Book Reviews

Other Words for Smoke

by Sarah Maria Griffin

Young Adult – Suitable for 14+

Mae and Rossa are twins beginning to unravel from one another as they come to terms with who they are. Sent to their Aunt’s house for the Summer, they meet the enthralling Bevan and a talking cat named Bobby Dear.  As the story simultaneously unravels, we learn that supernatural forces live within the walls of the house, bent on manipulation and power, feeding on fear. This beautifully odd coming of age tale is woven with layers of magical realism and dark Irish history. It is stunning.

Review by Doreen Lundon, JCSP Librarian, Mount Seskin Community College.


by Jordan Ifueko

Young Adult – Fantasy – Mythology – Suitable for 14+

Tarisai has always craved her evasive mother’s approval, but when sent to infiltrate the palace of the Crown Prince and complete an act of violence, family loyalty is tested. Close new bonds are formed with Tarisai’s new chosen family, the Prince and his Council of Eleven.  Tarisai must not only choose her own path, but carve it out. Sure to appeal not only to young adults, this West African inspired fantasy is refreshingly unusual and dark, yet full of colour, joy and Nigerian mythology.

Review by Doreen Lundon, JCSP Librarian, Mount Seskin Community College.

The Gifted, the Talented and Me

by William Sutcliffe

Young Adult – Suitable for 14+

“We’re rich!” said Mum, leaping up with Freya still in her arms and beginning to dance around the kitchen. “We’re rich! We’re rich! Goodbye, Stevenage! Goodbye cramped, boxy little house! It’s going to be a whole new life! Nobody believed he could do it but he did! He made it! We’re rich!” “How rich?” said Ethan. “Comfortable” said Dad. “Stinking” said Mum “Not stinking, “ said Dad. “Mildly smelly”. …read more

All The Bad Apples

by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Young Adult – Suitable for 14+

This book opens with a killer paragraph that had me gripped from the start “On my seventeenth birthday, two things happened. I came out to my family (somewhat by accident). And my sister Mandy disappeared. Died. … But I knew Mandy wasn’t dead.” We are soon immersed in Deena’s everyday life, and the threatening air of mystery that starts to become entangled with the regular everyday events of her school and relationship struggles. The book has an ominous start as we begin to feel Deena is haunted, and there is worse to come. Then events take a stranger turn, and we begin to wonder what is real and what is magical, what is lies and what is the truth. …read more


by Sarah Crossan

Young Adult – Suitable for 15+

Toffee is Sarah Crossan’s most recent Young Adult novel, and like her others, it is a novel written in verse. The novel opens with “Toffee” (real name Allison), on the run from her abusive father. She finds secret shelter in the home of Marla, who has dementia.  At the beginning, Marla and Allison are grasping to remember who they really are. Marla because of her dementia, and Allison because she has buried so much of her identity and memories in order to survive. Gradually they begin to recover parts of themselves, and in their recovery, they grow closer and help each other to find a little happiness and comfort. …read more

Final Draft

by Riley Redgate

Young Adult – Suitable for 14+

Meet Laila Piedra, a straight-laced student with a love for reading, watching and more particularly writing sci-fi. When her favourite teacher and number one writing fan, Mr. Madison, is hurt in a car accident, Laila starts to look at her writing differently. She has a new-found feeling of lived experience that affects what goes into her stories. A new teacher is assigned to her creative writing class to replace Mr. Madison, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who is unimpressed with Laila’s work. She pushes Laila to step away from her stories and to take risks, something she has successfully avoided her whole life. …read more


by Max Porter

Young Adult – Suitable for 15+

“Dead Papa Toothwort is awake. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to his English symphony. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, enchanting boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny. “ Papa Toothwort is a the kind of boogey man that every kid in Lanny’s village tells scary stories about – every adult too – but nobody believes he’s real. That’s because they can’t sense things the way Lanny can. But Papa Toothwort is always listening. …read more