Book Review – ‘The One’ by Kiera Cass

Finally! America girl, you had me going (not really)…

 

The One Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Romance, Distopian

No. of pages: 323

From Goodreads:

 

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

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The conclusion to this trilogy (yes there are other companion novels and subsequent works due to be released, but this was intended to be a trilogy from the outset) went out with a bang. Literally. But you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean, I don’t like posting spoilers.

The One Book Review Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleBring on the carnage – and let me tell you there were some unexpected turns here. And I loved it! It is so much fun to get continual surprises when reading. Because we all know it’s a love story, and girl will get boy at some stage… right? So the violence that was present in the previous two novels escalated in this edition in bright technicoloured gore. Such a juxtaposition to the marshmellowy romance, and something that gave The One some gusto! Off with her head!!

There are some moments I was reaching for the tissues. Kiera Cass can really draw the feels from me. Paradoxically, other times I wanted to pitch the novel across the room in frustration as America Singer kept up with her flip-flopping as she had in the first two instalments. C’mon girl – get your sh!t together, this is getting old!

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I had hoped America would have shown a more mature side in this installment (even if she stumbled a little along the way) but reading her making the same mistakes made the novel feel somewhat formulaic.

The One also brought more characters and more political intrigue to the forefront, and did not shy away from the brutality of the situations. Which is a weird experience when mixed with the sugar sweet and sanitised tone of The Bachelor type lottery. I can’t say if I’m convinced if it worked – but will say that The Selection Series continues to be a guilty pleasure. It’s a fun quick read with plenty of headstrong characters and lots of pretty dresses (not to mention mean girls)

As with the rest of the series, The One is a light and fast read, easy to complete in a day. Kiera Cass’ writing style continues to allow you escape into bizarre fantasy world where you last name can match your job… I will say that this is my favourite book of the series (if only we could cut out some of the excessive gushing and indecision of America).

If you love romantic escapism – this is one for you.

Overall reaction: equal parts coy anticipation and dismissive

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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 – ‘Losing Hope’ by Colleen Hoover

There are two sides to every story…

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs. 

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For a companion novel, I thought it did well – You have to expect some repetition, but Losing Hope also introduced new characters, and revealed an entirely other dimension to  the storyline providing a different perspective to Hopeless.

I think I enjoyed this more than Hopeless. The writing was better, you got a strong masculine sense from the writing style, as opposed to the feminine of Hope in Hopeless. And for that I have to applaud Colleen Hoover.

The book is predictable – we already know the story from the previous installment, but the inclusion of Les’ own narrative really sold me on this novel. And the glimpse of something extra at the end…

It was great to revisit the story again, almost like re-reading your favorite book and finding new things to like. This novel was a little too angsty for my general pallet, but nonetheless an engaging read.

One point that I felt could have been improved upon was thatHolden’s narrative began to sound quite like Hope’s toward the end – and you could either put it down to the fact they were getting close and began to think like one another; or, that Hoover was slipping with her inner voice and Holden morphed into the overly dramatic and sensitive guy all girls swoon over. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just something that jumped out at me at one point… I remember thinking ‘Maybe Holden does have a hairy burger – when did that happen?’ But jokes aside, the guy does have to have some compassion. The issues dealt with in this book are pretty intense.

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I have experienced loss, and abuse. And while the story is a bit overly dramatic and angsty, Colleen pretty much nailed it! The fear, the numbness, the shock and the repressed memories. Best written representation I’ve come across so far. Bravo!

Overall reaction: pleasantly satisfied

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.

Casey’s First Book

My first journey into publishing at the age of 4.

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I was obsessed with ‘Little Golden Books’ and ‘Mr Men’ books as a child. I had to have every release in my collection, and would sit in front of the bookcase reading each book over and over. Mum would always find me sitting behind the lounge (behind which was our book shelves) methodically working my way along the shelf, either reading aloud to the dog or my baby brother… or an imaginary audience of my own making.

And then it occurred to me – I could make my own Little Golden Book!

So I dragged out every pen, texter and pencil I owned, scrounged up some blank paper and insisted Mum help me write my first book. Now!

And apparently I was also obsessed with dogs…

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Even at a young age I understood typography – notice the picturesque ‘O’ beginning the story – I strongly suspect I had a book I was copying from. I’m quite proud of the neat writing and colouring in the lines – I was a little OCD as a child. If I wasn’t writing this book I’d probably be tormenting my mother by singing at the top of my lungs while banging her cooking pots with a wooden spoon as my make-shift drum set.

I was a firm believer of gender equality at this age too – and hygiene!

Casey's First Book 03 by Casey CarlisleDid I mention I loved dogs? Apparently they didn’t smell as bad as boys… and we had the magical ability to fly! (What ever happened to that? I have needed to skip the morning traffic and road rage many times since). I’m a little disturbed that I was flying around the globe with dogs – naked…

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Not only did I love dogs – but I would make everyone love them too.

And the boys were still smelly.

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Who wants to play with dolls – dogs are so much better! (Side note: I was terrified of dolls as a child – my cousin used to chase me around the back yard to try and play with Barbies and I would bolt away screaming. I had walked in on my father watching a horror movie where dolls came to life and eat people – that, and we visited Longreach one time where they have animatronic dummies that come to life to tell a story. Freaky! So no dolls, puppets, mannequins, ventriloquist dolls for me. I was scared at a young age). I’m glad I knew how to spell ‘would’ but it seems ‘because’ and ‘different’ were big girl words…

Oh – but I really loved dogs!

Dogs mean world peace!

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I can remember how proud I was upon seeing my book in the shelf next to all the others, but when we went to the shops and the library was most upset not to see it gracing their shelves. I think that fact discouraged me from making any more editions for quite a while. Instead I settled for playing with my dogs… and banging pots!

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush

Swapping high heels for gum boots

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s weird how things play out – my mother passing away, getting made redundant, and a relationship ending. It has all led me to living in the Hinterland, overlooking the coast and following my passion: writing.

While I miss my mother terribly, at least one thing reminds me of her every day. I wear a piece of her jewellery daily to feel like she is still sharing this journey with me as I sit at the computer and wrestle with my conscious at the words appearing on my screen. It may sound strange, but with Mum gone, I’ve lost that little feeling of being safe forever, like when things got scary and bad, you could run home for a hug… now that it is no longer there it has changed my outlook – and my writing style. The material I turn out now has more of a contemporary feel. I’ve lost a touch of my Pollyanna-always-smiling positivity. And that’s not a bad thing. It has matured my writing.

The now ex-boyfriend… well that was a surprise ending. It nearly broke me in half. I was sure we were heading somewhere special, that I was doing everything he asked for – I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I miss holding his hand, feeling his hugs and the silly jokes he cracked. I never wanted to be anything less than perfect with him.

The feeling of being loved, of being something bigger than yourself gives you a safe space to write and spurns you on. And just like losing Mum, finding that space again has fallen on my shoulders. Now I find beauty in the little things: looking out the window at the birds, gazing at the mammoth scape of blue above, well you get the picture. Yes, I am sad the relationship is over, but the main thing that troubles me is that he never believed how truly gorgeous I thought he was, but I hope one day he knows just how awesome he is. I’m a big girl and can accept that all good things come to an end – and it’s usually to make room for even better things! J

Work I don’t miss so much. Maybe the great friends I met there, but being made redundant gave me the kick in the pants to write. And I’ve never been happier.

I had to think hard – do I get another job, or take this opportunity to follow my dreams? Well the dream won out (obviously). But it has an expiration date. I’ve given myself a year to accomplish the task of finishing a book and getting published. And now with two novels at the final editing stage I’m half way there… and it’s only April.

So with all this behind me, I’ve relocated from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, keen for the months of writing in tropical surrounds. But what I didn’t count on was nature…

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleIt’s dark by 6pm. I mean inky black nothingness. No street lights, no ambient glow from the city. You have to feel your way through shrub and icky crawly-bitey things back inside. The night sky is amazing though. You can easily see three times as many stars! If it weren’t for the mosquitoes I’d be out there staring in the mysterious yonder every night.

Day time brings a plethora or annoyances: spiders, snakes, toads, bees, wasps, or a mist/fog during rainy days dulling visibility to mere metres. When I let my furbabies out for a run, or to do their ‘business’ I’m on high alert with my ‘snake-rake’ (to either brandish at a game reptile or hook my pooches away from danger).

It’s not all avid alertness all the time. I get to relax as well and take in ducks by the natural spring and parrots, kookaburras, butterflies, green tree frogs, while sucking in clean mountain air. It blows out cobwebs and really leaves me feeling revitalized. Where in the city I needed to travel about to find somewhere new to stimulate my senses, here I simply step out my front door.

And that’s the best thing! Yes, I can no longer wear my high heels and pop down to the shops for a cappuccino; but instead I can drink from the cup of the wilderness for inspiration – and right now that’s all I need to start filling my screen with words.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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 – The Elite

The Elite Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

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The continuing story of Kiera Cass’ Selection series, The Elite offered a little more than its predecessor – but for me, not much more.

The plot is a hodge-podge of political intrigue, clandestine goings-on, unreliable narration and life threatening situations wrapped around a love triangle. So there is plenty going on to keep your interest.

I found this book frustrating – On the one hand the protagonist, America’s moral opinions on her love interest kept flip-flopping on (what appeared to be) whimsy in the first third of the novel. Her Character had grown strong by the end of the first instalment of this series (The Selection), and the way Keira Cass’ second novel began I witnessed America behaving more in the way I’d expect of her younger sister May. Maybe love (or the illusion of) can send you a bit cray-cray, but after such a great character arc in the first novel, as the reader, I was insulted. On the up side, The Elite had me tearing up at many points – the feels were completely unexpected – and ultimately well worth the read.

If Keira had been able to tighten up the first half of this novel, maintained America with the strength of character she’d grown into at the end of The Selection, this novel would have been a home-run for me.

The Elite Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere was something about the main cast that had me squirming – whether it was the lack of realism in their situation, or the places they didn’t go/ questions they didn’t ask, I’m not sure. It didn’t sit right with me. It was like Keira went almost to the point of empowering her characters with a will of their own, but backed down at the last second hoping you were satisfied with the information you did get. Besides that niggling feeling, all of the main cast had some great story arcs and transformed through adversity.

Shout out to America’s maids: Anne, Mary, and Lucy – these characters were the highlight of the novel and always had me smiling. In the first novel I was unsure of their presence other than a tool to insult the reader, and America, in regards to the caste system; but by the end of The Elite they were a team. They were friends and family.

This book falls under my guilty pleasure category – something about it is addictive and compelling. Although not a masterpiece it flows easily, lending itself to an elegant way to while an afternoon.

The Elite Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleCritique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.

Excerpt from ‘LONERS : Homeworld’ by Casey Carlisle

Something I was working on last week. I needed to take a break from second edits (of Smoulder and re-boot), This is from Book 3 in the LONERS series…

LONERS Homeworld Excerpt Title by Casey Carlisle

Turning, we began to navigate a path between what passed for trees on this planet, crumbling stone pillars with tufts of decaying organic matter. The further Derek and I descended into the forest, the taller and thicker these unusual growths got. The smell was worse than month-old rotting horses arse. Varying from sewage, to sulphur gas, to heavy ammonia. My head reeled, making it difficult to focus on where to put my foot next. I just hoped that breathing this air wasn’t going to slowly infect our lungs with an alien virus or bacteria.

Derek had latched onto my arm, intently shadowing every move. Stepping into my footprints, a sheen of sweat condensed to heavy droplets drenching his tattered and stained business shirt. His eyes darted everywhere at once, wide and bulging like a skittish horse. I wanted to shake him off, force him to stop breathing down my neck. But worried he’d knock me off balance, or climb on my back at the first noise, I let him be… at least he was quiet.

Maybe Derek’s incessant drivel would have been better than some of the ominous sounds coming from deeper in the stink-tree-pillars ahead of us.

I crouched hearing movement close overhead. Staring up into the dim, unable to identify the source, my free hand unclipped the gun.

Before Derek could ask what it was, I pressed a finger to my lips. He nodded, swallowing loudly.

Two minutes passed.

Spikes whistled through the air, embedding into the ground five metres to our right. A slug the size of a small dog dropped onto a mossy patch a moment later, motionless. Spines matching the ones littering the ground jutted from its carcass. The instant the wet body hit the ground a mustard coloured cloud puffed from the bed of moss it had landed on. A frustrated shriek came from above, followed by rustles of movement, and clawing over the hard tree surface, which slowly faded. Whatever hunted from above, luckily, moved to another hunting ground.

But the slug, caught in the yellow gas began to dissolve.

Derek tugged at me.

“My guess is acid. That moss stuff probably feeds like a fly, discharging a stomach acid and absorbing nutrients through osmosis.” I explained.

“So if I puke I’ll be feeding the ground?” He turned an even sicker shade and rubbed at his midsection.

“Just don’t chunder on that brown leafy stuff. I like my skin.”

LONERS Homeworld by Casey Carlisle sml“It’s all brown and leafy.” Derek eyed the ground suspiciously.

“Then make sure you swallow.”

“We’re descending into a deeper level of Hell.”

Film vs Novel – A Walk to Remember

Shades of bullying and ostracism are outshined by love, faith and identity.

 Film vs Novel A Walk to Remember by Casey Carlisle Pic 01

A Walk to Remember Pic 06 by Casey CarlilseWhile I loved the story of A Walk to Remember, and found it truly touching, my experience with the book was somewhat lacking in comparison to my enjoyment of the film.

I felt the tone of the book it was a little too preachy and Landon’s final decision felt like it was motivated more out of duty than love. Where as in the film, each character was developed so much better. Nuisances and extra parts to the modernized storyline had it feeling much more realistic. The religious aspect had been dialled down, which really let the romance shine. Additionally, I appreciated in the movie how they allowed Jamie to enjoy the climax of the story a little before the ending, it really let the emotion resonate with the viewer – where in the novel the story simply stopped.

I adore Nicholas Spark’s stories, however his narrative style does not match the subject matter. I refer to the writing of Beautiful Creatures or Mara Dyer, where the language is practically melodic. Spark’s felt dry in comparison, and the repetition of the phrases ‘by the way’ and ‘hits you right between the eyes’ ended up giving me a headache.

The movie explored Landon and Jamie’s story so much more. There wasn’t such a clichéd ending either. Where I completely broke down in tears in the film, the book barely had me emoting. I remember when first reading A Walk to Remember over fifteen years ago I couldn’t think of a better piece of literature, but today having a more experienced pallet, it did not stand up to my raves. It may sound like I don’t like the book, when in fact I did – a great light read for an afternoon… I just wish it packed the punch that the movie did.

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The title is tied in brilliantly within the novel, and there is a completely different interpretation for the film. Additionally, our main characters Landon and Jamie are different versions. Where Landon is more of an everyday guy in the novel, his screen counterpart (played by Shane West) is a smart-ass rebel. The latter serviced the character arc with much more dramatic flair. Jamie on the other hand was a goody-two-shoes that could do no wrong, that everybody loved for the book, yet in the film Mandy Moor played her as an understated, quite soul with an unwavering heart and unconditional kindness. Again the latter felt more realistic and fragile and was easier to identify with.

I feel like the Landon of the film was driven by his feelings to do more for Jamie – like checking off her bucket list, not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and doing some hard work to get there. In the book that impact was lost – there was maybe a couple of grand gestures leaving the story feeling rushed.

The bullying and teasing dealt with in the book was minor in comparison to that of the movie. Landon really struggles with it in the film, and lashes out, where the reaction in the book felt a little over dramatized. So too, did the reactions to Jamie’s news on the printed page… I much prefer the reveal in the film.

I’d recommend either, the book is soulful and touching; but the film crawls under your skin to squeeze your heart…

So a resounding win for the movie in my opinion!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.