March 1, 2016 Debuts - Part One

There are so many debut books coming out today I've broken the announcements up onto three posts, with the books listed alphabetically by author. Here is the first!

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The first book in a witty, suspenseful new trilogy about a brilliant new crime-solving duo: the teen descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. This clever page-turner will appeal to fans of Maureen Johnson and Ally Carter.

Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

These sleuths may still be in school—and working out of a supply closet with smartphones—but Cavallaro’s crackling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and complicated relationships make this feel like a seamless and sharp renewal of Doyle’s series.
An explosive mystery featuring a dynamic duo.
-- Kirkus starred review

My review: I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE. I adore mysteries, and I love Sherlock Holmes stories, but I wasn't sure what to expect--Holmes adaptations can be a bit unpredictable, right? 

So I am delighted to say that I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The writing is lovely, the mystery is clever and kept me guessing, and the nods to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories are abundant and obviously come from a place of great love and admiration. 

Best of all are the two main characters, who are so incredibly darling I sort of want to steal them away and adopt them for my very own. (I know, I know. They wouldn't like that very much.) This Holmes and this Watson aren't copies of their namesakes--but they're not supposed to be. They're both layered, flawed, and interesting, with their own baggage and their own issues. Their friendship is rocky at times, terribly charming, and always complicated because they're complicated, and it all feels so very believable and real. I loved watching them figure each other out just as much as they were figuring the mystery out.

School days don't get easier just because you're a senior! It's the final semester of senior year, and everyone at Harmony High can't wait to find out the results of theSenior Superlative votes! But the balloon bursts in Sadie's face when she discovers she's been voted "Most Likely to Get Married" to Andy - a boy she's never dated or ever thought of as a potential boyfriend. Completely and utter mortification sets in.

To prove high school means something more than a Senior Superlative award, Sadie and her best friend Jana decide to create their own list of awesome non-academic achievements to be completed before graduation. Yet, the harder Sadie works to show everyone she's not the least bit attracted to Andy, the more appealing he becomes. Typical for the girl who can't seem to achieve anything important, even the completion of one lousy college application.

When senioritis kicks in and the school year dwindles down to mere weeks, Sadie decides to risk her good girl reputation to prove that an Awesome Achievement means much more than any Senior Superlative vote. By the time Sadie realizes her epic screw-up, she just might have lost her chance at the prom date of her dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty—and completely unavailable—Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.  

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”—spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies. 

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…