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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves. But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name. Now Smoke i…

Holding Smoke

by Elle Cosimano

Overall Book Review:

Taut.  Intense.  Thought-provoking. Penetrating. And, at times, heart-breaking.  From the first word to the last, Holding Smoke will hold the reader. Author Elle Cosimano puts the reader behind the bars and inside the heart and mind of the protagonist, Smoke.  Nothing is sugar-coated here.  The characters are cracking; the plot intriguing; the premise utterly original.  This book is part action, part mystery/crime, part paranormal, but all authentic. 

Ms. Cosimano’s writing isn’t a blurring of black and white, but rather a reminder that life and people are complex and multi-dimensional.  An intelligent and brilliant novel that intertwines multiple themes all while delivering a great story.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Disney-Hyperion

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  9 religious exclamations; 108 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 3 derogatory names; 44 scatological; 22 anatomical term; 3 offensive hand gesture; 19 F-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Characters get into a fist fight, injuries; references to why different inmates are in prison (e.g. abused kid burned his father alive, stabbings, drug-dealings, etc.); father is in prison for attempted murder of son; brief description of a dead person found with fingers chewed off, etc.; teenage female character knees adult male who is trying to exchange drugs for sexual favors; teenager character has bruises on face (evidence of abuse); character remembers “bleeding puddles” on the floor; character remembers in detail stabbing with knife and bleeding; character wants to choke someone and beat them with a Maglite; adult in authority crushes throat of minor in custody, threatens verbally, hits in stomach with Maglight; report someone shanked another in the eye; description of knife going into a body and coming out, mention of blood; extended flashback to when father beat a character with a wrench, descriptive; man seen hitting a woman; extended, descriptive scene of violence with blood creeping on the floor, splattered on the wall; character describes the murders of two individuals; teenage girl attacked and she fights back; thoughts of violence; paranormal/ghost; report of a suicide; description of injuries; character is attacked, with a couple of sentences indicating that he is most likely going to be sexually assaulted, but it is stopped; characters kidnapped and restrained; man grabs teenage girl and knocks unconscious; character intentionally cuts self, drawing blood; wire forced into head; riot/brawl, general description; held and threatened at gun point; death threats; scene of shooting and physical confrontation, resulting in deaths.

Sex/Nudity:  References to sugar daddy, perverts, trading sexual favors, stripper club, several lewd comments; couple is seen kissing passionately/aggressively; teenage character is “dressed down with eyes” by older men; older man tries to force affections on teenage girl; kiss on cheek (platonic); character has a hickey; reference to laying someone’s girlfriend; teenage boy and teacher are (falsely) accused of inappropriate relationship; reference to pornographic magazines; teenager auditions in a club to pole dance; teenager is told she isn’t physically developed enough to be a dancer; character is naked in a shower and is attacked with a couple of sentences indicating that he is most likely going to be sexually assaulted, but it is stopped.

Mature Subject Matter:

Parental abandonment of child, physical child abuse, crime (all sorts), murder, death, drug-dealing, prison/incarceration, realities of prison life, afterlife, paranormal.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reference to convicted drug dealer; reference to making hooch in fruit cups; underage girl working in a bar; reference to track marks on arms; drugs; adults drinking at dinner; adult tries to obtain personal favors by trading drugs.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!