A Study in Charlotte

A study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is a retelling of the classic tales of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. It follows their descendants who meet by chance at Sherringford, a prep school. Jamie Watson is there on a rugby scholarship and soon learns that the girl he has always wanted to meet, Charlotte Holmes, also goes there. When they first cross paths it seems like an unlikely duo, but history is bound to repeat itself so of course when they are caught in a murder mystery, it’s no surprise. 

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. It was a great way to pull me out of my reading funk because mystery is my favorite genre. I’m also a fan of Sherlock Holmes and when I read that Charlotte was his descendant, I knew I had to read this book. To be honest though, that was the only part of the book that I genuinely enjoyed. 

The whole book seemed ordinary to me. It didn’t feel like it was a new idea being brought to the table. Anyone could have written this book, and many already have. I didn’t feel like there was anything that particularly stood out to me from this book. The mystery also didn’t garner much of my interest. It felt slow paced and the ending seemed to me like a cliche. 

As much as I loved that Charlotte was related to Sherlock, I didn’t like that they had the exact same personality. I would have liked to see some differences between the two because they are obviously two very different people. Although, I do understand the appeal of having them be that similar. Sherlock is sharp, witty, intelligent, and charming. These are all characteristics that I loved in Charlotte, I just would have liked to see some differences. 

Another issue I had with this book was that I wish Cavallaro had taken the time to show the readers how Jamie and Charlotte’s relationship progressed. They ‘hated’ each other one moment but then suddenly they were best friends. It would have been very interesting to see that instead of having that brushed off. It would be nice to see where Jamie’s romantic feelings came from rather than them just showing up one day. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I thought it was a good read. I am also planning on reading the next book, because I want to know what happens. I think you guys should absolutely check out this book, maybe you will like it more than I did. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

All In

All In is the third installment of the Naturals Series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It follows Cassie and the rest of the Naturals as they work to solve a string of murders taking place in Vegas. These murders are confusing and become more dangerous the more they dig. Cassie has much more on her plate than just these strange killings, there’s been a break in her Mother’s case. She has to balance the pain of her history while also trying to find the person behind these killings. 

I started this series a long time ago and I finally decided that it was time for me to come back and finish this series. I was absolutely in love with the series when I read the first two books. I flew through them in days. Picking up this series again brought back that feeling. I didn’t want to put it down once I got into. The book had me on the edge of my seat, I was genuinely interested in the plot. 

My favorite part of these books has always been how realistic they are. Barnes has an excellent grasp of how profiling works and how profilers find the people they are looking for. She makes it clear that the abilities these kids have, were learned and that they didn’t just magically show up. It helps that she has actually studied psychology and now even teaches. Often times authors will discuss criminology and psychology based on what they know from shows and is exaggerated.   

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was that there was an emphasis on Cassie finding a family. Family isn’t always the people you are related to. Sometimes it’s two FBI agents, five kids with a lot of issues, and a former FBI consultant. 

“Home isn’t a place. Home is the people who love you most, the people who will always love you, forever and ever, no matter what.”

Although I did enjoy this book, it definitely wasn’t my favorite in the series. It felt slow in many parts and I didn’t really like that. I was expecting the book to be paced a lot faster and it didn’t feel right that it was so slow. I also wasn’t a fan of the fact that everything was tied up so perfectly. There was a cliffhanger, but I wished there were more loose ends so I would be pushed to read the next book. Right now I feel like if I don’t read the fourth book, I won’t be missing out. 

I would absolutely recommend this book and the first two in the series to anyone who is a fan of mystery, especially a murder mystery. This book is full of suspense and drama, even if it is a little slow at times. I would give this book four out of five stars. I hope you check it out!

The Rest of the Story

When I heard Sarah Dessen was releasing another book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I have been in love with the way she writes her characters and romance since middle school so of course I had to read The Rest of the Story. 

The book follows Emma Saylor who has a spontaneous trip to visit her Mom’s side of the family in North Lake. Her mom died five years ago and Emma thought she knew everything about her, but she soon came to realize that she didn’t know her at all. At North Lake, Emma discovers a world she couldn’t remember filled with people she couldn’t remember. She finds herself stuck between what her father sees her as and what her new found family sees her as. At home she is Emma but at the lake she is Saylor. The book also has romance and who would be surprised? It is Sarah Dessen after all. 

I really liked this book especially the aspect of Emma discovering herself and her history. The element of family is very important in this book, which I enjoyed. It was interesting seeing how facts about Emma’s mom came out and how much of what happened in the past was affecting the present. There was also a theme of how there is more to the story that I found to be very well incorporated in the book. At the end of the book, Emma is given a photo album with photos of her mom and her family, but also with space at the end to add more photos. I thought this was so touching and really wrapped up the events of the book nicely. 

“The past was always present, in its way, and you can’t help but remember. Even if you can’t remember at all.”

While this book was enjoyable, I didn’t find it to be the best book Sarah Dessen has written. This book was slow paced at the times it really should not have been slow paced. The romance also wasn’t given enough time to fully develop. Emma and Roo only had a few interactions, but then at the end Emma suddenly had huge feelings for him. It didn’t feel natural, but more rushed even though the rest of the book was slow. It almost felt like the romance was an afterthought, which I wouldn’t usually have an issue with, but in this book I didn’t feel right. 

As much as I liked this book, it just didn’t hit the mark for me. It’s obvious that this is a Sarah Dessen book, but it just doesn’t compare to the other books that she’s written. The gut-wrenching and dramatic aspects seem to be missing from this one. If you enjoy slow paced books then this is absolutely something I would recommend, but if you like your books to have more drama or action then I would tell you to move along. I would give this book three out of five stars.

Leah on the Off Beat

Leah on the Off Beat by Becky Albertalli is a book about Leah Burke who has been hiding the fact that she is bisexual from her friends, even though one of them recently came out as gay. She knows they’ll still accept her but that doesn’t stop her from keeping it to herself. Leah and her friends are almost done with high school and some drama is threatening to pull her friend group a part and it doesn’t help that she has a crush on someone she absolutely does not want to be having a crush on.

What I loved about this book was how unique and outstanding Leah’s voice was. It was very clear who Leah was from the moment I began reading. She has such a unique way of looking at the world and way of thinking. Albertalli really goes the extra mile to show that Leah is her own person and that she is complex. Leah really comes alive in the pages of this book which I loved. She has such a distinct voice that was human and true. There were times when she was being annoying, but that is what makes her human. Albertalli’s writing and portrayal of her characters is amazing and well done. Leah goes through a roller coaster of emotions in this book and Albertalli catches every rise and fall perfectly.

I also loved that Leah has a personality. Often times when I read a book about a fat girl or a bisexual girl, that part of who they are becomes the sole purpose of their character. Authors often forget that they are people too, not just symbols. Albertalli makes it clear straight off the bat that there is so much more to Leah than just being the fat girl in her friend group or being the bisexual girl. Leah is a drummer and an artist and those parts of her are displayed as being just as important as her being fat and bisexual.

I loved this book with my entire heart. It was so enjoyable to read and it made me reminisce on my last semester as a high school student. It’s a period of change and it was so magical seeing these characters go through that phase. I can’t believe Albertalli made me miss high school, that’s power.

I’m giving this book five out of five stars so please go read this!! Another wonderful read for pride month that everyone should definitely pick up.

Red, White & Royal Blue

This book, by Casey McQuiston, spoke to the hopeless romantic inside of me and worked some crazy magic on me. I absolutely loved this book from its whirlwind romance to the witty remarks on every page. What I loved the most was that it was a love story between two men that has been shown with heterosexual couples all the time. It brings in a whole new element of obstacle for the couple and the author shows those obstacles perfectly.

This book follows Alex, the son of the first woman president, who falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales. Alex is this amazingly passionate person who wants to make the world and his country a better place. He would do anything to do that, but he hadn’t expected to fall in love with his long time enemy Henry. But, this is a romance book and what happens in romance books? Hate turns to an unlikely friendship which then turns to a beautifully written love story.

This book explores how sexuality plays into politics, especially on an international level. Henry is faced with pressures from his family to keep his sexuality hidden. He is a royal and he has to marry a woman and have heirs, but that’s obviously not how it plays out. Alex’s life has been on display ever since his mom entered the national and, eventually, international stage. The world knows who he is. Imagine dealing with figuring out your sexuality on top of all that. It would be insane, but McQuiston captures it so well.

I loved how McQuiston wrote the characters. Often times I find some characters to be flat or not have much substance, but I didn’t have that problem with this book. Every person was well developed and complex. Each character was unique and I loved reading how they interacted with each other. McQuiston did a wonderful job on their development and on the dialogue all throughout this book.

I am so glad that I had the chance to pick this up during Pride Month. It had everything I look for in a romance book: royalty, princes, dramatic confession scenes, and cute boys. I definitely recommend picking up this book! And soon! Giving this book five out of five stars.

The Meaning of Birds

The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown was a wonderful read and I’m so glad that I picked it up this Pride Month. The book follows Jess before and after her girlfriend, Vivi, dies. When Jess first meets Vivi, she is dealing with losing her father and with her anger issues. When Vivi dies, so does a part of Jess. She’s back to grieving and back to feeling the rage she felt before she met Vivi. The book describes Jess falling in love with Vivi and then finding a way to keep living without her.

I absolutely loved how this book was set up. The chapters switch off between Jess and Vivi’s relationship and Jess grieving Vivi. Brown made sure to also connect the chapters. One chapter would bring up something that happened in the past, and the next chapter would bring it back, but this time without Vivi. I didn’t notice this happening at first but once I did, I was fangirling way too hard.

Brown made this book so real. There was never a moment where I felt disconnected from these characters. I could feel Jess’s emotions throughout the book whether it was love, grief, pain, or even happiness. I felt like I was inside the book myself and that has to be the part that I loved the most.

I also loved how important art was to Jess. At first it was just a way to cope with her anger but with Vivi’s insistence it became something she wanted to pursue. But after Vivi died, Jess felt as if she couldn’t draw because it meant she was moving on. Jess learned that moving on doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be a very good thing. For Jess, it ended up being a good thing because she found another way to put her art out there. A way where she could honor Vivi, but also herself.

I loved this book! It was difficult to read at points because of how painful it was, but still an enjoyable read. There were some aspects of Jess’s character I didn’t like, but they weren’t so terrible that I’d have to condemn the whole book. They were simply aspects of a girl grieving, which Brown displayed perfectly.

I give this book 4 out 5 stars! It was sad and painful, but sprinkled with a little hope. Definitely put this on your to be read list!

The Library of Fates

I have never once in my life read a fantasy novel about people of color, and let me just say, I’ve absolutely been missing out. “The Library of Fates” by Aditi Khorana was a wonderful book with an amazing mix of mythology and history. Khorana didn’t just take mythology from one culture, she combined several from different cultures to create a world of its own. She also took the very real ancient history of Macedon and turned into something magical. I enjoyed every moment of this book and hope that you do too.

This book follows Princess Amrita who lives in the beautiful town Shalingar. Shalingar has been untouched by the looming and ever growing empire, Macedon, until now. Sikander, the emperor of Macedon, now wants to conquer Shalingar and take Amrita as his wife. Things seem to go well, until suddenly the palace in under siege and Amrita is on the run with one of Sikander’s slaves, Thala. Amrita and Thala must go on a quest to undo what happened in Shalingar. They must find the library of all things.

When I first began reading this book I thought it would be the typical princess goes on a quest, finds herself, and everything goes back to normal. Instead, Khorana takes the reader on a rollercoaster of adventures and emotions. The book goes in a very unexpected direction, but nevertheless an amazing direction. There was no point in the book when the plot was boring, there was always a new surprise waiting at the bend. I absolutely loved how intricate and interesting the plot was.

Another thing that made this book such a good read was the way Khorana described every scene. She practically created images in my mind with words. She made me fall in love with Shalingar and I haven’t even seen it.

The only problem I had with this book was that I wanted more. I wanted more of the mythology this world was built on and more of these wonderful characters. I would love for there to be a sequel! Besides that, this book was definitely one of my favorites to read. The plot never felt boring or dry. Khorana created a world that I would love to just jump into and live in forever. I give this book five out of five stars. I hope you check it out!

My So-Called Bollywood Life

I thought “When Dimple Met Rishi” had so much culture, but boy did this book prove me wrong. Nisha Sharma knocked it out of the park with this book! This is book follows Winnie Mehta as she fights for her role in her film club and figures out what her destiny is. She was fated to find her soulmate before her 18th birthday, but her boyfriend of three years had just ended it. What did this mean for her destiny and did she even want to meet it? Read the book and you’ll find out.

I grew up on Bollywood movies, and similar to Winnie, I can lose myself in their world of drama, songs, and dance numbers. I loved seeing how much she loved those movies and how much they influenced her view on romance and destiny. She relies on this world to help her with the problems she has in her own life and honestly I do too.

I love Winnie, I love Winnie, I love Winnie! She knows what she wants and she never hesitates to go after it. Her family keeps pushing for her to be with Raj because it’s ‘destiny’ but Winnie had none of it. She wanted to write her own destiny and I loved that she wouldn’t let anyone tell her what was good for her. Even with Film Club, she never gave up. I also loved that the romance wasn’t the only thing the book revolved around. I love that her family is so important to her even when they’re wrong. I just love this entire book. It left me feeling all gooey and happy on the inside, and not many books do that for me.

I’m ending this review with one last thing, GO READ THIS BOOK! It’s got your high school drama, it’s got cute boys, it’s got culture, and the Indian grandma we all want! I give this book five out of five stars. I hope you check out this book, because it is totally worth it.

When Dimple Met Rishi

This novel, written by Sandhya Menon, follows Dimple and Rishi at an app development convention where high school graduates come up with an idea for an app. Rishi was only at the convention because he was told that he would meet his future wife, Dimple. Dimple was there because she wanted to win and start her journey to success. As expected, the two end up falling in love. That’s it, that’s the whole story. This is the kind of book that you don’t have to read to know how it ends.

Let’s start with the one thing that I absolutely loved about this book. I loved how Indian culture was present in the book and it’s honestly the only redeeming part of this book. The author brings up stereotypes and traditions that I grew up with, which I love! There aren’t many book out there that discuss my culture in a way that this book did. Menon even talks about the expectations that Indian parents put on their children. Rishi is the oldest and he feels like he needs to be the perfect indian son, go to the perfect school, and find the perfect wife. Dimple feels like she doesn’t fit into Indian culture or American culture, which is a feeling that I have also felt. It was nice seeing thoughts and feelings I’ve had out on paper like this.

Now onto the things I absolutely could not stand about this book. Buckle up, because there’s a lot. The biggest thing I disliked was that they were at a program about coding, but the actual process of coding wasn’t mentioned once. The app development aspect is absolutely ignored, which makes no sense because it’s supposed to be the majority of the plot. The freaking talent show had more attention than the actual program. Second, this entire book was extremely unrealistic. You expect me to believe that an 18 year old boy is ready to get married? And that he wants to do every single thing his parents tell him to? You also expect me to believe that an Indian mom was okay with her daughter driving herself to San Francisco and even to her first day at college? I don’t think so.

Moving on, I could not stand Dimple. I really tried to like her and I did for a little bit but why does a big part of her personality have to be that she’s not like other girls? I get it Dimple, you don’t like makeup or dresses or popular girls or anyone that’s remotely different from you, but does it have to be mentioned every other sentence? I am all here for Dimple not fitting into the cookie cutter for brown girls, but I absolutely hate that she thinks she’s better because of it.

This book was a disappointment. Menon could have taken this book in so many directions, but it fell flat for me. I am a sucker for romance, but this felt plotless. You need more than just romance to make a good book. It was interesting at first, but I just could not take the cheesiness and how underwhelming it was. This is the kind of book I can read in a day and it took me three days because of how much I could not stand it. 15 year old me would have ate this up, but 19 year old me can’t even with this book. If overly cheesy and predictable romance with no real plot is your cup of tea then this book is for you, if not just don’t even open it. I would give this book two out of five stars.

Girl in the Blue Coat

I am a history major and I love reading historical fiction, especially when it’s good. Monica Hesse wrote a wonderfully intricate plot in this bestselling novel and I am so glad I picked it up. The book follows Hanneke during World War Two and the German occupation in Amsterdam. Hanneke is a finder of illicit items, which is how she makes money. One day she is asked by one of her clients to find a missing jewish teenager. Hanneke does not want to get involved at first, but she finds herself asking question after question about the missing girl. The book follows Hanneke as she discovers a resistance group, sees the first hand effects of the German occupation, and looks for the missing girl.

This book is filled to the brim with hope during a terrible time and an immense amount of heartbreak. It also brings to light just how much everyday people didn’t know about the second world war. Hanneke knew that jewish families were disappearing and being taken somewhere, but she had no clue how terribly they were being treated. How could she know that when Germany doesn’t want any evidence of the Holocaust getting out? Another thing I absolutely adore about this book is that it is about the everyday families. As a history major I’m expected to like studying wars, but I have always been more interested in small acts of resistance and how wars affect people. This book has the ability to narrow down to a story about a few people, while also paying attention to the big picture which is the war.

Another part of this book that stood out to me was how much pain Hanneke was holding onto. She lost someone important to her in the war and throughout this book she blames herself for their death. She thinks that by finding the missing girl she will make up for what happened. It was heartbreaking reading her dealing with her pain and channeling it into finding the girl. Hesse wrote the heartbreak so wonderfully that at times I was close to tears, and I definitely shed them.

As much as I loved this book, there are some parts that didn’t quite work for me. One of those is that Hesse never made me feel that there were any real consequences for Hanneke for finding a jewish girl. Obviously, for certain characters, there was the fear of being sent to concentration camps, but even then the threat didn’t feel imminent. Perhaps I went into this book with the expectation that there would be more action. Even when one of the characters was introduced as gay, it wasn’t touched on except for when it was mentioned. There was no danger attached to it because Hesse didn’t give it much attention. At that time people would die or go to concentration camps for being gay, but Hesse almost made it seem like it was trivial.

Overall, I loved this book because if a book involves history in it, I am here for it. Hesse made me feel the heartbreak that Hanneke was feeling and she created a truly interesting mystery plot. I would give this book 4/5 stars and I hope you check it out!

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