Review- Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look back

Title: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 384
Reviewer: Kelly

BLURB:

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

OPINION:

The moment I opened the first page of this book, and read the opening lines I was hooked- line and sinker! I didn’t know where this story would take me. Having read a lot of Armentrout’s previous novels I knew she could have taken me to a universe full of mythical creatures, or included an alien invasion, instead she kept it really simple and let this story play out in the ‘real world’. It was relatable as the situation that Samantha found herself in could happen to anyone, anywhere or at anytime.

The story was written in the first person point of view, through the eyes of Samantha, the main protagonist. She begins the story with her memories and her best friend missing. As a reader we are learning all about her life at the same time that she is! Then as her memories begin to come back in dreamlike, flashbacks and visions you start to wonder, just like Samantha, where is Cassie? The plot thickens when mysterious hand written notes begin to appear, sending very cryptic messages, turning this novel into a real “who done it?”

The foreshadowing techniques used throughout the story really kept you guessing until the very last page. Armentrout was very clever to give out little hints and clues throughout the book, but never enough to give the ending away. This created a gripping and enthralling read that was refreshing and different to any other novel I have ever read!

SUMMARY:
Wow! Armentrout can do no wrong! This book was an intriguing, heart-stopping, page turner. I finished it in a day. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!

lips grey 5

Review: Island in the Clouds by Susan M. Toy

island in the clouds

A cleverly crafted story!

Author: Susan M. Toy
Title: Island in the Clouds
Pages: 183
Genre: Mystery
Reviewer: Debby
Blurb:
The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An expat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…

Part travelogue, part mystery, ISLAND IN THE CLOUDS takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect-from the outside, anyway.

Review:

The greatest part of reading Island in the Clouds, was how much fun I had relating Bequia to my own Caribbean Island experience in Grand Cayman. While the two places are separated by over 2000km’s, it is clear that some things are purely characteristic to the islands, regardless of proximity. Susan Toy did a fantastic job of purveying the culture and feelings experienced by expats all over the Caribbean. She made me fall in love with the island lifestyle all over again; laid back, multi-cultural, miles from ordinary yet so easy to acclimate. There is no doubt that the author ticks all the boxes as far as enticing the reader into this compelling travelogue, she nearly convinced me to move back!

Another thing that Susan Toy did very well was craft an intriguing mystery full of twists and turns as well as a reveal at the end that I most certainly did not see coming. The series of events that drive the plot are unveiled in such a way that the reader literally feels sea sick but also eager to read to the end to discover the culprit behind these heinous events.

The one area that I would have liked to see explored further was character development. All the requisite bits and pieces were there; a reliable narrator, a love interest and a variety of humourous and moral supporting characters, but I felt that I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have liked given the often severe circumstances in which they found themselves. This surprised me since I connected so easily with the “character” Toy had created of Bequia.

That aside, Susan Toy is very brave and forthright in Island in the Clouds in the way she handles several sensitive social issues that these small islands are prone to enduring. To discuss the issues here would give away too much of the plot, suffice it to say that her narrative description of the island and the issues involved in the plot twist reveal combine to create an excellent portrayal of island life; both the most beautiful realities and those aspects the islanders would rather remain out of the spotlight.

This is a great novel to check out for those who have always wanted to know what real island life is like, with a bit of mystery thrown in to keep things interesting!!

lips grey 3