Smokin’ & Cryin’: Reviews
As a child of the ’70s and a lover of this genre of music, this book did not disappoint. From the brilliant storyline told through the perspective of each character, the imagery was on point with the nostalgia the author creates from this era. Loved everything about this book & would highly recommend.
Grace Ombry knocks it out of the park with her sophomore release. Her storytelling makes me crave the moment I get to pick up my book again. She kept me hooked from start to finish with her details and wit. I cannot wait for her to finish another novel!
Ombry’s first novel “State of Love & Trust” was beautifully melancholic and romantic (not unlike a Pearl Jam ballad,) and I expected a similar feel from this one. But wow! Smokin’ and Cryin’ kept me on my toes like a 70s rock band. Every memory, news article, album review and snippet had me wondering what was next. I devoured this novel almost immediately upon opening it up. The twists and turns in this were excellent, and I found myself desperately missing an era I hadn’t even been a part of.
This is a brilliantly crafted book set in the early ’70s about a band and its 16-year-old front-man, Robin Chelsea, and (not a spoiler) his disappearance right before the release of their third album. The story is told through a variety of formats (narrative interspersed with newspaper and magazine articles, occasional letters, and found notes) that develop the story with an intensity that draws you in. It’s filled with deep, believable characters (as was her first book) and a storyline in which everything belongs. The story unfolds with detail that is wonderfully imagined (such that I often forgot it is totally fiction) but never bogging down the pace. You agonize over the challenges, and celebrate the successes of the young band, knowing all the while that _something_ is going to happen. But above all that, what I love most is falling in love with her characters.
I just finished reading this book, and I didn’t ever want to put it down. Grace Ombrey writes a realistic story about a young rock band and their brief career. Her characters feel familiar to music lovers, but then again, they are unique as well. Robin Chelsea is a sweet young man who adapts quickly to all the craziness his life becomes. Arthur is a believable older brother-sometimes protective and sometimes a rival to Robin. I really like how Ombrey writes him as a bit naive and sometimes just oblivious to things happening around his sphere. There’s something a bit familiar about The Odette Brothers. I had fun recognizing some of the real-life elements she modified and incorporated into this novel. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
If I hadn’t had to sleep and work, I would have read it in one sitting!! You must read this book!
While this book is a bit outside my reading realm, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Grace Ombry crafts a compelling, absorbing read about fictional band Smoky Topaz. Her writing and in-depth storytelling had me asking myself if I’d missed it and they were a real band (confession: I actually googled it to make sure). I highly recommend!
I just finished reading Smokin’ and Cryin’. I have had 2 nights reading until after 1:30, and finished it with my morning coffee. If you are looking for a great story get this book. Grace is gifted with the ability to bring the characters to life. Pour a cup of coffee (or honey tea with a plate of pecan sandies) and enjoy.
I truly loved the book and thought I was so lucky to read it for free.
This book is about Robin Chelsea, a fairly normal teenager who ends up becoming the lead singer of American rock band Smoky Topaz in the 1970s. This is an interesting storyline as I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that was so focused on music before, or specifically on the happenings of a band on the rise. It’s a bit of a documentary novel, as it’s filled with poems, pop culture references, documents, letters and interviews which make it more realistic but also more of a young adult novel. I have nothing against that, but I guess some people might. The language and writing style are also very simple and smooth, which make this book feel young, laidback and fresh.
Set in the 70s, the themes of music, being young, family and love come together with sadder themes such as death, addiction, the Vietnam war and the fact that teen boys were sent there to die. In fact, three of the members of Smoky Topaz are veterans from the Vietnam War and Robin himself joined the band to avoid recruitment, which obviously adds a layer to their personalities and interactions. I really liked the funny dynamic between the band members, as their egos clash and as they bond show after show. I also liked the fact that two of the band members, Robin and Arthur, are half-brothers, as it’s not often that I’ve found such a good representation of sibling dynamic in a book.
Even if this book deals with heavy themes and interesting concepts, even conspiracy theories, the part of the novel that deals with the rise of Smoky Topaz is so upbeat and fun that I think on the whole the book is a happy one. I can’t reveal much about the ending, but just know you will be surprised by unexpected twists as you read about what happens to the members of Smoky Topaz as they record their second album, Smokin’ & Cryin’.
In conclusion, I thought this book was cute, easy and fun to read, and anyone with an interest in music or in the 70s era will find this book lovable and worth reading.
I hope you like it too! 🙂 x
On Facebook, Ms. Ombry revealed she had gotten her first bad review & she shared it. It was sooooo bad, I wanted to understand why. OMG what a gift for Ms. Ombry! She is an amazing author! I was hooked from page one. Obviously the last laugh is with this very talented author!
This book was so horribly written, I had to stop after the first 20 pages. She may think she’s Vonnegut, but a child could write better than her. It’s unfortunate that any publishing company would take her seriously and waste our time.