Book Review – ‘Last Sacrifice’ (Vampire Academy Book 6) by Richelle Mead

A sad goodbye to a YA favorite.

Last Sacrifice Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

No. of pages: 608

From Goodreads:

They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

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I’m not sure how I feel about the conclusion to this epic series – on the one hand it was a lovely round-up and concluded in what, to be frank, is the most realistic way. But I wanted and ending that was legendary. After I had put the book down, I was struggling to remember how it all wrapped up… and that’s why I’m so on the fence with the culmination to the Vampire Academy books – I invested a lot of time in these big six books, so I wanted the conclusion to be the ultimate.

Lissa’s position I pretty much pegged in the first book of VA, and that was very satisfying. But Rose… well… she’s a warrior and I wanted a big bang – or promise of more to come. We kind of left her in a way that it trailed off.
But that is about the biggest aspect to ‘Last Sacrifice’ and the VA that bothered me. The rest was damphir goodness! I got the little plot twists that I’ve not come to expect, and that I rarely predict. The overall plot is pretty much easy to guess, but Richelle Mead always makes the journey there so interesting.

I also wanted some more questions answered a little better. More investigation into Spirit users. The fate of the remaining Strigoi. A solid direction for the reign of the new Queen. We get hints, but it felt too uncertain.

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I know their journey is still not over, as the spin-off Bloodlines will delve into more of the VA world, and most likely give me some more answers. But I feel VA deserved an ending that resonated with me.

The writing is easy to read and a pleasure to while away an afternoon as always. And considering that ‘Last Sacrifice’ is 608 pages long, it was still a relatively fast read. It did drag a bit at some points, and the pacing isn’t as good as its predecessors – I think mainly because there was so much going on and Rose was in and out of her head as well as Lissa’s, it was difficult to get into one stream of consciousness where the action was ramping up, before you are yanked into another head space.

I think we also lost some of that mystery that we get throughout VA – it was pushed to the side with all the action in ‘Last Sacrifice.’ I wanted to there be a stronger presence of Spirit and it’s mythology/origins. And a bit more on the origin of the species of Moroi and Strigoi. With the introduction of the rebel group who were Traditionalists, it opened the door for this – but Richelle didn’t do anything with that. As too with the mythology/origins of the Alchemists.

So I’m going to have to read the Bloodlines series now to see if Mead will drop me some more breadcrumbs.

A wonderful book, slightly underwhelming ending, but a sad goodbye to our kick ass heroine Rose (by that I mean an end to the series – not that she dies).

Overall reaction: a sweet and sad goodbye

Last Sacrifice Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.

Sneezes are scary!

Ben hides from sneezes by Casey Carlisle.JPGI have to admit, my sneezes are not the most delicate in manner. I sound like a tradie who’s whacked his thumb with a hammer. They are loud, violent, and my voice drops into the low register. It’s a shout-sneeze.

Totally unbecoming.

But I generally crack myself up laughing afterwards. I can’t control it. Especially other people’s reactions to this suddenly unexpected display. It’s a great gag in the doctor’s waiting room.

But my huggy-fluffy-cuddle-bunny furbaby does not like them. He’s so placid, and calm. Loves to curl up next to me or on my lap when I’m reading or writing the next chapter of my book, but every time I sneeze he bolts to the other side of the house and hides under a table or his blankie. Then I have to go find him. Apologise, and give him positive reinforcement that everything is okay.

I feel bad for giving him a scare, but I really can’t help it.

No wonder he has a heart condition.

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – ‘Blueberry Boys’ by Vanessa North

Blueberry boys – a little too fruity for me, but has a sweetness to it.

Blueberry Boys Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 186

From Goodreads:

Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other. 

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I’ve really enjoyed a number of titles in GLBT contemporary, and after reading the blurb and loving the cover I bought ‘Blueberry Boys’ expecting a heart-warming tale to while an afternoon away on the couch.

There is a coming out story (as there generally is in GLBT Literature – no surprises there) but the way it was dealt with felt a little juvenile for the age of the characters Jed and Connor, and a farm setting.

The characters at the beginning were likeable, but I started to lose interest in their pairing as it was too rushed and focused on lustful encounters a lot of the time. There was also a heavy element of instalove between Connor and Jeb.

The narrative is beautiful – until the characters get intimate, then it turns into erotica. Which I didn’t expect. And there’s quite a bit of it. It ruined my reading experience somewhat as it was confronting and the language course – drained all the romance out of it for me.

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The dialogue and narrative is also a bit superlative heavy – there are a lot of curse words. I don’t mind them in a novel to enunciate a point, or fit in to with local colloquialism; but when it’s on every page I find it distracting and pulls me from enjoying the book.

I found myself craving more story – it just felt like one sexual encounter after another without any build or character development.

If you enjoy a light m/m love story with titillation this one is for you, but I was left craving more substance.

Overall feeling – *tttthhhh*

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 Guard’ by Kiera Cass

Aspen tries to make you stand at attention…

The Guard Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Romance, Dystopian

No. of pages: 64

From Goodreads:

Before America Singer met Prince Maxon . . .
Before she entered the Selection . . .
She was in love with a boy named Aspen Leger.

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I was curious to see where Keira Cass would go with this novella after reading The Selection Series – Aspen wasn’t my favorite character and was hoping to see if the author could redeem him in my eyes.

We do get some great insight into Aspen’s head… although it did not make me like him any more than I already had. I understood him better – his affections, but still there was something missing, especially when he flirted with the maids while he was supposedly so devoted to America.

I loved the behind the scenes information we garnered of life at the Palace and some of the gossip around the major events America and Maxon lived through in The Selection Series.

It’s very short so there isn’t much else to add. It added another layer to my experience with Cass’s novels, but something I’d only recommend to mega fans.

Overall reaction: Quaint

The Guard Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Guard Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – ‘Pivot Point’ by Kasie West

A mix of fate and choice with a paranormal twist – sounds like a great flavor for an ice-cream sundae.

Pivot Point Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 343

From Goodreads:

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier… 

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.

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This was like a YA paranormal version of the movie ‘Sliding Doors’ starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

I didn’t know too much going into the book, I’d read some other titles of Kasie West and assumed that this was another contemporary and was pleasantly surprised with the paranormal element (which plays heavily in the plot and is wrapped up in the identity of our protagonist Addie.)

Pivot Point Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleAddie. She is relatable to an extent, though I did feel as though she was a bit flaky and tended to go with the flow a fair amount in both futures. It wasn’t until the second half of the book that she actually grew some balls. I was also a little annoyed how it looked like she needed to have a boyfriend to feel whole, and normal.

Laila is a cool best friend. Loved their relationship – this is what best friends are like!

Duke – love interest future No.1. The reveal to his character is fantastic. I pretty much had him pegged straight away, but still managed to be surprised with the twists in the plot.

Trevor – love interest future No.2. Adorkable through and through. Wasn’t taken with him at first, because having two gorgeous footballers in either future just made me want to vomit – I mean come on! But Trevor shows a vulnerable and committed side which completely broke down my walls (as it did with Addie) and I was really rooting for this coupling.

With all these boys you think we’d get some sort of resolution for Addie’s love life, but I guess that comes in ‘Split Second’ the final book in this duology.

A really wonderful story that unfolds masterfully, though did feel slow for the first two thirds. I would have like to have seen the characters have more flaws and not so physically perfect.

The inclusion of Addie’s parents going thorough divorce and her rebelling in one future and not in the other was a quaint touch. I also liked how her parents were present in Addie’s life, which we don’t see in a lot of YA.

At times it is a little hard to keep track of where you’re at – and what version of the future you’re in.

I do like how certain events were unavoidable. I got a little confused at the end as to what was going on – the narration wasn’t very clear, I had to read parts a second time.

I would have rated it higher if not for the pacing and physical tropes of the characters.

It feels long – I think in the fact you have to build up two storylines – and then it all ends rather quickly.

Masterfully plotted. Loved all the different characters (though probably a bit too many) and how both versions of the future intertwine, like getting two different POVs of a single event.

Overall feeling: Masterful plotting

Pivot Point Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.

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READERS ASK THE QUESTIONS…

What made you start writing the ‘Smoulder’ Series?

Hmmm… Well out of everything I’ve written so far, this is the only title that came about from a conversation with other professionals in the industry. It was born out of what market I could tap into. It sounds like the absolute worst reason to write a book, but it was just where I conceived the idea. The book ‘Smoulder’ and its sequels grew and evolved over a couple of years into a story I’m passionate and very proud of. It is complete indulgence in the paranormal.

 

I guess from small beginnings, big things grow. What started out to be my intended debut (stand-alone) novel, morphed a fantastic saga, four books and counting J

 

Riley Taylor is all the things I wish I could’ve been in high school: confident, brave and fearless.

Book Review – ‘Glass Sword’ by Victoria Aveyard

From the slums, to the castle and ending up in the trenches, Mare is in for the fight of her life.

Glass Sword Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 444

From Goodreads:

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
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It wasn’t long after the release date that I began reading this follow up to Victoria Aveyards debut, and it had some big shoes to fill with all the hype surrounding this release; but did it meet my expectations? ‘Glass Sword’ has definitely surpassed ‘Red Queen’ in my opinion. More complexity. More characters. More supernatural. More action and character development. It impressed me on so many levels.

Glass Sword Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgPicking up the story not long after where ‘Red Queen’ concluded our protagonist, Mare and her (kind of) beau, Cal’s relationship for most of the novel was…. I want to say distracting… because of the nuances of their history and situation. And though it made good reading I’m not sure if I was completely sold on the pairing until after half way. Mare is not the type of girl who needs a man. And Cal certainly does not see her as a damsel in distress. They are warriors with equal gifts to use in their arsenal. A great team for the rebellion. There is distaste and attraction equally present for Mare, she is battling with what she thinks of Cal. War is a difficult time to form romance, it shows our nature at its ugliest and most basic.

 

Cameron was a great addition to the cast – a realistic portrayal of a tween and not quite an antagonist. I really appreciated the dynamic he brought to the relationships and it was relieving to read a story which strains many of the typical tropes of characters in YA.

Maven has transformed into someone else entirely and immerses himself fully into the role of the antagonist. This is where I was a little disappointed: I wanted to see some humanity or inner struggle with Maven. All the other characters were written so beautifully, where Maven tended towards a stereotype.

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Though the narrative style – easy to read – had occasional moments where a sentence felt clunky, and had me rereading the line several times to understand what was being conveyed. ‘Glass Sword’ is definitely high on my recommendations list and is helping me get into a fantasy mood after a past year heavy the contemporary titles.

Plenty of surprises. Great character development.

The ending was bloody brilliant!

Bring on Red Queen #3 – no title yet and just an expected publication date as somewhere in 2017 – Argh! I’ll just have to fill up my time with some other great series 🙂

Overall feeling: Damn girl!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.

#bookporn

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I watched the movie in February and just had to purchase the book – the history behind this novel is fascinating – based on the first gender reassignment ever performed, the tale taken from Einar/Lili’s diary; a character immortalized in her wife’s paintings… Not into historical fiction, but love a good story of character development.