Waiting on Wednesday #48

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

The One Safe Place

In this near-future dystopia with echoes of “The Giver” and “Among the Hidden,” Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling page-turner fast-paced, smooth, filled with dread that s wholly satisfying and startlingly original.

Devin doesn t remember life before the world got hot; he has grown up farming the scorched earth with his grandfather in their remote valley. When his grandfather dies, Devin heads for the city. Once there, among the stark glass buildings, he finds scores of children, just like him, living alone on the streets. They tell him rumors of a place for abandoned children, with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new family. But only the luckiest get there.

An act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the home, but it s soon clear that it s no paradise. As Devin investigates the intimidating administrator and the zombie-like sickness that afflicts some children, he discovers the home s horrific true mission. The only real hope is escape, but the place is as secure as a fortress.

Fans of dystopian fiction and spine-chilling adventure will devour “The One Safe Place”; its haunting themes will resonate long after readers have turned the final page.

For a YA book, The One Safe Place sounds really sinister. Can’t wait to find out more about it!         

Due to be released by Algonquin Books in April 2014 (US) and Orion in January 2015 (UK).

 What are you looking forward to this week?  Please share your WoW in the comments!

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Letterbox Love #24

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

I’m hoping that this book haul post won’t be as long as last week (which was epic!). However, I have received some really good books!

 Won: 

The Rules of You and Me by Shona Norris (ebook)

Thanks to Ellen to Always YA at Heart!

Received for Review:

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick 

Thanks to Headline! 

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Thanks very much Orion! Will try and read this before James’ launch party in August 🙂

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Thanks to Templar! Looking forward to this new series.

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling + other chapter samples

Another great Curious Fox title, thank you!

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma

I cannot express my excitement and gratitude to Random House for this! One of my most anticipated titles 😀

Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Cross my Heart by Carmen Reid

Rolling Dice by Beth Reekles

Thanks to Random House for organising the summer blogger brunch, and for providing these fantastic titles!

Bought:

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Fallout by Sandra Glover

Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig

It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Freebies:

The Last Minute by Eleanor Updale

Blink Once by Cylin Busby

Fuse by Julianna Baggott

Thanks very much to Daphne of Winged Reviews for giving me these!

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

This is only a loan but thank you SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH to Caroline from Big Book Little Book for lending so I can FINALLY read this! Have been waiting for ages and it is amazing so far.

Ebooks: 

The Pool Theory

The Pool Theory by Alexa Nazzaro. Thanks to Patchwork Press and Netgalley.  

Special thanks to Faye, Daphne and Clover for helping my book collection this fortnight! 

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?  How do you like a book haul vlog as opposed to an actual post? I’d love to hear from you! 

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

Book Review: If You Find Me

If You Find Me If You Find Me

by Emily Murdoch

Published: March 2013 by Orion

Rating: 4 sofas

THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND … 

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys. 
Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go … a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

I think I kind of passed over this book when it first enter blogger circles, as I didn’t particularly take to the US cover. However, after reading more and more rave reviews about it, I had to read it. Luckily Nina at Orion was kind enough to send me a copy. If You Find Me has over 2000 reviews on Goodreads and still has a rating of more than 4 stars (at time of posting), which is really rare. This is just one statistic to demonstrate how much people are enjoying this book. However, I still went in to it with dubious expectations.

Straight away we are plunged into Carey’s world in the woods, where her mum leaves her and her sister for weeks at a time in their camper in the woods. When they are discovered and returned to their father, we explore what it is like to readjust to ‘normal’ life. I think one of the reasons I was hesitant of reading this book is it sounded similar to the many sad nonfiction abuse books that are out there. I used to read a lot of these as a teenager, but I read one recently and struggled to finish it. My reading tastes have changed, and while I am interested in scenarios like this, I find reading about them terribly depressing. I like to read to escape normal life and this just isn’t something I currently enjoy reading.

That being said, I really enjoyed If You Find Me. Although it is evident from the start Carey has a secret, I found her adjustment to normal life really interesting, especially the descriptions of the hotel and the food when they first emerge from the woods. It is actually so emotional reading them experience a shower for the first time, and really made me think about how much we take for granted. I love the way the book started at ‘the end’; this highlights how much of the book is a journey. I felt for Carey as a main character, and even something tiny such as her remembering to put a ‘g’ on the end of the words such as ‘nothin’ tugged at my heartstrings.

The only thing I will say that was missing from the book was a bit more action. There was a big build up and a lot of mystery surrounding Carey’s secret, but it was actually something I guessed pretty early on so it fell kinda flat for me. However, the way it was presented and the emotional rollercoaster Carey and Nessa go through is worth reading alone. Emily Murdoch is a great storyteller, and this is a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to seeing what else she has planned, and she is definitely an author to watch. 4 sofas!