter asleep in the back, her husband bleeding out in the seat beside her. In the trunk of the car rests a cache of diaries dating back 200 years, tied and retied with strings through generations. The diaries carry the rules for survival that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the 19th century. But how can Hannah escape an enemy with the ability to look and sound like the people she loves?
Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel is a sweeping thriller that extends from the present day, to Oxford in the 1970s, to Hungary at the turn of the 19th century, all tracing back to a man from an ancient royal family with a consuming passion–a boy who can change his shape, insert himself into the intimate lives of his victims, and destroy them.
If Hannah fails to end the chase now, her daughter is next in line. Only Hannah can decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to finally put a centuries-old curse to rest.

‘The String Diaries’ has prevented me from reading any of my other books (of which I have many) for five months now. Every time I pick up one of my many books, be it a copy for review or an old favourite, out of the corner of my eye I see ‘The String Diaries’ and feel like I have to finish it, or even attempt to finish it one more time before I pick up anything new.

I feel like I must clarify that I am in no way putting down the author in this post. It is completely my fault for allowing this book to get into my head and affect me so much. However, now is the time to let it go. This post is my white flag, waved in surrender to ‘The String Diaries’. You will not delay my reading any longer. I banish you to the back of a drawer where you can no longer make me feel guilty for wanting to read something else. Perhaps one day I will pick you up again and attempt to complete you, but for now, I admit defeat.

Have you ever had this experience with a book? Which one? 

Until next time,

Jackie x

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg.

girl online

 

Publisher

Penguin Random House UK – Published November 25th 2014.

 

Synopsis

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes…

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

 

My Review

Let me start off by saying that I am glad I waited a couple of days after reading this before writing my review as Zoe has now confirmed she had a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham).

I have very mixed feelings about ‘Girl Online’. The writing style is very immature but at 28 years old, I’m not sure that I am the target market for this novel. I would recommend it more for ages 12-18. It is a very light read with a rather predictable plotline –

  • awkward girl meets hot boy
  • best friend becomes jealous
  • hot boy teaches awkward girl to believe in herself
  • boy and girl are separated
  • they begin to doubt their relationship and break up
  • big reunion at the end and everything is peachy

I can’t help but feel I’ve read this multiple times before. It’s the classic ‘teen angst’ plot line. Little things about the story bothered me, like using all the standard ‘touristy’ places in Brighton – beach, pier, Choccywoccydoodah etc. I would have thought that people actually living in Brighton would have had their fill of these places and visit other locations not swarming with tourists. If any of my readers are from Brighton, please feel free to correct me on that as I am just assuming.

Another issue I had with this novel is the believability of Noah as a famous musician and song writer. If you have read the lyrics of his song’Autumn Girl’ you will probably get my point. I mean…really?!

Some plot points seem to be thrown in just to fill  up pages. Elliot’s homophobic father just seemed like an afterthought and Ollie suddenly deciding that he likes Penny just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, I get that Ollie is a symbol of her awkward phase before she met Noah and that Noah represents how she has blossomed into a confident young lady (at this point I have Britney Spears ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ in my head but you get where I’m coming from) but why, after 4 or 5 years does Ollie suddenly want her? There is no reason given. I’m probably being pedantic here but it annoyed me.

Anyway, enough whining, lets get to what I did enjoy about ‘Girl Online’. It was a light enough read to pull me out of an almost-4-month reading slump. I could just switch off and relax whilst reading it and didn’t have to concentrate too hard to follow what was going on. I only actually took around 3 hours to read this which surprised me as the book does look fairly hefty but if you look inside you will see the print is quite large. Honestly, the book could have been condensed down a lot more to save paper. I am however, interested to see where Zoe (Siobhan?) goes with the next installment.

I have deliberated long and hard about the rating for ‘Girl Online’. I originally wanted to give it 2.5 stars but in the spirit of the holiday season and taking into account the fact that it has eased me out of my reading slump, I will give it 3 stars. I would recommend this for teen readers who want a nice, easy read over the Christmas holidays.

 

Rating

starstarstar