Book Review – Life and Death – Twilight re-imagined by Stephenie Meyer

Get some glitter on your skin and sink your teeth into ‘Life and Death.’

Life and Death Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy, Romance

No. of pages: 442

From Goodreads:

When Beaufort Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edythe Cullen, his life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With her porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edythe is both irresistible and enigmatic.

What Beau doesn’t realise is the closer he gets to her, the more he is putting himself and those around him at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back… 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I immediately dropped everything to read this as soon as it arrived in the mail from pre-ordering – being such a twi-hard, how could I not.

I’ve read comments of others complaining why Stephanie Meyer released this instead of a sequel to ‘The Host,’ or ‘Midnight Sun’ – and if you read the forward, you’ll get your answers – this was basically a re-edit of ‘Twilight,’ not an entirely new book.

I enjoyed this novel, it still gave me all the excitement from reading ‘Twilight’ in the first place, but without actually re-reading it. The gender swap is fun, the names comical and glimpses in what Stephenie wanted to do if she’d had a chance to edit ‘Twilight’ one more time before its release.

I still got that angsty tension between Beau and Edythe. Granted it didn’t feel as intense as with Bella and Edward, but still elicited all the feels I love getting from her books.

The ending was fun too – a nice surprise for Twilight fans. Although it felt a little rushed and a bit too much information was crammed into the final 1-2 chapters. I think if Stephenie had more time she could have done it justice – initially it was only going to be a snippet, but in turning out a new novel (even if it is a re-edited version) is amazing and I’ll take what I can get. I love the way her mind works.

You can certainly see how gender does not come into play all that much in the overall story – and I love how Steph has made that point after all the criticisms over Bella being such a damsel in distress.

A great addition to the Twilight franchise.

I started seeing Bella and Edward in Beau and Edythe, but by the end of the novel, Beau and Edythe had separated themselves as alternative entities.

I was liking the gender-swapped versions of some of the characters better than their originals and it was fun imagining how these re-imagined characters would fair in the rest of the Twilight Saga storyline. Highly recommended.

The fandom is already starting to come up with art on what Beau and Edythe look like… both funny and interesting so far. Check it out at #Twilight10Art.

Overall feeling: bliss

Life and Death Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Life and Death 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.

Advertisements

Book Review – Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

An end to alien antics (well, sort of)

Opposition Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 352

From Goodreads:

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

 Page border by Casey Carlisle

I was excited to see how this series was going to end and dived into ‘Opposition’ eager for an explosive conclusion… but I ended up not really enjoy it as much as the rest of the series. Even though there is another book due for release in novel due for release on Dec 1st this year (‘Oblivion’ the beginning told from Daemon’s point of view – a ‘Midnight Sun’ of the Lux series. I wonder if it is going to pick up where ‘Shadows’ left off or use that novella as a foreword?) ‘Opposition’ wrapped up Katy and Daemon nicely.

There was too much lovey-dovey-ness, it became so repetitive and at inappropriate times. Daemon was starting to get on my nerves. And Katy to some extent… when did they get so stereotypical? I think it was the rehashing of intimate moments in the series – I was overlooking it in previous novels, but by this, the 5th book, I was hoping Jennifer L Armentrout would have come up with more imaginative ways to create intimacy.

Ooopsition (Lux) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleLoved the epic battle and obstacles overcome with the Arum. But it’s not made too easy and there are some plot twists that had me ‘What tha!?’ My favorite is still the Las Vegas battle scene from ‘Origin.’ We see all aliens (and hybrids) using their powers with reckless abandon. Although I can say I wanted more face-offs, the pacing and action scenes have been so engaging.

Some of the insights from this conclusion have also got me wanting to read ‘Obsession,’ a stand-alone from an Arum’s POV… color me intrigued. I wonder how different the narrative will be from Daemon? Will it shed any more light on the history between the Luxen and the Arum, or is it merely the story of one alien connecting with yet another unsuspecting human?

The ending felt kind of weak. It was great how everything was tied up in a pretty white bow, but I wanted more bang for my buck. I mean, hello, the world was invaded by aliens and we just go back to the way things were before? There should be some sort of remaining tension or disorientation…

On the whole another enjoyable installment, I’m a little glad the series has wrapped up, the bright and shiny feeling I had when beginning had faded. Still highly recommend to those who love drama, action and aliens in a small town high school setting. Still has aspects that remind me of ‘Twilight’ and ‘Roswell,’ and Katy and Daemon will always have a special place in my heart.

Go alien glowy-ness!

Overall feeling: Ordinary but very cute

 Opposition Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Opposition 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.

Book Review – Bang by Lisa McMann

Getting more bang for your buck… not so much.

Bang Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle Genre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 241

From Goodreads:

Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties… 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Having been entertained by the debut of this series, it wasn’t long before I picked up this novel. Though, not as good as ‘Crash,’ ‘Bang’ continues the viral visions being passed on to Jules’ boyfriend Sawyer and another mystery to be unravelled in order to save lives.

The first half floundered to get the easy flow narrative from the first novel back. Too many dot com jokes and slang thrown in… but once the story got legs, I began enjoying it again. There are comical moments, but I was left wondering if Lisa McMann was trying to inject some youthful slang or simply slogged a dead horse with the colloquialisms, a minor detail, but it was off-putting to me.

This time the risk was higher, the mystery of the vision harder to unravel… and more family drama. It was great to see some more character development of the cast, and each of the so-called perfect siblings jump down off their pedestal.

Again, the way the visions could be paused, rewound and zoomed in on annoyed me…. And also the fact they play like a movie trailer. It cheapens the mysticism around the visions. Also I would have liked to have some of the mythology explored – like the guys trying to find out where they came from, what they mean, and if in fact there was some sort of familial connection.

A more political tone was reached as well, and I appreciated how it was dealt with – even if the circumstances were shocking. With the risk of a shooting in a school, a hate crime against LGBTQI+ is a great topic to explore in that it is shedding light on an ongoing issue in society. Yes, the hatred is distasteful, but it’s out there. With that said, the issue was glossed over a bit, and just about completely discarded in the following novel ‘Gasp’ – I was sure there would be some repercussions or trauma associated with the incident.

Jules begins to come off a little righteous, as does Sawyer. I understand they need to solve the mystery in order to stave off crippling visions, but I wanted to see the darker side explored.

Still a quick easy read, many valid and entertaining happen, but somewhat lacklustre for me. Mostly predictable, but still some plot twists to keep you gripped to the page. I have high hopes for ‘Gasp’ as it wraps up this trilogy.

Overall feeling: is that all?

Bang Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Bang 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.

Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel – Carrie

Such a variety of bloody endings…

Carrie Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve read a number of Stephen King novels, but hadn’t picked up ‘Carrie’ until this week… and considering it was King’s debut back in 1974, the novel still stands the test of time. However, when I compared it to the film adaptations, there were some marked differences…

** WARNING : Herein lies many spoilers **

Carrie herself was written as a chubby, frizzy-haired girl with acne, introverted and copping the brunt of bullying from classmates. In both of the films, Carrie has already been given a makeover holding some sexual appeal, even in her opening scenes. While I understand that Hollywood needs to keep some appeal for the audience to connect with her character, the reason why she is ridiculed in school is because of her imperfections and naivety of the wider world due to the overprotective nature of her religious zealot of a mother. While the film starring Sissy Spacek, and the TV adaptation in 2002 connect with this aspect quite strongly, the delivery is a little stereotypical. At the times they were aired, however, expectations regarding the horror genre were different to now and both represent social expectations. The 2014 remake with Chloe Grace Moretz shows a softer version of Carrie, although still remaining true to the character in the novel. The Carrie in the novel was aware of her mental abilities, and was ‘playing with them’ and we see this for the first time in the same tone in the latest film adaptation. While Sissy Spacek will always be my favourite, Chloe Grace Moretz really brings something new and unique to the character of Carrie.

Our antagonists in the novel range from the maniacal to people who were on the cusp (like Ms Desjardin / Miss Collins). Now there is a lot more gore and carnage in the novel than in the film adaptations, and we really get to see the characters descend into darkness as they begin to let their hate consume them in the written version – while all screenplays attempt this in various ways, many of the “bad guys” feel stereotypical and unrealistic… with one exception: Mrs White played by Julianne Moore in the 2014 version.

The point in Stephen Kings novel was that a girl predisposed to telekinesis was pushed to the brink, snapped, and retaliated (somewhat justified). But it is supposed to be the power that consumes her, putting her into a fugue state to commit the murderous rampage and Carrie is mortified once she snaps out of it. I don’t think I got this message clearly from any of the film adaptations. Additionally, when Carrie has flipped her switch in the novel, she connects psychically with everyone near her, broadcasting her thoughts and intentions – we never get that in the films. The fear and speculation of telekinesis is at the core of the novel… something lost on the big screen.

The book also lets the events unfold organically, with snafoos and road blocks, where most of the events in the screen versions happen seamlessly and, in my opinion, add to the lack of realism.

I will say Chloe Grace Moretz depiction of Carries’ final scenes is my favorite, and that which rings the truest to the novel, showing Carrie bringing down justice on more than just her tormentor at school. Although we know why she is doing it in the book – there is no reason as to why she is doing it in the film other than she is lost in the fugue state.

The biggest thing from the book to screen is that Carries actions are seemingly motivated and justified in the book, but no so much in the films.

Carrie Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The supporting cast are a little hit and miss too. The novel has Tommy Ross walking that line of good and evil, but redeems himself, where it’s only in the 2014 film he’s always depicted as a good guy. His subsequent demise also differs from film to film, as well as his accidental death being the trigger for Carrie to fall into her rage. Additionally, the Coach’s (Ms Desjardin / Miss Collins) ending differs. In some she survives, and in others she’s caught in the carnage. It all came down to what viewer classification the screening came down to – as with cutting much of the gore from the novel adaptations. Shame really, I liked the message the novel brought.

The ending is where a lot differs – Carrie never gets to bathe in the book, and “punishes” herself for her actions, seeing no other way out. I wonder if the shower scene was introduced in the first film to flash a bit of nudity and increase viewer ratings? In the novel, Sue Snell, having been telekinetically linked with Carrie, has resided herself to death as punishment for her actions, but it is her unborn child that saves her, and subsequently knocks Carrie out of her fugue state.

From this point, Sue, as a survivor is one of the narrators of the novel, which is told in a collection of accounts and documents, police reports into an investigation of Carrie White. The point being Carrie linked her mind to those around her. Bringing up the question about the existence of mental abilities in the first place… We don’t get to see any of this aspect in the films.

One point regarding all the screen adaptations is that the 2002 version is the only one to explore much of Carrie’s childhood (as the novel does) with more than a few flashbacks and something I though was important to the plot. I really would have seen that brought to the other films.

Overall reactions from the films: 1979 – a little corny and stereotypical but rings true to the novel; 2002 TV movie – a watered down version, Carrie is more like here written counterpart, but the rest of the movie fell a little flaccid and gore free; 2014 film with Chloe Grace Moretz – the best characterization and flow of story line, but still missed parts from the novel that justified some of Carries actions, but surpassed all in character relationships and special effects. Best entertainment value.

It is always up to the reader/viewer to decide whether Carrie is a villain, and even in all the film versions we are left wondering. There is even an alternate ending in the 2014 version. The 1979 film with Spacek would have been the better adaptations, but still fell short of encompassing everything from the novel.

I could go on and on about so many other differences, but the most important aspects dealing with story have been covered. I feel the book surpassed all the movies solely on story and perspective, that, and managing to raise speculation and fear over telekinesis.

Stephen King’s novel is a well-paced, fast read only 253 pages long, an easy weekend read, something I recommend for all to read, but keep in mid it was written in the ‘70’s. Novel for the win!

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.

Travel Abroad…?

I’ve always wanted to travel… but how do you pick where to go when there are so many interesting places to visit?

Travel abroad Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I WANT THEM! ALL THE PLACES!

That is pretty much what my head screams when I think about booking my next holiday. Truth be told – I’m not that much of a big traveller. Overseas that is. I’ve explored just about all of Australia, but my only overseas trip was on a cruise for my 40th birthday after finally been given the all-clear from the doctors and actually having enough funds for a holiday off the continent.

So now that I’ve broken the seal, taken my first trip, what is holding me back from doing it again?

Well, life I guess. Mum passing away. Selling my house and relocating. But that is all done with now, so the only thing I can think of is fear.

FEAR.

Travel abroad Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

When did I get so scared to take on the unknown. Okay, I’m not cowering in a corner in a pool of my own making, but am uncomfortable to leave the cushy place I’ve finally been able to create. So much of my life recently has been dealt with uncertainty. But I think losing Mum has put the fear of losing everything in me, and I’ve fallen into the security of the familiar and routine.

It’s time to put away childish things.

So next year it’s time to re-visit my Bucket List and look at another adventure over the great blue yonder. At this point in time it looks like Canada and Alsaska. Maybe some other place on the way back home after that. A cold climate may not sound appealing to some, but I live on the Sunshine Coast – its sunscreen and beach all day, all the time. Plus, I love layering clothes, snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book. So it’s settled.

My dream cruise would be to the Antarctic. Imaging floating past polar bears and penguins, catching glimpses of whales… the delicate hues of blue and white in cliffs of ice. I want to see that.

So 2016 is going to be the year I get back on track with my Bucket List and start stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve had my year of fear and loss and it’s time to live again!

What is on your Bucket List for 2016?

Travel abroad Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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.

Book Review – Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Do you dare to step into the woods?

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there… 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I’m not normally one to pick up a graphic novel – even though this is a compilation of five graphic short stories – but it was a welcome change from a usual steady diet of books.

Each story is set in a different time and has its own twist. ‘Our Neighbor’s House’ is quietly spooky and has a Blair Witch feel; where ‘A Lady’s Hands are Cold’ is a morbid cautionary tale. ‘His Face All Red’ is like body snatchers from deep in the woods and shudder-worthy; while ‘My Friend Janna’ is a freaky tale of a haunted medium and definitely my favourite story, both the drawings and storyline up the creep factor. And finally ‘The Nesting Place’ is the longest of the stories and the ssshhhkkk ssssshhhhkkkk of teeth still echo through my head.

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

The illustrations in ‘Through the Woods’ were scratchy and blotchy with only one or two colours – as equally ominous as the stories themselves. It was eerie and spooky and suitably gave me the shivers.

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

While not terrifying, ‘Through the Woods’ is morbid and creepy. Reminding me of Ronald Dahl – that same way the stories ended, or even ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Several moments had the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

It is a quick read, but I urge you to take your time and enjoy the artwork. There is so much atmosphere that projects off the page to suck you into the narrative.

For my first graphic novel – highly recommended!

Overall feeling: *shudder*

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Through the Woods Book Review Pic 06 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 – Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Wrap your brain around this…

Insurgent Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 525

From Goodreads:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I’ve been slow getting into the Divergent series, but have managed to remain spoiler free so I can read the books before seeing the movies. After the shock and awe I got from the first novel, I was really looking forward to see what would happen in this second novel.

Insurgent’ really keeps you guessing and thinking. You get a sense of a bigger motive going on here which kept me intrigued. And thank goodness that Veronica Roth dropped so many bread crumbs into this second novel, because the pace dropped off around the half way mark – whether bogged down with too many facts, or including so much superfluous story arcs, I ended up putting down ‘Insurgent’ after reading 50% and took a break to read another book.

Luckily I was able to jump back into this quite quickly, and the pacing in the second half really picks up.

It still contains all that reckless gore and killing experienced in ‘Divergent,’ really adding to the sense of rebellion and desperation of the rebel faction members.

We learn more of the mythology behind the Divergent – which really threw me for a spin, and I can’t wait to find out what is going on in ‘Allegiant.’

Insurgent Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It’s great to see Tris not only break and fall, but get even stronger at the same time. She has to dig deep and test everything, her physical strength, her relationships, her sanity… it is really amazing what this girl goes through all in the name of gaining her freedom and truth.

I loved seeing the dynamics of Tris’ relationships switch around again and again, it added to the tension and tone of the novel. So much of the unexpected happened that I was bombarded with information, but it all adds to the mystery as to why Tris’ community lives the way it does.

Many of my friends are heavily invested in the Tris-Four ship, but I am still yet to feel any pull for this coupling.

Insurgent Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Roth still paints a marvellous and devastating dystopian world, and Tris’ narrative flows with ease through the highs and lows. The pacing felt a little stop-start in the middle, but considering the size of this book, it’s a relatively fast read. Further insight into the cast may have you changing you opinion of them, or your connection deepening. I really had no predictions for this, I was so busy working out what was going on and getting over one event to another, that I have to praise the way it is written. Pow. Bam. Boom!

A great follow up to ‘Divergent’ and will soon be picking up ‘Allegiant…’ let’s hope those surprises keep coming. If the writing style so far is anything to go by it’s going to be a rocky ride full of carnage.

Overall feeling: Well… that was unexpected.

Insurgent Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Insurgent Book Review Pic 06 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.