#bookquotes

#BQ Blackbird by Casey Carlisle

A fun quick YA read that is go-go-go from start to finish. Its the teen version of ‘Alias.’

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Book Review – ‘Secret’ (#4 The Elementals) by Brigid Kemmerer

A refreshing take on what was becoming a formulaic series.

Secret (#4 Elemental) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 328

From Goodreads:

EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He’s trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won’t get in to college. He’s trying to keep his brother’s business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He’s trying to keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel – or he fears he’ll lose his family. And he’s trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his ‘girlfriend’s’ partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.

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What a turn of events – after starting to get a little bored with the formulaic writing in ‘Spirit’ and then reading the novella ‘Breathless,’ I was indeed breathless… and excited. ‘Secret’ certainly delivered.

We finally got away from the stereotypical romance and got a taste of some real angst. The character development in ‘Secret’ was fantastic for many of the cast. And I blazed this book in one setting. I was compelled. Protagonist, Nick possessed a quiet strength that appealed to me. The struggles he faced and the grappling with his identity felt so visceral and real.

Secret (#4 Elemental) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gifThe introduction of Adam as Nick’s love interest did feel abrupt and a bit insta-lusty, but it worked for me. Adam’s representation not only helps raise awareness of the abuse some teens face, but also juxtaposed all the machismo and violence. He was a pacifist and a pillar or strength rolled into one. It was refreshing to read a different type of male character that wasn’t all flighty attitudes and flexing muscles.

Quin and Tyler both managed to annoy the crap out of me though – but it’s just their personality… they deserve each other. Such drama queens, reactionary, and frightened, but express most of their feelings through violence or putting themselves in harms way. I didn’t enjoy their self-destructive ways – but is did make for great tension and plot point reveals.

I’m also seeing a pattern where some of the cast are getting dropped out of the story, It wouldn’t be hard to drop some bigger crumbs and involve them in the plot more prominently when they are not the leads. I felt like I was missing Hunter and Layne… ☹

I felt the melodrama and teen-boy violence was dialled back a bit and let the story shine. Don’t get me wrong, the hormone induced fits of rage are still in here, but if feels like the novel is starting to gain a conscious and perspective showing that it is not all right to always react to unpleasant situations with a fist.

It also felt like we got to tackle some real meaty social issues – and not just as a plot point, but as a tone persevering throughout the story. Discrimination, identity, violence, child abuse… and many more related issues. It gave this instalment a bit more substance, and I found this to be my favourite book in the series so far.

Kemmerer’s breezy and effortless writing style leads to a fast read, and she manages to keep the story driving forward with each chapter so the pacing rarely lags.

The relationships of just about all the main cast are put to the test and evolve in ‘Secret,’ and am interested to see the new dynamic at play in ‘Sacrifice.’ After how ‘Spirit’ ended and set things up, I was expecting more of a supernatural smack-down in ‘Secret,’ but this seemed to head off in a tangent. We still get some awesome paranormal goings-on, but the development of this story arc really didn’t progress, in fact it felt like a repetition of that of the previous novel. But the tangent of Nick’s story was definitely engaging nonetheless. I’m still craving my big battle scenes involving all of the cast – fingers crossed I get to see the elements fly in ‘Sacrifice.’

Secret’ definitely revived this series for me and gave me more faith in the Elementals. A great addition to the collection and one I highly recommend to read.

Overall feeling: Revived!!

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That time of the year to take a look at your TBR pile…

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With the end of the year approaching I took stock of my library. There are 441 unread books sitting on the shelves at the moment – effectively my To Be Read (TBR) pile.

 

Which means if I meet my Goodreads goal this year, I’ll be left with 400 (not counting titles on my e-reader). And if I continue on the trend of reading around 100 books a year, it will take me four years to catch up… Without buying any more books.

It ain’t gonna happen.

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I have a mammoth wish list on Amazon as well, and add to it every time I come across an interesting title. Though, I have curbed my spending. Making a deal with myself that I am only allowed to purchase half the number of books that I read for a given month. And I’ve stuck to it this year. I must say I’m quite proud of myself. *pats back*

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I have also organised my shelves into genre, and select one from each section to be placed on my ‘reading shelf,’ to ensure I get to touch on a variety of styles and authors, keeping away from the dreaded reading slump.

Additional to that, is my attempt to Slay Those Series which I started half way through last year – and am continuing with. So many abandoned collections that fell off my radar – Now is the time to tick off the rest of the books before I am allowed to start a new trilogy or collection. (more self-bribery)

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So it has been a year of book bargaining with my inner reader.

What has all this accomplished? Well, although the number of books I’m reading has dropped back a bit, mainly because I’m not shying away from larger titles of 500+ pages, but I’m identifying issues with story, writing style, and ‘voice’ that I may have overlooked before. Subtext and arcs stand out more prominently. I’ve enjoy reading more widely. It not only helps develop my reader’s eye – but it provides me with tools to help improve my own writing.

Consequently, I’m doing some heavy re-writing on two novels I’ve already completed, with what I feel are massive positive changes.

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I’m letting myself experience life a bit more – I’m no longer falling into a reading hole where I’d marathon contemporaries or GLBT titles. They are usually shorter and easy to digest. And while fun, afterwards my recall over certain titles was sketchy because I’d consumed so much.

Everything in moderation has been the catch cry. I’m no longer tired, or putting off other aspects of my life to fit in some reading. It’s also helping in balancing out other parts of the day to day. Writing, housework, socialising, fitness… when you have a win in one area of life, it spurs you on to keep going with other aspects.

Though I must admit I do feel a lot less productive. It’s the sacrifice I’ve made to regain some balance. I just have to try and limit the size of my TBR… as daunting as that sounds.

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Do you have an out of control TBR? What methods do you use to help – book buying bans, read-a-thons, or take a few sickies and sit by the pool to indulge?

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘King’s Cage’ (#3 Red Queen) by Victoria Aveyard

A masterful crafting of plot, but suffered with pacing. Still captivated my imagination.

Kings Cage Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 528

From Goodreads:

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

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It’s not like ‘Red Queen’ where I was fascinated by the world of Norta and the novelty of Silvers and their X-Men like abilities. With this I find long chapters of inner musings about the past, ponderings on strategic moves for gains in war and politics. And while interesting, after a while I became a little bored.

We get more mixed perspectives in ‘King’s Cage,’ Mare, Evangeline, Cameron, and as much as each narrative added something to the plot, they were similar in tone. I found myself wishing for a different style of words and sentence structure to really separate the voices. If not for the description and characters around them (and the title headings) I would not know who’s perspective I was reading. I had enjoyed the single narrative and pacing of ‘Red Queen,’ With ‘King’s Cage’ comparatively the pacing felt slow from the changing perspectives adding extra “mess.” The varying perspectives could have been used as a tool to pump in some action and entice the reader with mini cliff hangers… which it did to some extent, but I wasn’t sold.

Much like Mare’s prisoner routine – it felt repetitive and didn’t go anywhere.

Kings Cage Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgAs much as I love Mare, the strong, downtrodden protagonist. The lightning girl. A red. This wasn’t the book for her to shine. This felt more like a middle book in a trilogy where all the pieces on the chess board are being moved into place for the final battle. I didn’t get any resolution. And I felt as though Mare didn’t develop so much, more like she suffered through challenges. For a hot second I thought things were going to get really interesting for her when she started training her abilities which exceeded what she had accomplished in the past with Cal, but it kind of fizzled out (pun intended.) Though I hope it’s a promise of something really cool to come in the fourth book, ‘War Storm.’

Maven is a bit of a mixed bucket of nuts for me, both literally and figuratively. While we get his backstory to drag out some compassion and understanding; he really rubbed me the wrong way. And even though he is pretty evil, I don’t see him as the “big bad” of the Red Queen universe. I have a few predictions and am keen to find out what happens next. Plus you get a strong sense that Maven is always playing a strategic game, figuring out multiple moves ahead.

Cal was just as confusing – as mentioned, all of their voices were hard to distinguish if not for the chapter titles. But I felt less engaged and frustrated with the political drama. I was praying for action and powers flying about. Cal is painted with different strokes in ‘King’s Cage.’ Aveyard lets crack appear and exploits them beautifully. Mare has a lot on her plate with this King-to-be.

Cameron – why was her perspective even here? To add background information to the story? *confused face*

The snarky dialogue wasn’t even that entertaining any more. It wasn’t funny, more like a sullen teenager’s lame attempt at annoying someone. I hope Aveyard isn’t losing her touch.

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With a slow pace, long paragraphs of cast members not in the action, but in the periphery, it all had me putting the book down frequently. But just as I was starting to get bored, things switched gear at the halfway point and I started to get all the bits and pieces I was craving – Mare and all the abilities in one big clusterbang! Whoo-hoo!

A few Easter eggs are thrown our way in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am really eager to get all the answers and read an explosive end to this collection in the last instalment due out 15th May, 2018. Evangaline, and Cal suddenly got way more interesting in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am eager to see where the story takes us. *drumming my fingers in impatient anticipation*

The plot and story itself is still something I find enrapturing.  I love the battling factions, the tone of discrimination and apartheid. Rebel forces fighting against an unfair regime. And don’t get me started on paranormal abilities! It is all so intriguing. The politics can be fun too, although it started to feel long-winded and dragged down in my opinion of this series. But it is certainly leading up to a very interesting position for the finale.

I don’t know how to comment on the predictability of the novel though – as very little was resolved. Yes, things happened that I expected, there was a twist or two that you knew was coming, but I didn’t get any massive ‘oh shiz’ moment when I got to the end. Honourable mention to Evangaline though – a few scenes with her really blew my mind, she is definitely my favourite character for this book and added the much needed tension.

There is definitely a lot of work Aveyard has done in weaving this storyline. It is truly an amazing feat of beauty.

The writing style is still fantastic. The descriptive turn of phrase, the analogies, are rich and drip with colour and meaning. I’m still impressed with Aveyard’s writing style, the symbolism she uses feels unique and helps create an accurate picture of the Red Queen world. However with the pacing issues, I put down ‘King’s Cage’ a number of times due to wandering interest. It wasn’t that I was bored, or found the story no longer captured my imagination, just that the plot did not move forward. In all honesty, if this book was half its length, I feel it would have been extraordinary. But as it stands, I have to say I had very little compulsion from one chapter to the next throughout most of the novel.

Overall feeling: erm… loved it and was simultaneously underwhelmed…

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Spirit’ (#3 The Elementals) by Brigid Kemmerer

Hormone fueled hot boys with superpowers and sassy girls… YA tropes at their best.

Spirit (#3 Elementals) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 301

From Goodreads:

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust...

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With these books concentrating on the Merrick boys, I was surprised to discover that this ‘Spirit’ stepped away from the family and was from the perspective of the new comer, Hunter Garrity. But it stuck with the formulaic writing we are beginning to expect from this series. Fun, angsty, and with tropes up to the eyeballs.

Spirit (#3 Elementals) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI’m starting to get over boys throwing tantrums and resorting to violence of some description to express their frustration. The Merrick boys and our protagonist for this book in the Elementals franchise, Hunter, love to beat, wrestle, and fight each other at the slightest hint of anxiety. It totally fits the bill of typical behaviour of young men in their teens, but getting into the third novel in this collection, the behaviour is getting tiresome. *sigh*

And then there’s Kat. The way she’s introduced is with a metaphorical slap in the face. She’s practically bipolar and makes no apologies for it. I love the fact she seems to be sexually liberated, not afraid to express her feelings and desires, but I felt her promiscuity was boarding on self-destructive behaviour.

The eldest Merrick brother, Garrick again shows his maturity and how he is growing in how he raises young teen boys with a gentle hand.

Spirit’ was fun, but it was all very melodramatic. I love me some angst and drama, and I think if there was some more time in-between reading each of these books I’d love them more, but there were moments when I felt the tone of the novels was a tad immature. Though, perfect for its intended demographic.

So I was getting over the formulaic presentation of the novels – a hot brooding male with violent tendencies, a magnet for trouble meets a sassy independent girl and then bicker and fight before revealing some deep dark scarred past to each other to finally bond… Yes, it is a guilty pleasure, and I do like this type of read every now and then, but I was hoping for some more variety in the Elementals series.

And just when I was thinking all hope was lost, there was a twist.

It didn’t completely redeem the series, but I’m still enjoying it, even with the frequent eye-rolling and huffing at the immaturity of the cast. Boys are so annoying most of the time.

As with the previous books, ‘Spirit’ was a quick read, well paced and developed the storyline even further. Some new characters added tension and interest, and I’m still keen to continue with the franchise. Though I wanted to get that big ah-ha moment from Hunter close to the end… it felt like a non-event. Such a big build up, all of their abilities and I wanted something truly epic, but was disappointed.

There is definitely a lot set up for the next novel in the series…

With many characters behaviour, and how the main cast misinterpret these actions – it happened quite a lot in ‘Spirit,’ and while it added some great tension and perfect reveals for the storyline, they weren’t all entirely believable, and well, felt overdone. Haven’t I read this plot device many times before?

So while entertaining, interesting, and full of a teen girls wet-dream, there was a large element of unoriginality for me. Yes, I’d still recommend it for those who love trope-y YA, and love the over-dramatic teen boy antics and the writing style of Kemmerer. It’s geared more towards the tween market than mature readers who enjoy a bit of young adult content every now and then.

Overall feeling: blah blah blah…

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.