Book Review: Ketchup Clouds

Ketchup CloudsKetchup Clouds

by Annabel Pitcher

Published: 2012 by Orion

Version: Hardback obtained from library

Rating: 4.5 sofas

Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.

I was quite daunted to read Ketchup Clouds. Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Prize 2013, I’ve heard a lot of praise about it. I had previously picked up Annabel’s previous book (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) but it started a bit too depressing for the mood I was in so I only ever read the first couple of pages.

However, Ketchup Clouds is very different. From the first page I was hooked. Written from the perspective of 15-year old Zoe, this brutally honest account of her secret which is so terrible she only feels comfortable sharing it with a man on death row via letters. The whole book is written in letter format, which just adds the uniqueness of the book. It is frustrating at times, as she finishes a letter just as it is getting good! But thats what kept me reading, and I actually devoured the book in a day.

Although Zoe is 15, the writing is quite young. At first I would have pictured her to be about 11 or 12, but things she says later on about boys and life hinted at her being older. Some of the sentences are quite simple, I suppose to make it clear it is written from a child’s perspective. What was confusing was that several scenes were quite graphic. I know kids can be blunt sometimes, but parts of it did shock me. 

What is awe-inspiring about this book is that it is based on the fact that Annabel herself wrote to a inmate on death row when she was a teenager. Its something that I always considered doing, as being in prison can be a really depressing time. This book got me thinking about real life prisoners and what it would be like to receive Zoe’s letters. I love books that leave me thinking about them for days after, and Ketchup Clouds certainly achieved that. 

Ultimately I adored this book. I love the perspective and the letter style gave it such a refreshing feel. I do think the book could benefit from an epilogue or sequel (hint hint!), but it has definitely inspired me to give Annabel’s first novel a go. It is very clear why she won the Waterstones award for this original novel, and I can’t wait to see what she brings in the future. Ketchup Clouds had me gripped from the beginning and I loved experiencing the emotional rollercoaster Zoe’s letters sent me on. 4.5 sofas

Letterbox Love #22

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey of Narratively Speaking whereby book lovers can exhibit the books they received this week.

Up till yesterday this would’ve been a tiny haul. However, it was payday on Friday so I decided to splurge a little. I visited a nearby shopping centre, only to find that my favourite branch of The Works (Lakeside for you fellow Englanders) is closing down! On the plus side, this means SALE. However, they are moving to a smaller site. Long-term this sucks, as it will mean it will only have a tiny selection of books that will be basically the same as other stores. But anyway, onto my haul. I purchased 14 (I know, oops?!) books at The Works, and paid £12.25. Needless to say, I was a happy bunny. So first, the books I purchase at The Works: 

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I have read If I Stay by Gayle Forman but definitely will want to read it again at some point. I’ve seen the film version of He’s Just Not That Into You, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the book is like, written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.  

I didn’t realize how many Sophie McKenzie books I had picked up! Girl, Missing has been on my to-read pile for a while. The Medusa Project: The Set-Up is the first of a series about kids with abilities, and sounds really interesting. Blood Ransom is the second in a series about clones. 

James Dashner’s The Kill Order is a prequel to the Maze Runner series (first film coming soon). It is actually in my pile of library books, so buying it means I can return the other copy to the library. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent is a bit paranormal for me, but I remember hearing other bloggers rave about it, so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about. 

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Joe Craig’s Jimmy Coates series is one I feel like I should have read years ago. About a teenage assain, it sounds like EXACTLY the kind of the thing I enjoy. So I decided to get one of the books (Power) to push me in the right direction. And then I spotted Sabotage for 25p so, you know. 

Dial L For Loser by Lisi Harrison is part of a collection of books that I have a couple of already. A Midsummer Tights Dream is part of Louise Rennison’s latest series. Although I’ve only read a couple of hers before, they seem perfect for a giggle. I actually spotted Wither by Lauren DeStefano after I had paid for all my goodies. But it was HARDBACK. FOR 75P. I nearly died, and couldn’t resist snapping it up. 

I also bought The Life of Riley and Back to Life by Joanna Nadin as these seem really cute contemporaries, and I’m on a bit of a high with them at the moment. 

I also got some other books elsewhere: 

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I picked up two books in Waterstones, both half price. Turf by John Lucas looks really gritty, and will contrast all the contemporaries above! I have already read Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer is a book I read before (AND ADORED). It has just been released in paperback, but it is all in black and white. The hardback has coloured fonts and bea-utiful illustrations. P1060286

I raided the BHF charity shop, and snapped up a copy of …Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers by Louise Rennison as it was virtually unread. Numbers by Rachel Ward is a book I loved and would probably read again at some point. I also picked up a DVD of Two Weeks Notice because, you know, Hugh Grant.

Last but not least, one library book this week! I am really excited to finish Ally Condie’s Matched series with Reached. It will be nice to be able to wrap that one up, as one of the first dystopians I read. 

Phew! I have no idea where I’m going to put all these lovely books. Thankfully, I only received two ebooks this week, and one was a ‘read it now’ download. 

Blood FamilyBrooklyn Girls I haven’t read much by Anne Fine since the days of Crummy Mummy, but her new book Blood Family looks kind of dark and mysterious. Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for this. 

 Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is meant to be a NA with a difference. I’m anxious to see whether it lives up to expectations! Thanks to St Martins Press and Netgalley. 

Life in Outer Space A book that looks amazing in all its geekery is Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil. It has a different cover on Netgalley so I didn’t link the two until I looked on GR, and squealed as this is one of my highly anticipated books. Thanks very much Peachtree Press! 

 

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of my books and do you think it should be at the top or the bottom of my to read pile?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Top Ten: Books on my Summer 2013 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today I’ve decided to highlight the top ten books on my physical TBR shelf that I will be reading over the summer. And I know it isn’t Tuesday, but I saw other people’s posts and thought it would be a good list to do! 

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Geography Club by Brent Hartinger: I wanted to read this for the LGBT Readathon but didn’t get chance. I definitely want to read it before the film is released, and its only small so I’m hoping to slip this one in. 

Icons by Margaret Stohl: This is the first in a series which looks really exciting. It’s also a review copy from Harper Collins, so I want to get this one read soon.

Geekhood: Mission Improbable by Andy Robb: I ADORED Andy’s first book (review here), and I am really excited to read the sequel. Here’s hoping for lots more books by Andy, as he is a great writer.

Every Time We Say Goodbye by Colette Caddle: I plucked this from my library pile as a good summer read for the beach. I love a good, funny romance, and I hope this lives up to my expectations.

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne:  Everyone has been raving about this and Tanya’s next book, and I feel like I missed the train slightly! So I am trying to catch up by reading this.

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From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas: I wanted to take this book on holiday but it just missed the cut! Described as The Hangover for teens, this looks like a lot of fun.

The Look by Sophia Bennett: I recently read Sophia’s latest book (You Don’t Know Me) and really loved it. Luckily I had scooped up this one in The Works (I know, right?!) a couple of weeks ago, AND it has pink edges! ❤

Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt: I’ve heard lots of good things about this book, and I love ‘issue’ fiction, which I’ve heard it described as, so it sounds like a perfect UKYA read for me! 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: Another book leftover from the LGBT Readathon, I STILL have only read one John Green book, and this needs to change! I’m also hoping to go to a David Levithan event in October so would like to read more of his books too.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen: This just sums up ‘summer read’ completely. I’ve never read a book by Sarah Dessen but I am eager to delve into her contemporaries as they all sound amazing! 

So there you have it folks! Which of these would you recommend (or not?!) ? What books are on your TBR pile this summer? Is there anything I’ve forgotten that I shouldn’t miss out on? Let me know! 

Letterbox Love #21

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey of Narratively Speaking whereby book lovers can exhibit the books they received this week.

Welcome to my fortnightly book haul post! I thought I was doing quite well last week with only 3 new books, but I have been a devil this week. P1060270  Firstly, I have to say thank you to the lovely Jaime and Louise at Harper Collins. I’m really looking forward to Icons by Margaret Stohl and it is the first in what looks to be a great series. Although both One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern and Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger were unsolicited, they are perfect for me. In fact, I have already read Revenge Wears Prada and loved it (review to come next week). So a big thank you to these guys for thinking of me. 

Next, I have to squeal about bloggers. Although I haven’t been blogging long, other bloggers have welcomed me into the fray. There is nothing better than being able to share amazing books, and I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end this week. Thanks to Daphne at Winged Reviews who kindly got me a (signed!!) copy of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch at her launch. I was gutted to miss it, and the book is just so pretty. To Laura of Bookish Treasures, for sending me her copy of Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas. It was very sweet of you to send me this! And to Faye from A Daydreamer’s Thoughts, for lending me her copy of Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. I have heard wonderful things and now I don’t have to wait. Promise I’ll look after it. Thank you girlies, and know that my bookshelves are always open to you 🙂 

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Okay, so I *may* have gone a bit crazy on the buying…. 

Partly, I blame The Works. Y’all know how much I rave about this shop, and this fortnight I bring you yet more goodies. Firstly, a tipoff from Ellie from Curiosity Killed The Bookworm who bought Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger last week. This was a steal, so I had to check it out. While there, I noticed Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire. The second has not long been released, so I added this pair to my collection. 

I picked up a couple of books in the charity shop this week. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas was nominated for lots of awards after its release in 2008, and its a topic I love to read about. Likewise, The Strawberry Picker by Monika Feth sounded really intriguing. I’m very pro thriller YA, so this sounds perfect. I also grabbed Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, because I thought I had to see what the fuss was all about. 

I caved and bought Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff because it has orange pages. Need I say more? In fact, I think more books should have coloured edges. It just looks sooo pretty! My only library book is Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, a book which it feels like I’ve waited forever for! 

Finally, but certainly not leastly, Faking It and Losing It by Cora Carmack! The latter I already owned, but I managed to get it signed on Thursday at her blogger party. I am so thrilled to have met her, and to be able to add these pretties to my collection! I can guarantee they will be well read 🙂

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Phew! Now for those Ebooks:

A Virtual LovePirouette

Anyone who knows me will know that I love books about internet love. A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman sounds a bit more sinister than what I am used to, but intriguing nonetheless! Thanks to Legend Press and Netgalley. 

Pirouette by Robyn Bavati has a really cool cover. I love books about dancing and this sound very much like The Parent Trap, so I’m in! Thanks to Flux and Netgalley for this. 

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of my books and do you think it should be at the top or the bottom of my to read pile? Do you know of any places to find great secondhand books?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Letterbox Love #20

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey of Narratively Speaking whereby book lovers can exhibit the books they received this week.

This is actualy a 4 week post. I didn’t have time before my holiday to post the haul, and I’ve been away for two weeks! Luckily I haven’t bought a lot of books. I did, however, have masses of books to pick up from my library. For such a small authority (only 16 libraries) they get really great teen books, and I am excited about lots of these. 

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First up is You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett. This sounds like a really fun book AND it has blue edges. Win! Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari also looks like a good summer read.

There are lots of YA action/thrillers this week, which is something I’m really pleased about. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is about the son of a serial killer, and Bodyguard: Hostage by Chris Bradford features a 14-year-old professional bodyguard. 

Two books that sound quite sad are Heroic by Phil Earle and Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid. Both these books have gotten good reviews from fellow bloggers, so I’m very excited to read these. 

Shadow Runners by Daniel Blythe looks very similar to Alex Scarrow’s Timeriders series, so it intrigued me as this is a series I love. A book that I’ve had on my ebook shelf for a while is Hysteria by Megan Miranda. I ordered the paperback from my library to push myself to read it! 

Lastly, two adult chick fic books, to lighten the mood from all that hard hitting YA. Both authors I have read before, Country Loving by Cathy Woodman and Happy Families by Janey Fraser are books I will save for when I need a laugh. 

P1060261 P1060263  I also got some books of my own. Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby was a book I ordered way back in Jan/Feb when Bloomsbury had a sale. Unfortunately the publication got delayed and I’ve only just received it! I couldn’t resist a trip to The Works where I snapped up Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I love this series and can’t wait till the third book comes out, which isn’t till 2014, so I will probably need to reread this nearer the release date. Even though I haven’t read Veronica Rossi’s first book yet, I decided to buy the second one, Through the Ever Night, as it is so cheap I didn’t want to miss out and I can always give it away if I don’t enjoy the first. I also picked up The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda as it sounded really cool. Having just looked on Goodreads, I think I may actually already have a copy of it but with a different cover. Damn those cover changes! 

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway for two signed Sarah Dessen books, What Happened to Goodbye and The Truth About Forever. I don’t think I have actually read any of her books, so this will be perfect in getting me started on her collection. Extra special thanks to Winterhaven Books for the giveaway, for signed books and for shipping it all this way for me! Thank you so much. 

 Now for those Ebooks:

Nowhere

The School for Good and Evil

I got an invitation to review Nowhere by Jon Robinson from Netgalley and Penguin. Described as a ‘fast-paced conspiracy thriller’ featuring teenagers locked inside a cube, I had to have it. Although the cover looks quite simple, I love the hands in the title! Its like the story is just seeping out the pages. Many thanks for the opportunity to read this 🙂

I love boarding school books, so The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani was a cert for me. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for this.

Unbreakable (Unravelling, #2)AcidA book that I have been waiting to come out for ages is Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris. I loved Unravelling (review here), so will try and fit this in soon! And I love the UK cover much more than the US 🙂 Thanks Netgalley and Harper Collins once more.

I couldn’t resist requesting a couple when I got back from holiday (I have no willpower, sue me). I adore the cover of Acid by Emma Pass, and I love action YA so I am really looking forward to this. Thanks for the speedy approval Random House!

Noble Conflict

Happy Birthday to Me (Birthday Trilogy, #1)It seemed like the whole world was getting proofs of Malorie Blackman’s Noble Conflict and I was itching to see what it was like. So when it popped up on Netgalley there was no hesitation before requesting! Many thanks Random House.

Happy Birthday To Me by Brian Rowe sounds like a funny and intriguing book about a boy who ages a year every day. Thanks to Brian for the Netgalley approval!

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of my books and do you think it should be at the top or the bottom of my to read pile?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Letterbox Love #19

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey of Narratively Speaking whereby book lovers can exhibit the books they received this week.

Welcome to my 2-week haul post! 

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Firstly, lots of goodies from the library this fortnight. Starting with Slated and Fractured by Teri Terry. I loved Slated, but read it so long ago I can’t remember what happens. So I will be having a double read to remind myself. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher was the winner of the Waterstones’ Childrens Book Prize, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod is an adult book that sounds quite dystopian. I had taken out the hardback, but when I saw my library was getting a paperback I decided to put my name down for that instead. They are just so much easier to handle. The Baby Diaries by Sam Binnie is a book that my mum enjoyed, and I love a good girly book (especially about babies), so I ordered this one. A book that I very nearly bought a couple of weeks ago in Waterstones is Unremembered by Jessica Brody. It sounds a bit like the TV show ‘Lost’, which I adored, so I’m looking forward to checking this out. The last library book is ‘Boy Meets Boy‘ by David Levithan, ordered for the LGBT marathon hosted by Faye of A Daydreamer’s Thoughts. I don’t think I’ve every read any of his books, though a few are on my TBR list, such as Every Day.

Books that I received this week include New Girl by Paige Harbison and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. I won these from Becky at Becky’s Barmy Book Blog for her Spring Clean giveaway. I really loved The Immortal Rules, so I’m excited to see what Julie’s other series is liked. I’m really enjoying Mira Ink’s books at the moment, so fingers crossed for this and New Girl. Becky was kind enough to throw in some bookmarks and badges too which was really sweet. And did I mention the Julie Kagawa is hardback? And glittery! *drools* Thanks very much Becky 🙂

The second and third Metawars books by Jeff Norton, The Dead are Rising and Battle of the Immortal, were sent for review from Rebecca at Hachette. I really enjoyed the first book but wanted more from the characters, so I’m excited to hopefully see their development in the next two! Thanks very much Rebecca for these shiny beauties.

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Last week I was luckily enough to meet Andy Robb, author of Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind and Geekhood: Mission Improbable. Shamefully, I have yet to read the first book, even though I got in in my birthday haul early this year. Luckily, Andy forgave me (I think!) and signed both books (I had with me the first, and bought the second there). He was really lovely, and perhaps one of the nicest, most natural authors I have ever met. We talked for ages, and yet it still felt like I could talk more. From publishers to cover design, blogging and holidays, you name it. He was very nice, which made me feel extra guilty for not having read his books!

While in Waterstones, I also picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I really want to read all of John Green’s books, so owning them is a good start. Oh, and my copy of Geography Club by Brent Hartinger finally came! This is also for Faye’s readathon. I was surprised at how small the book is, but I want to read it before the film is released, so it serves a double purpose 🙂

Ebooks:

Being Henry David

When Love Comes to Town
Thanks to Netgalley and Open Road Media for Being Henry David by Cal Armistead and When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon.

 

 

 

Animate MeLove is a Thief

I’m taking part in the blog tour for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett, so look out for my review in a few weeks! The cover is so adorable.

Love is a Thief by Claire Garber is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while. So thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for this!

FangirlAnd last, but certainly NOT least, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell!!! Although this book isn’t released till September, someone tweeted on Thursday evening that it was on Netgalley. Two minutes later, I had requested it, and thinking about the agony of waiting for the approval/denial. But then when the same person (I can’t remember who!) said they had been approved, it cued my frantic email refreshing. And I did get approved! And I finished it last night. WHAT A WHIRLWIND. St Martin’s Press, I owe you my heart for letting me read this, and approving so quickly.

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of my books and do you think it should be at the top or the bottom of my to read pile? Do you think its shameful to go to an author event without having read their book(s)? I’d love to hear from you! 

Letterbox Love #18

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey of Narratively Speaking whereby book lovers can exhibit the books they received this week.

Welcome to my 2-week haul post! 

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Lots of library love this week! 5 books I had requested and one I picked up. The Accidental Naturalist by Ben Fogle and Choir by Gareth Malone are both autobiographies, and ordered because I love them both! I have been waiting for Gareth’s book since Christmas, so I am excited to finally be able to read it.

I adore Jodi Picout’s books. They just evoke such emotions, and always talk about issues, which I love in books. The Storyteller promises to be no different, and some people have said it is her best yet.

Lots of people have been receiving proofs of the new book by Tanya Byrne, and I still haven’t read her first! So I thought it was time I changed that. Hence the ordering of Heart-Shaped Bruise.

Last but not least, I picked up a copy of Keeping You a Secret by Julie Peters. This is for the LGBT readathon I am doing, hosted by Faye of A Daydreamer’s Thoughts. It’s a genre I am immensely interested in, but have hardly read anything for! Lookout for lots of LGBT themed posts and reviews in the first weekend of May.

 

P1050187I also made a few purchases! Faye did an amazing review of The Secret of Ella and Micha (check it out here) by Jessica Sorensen and so when I saw it in Tesco I snapped it up. I also got The Antenatal Group by Amy Bratley as it was on offer, and I will read anything about babies.

Yet another trip to The Works, yet another bargain book haul. I picked up Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale as I had seen it about, so I thought it was worth getting. I was delighted to find Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I have never read her books, but I know they are talked about a lot by bloggers. I spent about ten minutes trying to decipher which was the first in the series, and thankfully came home with the right one! Before I Forget by Melissa Hill was thrown in to make up the offer, and sounds like a cute amnesia romance.

My last physical books was gifted from Daphne at Winged Reviews. Her and Faye have been raving about Julie Kagawa’s books to me. I managed to get The Immortal Rules in my last bookshop visit, and so she kindly offered to send me a copy of The Eternity Cure so I don’t have to wait to find out what happens! I am loving The Immortal Rules at the moment, so thanks very much for this 🙂

Ebooks:

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)

 

 

Thank you to Penguin and Netgalley for The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I was quite surprised to be approved for this. It sounds like a really good action, dystopian post-apocalyptic kind of novel, which suits my current mood perfectly, so I may be reading this soon!

 

Ink by Amanda Sun has such a pretty cover. I was psyched to get this, as I’ve heard lots of good things so far! Thanks Harlequin and Netgalley.

 

Screwed

Submerged (Outbreak, #1)

 

 

Books about teenage pregnancy always pique my interest, and Screwed by Laurie Plissner is no different. Thanks to Adams Media and Netgalley for a copy of this.

 

I’m taking part in the blog tour with Itching for Books for Submerged by Nicola Sobon. The first in a dystopian duology, I can’t wait to read this. Check back on May 13th for my review!

 

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)

The Forgotten Ones

 

 

Amy from Harper Collins kindly sent me access to Wait For You by Jennifer L Armentrout. It is my first book by her, but I have heard lots of talk about her Lux series, so I’m interested to see what this is like.

 

I’m also part of The Forgotten Ones blog tour by Laura Howard. I love the typography on the title.

 

Find Me

Make it Last (Friends & Lovers, #1)

 

The cover for Find Me by Romily Bernard is just so awesome. And the tagline too! HUGE thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for this, it sounds amazing. I love YA thrillers, and I can’t wait to start this.

I won a copy of Bethany Lopez’s Make It Last from Neyra at Darkest Addictions. I think I have a copy of the second book, so I asked if I could have the first instead of the third, and they kindly obliged!

 

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of my books and do you think it should be at the top or the bottom of my to read pile? I’d love to hear from you!