Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro | Such a FUN Book!

Charlotte Holmes #1
First Published: 2016
Kindle & Hardcover
Young Adult, Alternate History
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.
Some books are just god damn, capital letters, FUN.

Of course, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is a lot of other things, too, but boy did I enjoy reading this one! I knew roughly around the halfway mark that I wanted to own physical copies of this series. That's a really big deal, for me, because I don't often purchase a book I have on kindle unless the book is both gorgeous and great... which, this one sure is (by the way, we're getting a 4th book *does a happy dance*).

Now, before I really begin and for transparency's sake, I love Sherlock and Watson. Not as much the original books themselves, but their various interpretations and reimagining in the media. I have watched the movies, the BBC series, Elementary, etc. The only shows I ever watch consistently are crime dramas with detectives and the likes. Those are my jam, and so are Sherlock and Watson.

So I didn't really need to know much about this book before picking it up. Which is lucky, because looking at the GR page for it just now I realized almost all my friends gave it lukewarm reviews at best. This means I could have totally missed a book I ended up loving.

Because, yes, as I've mentioned before, I loved this one.

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is set in a world where Sherlock and Watson weren't characters in a novel, but real life people. Real life people who had kids, and those kids had kids and those kids had kids and... you get the picture. Now, two of those direct descendants meet in a boarding school. And then someone gets murdered, and they're the prime suspects. So... they do what Holmes and Watsons do best. They team up. They investigate. They form a relationship that is as balanced as it is unlikely.

Have I sold you on this yet? Need more? Okay then.

So, our precious mains. First, we've got James (not to be called Jamie!). As appropriate of a Watson, he tells the story. And he's adorable. There, I said it. He wants to be a writer (#relatable, am I right??), he feels like a complete outsider, he's smart--but not obscenely smart and logic-oriented as Holmes. Which makes him the heart of the partnership.

Then we have the titular Charlotte. As the brains. She's cold, rational, and messed up. Jaded and untrusting, but still with a glimmer of hope. Thinks herself the smartest person in the room... mostly because she is. Tries to pretend she doesn't care, when she does. Manipulative, kind of vengeful, but with a working sense of right and wrong that doesn't always scream at her loudly enough to notice. Again; messed up.

These two are far from perfect, but that's what makes it so fun to watch their relationship evolves into friendship (and... maybe more. In fact, hopefully, more, because I ship it like FedEx). I loved how beautifully Cavallaro captured the role Watsons have in the lives of Holmes. They humanize them, become what they measure right and wrong, good and bad against. I'm curious, in this world, what a Holmes with a bad Watson would look like.

Which is why, ultimately, they may make such a great couple. I've seen people put out by this fact; claiming it ruins the original dynamics. But firstly, this is not Sherlock and John. And secondly... I wholeheartedly disagree, for everything I said above and more.

I feel like this interpretation maintains the original power balance (the banter, the quips, the roles each have in the other's life) but adds another layer to it. There is a reason Watson and Sherlock are one of the most shipped pairings in the world, and that reason manifests itself here in all its glory but also becomes 80% most likely to come to fruition.

Like, even though I am not an aggressive shipper, I've always shipped Johnlock in the way I ship Dan & Phil; they're my ultimate brotp, but if they decided to make fangirls' dreams all over the world come true and announce they're together, I wouldn't mind. In fact, I may even squee a little. Perhaps I will tweet about how beautiful life is. Post photos and gifs of them from the years on Tumblr with the hashtags #relationshipgoals and #dreamcometrue.

Hey, I'm just being honest.

Moving on... Aside for the two mains, I loved the contemporary boarding school settings, the character development and the general vibe of the whole book. There is no other character I can describe as "stand out", but it's mostly because these two are scene stealers. They always have been, in any interpretation.

The only part I am lukewarm on is the actual mystery, and I wasn't at first. I actually really liked it when I finished the book, especially since I couldn't figure it out until the very end (although, I did suspect ALL the guilty parties so boo ya!).

BUT the further away I am from it the more I became kind of bummed that this was the first mystery. Like, I feel like we may have needed the first mystery to be... less personal. It had to be because of the setting, but this was too personal. Which made it feel more appropriate for a second book, or even the third one. I'll have to go back to this point after reading the second book; we'll see how the mystery there will fare in comparison.
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen | A Beautiful End to a Series *Spoilers*

The Ascendance Trilogy #3
First Published: 2014
Young Adult, Fantasy
One war. Too many deadly battles. Can a king save his kingdom when his own survival seems unlikely?
War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.
His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya's throne?
Okay, so first things first... I love this book and I love this series and I highly highly recommend you get it if you haven't yet! You will fall in love with the main character and his journey, guaranteed!

Speaking of Jaron's journey... Can we take a minute to appreciate what Nielsen has done with this trilogy? Some trilogies suffer from "second book syndrome", where the second book is kind of meh and filler. Not The Ascendence Trilogy. The first book was all about getting Jaron to the crown. The second is all about Jaron assembling his court in preparation for the war. And the third is said war, with Jaron as the proper and respected king of Carthya.

No book is filler, or there just for the sake of prolonging the series. Each book is necessary to Jaron's development and the authentic flow of the story... to making this final book satisfying and gratifying. To making Jaron's final triumph meaningful. And I don't consider this a spoiler because let's face it, did you really think this precarious and precious king would not succeed?

And yes, I am still as in love with Jaron as ever. I love how kind and self-sacrificing he is. How all his actions are motivated by a single-minded desire to help others. I love how despite this he is not perfect; he is hot-headed and stubborn, and proud. And a little dense in certain aspects.

I truly wish more leaders were like Jaron - because he definitely inspires a sense of loyalty and respect from everyone who encounters him; from his armies, his regents, his subjects, his friends and, of course, the readers.

He is a king you would proudly follow into battle.

And that battle... it was brilliantly written, as always. I absolutely adored reading of Jaron's plans, schemes, and tricks, and Nielsen does an amazing job setting those up, allowing us to understand Jaron has something planned, but almost never enough for you to figure out exactly what before it happens.

The one weak point of this novel is one that has been accompanying me since book one and that's the romance. Don't get me wrong--Imogen and Jaron are cute together, no doubt about that. Especially with the kisses at the end (like, that was totes adorable). But since I never quite understood why and when they fell in love in book one, I failed to understand it here, so I left still feeling like something was missing. Feeling like his reaction to her death is too monumental because their love was never properly based for me. Same goes for Tobias and the Princess.

In this regards, my re-read of the first book kind of did a disservice to this series. I feel like had I not done that to refresh my memory, I would have gone forward in the books under the illusion those emotions have been explored better in book one, and therefore feeling more at peace with them. Oh well, not everything about a book can be a win.

I'm extremely sad to be saying goodbye to this world and characters, but here's to hoping Nielsen's other protagonists are as incredible as Jaron was because I will be reading them for sure!
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February Kindle Deals & Bargains [Updated: Feb 18]

Hello, peeps!

Check out this list of the best kindle bargains, sales, and discounts I could find! All of these deals are $2.99 or less with the exception of boxset which is included if they're 60% discounted or more!

I'll be making a new post for every month so it'll be easier to reach BUT the latest post will be updating on a semi-daily basis, so make sure you return to it every couple of days so you won't miss these awesome deals :)

If you have a hard time with these lists, you can also follow me on twitter and facebook where I post somewhere between 5-10 new deals (almost) every day.

So, without further ado....


Disclosure: Every amazon link that you see on this blog is part of their Affiliate Program. As such, I get a small revenue if you so chose to buy from my link. Don't worry, it does not affect the price of the product, plus it helps fund giveaways on the blog :)