#bookporn

I received the third book in this collection for Christmas… time for a reading marathon!

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#bookporn

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Such a beautiful cover, and I’ve been hearing great things about this novel… plus science fiction! The trifecta to reach the top of my TBR!

Book Review – ‘Clarity’ (#1 Clarity) by Kim Harrington

Psychic teen hunts down killer with cute boys at her side…

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

No. of pages: 246

From Goodreads:

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift. 

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

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I enjoyed all the elements of this novel. It hit the right tone of paranormal and mystery for me. I can also happily say that it was not so predictable – I had no idea who the killer was, even right up until the reveal… and I pride myself at being able to preconceive these things. So it is a joy when an author can stump me.

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgClare ‘Clarity’ Fern was an interesting protagonist, but the freaky outsider trope is nothing new. Neither is the love triangle which looked like it was forming. For some reason Clare, and the storyline felt very ‘done.’ Nothing about ‘Clarity’ felt original. Don’t get me wrong. It is highly entertaining in an episodic after-school-special kind of way. But expect cliché and stereotypes. Clare is strong-willed, level headed and takes in the world with a sense of sarcasm and irony. She is definitely a fun character to read.

Both Justin and Gabriel – the ex and the new hot guy were also fun to read – though I never felt like we really get into their heads. Maybe it’s the sparse form of the narrative, or that I failed to get an emotional connection with them. My biggest connection came in the form of Perry (Periwinkle,) Clare’s man-whore brother. He was funny, oblivious, and so… well teen guy. I wonder if he will develop as a character in the sequel ‘Perception?

Clarity’ felt very much an average read. The writing style, though breezy and totally encapsulating the tone of a teenage psychic, did not embellish much outside the essential. I wanted more description of the landscape, of feelings, and of the visions. Some showmanship if you will. This felt like a bare-bones narrative. I guess because of this approach the pacing was maintained from one scene to the next, focusing on the clues and misdirection.

There are plenty of easter eggs planted for the follow-up, but there is also enough solved in ‘Clarity’ to make you feel satisfied at the end. I’m definitely intrigued to see what ‘Perception’ brings. But I hope Harrington’s writing style improves to paint a more colourful canvas to keep me engaged. The formation of a mystery story line is masterful, her characters delightful, I’m just wanting to be dragged more into Clare’s world.

I’d recommend this more for the younger end of the YA market as the language choice, content, and structure is geared more towards a tween reader. A great starter novel for those wanting to test the waters of paranormal mystery.

Overall feeling: Pretty good

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Castor’ by Shaun Young

An excellent premise, action packed, but lacked a little something.

Castor Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 230

From Goodreads:

James Fisher’s memories of Earth are distant, replaced by the harsh realities of life on the planet Castor. As a “Half-Adapt,” James is one of many who were biologically engineered to survive conditions on Castor—and to labor for the benefit of the ruling class. Indentured to servitude, James has no way to defy or escape the severe caste system… until he meets Vidal Centa, his master’s nephew. The draw they feel toward each other is instant, powerful, and maybe even enough to move beyond the unyielding regulations of their society.


But not everyone blindly accepts the absolute power of the oligarchy. The Independence Society fights for freedom and equality, and since James shares in their ideals, he joins their ranks. Soon he’s faced with an impossible decision: continue the fight against the oppressors or choose the love of the young man who embodies everything the Society loathes. With a looming conflict threatening to tear the planet apart, James fears he cannot continue to fight if he wants to keep his relationship with Vidal.

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The concept of ‘Castor’ stood out to me most of all – colonising a new planet, refugees terraforming a poisonous atmosphere; and a protagonist coming to grips with his past, a revolution, and his attraction to another man. It had all the elements to make ‘Castor’ a momentous read. But sadly it fell short of a few of these marks.

I really enjoyed the characterisation of the protagonist James, though found the backward politics of Castor to be counter-intuitive for an evolved society. But it worked in giving a population of mostly blue collar men, adapted or half adapted to the toxic atmosphere, where it was all male bravado and hard yakka. It also helped to establish a class system on the planet. So the world building was heavily supported, intricate and logical. I do think it was missing all those elements of science fiction though. Bits of technology, a more prominent role of the gene tampering that was going on, the terraform process, and colonising of the planet. It was there, but only in a small dose. This story was more focused on James and the revolution against the dominate powers in charge.

Castor Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleSo while I applaud the structure and tone of the novel, the writing style felt a bit dry. There didn’t feel like there was enough angst between James and his love interest Vidal. There romantic interaction were few and brief on the discussion of emotion. I felt a little cheated out of the romance part of this story. Especially given the odds these two were facing – so much potential tension wasted. The writing style was all very masculine – brief, to the point, and full of action.

A lot of action. Things getting blown up, chase scenes, murders, subterfuge. The mechanics of this part of the story line were brilliant, and in my opinion, the saving grace of ‘Castor.’ The cast were believable and felt realistic. Castor is a hard place to live. I think a more emotional aspect of James’ building relationship would have balanced out all of the difficulty the pair of boys was facing.

So too with the description of the landscape – while I could imagine it fairly well, I don’t think Young spent enough time painting a picture of the environment. His writing style would be perfect of a terrestrial modern day thriller or adventure story, but in science fiction, you need to spend a bit more time world building – because everything is new and unfamiliar to the reader. Especially in an off-planet environment.

I liked James as a protagonist. He didn’t fall into the usual tropes. He was moralistic without being a rebel leader. Strong and intelligent. But there was a sense of vulnerability that held him back – let him take the knocks that were dealt out. His faults humanised him.

These traits were similar in Vidal. Though I felt he needed more personality, the two of these boys were really just trying to survive. They weren’t there for a cause. They just wanted to find a safe place to live and be together. That’s the story I wanted to resonate with a stronger note in ‘Castor.’

I have to applaud the concept of this novel. It felt unique. It wasn’t contrived or over written, and you definitely get a sense of a great future to come for this writer. ‘Castor’ is his first published novel, and I can only imagine what he can produce with more experience under his belt. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Young.

I would not recommend this for sci-fi buffs, there was an element of something missing, so too if you enjoy reading M/M romance. It has moments of both, but either not fully realised. But I do recommend this for its overall concept and execution. If you go into it realising this is a young author’s first swing at the genre, than you will be able to marvel at his strengths and forgive the weaknesses.

A shorter novel that took me a day to read with enticing cover art. The editing is on point, no grammatical or spelling errors. The font and formatting give an ease to the story. It never felt a chore to read. Harmony Ink are delivering some great products and I’m eager to see what this writer and publisher collaborate on next.

Overall feeling: Adventurous and action-packed, but slightly apathetic

Castor Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Castor Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Blackbird’ (#1 Blackbird) by Anna Carey

A girl spy cat and mouse.

Blackbird (#1 Blackbird) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Mystery, Thriller

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

Things I Know Are True: 
I am in Los Angeles

I woke up on the train tracks at the Vermont/Sunset station

I am a teenage girl 

I have long black hair

I have a bird tattoo on the inside of my right wrist with the letters and numbers FNV02198

People are trying to kill me

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This was a great action/mystery. I was gripped from the very start. The whole amnesia thing is entirely overdone, but it worked for ‘Blackbird’ and it took me a quarter of the way it to work out ‘Sunny’s’ role in the plot.

It really is a case of you don’t know who and what to trust. That tone comes across strongly in the narrative. It’s disorientating and adds to the tension of the storyline. Sunny, our protagonist, with no memory, framed and chased, strangers trying to kill her – the premise is set up in the first few pages and continues right to the end. I read this in one complete sitting and was thoroughly entertained the entire way.

I found Sunny to be observant, intelligent and possessing great instincts. I would have like to get some resolution to how she obtained these skills. Though lightly alluded to, it’s never explored. I’m guessing all the answers will come in the sequel ‘Deadfall.’

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It’s hard to peg the characters, or comment on character development because of the twists and turns of the plot – It is something I’m going to have to wait until completing ‘Deadfall’ before commenting on – as the story ended on a cliff hanger and the story is only half told.

The writing style is easy to read, but thought like it lacked some sophistication – though I feel it would not hit its YA market if the narrative voice developed a more complex structure. So, Anna Carey has written the perfect novel for this niche. It is just my opinion that it could have added a better dynamic if the clues were a little more obscure and Sunny had less support… more Bourne-like to add some more complexity – but it would push this out of its appeal and into a more adult market.

While the premise of ‘Blackbird’ doesn’t feel all that original, it is still an engaging read. It reminded me of a lot of the teen action movies like ‘Tracers’ or ‘Alex Rider.’ Though it was nice to read from a female protagonist’s point of view as opposed to a male one which dominates this genre.

The novel does feel unfinished – there are many clues dropped, many flashbacks out of context that are not resolved. The story ends on a cliff hanger and I’m bummed that I now have to wait to purchase the follow up ‘Deadfall.’ So my advice is to buy both of these together if you have difficulty in waiting to find out what happens.

I feel if there was more resolution, a bit more solid character development this would have been a 5 star read – but because of the feeling of incompletion I am only awarding it 4.Definitely something I’d recommend to younger readers who love cat and mouse, spy, action type mysteries.

Overall feeling: I want to do the Mission Impossible dance around my room

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Lucky in Love’ by Kasie West

Another cutesy hit from Kasie.

Lucky in Love Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

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I went into this book with mixed feelings… on the one hand – I love Kasie West novels! They are always a light romcom, quick easy reads. Immediate satisfaction and a candy coated escape. In the other… Reading ‘By Your Side’ left a lack-luster feeling with her writing with the premise of the novel resting on treacherous ground. But ‘Lucky in Love’ proved to be another West-styled novel worthy of a sunny afternoon lounging in the sun.

I will say that it is the first book that had me frustrated for most of its entirety – but for some good reasons. The characters are flawed. The protagonist Maddie is a little naïve and too trusting causing her to make some shaky decisions. So while I wanted to scream at the book for Maddie to wake the hell up, it had me engaged and mostly invested in her story. It was a fine line between disinterest because she was acting like a flake, and hoping she would wake up… and seeing how she would handle the situation.

Perseverance is the key. I really enjoyed the journey ‘Lucky in Love’ takes us. We get a dysfunctional family, struggling with finances and life, best friends and new friends clashing, an adorable love interest, and the perfect setting – a zoo! Who doesn’t love the zoo? And Maddie’s obsession with the anteater is endearing.

While I got very annoyed at some of the decisions Maddie was taking after her big lotto win, I appreciated the world she was flung into, how she navigated this new landscape. And let’s face it – she’s a teenage millionaire – who wouldn’t go a little nuts? I would be terrified to have that kind of responsibility, and I love the emotional rollercoaster Maddie went on dealing with her windfall. It can certainly open new doors, test old relationships, and bring out the best, and worst in people.

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Maddie’s parents did feel a little superfluous. I enjoyed their story arc, but they never felt like they were necessarily parenting her. My first reaction would have been to educate Maddie and get her in to see a financial professional before the money even hit her account. But that’s me – too sensible for my own good sometimes. So I had a little gripe with these authority figures: I wanted more, well authority.

Maddie’s brother, Beau reminded me of every teenage boy I ever wanted to kick up the butt. While endearing, he still managed to draw out those frustrated feeling that we get from boys at times – like they are from a different planet, and what the hell were they thinking? But it was nice to see the sibling dynamic work, and it was the one saving grace for Beau in my eyes.

Elise and Blair, Maddies best friends felt like her voice of reason; compared to her new friend, Trina, who seemed to be the serpent offering the apple in the Garden of Eden. I have to say, I love how West used these characters in the story. It’s really worth getting to the end of the book to find out what happens.

And finally, Seth, or Zoo Seth. Co-worker at the zoo. Dorky, penny collecting for luck boyfriend material Seth. I instantly liked him and felt he had that air of a true old fashioned gentleman. I feel if he wasn’t present in this story it would have been a disaster. It was like he was the lynchpin for the plot to rotate around. A fixed point for Maddie to return to when her life was spiralling out of control. Because he loves control.

Yes it is all drama-filled and spoony. But that is exactly what West’s novels are. Gorgeously fluffy romances meant for entertainment and a contented sigh at the end.

The writing style and pacing are easy and engaging, I managed to consume the novel in half a day. And I’d definitely recommend this to lovers of romance, YA and West-o-philes.

The cover art sticks with the tradition of her previous novels – two young models in a cheesy pose, love hearts abound, and an element taken from somewhere in the story (a carousel.) It certainly harks exactly what is between the pages, a cutesy romance not to be taken too seriously, but to enjoy and indulge.

Looking forward to her next few releases ‘Love, Life and the List,’ ‘Listen to Your Heart,’ and ‘The Sun, the Moon, and the Truth.’

Overall feeling: all the fluffy things!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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.