A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, YA, Retelling/Spin-off
Series: Book 1 of Charlotte Holmes
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Read for the Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon

No spoilers.

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I cannot completely express my love for this book. It is honestly one of the best things I’ve read in a very long time, and I’m probably going to read it again before the sequel comes out (something I rarely do except for High Fantasy which I have to re-read in order to remember all the characters).

Characters

Jaime

Jaime is the Watson of this story, and as such he serves as the main character and POV (save for a short excerpt by Charlotte at the end). He’s really likable and easy to become invested in as he struggles to make sense of everything that’s been happening to him. Just like Watson in the original stories, Jaime serves as an important link between Holmes and the auidence, who asks the questions that need asked so that we as readers can understand what happens in the genius’ head.

Charlotte

The descendant of Sherlock Holmes who is not quite as like her ancestor as you may be expecting. Charlotte is a really fun character and really has a great deal of depth. She is allowed to grow and and learn, not just as a super genius, but also as a teenage girl, and struggles with a lot of girl problems on top of the murder.

Milo

Milo, the brother of Charlotte, serves as the Mycroft of this story, however, he’s far less pompous and annoying and far more of just a very nerdy guy who does (at times) manage to care at least a little for his sister (although, most of it is less for ‘Lottie’ and more to preserve the family name).

The Murder

I don’t read mysteries very often, because I often find them to be a bit boring and I can almost always guess ‘who done it.’ I am pleased to report that was not the case in A Study in Charlotte for almost all of the book. Yes there were some parts that I figured out, but other things were as much a surprise to me as they were to Jaime and Charlotte.

Because this is set up to be like the Sherlockian stories, it follows in the same format where the auidence knows less than the main character. That was one of the things that made the classic Sherlock stories so popular, because, unlike in all the other mysteries of the time, it was actually impossible to know everything because Holmes always knew more than he was letting on (and because Watson was the primary storyteller, you never knew more than him).

Overall

This really reminded me of a book I reviewed not too long ago, Buzzkill by Beth Fantaskey, and that’s a really good thing (in case you don’t know, Buzz Kill is one of my favorite mystery books EVER).

Anyone who is a fan of mysteries should give this book a try, even if retellings and reimaginings aren’t your thing. There are a lot of nods to Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and discussion of them among the characters, but it still can stand on its own as a great read.

Advertisements

Daughters of Ruin

Daughters of RuinDaughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: N/A (sadly it seems to be a stand alone)

This review contains NO spoilers.

Meet rumor with quiet, treason with cunning, and vicious with vicious.

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses. And they are enemies.

A brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye.

For ten years they have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace. But there is no peace among sisters, and all plans shatter when the palace is attacked. As their intended future lies in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

Alliances shift and the consequences are deadly in this stunning fantasy debut from K. D. Castner.

First off, I just have to say how much better this was than I expected.

I picked it up because it sounded mildly interesting, and like something that I wouldn’t really mind reading a little bit of, not because I thought it was going to be phenomenal (lets be real, the plot sounds kind of weird), but man, did it exceed my expectations.

You never know what’s going to happen next, and you never grow bored. The POV is constantly switching between the four sisters, and there is more than one storyline that is explored as it works its way toward the main climax.

Characters

The characters are one of the strongest parts of this, because they’re all so diverse. Unlike many YA books, each character is allowed to change and grow, instead of just one central character getting all the attention. Everyone has their own motivations, and no character does what you’re expecting them to.

Rhea

I felt as though Rhea was the sister I cared about the most, and that may be because she certainly got more attention from the author (she also seemed to have it pretty rough, more than she got credit for at least) and her POV scenes were usually some of the best.

Cadis

I really liked her. I could see why people hated her (particularly during the Rhea POV scenes) and it almost made her struggles that much more relatable.

Suki

Suki’s scenes are some of the most interestingly written I’ve ever seen in a book. I won’t spoil too much, but she’s completely insane and you can tell that just from her POV. Some other reviewers described it as jarring, but to me it fit perfectly.

Iren

Iren was a character that I always knew was up to something, but in a way that it made me want to keep reading about her. She’s quite incredible, and might be my second favorite of the sisters.

Overall

The worst thing about this book, is that I don’t think theres going to be a sequel. So if cliffhanger endings with no hope of resolution aren’t for you, you may want to put this aside and move onto the next book. However, if that’s your thing, or you just like a good action – adventure book with some fantasy elements, then I highly recommend this.

Gotta Read ’em All!

This Read-a-Thon is hosted by Read At Midnight, who also did the Pokemon Go Book Tag just in case you were wondering how much its taken over her life.

For me this read-a-thon comes at whats either a great time or a terrible time: the first week of college. That means that I will probably be combining books – which yes, will cost me points according to the FAQ – but I’ll still be reading and posting about lots of Pokemon so it will still be fun!

I’ve set up my list so that there are some badges that I won’t have to do in case I run out of time, picking books that could work for more than one badge so I don’t need to stress if I can’t read one for every gym. That being said, I’d prefer to

My393Piplup_DP_anime_2 Pokemon

If you’ve not read the original post – and you really should which is why I linked to it in the first place – you need to know that part of the challenge can include leveling up your own Pokemon and, of course, I chose Piplup!

Evolutions: 

  • Level 50 CP is Prinplup
  • Level 400 CP is Empoleon

 

Continue reading “Gotta Read ’em All!”

The Princess in the Opal Mask

The Princess in the Opal Mask (The Opal Mask, #1)The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Series: Book one of The Opal Mask
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

There are spoilers, but they are at the bottom and hidden under a read more.

Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . .

Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face—including Wilha herself.

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

This is the story of Wilha and Elara, two girls from vastly different social circles who are thrown together seemingly by chance. There’s a lot of drama and political intrigue happening and it never gets too dull.

The point of view changes between Wilha and Elara, and both are equal. There were times that neither one was interesting and times that both had me on the edge of my seat, but never was I completely fed up with one or the other.

One thing I will say about this – that I appreciated as someone who thinks our society values sex far too highly – is that its completely clean. I cannot tell you the last time I read a book that only had one reference to “desire” (I mean, there’s talk about love and marriage, but that’s different).

My biggest complaint with this book is when Wilha describes a half-face mask by saying “it covered my entire face except for my chin, lips, and nose.” It was so grating and such a poor descriptor – if half your face is exposed, it doesn’t cover your “entire face” no ifs, ands, or buts – that I had a hard time trusting many of the descriptions after that. Its a rather petty thing to complain about, but its how I felt nonetheless.

Another annoying thing – although 98% of fantasy books are guilty of this – is the royalty owning too many clothes. Before steam power and cotton it just wasn’t feasible for anyone EVEN THE RICH to own as many clothes as Wilha is seen to have.

Characters

Wilha

I really liked her for the most part. There were times that she was slow to pick up on things or just plain stupid, and she had moments of selfishness, but it all made since. Who wouldn’t make the choices she did if they’d been through everything she has?

Elara

Elara had a problem with listening. She was so caught up in the ‘my life is worse than everyones’ that she failed to see the truth about Wilha. I’m not saying Wilha had it worse, but I am saying they are both very much victims.

Patric

I didn’t really like him either. He’s very judgmental and if he really does care for Wilha as much as he claims he wouldn’t flip out over her being betrothed.

Cordon

He was just plain rude and I didn’t end up liking him. Its nice to see someone who doesn’t feel bound by all their childhood promises (because if we were I would have a very unpleasant maid of honor if I ever get married).

Overall

It was a good book, although it was a total cover buy and sat on my shelf for several years before I read it. I did enjoy it, for the most part, but there were parts that I wasn’t interested in, or things – like the mask and dress issue – that detracted from my enjoyment.

However, if you like fantasy thats a quick, easy read with lots of action and plot I think you’ll like this book. I did enjoy it enough to put the sequel on hold at the library, but not enough to give it a four or a five star review.

Spoilers

Continue reading “The Princess in the Opal Mask”

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre:
Publisher:
Series: Book 8 of Harry Potter

Here is the review that I promised in my post about the Harry Potter Release Party!

There will be spoilers, but they will be down at the very bottom and under a read more (if you see the photo of me on the floor and you don’t want to see spoilers, then its time to turn back)!

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

As I said before: I actually liked this more than I thought that I would. Yes I know a lot of people have been saying “it read like fanfiction” and, while they’re not wrong, it would have been hard for it not to have for a variety of reasons:

  1. There is so much fanfic of Harry Potter that basically every possible plot has been explored at least twice.
  2. It kinda was? JK Rowling wasn’t the only author, so her co-authors basically were writing fanfic and then getting it okayed by her.
  3. Its not the old Harry Potter and it never will be. Nothing will ever again capture the magic like the first 7 books.
  4. The fans have very high expectations. Very high. Like, impossible to achieve high.

 

Complaints

  • I can, without spoiling anything, tell you that Teddy Lupin and Hagrid are not in this book and that is completely unacceptable.
  • I wish it were an actual book, rather than a play (of course, it would need to be like, at least three books to cover everything).
  • It was definitely fan-service.
  • Its slow to get moving; a large portion of the first bit of the book is just Harry and Albus complaining about their lives.

Overall

When I finished this book I literally feel off the couch and laid on the floor (pics below because it did happen and I can prove it). There were just so many feelings welling up inside me that I don’t really know what to do. The first thing I want to do is read it again, and then I’ll be able to tell you a bit more about how it made me feel.

If you like Harry Potter – and you’re not one of those people who think “she should just stop writing” which I’ve covered here – then this is definitely worth reading.

img_5249

Spoilers

Continue reading “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Release Party

Did any of you go to a Potter Party? How was it?

This is not a review! So don’t worry about seeing any spoilers. I put a short blurb down at the bottom about some basic thoughts on the book, but KEEP THE SECRETS. I will have a full review up in a few days though, and it will have spoilers. If you want spoilers see this buzzfeed post.


img_5216Of course I went to a Harry Potter Release Party. What else would I do with my life? Certainly nothing productive, not when there’s Harry Potter on the line. Seriously though, I’ve been to more Harry Potter parties than I can count, and each and everyone of them was a blast.

Since I knew I would be at the release party from about 8pm until well after midnight I opted for comfortable clothes rather than a full on cosplay – although I do have a Rowena Ravenclaw cosplay, but don’t worry, it makes an appearance later – and made myself a pair of Spectrospects and wore my “Quidditch Tryouts” shirt and my Diadem necklace.

img_5221The party was at my local Barnes and Noble and I arrived just as it was starting. There were a lot of people I knew there – and they were all nice people! Isn’t that good! – and I had a lot of fun waiting on midnight to roll around and goofing off. I did some art (shown right), but mostly I just looked at all the fantastic cosplays and did a lot of fangirling.

Yes I did stay all the way until midnight to get the book, although, I didn’t stay up all night reading it (I did wake up at 8am to read, however). It was totally worth it.

img_5272The next mornting – on the 31st – I met my friend, who couldn’t make it out at midnight, at the same Barnes and Noble for another Potter Party. It was supposed to be an entire day of chatting about Harry (and the play for those of us who had read it) and doing fun games and activities. What it was was a few young kids who probably hadn’t been allowed out the night before and leftover activities from the party. And I – as Rowena Ravenclaw – was the only one in costume!! I had some fun photos taken as Rowen anyway. I may even fix up that costume (I dug it out of my closet), find a brown wig, and make a better diadem and use it for Halloween. I will almost certainly wear it to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which I plan to attend at midnight.

I’m very glad I got it at midnight, because by 1pm (when I was there a second time) they had sold out. Below are some photos of my night, a short (spoiler free!) review of the book, and my social media posts.

 

The Play

I promised no spoilers, so that’s what you’ll get. What I can say is that it was better than I expected considering how mixed the reviews were. Yes there are parts of it that read “like fanfiction” but at this point there is so much fanfiction out there that you couldn’t NOT have some element of it in there. There are also a lot more cameos from classic Potter characters than you’re expecting (and the reason you’ve not seen any photos of them in costume is that it would give away a lot of the plot of the play) and yes some of them will make you cry. Even characters who didn’t have a cameo were mentioned (very dangerous drinking game: take a drink every time a member of Harry’s class at Hogwarts is mentioned or shows up).

Overall I loved it, and I’ll have a lot more up soon.

Social Media

Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Release Party”

Ladies in Waiting

Ladies in WaitingLadies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

There are no spoilers in this review.

Eliza dreams of being a playwright for the king’s theater, where she will be admired for her witty turns of phrase rather than her father’s wealth.

Beth is beautiful as the day but poor as a church mouse, so she must marry well, despite her love for her childhood sweetheart.

Zabby comes to England to further her scientific studies—and ends up saving the life of King Charles II. Soon her friendship with him becomes a dangerous, impossible obsession. Though she knows she should stay away from the young, handsome king, Charles has a new bride, Queen Catherine, and a queen needs ladies in waiting.

And so Zabby, Beth, and Eliza, three Elizabeths from very different walks of life, find themselves at the center of the most scandal-filled court that England has ever seen.

“Harcourt Children’s Books” and I need to sit down and have a discussion about what makes a “children’s book.” Yes I understand that this is historical fiction, but if you’re selling something as Children’s or Teen’s I expect, as a teenager, to be comfortable reading it.

I was not.

Its been a while since I read a book with this much focus on sex and the general disgustingness of the court at the time. Yes, perhaps I should have been expecting it given that its set in the court of King Charles II, one of the most scandalous of English kings, but I didn’t because I thought it was for teens. I believe in freedom of reading, but I did lobby to have this removed from my shelves at my school. Yes you can read whatever you like at school, but there are rules about what can be provided, this is too much. (The issue with banning books is that states that they cannot be in the school at all, even if the student brought it in for person reading).

Putting aside my issues with the definition of “children’s books” aside, it was a pretty decent book. I’m not sure I would call it “realistic” because there were things that happened that I thought “hmm, I’m not sure that could really take place” but other than that it was pretty good and well written (and overall well-researched).

The girls were very diverse, at times too much so. To me it almost seemed as though the author was attempting to put in the most diverse stereotypes of girls at that time that she could, rather than letting them form as unique entities.

Overall

If you’re not bothered by the sex then it may be worth the read. However, for me personally, I would’t recommend this to a friend and I’m going to tell you that there are a lot of better books out there.