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Book Review: A Study In Shifters by Majanka Verstraete

36684173Book Title: A Study In Shifters
Author: Majanka Verstraete
Series: The Adventures of Marisol Holmes #1
Publication Date: June 26th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Seventeen-year-old Marisol Holmes may be the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s hard to live up to the family name when only one mistake can spell your downfall. After trusting the wrong guy in a case gone totally wrong, Marisol convinces the Conclave, an underground organization of detectives solving supernatural cases, to give her a last chance to prove her worth, and maybe even heal her broken heart.

After all, as a half-blood jaguar shifter, Marisol is uniquely qualified to solve this murder—and every scrap of evidence points toward the culprit being a fellow jaguar shifter. But is one of her own people involved, or is this all a ploy to kick Marisol’s mother off the shifter throne?

Then Marisol discovers her best friend, Roan, is missing, and maybe the killer’s next target. The stakes just got higher than political intrigue. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Marisol’s ex-boyfriend-turned-nemesis, Mannix, starts leaving sinister clues for her. Marisol fears this case might be far more personal than she could’ve imagined.

It’s time for Marisol to prove her worth, or her people could fall into chaos while her best friend loses his life.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

If you know me, you know that I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. So when I came across this on Netgalley, I did not hesitate to request. I knew that I would like this but I didn’t expect to have enjoyed this as much as I did.

I love the mystery with a paranormal twist. I think it’s quite unique to incorporate paranormal elements to a descendant of Holmes. The mystery element in the book is great; tested my brain and really made me think. When I thought I got it all figured out, BAM, a plot twist would appear. The plot twist at the end especially was absolutely amazing and took me completely by surprise.

The main character, Marisol Holmes, is fairly easy to like. She is a half-blood, half human and half jaguar shifter. Despite being a Holmes, Marisol was often affected by her strong emotions, thus committing mistakes. But no one’s perfect, right? I also liked how Marisol has a Sherlock Mode, where she abandons all emotions to focus on facts for solving cases. Aside from that, Marisol also has her inner jaguar and she kind of grew on me.

However, I sometimes get the feeling that I’m reading the second book in a series where I haven’t read the first one. I had to check Goodreads just to make sure that this is indeed the first book. I think that the book could have done with maybe a bit more background of what happened in the Big Betrayal, not just a quick explanation about it. I would also like a bit more about Roan. 😉

I really enjoyed reading A Study In Shifters because the author did a great job in combining mystery and paranormal, and creating a great main character. I’m really looking forward to the next in this series!

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Book Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

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Book Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: April 8th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Age Range: 12-17 years old
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.


MY THOUGHTS

I was a bit hesitant to pick this up when I did because I wasn’t really in the mood for being bombarded with new terms and whatever as I’m entering a new world reading a new series. But the cover made me think: Surely it would be a pleasant and light because look at that cover! And I was right, it is a humorous and fun read. I wasn’t aware that I was laughing so much until my sister told me to stop being an idiot.

I was surprised when I found myself liking the main character, Harper Price. I never thought I would admire a character who loves prom and frets about lip gloss. I mean, our personalities just seem a bit different from each other. But then again, she is really hilarious and bad-ass in her own way. I guess her wit and charisma won me over.

Let me just say this: How David Stark calls Harper “Pres” just brings back memories for me. Okay, story time! When I was in 7th grade, I had a crush on our class president. I call him “Pres” and it kinda became our thing. *sigh* Good times. But you don’t care about that, do you? Moving on…

The love element in this is totally what I’m looking for in the romance genre, not too rushed but not too slow. It’s not insta-love, but it’s not where-is-the-fucking-romance either. Also, it’s more on the subtle side, like it didn’t majorly affect the whole plot. Their relationship gave me butterflies in my stomach; they’re just so cute!

The ending was really unpredictable, I feel like. I laughed so much for some reason, one being I was certainly caught off guard. I don’t know, something about it just seems so damn amusing to me.

I would’ve liked a bit more action, if you ask me, but it was still a great story. This book is like an introduction to this new world that Harper’s been thrown into, so I’ll let the lack of action slide.

Although I tried not to (because I kept hearing people say that they didn’t really like the sequel), I have quite high expectations for the next books. I just really hope that my expectations won’t come biting me in the ass in the future.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Personally, I would buy it for the cover alone but the story and the characters are truly amazing. I suggest you try this out if you haven’t yet and if you have, go read it again!

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.

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Book Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

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Book Title: Epic Fail
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 2nd 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, YA
Age Range: 12+ years old
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.


MY THOUGHTS

Okay, let me start off by saying that I didn’t know that this was kind of like a Pride and Prejudice young adult retelling until I did a bit of research on the book. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t exactly read P&P yet. Why? I’m not sure either.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll discuss the reasons why I enjoyed this book.

Elise Benton, our main character, is very funny. She has a sense of humor that I appreciate and she’s an overall nice person, which made me like her. Actually, I like most of the characters, except for her little sister Layla who is such a pain in the butt. I empathize for Elise about the whole my-family-is-embarrassing-but-I-still-love-them, though. I have my very own! So I kind of relate to her in another level considering that I, too, experienced the over-protectiveness, the annoying little sisters, and the stupid house rules too (well, not to the extent that we can’t use cellphones in the house, but you get my point).

Aside from Elise, there is another character that I absolutely loved, Derek Edwards. Among all the books I’ve read or films I’ve watched with a celebrity or a famous character in it, Derek has got to be one of the most realistic. Most of that type of stories just make it look like there’s no downside to being popular. It seems all like rainbows and flowers and sunshine. But in Epic Fail, it doesn’t only let the reader know the negatives, but it makes them sympathize for the character too. At first, it worried me that we might not get to know Derek as much as I would’ve like to—but it turns out that it wasn’t really a problem. I skimmed through a few reviews on Goodreads and some people say they didn’t like Derek. It’s obvious that he’s a bit standoffish but, I think when the reader gets to know him a bit more, it’s really understandable.

The plot was okay, it didn’t suck but it didn’t really leave an impact on me whatsoever. There is one element in the story that I didn’t like how it turns out. I was actually thrilled to have seen that the story took a turn to that direction but unpleasantly shocked on how it was resolved. I will only say this: Webster Grant. Read the book to find out what I mean.

Would I recommend it?

Maybe? If you’re looking for a light and humorous read and you like the premise of this, try this one.

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.

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Book Review: Untethered by Katie Hayoz

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Book Title: Untethered
Author: Katie Hayoz
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 3rd 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Age Range: 14+ years old
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it. But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.

Sixteen-year-old Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever. But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.

Untethered explores the intoxicating and dangerous world of jealousy and obsession when coupled with paranormal ability. Finalist in Mslexia novel competition.


I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

I never knew that my brain could function really well when it’s 3:00 in the morning. I didn’t notice that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. finishing this book, and I wrote a draft of this review in the next hour. Now, editing it, I realized that this post is gonna be way too long so I might cut off some things here and there. But I hope this post will help you in some way!

So, the book is divided into two parts: the first part and the second part (duh) and I have really different feelings about them. Let me talk about the first part. In terms of the characters, I already felt detached to the main, Sylvie Sydell.  I must admit that I relate to Sylvie in the sense that don’t fit in my own skin either (but I obviously do not astral project). Also, there are times that I sympathize with her because she’s obviously going through more than what she can handle. But Sylvie can get really boring, selfish and insensitive at times and that irks me.

While on the topic of characters, let me say that I really like Cassie. She’s very mature, especially when compared to Sylvie. Cassie puts aside her problems just to help others with their own. She never does things she actually want to do because she always thinks of everyone first. And personally, I think Cassie needs a story of her own.

Story and plot-wise, the first half of the book dragged on. It was a bit too boring and too slow. It took me days to finish reading the first part! I think Sylvie’s personality (as I mentioned earlier) contributed a lot to it too.

Now, the second part of the story. To say that it pleasantly surprised me is an understatement. I was dead set on giving this 2 out of 5 stars when I was about 50% in but when the first part ended and the second one started, oh my God. Just wow. I devoured the rest of the book, I can’t believe it.

Despite saying that I felt indifferent to Sylvie, I warmed up to her eventually when her character development started to show. Although at one point, I started to worry that the dispute with Sylvie and someone—I won’t say because I don’t like spoilers either—wouldn’t be resolved properly because I’m getting dangerously close to finishing the book without the problem getting dealt with yet; but it turns out that there was nothing to be worried about. The author did a great job of settling the dilemma in such little amount of pages left.

On the other hand, the issue between two people (again, you’ll have to read the book to find out) weren’t cleared up. That was a bit bothering, but what can you do? And the story was wrapped up pretty good, but I think it’s better off without the last chapter.

I’m sorry if the stuff I’m talking about makes no sense at all, my eyes are literally closing on their own. But overall, I’m amazed at how much I enjoyed this. This is kind of like a cliche contemporary romance with a paranormal twist, and it’s surprisingly great. I think it’s creative how the author put in astral projection with the main issue which is self-acceptance. I understand the feeling of not being comfortable in my own body, and astral projection seems like something I would do too, if I could.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, definitely check this out! If you’re a fan of paranormal—heck, even if you’re not—this is a fantastic read. I don’t normally reach for the paranormal genre but I’m super glad that I requested (and got approved) for this copy.

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Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

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Book Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: July 2nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, YA
Age Range: 13-17 years old
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.


MY THOUGHTS

First of all, let me tell you that I bought this book because of its cover. I know, I’m a horrible human being. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and all that… blah blah. But when I read the summary, I thought it would be another really cliché rich-boy-meets-poor-girl love story. Well, it kind of is—but this is different in its own way.

Before I explain why I absolutely loved this, let me tell you the two things I didn’t like about this. First was the lack of depth for Xander’s character. I just didn’t know more about Xander’s character (and life) outside of their relationship, so as a result, I didn’t quite connect to him more than I would like to. The other thing is the ending. Granted, the ending is sweet and adorable and all but I think that it was just too good, too convenient.

Now let me mention the things that made me swoon over this book.

First of all, I love a book that could make me laugh and this one made me laugh out loud loads of times. The banter in this book is really entertaining and I savored every bit of it.

Another thing I adored is how the story doesn’t just revolve around Caymen’s love life. It actually tackles problems: poverty, indecisiveness of what to do in the future, family history/drama and struggles in health.

If Caymen Meyers, the main character, was a real person, there’ll be no doubt that we would be the best of friends. I relate to her so much. We share the same dry sense of humor or at least I think we do. Much like her, I also don’t have a clue on what the future holds for me. When reading, I always just find myself thinking about how similar we are. She is definitely my favorite character in the story.

There wasn’t insta-love. That was another thing I was worried about before reading this. Luckily, it turned out really good. It wasn’t rushed I loved how I could feel Caymen and Xander’s chemistry.

When I hear the word “doll store” the first thing that comes to mind are creepy dolls. Now in this story, Caymen’s mother runs a doll store. I didn’t feel uncomfortable whenever the shop was being described; it almost feels homely. I don’t know if you even care about that but it’s a pro for me. I just think I should include that.

I heard a lot of great things about the author’s works and I’m looking forward to trying out her other books.

Would I recommend this?

If you like contemporary books or you’re in the mood for a cute romantic story that would make you laugh and feel for the characters, this one’s for you!

All book cover photos are taken from Goodreads.