Cover Image: Looking for Smoke

Looking for Smoke

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Wow. That is the feeling I have about Looking For Smoke. Firstly, a wow because this is K.A. Cobell’s debut novel. She did an awe-inspiring job of writing a mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the book’s end. She did an incredible job presenting the Blackfeet culture to readers who likely know little about it. The book dynamically depicts their culture – the beautiful ceremonies that are so significant for the Blackfeet, the immediacy and fidelity of their kinship, and the bleak lack of hopefulness about their future. And her characterization! A huge wow. The characters became well-known and understood, and I felt great compassion for each. She was also phenomenal at bringing a critical issue to light; it is so often ignored. The underlying theme of the novel is the horrifying number of Indigenous women and girls who go missing or are murdered each year. Eighty-four percent of Native women have experienced violence. The murder rate of Native women is three times that of white women. The MMIW, or Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement, is attempting to draw attention to these shocking statistics. The issue is something everyone should investigate; even young people should be aware of the problem. This is a breathtaking debut novel; its message is not just for young people. Thank you to Harper Collins for creating Heartdrum, an imprint for Native American writers, and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.

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This book has such a great build up. From the characters to the storyline. I was hooked trying to figure out who could be the killer. Also, why were Ray Bear and Sam killed.

However, the end was so abrupt, I had to go back and see if I had just suddenly missed a chapter. I was let down that the author spent so much time on character development and then the last chapter is the ties up loose ends.

Further, the ending really didn't make sense. I felt that there needed to be more substance, more power behind the ending then the one the author gave.

I think that the author has a good work of fiction here, however, that ending needs A TON OF work.

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I loved the story, the world building and meeting the different characters. I felt completely immersed in the story and couldn't stop reading it.

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This was an incredible read about the disappearance of an indigenous teen followed by the murder of another. The tale is fictional but highlights the danger and indifference facing indigenous women, The story is intricate and follows the lives of the youth on the reservation. The social problems on the reservation mirror the rest of the world but are magnified due to the limited options for advancement and growth. Many of the challenges facing the res come into play in this mystery. Having the podcast run in the background to highlight the statistics was an innovative means to relay this information. I was quickly drawn into the story and couldn't put it down once I started it. The author has masterfully woven fact into a fictional mystery, crafting a compelling read that will motivate you to follow up on MMIW and the No More Stolen Sisters movement.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this book.

I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would.

I found it educational, entertaining and fast moving.

I think the author did an excellent job building the characters and with the setting and story telling. I could picture the place in my mind and see the characters.

I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend.

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Looking for Smoke is a fast-paced debut novel that starts out pretty quickly with the murder of an Indigenous teenage girl during the first day of the North American Indian Days celebration.

It changes perspectives between four of the murdered girl's classmates and one unknown narrator. One of the perspectives is Loren, whose sister has been missing for three months and is best friends with Samantha, who was the girl murdered at the celebration.

Mara is another narrator. She just recently moved to the reservation with her parents. The last two narrators, Brody and Eli First Kill, are cousins and each others' best friends. These three all have secrets they need to keep hidden.

The four narrators somewhat band together to try to find out who the killer is. I thought I had the mystery solved several times throughout the book, but I'm not very good at that.

Overall, I really enjoyed how fast-paced it was. I would recommend it.

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You will never guess this is a debut novel. K.A. Cobell weaves mystery, culture, loss, and addiction into a young adult book that is impossible to put down.

Set near Browning and Glacier Park in Montana, high schoolers are determined to find the killer of their Indigenous friends.

This book addresses important and powerful themes, and is appropriate for readers in high school and up.

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I've been interested in K.A. Cobell's debut after it received such glowing attention during PitchWars--and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.

A thriller with a pounding heart, LOOKING FOR SMOKE encapsulates and elevates what makes this genre so exciting: it weaves poignant social commentary and aching character relationships into its twists. Cobell is a powerful writer with tight control over her craft.

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Looking for Smoke is the gripping tale of what happens when a girl goes missing in plain sight. The story follows four students who were the last to see her alive. Eli, Mara, Loren, and Brody are all brought into the spotlight when their classmate Samantha is found murdered. They all have connections, some more binding than others. As clues unravel, another death is linked to Samantha’s murder. Can the four of them figure out who the real killer is?

I was blown away by Looking for Smoke and couldn’t put it down! This book does an important job of raising awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women. Important questions are raised, such as why these disappearances are not reported on the news. The story flips to different POVs and I really enjoyed Mara and Loren. Mara feels an attraction to Eli, despite him not being kind to her at school. I loved the moments of connection they had amidst all the danger. Mara also struggles with feeling Blackfeet “enough,” since she was raised off the reservation. Meanwhile, Loren’s sister is missing and presumed dead. This fills her with uncontrollable rage and anguish, which I thought was very realistically portrayed.

Looking for Smoke is a heartfelt and emotional book that deals with important real-life topics. The characters feel vivid and realistic. They all have their own secrets and battles to fight, which makes the story very compelling. The mystery of who the real killer was kept me guessing to the end! Readers who enjoy Angeline Boulley, enthralling characters, and complex mysteries will love this book. I can’t wait to see what K.A. Cobell writes next!

Thank you to K.A. Cobell, Heartdrum, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

For publisher: My review will be posted on Goodreads, Instagram, Storygraph, Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc.

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K. A. Cobell has written an important novel on the topic of Native American women called Looking for Smoke, a name or maybe something that people sometimes do when trying to locate their missing relative. Native American women go missing at a very high rate especially on reservations. The novel Looking for Smoke addresses the issue by writing a story about young women going missing. It is a subject dealt with sensitively yet realistically.

Looking for Smoke shows the strength of women, as well as men. It deals with misogyny and generations who have suffered from it. It shows how people can try to do the right thing, but perhaps come short. And it shows people who try to do the right thing and are impressively successful. It shows people doing things that endanger their own lives to make a difference in the lives of others. The story shows how it is impossible to predict how someone will act or react under duress.

It is a look at life for native people on a reservation, with views of both negative and positive aspects. It is well written and brings a perspective that is difficult to dispute, also giving important information for those who want to help.

Thank you Netgalley for the advance copy to read and review, it is well worth the investment of time to read.

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This is both an important book and one that I think my students will really like. It raises important issues about Missing and Murdered Native women and how big a problem this in. Lots of other issues are raised in this story about Blackfeet teenagers dealing with abandonment, poverty, violence and cultural traditions It is a mystery, who killed and abducted two missing girls and the characters will be relatable to my students

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This was a really strong debut! A pretty well crafted mystery (I truly had no idea what was going to be the reveal until it happened) that tackles a very real issue in a very respectful way. There's been a few books about MMIW lately and I feel like this one might be more accessible to the general reader than some of the others were (though all the books have been great!). I really hope some teens pick this one up and learn something new.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Cobell does next.

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Wow! This book kept me flipping pages well into the night! I needed to know what happened and that Mara and Loren were going to be okay.

But this story was more than just a murder mystery. It was a glimpse into the Blackfeet tribe and reservation life and it shines an important light on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement, something that doesn't get nearly enough attention in the media. Although I was familiar with the victimization of indigenous girls and women, this book really heightened my awareness of the issue. The book also touches on other important themes like drug addiction and foster care.

The story is told in alternating points of view: Mara, Loren, Eli, and Brody. This sounds like a lot., but the author dos a great job of helping us see inside everyone's heads, without head jumping. Throughout the novel you will suspect most of them, and many others as well. And I found myself actively rooting for certain characters as I read. Although the two crimes at the heart of the novel seem unrelated, they are brought together in the end. I might have appreciated a few more clues that connected them earlier on, but the ending is believable.

There are a lot of characters in this story, and it took me a while to get into it and to keep them all straight. But by the time the story got moving I needed to find out who did it. And why.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. I was drawn to the strong female characters and I enjoyed learning about the Blackfeet traditions, but teen readers might have a hard time getting the characters straight and jumping in to the story. Thanks very much to NetGalley and the publisher for this DRC!

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Thank you to KA Cobell and to Netgalley for the chance to read and review this book!

Weaving together deep character work and compelling, page-turning mystery, this book is truly special. Each of the four POV characters was fully realized and deeply sympathetic, and I was as eager as they were to find the killer and see justice rendered. Cobell managed to surprise me about the identity of the killer with some deft red herrings, and I really enjoyed watching the answers slowly become revealed.

The lives -- and deaths -- portrayed in this book will stay with me.

Thanks again!

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A YA thriller told through chapters assigned to four teens who live on a reservation in Montana: Eli First Kill, Loren Arnoux, Brody Clark, Mara Racette, and another person only listed as Unknown. Loren’s older sister has gone missing and before she is found a female teen is murdered. A real page turner from this debut author bringing us not only a good book but highlighting the current epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in America.

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I really enjoyed this mystery. I feel like the author did a great job of naturally weaving in indigenous culture to the story. I really connected with the themes of grief and I thought the weaving in of the podcast helped demonstrate how pervasive the MMIW problem is and how few people invest in finding these women. I also was shocked at how well the author kept the mystery alive. Just when you think you know - you realize you don’t know anything and then it twists again!!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This book was utterly amazing! I never knew what was coming next, and the Native American setting was beautiful. I love how there was such a strong call for missing indigenous women underneath such a beautifully written book! I was guessing until the very end, the author had me so confused at multiple points in the story. I love when I can’t see an ending coming, that was definitely the case with this book! Amazing debut novel, can’t wait to find more from this author in the future.

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A lot of the times a YA thriller can feel juvenile or unrealistic. This book was not the case at all! Although it it’s a slow burn, I feel immersed in this story from the beginning. This book touches base on a very real issue of the highly alarming numbers of missing Native American women. Something that is rarely talked about in mainstream media and a VERY serious issue. I thought this book really shed light on that topic and dived deep into the effects it has on the indigenous community.

I can write a whole synopsis on what the book is about. But I do not want to steer away from what I stated above. This book is 100% worth reading! I was shocked by a few twists and turns. I loved how complicated some of the characters are. They felt very real, mature, and trying to do their best for their friends/family. I cannot put words how much this book amazed me. I have a feeling this one will live rent free in my brain for a while. The mystery of the story is so realistic and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was questioning everything and everyone. I cannot believe this is the author's debut novel. They knocked it out of the park. I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future. A well deserved 5 stars out of 5. Thank you Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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"Looking for Smoke" is a fantastic mystery that kept me reading late into a school night! The characters and depiction of Blackfeet culture were so well rendered. I felt like I was experiencing Indian Days along with the cast of characters. This book is perfect for fans of Angeline Boulley.

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LOOKING FOR SMOKE by K.A. Cobell follows four Indigenous teenagers--Loren Arnoux, Mara Racette, Brody Clark, and Eli First Kill--as they investigate the disappearance of Loren's sister, Rayanne, and their friend, Samantha White Tail. This book is filled with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing all the way until the last page! I especially enjoyed the chapters from the "Unknown" perspective; they added an extra element of suspense, and the eventual reveal of who that character was was really satisfying. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the podcast transcripts, as they served as a mechanism to inform readers about the very real and serious issue of MMIW--Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Although fictional, this book provided a heart-wrenching look into what is really happening to many Indigenous women, as well as other issues facing Indigenous communities. The only thing that I didn't like about this book was that it seemed to lack exposition. I felt like the reader was just thrown right into the action before really meeting the characters and getting an idea of the setting and conflict.

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