#bookporn If There's No Tomorrow by Casey Carlisle.jpg

It’s about time I get my JLA on! About to jump into this book baby!

Book Review – ‘Hostile’ (#4 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

This series is turning into one big *facepalm*despite a promising concept.

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 257

From Goodreads:

Wanted. It’s something I’ve had to get used to since being placed on the government’s Most Wanted list. On the run, with my family and Finn by my side, we now have to evade not only the Arvies, but teams of soldiers sent to find and capture me.

Little do they know, I’m battling my own demons. After receiving large doses of mind-enhancing serum, a monster has been unleashed inside my mind. It promises death and destruction; its power, greater than anything I could imagine. Now, I’m too dangerous, and the lives of my loved ones depend on my separation from the group. I must leave and face the hostile world alone.

My name is Abigail Park. I will do whatever it takes to save the ones I love.


Again, another book in this series that really isn’t a novel – more like a tale… the middle part of something happening.

I found ‘Hostile’ awfully spoony and over-ridden with typical YA tropes. Instances of bad grammar and immature writing. I was hoping this series would get better as the author got to hone her craft, but it is just getting repetitive with the same kind of underdeveloped writing style.

The concept is still full of potential, but feel like the author should take some classes or spend a year or two honing her craft.

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgProtagonist Abi was very two dimensional. The story at times is led by the author’s hand. Some of the events are implausible, even in this dystopian fantasy because there is no motivation, or not driven forward by the plot.

Some of the action scenes were well crafted though, and I enjoyed a few of these towards then end of the novel.

Hostile’ is a very quick read: 2-3hrs was all it took. Which is lucky, I wouldn’t invest any more time than that on such a poorly executed novel.

Again, I love the premise, but the basics of structuring a novel were amiss. One more book in this series to go, which I will read, just because I want to confirm how it all ends. Then I’ll probably gift the entire collection to one of my nieces or nephews because I have no intention of keeping books of this calibre in my library.

Even the covers are recycled of stock images – it hurts my heart to see, and read this kind of book.

On a side note, I burst out laughing at her shameless plug for another series she’s written – ‘Hidden Wings’ in the narrative. Big brass ones lady! I like it.

It was so cheesy and poorly written it was funny. Like a low budget syfy movie. Not recommending this one unfortunately.

Overall feeling: I think I have to dub this the book of eye rolls and gag noises.

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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.

Wrap up – Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

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I read this collection spread out over just under four years! I think because the middle book disappointed me after the stellar impression from the debut, I was reluctant to pick up ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ for a while after its release.

And a friendly warning: this is a wrap-up, so it discusses many elements with the plot, so avoid reading if you don’t like *spoilers!*

I was blow away with the debut. Hodkin’s writing is eloquent and haunting and I loved the analytical introspection of the protagonist. Plus the paranormal mystery storyline mixed in with a bit of thriller kept me engaged. A rich tapestry of characters that you don’t get a lot of in YA had me singing its praises to anyone who’d listen. And then the sequel “The Evolution of Mara Dyer’ put a big spanner in the works. The narrative moved away from the paranormal mystery/thriller, to that of a contemporary dealing with mental illness. We still get all the supernatural elements, but find ourselves embroiled in something that floundered about. Mara was not sure of anything –and as a result, I had no clue where the story was going. The pacing slowed right down because we were dealing circle shares and lengthy introductions to new cast members in the Sanatorium. I missed the tone of the debut and consequently was not too eager to pick of ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ when it was released.

After reading many rave reviews for the conclusion for this trilogy, I finally got around to reading it and my faith was just about fully restored. Though the genre was approaching more sci-fi than paranormal. Experiments for developing abilities – and mental illness the cost of acquiring such abilities is a fantastic concept. I was a touch underwhelmed about this explanation. The hint of past lives and ghosts from the first novel is what had interested me in this series initially.

This series is the first that I have read in YA with a darker tone to it, and I really can’t hype Hodkin’s writing enough. She is a sheer genius with her turn of phrase. What started out as feeling like a paranormal thriller, morphed into a gothic romance. So it was a bit of a rocky road with this trilogy, but definitely gets two thumbs up from me.

Of course we can continue in this universe with the latest releases of The Shaw Confessions, of which I am keen to collect and read. ‘The Becoming of Noah Shaw,’ ‘The Reckoning of Noah Shaw,’ and a third yet untitled volume to be published in 2019. Let’s hope it continues with the timeline and does not suffer the middle book slump.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/book-review-the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer/

The Evolution of Mara Dyer’ https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/book-review-the-evolution-of-mara-dyer/

The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/book-review-the-retribution-of-mara-dyer-by-michelle-hodkin/


© 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.

Plotting out a series

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How to keep pace and interest in a multi-book series and avoid the middle book slump syndrome.

The key to this is planning. And plotting. (…well for the way I work anyway…)

The goal is to have each book in your collection have a clear start, middle, and end. Have the hero/protagonist state a goal and achieve it (or not, depending on the tone of your story,) have their character grow and evolve from the experiences. The climax must be poignant and get resolved enough to satisfy a reader.

You can end on a cliff-hanger, or have some plot points unresolved to continue in the next book/series.

In the sequel/s you follow the same format where you also introduce new characters, new plot points, more twists and turns. You really want to up the anty and difficulties the hero/protagonist faces.

I like to plan out most of the basic plot points for the books before I start writing anything so I know where I can start to add in character arcs, plot twists, turning points, in a linear fashion. That way you can identify organically where part of the story breaks… and these breaks can constitute each novel in your collection.

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Even though this is an example of a single book in the Hunger Games series, the themes run across all three books – try continuing the graph for  the remaining books and you will start to get a feel for how to plot over a series.


A hero’s quest is always a great example for a series – in each book the protagonist faces a major obstacle/s on their journey for completion of their desire.

Maybe each novel reveals something that has our protagonist re-assessing the situation and going in a different direction, or towards another goal.

It could also be more of a contemporary tale with each novel dealing with a milestone in the protagonist’s life.

The important thing is that each novel is a complete tale in its own right, and the subsequent sequels build on the world and tension that was established in its predecessors.

Also it is important to keep the consistency in the writing style. If you change perspective, writing for a different characters POV, and the debut was in first-person narrative, continue with that for the sequels. Comparatively you need to continue with the same tense, active/passive voice. If you switch things up too much, the ground work you’ve established in the prequel/s becomes redundant. Readers are going to expect consistency, and breaking from that pattern is only going to disappoint – and end with bad reviews.

Having these basic ideas plotted out at the beginning keeps your narrative on track and allows you to chart the pacing of your novel. It also gives readers a subconscious hint of what is to come and will keep them engaged in your story.

Of course you don’t need to plot out an entire series before starting to write. It could be when wrapping up your novel you get ideas for a sequel because there is more you want to explore in the universe of your story… there is no set way to do this sort of thing. It’s basically finding something that works for you and sticking to it. But I personally like to have a guide. That way if I want to have fun developing my characters, building my world and adding in some engaging side plots or character arcs, there is room to play without turning my manuscript into an epic Stephen King length novel.

Again creating a series is only restricted by your imagination. We see series coming out set in the same universe, but with new characters – like novels set in the same town. Series taking on different perspectives of a core cast. Series of a protagonist overcoming a number of obstacles on their way to a single goal (think Harry Potter.) Generational series, following a family tree, each novel dealing with a protagonist from each generation. Maybe it’s simply following a character and each novel is a romance with a different love interest… Allow your writing to become a piece of art and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Hope these tips help in inspiring your writing and organising methods to keep you creating great novels to read. Let me know what helps you in plotting out a series. I love tips and would be forever greatful.

Happy writing everyone 😀

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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 – ‘Spell Bound’ (#3 Hex Hall) by Rachel Hawkins

The final book in the Hex Hall trilogy brings all the gouls to the yard.

Spell Bound (#3 Hex Hall) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Comedy, Romance

No. of pages: 327

From Goodreads:

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?


Still loving this trilogy, the humour, the sass, the magical goings-on. We still get a few unexpected twists, but for me this conclusion wasn’t as quite as fantastic as I thought it would be. It was still Hawkins’ phenomenal writing, and the epic battle scene was amazeballs, but it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye after a massive build-up. It was all kinds of crazy and culminated in epicness.. but it still felt like it was missing something. Maybe I was expecting more of an emotional note? Am I getting spoiled for choice in my reading habits and continually raising the bar in what amazes me? Who knows exactly. While I loved ‘Spell bound’ and found it thoroughly entertaining and clanged the bells for all things YA that I lurve, there was that little something when I finished that whispered in my head that I was needing something bigger…

Spell Bound (#3 Hex Hall) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgOur protagonist Sophie was her usual sarcastic self, and I LOL’d many times at her witty one liners, though you get a sense of her beginning to put the humour-masking-fear reaction aside by the end of the novel, showing some of the growth her character is moving through. I did feel that some aspects of her story were rushed, and it felt like we jumped around a bit – location wise and narrative wise. Yes, the story was broken into three parts, but ‘Spell bound’ didn’t have the cohesion its predecessors had.

Cal felt a bit more like a prop in this story… he slowly blended into the background, as did Jenna, Sophie’s vampire best friend. But I can’t fault Hawkins – there was so much going on and the plot blasts forward so quickly that having these two more prominent in the narrative would have been detrimental to the story. The four of them (five if you count Elodie the ghost) formed the best little Scooby gang. I enjoyed this series more than I did the Rebel Belle trilogy.

We get all the answers to the mysteries, and then some. Snippets of backstories are brought to light in a very organic way. But there is still some elements of the mythology that are left floating in the ether, but on the whole this novel wrapped up the trilogy nicely. There is a companion novel, ‘School Spirits,’ which I am definitely going to purchase next. I’m interested in Izzy’s story and hopefully get some more exploration on the Council and Prodigium’s history in the Hex Hall Universe.

I was really impressed with Hawkins writing style, the quips, the description, the pacing. It felt compact, relevant and full of pop culture. I’m kinda wishing this was a longer series because I fell in love with all the characters so much. Maybe Hawkins will revisit Hex Hall again with another great adventure for our misshapen band of teen heroes?

I wonder is Hawkins had every intent to continue with this Universe with the addition of ‘School Spirits’ and much left unsaid – but nothing new has been written since the latest book was published in 2013. But highly recommend this collection, its fun, quick-paced, and quippy YA at its best.

Overall feeling: Fills me with 90’s nostalgia and all kinds of paranormal adventure.

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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.