A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro


a study in charlotte.JPGTitle: A Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publish Date: March 1, 2016

Pages: 336 pages


You’ve never seen Watson and Holmes like this before.

A Study in Charlotte was told in James Watson’s point of view. It all started when he received a scholarship to play rugby for Sherringford, a school in Connecticut filled with rich kids who use summer as a verb (eg. She summers in Italy). It is also filled with spoiled, rich brats who use daddy and mommy’s money for drugs or buy anything their heart desires.

It is also the school where Charlotte Holmes goes to.

Charlotte Holmes and James Watson are descendants of, you guessed it, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Charlotte inherited Sherlock’s temperament, quick wits, razor tongue, and his use of drugs. James also has Dr. Watson’s characteristics especially being a good friend to Charlotte.

I’m trying to keep my reviews spoiler free so I am going to keep this short.

Holmes and Watson can never seem to catch a break. Can Holmes solve this case? Will Watson make it out alive?

Have you ever bought a book purely because of its cover? Well, this book is definitely an example of that. I absolutely adore the color scheme of the book which boasts a beautiful shade of coral and a couple shades of blue.

I must admit that my Sherlock Holmes knowledge is not up to par. However, the author did a great job in making sure that no reader is left behind. She explains the copycat’s actions by telling the reader the story behind it (a story within a story = mind blown). Like every predictable antagonist, the author made sure the reader in the end knows how the antagonist did the crime and of course, who the accomplice is.

Overall, I absolutely liked A Study in Charlotte especially because Holmes and Watson’s relationship is very similar to Sherlock and Dr. Watson’s. I admire Charlotte on how smart she is in deducing the crime (even if it took awhile) because I know I would never be able to have solved the mystery. I even liked her more because the epilogue is written by her.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard



Title: Glass Sword

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publish Date: February 9, 2016

Pages: 444 pages





Rating: 4/5 stars

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard


IMG_1073Title: Cruel Crown

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publish Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 208 pages

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard is a compilation of her two novellas — Queen Song and Steel Scars. It also gives you the opportunity to have a sneak peak to entice you, tease you, make-you-wish-it’s-the-release-day, of her second book, Glass Sword (not that she needed to).

Queen Song is a novella about Queen Coriane’s past, how she rose to the throne and the “scandal” behind it, and how she was murdered.

Coriane came from the House of Jacos, a poor, insignificant, and forgotten House compared to the other noble Houses. She loves books, tinkering, and doing manual labor. These practices, however, are frowned upon by her father and her foul cousin Jessamine for she is of Silver blood and God forbid any Silver blood caught doing such things.

She grew up with her best friends, brother Julian Jacos and Sara Skonos. On her birthday, she received a journal from her brother where she wrote her most private thoughts, deaths and events, and later on, her last thoughts before her untimely death.

No matter how happy the trio are that day, most happiness can end abruptly. Julian and Sara have their own plan of sharing a life together, as a couple, focusing more on each other. Knowing this, Coriane became more depressed and succumbed to the thought that she will live the rest of her life with her evil cousin Jessamine, alone, unwed, and unloved (the author did a great job reminding the reader that Coriane has very low self-esteem and self-worth). *insert sassy Harry Potter eye roll here*

Coriane’s fate was changed when she met Tiberias the 6th, son of Tiberias the 5th from House Calore. The prince fell for Coriane, a singer (one who can manipulate and control minds), a nobody, from House Jacos. It was true love, but the people thought otherwise. They said that she used her power to make Tibe fall for her, to get the crown, and have him marry her. Powerful people from other Houses were in opposition of their union, that there should have been a Queenstrial to earn the right to be married to Tibe. But he was in love with Coriane. The Queen and Prince Robert knew this too, and they both respect his decision to marry Coriane and not have a Queenstrial.

The couple was happy. However, that didn’t last. Someone is reading Queen Coriane’s mind, constantly planting thoughts and nightmares, driving her mad. King Tiberias and Queen Coriane finally had a baby and per tradition, he was named Tiberias. Queen Coriane called him Cal.

Queen Coriane’s nightmares returned and it was worse than ever. The next day, “the diary ended unfinished, unseen by any who deserved to read it. Only (name removed due to spoiler) saw its pages, and the slow unravelling of the woman inside.”

This novella is a heartbreaking one. Coriane did nothing but love Tibe, yet other people who think of themselves as better than her, people who have power lust, think that their opportunity to wear the crown was stolen from them unfairly. This book solidified the fact that whoever murdered Queen Coriane is a heartless person who would stop at nothing for power.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Steel Scars is a novella that revolves around Captain Farley and The Scarlet Guard. It basically explained how The Scarlet Guard operates and how they can expand by knowing important people and places that would benefit them. It filled in some gaps from Red Queen, which showed us that they were in the background when everything else was happening. The book is also informative on how Captain Farley found Shade Barrow and became more involved in rescuing Mare Barrow, and in the end rescuing Cal as well.

Rating 3.5/5 stars

Overall, Cruel Crown is found between a good read and informative read. It helped me remember Red Queen and it prepared me (and overhyped me) for Glass Sword.

Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


alchemistTitle: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: HarperOne

Publish Date: April 25, 2014 (first published 1988)

Pages: 182 pages

This book was given to me by a very good friend from work and she raved about The Alchemist. She said she has read this book a million times and she always felt the same awe after she reads it. I became curious about the book and decided to read it.

If you feel like you have no control over your life,

If you feel like everything is not going your way,

If you feel like you have lost sight of the true meaning of life,

If you have hit rock bottom and you feel like there is no hope,

If you’re held back from your ultimate dream,

If you are uncertain or worried about your future,

If you just need a reminder of the beauty of life,

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is the book for you.

Some may say that the meaning behind the book is very obvious and wish that the translation was a little better and I totally agree. However, what I liked about the book is that it is a great reminder to always follow your dreams. It reminds us that the journey, not the destination, is important. It urges us to never give up when trials come your way because anything worth having won’t come easy.

I mean, the book is a very big cliché, but what really intrigued me is when it started mentioning The Philosopher’s Stone that can transform large quantities of metal into gold and The Elixir of Life that kept the Alchemist from growing old.


*coughs* J.K. Rowling *coughs*

I am obviously not certain, but this really made me happy for I am a HUGE Harry Potter Fanatic!

Overall, The Alchemist was a good read. I wish I finished it sooner though. Nevertheless, I am thankful to have read this for I needed a reminder myself.

When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dreams.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here


TROUJLHTitle: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publish Date: October 6, 2015

Pages: 336 pages

Everybody knows the lead character of every book. Who doesn’t, right? He/she is just the MAIN focus of the book; we all know every mannerism, everything they do, the shade of his/her eyes, the love interest, etc. They are the ones who make sure the world doesn’t end or the damsel in distress gets saved (is this still a thing?) and manages to do all of that without getting killed or maimed.

However, nobody knows about the supporting cast — the people who live their normal lives while the super hero saves the day, the people who just want to be safe, the people who just want to go to work or graduate, the people who don’t know that an invasion is about to happen and their fate is in the hands of a teenager who helplessly fell in love with the invader’s son who double crossed her in the end because he is, surprise, his mother’s son.

This is what Patrick Ness did with The Rest Of Us Just Live Here (and that is how some of his writing is too). The ordinary, supporting casts gets the lime light instead of the heroes who tries to save their small, sketchy town. Sure, their town gets their share of crazy bat shit paranormal phenomena more often than they need, but life goes on when you’re not the one responsible for saving your town from the Immortals. Life goes on when you’re not an “Indie.” Life goes on when you are a normal teenager.

The book doesn’t really have a plot per se. All they (Mikey, Mel, Henna, and Jared) really want is to survive the rest of their high school life, and spend all of their time together before everybody graduates and moves out of town. It does have a short synopsis in every chapter about the crazy things that are happening in their town while the “supporting casts” try to survive their day to day lives.

I must say that I fell in love with Patrick Ness after I read A Monster Calls. This book threw me a little off because of it’s different type of writing. But, that does not mean I dislike Patrick Ness now. This book actually made me like him more.

Wait, what? You just said the writing is different but you still like him?

Yep. You read that right! I rarely read the acknowledgment section, but in this book I did. I was so surprised that this book was a fund raiser for the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) for the Philippines.

“Authors donated various prizes for which people bid.”

Patrick Ness auctioned off the chance to have the winners name in this book and the winners were Henna Silvennoinen and Jared Shurin. Lucky!

Overall, The Rest Of Us Just Live Here was a good way to start the new year. It shows us that even if we feel that nothing is really happening in our lives, it doesn’t mean it’s not a life worth living. We all get caught up with our everyday lives that sometimes we forget to thank God for the blessings we have received. We all get so upset at work that sometimes we forget that we are lucky to be employed, that  we are able to bring food on the table, and keep a roof over our head.

“Sometimes you have to find the EXTRAORDINARY in the ordinary.”

. . .this I certainly intend to do.

By the way, the book sleeve GLOWS IN THE DARK!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


passengerTitle: Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Expected Publish Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 464 pages

Henrietta “Etta” Spencer, the lead protagonist of the story, is a violin prodigy who’s raised by Rose (her mother) and practically by Alice (her mentor). She lives her normal life in New York and if she is not in school, she is most likely found at Alice’s place; practicing continuously for hours and hours with her violin.

Etta, even if she’s raised by her mother, feels that something is missing between their relationship. She feels that no matter how hard she tries to receive her mother’s affection, or catch her attention, and earn her appreciation, she is always denied.

What does it take to ignite their relationship and finally bridge the bond between her mother and her? Why does Etta know very little of her family’s past? What secrets lurk in their, her, bloodline that’s keeping her from the truth?

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken was a curious read for me. Now that I thought about it, it sort of follows the footsteps of Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis because they both “travel” through a portal of some sort (though Spinning Starlight travels to different dimension while Passenger travels through time) and both, unfortunately, in some way lost me when they started talking Sci-Fi-ish.

The author knows her words and is capable of using them beautifully like how she can fluidly describe her characters emotions, what’s stimulating their sensations, and with a few words, an intimate love scene between Etta and her love interest, Nicholas. However, there were times when I skimmed through her words due to excessive world building or inner dialogue and there were times when I had to muscle through a chapter because it felt like reading everything was a chore.

I had information overload when the author started talking about music concertos, a pirate’s life, traveling back in time, Etta’s family history, and how to find the passages. Nevertheless, it seemed like she did a great deal of a research regarding the topics (though I never verified that). The plot did make me feel random emotions especially when it started talking about slavery and the ideology behind it, how Nicholas described Etta as a “fierce queen on a battle field,” the secrecy and deception, and most importantly feminism.

Overall, Passenger was a good read. I must say that I LOVE the calligraphic design of the title and if you look closely, you can see Nicholas’ ship capsized beneath the beautiful New York City.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern



Title: Flawed

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Expected Publish Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 368 pages

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

When everybody in a community, in a society, that strives for perfection — perfect grades, perfect demeanor, perfect body, perfect reputation, perfect everything, what does it mean to be Flawed?

Flawed are the citizens who have made moral or ethical mistakes in society. The location on where you get branded with F varies per mistake. On top of that, you have to wear an armband with  a big honking red F to make an example out of you; to remind the good citizens of Highland to never make a mistake.

Flawed is written in a first person point of view by Celestine North. She started by describing her family, her relationship with Art Crevan, and Judge “Bosco” Crevan. She also went in detail how the Guild works, and its “justice” system.

Life seemed perfect for Celestine. . .


Will she stand up for what’s right, or will she lie to keep her perfect life?


Flawed was a controversial read for me and its blurb did not do any justice to its content. If the characters weren’t in their teens, this could easily pass as an adult fiction. This book is a mixture of the idea of Divergent (Janine wanting to get rid of Divergents thus keeping society “pure”), a modern version of The Scarlet Letter (the red A and the isolation and ridicule that comes with it), and The Hunger Games (when they want to use her as a symbol for change/rebellion).

The book had more talk than I really wanted, but it certainly kept my pulse up when there’s action. It tackled prejudice, discrimination, segregation, isolation, and bullying. Flawed also has espionage, secrets, lies, and betrayals. Nobody helps a Flawed girl for free. Everybody has a hidden agenda for themselves.

So what makes this book a Young Adult book?

Besides their age, here are a few things that reminded me that Flawed is a YA book.

  1. “Art’s decision to stay away from me. . .hurts more than any branding.” Celestine was branded multiple times with hot cast iron (with anesthetic, the last branding without) and I am sure she was in a lot of pain not to mention the pain while the scars are healing. After being judged as Flawed, she was singled out, hated on, spat at, reputation ruined, future uncertain, and all Celestine could think of is her boyfriend? As a feminist, I would prefer girls portrayed strong and not worrying about any lanky boy for their happiness (no matter how gorgeous their blue eyes are).
  2. “If I have power to bring down Crevan, then I will do it. Then Art and I can be together.” Again, really? Why does the lead female character have to have a boy as a reason to fight? Why not, “Because Crevan is a conniving SOB who used his power for his own gains and literally ruins anybody who goes against him?” or because “He turned against me when I did not allow him to use me for his benefit?”
  3. “Who’s Logan?” After being gone for God knows how long, Art shows up to find Celestine. Instead of asking how she’s holding up, the first thing that came out of his mouth was petty jealousy. I just can’t with this boy.

However, even if the book has some shallow parts, I cannot deny the fact that I LOVE how the author tried to have diversity of the characters.

  1. Celestine’s dad is black and her mom is white.
  2. Mr. Berry has a husband.
  3. Devon sleeps with boys “even if his parents wished he didn’t.”

Overall, Flawed was a good pick me up from not being able to read for a good four months. Will I buy the printed version? Maybe. Do I recommend this book? Yes, to those who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Scarlet Letter.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

George by Alex Gino



Title: George

Author: Alex Gino

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Published: August 25, 2015

Pages: 240 pages


When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

George by Alex Gino is a children’s book, but it is more mature than any other books I have ever read. It has this subtle way of educating the reader what it is to be transgender, and it opened a window for us to realize their life and emotions. I believe that this book is an important read because kids, at a young age, should know that transgender people are real; they have feelings, they could be anybody, and that they could be transgender and it’s okay.

George teaches kids and adults acceptance and unconditional love. It shows us that we need to be nice to one another because you’ll never know what someone is going through. The story is written simply because it should be this simple to accept someone’s identity.

“And you know what? If you think you’re a girl, then I think you’re a girl too!”

Quite a few books have made me cry this year, and George is definitely one of them. Bitter-sweet tears escaped my eyes because someone finally put it out there that you are okay; that you are okay if you are transgender, or bi, or gay, or lesbian.

You are okay if you are anything but straight.

“Well, you can’t control who your children are, but you can certainly support them, am I right?”

To all the parents who are struggling to accept their transgender kid, or gay son, or lesbian daughter — there is nothing wrong with them, with us. We are still the same child you taught how to read and say the ABCs. We are still the same child you taught how to ride the bike. Our sexuality and identity might not be straight, but we are still the same child you gave birth to. Nothing has changed. The world is already a cruel place, but as long as we have you, your love and acceptance, we will be okay.

To all who are struggling to accept their identity or sexuality — there is nothing wrong with you, there is nothing wrong with us. Our sexuality and identity is our normal just like how straight people like their opposite sex. The world can be cruel to people that’s “different,” but trust me when I say that it will get better. Life is scary. Life is difficult, but it is much more difficult if you keep on fighting who you really are. Don’t make your own life difficult. Love and accept yourself.

“Be who you are.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon


everything everything

Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Illustrated: Yes

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Published: September 1, 2015

Pages: 320 pages

“Just because you

can’t experience everything

doesn’t mean

you shouldn’t experience anything.”

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is about Madeline Whittier’s life. She seems like a normal teenager; loves to read books, runs an online book blog, wants to get a learner’s permit, and maybe visit the beach. Most importantly, she wants to experience her first kiss.

So, what’s stopping her?

Maddy has this disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). I don’t want to bore you with facts so I’ll sum it up for you: Her immune system is compromised. She is basically allergic to the world. She is a bubble girl and she has been for almost eighteen years. She lives in a sterile environment and is being taken cared of by her mom (who, luckily, is a doctor) and her amazing nurse named Carla.

Maddy is content with her life; she has a close relationship with her mom, a huge collection of books specially decontaminated just for her, homeschooled, and she has internet. I mean, life could not get any better, right?

Then one day, her predictable life is turned up side down.

“Maybe we can’t predict everything, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

Olly is the new boy next door. “He’s tall, lean, and wearing all black: black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He’s white with pale honey tan and his face is starkly angular.” Perfect example of a mysterious, good looking guy that piques the interest of a curious girl, right?

Olly seems like a nice guy with good intentions.

He is also curious with the girl next door.

They have to meet each other.

“He’s not safe. He’s not familiar. He’s in constant motion. He’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.”

Ok. I am not certain if you know how much I DESPISE instalove. Everything, Everything is basically a curious girl who obsessively thinks about the guy next door leading to impulsive, and careless decisions. She fell for the guy, he fell for her. It fits every quality that usually make my eyes roll until I see my brain. Why such a high rating then?

I won’t spill much, but I actually had the feels with this book; it gnawed on my limbic system and left me hollow inside. Bonus: It wasn’t caused by the two sweethearts.

Maddy and Olly are “weird” in their own way. I don’t know how the author did it, but she managed to make their connection click. Was it because I can relate to how their relationship developed? Was it because she defied her mother just for Olly? (Which I did too when I was her age). Did I like it because it was relatable?

One more thing, I really like the diversity in this book; racially and sexually. Thank you, author.

All in all, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was an enjoyable read. Before I end this review, I would like for you to ponder on something.

“Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you could just change one thing?”

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5 stars

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


A monster calls

Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Inspiration: Siobhan Dowd

Illustrated: No

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: August 4, 2015

Pages: 240 pages

After reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, I remember lying in bed thinking, “What just happened? What did I do to myself?”

The book is extremely haunting not because of living monsters. No. It is haunting because of the monsters that dwell inside the body — inside a person’s mind.

You really aren’t afraid, are you?

“No,” Conor said. “Not of you, anyway.”

You will be, it said. Before the end.

Patrick Ness is a master puppeteer and I, the puppet. He knew exactly how to tug the strings to make the reader feel certain emotions. He easily manipulated my emotions from being scared, hurt, feeling betrayed, happy, to ugly crying in a heartbeat. His words were raw, powerful, and unrestrained.

Looking back, I don’t remember any description of Conor. However, that did not matter because somehow the author managed to put me, the reader, in Conor’s shoes. Suddenly, I was the teenager who’s feeling the grief, and pain, and suffering. I was suddenly sent back in time when I was feeling the same emotions.

Having no description of Conor did not matter because I was Conor.

Brilliantly scary.

A Monster Calls totally caught me off guard. This book is easily one of my best reads ever.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. Don’t do any research and don’t read any spoilers. Put your guard down and embrace vulnerability.

Rating: 5/5 stars