A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro // ARC Review

astudyincharlotte

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, Published by Harper Teen, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John 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 enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

A Study In Charlotte is a delightful Sherlock Holmes retelling filled with witty jokes and wonderful characters.

Before I even picked up this book I was a little in love with the concept. I love the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I tend to readily jump into modern adaptations of those stories. Sometimes those adaptations work, and sometimes they really, really don’t. This was one that worked wonderfully.

“In that moment, I would’ve followed her anywhere” 28, ARC

studyincharlottereadingMy favorite part of A Study In Charlotte was how the characters were descendants of the original Holmes and Watson. I have found that adaptations of Sherlock Holmes never seem to truly capture the original duo, so I was glad that this book didn’t even try. Instead, in the book’s universe both Sherlock and John were very real people, and have families descended from them. Both the Holmes and Watson families are a bit odd and carry certain traits of their ancestors. I just loved that whole concept, with a bunch of Holmeses and Watsons running around and putting themselves in danger, and with the Watson and Holmes of the same age becoming friends and solving crimes. Adorable.

“With role models like him, it was surprising I wasn’t already in jail” 47, ARC

I also really enjoyed how it was set at a boarding school. I recently heard Rainbow Rowell speak about Carry On, and she talked about how setting novels about kids at boarding school is a great way to get rid of parents. (without killing them all) I was kind of thinking about that while reading this book, and wow was boarding school a great setting for this book. It really added to the whole mystery – students at the school are dying and it could be anyone on campus who they might be living right next too.

A Study In Charlotte did a great job with talking about tough topics. This book deals with some pretty sensitive things such as crime, addiction, sexual assault, and I think it did those topics a great deal of justice. It didn’t dumb anything down, and dealt with the victims in the situation kindly while still dealing with that situation as the dark, scary, and harmful thing it is.

Charlotte and Jamie were honestly the best Holmesian descendant main characters I could have asked for. They were so perfectly Holmes and Watson but also not at all, because Holmes and Watson are their great-great-great-grandparents and they’re their own people of course. Their whole dynamic was fantastic. (I love them so much) I also feel for Jamie quite in a lot of different little ways. He’s a very relatable character who has a lot of very relatable problems, along with a few problems that aren’t quite so common. (please love him like I do)

“We’re talking about Charlotte Holmes, here. I think she has complicated relationships with the skeletons in her lab. Nothing is straightforward to her” 197, ARC

In conclusion: Great retelling, great characters, gorgeous cover. If you love Sherlock Holmes stories, you won’t be disappointed! 

fivestars

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro will be published on March 1st, 2016.

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The Girl From Everywhere // ARC Review

girlfromeverywhere

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Published by HarperCollins, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

“Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought: 1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake.”

The Girl From Everywhere is an enchantingly imaginative novel.

girlfromeverywherechpI was entranced by the magic of this book from the very beginning. It is just such a cool premise: a ship that can travel anywhere, anytime, as long as they have a map of that place. And the execution of the premise was so well done. The writing was beautiful and the imagery was so lovely and rich.

I really enjoyed all the characters. I can’t say that I entirely fell in love with any particular one of them, but I really liked all of them. They were varied, their differing backgrounds were interesting, and they all had very interesting relationships with each other.

“I believe in you. Simple enough, right?” 275 ARC

The romance element in this book was alright. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. While there was a slight love triangle situation going on, the main character’s romantic situation wasn’t actually a huge part of the book, which I liked.

When it comes to the actual plot of the book, it ends up being as a whole rather straightforward, in a very good way. There are cool details that are more complicated (because, time travel) but they weren’t overly confusing, and everything wrapped together really well in the end. The ending itself was open (there is going to be a sequel!) but also final and very satisfying.

“Everything must come to an end. In every myth, paradise is meant to be lost.” 369 ARC

Overall, The Girl From Everywhere is a very imaginative historical fantasy/time travel book that you should totally pick up once it’s released!

4-5stars

The Girl From Everywhere will be published on February 16th, 2016.

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Bluescreen by Dan Wells // ARC Review

bluescreen

Bluescreen (Mirador #1) by Dan Wells, Published by Harper Teen, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

“Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.”

Bluescreen is a cool futuristic mystery and a great start to a new series!

Some of my very favorite themes to read about in science fiction are virtual reality gaming and people having computer-like neural implants. Bluescreen by Dan Wells had both of these things as elements of the plot, and I feel like they were executed very well. While they were both familiar things that I like to read about, this book also managed to put a different spin on them and make them fresh and new again.

bluescreeninstaI really enjoyed the plot in this one. At the beginning there was a really cool VR gaming scene that introduced you to the world and the characters, and then the plot started pretty much right after. It was exciting, there was a lot of mystery, and there were also a few pretty interesting twists. I also really liked all the futuristic elements of the story! The technology was all very cool and well written, and the economic and social differences were all very interesting. As this is the first book in the series, I really hope there will be more worldbuilding in the future. There were a few things that were hinted at but not entirely stated that I would really like to know about.

I also really liked the characters. They were all very interesting and likeable and diverse, though I would like to get to know them better. The book gives a lot of details about most of the characters, but I don’t feel like I really spent enough time with each of them to really know them as characters. Hopefully this is another thing that any future books in the series would address.

“Play crazy” 9, ARC

I thought it was really cool how much Spanish was used in the book! There is actually a lot. So much so that you might need a translator handy, because it isn’t all translated in the narration. As you may know, I myself am fluent in Spanish: I attended an immersion elementary school. While I’m not a native speaker, so I am definitely not the best person to speak to this, most of the slang (and swearing) seemed pretty accurate to what I have heard, and that’s pretty cool.

All in all, Bluescreen is a very promising start to a new futuristic series! I recommend reading it if it sounds like your kind of thing!

3-5stars

Bluescreen by Dan Wells will be published on February 16th, 2016.

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Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den // ARC Review

simonthorn

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee Carter, Published by Bloomsbury, eARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn’s life has never been easy or normal, but things like being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darrell are nothing compared to his biggest secret: He can talk to animals.

But when his mom is suddenly kidnapped by a herd of rats, Simon finds out that he, his mom, and his uncle are all Animalgams—people born with the ability to change into an animal at will.

Simon Thorn looked like a quick, fun middle grade read, but felt underdeveloped.

I started Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den with hardly any expectations, but unfortunately came out of the book rather disappointed. It felt like most of the elements of the story were there, but not in the best quality.

For starters, I found the characters and the plot very one dimensional. Most of the characters seemed to have a single defining trait, and the plot was very linear and didn’t manage to surprise me very much. Like many middle grade books I have read, Simon Thorn seemed like it had been simplified so as to better fit into the genre.

The parts of the plot that did manage to surprise me ranged from confusing to just plain odd. A lot of the conflict between the different ‘kingdoms’ didn’t make sense to me and wasn’t clearly explained, and the motivations of the villains in the story were weird.

That said, I did enjoy a lot of the ideas behind the world in the story. The shapeshifter groups were interesting, and a shape shifter school hidden in a zoo? Yes please. I also liked the whole talking to animals element.

Overall: I liked the premise and the universe, but the story itself fell a little flat.

3stars

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den will be published on February 2nd, 2016.

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The Siren by Kiera Cass // ARC Review

thesiren

The Siren by Kiera Cass, Published by Harper Teen, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

I expected not to like this book. Or, rather, I expected to enjoy it like I do The Selection: only to a point, and a little bit in a sarcastic way. So, you can imagine that I was pleasantly surprised when The Siren sucked me in, moved me to tears, and left me loving it.

thesirenThere was something in this book that was able to convey to me a lot of emotion. The main character had a lot of internal and external struggles, and while most of the book was spent on Khalen’s troubles, it never felt whiny or annoying. Her problems felt real and worthwhile, and throughout the book I was able to empathize her and feel for her deeply.

What really shined in The Siren was the main romantic relationship. While Khalen and Akinli became enamored rather quickly it never struck me as insta love. Their relationship was sweet, and the way they interacted felt very genuine to me and not overly cheesy or ridiculous. I loved their first meetings, and it really says something about the romance in a book when I become very attached to the main ship within the first forty or so pages.

Admittedly, the side characters, while varied and interesting, were somewhat one sided, and the world building that went into the fantasy elements of this book were simplistic at best. Still, I was able to look past these things and enjoy the emotional side of this book instead.

I know that The Siren won’t be for everyone, but I recommend at least trying this book. It worked for me, and hopefully it will work for you too.

4stars

The Siren by Kiera Cass will be released on January 26th, 2016.

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