Book Review – Cress by Marissa Meyer

Once upon a time… in space…

Cress Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 550

From Goodreads:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

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Cress’ the next instalment in the Lunar Chronicles adds yet even more interesting characters in the mish-mash of fairy tale re-tellings.

There was more involvement in Cress’ storyline with that of the other characters, which we did not get as much in ‘Scarlet,’ and for that I am greatful. Even though Cress gets her own backstory, it was woven into that of the rest of the main cast of the Lunar Universe from the get-go.

Cress Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleCress is a different type of heroine – where Cinder and Scarlet are physical and strong willed, Cress is intelligent, idealistic, but fragile. She plays to her strengths, yet the motivation of all three protagonists remains the same: freedom.

We see all of the assumptions Cress has made of the world outside her single room satellite challenged – there is only so much information you can glean from on-screen dramas. And in fact she chooses to play pretend to deal with the real-world shock of it all, continually repeating to herself she is an actress when plunged into the unfamiliar.

Again, I loved the inclusion of Iko and her comedic timing, and we see elements of this type innocent blundering in Cress, which I feel helped round out this series and inject some much needed light-hearted banter to break up the action and espionage. After all, the world our three protagonists face is bleak; and you need a sense of humour to stop going insane.

With Cress being so young and isolated, the narrative is much more ‘girly’ than we got in the previous editions, and I must say, an enjoyable change. Because of this, and so many elements/story arcs happening the pacing is engaging – and for such a lump of a book (552 pages) – a great feat.

Some of my friends felt ‘Scarlet’ was a little clunky and slow, and ‘Cress’ definitely lives up the standards set in ‘Cinder.’ The main plot points are predictable – I mean we all know how the fairy tale goes. But besides that, much of this book is setting up events for the three characters to deal with an almighty war with Queen Levana in ‘Winter’ due out next month (November).

I have to commend this series for its sheer imagination and the ability to breathe new life into old characters and to then weave so many different fables into one massive overarching plot… I take my hat off to you Marissa Meyer, it is a truly outstanding achievement.

Definitely glad I caught up with this series before ‘Winter’s’ release and can’t wait to indulge over the Christmas break!

Overall feeling: You go girl!

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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.

She’ll Never Marry

Shell never marry 01

I found it interesting when having conversations with friends how they think there is something wrong with the solo female life adventurer… like they are broken, or have been hurt in love and trust sparingly.

It’s never addressed with a positive attitude.

But there are subtle hints in how people act, underlying meanings under what they say.

What is this obsession with having to be coupled to be deemed a success in life? Especially for women. Is it this primitive biological imperative to pass on our genes that is to blame?

I have known many strong independent women who, especially later in life, have been content and happy single. They weren’t cold hearted or had difficult personalities or disfigured in any way.

She'll never marry pic 04The more I thought about it, the more it made me feel uncomfortable that a mere relationship defines our identity. We don’t need to marry, or have children. There are other types of ‘ships that fulfil our lives: like companionship and friendship.

Are there many of these female solo crusaders in our literature that are shown in a positive light? To be honest, I am struggling to think of a single one off the top of my head.

Is it really that undesirable?

I get love is amazing, especially finding that one person who compliments you and finally clicks the world into a rosy perspective. But so is a meaningful friendship, a soulmate, a kindred spirit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic.

She'll never marry pic 03We do see some of these relationships in novels from a young protagonist – because, the underlying tone is that they are still yet to meet their significant other. But older characters are painted as widowers, sad and lonely and like there is something missing (not to mention the crone in the woods, or the crazy cat lady at the end of the street). What happened to that elderly woman who is out exploring life, traveling, meeting new friends and sharing her vast knowledge… I want that woman as a lead!

I’ve found some GLBTQ+ novels touch on this topic, the best friend becoming a lifetime companion. And I appreciate that this genre of literature is ground breaking in exploring different types of relationships, but sometimes I get the feeling that the author is making the point that just because a character has identified as GLBTQ+ that the only significant relationship is one of friendship/companionship. Not that there is anything wrong with that – but why is the expectation so different? Such a double edged sword.

She'll never marry pic 02I don’t want to turn this article into a rant – there are so many factors in society which impact on this simple statement. But it was just an observation that has jumped out at me recently because of attitudes of friends and family, coupled with gazing over my book shelf and not finding a title that helps reinforce that growing old single is a positive thing.

It goes to show that my book buying habits are just as much to blame as anything.

It doesn’t have to be feminist, ageist or any ‘ist… I just wish there was a bigger representation of strong, fun loving, older female role models in popular fiction.

With an aging population, and women outliving men, isn’t it blindingly obvious that in the real world we are inundated with marvellous female role models – I think it’s time we give them some of the spotlight.

What fiction books have you read with an older single female protagonist? List any below…

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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.

Granted!

I’ve had yet another reminder this week about not taking life for granted.

Granted Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleMy youngest furbaby, Ben, was rushed to the vet after a distressing night where his whole little body was pounding with an accelerated heartbeat, he was off his food and not his usual huggable self. I couldn’t sleep, I remained by his side the entire night gently stroking his fur distraught that I couldn’t do anything more to ease his suffering.

Even though he wasn’t in any pain, he was clearly uncomfortable. And no-one likes to see an animal stressed.

The local vet was amazing. I was strung out and tired, tears streaming down my face. I’d gone over every inch of Ben’s skin thinking it may be a paralysis tick or snake bite – but came up empty.

Well Ben is now back to his good old self and at home by my feet. He is the most plesant natured little pooch and so well-behaved.  Even the vet commented on his intelligence.

Ben has a big heart – literally. It’s common for small dogs of Ben’s breed to develop heart issues. And thank goodness the vet finally narrowed down the issue and stabilized his condition. Now I get to share more cuddles with my little polar bear. And he loves cuddles!

I remember wishing to the night sky for Ben to be alright. He’s part of my family – and as his proud parent it’s up to me to ensure his safety and comfort. I know I spoil all my dogs, but the unconditional love and support they give me is invaluable, and they deserve to be spoiled. The best of care. I’d been bed ridden for many months recovering from cancer, and these boys kept me calm, kept me smiling.

So I still have my cuddle bunny – wish granted.

Granted Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve said before, to live as close as you can to treating each day like it’s your last. It was never so important as it was this week. As devastated as I was at the thought of losing my canine friend, I didn’t have one regret about what we’ve shared. He’s been showered with love, seen most of Australia with me, got to eat marvellous things, sniff so many smells, he’s having a great doggie life. And I intend it to be even more fantastic.

Bless my little companion – and thank you.

Granted Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Muttly Mania 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 Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Fear evolves through the eyes of a child.

 The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Horror

No. of pages: 416

From Goodreads:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

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I purchased ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ back when it first came out with only vague idea of what it was about – someone had told me it was X-Men like, young children in a school for the gifted… well that is not really what it was about, but still, this title grabbed my attention.

The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleMore and more bibliophiles are calling this a zombie book, and while it’s not technically true, best describes overall genre. ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ starts off so interesting, like a puzzle that needed solving. Especially through Melanie’s POV, where she has such a limited perspective. It all sucked me in – I really wanted to find out what was going on, and why Melanie was so dangerous, when on the surface, she was an innocent little girl.

With changes in the narrative to other main characters, like the teacher, the scientist, the soldier, the plot slowly unravels to reveal a horrible truth, and one I did not see coming. But when realisation struck, it made sense.

Some parts had me cringing – reminding me of B-grade horror movie plots (and acting) but it was kind of camp – the way you laugh at said B-grade horrors. Other parts were truly creepy. So I’m torn between marvelling at its story telling goodness, and dismissing it with a top lip curl.

There are some fantastical moments from both characters and plot, and maybe it was the narrative style that stopped them from being pulled off as truly terrifying. But I really enjoyed all the concepts used in this story. Pacing is slow in the beginning, great lengths are taken to set up each of the cast and the world in which they are struggling to survive.

All in all a creepy little book.

And there’s a movie coming out next year staring Gemma Arterton and Glen Close, except it’s called ‘She Who Brings Gifts’ so I can’t wait to see where they take this story.

Overall feeling: ick factor 8/10

The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Girl With All the Gifts Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

Book Review – Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

You can find love in the strangest of places… no matter who you are.

Finding Cinderella Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 90

From Goodreads:

A chance encounter in the dark leads eighteen-year-old Daniel and the girl who stumbles across him to profess their love for each other. But this love comes with conditions: they agree it will only last one hour and it will only be make-believe.

When their hour is up and the girl rushes off like Cinderella, Daniel tries to convince himself that what happened between them only seemed perfect because they were pretending it was perfect. Moments like that with girls like her don’t happen outside of fairytales.

One year and one bad relationship later, his disbelief in insta-love is stripped away the day he meets Six: a girl with a strange name and an even stranger personality. Daniel soon realizes the way he pretended to feel about Cinderella and the way he really feels about Six may not be so different after all. Especially when the two loves of his life end up being one in the same.

Unfortunately for Daniel, finding Cinderella doesn’t guarantee their happily ever after…it only further threatens it.  

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A great little companion novella to the Hopeless duology, this time dealing with Six and Daniel’s perspective – I found their story refreshing. There is no re-hash of Sky (Hope) or Holder’s story, but briefly kisses their journey as Six deals with a quandary all of her own.

With all the angst from the series but vastly different protagonists, ‘Finding Cinderella’ is much more gritty and real. The distinct voices of both Six and Daniel really serve to enhance this short story and help to colour the Hopeless Universe.

It can stand on its own, without having read other novels in the franchise, but in addition to the duology, this really shines with attitude.

I loved getting a peek inside Sky’s head, how she handles slut-shaming and the way both our protagonists grow from pivotal moments.

With only 90 pages in length it is a satisfying afternoon read – not as heavy as its predecessors, but full of the feels.

Other titles in the Hopeless Series:

Finding Cinderella Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleOverall feeling: Rock on!
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Finding Cinderella Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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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.