A Study in Charlotte: Book Review

 

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Title: A Study in Charlotte

Series: Charlotte Holmes Series

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Publish Date: January 3rd, 2017

Genre: Mystery/YA/Retelling

Reading Format: Paperback

Summary:

Jamie Watson earns a rugby scholarship to a prep school in Sherringford, Connecticut.   Starting his new school brings Jamie not only geographically closer to his estranged father but also to Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great-granddaughter to the infamous Sherlock Holmes.  Naturally Jamie, the great-great-great-grandson of John Watson, feels that he and Charlotte are destined to be the best of friends.  Too bad, however, for Jamie that his first meeting with Charlotte doesn’t go as planned, nor did he expect to find himself to be framed for murder along with Ms. Holmes.

Review:

I’ve only ever read one Sherlock Holmes Novel and that was The Hound of the Baskervilles for my 7th grade literature class.  Needless to say I’m far removed from having read that book and outside of movies and TV shows about the famous fictional detective, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.  So when I decided to pick up A Study in Charlotte as an impulse buy at Target (what isn’t an impulse buy at Target?) I didn’t know what to expect other than the retelling of a classic with Sherlock and Watson’s great-great-great-grandchildren.

First let me get this out of the way by saying that the entire time I visualized Charlotte and Jamie mostly like this:

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Though granted the main characters in this book were all but 16 (and one happens to also be female), I couldn’t quite get around Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson.

Now that I have planted that idea into your mind as well, I’ll continue on with my review.

The first two words that come to mind to describe A Study in Charlotte is dark and funny.  The wittiness between Charlotte and Jamie is quite reflective of anything else Sherlock related, and the common themes that haunt her great-great-great-grandfather also haunt Charlotte.

There is enough in this book that it has a familiarity to it but also provides enough originality that it doesn’t appear like a redundant plot line.  Brittany Cavallaro does a good job of incorporating the original stories while maintaining her own take on the novels to produce a murder mystery I actually enjoyed reading.  As someone who doesn’t venture into the mystery genre very often because I can sometimes find them predictable, I never lost my interest in what was happening in the book.

If you enjoy Sherlock Holmes I would suggest reading A Study in Charlotte but if you are expecting an exact replica or a continuation of the original novels then you might be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

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Midnight in Broad Daylight: Book Review

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Title: Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds

Author: Pamela Rotner Sakamoto

Publish Date: January 5th, 2016

Genre: History/Biographical

Reading Format: E-book

Summary (Publisher):

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Midnight in Broad Daylight is the true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II. An epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss, and redemption, Pamela Rotner Sakamoto’s history is a riveting chronicle of U.S.-Japan relations and of the Japanese experience in America.

Review:

I love history but oddly I don’t love to read about history.  I often find them to be a bit boring, or filled with too much information but no story to it.  I can count on one hand the number of Nonfiction books I’ve read that I’ve actually finished, Midnight in Broad Daylight being one of them and I loved this book.

It tells the story of the Fukuhara family. Parents born in Japan and immigrants to America, who raise their 5 children in a mixed cultural upbringing filled with the traditions of Japan and the modern aspects of America.  The book closely follows the lives of two of the brothers Harry and Frank.  Harry is the 3rd child and Frank is his younger brother.  After the death of their father and the start of the Great Depression in the United States, the boys who have spent their whole lives in America are moved to Japan by their mother, along with their 3 other siblings, to be closer to family.

Harry vows to return to America the moment they are forced to move and does after he finishes school.  He comes back to find that the town he grew up in and the friends he left behind don’t have a lot of interest in him any more, nor does the small town have any jobs to offer during the depression.  Moving to Los Angles, Harry bounces from job to job before moving in with a middle aged couple as their house boy.  The couple, who have no children of their own, treat Harry as though he were their son.  They even take in his sister, Mary, and her young daughter when she shows up after escaping her alcoholic and abusive husband.  Then after Pearl Harbor, Harry and Mary are sent to an interment camp until Harry is able to join the United States Army as a translator. Mean while Frank is still in Japan.  He is admitted into an elite school where he learns the ideology that heavily influences Imperial Japan. Frank and one of his and Harry’s other brothers, Pierce, are drafted into the Imperial Army.

Reading the Fukuhara story opened up a whole new world of curiosity for me about Japan, World War II, and cultures here in America.  This family’s story was heartbreaking and hopeful all at once, and presented a timely read even though it was experiences the Fukuhara’s went through nearly 75 years ago.  As an American I’m often surprised by how our society can be xenophobic because we are a rare group of people as our country is also not our ethnicity but rather built from many different ethnicities.  I alone can rattle off a long list of where my heritage comes from just like many others, but somehow we always tend to ignore that when it comes the the new immigrants who make their way to the United States.  Midnight in Broad Daylight shows the nastiness of xenophobia but also displays the strength of a family who attempt to move forward even when those around them want to hold them back because of who they are.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Book Review

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Title: The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epoct, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 2nd Edition (Because the title wasn’t long enough already!)

Author:  Susan Veness

Publish Date: April 3rd, 2015

Genre: Travel

Reading Format: E-book

Review:

So I’ve mentioned this a time or two before but I love Walt Disney World and all things Disney.  I figure The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World would be a quick and mildly insightful book to read.  It got me closer to my goal of reading 35 books this year while also providing some new information.  The most interesting  part of this book were the small sections from the Imagineers who worked on different parts of the parks.  It’s amazing to see how much detail they put into each attraction, ride, and restaurant at the Disney parks and resorts.

While there were a lot of things I have read before (thanks pinterest!) on Disney World, I did learn some new things, such as, the fountain in Epoct when it first opened was filled with water from around the world and the Magic Kingdom has changed and expanded since it first opened in 1971 several times.

It will be interesting to see if a newer edition will be written in the next couple of years as the parks change even more with the additions of Pandora, Star Wars Land, and Toy Story Land.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

 

TBR Thursday: The Fallen Kingdom

 

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In my favorite reads of 2016, I mentioned that books one and two in The Falconer Trilogy were my #1 favorites. Well, I have been anticipating the release of The Fallen Kingdom ever since I finished The Vanishing Throne last winter. And trust me I feel like this has been a long wait.  It releases on June 13th and I’ve already pre-ordered it, so I expect to find it in my mailbox next Monday.  Though I’ll have wait a bit to read it since I’ve started two new classes this past Monday and they are already taking up all my valuable reading time. Oh well, I suppose that’s a first world problem for you.

Are any of you anticipating a new release this summer?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

P.S. I’m testing out creating my own graphics for the blog. I’m working on a new format since I didn’t really know what to expect when I started The Book of Meghan last year and wanted to give my blog a much needed makeover. So you may notice some changes over the next few weeks.

What I Read in May 2017

This past month I was able to read two new books and reread one of my favorites:

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I was pretty happy with the fact that I was able to read three books this past month considering that I was hoping only to finish Midnight in Broad Daylight before June arrived.  I really enjoyed all the books I read (or in one case reread) and don’t know if I can chose a favorite for May.

A Study in Charlotte is a modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes and it was witty and entertaining.  Midnight in Broad Daylight is a nonfiction book about a Japanese American family before and during World War II.  I found this book highly insightful and it also proved to be timely for current events as well.  And lastly I decided to reread the Doon series again and just finish the first book Doon over the Memorial Day holiday here in America.  This series to me is the novel equivalent of comfort food.  I love the world of Doon so much and I was amazed by how much I’ve forgotten since reading it last year.  It may become a tradition to try and read the Doon series every summer.

Are there any books on your reread list? I’d love to know about in the comments below!

Happy reading,

Meghan

Wings on the Wind: Book Review

*This book was given to me by the publisher for review purposes.  All thoughts and opinions are my own*


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Title: Wings of the Wind

Series: Out of Egypt

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Publish Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Reading Format: Paperback

Publisher Summary: 

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

Review:

Wings of the Wind is the third book in a Series called Out of Egypt.  I was not aware of this when I got the book, however, I didn’t feel that I was missing anything by not having read the first two.  The two main female characters from books one and two do play supporting character roles in this novel and they share enough of their background to the main character Alanah that I was aware they had importance to the series but didn’t find that I was losing the plot of Wings of the Wind without having read the first two books.

With that side note out of the way, let me dive into my thoughts on this book.  When I received my email from the publisher for the books they were offering for the month of May I took one look at this cover and immediately requested it.  I was also drawn in by the summary as I don’t often read ancient historical fiction novels but when I do I usually enjoy them.  This book was no exception to that rule.

The Out of Egypt series is set from the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt through their wandering of the desert for 40 years.  Wings of the Wind takes place towards the end of the 40 years when the Hebrews are beginning to take back their promise land from the Canaanites.  Alanah is a Canaanite woman who loses her Father and her Brothers to the war with the Hebrews.  She wants to avenge their deaths and disguises herself as a man where she sneaks onto the battlefield.  Alanah is wounded and found by a Hebrew Soldier named Tobiah, who upon discovering that she is a woman takes her back to the Hebrew camp.  Tobiah makes the decision that in order to protect Alanah from the other Israelites, as she is seen as the enemy, he must marry her. It sounds like a cheesy plot line, and I’ll admit that I was expecting it to be too gooey of a romance to really get into the book. However I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case and instead the romance is built up nicely through out the book.

My favorite thing about Wings of the Wind has to be that the Author Connilyn Cossette fills in the space with details of what might have happened during the stories of the Bible.  I grew up in church and I’ve heard the stories of Moses and Israelites the wandering through the desert many times.  As most stories are told in the Bible they are direct and too the point, conveying the message without filling in the details. Connilynn Cossette presented a fictional observation of what daily life may have been like during this time.  And she does it with a strong female character in Alanah who can stand on her own but is lovingly supported by Tobiah and not possessively sheltered as some stories can portray a woman rescued by a man.

I’d really love to read the first two books in the series and also see this one progress to when the Israelites have established themselves in the promise land.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars


Happy Reading,

Meghan

My (Not So) Perfect Life: Book Review

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“This is the trouble with meeting people in real life: They don’t come with profiles attached.” ~ Sophie Kinsella, My (Not So) Perfect Life

Title: My (Not So) Perfect Life

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Publish Date: February 7th, 2017

Genre: Chick Lit/Fiction

Reading Format: Hardcover

Summary:

Katie Brenner is trying to make it in London. She works in branding for Demeter Farlowe, the boss who’s life Katie would love to have.  As she struggles with daily living, Katie turns to Instagram that presents not-as-it-seems images of her everyday life.  She manages to discover a possible new romance while attempting to move up the ladder in her job when Demeter fires her.

Not sure of what to do, Katie returns home to Somerset where her Dad and Step Mom have started a glamping site on the farm she grew up on. Claiming to be on sabbatical from her job so her parents won’t find out she’s been fired the unexpected happens, Demeter shows up with her perfect family for holiday at the Brenner’s farm.

Review:

I wrote this in my What I Read in April 2017 post, but I’ve never read a Sophie Kinsella book before.  This has more to do with the fact that I’m not generally drawn to the world of Chick lit and therefore don’t tend to browse that part of a bookstore, but if you judge a book by its cover as I do then you might understand why I couldn’t pass over My (Not So) Perfect Life. 

Right off the bat I’m going to state the obvious about a Chick lit book: it’s cute and there’s romance. Now that that is out of the way let’s break down my thoughts on the novel.  First, I  liked the character of Katie Brenner. She’s relatable, funny, and smart.  In the beginning of the book in part one when Katie is first in London, she goes by Cat and tries to establish herself as a true Londoner.  She presents herself in a less than true version of who she is, and in a world of social media over-saturating everything we do Katie isn’t too far removed from the real world.  I mean who hasn’t posted an alternate version of themselves on Instagram to appear they have it all together and then some.  Her transition from life in London to being back home also gives her character growth.  When Katie goes back to Somerset you can see her mature in a positive way which I liked.

My second thought about the book is that the romance doesn’t over do it but comes across nicely without moving too quickly.  I like slower moving romantic plots then the they-met-and-now-they-are-already-in-love types.  And lastly the humor in My (Not So) Perfect Life was actually funny and had me laughing out loud at times.

I liked this novel and it’s made me want to pick up a different book by Sophie Kinsella. So if anything I’ve gained a new author who’s writing style I like, and sometimes that is not always easy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan