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.

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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.

Book Review – ‘Nolan’ (Leech # 3) by James Crawford

Marvelous addition to the Leech Universe – left me wanting more.

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

No. of pages: 227

From Goodreads:

Every High school has its rock star. Maybe it’s the quarterback, head cheerleader, or the valedictorian–the one student who outshines the rest. The one everyone knows will be successful in the years to come. For Nolan that was a lifetime ago, before he lost his sight, before he even knew what a Leech was. 

Now all Nolan wants is seeing Caleo survives to fulfill his destiny. A task that has become increasingly difficult as the government wades into the war, and the number of people trying to kill them skyrockets.

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What an explosive, fantastic ending to the Leech trilogy!

James Crawford has been fearless when writing this trilogy, not fading away from carnage and devastation, and his writing has gotten better with each installment. This book was prolific in the grandiose battle and wrapped up the trilogy expertly. This guy really knows how to write a climactic ending.

I did get a little disappointed with having precedence set up with ‘Caleo’ and ‘Jack’ being  each from their perspectives respectively, to ‘Nolan’ told in multiple perspective. And I didn’t get to live inside Nolan’s head for as long as I wanted to. We got snippets of his backstory, but did not get to dwell in the present, fathom out motivations and feelings with him as we did the other main characters in the preludes. So I felt a little cheated.

The actions scenes are still amazing and there was a great mix with the plot line this time. It was a bit like ‘whatever could go wrong did.’ It made this a dynamic entertaining read.

Nolan Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.pngWe get to see a lot of development of Jack’s character, his feelings and motivations are really put to the test and I found myself liking him even more than I did from the first two installments. Still bummed that I didn’t get more Nolan though.

Caleo brought his balls-to-the-wall attitude, and threw himself out there to stand up for his principles and family. IT was great to see him overcome fears and embrace his destiny.

The ending was predictable, and I couldn’t see it happening any other way; although it happened in the most delightfully unpredictable manner, which added to the deliciousness of this trilogy.

There were a few strings not tied up – the translation of “the book,” and more information on the creation, mythology and intention of Leeches. But I guess it leaves it open ended enough for more books to be written in this universe. And James Crawford has even offered to publish a book from another author if they are willing to take up the challenge. (see his website for details)

I did get more of the feels from the first two novels – there was something about the writing style in the conclusion that didn’t have me reaching for the tissues… which disturbed me more than what went down. It has been a pleasure to read about characters who have super powers, or X-men like abilities who identify as gay, but not have either aspect dominate their lives/storyline. It helps to provide diversity and support for those readers struggling with their own issues. While not the best written trilogy, it has a place in my heart and a set of books I’d happily recommend.

Overall feeling: super cool super powers!

Nolan Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carliske

Nolan Book Review Pic 05 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.

Getting That Second Draft Done

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So you’ve accomplished that word-vomit of a first draft and it’s time to whip your manuscript into shape – here are some tips I use to get my second draft reader-ready.

Get amnesia. Put down your work and walk away. Leave enough time for you to forget about the finer points so you can re-read with fresh eyes.

Create a timeline.  Literally. If the book starts on a Monday and covers three months make sure you account for the passing of time sequentially. Weekdays, nights, weekends. It will help keep you accountable and aid in continuity.

Track continuity.  It has to make sense. Not only the plot points, but little facts you mention, names, places, character traits – track everything so it follows a logical pattern. Readers need to make sense of the universe you are creating.

Look at each character.   Are they interesting? Are they relevant to the story? Do they have their own arc? What is their reason for being a part of your novel?

Micro-edit.   Read each paragraph and seriously ask yourself ‘is this important? Is it relevant to the story?’ If the answer in ‘no’ on either count, cut it and move it to an outtakes folder. (Keep all your writing – it may be useful later in another project or sequel.)

Identify key points you want to shine in the tone of your narrative.   Is it meant to be funny, scary, angsty? Decide on these elements and make sure each chapter drags this emotion from you.

Read your dialogue aloud.   If you sound silly saying it – imagine what your characters will look like to a new reader.

In the first few chapters did you introduce all of the characters in the novel? Did you state the main characters quest, dreams, and desires? Did you put an obstacle in their way to achieve it? Did you paint a picture of who the characters are? The landscape they are in (world building)? All these things set the scene for the story/plot and is essential for a reader to get invested in your novel.

In the middle of the book have you raised the level of difficulty/challenges your protagonist faces?

At the end of the book have you pulled out all the stops for your protagonist? Have they grown and been shaped by their experiences? Did they achieve what they had set out to at the beginning of the novel?

If there were any parts you had to re-read. Re-write them.  You need the writing style to flow. If your interest wavered at any point, you may consider cutting that part or re-writing it with more punch. If your re-reading a sentence to make sense of it, that’s a waving red flag for your attention.

Mostly its mechanics and big picture stuff – you can worry about spelling and grammar later in a line-edit when you fine tune everything. Get your story engaging and paced effectively. Have it making sense and elements of unpredictability.

Although having said all that, everyone has a different style of writing, different concepts and their own methods of crafting words on paper. But the points above have helped me get from that initial frenzy of typing out chapter after chapter, to a point when I feel comfortable-ish to let someone read it to give me feedback. Because, by then, most of the time if I need to make changes, they are only small and nothing that results in major re-writes.

And as always – happy writing!

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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 – ‘Gemina’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Teens surviving a shit-storm in space – Excellent!

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

No. of pages: 608

From Goodreads:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

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It has been an age since I was eagerly anticipating a book release – and it just had to be a massive space soap opera! Maybe I’m flashing back to my childhood and the Star Wars days? Anyway, I cracked the cover and started reading ‘Gemina’ as soon as I had unboxed it. I found I was missing the characters from ‘Illuminae.’ We get a few glimpses of them, but this sequel deals with a whole new cast – and there are so many new characters! It took a bit to keep track of them all and focus on what’s happening – especially with the format of collated documents.

The story feels slow to start with, and was a little difficult to capture my interest, especially after my disappointment at not reading more about Kady and Co. After I got past the first 100 pages, I settled into the new environment, got to know our protagonists Hanna and Nik, things started to get better and better. The anty just kept getting one-upped. Just like ‘Illuminae’ I was completely engrossed.

Hanna is a real balls-to-the-wall kind of girl. A cross between a pampered princess and an Amazonian. She called to all the joys I have about reading a take-no-prisoners heroine. Only because I wish I could be that kind of person, instead of passing out after one push-up.

I appreciated the humour mixed into the narrative and laughed out loud man many times. Though sometimes it felt forced and unnecessary. But I can understand the characters need to crack a funny – to release tension and teenagers are always inappropriate and the worst of times. But still…

Nik – I guessed his backstory well in advance, something about how he was written gave it away. But I still really liked him, even if he was predictable. If I had to nit-pick I’d say he was the weakest part of the novel.

Ella was cute and reminded me of Iko and Winter from the Cinder Chronicles rolled into one.

The plight of the teens under terrorist attack, a bio threat, wormhole issues, incoming destroyers… it was all enough to reduce you into a puddle of your own making. The tension builds and builds, the pace quickened expertly. For such a large novel, I flew through the last half in a matter of hours. Such an expert mix of action, adventure and science fiction. Even with the mixed format of collated documents, you still got a sense of urgency and multiple points of view which only added to the story.

That ending tough – by the time I got there, I thought anything could happen and wasn’t certain about any predictions… I like to be kept guessing, so the conclusion was simply brilliant. I’m desperately hangry for the next release ‘Obsidio’ to be dropped next year.

Overall feeling: So. Much. Stuff. Happening!

Gemina Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Gemina Book Review Pic 03 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.