Book Review – ‘Reached’ by Ally Condie

A slow decline into obscurity…

Reached Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 512

From Goodreads:

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

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I think what I’m glad about most, is that I managed to finish this trilogy. This wasn’t the series for me. As interesting as the concept was, the delivery and characters didn’t grab my attention like I had hoped. One hundred pages in to ‘Reached’ and I was so bored. The story jumped forward in time a little from its predecessor ‘Crossed’ and I had difficulty connecting with the cast. Additionally, it tells the story from three points of view (Ally has added a POV with each novel,) changing in each chapter, adding more strain for me to get into the narrative.

I liked Xander’s strength of character, Ky’s determination, but Cassia, though steadfast, lost the oomph she had in the previous two books. She actually felt somewhat superfluous for most of the novel.

While the plot was interesting enough, the writing style and wordiness ultimately left me on the bored side. I pretty much adopted a speed reading method for the entire book because I never got that engrossed to slow down and lavish in the language. Again, as I did in the previous books, completely skipped over the poetry sections – for some reason I didn’t find these appealing at all.

It felt like there was a compulsion from the author to pair everyone up as well, which came across as cheap and cheesy – but that could be because my experience was starting to tilt more towards the uninterested side. I wasn’t invested in the characters or the story.

The myth of The Pilot and the other places were introduced too late in the storyline for me to give them any credibility, and weren’t explored/explained enough to add value to the plot. Felt a little wishy-washy.

The premise is great and well thought out, but the execution was wobbly and waffly. I enjoyed how the priorities of the society changed because of the rules and regulations, what was valued and what wasn’t, what was considered powerful… it really is a thing of beauty, I just couldn’t get into it. There was no grit, the stakes didn’t feel high enough for the characters, and the world did not feel fully realised through the eyes of Ky, Cassia & Xander.

Over-simplified in world building and the structure of the society gave this book a tone of a first draft. Additionally the general population in the novel were grouped enmass in descriptions, like there was very little individuality, leaving it feeling unrealistic. The series came across as too stylised. On the whole, this trilogy left me uneasy. I had too many unanswered questions.

With what turned out as a pathogenic war – a complete departure from where I thought it was going and from the type of action established in the previous two books. Book 1 ‘Matched’ dealt with escape; Book 2 ‘Crossed’ with a battle for survival in the wilderness; and ‘Reached’ turned out to be a rebellion… fought in a Lab. It went from a physical challenge to an intellectual one. And Ky, Cassia and Xander are the only ones capable of succeeding against all odds as a team? Too much of a cop out! What happened to all the experts in technology and science who built this world. Cue me growling in frustration. With all that (unrealistic) pressure there was also a huge missed opportunity – there was such little tension and emotion between the trio… it all fell flat.

At the end of ‘Reached’ I got no feeling of triumph or accomplishment, the book was mildly interesting but when I reached (pun intended) the last page, I kind of thought ‘okay, well that was that…’

Overall feeling: A lukewarm wet mess on my front lawn…

Reached Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Reached Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

Things I do as a writer that save time.

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A comical look at things I’ve noticed – priorities and habits that have changed since I’ve embraced becoming a full-time writer which free up time to follow my favoured craft…

Things I do as an Author Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI don’t waste time putting on a face full of make-up – sometimes I don’t even brush my hair. Most mornings, it’s a shower, throw on some comfortable clothes and sneakers, and then straight to the keyboard. No longer am I in tailored work attire and high heels, coiffed to perfection. I relax in my stretched out jeans and coffee mug permanently sitting on my right hand side. Every day is casual Friday!

Things I do as an Author Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI never have to travel far either. Some very rare days, I’ll write right there in bed on my lap top! No long hours stuck in traffic or squeezed in on public transport wondering who is responsible for that odorous smell or dodging that one man who is staring at you in a completely inappropriate way unabashedly.

Things I do as an Author Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI don’t get interrupted by people walking past, or popping their head into my office. I’m not continually putting out conceptual fires or managing clashing personalities. I have complete control over my work environment. I can unplug the phone and internet if I so desire. Or lament in a busy coffee shop with the soundtrack of gossip and top 40 pop hits – it’s whatever takes my fancy. I can say I LOVE no distractions! Especially when that muse whacks you upside the head with an anvil and you just have to get everything down on paper as quickly as you can.

 

Things I do as an Author Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleI get to pick my hours – I can plan my writing around social visits or events. Some days I write better first thing in the morning, others in the evening hours… just as long as I write every day! I have a pretty much set schedule, but on those days when you are feeling shackled in, it is great to scream out the window and do what the heck you want. I could never have done that in an office or classroom. That adaptability definitely helps increase my productive hours writing.

Things I do as an Author Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleI get to leave my desk in a mess – if I’m in a particular point in a piece of writing and need to call it quits for a day, I can leave my desk in a state of what may look like disarray, but everything is set up for ease of access to information. I can simply walk away and come back the next morning and start right off at the point I left the day before. I never have to worry about things being moved, the cleaner disrupting my files. This comes in handy when I nearing the end of writing a first draft or going through edits. I can be a messy worker in those times.

Things I do as an Author Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleLunch can be a quick trip to the kitchen or microwave. I no longer need to go find a good coffee shop, stand in line and find the perfect seat to consume said lunch – plus eating in public, and consuming food with onion, tuna and other odorous foodstuffs were always off the menu in consideration of my workmates. Now I can stick the place up to my heart’s desire!

Things I do as an Author Pic 07 by Casey CarlisleEvery day is take your pet to work day! It has been proven that having a four-legged companion can increase your productivity and lower your blood pressure – and I intend to embrace that whole-heartedly!

 

 

Things I do as an Author Pic 08 by Casey CarlisleIf you want to quickly google something completely unrelated to what you’re working on, you can without the internet Nazi’s scrutinizing your browser history (or how much time you spend watching cat videos.) So no time is waisted continually glancing over your shoulder to see if anyone can see what is on your screen, and then madly running through folders to empty your temporary folders… not that I ever indulged of ‘naughty’ internet activity at work ;p

I miss the social interaction and the regular stable pay check, but working as a writer from home, or wherever I carry my laptop definitely has many rewards.

To all you wordplayers out there – Happy writing!

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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.

#bookquotes

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An action packed story set in a dystopian world that has an undercurrent of what it means to be a human being. Beauty and perfection vs. humanity and compassion.

Loved it – keep watching for the review coming soon.

Book Review – ‘Flame’ by Amy Kathleen Ryan

A book in another world to its predecessors.

Flame Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 309

From Goodreads:

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn’t go quite as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth’s health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second is a risk in this explosive finale.

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The final book in the Sky Chasers trilogy and another collection down in my Slay That Series year!

Flame’ is so much better than its prequels. The religious aspect was kept to a respectful belief system of those who chose to live by it, and I didn’t feel like it was being crammed down my throat or the crew being oppressed by it.

The political struggle became raw and visceral. It was thrilling. And action – I don’t think I’ve read a book with so many twists and turns. I was thoroughly impressed. Such a departure from my experience so far in this trilogy.

Again, like in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark,’ I loved the character growth and arcs. People are fallible and it could not be more true about the cast of the Sky Chaser trilogy. Some redeemed themselves, some didn’t. and I loved this aspect of the story. One thing that has stood out about this series is the types of characters, how their beliefs motivate them, how they are changed by their experiences.

I found the long-winded postulation and stream of consciousness were just about gone. The pacing far superior than in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark.’ I read this in one sitting. I get distracted by long speeches or pages and pages of deliberation – it goes down as well as a fart in a space suit with me. So I was delighted that the lamenting had been replaced with sci-fi action.

A factual thing that is still niggling in the back of my brain is in regard to the gene pool – how many off spring of a couple of girls are there? It was mentioned over 100 embryos were ready… the new generation sounded like it was going to be majorly made up of Waverly’s children. Doesn’t leave much room for them to repopulate the new planet when prospective partners consist mostly of your half brothers and sisters… They’d have to map our genealogy out carefully. I felt like this was an important issue not to be addressed. You go to all this trouble of kidnapping, murder, and essentially raping your girls of their genetic material only to risk the future of the human race to genetic degradation from inbreeding. I mean, c’mon!

Flame Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The ending was lovely, if a bit spoony. Having everyone coupled up and all the loose ends tied up neatly can feel cheap in an epic sci-fi; I tend to like it conclude with possibility and wonder, or just a hint at an amazing future. It was a cute ending, and I liked it, but after wading through so much I was hoping for a bit more of a significant event or image for the series to end on.

It has been a bit of a journey for me. I had a low opinion of this series and Amy Kathleen Ryan at the start, but after completing ‘Flame,’ I have to eat my words. She crafted a marvellous story. I still feel the issues I had with the first two books are legitimate, but have seen Amy’s growth as a writer over this series, I now actually look forward to reading more of her catalogue.

Overall feeling: Wow! Where did that come from?

Flame Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Flame Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

Squash, Stitches, and a Scared Doctor

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That one time I got into the squash championships, almost lost an eye and threatened my doctor.

Not only was I a big old nerd when I was in high school, but I was also a bit of a tomboy. And growing up in the ‘80’s, living in a small dustbowl of a town in the middle of the Australian desert, you need to make your own fun lest you go insane, turn to drink, or think it’s a great idea to build a house out of recycled tin cans. That, and my hyperactive constitution, my parents forced me into as many activities as they could because I’d probably burn down the house experimenting with my Chemistry Set. (Though I did burn down the neighbour’s car once – but that’s another story.)

So I was signed up for T-ball and swimming as a kid, but then graduated to horse riding and squash. The latter I got pretty good at, and while vying for the Town’s Junior Squash Championship, at a tied match point… I know this is the tense stuff of cinematic legend, and I am not embellishing… my partner was about to miss the ball and I’d become the victor! But as luck would have it, he decided to run backwards and leap into the air to spike the little black ball. However, in his back swing he managed to collect my eye.

My eye! Argh, I was scarred for life and probably blind. That effer! I’m meant to win this game. And you’re not meant to hit girls! Squash is a non-contact sport!

That’s exactly what ran through my head the seconds before the world went black and white noise filled my ears.

When the world came rushing back, my eyes wouldn’t open, but I could feel lots of warm stickiness running through my fingers. It’s still a bit fuzzy, even to this day about what happened. A lot of people were talking at me. Guiding me. A cold wet cloth pushed to my face. I was in the car one moment. And the next at the doctor’s surgery. Sometime in the car my face muscles had unclenched and I was able to open the unaffected eye.

There was a lot of blood. A hell of a lot of blood. I panicked, thinking I must be holding my eyeball in my skull. My skin must have been half ripped from my face. This is not a good place to be. I guess it looked bad enough to get to see a doctor immediately, which turned out to be a tiny, soft spoken Asian man. I’m no wilting flower, tall, fit, and vocal. This medical professional only came up to my armpit, but Mum assured me he was the best doctor to help. I was terrified. I mean, my eye!

Squash, Stitches and a Scared Doctor Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleThe worst part was the Doctor told I’d need stitches. And I am more needle-phobic than the regular person. But practically crushing Mum’s fingers in a death grip, I had to suck it up and suffer through the procedure. Only, at the worst possible moment I opened my eye to see a giant needle coming straight toward my eye. Having it so close, it looked like a nuclear missile with a metal pike about to slam into my head. And I don’t care how okay you are with needles, wave something in front of your vision, and anyone would flinch. My reaction was to push the doctor across the room screaming “Touch me with that thing and I’ll deck you.” I was such the well-bred young lady.

I don’t know how she did it – maybe some Mamma Bear determination – but Mum calmed and encouraged the skittish doctor, and despite being half my size, splayed her body over me and pinned me to the operating chair, directing the doctor to “Just do it.” A completely different take on the Nike catch phrase.

I survived. My eye hadn’t fallen out. But I did lose the squash game. Junior Champ Runner-up. And a lovely scar that took seven stitches to mend. Nearly invisible in the crease of my eye. A gnarly black eye, that when I returned to school caused my partner to get harassed no end. *grins evilly*

When the eye completely healed I’m not sure if I was relieved at how invisible the scar was, or disappointed that physical proof of my ordeal was so miniscule. The guy who won the Junior Championship never spoke to me again. In fact, he avoided me like the plague. And after that my parents stopped trying to force me into activities. I returned to my nerdy ways and avoided needles with even more vehemence.

I don’t know what happened to the kind Asian Doctor, maybe I rattled him so much he quit the Practice and moved to a place where young girls didn’t threaten to bash him into a bloody pulp. Or my photo is on the wall behind the receptionist’s desk with the words ‘Banned For Life’ in big red letters. I never got to thank him. I waited a week longer than necessary to get the stitches removed – because you know – terrified. But in the end a portly nurse in a pale blue uniform removed them by distracting me in conversation, saying she was just cleaning the area before starting… and the next moment – all done.

And that’s the story of how this geek-jock lost the Alice Springs Junior Squash Championships sometime in the ‘80’s and managed to get a doctor cowering in a corner.

Casey's Childhood Banner by Casey Carlisle

© 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.