Review: Other Words for Smoke

Title: Other Words for Smoke
Author: Sarah Maria Griffin
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Review:

This was an exciting story. It’s unique because it’s a mix of suspense, fantasy, and a little bit of horror.

This story was unique in the narratives. The focus switched between characters. Most of it was written in third person, but when it switched to Bevan’s perspective it became second person. I’ve only read a short story written from the second person perspective, so this was new to me. In second person, the narrator speaks to “you.” Bevan was in an unusual position in the story, so it makes sense that she had an unusual narrative.

The ending of the story was quite surprising. I loved the mix of horror and fantasy. There were a lot of magical elements, such as a cat who could talk and an owl who lived in the walls of the house. I think it has elements of horror too, in the way that the house’s layout would change, which disturbed the characters. I really liked this mix of genres.

I loved this story! It’s a great, unique book.

What to read next:

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Light Between
Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Have you read Other Words for Smoke? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Standalone Books That Need a Sequel. Here’s my list:

1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

2. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

3. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

4. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

5. The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes

6. The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

7. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

8. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

9. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

10. American Panda by Gloria Chao

(All photos taken from Goodreads)

Review: Opposite of Always

Title: Opposite of Always
Author: Justin A. Reynolds
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves. 

Review:

I’m so excited about this book!

I love time travel stories so I was interested in how this story would work. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, because Jack keeps living the same period of time over and over again so that he can save his girlfriend. Even though he did travel back in time, it wasn’t a science fiction story. It’s contemporary with a diverse cast.

There was a lot of diversity and representation in this story. The main characters were black. Kate has a chronic illness called sickle cell disease. I had heard of it before, but I didn’t know the details of the disease before reading this story. It is so important to have representation of different medical conditions, as well as different ethnicities, so that a variety of readers can see themselves in stories. I was very happy to see this in this story.

This is a fun story that is heartbreaking at times. It’s hard to put down, because you will want to know how it ends! I loved this book!

What to read next:

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Have you read Opposite of Always? What did you think of it?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – March 11

This blog meme is hosted by Book Date. It is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

What I just finished:

This weekend I finished Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds.

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin.

What I’m reading next:

Next I will be reading Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams.

What are you guys reading this week? Have you read any of these books?

Jill’s Weekly Wrap-Up – March 10

Here are my reviews for the week with my ratings:

I did 9 weekly blogging memes:

I also posted:

How was your week? What did you guys read?

Sundays in Bed With… Opposite of Always

The meme that dares to ask what book has been in your bed this morning? Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed, or which book you wish you had time to read today! This meme is hosted by Midnight Book Girl.

This Sunday I’m reading Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves. 

What book are you in bed with today?

Six for Sunday – Favourite Illustrators

This meme is hosted by Steph at A little but a lot. The weekly prompts for 2019 can be found here.

This week’s prompt is Favourite Illustrators:

1. Mo Willems

2. Sarah Andersen

3. Lissa Treiman

4. Amanda Conner

5. Michael Martchenko

6. Ben Clanton

Did you write a #SixforSunday post? What was your list of Favourite Illustrators?