Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher | Review

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher | ReviewKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Published by Little Brown on November 12, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 261
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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3 Stars

Dear Mr. S. Harris,
Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe. . . .

I know what it's like.

Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago.

Zoe has an unconventional pen pal--Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.

Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story--somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Ketchup Clouds has one of the most unique premises that I’ve read in a while. I had high hopes for an intriguing read unlike any I’d read before. While I definitely found it to be a unique story, I had quite a few issues with it.

Zoe is an unusual character. She writes to a man on death row because she feels like she can relate to him and his situation. She also knows that he will never tell anyone her story. She admits to him that she killed someone and the rest of the book is spent exploring exactly how and why she thinks she killed someone. It’s a captivating story that had me guessing for a while but there were definitely issues.

First off there was Zoe. She seemed very cold and detached. I never felt like I could relate to her. Everything with her was almost clinical. I wanted to see her emotions. She was confessing to killing someone, someone close to her, yet she never seemed torn up about it. I could not connect to her at all and I found myself just wanting to get to the end of the book so I could be done with it.

The other characters weren’t much better. Her parents were a little too detached and involved in their own drama. They paid very little attention to what was actually going on with their kids. The sibling dynamic was interesting though. I actually enjoyed the relationships of the three sisters. That was the only time I could really get any emotions from Zoe. As for the boys, well, they were just meh for me. I couldn’t see why Zoe was interested in one of them when the other one was clearly perfect for her. I don’t want to give anything away though so that’s all I will say about that part.

Overall, Ketchup Clouds is a unique, interesting read but not something I’d ever re-read. If you have nothing better to read on a rainy day, give this one a try. It’s a quick, suspenseful read that will leave you thinking.

What others are saying about Ketchup Clouds:
slatebreakers’ review: “Mystery readers will be intrigued by the “what really happened” element, and contemporary realism fans will appreciate the authenticity of Zoe’s voice, her boy troubles, and her expertly written family dynamic.” 
 
Fluttering Butterflies’ review: “Annabel Pitcher is a remarkable writer.” 
 
The Hiding Spot’s review: “I want to take this book and press it in to the hands of every reader I know.” 
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Elect (Eagle Elite #2) by Rachel Van Dyken | Review

Elect (Eagle Elite #2) by Rachel Van Dyken | ReviewElect by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Eagle Elite #2
Published by Forever on December 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 267
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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3 Stars

Would you die for the one you love?

Nixon Abandonato made his choice. And now he has to pay the price. Tracey is the love of his life, but being with him has made her a target of his family's enemies. The only way to keep Trace alive is convince the world she means nothing to him.

Trace Rooks has fallen irrevocably in love with the son of her family's sworn rival, and she knows in her bones nothing can tear them apart. Until Nix suddenly pushes her away and into the arms of his best friend... But Trace isn't ready to give up on a future with Nix--and if he won't fight for them, she will.

In the end, a sacrifice must be made. A life for a life. For what better way to cover a multitude of sins than with the blood of a sinner . . .

A while back I kind of tore apart the first book in this series, Elite. I really did not have very many good things to say about it. For some reason I decided to give the second book a shot and I’m actually glad I did. While I didn’t love it, it was a definitely improvement over the first book and I enjoyed it.

Trace and Nixon have matured a bit since the end of Elite. I wasn’t impressed with how their relationship was so hot and cold in the first book and that definitely improved with this book. Sure they were still really obsessed with each other but they seemed to know more about being in a relationship this time around. They talked to each other more and they tried to work things out together this time. They didn’t manage to work things out together but at least they tried this time around.

The story was a lot more intense than the first book and I wasn’t sure that was possible. This time things were officially life or death. Nixon and Trace love each other but their relationship is forbidden. How do you fix this? You have your best friend (who just happens to be in love with your girlfriend) pretend to date your girlfriend so that nobody suspects you. Yeah, that seems like a good plan. That’s not the real drama though. The real drama starts when the Sicilians come to town and threaten to take matters into their own hands if the killers of Trace’s parents aren’t found and brought to justice. Seems simple, right? Not so much. It’s up to Trace, Nixon, Chase, and the rest of the ragtag group of teenage mobsters to find out who did it and bring them to justice. Things are definitely intense.

Overall, I still had flaws with Elect but I ended up enjoying it much more than the first book. If you’ve already started this series, definitely continue it.

What others are saying about Elect:
 
The Book Bellas’ review: “This is an action-packed, mafia-themed book with some romance that includes a hint of a classic love triangle.” 
 
The Lusty Literate’s review: “I really enjoyed ELITE and was pleased to find that ELECT successfully continued the Eagle Elite thrill ride with drama and passion to spare.”
 
Dark Faerie Tales’ review: “Elect was very different from its predecessor.”
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Where You’ll Find Me by Erin Fletcher | Review

Where You’ll Find Me by Erin Fletcher | ReviewWhere You'll Find Me by Erin Fletcher
Published by Entangled TEEN on January 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 211
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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3 Stars

When Hanley Helton discovers a boy living in her garage, she knows she should kick him out. But Nate is too charming to be dangerous. He just needs a place to get away, which Hanley understands. Her own escape methods (vodka, black hair dye, and pretending the past didn't happen) are more traditional, but who is she to judge?

Nate doesn't tell her why he's in her garage, and she doesn't tell him what she's running from. Soon, Hanley's trading her late-night escapades for all-night conversations and stolen kisses. But when Nate's recognized as the missing teen from the news, Hanley isn't sure which is worse: that she's harboring a fugitive, or that she's in love with one.

Where You’ll Find Me is a fun, quick read that really didn’t surprise me in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it’s a rather predictable read that won’t really shock anyone.

Hanley might be one of the dumbest protagonists I’ve ever read about. She finds a random teenage guy living in her garage and one of the first things that pops into her mind is how attractive he is. I’m not even kidding. I don’t know about you guys but usually if there is some random person living in my garage, I think about calling the cops not about how pretty his eyes are. That’s not Hanleys reaction. She kicks Nate out but when he shows back up she decides to let him stay since it’s cold outside. No questions asked. This is even after he tells her that he can’t stay in a homeless shelter because they check ids. That’s kind of a red flag.

Nate is almost as bad. He’s this mysterious guy who is holing up in Hanley’s garage but he has money to buy food at the food court and clothes when Hanley wants to go on a date with him. How dumb is that? If I was homeless I would not be buying a new shirt for a date with the girl whose garage I’m living in. His reasoning for being homeless was not as bad as I expected and I actually found myself tearing up at his story. He was more fleshed out than Hanley and I appreciated that at least.

Hanley’s back-story really got on my nerves. She lost someone close to her and she completely shut down. She didn’t let anyone get close to her after that. That’s understandable to me but then she got mad at people for not trying to get close to her. She was very hot and cold. And then she meets a random homeless guy and decides to let him get close to her and know things that no one else does? It was unrealistic to me.

Overall, this review really doesn’t show any good things about Where You’ll Find Me but there were a few. It really was a fun read once I got past my issues with Hanley and Nate. If you have some free time on a rainy day, give this one a chance.

What others are saying about Where You’ll Find Me:

Conversations of a Reading Addict’s review: “This is a coming of age story that will break your heart into pieces at times.”

Closet Geeks and Slow Mo’s review: “The story was well paced and so well written, that I read this in one sitting.”

City of Books’ review: “Where You’ll Find Me is clearly a YA contemporary you don’t want to miss.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Blog Tour: The A Circuit by Georgina Blomberg and Catherine Hapka | Review

Blog Tour:  The A Circuit by Georgina Blomberg and Catherine Hapka | ReviewThe A Circuit by Catherine Hapka, Georgina Bloomberg
Series: The A Circuit #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 24, 2011
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 250
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse shows. It's a world with its own rules and superprivileged lifestyles. Teens travel the circuit all year, showing horses that cost as much as some homes.

Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student-every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. She's used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barn's resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then there's Zara. She's the wild child of a famous rockstar, but she's ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?

Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

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The A Circuit has been described as a cross between Canterwood Crest and The A List.  I can definitely say that that’s a pretty good description of it and I can also say that I enjoyed it greatly.  It’s not going to become one of my all-time favorites but I think it’s a great book for horse lovers!

Kate, Tommi, and Zara have one thing in common:  their love of horses.  Kate is a poor student who happened to fall into the good graces of Jamie, the trainer at Pelham Lane Stables.  Tommi is the daughter of a billionaire who is looking for a way to make horses her career.  Zara is the daughter of a rock star who is just looking for the next party.  It doesn’t seem like anything could bring these girls together but the stable does and it also brings new challenges that each girl must face.

Kate and Tommi were very likable characters but Zara was not.  She was rude, spoiled, bratty, and just plain inconsiderate.  There was nothing about her that I liked through the whole book.  Hopefully she will grow up as the series goes on.  As for Kate, she was nice but she was naive and so obsessed with the barn and horses.  Tommi was smart, practical, and very cool.  She was my favorite of the three girls.

The plot was a bit slow.  Nothing seemed to happen for a while and even when it did, it wasn’t all that exciting.  I don’t know anything about horses or shows so everything was also a little confusing to me.  Not so bad that I couldn’t read it though.

Overall, The A Circuit is one I would recommend to people who actually know something about horses already.  It’s a really quick read and I think the series holds great appeal.

What others are saying about The A Circuit: 

Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf’s review: “Full of horses, drama, and a dose of depth, The A Circuit is a great lazy day read.”

Harmony Book Reviews’ review: “The A Circuit is full of rich girl drama and not a whole lot of substance, while still pulling the reader in.”

Novel Reaction’s review: “It was interesting to see the dynamics that come with showing horses competitively while still in high school.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do-Over by Niki Burnham

Do-Over by Niki BurnhamDo-Over by Niki Burnham
Series: Royally Jacked #3
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 26, 2006
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

When it comes to love, how many chances do you get?

Girl meets prince. Girl looses prince. Girl gets prince back -- right? Well, that's what Valerie is hoping. She's back in Schwerinborg after spending some time with her mother in the good ol' US of A, and hopes that sparks are still flying between her and Georg. At first it looks like things are going great, until a ski trip to the Alps has Val and Georg's romance hitting some moguls. Could Val's love life be heading for a face-plant?

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In my opinion, this was one of the better books in the Simon Pulse romantic comedy collection. I think that Niki Burnham is one of the best authors in this series. I felt like maybe I could relate to these characters more than some of the others. I really liked Valerie and her friends. They seemed really funny and more like actual people than some other characters in books. The one thing that I didn’t really like, though, was how perfect Georg seemed. It was like Valerie was the only one in the relationship with flaws. It may make the book more like a fairytale but it isn’t realistic that he would be that fine with anything that Valerie may have done to mess up their relationship. There wasn’t a whole lot of plot to this book but it was still a really cute, easy read.