Frustrating reviews

Frustrating reviews Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I love reading book reviews – getting insights into books before I buy, getting recommendations… but there are some reviews that I have to skip… lest I die from excessive eye-rolling.

Without ranting or bashing how people review their favourite reads – because it’s a free country and you do you… more power to you. But here are my pet peeves with some of the reviews I’ve seen in my feed that keep me scrolling past:

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If I want a summary of the book, I can read the blurb, or visit Goodreads. And if I should be so compelled to read the subject of your review, I want to know why. How about you feed me some nuggets of wisdom.

Frustrating reviews Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle This is just lazy. And insulting to the author. They spend years writing and honing prose for your enjoyment and you reduce a critique to broken sentences. Book reviews are mostly read by fellow lovers of the literary universe, I’m sure they don’t mind reading full sentences with correct grammar – I mean isn’t that why we read books in the first place? A little effort to add some eloquence to your opinions would be greatly appreciated. It also shows, that you know your stuff if you can write – I might take your views a little more seriously.

Frustrating reviews Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle If I go to the point of subscribing and heading to a blog to follow reviews, it’s because I’m interested in in-depth discussions, varied opinions, great recommendations. So don’t be afraid to elaborate, discuss, give examples, insights. Otherwise, stick to tweeting… How can you address characters, character development, writing style, predictability, opinion, plot line, pacing and other elements in a few short paragraphs? (No that is not a challenge) If you are going to review a book, I’d actually like a review, not a brief opinion with no critique to back it up.

Frustrating reviews Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle There the ones that rave and rave and rave about how fantastic the book is without actually saying why. Was it a relatable main character? The great action scenes? Vivid language to depict the landscape in which the novel is set? I want specifics people, not paragraphs of how excited you are.


They seem to be the main culprits at the moment that have me grinding my teeth. But please don’t take offence to my post – it’s a guideline for the types of reviews that I like to read. It is by no means the gospel law on how to write a book review.

Comment below if you have any pet peeves from book reviews you’ve seen…


© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.


BQ Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Casey Carlisle

Who doesn’t love a good road trip tale? A fun light read with a transgender protagonist, a bit of romance, and some poignant observations on social norms and identity. #diversity. I won’t say it blew me away, but I enjoy all the things that can go wrong when your driving across country with your best friend. A nostalgic read for me 😉

Book Review – ‘All Fall Down’ by Ally Carter

On edge with PTSD and thrown into an international political nightmare – Grace is only able to keep her head above water… and it makes for a great read.

All Fall Down Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Mystery

No. of pages: 310

From Goodreads:

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

  1. She is not crazy.
  2. Her mother was murdered.
  3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.


I did not know what to expect going in to ‘All Fall Down,’ and I went in blind… what a pleasant surprise! International politics and a murder mystery never looked so good.

Some aspects to this storyline had me just about rolling my eyes – apparent “spy-like skills” some of the characters conveniently possessed. A higher degree of difficulty could have really added some authenticity to the narrative instead of the ease by which some of the teens countered their investigation. The formation of a ‘Scooby Gang’ felt a little cheesy. And finally, how the grown-ups kept things from our protagonist, Grace, for her own good. Can you think of a book where that has ever worked, like, ever?

Yes, those aspects lowered my rating a little, but only because it is thrown under the genre of realistic fiction. I did like the formation of a crack bunch of self-appointed teen spies with abilities and technology they had “borrowed” from their diplomat parents. It was all very exciting and took me back to the days of watching ‘The Famous Five’ on television.

All Fall Down Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleGrace annoyed me at first, her sarcasm, her frequent flashbacks and ‘episodes.’ Mainly because none of it made a whole lot of sense. But as we get to know her, more things clicked into place. She has a lot of witty lines that had me laughing out loud. Maybe her bipolar fluctuation between daring, adventurous, and fragile to mentally unstable prevented me from connecting with her in the beginning. But by the conclusion of ‘All Fall Down’ I was eager to read more of her story.

Can I mention the cliff-hanger the book ended on! Ay Currumba! Ally Carter you tease me so.

All of the ‘Super Crack Teen Spy Squad’ as I call them, are likeable, even Grace’s crush Alexei, though there seems to be a lot more to his story. I’m guessing in the following books we’ll discover more. Rosie, Noah and Megan are all the crew I want as my best friends, they have Grace’s back even when she behaves in a way that she shouldn’t deserve it… and vice versa. The Embassy Row kids stick together.

As for the mystery of who killed Grace’s mother – well, I’m usually pretty good at sleuthing out the answer well in advance in these types of books, but to be honest, didn’t see this one coming at all. Carter’s narrative style has a way of moving the story forward without dropping obvious clues, but enough to throw suspicion on lots of other characters. I was guessing right up to the reveal.

I was first attracted to this series because of fellow reviewers, and the colourful cover. Plus Carter seems to have a pretty great catalogue of titles. I’m really glad I decided to give this a go. It has tones of movies like ‘The First Daughter,’ ‘The Prince and Me,’ ‘What a Girl Wants,’ and ‘Chasing Liberty,’ with a murder mystery thrown in. Fun reading and I’d recommend it to those who want a light YA read with an angsty heroine, political intrigue and a mystery to solve.

Overall feeling: Not bad at all.

All Fall Down Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

All Fall Down Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.

Revisiting Roswell

Revisitng Roswell Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Throwback to just over 15 years ago and I had a steady diet of CW television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, and of course Roswell.

I was having a moment (feeling despondent and procrastinating) so I thought I take a trip down memory lane and watch an episode or two – but I ended up binge watching the entire 3 seasons. Oi vey!

Revisitng Roswell Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleWhat alarmed me was how much more discerning over content I am now that I’ve been professionally writing for over 10 years. While I was filled with nostalgia and angst, quietly slobbering at Jason Behr, and wished Liz (played by Shiri Appleby) was me, the construction of the episodes delivered a sting I was not prepared for.


Revisitng Roswell Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There were some major issues with plot, continuity and believability. And don’t get me started on complexity.

The construction of each episode was great – they all told an important story, and even the scenes were framed perfectly… but the transition of scene to scene was shaky at times. Rational thought seemed to get tossed out the window. What happened to the path of least resistance and all that? I know it was manufactured the way it was to create drama, but couldn’t we have at least addressed the elephant in the room? I think this aspect was compounded at times by the special effects. Many were executed marvelously, where others resembled cheap, fake looking digital renders. I understand there is a budget for the production of each episode, and I’m subconsciously comparing it to today’s standards, but couldn’t they have filmed it in a different manner to eliminate the nasty look of the spfx? Some episodes were brilliant, where others screamed poor production and plot holes.

I’m still wondering about the whole alien abilities thing – which are supposed to be human abilities – when the human race have evolved to use a higher percentage of their brains. It’s not an unheard of mythology. But their abilities kept getting redefined and the past retconned on a number of occasions. Grrr!

Sometimes the cast were emotional, motivated, and complex; and other times, stereotypes… guest stars and supporting cast were often reduced to a cliché as well. But I think that is more a television thing than a Roswell thing. We are still viewing characters over-stylized into a role for easy identification. That’s the bad guy because he wears black and has a scar… I hate it when things get dumbed down for an audience. Especially in science fiction. You expect it in something like comedy, where you can overact, over-emphasize everything; but in sci-fi, it’s meant to be challenging, though provoking. Even if it is a teen drama. I would have liked to have seen the complexity set up at the beginning and slowly grow as the characters are tested with roadblocks each episode.

Revisitng Roswell Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Again, the issue of spfx let me down with believability – it’s hard to get sucked into an imaginary world when your spitting out your cup of tea laughing at sub-par digital rendering. So to goes for terrible dialogue and poorly constructed scenes. You want your characters to explore and find themselves in a precarious position, not feel like they were placed there by the author and have their options removed by some unseen hand of God… that’s cheating!

I know this is sounding over-critical and ranty. Roswell will continue to remain one of my favourites (faults and all) but I think it’s a great exercise in constructing a scene, and writing a novel for that matter, to actively and critically watch shows. You start to see what works and what doesn’t. What is relying on the actors’ good looks or interpretation of the character, and what is bad screenwriting. Other times elements of production let down the story – the way it’s edited together, the treatment… there are so many aspects to focus on. So many tools you can use to objectify your own writing and potentially improve it.

I love reading books and casting a critical eye over them; but a television episode is usually a story told in 45 minutes, and to that end, you don’t have to invest so much time to flex your critical eye. It’s fun to mix it up in different mediums: movies, plays, short stories, novels, tv shows… keep it interesting.

Nonetheless Roswell is a guilty pleasure, the tween in me still swoons over the love-stories, and the geek in me salivates with the science fiction elements. There are constant nods to other icons in geekdom that felt like they were a personal call out to me as a viewer. I was distraught when the series was rushed to an end. It had so much potential, but seemed squandered in the wrong hands.

Revisitng Roswell Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleI did read the 10 book series that was commissioned to write by Melinda Metz, of which this television show was based off, (and a lot of fanfic after it was cancelled.) At the time, it enabled me to live in that universe just a moment longer, but none of it did the concept of this show any justice. I just had to kiss it goodbye and find something else to obsess over.

Now, when there is a trend to re-boot, re-make, and bring back television shows and movies, I wonder how this would actually happen for Roswell. The Romeo and Juliet vibe mixed in with stranded alien hybrid teen royalty, trying to find home… There would need to be a lot of tweaking of the original series for it to be re-introduced and engaging for today’s viewers, a darker and more sci-fi edge, but a character driven plot. Personally, I’d love to see it lead off with a group of healed humans coming to terms with their growing powers, trying to track down Max and Liz, and the rest of the gang (who are currently on the run.) Sherriff Valenti (also healed by Max, and now having his own alien abilities) could be running an underground alien alliance, grouping the growing number of new-humans-with-alien-powers spread across the globe back in Roswell to create a safe haven. A ‘hide in the least obvious place’ sort of thing. I’d like to see a re-imagined alien threat and a seemingly sympathetic government body looking to identify and help the human/hybrids, but have their own nefarious agenda… still a great concept! It would leave it open for guest spots or inclusion of the original cast, but primarily reinvigorate the original concept with a modern cast and contemporary edge.

I’m such the Dreamer…

Revisitng Roswell Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

You can support the Roswell Revival that is currently gaining traction through social media here:

Revisitng Roswell Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.



Love, love, love the premise of this story – awaking from cryogenic sleep with some missing memories, stranded on an alien planet with a failing ship. Your cryo-pod says you are an admiral… with three trainees all looking at you for help. Oh, and something and someone is trying to kill you all. Nerd-girl catnip. And the cover practically makes me drool! Can’t wait to get to this one.

Book Review – ‘Entanglement’ by Dan Rix

Great science – awful characters

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

No. of pages: 324

From Goodreads:

In a world like ours, humans are born in pairs. When a newborn boy takes his first breath in the coastal town of Tularosa, the exact time is noted, recorded in the Registry, and later compared to the birth times of other newborns around the globe. There will be one identical match—his half. They will meet on their eighteenth birthday and they will spend their lives together. Except this time, there is no match.

Hotheaded heartthrob Aaron Harper is scheduled to meet his half in twenty-nine days, and he doesn’t buy a word of that entanglement crap. So what if he and his half were born the same day and share a spooky psychic connection? Big deal. After breaking one too many teenage girls’ hearts, he’ll stick to brawling with the douchebag rugby players any day.

Until the day a new girl arrives at school and threatens everything he takes for granted.

Cold and unapproachable, Amber Lilian hates the growing list of similarities between her and the one boy she can’t read, Aaron: born the same day, both stubborn, both terrified of meeting their halves. . . . All the more reason not to trust him. That she would rather die than surrender herself as her half’s property is none of his damn business. But once lost in Aaron’s dangerous, jet black eyes, she’s already surrendered more than she cares to admit.

Tangled in each other’s self-destructive lives, Aaron and Amber learn the secret behind their linked births and why they feel like halves—but unless they can prove it before they turn eighteen, Aaron faces a lifetime alone in a world where everyone else has a soul mate . . . and he’ll have to watch Amber give herself to a boy who intends to possess not only her body but also a chunk of her soul. 


Entanglement’ sounded right up my alley, a fun dystopian world with a mythology deeply seated in fringe sciences, but it didn’t quite live up to my hopes. There were so many stereotypes and tropes in this novel, I just about gagged. The mad scientist, the jock with a supposed heart of gold, the woman-abusing bad boy, the hot bitchy girl who feels like she is not worthy of love… need I go on.

Talk about dysfunctional, abusive relationships. I don’t think there was a healthy one in this novel whatsoever. I wanted to put the book down so many times because it was making me sick. The violence, subservitude… not the best read I’ve had this year.

Entanglement Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThe protagonist Amber was self-destructive and always playing games – so not cute. In fact, I had no love for her at all. Her love interest, Aaron was just as bad – I’m not sure what he was playing at, other than going after something he knew he couldn’t have.

Dan Rix does write great actions scenes and can build tension expertly. I was really intrigued about the mythology of this novel and would have like to learn more about the universe of ‘halfs.’

I think if the first half was condensed and edited heavily to remove the self-destructive behaviour, this would have been fantastic. Much more palatable, and the romance much more believable.

I really liked the second half of the book once I got over myself and ignored all of the violence. I’ve become a big fan of Dan Rix, he comes up with some great concepts, can really write an explosive build up and story climax. He also weaves angst like a pro… but I wish half of the characters weren’t such great big a-holes. Seriously, just about all of his main characters are smart arses.

I think this was his first published novel – and judging from the number on the spine, I’m guessing he had the intention of it becoming a series. But five years on, another 20 novels released and no sign of a sequel. He must have lost interest. I don’t know if I’d recommend this one – it’s an okay read, and the science behind the story is well worth putting up with all the other issues I had with ‘Entanglement,’ but with such troubling relations between characters, I wouldn’t want any young adult thinking it is cool or okay to treat others like that.

Overall feeling: looove the good bits – loathe the nasty ones. Argh! Such a love-hate relationship I have with this!

Entanglement Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Entanglement Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle



© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.