Category Archives: Contemporary

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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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

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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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.

DOES THIS NOT RING A BELL TO YOU? CAUSE IT SURELY DOES TO ME!

*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

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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

George by Alex Gino

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george

Title: George

Author: Alex Gino

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Published: August 25, 2015

Pages: 240 pages


BE WHO YOU ARE.

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

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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

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

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“I want you to ask yourself: Who are you?”

Kristin Lattimer, the main character, has got it lucky. She has a scholarship in the bag and her father won’t have to pay a cent for college. She has two amazing BFFs named Vee and Faith, whom she could share anything under the sun. She is taking her dreamy boyfriend Sam (who has a smile that makes her feel like a goddess) to Homecoming and they were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.

And you know what happens after Homecoming, right?

Just like every hormone fueled teenagers at the back of a limo with champagne cruising through their veins, Krissy and Sam had sex. Her first time was supposed to be AMAZING. But… It was far from pleasant. In fact, it felt like “someone had taken an electric drill to her insides.”

It’s not supposed to feel that painful, is it?

After visiting the OB-GYNE doctor, Krissy found out why she’s never had her period. She found out why she never had an acne problem, and the reason why she doesn’t have any hair “down there.” She also found out why it was excruciatingly painful when she tried to have sex.

Krissy found out that she’s an intersex.

What??? She’s a girl! She can’t be intersex!

Krissy felt like her life took a turn for the worse. Her two “hernias” turned out to be two testicles putting her at risk for cancer. She will never give birth to her own baby.

She will never be a true woman.

How is she going to tell her boyfriend? How will her BFFs react to the news? How will everybody treat her after they find out what’s going on with her?

Knowing she could always confide to her BFF, Krissy told Vee about her condition. Vee, then, told her mom and their other BFF, Faith, about Krissy’s condition. You know how gossip goes. As if Krissy’s situation was not bad enough… Everybody at school now knows about her condition. Everybody who voted her as their Homecoming Queen are now calling her names like Kristopher, bumping into her, and are just being plain a-holes. Her boyfriend does not want to talk to her anymore and is being bullied because of her.

Her life is falling apart.

But there is one question that needs to be answered.

Who told everyone about her condition?

Was it Vee? She did run against Krissy for Homecoming Queen and lost. Did Vee’s anger fuel her revenge?

Did Vee’s mom, who is friends with Sam’s mom, spill the beans?

Or was it Faith? But… She’s the one who could keep a secret the best and the one who grew up in a religious family. It can’t be her.

At first, I thought this book was about LGBT people. Though the main character is not gay, the hate she received from her fellow students is very similar to homophobia and transphobia. She was called names like “tranny,” “man-whore,” and “faggot” which really stung personally because how could these so called “friends” easily turn their back on her? How could a person disregard someone’s whole being just because of their anatomy?

The idea behind the book was great, but the characters did not live up to it.

I didn’t feel Sam’s love for Krissy. All the vibes I received from him was that he just wanted to have sex with her. After he found out about Krissy being intersex, he was vile, cruel, and an a-hole to her. What was his role anyway? He was just another pretty face. He did not contribute anything to the book.

Krissy’s life fell apart because of her diagnosis. However, I felt like losing her boyfriend was WAAAAAY worse. She was too obsessed with Sam even if he treated her horribly. She kept on thinking about him and wanted to get back with him. I felt my eyes roll to another dimension every time she thought of him. Girl… You are better off without him. Also, after the whole school found out about her condition, instead of accepting it and owning it, she went into hiding. She avoided people, and kept on making excuses. Yes, those are the common behaviors you’d expect. However, give me a strong main character. Show everyone a good example. Give people hope that even during hardships, one can chose to escape, or one can be brave.

I. W. Gregorio’s debut novel None of the Above took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. The author captured exactly how people are, and how they think when confronted with things that are far too difficult for their comprehension. If you want a mind opening, thought provoking, and gut wrenching book, this one is for you.

Rating: 3/5 stars

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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More Happy Than NotIt was another routine trip to Barnes and Noble. I went to my favorite aisle which houses the Teens and Young Adult books and I noticed More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. Curious, I decided to read the book blurb and I was like, “Woah. Diversity. Score.” and took off with the book. Legally, ofcourse.

Aaron Soto, first person POV, is awkwardly funny, quirky, full of profanity, comic book-loving, and artistic teenage boy. He grew up in the Bronx in a small one-bedroom apartment for the four three of them: mom, brother, and himself. Mom works two jobs just to keep the roof above their head, and food on the table. Dad… Well he is a different story. You see, he committed suicide in their very own bathroom, in their bathtub.

Aaron has a girlfriend named Genevieve, and they seem like a normal, happy, heterosexual couple. Until, by coincidence, he met Thomas; a dreamer, and a writer who does not mind Aaron’s obsession with comic books and sketching. Both boys clicked instantly. They hung out more often, talked more often, and became close friends. Well, to Thomas they are friends. But for Aaron? Something feels different. Something feels off. He thinks he’s… No. It can’t be. He has a girlfriend.

He can’t be gay.

Wanting to forget about his sexuality and other memories, Aaron decided that he wants to go through Leteo’s memory altering procedure. It erases parts of your memory and can alter stories in your past.

After the plot twist, (which I will not mention here), I was hit by “the feels” out of nowhere.

Suddenly, I felt like I understand Aaron. Suddenly, I felt attached to the book. I flipped through the pages; wanting to know more, wanting to feel more, and crying some more. Aaron’s story socked me right in the heart.

What I really love about More Happy Than Not is Adam Silvera’s way of telling a story that feels raw, real, and unforgettable. This book delved through gut-wrenching, mind opening, and profound emotions related to homophobia, depression, suicide, and the inner struggle between who you really are and who pretend to be.

“Don’t forget me.”

I certainly won’t forget More Happy Than Not anytime soon. This debutant author caught my eye and I will be expecting great books from here on out.

Rating: 5/5 stars