REVIEW - DON'T LOOK BACK by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back 
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date - April 10th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository 

My breath caught and I dropped the letter, scuttling back on the bed. Heart racing, I closed my eyes, but I could still see the words…

Samantha Franco has the perfect life. Until, that is, she and her best friend Cassie disappear and only
Samantha resurfaces… with no knowledge of what happened.

And Cassie stays missing. Gradually, Samantha begins to piece together her memories of that night. If she can do that, she may yet be able to save her friend. And, little by little, something begins to emerge…

Then she gets the note.

Don't look back. You won't like what you find.
Jennifer has a unique way of writing and you can certainly see why she is New York Times's #1 Bestselling Author. I was a little afraid because of the diverse and different change to the subject of her writing. I guess I'm used to her paranormal romances of the Lux series and The Dark Elements series, but a suspense thriller was another genre that I can say passes with flying colours.

Previously I've read thrillers like Fracture by Megan Miranda or The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher, and for me this isn't a genre that I rarely read. It happens to be one that I have to have my detective cap on and get those little grey cells working. Don't Look Back, immerses you immediately into the adrenaline fuelled mind of  a young girl named Samantha forced to realise that she doesn't know who she, where she is and above all what has happened to her or her 'best friend' Cassie. Despite it being about the mystery of losing her memory and only regaining feelings and partial flashbacks, I felt this book held another ulterior motive...a second chance.

Samantha was a right b**** (I'm being very polite... but yes she was one) she was brought up on money and she should act, wear and be the money whether she's at school, dating the latest baseball champion or having followers (friends) of her very nature. Personally if I knew her, I doubt I would like her very much. But this Samantha 2.0 lets say, is a lot to be forgiven for. It's a new chance, a new life and furthermore a chance to rekindle old flames and friends of her childhood. As you progressed through the novel at first it was Sammy's mind and how it worked in mysterious natures, one minute she was fine and the next she seeing herself in a whole new darkness rather than light. The fascination that she is learning to fix her mistakes with friends and family and to be able to be the person that this new Samantha wants her to be.

The other half of the novel works with the man (talking hypothetically, of course) behind the murder of Cassie and the attempted murder and suspense over Sammy's condition. I mean it really kick's off and I'm forever turning the pages trying to solve the culprit... The ending or the last 100 pages is crazy and one of a deeply shocking nature. I can say that I had a hunch and at the end I said 'I KNEW IT' when you put all the pieces together. What was clever of JLA was that she hinted it in the beginning which nagged at me for like 5 minutes before other aspects of the novel stole my attention instead.

It's hard not to mention the characters, because despite the thrill of the chase, the undercurrent of romance was most definitely in the air, let just say old flames re-connecting... Scott, the macho, protecting brother that we should all love, Julie, her true friend since the age of 11, Carson, her childhood best friend and *cough* other elements of a growing friendship. The only element of her family that I truly detested with a passion was her mother, I mean if she thinks an alcoholic stay-at-home mom, alongside being the hierarchy of her fellowship of her friends, and thinking her own daughter is crazy, then she needs her head to be tested.

Despite being a rather, long review even by my standards, this mystery novel surly deserves. I didn't think JLA could possibly prevail from her other novels/series. A perfect standalone, and I think she could possibly do a e-novella from Carson's POV. I think that would be rather interesting to read. A wonderful, adrenaline fueled novel from a first class author.

Rating - 5

"WISH YOU WERE HERE" with Jennifer E. Smith

Dear Readers,

I have a special post lined up for today. After reading and reviewing The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith I was deeply moved and fascinated by the use of Postcards as a way of keeping up in touch with each other. It's such an original and refreshing concept that I had to ask Jennifer about it. In this post you will see how Postcards was an inspiration for me and my childhood til now and how it made this novel into a Global Love Story. 

                         Wish you were here
                            Hope you Enjoy.
                                   Emma x

The 'postcard' except of the novel that inspired me...

"He flicked the light over the dishwasher, then the oven, and finally up to the refrigerator, which was covered in postcards, each one pinned by a brightly colored magnet. he sat up to take a closer look, focusing the light so he could read the names scrawled over them: Florence, Cape Town, Prague, Barcelona, Cannes, Saint Petersburg.
   "Wow," he said. "Have you been to all these places?"
   Lucy laughed. "Do you think I'm sending myself postcards?"
   "No," he said, his face burning. "I just figured-"
   "They're from my parents. They go to amazing places, and I get a piece of cardboard," she explained with a shrug. "They always bring one of my brothers a magnet and the other a snow globe. It's kind of a tradition. Apparently I asked for a postcard once I was little, and I guess it sort of stuck."


He glanced again at the mosaic of photographs. "Postcards are overrated anyway."
   "Oh yeah?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
   "Yeah, I mean, what's the worst thing you can say to someone who isn't on some beautiful beach with?"
Lucy shrugged.
" 'Wish you were here' " He rapped his knuckles against the scene of Greece, which was hanging near the bottom. "I mean, come on. If they really wished you were there, they'd have invited you in the first place, right? It's kind of mean, if you really think about it. It should say: 'Greece: Where nobody's all the upset you're not here.'"
... But to his relief, she began to laugh. " 'Rome: Where it is beautiful, we've pretty much forgotten about you,' " she said, sitting up. Her arms were looped around her bare legs, and her mouth was twisted in humour. " 'Sydney: Where you're really missing out.' "

*Taken from my e-galley version. This may not be same in the final publication.

I've collect postcards for years since I was a little girl where all my family and friends would send them wherever they went. It's such a refreshing and original concept to use postcards as a way to communicate between to people... 
What made you use this between Owen and Lucy? What's makes it so different between, letters, emails or face to face?

Jennifer E. Smith
"As a kid, one of the highlights of our family vacations was getting to send postcards back home to my friends. And I was thinking recently about how rarely that happens now. I live in New York City, so I walk by tourist shops all the time, and I see the racks filled with glittering pictures of Manhattan at night or at sunset, and they seem to sort of represent the best of the place. So in sending one, it feels like you're giving the person who can't be there a little piece of the moment, and there's something incredibly romantic about that -- though there's also something really practical about it too. Because there's only so much space on the back, you have to get right to the point. You have to say the thing that matters most, whether it's "I love you" or "I miss you" or "Wish you were here." A postcards is much more succinct than a letter, much more deliberate than an email, much more visually beautiful than either one. So for the book, I just really loved the idea of these two characters trading postcards across the distance, and how -- in spite of the length of time it took, and in spite of the amount of space they had to express themselves -- it still meant the world to them."
---> Jennifer E. Smith  

After reading again over the postcard excerpt above, I realised that Lucy is similar to me in how I started collecting and receiving postcards. When I was a little girl, my family would go abroad and I always say 'Send me a postcard...' and it kind of stuck with my family. Even now, 19 years old, I think it will always be a tradition for me, I will send postcards to my family too. Just receiving that postcard, I would always have a smile on my face and treasure it as a little girl. Then I started a collection... I have hundreds and here is a sneak peak at my collection...

Only a portion of my postcard collection,
received around the whole world.
Postcards inspired by The Geography
of You and Me
Sending a postcard doesn't just send a message, it sends a part of yourself with it. Using it as a way to keep in touch with someone you care very deeply for on the opposite end of the world and then reading about it one author becoming one of my favourites in contemporary writing really inspired me.

So the next time your abroad, on holiday or in a different place than your family or friends. why don't you send a postcard rather than a text or email... I think it gives a very personal touch with pen to paper.


The Geography of You and Me
by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher - Headline
Release Date - April 10th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking...

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can't shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can't, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy - and pain - of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.
"And the geography of the thing - the geography of them - was completely and hopelessly wrong"

I have enjoyed Jennifer's books for ages now, especially last year's This is What Happy Looks Like. Even though they are long titles, they have a quirkiness to them that I just adore. The Geography of You and Me is as it goes. When New York has a state blackout, Lucy and Owen are coincidentally stuck in a elevator at the time. With 24 floors between them, they have only really seen each other in passing. With Lucy's parents away in Paris and Owen's father taking the day off, they are stuck with each other... They never really thought that they would spend a night on the top of the roof both watching the stars until they slept.  When Owen's father is fired from his job they take the unexpected to leap to travel around state to state, trying to find work and a house. While, Lucy is said to move to Edinburgh with her parents, after her dad's promotion. With each on opposite sides of the Earth, how would they communicate with each and will their friendship or relationship blossom or disappear?

Lucy is your average teenager, getting by school but with a passion for travelling and truly seeing what a place has to offer. So when her parents are constantly traveling due to work, she is left to the space of her own apartment. In the past it was different, she had her brothers, but now they have flown the nest and have gone off to university. Lucy is lonely, she has acquaintances, never friends, she walks the sights of New York by herself, and chats endlessly to the doorman, George. So when she is stuck in this hot elevator with a boy, she has only seen once, that space of half an hour, her life will never be so different.

However, Owen is the same but in his own way. After his mother passed on, his dad and himself sold the house and took a job offer in New York. He kept to himself and saw everything as nothing. He wanted to go 'Somewhere' rather than 'Nowhere'. He wanted to be home... But when he met Lucy, things started to look up and that unnerved him more than ever. Owen and Lucy don't share a long distance relationship but a global love story. From New York to London, from state to state, country to country they would communicate through a postcard, a personal touch that they would only know.

"We are a pair of idiots together."

The Geography of You and Me is a very personal read for me and it hit all the right buttons. Jennifer E. Smith has created an original version of a contemporary, through original concepts that are so memorable that people forget the nature of a pen to paper or a pen to postcard. Ever since I was a little girl, my family and my friends would always send me postcards from all over the world, from when they traveled. That tradition for me hasn't changed even now as an adult, I keep all my postcards in a collection. A postcard isn't just a card with a picture, it's a piece of themselves sent a miles away and that's what Jennifer captured in her latest novel.

Overall, what I enjoyed the most is Jennifer's writing, it's addictive, flawless, simple and creates all the right emotions. I connected with the characters easily and was completely captivated by Owen's and Lucy's relationship. I would say that this is one of Jennifer's best contemporaries and I look forward to more of her loving adventures.

Rating - 5

REVIEW - STORM by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm (Elemental #1)
by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher - Much-in-Little
Release Date - April 17th 2014 (UK)

Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake.

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys; all the ones she doesn't want. When she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot, everything is about to change. Chris is different from the guys at school... really different. He can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. The brothers are powerful and dangerous. And now that Becca knows the truth, so is she.

When the mysterious new kid, Hunter, turns up, Becca thinks she can trust him. But when he goes head-to-head with Chris, Becca's left wondering who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.
Like any hyped series and it's debut novel, you are a little apprehensive to start this series. But as it was finally officially being published in the UK, I couldn't resist the temptation to read it. Most of you are probably way a head of me, (so don't spoil it for me) but it's been a long time since I've thoroughly enjoyed a paranormal young adult novel. This is totally addictive and the best paranormal YA I've read this year.

One girl, Four hot guys with powers of the elements and secrets that bring them together indefinitely. That's probably the best one liner synopsis of this book I can sum up with. That's all you need to know because the book completes you with everything you desire from a book. I was addicted from the first page, maybe it's been a while since sinking myself into a paranormal, but I loved the concept of it. We are introduced to the Merrick brothers, each able to control one aspect of the elements (earth, air, fire and water); Michael - Earth, Gabriel - Fire, Nick - Air and Chris - Water. (Oh and did I mention that Nick and Gabriel were twins, yummy!)

Storm focuses on Chris, the youngest of the brothers and the control of water. We are first introduced to him as the 'damsel in the distress' when he is caught between Seth and Tyler, two guilty, troublesome senior's with a history to Chris's extra curricular activities. Seth and Tyler are out to destroy Chris's family, their kind. A war is raging between them that has carried on for years, since the deaths of both of their parents... We are instantly thrusted into an action-packed novel, and there is no where out for you but to continue. Chris is your average teenager who just wants to continue his life as normal as possible. He has only just started to control his element, only to be thrown into the deep end. Until Becca saves his life...

Becca was a challenging character, she was a very hot n' cold person as you didn't really know a whole lot about her. It was as you progressed through the novel that you gradually saw the person she is and she has had to endure from horrible rumours roaming at school. Once the word is around school about her saving Chris, it's only a matter of days until she's involved beyond her capability or understanding. A mixture of bad weather and trouble is attracting to her, and she can't seem to get away from it. Becca is in more deeply than she knows, and she can't seem to stop herself from getting closer to Chris. I really enjoyed how their relationship was like an electric shock, they immediately were attracted to each other but didn't commit to each other until they truly knew...

This novel ticked all the boxes on my check-list and what I really enjoyed was that it contained every emotion possible. Sometimes you were sad, sometimes your were happy and sometimes you could laugh out loud especially at this point:

“Casper, she said someone has to hold your leash.” 
The dog barked. 
Then he dipped his head, picked up the end of the leash in his mouth, and trotted after his master.” 

The secondary characters, whether you want to include the Merrick Brothers in that, were spectacular. I thought Hunter was such a loud and outrageous character in comparison to everyone else that he was the one that shone out of the novel. Tattoos, piercings and his dog, Casper, so cute, really made up the novel for me and he was tied so neatly into the plotline like a bow that his character didn't diminish from the rest of them, it progressed and developed to the right pace.

I'm very much looking forward to reading Spark to see Gabriel's story, and how he is defined against his twin, Nick! I can tell that this is the start of a very powerful series, so hold on to your seat, ladies and gentleman because it's about to get bumpy!

Rating - 5

RELEASE DAY LAUNCH - DON'T LOOK BACK by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

Well I got a surprise to say I'm part of the release day launch of Jennifer L. Armentrout's  new YA Suspense novel, Don't Look Back. I'm delighted to be a part of this and today I share with you an excerpt of what's to come. I will be reviewing my copy in the next couple of week so be sure to stay tuned for that. 

Found this cover on Jennifer's website... 

Don't Look Back
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date - April 15th (US)
Publisher - Disney-Hyperion
Buy - Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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?

Click on 'Read More' to read an excerpt of this brilliant upcoming novel. 

REVIEW - RINGER by C.J. Duggan

I'm very pleased today to be a part of the exclusive Ringer Blog Tour on the behalf of C.J. Duggan herself. My post is a little late due to having a rather busy week, but better late than never right! :) I absolutely adore this series, I have reviewed every single one so if you would like to read them from the very beginning, please do so. The Boys of Summer #1, An Endless Summer #2, That One Summer #3, and now Ringer, a novella #3.5, with further ado her is my review.

Ringer (Summer #3.5)
by C.J Duggan
Release Date - March 18th 2014
Buy - Amazon

They say it’s the quiet ones you have to worry about, and she was quiet, very quiet—when she wasn’t busy despising me with a burning passion.

Ringo ‘Ringer’ James has a no-strings-attached policy.

Love them, leave them, and remain the eternal bachelor.

After a summer in which every one of his mates has succumbed to settling down, or so it seemed, Ringer is on the lookout for a quick exit. Having had enough of the stomach-turning love fest witnessed over the past three months, Ringer jumps at the opportunity to help out his mate, Max, by heading to Max’s dad’s property for a working holiday.

It’s just what he’s looking for. A remote, dusty homestead in Ballan, with only hard work, a cold beer and a comfy bed to worry about – no women.

Until Miranda Henry.

The privately educated daughter of his boss has returned home from overseas and things are about to get very complicated, very fast. As summer draws to its end, Ringer is about to learn that sometimes attraction defies all logic, and that there really is such a thing as ‘enemies with benefits.’
C.J really turned the tables with Ringer's story as a novella in one sense it didn't match the rest of her Summer series with it not being in a full book. But actually it really worked in her favour, I have to remind myself that any previous or future novels were from a female's protagonists perspective. Reading Ringer's and Miranda's story really opened up C.J's writing as well as the plotline between both of the characters. 

Ringer needs to escape Onslow, with his surrounding buds enthralled with the own lives and those of their girlfriends and love. It's very hard being within a group going 'stag' for the night's activities. So he decides to help his old friend Max and go down his parents to help on the estate while he was away. He for one wasn't counting on Max's sister, Miranda Henry being there. He knew he would have his work cut for him. 

Ringer's character doesn't shine through the rest of the Summer series, he's a quiet part of the group and the only drama would be in That One Summer when he stepped on a piece of glass and hurt his foot. So he has drama previously, but I think we still don't really see the true Ringer. But like most guys you very rarely see them open up unless you truly know them. Ringer gave as good as he get and when he wants something he will try not to walk away...

....unlike Miranda Henry, she will run away from anything, anywhere with the confines of Austailia. Living in Paris was her comfort zone, now she is pulled out of it. When her brother wasn't returning, she had to like she had no choice. But running over the first bloke she see and having to live with him for the week or so wasn't on her agenda. Nor was it to fool around, mock him and then face the unfortunate fact that she might be falling in love with him. Like all female protagonists in YA contemporaries, they have a past, a guilty past, which has haunted her since. What I liked about it being a novella was that she didn't beat around the bush, she was honest and forward about the relationship that she faces with no better than Ringer. 

Like all of the Summer series I really enjoyed this one as a novella and I think it would make a brilliant novel as well. C.J. Duggan creates the perfect summer read! Why don't you get into the sunshine spirits with this series. 

Rating - 4

C.J Duggan is the number one bestselling Australian author of the Summer Series! C.J lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia. When she isn’t writing books about swoony boys and 90’s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year-old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.
Novels in the Summer Series includes: The Boys of Summer (December 2012), An Endless Summer (July 2013), That One Summer (December 2013), Ringer (March 2014) and the highly anticipated, soon to be released Forever Summer (July 2014).

                                                             Website | Books | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads