Book Review – ‘See How They Run’ by Ally Carter

Not the best follow-up, but brings more mystery and tension to Embassy Row..

See How They Run Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Mystery

No. of pages: 336

From Goodreads:

Inside every secret, there’s a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions–from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace’s 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. 

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I’ve got a soft spot for the Embassy Row series. A damaged heroine, thrown in the deep end of secret societies and political drama… ‘See How They Run’ was a great addition, though I must admit, I was expecting a little more.

Our protagonist Grace was always freaking out, screaming, or demanding attention. There were things set up in the first novel I was hoping to get some resolution for – but they weren’t. Instead, we get a new set of mysteries and only a small number of answers. As a result ‘See How They Run’ suffered middle book syndrome for me. I didn’t get a pay-off and the cliff-hanger felt cheap. Almost telenovela style.

Grace became stronger, but also more unstable. The way she conducts herself adds to the frustration I feel over how reactionary she is. The whole lamenting in guilt was getting laid on thick, where at some points, I was annoyed – move the story forward please. There is a lot more telling instead of showing. The PTSD flashbacks got tiresome.

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I also found myself becoming a little pissed at Grace – she creates a bad situation for Alexei and then berates him for it. She’s starting to come off as a flake. Or quite possibly bipolar. It’s an easy assumption to conclude I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as the debut.

Alexei is thrown around as trustworthy then not. As hot and comforting and then as some feral woodland creature. You can get my frustration with Grace. I liked the story, but not its execution. Less emotional roller coaster – more mystery and intrigue.

Precedence of the ‘Scooby Gang’ (Grace’s group of friends with spy skills) set up in the first novel are practically ignored here. Doubt and suspicion are flung everywhere in a messy fashion. I felt like there was less structure in crafting this storyline in comparison to ‘All Fall Down.’ Maybe there is too much going on, or Grace is too scattered with her inner dialogue.

It also felt like a case of “Grace gets a bit of love and ignores her friends.”

Ms Chandlier the American Embassy staffer (and secret organisation member) has simply become the most annoying character I’ve ever read and seems to be a storytelling device (along with ‘Scar Man’) to add tension and drip-feed clues. It feels so unrealistic and contrived. Having them blurt out facts at key points in the narrative is so out of character for who they are set up to be. The whole premise of the factions involved relies on secrecy – why in hell do you blab it all out to a clearly unstable teenage girl?

Oh, and where was grandfather in this book? From playing such a strong role in ‘All Fall Down,’ he was notable absent here.

Wow – I’m getting my rant on… *changing gears*

I liked the mystery solving aspect, and the age-old political drama, but there wasn’t enough resolution for me to say I enjoyed the book. Plus with a whining protagonist and unrealistic reveals for clues, I’d say the good points and bad points balance each other out.

All in all it was a bit meh for me.

Overall feeling: fun, but fleeting

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See How They Run Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.

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Look what came in last week! I’ve enjoyed Melissa Lander

Break-ups – Real vs. Fictional Boyfriends

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

How do the ex’s stack up to some of the fictional ex’s….

I haven’t had a lot of relationships in my life, but those I have experienced, fall into three categories when it comes to describing their end…

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleWhen the guy somehow, magically disappears from the face of the earth. He’ll stand you up, refuse to call, text, or email for weeks with no explanation. One moment you’re happy and thinking of what to do on your next adventure, and the next…
*crickets!*

Then you’ll get a visit or phone call after you’ve been worried he’s been abducted by aliens, or died in a car crash. And he just says that he’s met someone else, or got back with his old girlfriend… wtf? There are never any warning signs. Just a disappearing act and a lame goodbye.

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This guy will also give you no warning of your impending break up. In fact, one night he’ll take you out on an amazing date. Great restaurant and food, visit your favourite hang-out, shower you with compliments. And at the end of the night when you think he is the most wonderful boyfriend ever he says he want to break up. Then proceeds to give you a long list of everything he thinks is wrong with you.

Can. Feel. Anger. Rising.

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In short, it’s the guy who dumps you over text. Then immediately blocks all forms of communication (and social media) afterwards. Again. Like a slap in the face with some smelly week-old cold fish.

All done. Period.

The one thing in common all these guys have is that they never spoke about being unhappy in the relationship. They made up their minds to end it before speaking (or texting) the words. They didn’t want to work things out, or start a dialogue. Just bam. Sorry babe it’s over.

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Maybe it says that I’ve only dated guys who are afraid to talk to me? Immature guys; guys who don’t want a partner to laugh, love, and work through the hard times with – but are also some imaginary picture-perfect woman that swoons and agrees with everything they say (does that sound bitter?)

Some of the breakups in books have followed the same pattern as above, especially in YA. But at least you get some answers and closure in a novel. Real life – so sad, go suck an egg.

Mostly, though the fictional break ups are tension-filled, messy and executed in dramatic flair, I don’t think I’d ever want to experience anything like that in real life. I’d be ruined or comedown with PTSD. But at least the characters try. There’s a sharing of feelings, some misunderstandings, stubborn attitudes most of the time. And then at the end of it, the main character gets to walk away all the better for the experience to some bright glowing future…

Now I know why I read so much. The break ups are far more satisfying and there is always some other prospect on the horizon.

But most stories are about people getting together. Maybe one day I’ll experience a relationship that is worthy of a story, and I can finally say I’ve put all the ghosts, event planners, and lazy men behind me. In the meantime, I’ll continue to live precariously through my fictions boyfriends.

Happy (swoony) reading 😉

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.

Book Review – ‘Reboot’ by Amy Tintera

An emotion-less heroine is hard to connect with – but the story has potential.

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

No. of pages: 365

From Goodreads:

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

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It took me a considerable amount of time to really get into this book. I kept putting it down, interested, but not compelled to keep reading. The concept certainly had me hooked, but an emotionless protagonist was hard to connect with. It was also hard to become invested in the reboot’s plight when I am still trying to figure out HARC. We got some insight, but it was mostly speculation. I like that is wasn’t fully explained, but I needed more to feel like I got a decent pay-off on completing the novel.

Our protagonist Wren was a hard character to like for the first three-quarters of the novel. An unfeeling, unemoting, assassinating machine does not warm your heart. It was her connection to the love interest Callum that finally had me beginning to like her and invest in their relationship. The interaction she had with her roommate, Ever, was limited as well.  And later, when described as her best friend, I was still struggling to understand Wren completely. I think the narrative relies on the reader to attribute human emotions to the situations even though they are not represented in the written word.

Reboot Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Ever seemed a bit more present in the story. Where Wren was an observer for much of the novel, Ever was the subject. I got a quiet bravery and solidarity from her reflected in Wrens eyes.

Callum very much reminded me of a friendly puppy dog, always happy, wagging tail, smiling. The perfect balance to Wren’s stoic nature. He added layers of empathy that were absent and slowly engaged me in the story and shone a more flattering light on Wren. Though it seems he was only interested in her because she was cute. It wasn’t until much later in the novel we discovered other motives. And I wasn’t entirely convinced about how their relationship progressed. It didn’t fill me with love or angst… it was cute and okay, but didn’t sell me on the romance.

On the whole, the plot of this story is predictable. A few curve balls were thrown in with other arcs, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but they weren’t explored enough to give this novel the oomph it needed – I am expecting these to more developed in the second novel of the series ‘Rebel.’

Amy’s writing style is a little dry. She has moments of humour and manages to pace the novel well. But the beginning and middle sections of the book felt slow because of this flat narrative. Which could be in part because of Wren’s nature, and part because not much imaginative description and postulation regarding Wren’s surroundings and the world at large.

I’d recommend this to anyone who loves dystopian YA. It’s not the best I’ve read, but certainly entertaining.

For me, there felt like there were so many plot holes and unexplained phenomena to really get into, but we’ll see what happens in the sequel…

Overall feeling: just like another teen movie

Reboot Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Reboot Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.

Wrap up – Slide Duology by Jill Hathaway

A paranormal teen murder mystery with promise.

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I must say there was a lot of potential in this series, but it didn’t quite explore the themes enough for me to sing its praises. These books felt like a watered-down version of the Wake trilogy by Lisa McMann. ‘Slide’ and ‘Impostor’ failed to explore the mythology behind dream-walking/psychic abilities, instead resorting to a detective murder-mystery with little substance. The stories are a cursory glance at both the genres it purports to be: a mystery and a paranormal tale. If you’ve read any detective novels, or some good paranormal titles you’d see that the Slide duology is indeed the poorer cousin of either.

There is a marked improvement in Jill Hathaway’s writing from the debut to its follow up; however, I had many issues with the construction and delivery of the plot that I risked falling into an unflattering rant during my reviews. It’s not a poorly written series, or a terribly bad collection – it falls into the ‘average’ area. Quick and easy to read.

These books have a great premise, and all the elements to make for an interesting read, but don’t quite get there. I recommend them for younger audiences who enjoy a book with great pacing and a little bit of danger (and a paranormal twist.) But in all honesty, I’d probably recommend the Wake trilogy before this duology. This series felt a bit… vanilla.

The author works as a psychic for the authorities and it easy to see how she has used these books to (maybe) justify her field of work and draw from her experiences, or fantasize of the possibilities of using her gifts… and I’m not trying to put her down personally, it’s just as the books stand on their own, much of the set-up, character development, and mythology was not delivered in a clear concise manner for the reader to get engrossed in the protagonist, Sylvia, and how she uses her gift to hunt down killers.

I still think it’s a brilliant idea for a series of books, it just needs an overhaul for the writing side of things to create more conflict, interest, and depth.

I’ve looked at some of the other novels Hathaway has in her catalogue, and to be frank, none of them are piquing my interest at this point, so I most likely will not be reviewing any of her material again.

Can you recommend any great YA paranormal murder mysteries? I love to hear all about them.

Wrap Up Slide Duology Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

For individual reviews click on the links below:

Slide’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/book-review-slide-by-jill-hathaway/

Impsotor’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/book-review-impostor-by-jill-hathaway/

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© 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.