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Thriller YA

ARC Review: Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Summary

Years ago, the house at the end of the lane burned down. The townspeople never learned what happened, but Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth of what happened that summer—and they’ll never say a word. When they were told they’d be spending their summer with their great aunt, Mae and Rossa were anything but thrilled. But nothing at Rita’s is as it appears. Bevan is enthralled by a dangerous power lurking behind the walls of Rita’s home. The power—known as Sweet James—is hungry, and what he wants most is a taste of the twins. And Bevan wants the magic and escape that Sweet James is offering her. But Sweet James is never satisfied, no matter what Bevan brings him. Mae would give Bevan almost anything—she is in the grip of first love, both dying for Bevan’s attention and worried she’ll get it. But Rossa is learning some of the terrible secrets the house is hiding, secrets that paralyze him with fear. As the summer draws to a close, Bevan tries to free Sweet James from his prison within the walls, but is thwarted by Rita and her cat (who is more than a cat), Bobby Dear.

It’s over for Mae and Rossa, isn’t it? They return home. They don’t talk about the strangeness of that summer. But it never completely abandons them. And things at home only get worse.

And so three years later, Rossa and Mae are sent once again to Rita’s home, as their parents’ marriage finally seems to crumble. At first it seems that the strangeness has dissipated. But Sweet James never left. He has been lurking within the walls, waiting the perfect time to return. He’s been waiting much longer than any of them know—any of them except Rita, who has been keeping secrets of her own. Secrets that bring the house down in flames around them and bring them all to the brink of the things they most want—and what they most fear.

Sarah Maria Griffin is a rare talent with a unique and atmospheric writing style. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints and Libba Bray’s The Diviners will devour this dark and unusual novel.

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Review

Hey, fellow readers! Have you started your reading goals for 2019? Let me know if you have and how many books you’re hoping to compete by the end of the year! I’m going for 50! Anyways, today, I’ll be talking about Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin.

First and foremost, I’d like to state the moral of story: don’t have wallpaper in your house. Just use paint to decorate your walls instead. Just kidding! There is no such thing as moral or definitive lesson in complicated stories. And this book was definitely that. Not only are there multiple POVs that aren’t labelled and leave you guessing who it is sometimes, but there are so many mysteries in this novel. Some of them are only meant to be viewed for a moment and never heard of again. Others are more likely to be mentioned later, especially in relation to Sweet James and Bobby Dear. By the way, if a character is named Sweet James, that’s a red flag for disaster!

Anyways, that’s all I have to say about Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes a good thriller, or Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand. Have any questions about Other Words for Smoke? Send them my way via the Comments Section! And for those of you who are interested, this book is in store on March 12th, 2019.

Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

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ARC Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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Review

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse and molestation 

Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a while, but I’m back with another review, this one being on Sadie by Courtney Summers. While I haven’t read any of Courtney Summer’s other books, as soon as I heard about this one at the latest TeensRead event, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s kind of surprising, since I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, what with me questioning every decision the protagonist makes, but this one seemed different. Possibly because of the podcast element. And I wasn’t wrong.

First of all, I loved the chapters alternating between Sadie’s POV and the podcast transcript. There was just so much story in both. For instance, as one chapter ends, the next POV would carry on seamlessly. The podcast would fill readers in on anything Sadie might have left out in her narration and vice versa. Plus, the storytelling elements for both of these POVs were superb.

Then there were the characters. These were fleshed-out people whose story cannot be contained in a single novel, but the author did an outstanding job in giving readers a glimpse. What I’m trying to say is that the author gives us characters that aren’t good or bad – with the exception of some – but have their own story to tell alongside Sadie’s. And for most of these characters, you feel some level of empathy for them. Especially Sadie. As I’ve said before, a lot of time when I try to read thriller or mystery, I find myself constantly questioning the protagonist and their motivations. Not this time. I understood exactly why Sadie was doing what she was doing and empathized with her throughout the entire novel.

Well, that’s all I have to say about this novel for now. If you’re into true crime podcasts, Macmillan made a fake one for Sadie called The Girls (the name of the podcast in the novel). The first episode is available right now, too! As for the novel, I honestly would recommend this to anyone who likes to read thriller or mystery; it gets you questioning the sad truths about missing girls and how people shouldn’t simply fit them into a stereotype just to make it easier. Fair warning though: the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. And for those of you are interested, Sadie comes out on September 4th, 2018.

Also, after reading Sadie, I plan to read more of Courtney Summer’s novels. If anyone has read one of them and they would like to recommend it, feel free to share the title in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Busted by Gina Ciocco

Summary

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

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Review

My rating:

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Hi, fellow readers! I’m back with another review! Today’s review is on Busted by Gina Ciocco. Now, I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizons, so I thought I’d give this book a go since I don’t typically go for thrillers.  After that book though, I’ve decided to stay away from thrillers, at least for a while… I’m not trying to judge one genre based on one book (although this book did have a role to play in my decision), but after trying to read a couple of thrillers, I just feel that the genre isn’t for me.

Don’t get me wrong; the book had a super interesting plot with the amount of stuff going on! Just when you thought the book was going one way, it uproots you when it goes in a totally different direction! Honestly, by midpoint, I was 100% invested in finding out what was going on. I just didn’t agree with how Marisa, the protagonist, handled it. At. All. However, it did take a little while for me to get interested, since the beginning was a bit boring with all the setup. Oh, and by the end, when the mystery was solved, I didn’t really care for the story anymore. I was just ready for it to be over. But the middle was spectacular in terms of plot.

The characters, though, are another story… Like I said before, I couldn’t believe how Marisa handled things. And I’m not talking about a couple mistakes; more like a mistake every couple of pages! For someone who knows about the power of information, she sure likes to reveal her hand to people before it’s necessary, ruining the impact it might have had otherwise. Sure, there were some things that she couldn’t have possibly guessed would have happened, but a lot of the time, it was Marisa’s insistence in digging deeper and not learning from her mistakes that made me not care for her as a character, let alone the protagonist who gave readers the lay of the land. I honestly took everything she said with a grain of salt…

Well, that’s all I have to say on Busted by Gina Ciocco. While I did find it an interesting read, I wish its protagonist had developed a bit more… But if you’re searching for a good book, plot-wise, then look no further! Has anyone else read Busted yet? And if you have,  what did you think of it? If you have any comments or questions related to Busted, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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