Book Review – Opal (book #3 in the Lux Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Alien puuurrrfection!

Opal Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 382

From Goodreads:

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I liked how the start of this book picks up straight after the last one (Onyx) and with introducing another character to the Main Cast, changing the dynamics of the group adding tension, making it a much more interesting read. I always feel spurned on to dive into the next book in the series straight away, but am purposely pacing myself… too much Lux can be sugar sweet and result in toothache.

The repetition that I have now found typical of Jennifer L Armentrout was still present – descriptions of Daemons eyes, body, kisses, or in fact anything to do with Daemon is nice – but every time he’s in the scene… it’s started to get annoying! Come on Jen – it’s the third book we already know how hot he is and the things he does to our bodies!

Opal Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

A slow, wry smile teased Daemon’s lips. “Simmer down, Kitten, before I have to get you a ball of yarn to play with.”

It was great to see Kat flex some serious muscle, after being the verbal sparring wallflower for so long, she finally gets to train and match it with the best of this series antagonists! Girl power! So much more fun to read than the repetitive swooning.

Even the tension between Dee and other cast members had me turning the pages in hope that things could be resolved and I’d see glimpses of that old girly-fluffy Dee! Because of this, the series had been getting better, I love the ever evolving relationships, and Armentrout isn’t afraid of pitting any against the other.

Opal Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Jennifer certainly knows how to drip feed you information to keep the story moving forward. Don’t expect me to blab about it here – you’ll have to read the book for yourself, but so far each edition of the Lux series has revealed surprises to have me eager to discover what’s going to happen next. And therein lies the beauty of this series – I still get serendipity with each volume. Plenty of action, mystery and intrigue mixed in with the romance… the unpredictability of events is definitely a good thing.

Overall feeling: guilty pleasure to the max!

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Opal Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

     Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. 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 – ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han

It’s like all the worst people getting a hold of your diary and reading it.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance,

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I ummed and aahhed about picking up this title a number of times; friends of mine had given To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before commendable reviews, however something about the blurb wasn’t enticing me… but I finally gave into the torture and read the book in one sitting.

I expected a little more Mean Girls bitchiness (and pleasantly gratified there wasn’t) but overall I’d describe this book as ‘cute.’ Our main protagonist, Lara Jean, added a unique perspective with a mixed race background and self-confidence. Although that confidence felt a little too trite at times, like when Laura Jean was dolled up for a date and knew how fantastic she looked, compared to her insecurities about facing the boys from her past after they had received her carefrontation letters. I felt it would have added Lara more depth if we’d had her a little more humble about her looks. It’s not a strong tone throughout this novel, but it was something that stood out to me.

This novel distinctively shows Lara Jean’s growth by the end of the book – if you measure her reactions to bad news with those at the start. It’s subtle, but I felt realistic, if not gracious. I love a good character development story!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I loved the family dynamics, especially between sisters – I did not have the benefit of female siblings growing up, and am always fascinated at how they are represented in books, and Jenny Han nailed it.

I’m uncertain about my feelings on Lara Jeans little sister, Kitty. There was a mix of childishness and maturity about her I did not quite understand. Her behaviour at the beginning is typical of any child of her age, but near the end, I was questioning if she was beginning to feel a little too grown up. It may have been in reaction to her circumstances, or a slip by the author. Whether intentional or not, I loved the spoiled stubborn brat and felt it added tension to the story.

For a contemporary romance, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before had a surprising amount of other content around school, friends, family and identity which kept my attention. If it had been too mushy, I’d probably have abandoned it. With a clear concise narrative and age appropriate voice it is a great and quick read. It not only fills the romance quota, but is empowering at the same time – polite feel within its style that is refreshing.

Throw a touch of irony and comedy into the mix and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a great way to while away the afternoon.

Overall reaction: aww!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review Pic 02 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 ‘Embers’ (Book 2 in the Smoulder series) by Casey Carlisle

Embers BannerA small lizard ran in my direction before grinding to a halt a metre from the base of the rock where I perched before bolting in another direction. Maybe I was in his regular sunning spot? I smiled inwardly, thankful for the distraction. It was then I noticed the pattern of ants on the ground, some marching a straight line to where I sat, before shooting off in random directions. But nothing crawled inside the invisible bubble around my rock. Dread washed over me as the tiny hairs prickled along my arm. It meant one thing… one of the Hunters was close by.

Tara Oschler, the one who could compel.

My face and limbs blushed cold despite the outback heat. I prayed I was falling victim to an over-active imagination and searched for more evidence that maybe it was my ability at work in its passive state. Sadly, no flies clung to my back, and no other insects inhabited the circumference around where I sat. That would only happen if they had been compelled…

My brain sputtered to life hesitantly. Hadn’t Tara and the other Hunter run off? How could anyone find me out here? I was in the armpit of nowhere for goodness sake – they couldn’t have followed me.

I was in the middle of nowhere. Alone.

 

Oh shit.

Was Tara alone? Did I have time to make a run for the car?

As if answering my question, Tara emerged from the brush, quickly followed by man.

“That’s her. That’s the bitch that got my brother murdered.”  The pair of them shot intense hatred from their eyes. “Hey bitch. It’s payback time!”

I scrambled to my feet, balancing on the rocky protrusion, absently feeling for my phone. But my back pocket was empty. My one connection to help most likely sitting in the central console of the car.

Jumping down behind the boulder, at least gaining some cover and ground as the pair split, working their way to either side in attempt to cut off any escape route. My eyes quickly flicked to the ground in search of a branch, or rock, something to club with, or throw. Maybe I could temporarily blind one of them with a handful or dirt?

Realising I hadn’t said anything, I prayed there were words to buy me some time… but what could I say? It wasn’t me? You’ve got the wrong girl? Are you off your meds?

When I took a step in the direction of the car, they both stopped, crouching.

“You’re the one we can’t get to. But that’s okay there are other methods of taking down prey.” The man sneered.

“Andrew’s got pretty good aim. But don’t worry, we’re not going to kill you straight away. We have other plans for you.” The light glinted off a knife balanced in Andrew’s fingers.

What was with the storybook villain act? Seriously, who said things like that? Crouching and gnashing teeth at me was SO WRONG. This had to be a joke.

“You better back off. I’m not defenceless. Or did you forget what I did to you before?” I watched their eyes meet in consternation, yet they did not stop their slow progression to intercept any path back to my Volkswagon. “I’m not alone.”

That froze them in their tracks. It was like I could read a struggle playing out over their expressions, like they were being forced to do this. Grief makes you do some strange things. And this was just another symptom. I took the opportunity of their uncertainty. With nothing in reach. Nowhere to run to without getting tackled, and most probably stabbed. I did the only move I had left. I let the fear and stress wave through me, harnessing it with whatever mental pull from that involuntary place inside me. I hoped I was able to knock them out like before. Then I’d run like Hell itself was opening up under my feet!

But it felt vastly different this time. Almost like I had bile burning and gurgling up from inside me. Great, I was going to puke them into submission.

But just before I was about to double over and spill my guts, the air distorted around us. A gust of hot wind shot outwards. Grass caught fire. A pop and sizzle as the ends of Tara’s hair dissolved. Andrew’s pant leg turned black under an orange flame.

They screamed.

I must have been in shock. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened? Had I just set them on fire?

Smoulder series blurb

© 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.

Film vs Novel – Now is Good

Now is Good Film vs Novel by Casey CarlisleNovel also published as “Before I Die”

 

You never decide to die – but you must decide to live!

I was recommended this book and film from fellow blogger belleofthelibrary when I happened across her book review. At first I really didn’t want to read another sad and depressing book, considering The Fault in Our Stars sent me into a funk for nearly a week. But, Now is Good is slightly different. It’s gritty and sarcastic. Both film and novel make no apologies for Tessa, our protagonist’s actions. Yes it’s sad, but it’s the most realistic reaction to getting sick with a terminal disease I’ve read so far.

You do go a bit mental. You do feel bipolar and swing to extremes. And you live the time you have left without abandon.

The film suffered as many screen adaptations do – sanitised to fit into a ratings category. The more risqué scenes cut or buffed over. I can’t say I didn’t mind it though, cancer is quite confronting. And so are some or the situations in the novel. The film succeeded with excellent pacing – all of the omissions from the written version, and the reveal of Tessa’s bucket list was much more poignant. The book, I found to be a little long in parts, and I nearly put it down – but believe me the last quarter of the novel is well worth the struggle. It’s raw, graphic, and a true representation what Tessa goes through (believe me, I’ve experienced most of it).

The ending of the film lacked the punch that the novel did – I’d say the film is almost melodic, where the novel is like a car horn – alarming and something you read with wide eyes.

I liked Adam (Tessa’s love interest) in the big screen version the most, he felt substantial and worthy of Tessa given the suffering she bears on strong shoulders. His written counterpart reflected a more realistic picture of teen males: slightly aloof and misunderstood and totally redeems himself towards the end.

With Tessa, however, I preferred the novel version. You really get into her head and experience her life. The movie felt a little choppy in comparison, and at times, I had trouble understanding her motivations. There is also so many more one-liners and witty observations in the book.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleDakota Fanning did a brilliant job depicting Tessa, especially given the script. I lost faith towards the end though; but due to production and make-up than Fanning’s performance. After reading the book and comparing, you’ll get what I mean. They opted for ‘pretty’ rather than the realism that plays through the novel. On a side note I kept listening for her British accent to falter… an added dimension to the film. J

The discovery of Jeremy Irvine playing Adam nearly flipped my wig! Talk about delicious! He has serious acting chops too. Irvine added a dreamy quality to Adam, where in the book he’s described as average and goofy (even though Tessa sees him as a love god). I also found out he’s playing Daniel Grigori in the screen adaptation of Lauren Kate’s Fallen, and am really interested to see how that film turns out when it is released later this year.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

A bonus is the casting of Kaya Scodelario as Zoey… I don’t think they could have chosen anybody more perfect for the role.

I’d say both film and novel are on a fairly even par, but definitely prefer the book for its dark comedy and balls-to-the-wall narrative.

And yes, bring your tissues.

Now is Good Film vs Novel Pic 01 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.

Book Review – ‘Frostbite’ (Vampire Academy Book 2) by Richelle Mead

Meet a sarcastic seductress with a silver stake…

Frostbite Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

No. of pages: 327

From Goodreads:

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price… 

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I found myself wanting some more of that sassy attitude in this novel.

The action was definitely turned up a few notches, but also was the seriousness… I guess to help set up some of the landscape for further instalments in this series. But still, the biggest draw card for me attempting this second novel was Rose’s witty banter and bitchy one liners.

I didn’t get the LOL’s as I did from Vampire Academy. That is not to say it was completely amiss from Frostbite – there are definite shining moments and I found myself enjoying it more that the first.

The blurb for this book makes it sound like a love triangle, and completely downplays the build up of the Strigoi threat. I’m glad I hadn’t actually perused the Goodreads page otherwise I may have not picked it up. Going in blind, without any expectation Frostbite falls into my guilty pleasure category. It’s no literary masterpiece by thoroughly entertaining.

Frostbite Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Maybe because this the second book a serial I didn’t feel like there was enough to this novel story-wise. A great arc and wrapped up some topics, but definitely did not feel like a stand-alone, or something you could understand if you read out of order.

The tone felt a little more mature and developed. Giving me less opportunity to get pulled from the narrative with subsequent eye-rolling. I’m not a huge fan of vampire novels – I feel they are somewhat overdone, but the Vampire Academy series, with its snarky vocabulary and a mix of elemental magic kept me glued to the page.

A great quick escapist read to pleasure a cold winter’s night on the lounge (while cuddling up to your boyfriend or furbaby).

Overall reaction: I think I like it.

Frostbite Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Frostbite Book Review Pic 03 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.

Beautiful Ache

Thought for the Day Poc 01 by Casey CarlisleThought for the Day by Casey Carlisle

I love to read. It takes me away from this world and shows me things I’m not brave enough to do. I get to have gorgeous men swoon and fight over me, I get to be fit and daring and travel. I get to live.

So many of my friends keep saying, why don’t I go out and do all of those things I find in pages of novels. Maybe I would if I were rich, didn’t have to work, or my body kept as active as my mind.

I’ve had cancer. Twice.

And afterward, you are not quite as spritely as you once were. Especially after so many operations.

Funnily enough, some of the books I’ve read romanticise cancer. The main character finds love and fulfilment in the short time they have left. And when they’re gone, it’s like the world is left with a beautiful ache. How courageous and strong they were. Many books end just before that point…

Cancer is not like that. Not at all.

It’s painful, draining and ugly.

You go through a roller coaster ride of emotions and physical sensations. There is nothing romantic about it. I did not get to meet my dreamboat guy and I did not die.

I survived standing on my own two feet.

And while I am happy to be alive, and certainly not wasting the second and third chances I’ve been given, there is no traipsing off into the sunset to realise my dreams. I still have to struggle on with the day to day drudgery. But there is appreciation. For the little things, for friends and family, the beauty around me. My ‘To Do’ lists are much different – they are mostly populated with meaningful things. Meaningful to me. When you stare death in the face and tell him to back off, you become much more serious about things.

A year after I got the free and clear, I lost my Mum. It feels like I am going through the whole process again.

The rollercoaster.

Surviving. On my own two feet.

Appreciating the little things.

Now I am left with a beautiful ache.

Bucket List 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.