Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (website | twitter)
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: secrets, feuding parents, prisoner on Death Row, UK
Format Read: ARC received from the publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Zoe has a BIG secret, one she’s afraid to tell. The only way she feels she can get some closure is if she confesses. She chooses a man on Death Row, Stuart, as the person she’ll confess to through a sequence of letters.
Prison. It just dawned on me that this isn’t something I’ve read about much in my literary explorations. What are the odds that I would read two books back-to-back that would have this in common? Completely coincidence I’m sure.
Alas, Ketchup Clouds is about young Zoe, a girl who lives in the UK and begins writing letters to a Texas prisoner. She chooses a man awaiting execution from a website and begins writing to him under a pseudonym. Though she changes some locational details, she is forthright about the nitty-gritty aspects of her life that led her to write to him. Zoe has a secret — something she feels she cannot confess to anyone but this stranger. Each “chapter” is a letter Zoe writes to Stuart Harris, reliving a bit of the past and relinquishing a few more details each time.
Since Zoe doesn’t offer a return address for Stuart, the story is very much one-sided. Her letters are the platform she chooses to communicate what she’s done wrong. Stuart’s voice is conveyed through Zoe’s letters as well, as she shares with readers the little she knows about him and begins to speculate as time ticks on how he must be feeling as they approach the date of his execution. Admittedly, the speculative portions of Zoe’s letters were some of my least favorite scenes because I didn’t feel extremely connected to Stuart; maybe I sound heartless, but I desperately wanted to know what she was hiding, therefore, I needed her to quit hypothesizing about how he might feel as he lives out his last days.
Zoe is a normal-ish high school girl who lives under the strict umbrella of her parent’s rules, but desperately wants to break out of that mold to experience more: parties, dating, and boys. Her parent’s focus is skewed when a situation arises with her grandfather and miscommunication affords Zoe the opportunity to manipulate her parents and weasel her way into a few social situations. It’s here that our drama starts to unfold as we see Zoe balance a very fine line as she lies and breaks a few unspoken rules.
Ketchup Clouds held my attention as I fought to piece together the mystery of Zoe. While I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the secret in the end, I do feel it was a very age-appropriate reaction to the situation at hand and accurately depicted how I would have felt were I to swap places with Zoe. I really enjoyed that Pitcher chose such a unique way of sharing Zoe’s story, and was happy with (what I’d consider) the surprise I found waiting for me at the end of the book. I was taken a bit outside my element as I was subtly forced to think about a prisoner on Death Row, but equally captivated by the secret Zoe was so afraid to share.
If you’re looking for something different that will offer you a unique reading experience, definitely take a chance on Ketchup Clouds.
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Happy Tuesday all! I am so in love with today’s Top 10 Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish. As book bloggers and book lovers, I’m sure so many of us are also “book pushers”. It is all too frequent that I’m talking to someone and a book recommendation pops in my head. Or when my friends come to visit my apartment and I don’t let them leave without taking a few books from my shelves to read.
I had some much fun compiling my list — a list that could really go on forever. In almost two years of blogging, and maybe three years of reading book blogs, my to-read list has been utterly out of control. Here are a few stand outs from my own reading adventures. If you know that’s good for you, you’ll pick up all of these titles soon… or else.
Freefall + Live Through This by Mindi Scott: Quite possibly the best recommendations that Ginger from GReadsBooks has ever given to me. She was nice enough to send these both my way, and I was utterly blown away by Scott’s realistic writing (in unfortunate situations) and vibrant characters that I wanted to care for.
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers: I love so many things about Magan but I love how she challenges to reach outside my comfort zone with my reading. Summers is a beautiful writer, even when she is telling a story about zombies. I couldn’t get over how much I connected to the story.
Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble: This one wasn’t much of a FORCED read but I felt forced to read it because of Book Chic Club’s amazing review back from December 2011. Since then I have read all of Trumble’s books, and I have Book Chic to thank. This book in particular is about a long distance relationship between two men, dealing with changes and homophobia and relationships and families. I couldn’t take my eyes away from this one.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Why is this on my list? Are you going to disown me? My oh my. Back when Harry Potter came out, I was just not interested. I saw one of the movies in the theater and I fell asleep. My sister never got into them. But I took a Children’s Literature class back at my first college and well, I had to do it for a grade and then I got obsessed. That class was memorable for so many reasons but a big part of it was introducing me to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine.
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter: This title is a new development; I actually have a review coming up later this week. I’ve had it for a few months and I’m sure I would have kept passing it by if it wasn’t for Book Rock Betty and her enthusiasm for this story. Not exactly an Alice retelling but a unique interpretation of zombies, a bubbling hot relationship, and great voices for her characters. It was super fun and I’m so so glad I picked it up.
One Day by David Nicholls: An oldie but goodie. Rachel from Hello Chelly recommended this to me before we had blogs so I bought it for my honeymoon and absolutely devoured it. A grown up book about two young people through the span of many years, heartbreak, hardships, and love. It’s not a super fast-paced story but it’s completely well-written and I felt for these characters so much.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Funny story but the gal who married James and I actually recommended this to me before anyone else. I was really turned off by the name and the original cover but I gave it a whirl anyway and fell madly in love with Stephanie’s writing and Anna’s story. I am so so thankful for my officiant (for many reasons) but bringing Anna into my life is definitely in the top 2. (I think you can guess what 1 is.)
Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer: I hope you all know Cassie from Books with Cass. Not only is she one of the sweetest people you will ever meet but um, she is kind of bossy and sort of pushy and when she really loves a book, she wants the whole world to love it too. I have no idea how many people she got to buy Liza’s book but I was one of them. I’m so glad I carved out the time to read this and got to text with her about it as I did. Nowhere but Home is a beautiful book about second chances and learning to be happy. It’s very Hart of Dixie-esque and the writing is gorgeous. (Plus there’s a lot of cooking and football and a cute man or two!)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: Man on man. I had to read this for a Non-Fiction writing class at my second school, and it just blew me away. You want scary for Halloween? Try this because it was true. A whole family shot in their home. Terrible, terrible. I have a wild imagination and anytime I think about this story, I can freak myself out. Capote is a gorgeous writer (I love him to bits) and he crafts this horrific incident in such a way that you will be very surprised to see who you are feeling bad for. This book is classic and will forever be one of my favorites. (Plus you will not be able to stop researching the crime, and that opens a whole new can of worms.)
I’m so excited to read everyone else’s Top 10 Tuesday this week!
Be sure to add some of these to your TBR. I’ll be watching…
Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf ( website | twitter )
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Target audience: Young adult / thriller
Keywords: murder investigation, friendship, gangs
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Other books reviewed by Jennifer Shaw Wolf: Breaking Beautiful
Summary: After not speaking for six months, Jaycee is shocked to see a foreboding text from her ex-best friend, Rachel, on her phone. In the company of a new boy, Jaycee decides to ignore the texts. The next morning Jaycee gets the terrible news that Rachel is dead. Could she have stopped it from happening?
You know that feeling when you are reading a book and you keep giving yourself a cut off to go to sleep but then you just keep flipping the pages and it’s suddenly past midnight?
This is exactly what happened while I was reading Dead Girls Don’t Lie.
Rachel and Jaycee were inseparable friends growing up (they even did a blood oath) but scary circumstances shake up their friendship and nothing is the same after that. When Jaycee surprisingly receives text messages from Rachel, she opts to ignore them and spend time with Skyler instead. A few hours later, Jaycee’s dad delivers the bad news: Rachel has been killed. Obvious guilt plagues Jaycee. She’s always the good girl, always the rule follower, and the one night, the one night, she decides not to do the right thing, her friend dies.
Jaycee has a lot going on. Not only is she mourning her friendship (again), combating pressure from her overprotective dad to be squeakly clean, and feeling out her first relationship, but she feels obligated to find out why Rachel was killed and who did it. This is the second time their small town has been hit with such a horrendous crime, and most are quick to blame it on gangs and Mexican migrant workers. But that last text, in addition to a dreaded secret the two share, Jaycee is just not so sure what to think anymore.
She was not the only one. Wolf has created such an intriciate story, peppering the plot with quite a few characters who could be to blame for Rachel’s death. I had no idea how all the loose ends would tie up, how Jaycee would come to her final conclusions, and, most importantly, who she would choose to trust. Law enforcement? Her father? Skyler? Though the writing could be a little choppy and I wasn’t in love with Jaycee’s “friends”, I was definitely hooked to the max once the pacing picked up a few chapters in.
I was a huge fan of Wolf’s debut Breaking Beautiful last year, and I read a review last week that wondered how readers who experienced both would compare the two. While my emotional connection to the characters in Breaking Beautiful was definitely stronger (maybe because it had an emphasis on romance), Wolf proves she can create just as riveting a story when the focus is on friendship and the intricacies of a small town. As far as YA thrillers go, I’m still partial to Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, which was more well-rounded from all aspects, but Dead Girls Don’t Lie certainly threw me for many scary scary loops.
Wolf is definitely an author who keeps me coming back for more.
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Happy October, friends! It’s time for us to discuss book covers and manicures in our monthly Nailed It. This go ’round, instead of choosing an October book release we’re looking forward to, we decided to spice things up by choosing a thriller, horror, or mystery book to fit the mood of Halloween. EEEP. If you’ve been following along with us for a while, you may have noticed that’s not something either of us reads often. Maybe it’s time for that to change?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Add to Goodreads | Order from Amazon | Release Date: January 1, 2011
I don’t do scary, friends. I don’t do horror either. I am such a scaredy cat. Sometimes I even ask Dustyn to turn the volume down on the TV when he’s watching an episode of The Walking Dead. I just get freaked out easily, okay? I asked for your scariest thriller or mystery book recommendations on twitter this week and let’s just say some of them freaked me out so much the summary scared me for days. I decided that while your suggestions were so awesome, I should probably take baby steps into this land of mystery/horror books. I’ve seen Miss Peregrine so much; lots of people are talking about it, but this cover kind of gives me the chills. I decided my pick had to be something I could actually challenge myself to read. And what a great monotoned color palette it has, right? I’m the world’s biggest gray fan, but this month, I have to say I’m diggin’ the Brandt color. What are your thoughts (on the book and the colors)?
Annette | Sophie | Brandt
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Release Date: July 11, 2013
This was such a difficult pick! I’ve read a few thrillers this year: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, Find Me by Romily Bernard, and Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf — and they are definitely a nice change up from friendships and romance in all my other contemporary reading. Another Little Piece is labeled as paranormal and a thriller which would be a very very very different kind of read for me. As Cassie from Books with Cass told me, do not read this book in a dark place. It’s THAT scary. Like Magan, I’m not a huge fan of being scared but I think I can handle it more in my reading then I can if I’m watching a movie or TV show. But then I have this over-active imagination… so. That could be interesting. And horrible for my sleeping habits.
Anyway let’s talk colors. Not the most typical scary colors but I love this combination especially the Winona. It’s a color I’ve been eyeing for myself since it was released this month. (Gotta say — isn’t that tutu skirt on the cover the best? This cover has caught my attention so much over the past few months. Love it.)
Molly | Minnie | Winona
What are some scary reads you are most looking forward to reading in the next few weeks? We would love some suggestions!
So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: childhood friends, cowboys, secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Summary: Charlie moves to Jackson to escape a terrible work and romance situation, crashing into childhood crush, Walker, in the process. She can’t forget how she always wished he would look at her like she was special, and after years away from each other, is determined to show him her sexy side. Walker has his own demons but seeing Charlie again seems to distract him for them including his search for work and a sick dad.
I’m pretty sure if it was possible Victoria Dahl’s books would burst into flames if they could.
They are that HOT. Like blushworthy to the infinity power and beyond.
But the best part is underneath all the scorching bedroom scenes, she can craft a good story for both sides of the romance too. I really liked what she did here: reuniting two old friends from high school. Charlie has changed a bit since her days of tutoring Walker, and Walker, well, as Charlie likes to say he’s a walking piece of sex. He tips a cowboy hat, people! How do you resist him? I could not. True story.
Anyway, Charlie has moved to Jackson Hole for a new job in security at a resort but pretty intense problems at her previous job keep her on edge and a little self-conscious about how good she is at her job. Not to mention, she’s pretty sure something shady is going down at her new job too. Walker is kind of in a similar boat boat, searching for jobs seasonly but not doing anything he totally loves. When Charlie comes back into his life, she tries to encourage him to want more for himself but it takes a lot for Walker to understand she’s not insulting him and believes in him.
They both have a little work to do, as well as probably mentioning they want more than just a wild night in bed together every now and then. Small details. Dahl gives both stories detailed backgrounds, never missing a beat. I really appreciate that kind of attention in a romance novel. I haven’t found it super often.
So if you are looking for a novel that gets a little naughty (oh man) but doesn’t ditch story, So Tough to Tame would be so fun for you to check out. (Want more Dahl suggestions? I also loved Close Enough to Touch.)
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The lovely people at Harlequin have offered me a copy of So Tough to Tame to giveaway to one of you! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!
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