Optimists Die First

“Studies show that in general, optimists die ten years earlier than pessimists”

Title: Optimists Die First

Author: Susin Nielsen

Series: Standalone

Publication:  February 21st 2017 by Wendy Lamb Books

Pages: 224

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Beware: Life ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk.


A Listical of Thoughts:

The Good

  • Crazy cat lady = instant love from this other crazy cat lady who read about said crazy cat lady. Meow.
  • NAMING CATS AFTER BOOK CHARACTERS.

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Smash & Grab

“These moments are the only times I ever feel truly alive.”

Title: Smash & Grab

Author: Amy Christine Parker

Series: Standalone

Publication:  July 19th 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.


Heists. Heists everywhere.

Not that it is a bad thing, of course. Smash  & Grab is a fun, exciting, and entertaining fiasco of bank robberies and boy meets girl. While it is hilarious and action packed, it also suffers from a disappointing amount of unrealistic adventures. Not being able to believe in the characters and what they were doing made it very difficult to get in to, despite how much I enjoyed it.

Smash & Grab is a lot of fun. Really, really fun. I loved watching the various plots all weave together and then go out with a big bang at the end. The characters were wonderful, albeit a bit cookie-cutter rich girl and boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The robberies are hilarious, easy – but hilarious. Smash & Grab  is a peculiar kind of book that entertains you even though you find all the little (and not so little) flaws along the way.

My biggest issue with the book was, surprisingly, the execution of the robberies. It is not that easy. Robbing a bank, especially a high-end bank, is not as easy as One-Two-Three, tie up a guard here and there, flash some metal, and then roll around in the money. I wouldn’t have had a problem with the ease of their subterfuge, if not for the fact that they were first timers who had never robbed anything before and then literally had their money handed to them on a silver platter (not literally, but you get my meaning). To compare, I’m bringing in (unfairly) a favorite of mine. Six of Crows. The power of Six of Crows is that even though the heists are completely ridiculous, there is such meticulous planning and an awful lot of hard work that goes into each and every step that it makes it impossible not to believe. That is not the case here. Don’t get me wrong, folks, I still loved the book – but if you’re a stickler for being realistic, you might have an issue here, too.

The characters are amazing. They could probably do with more development throughout the novel considering it is a standalone – but they weren’t bad. Lexi drove me bonkers. Spoiled brat who is cold to the bone and takes no prisoners in a way that is probably meant to be endearing but failed on epic proportions? Check. While she is/was/possibly could be considered as the protagonist, she was a very difficult protagonist to get behind. They both were, Lexi and Christian. Christian wasn’t as bad, but he was just as unbelievable. I guess you’re probably wondering why I called them amazing, huh? Lexi and Christian are amazing because, despite their obvious flaws both in character and then in execution of the book itself, they do sort of pull you in against your will and make you feel things. You might not be rooting for them, but you’ll end up caring in some way, shape, or form about the outcome of their tale. It’ll take you by surprise, trust me.

Smash & Grab was an entertaining debacle. Filled with heists, a plethora of side characters, and cute criminals that deserve their own song, Smash & Grab was an adventure of a read perfect for fans of Ocean’s Eleven or anything else heist related.


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Alight

“If it’s war they want, they messed with the wrong girl.”

Title: Alight

Author: Scott Sigler

Series: The Generations Trilogy # 2

Publication: April 5th 2016 by Del Rey

Pages: 448

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications.

My Thoughts:

Scott Sigler, you have done it again you slimy bastard. This book… ugh.. how am I even supposed to talk about this book? Much like Alive, Alight has left me in a very peculiar predicament. I CAN’T TELL YOU WHAT I LIKE AND DISLIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK WITHOUT SPOILING EVERYTHING! Alight is a wondrous tomb you must explore for yourself to get the full effect of the mummy jumping out of the corner, you get me? I can’t tell you about the characters, I can’t tell you about the plot, I can’t do didily squat. So, instead, I’m going to do one of the things I do best and leave a string of gifs in my wake. Enjoy, you precious people you. Interpret this as you will.

Do with those gifs what you will, the meaning is up to you (though it will make sense when you read the book). Alight is an amazing adventure with twists and turns so catty-wompus you won’t know what hit you until it’s too late. You will be left with unanswered questions, surpassed expectations, and a mind full of so much ‘wowza’ you won’t know what to do with yourself until October. If you haven’t started this series yet, shame on you. Get on this bandwagon, it’s a darn good one.

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Waiting On Wednesday # 25

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week’s Waiting On Wednesday is The Passion of Dolsa by Julie Berry!

Publication: April 12th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary from Goodreads:

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Mecomes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

So, in case you haven’t noticed by now, I sort of have an obsession with Historical Fiction and pretty covers… and this book is both. I mean, LOOK AT IT! Ugh.. why does it have to be so pretty? Can the book world pity my wallet for once? No. Fine, I happily surrender to The Passion of Dolsa and whatever I must do to get my hands on a copy. It sounds so intriguing, obviously one of those slow-burny kinda books that make you want to die but you love it all the same. Yea, I want it and I want it now. 

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Coming Soon: April 2016

HEY! HEY! HEY! It’s the start of a new month, you know what that means? That’s right. MORE BOOKS. Yippie! Check out fifteen of my most anticipated releases for this month.

1. Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs

Summary from Goodreads:

Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life–or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can’t say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she’ll be set for life.

Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there. But when the time travelers arrive in the future, something goes wrong and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates.

Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself.

April 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman & Company

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2. Eleven Things I Promised by Catherine Clark

Summary from Goodreads:

Catherine Clark has crafted a poignant story about the distances one girl is willing to go in the name of friendship that is at once funny, heartbreaking, and utterly romantic.

Seventeen-year-old Frances wouldn’t describe herself as adventurous. Until now . . .

Frances has one week—while she’ll be away from home competing in a high school bike race—to do every single thing on the Fix-It List. Ten crazy, totally out-of-character ideas her best friend, Stella, came up with to make the bike ride unforgettable. However, as each item on the F-It List opens Frances up to new adventures, new friends, and possibly even a new romance, it becomes increasingly difficult for Frances to keep the one promise that she knows she absolutely must obey—her promise to not tell anyone the truth about the accident that left Stella broken and angry, and started Frances on her quest to complete the list.

When it comes to friendship, Frances must decide what distances she’s willing to go, and what risks she’s willing to take, for the person she cares about the most.

April 5th 2016 by HarperTeen

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3. Boys of Summer by Jessica Brody

Summary from Goodreads:

Welcome to Winlock Harbor…

Best friends since they were kids, Grayson, Mike, and Ian were hoping for another epic summer on “The Locks”, filled with clam bakes, bonfires, and late-night swims in the ocean.

But that was before Ian’s dad never returned home from his last deployment. Before Mike had to take on more responsibility in order to help provide for his family. Before Grayson’s accident left him with an injured throwing arm and an uncertain future.

It’s clear this summer on the island is shaping up to be very different from those Grayson, Mike, and Ian have come to rely on. And when the sacred code of dating a friend’s sister or ex is broken, it will push their friendship to the absolute limit, testing their loyalties in a way that could either break them—or save them.

April 5th 2016 by Simon Pulse

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4. Burning by Danielle Rollins

Summary from Goodreads:

After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

April 5th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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5. Alight by Scott Sigler

Summary from Goodreads:

Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications.

April 5th 2016 by Del Rey

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Review of Alive

6. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Summary from Goodreads:

An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times

The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person–a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

Meticulously researched, intricately plotted, and beautifully written, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice in historical fiction.

April 5th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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7. When We Collided by Emery Lord

Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

April 5th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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8. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Summary from Goodreads:

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

April 5th 2016 by HarperCollins

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9. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Summary from Goodreads:

For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea.

After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself—even though she’s falling in love with him.

Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else’s property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

April 5th 2016 by Razorbill

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10. The Memory Jar by Elissa Janine Hoole

Summary from Goodreads:

Since the accident, Taylor’s memory has been fuzzy. But at least she’s awake. Who knows what her boyfriend, Scott, will remember when he comes out of the coma. Will he remember that Taylor was driving the snowmobile when it crashed? Will he remember the engagement ring? Her pregnancy?

Will he remember that she tried to break up with him?

Taylor doesn’t know. And she doesn’t know if she wants him to remember. Plenty of things happened that night and before—secrets wrapped in secrets—that she’d prefer be forgotten.

Facing choices she’d rather ignore, Taylor searches for something more solid than whispers and something bigger than blame to face the future and forgive herself.

April 8th 2016 by Flux

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11. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Summary from Goodreads:

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Mecomes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

April 12th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers

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12. Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

Summary from Goodreads:

There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their “important family legacy,” she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

April 26th 2016 by HarperTeen

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13. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Summary from Goodreads:

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

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14. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary from Goodreads:

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

April 26th 2016 by Scholastic Press

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15. Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Summary from Goodreads:

A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.

That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.

Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They’ll need Garret’s skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.

April 26th 2016 by Harlequin TEEN

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses

“At some point I stopped waiting for Mama to come back. It’s hard to hold on to a five-year-old dream, and even harder to remember people after ten years.”

Title: The Smell of Other People’s Houses

Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Series: Standalone

Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Wendy Lamb Books

Pages: 240

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.


Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

My Thoughts:

First things first, the language in The Smell Of Other People’s Houses is absolutely stunning and it beautifully illustrates the complexity of the issue at hand. When I was reading this book, I felt like I was actually there while simultaneously watching a carefully crafted masterpiece unfold before my eyes. Each word matters, each sentence is a piece of art that cannot be overlooked – just like the book itself.

The Smell Of Other People’s Houses is the story of four Alaskan teens in the nineteen-seventies whom are thrown together through their various secrets and who must learn to live with what they have been given. Each of their individual stories was astounding, not to mention the gorgeous complexity of their lives when they are suddenly thrust together. Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank – each has a secret or something they are running from, and each must learn to rely on someone else to bear the weight of their struggles. The development of the characters, hell, the development of the plot throughout the book as a whole was breathtaking. It was simply stunning. Watching these teens -these real people -work through issues that they shouldn’t have to and yet everyone can connect to in some way, brings forth one of the most profound stories in Young Adult fiction I think I’ve ever seen.

I knew nothing of The Smell Of Other People’s Houses when I got it – no synopsis, no prior mention, nada. I went down the rabbit hole that is four teens in Alaska without knowing what I was getting myself into – and boy am I glad I did. In all honesty, I think not knowing made the experience all the more powerful. I had no prior expectations, no idea what it was about – all I knew was that the cover was gorgeous and the title made me giggle. I have to say, this book is one of those rare, inevitably captivating stories that will grab you by the ankles and drag you kicking and screaming into these teen’s lives. It will make you stop and think about what your home means to you, it will make you question everything you think you know – and it will make you realize that everyone, and everything, has a story, too.

One thing I really liked, besides the obvious, was the amount of information I learned. I don’t know how much is true and just what is fictionalized for the plot of the book, but the complete other-worldliness of Alaska and the different ways these people live just blew my mind. From the very first page, and I’m talking the Prologue here, I found myself undoubtedly and impossibly enraptured with the differences. For example, right off the bat Ruth is explaining how her favorite cut of meat is Backstrap – something I’ve never heard of – and she describes how her father carving the deer is just as graceful as her mother curling ribbons on presents. Just think about that for a second. Not only is there a beautiful juxtaposition of language, but the whole process of carving a deer carcass within the home has become so normal to her that she compares it with gift wrapping. It blew my mind, to be honest.  That isn’t the only example, but there are far too many for me to ever accurately explain. Just… read it and see for yourself.

The Smell Of Other People’s Houses is, hands down, one of the most interesting books I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far this year. Not only is the plot unique and interesting, it is specifically centered around a subculture we never pause to think about – hell, it was something I never even knew really existed. The Smell Of Other People’s Houses is a heartbreaking tale that isn’t afraid to deal with hard hitting issues such as teen pregnancy, death, abandonment, abuse, racism, and poverty. It was breathtaking, plain and simple.

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Teaser Tuesday # 21

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is for The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock!

“I can still hear how the knife sounded when metal scraped bone. Backstrap was the best cut, my favorite, and Daddy sliced it off the deer’s spine as beautifully as Mamma curled ribbons on presents.”

When I went back to my own house, which held nothing but the faint scent of mold in secondhand furniture-also known as guilt and sin.

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