Book Review – ‘Fugitive Telemetry’ (#6 The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells

Secret sleuth Murderbot tracks down a murderer…

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

No. of pages: 168

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!


This was a murder mystery for Murderbot and dealt less with him sorting out his identity and purpose, but more about having to work in more human-like parameters and forge relationships in a similar fashion. Murderbot is a gumshoe interviewing suspects and trying to get station inhabitants outside the circle of trust to trust them. Granted it is a slight shift in tone, but important in Murderbots development nonetheless. 

A slow start in setting up the parameters for the story and establishing a different structure. But we soon see Murderbot back to his familiar risk assessment, sassy attitude, and extreme rescue scenarios. 

Again, I love this series, ‘Fugitive Telemetry‘ is a self-contained story with a great reveal. But it did slightly lack that element of Murderbots inner turmoil at figuring out who/what it is, and what it wants. 

‎The pacing was a little slower than I’m used to from this series, but that’s because the action didn’t kick off in the first few pages, instead switching to an investigatory mode. We still get that phenomenal writing style from Wells. I’m fangirling. A delightful and quick read you can devour in one setting. Definitely recommend this one, though it is what I think of as the weakest instalment of the series so far. 

Overall feeling: I’m a detective detecting…

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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.


I feel like this quote spans a lifetime – in the beginning we’re eager for connection, to be understood; and then we want to leave our mark on the world, pass down a legacy.

What is your biggest dream about leaving a great achievement behind? Mine’s to have my published works (and my Mother’s posthumously.)

Book Review – ‘Wilder Girls’ by Rory Power

Boarding school girls under quarantine from a virus that changes your body into something else.

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, LGBQTIA+, horror

No. of pages: 357

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

I was glad to hear there is a possibility of a sequel forthcoming, because we don’t get a lot of answers surrounding the myth and history of the world of Raxter, just a small personal history of one of our protagonists – Hetty. Hetty comes across as the ‘born yesterday’ trope, so she is a great protagonist as an introduction to elements the girls at the Raxter boarding school face with some sort of biological outbreak putting the school into isolation. It’s only in the last third of the novel that we start to see her gather her wits and courage to follow her instincts rather that going with the flow. Her questioning the status quo is what really sees the plot revealing itself.

The second POV is from Hetty’s best friend Byatt. Byatt is more gutsy, more head strong, and I feel the narrative only followed her to reveal some plot points because once that job was done, there really wasn’t much use for her perspective. Though she was a great motivator for Hetty.

Reese is Hetty’s love interest and the third member that rounds out this trio of a friendship group. Hetty’s father was the groundskeeper of the Raxter boarding school and a permanent resident of the island. So Reese has intimate knowledge of the islands ins and outs (and secrets.) Reese is the lens that Hetty starts to come to terms with her feelings and burgeoning sexuality. The voice of reason.

The biological outbreak on the island is called the Tox and seems to morph the biology of whatever it infects with elements of other biological organisms – hence the body horror. Parts of the residents of the Raxter School for Girls are taking on characteristics of other things – that is if the Tox doesn’t kill them outright. The Army and CDC are working for a cure offsite and dropping in supplies to help the school survive. The remaining teachers and girls have to gate themselves in the grounds of the school because infected wildlife on the island have now become aggressive and dangerous. Every day is a fight for survival waiting for a cure… or for the Tox to take them down in an agonising death.

I’m conflicted about the girls reaction to death: on the one hand they are dealing with so much they are in shock or suffering a form of PTSD, of the fact of what they have gone through has desensitised them to death, loss, and grief. It’s a hard one to judge – I think a sequel will help me form a better opinion on this and how the author sees the character handling such heavy events.

Rory Power’s writing style is alluring, succinct, and resonant, echoing the horrific and beautiful tone of ‘Wilder Girls.’ I wouldn’t say this is a horror per se, but it has elements of body horror that make your skin crawl.

I really enjoyed my time reading ‘Wilder Girls,’ though the story line is fairly simple and it took a long time for the plot to move forward. There is a lot of space setting up tone, character relationships, character development, and ambience… which I felt slowed down the pace more than necessary. ‘Wilder Girls’ has the feel of a Gothic horror, without being a gothic horror – just in the cadence it is written.

There are a number of seeds planted in the plot that weren’t resolved, that I’m hoping we’ll get to in the sequel(s) – I feel like the story only just got going when ‘Wilder Girls’ ended. I feel I would have rated this higher if I got more of that satisfaction at the end. There were just too many unanswered questions.

I won’t say the story was all that predictable, I mean I had my hunches and they sort of came about, but there was plenty of surprise and mystery to impress me and draw me further into the narrative.

I strong recommendation from me – the writing style alone is enough for me to be shoving this into my friends hands.

Overall feeling: An atmospheric read with elements of body horror

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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.

#bookporn #coverlove

Another series I’ve completed as a part of #BeatTheBacklist. This duology deals with a futuristic society that have identified the HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome) gene – a gene that violent criminals possess, so anyone found with this in their DNA are imprisoned. Is it nature or nurture that determines if we are a killer?

What is your favourite book about gene research used as a plot device? Mine would have to be ‘This Mortal Coil‘ by Emily Suvada.

Book Review – ‘Champion’ (#3 Legend) by Marie Lu

Warring factions, plague, a country in unrest… how will these crazy kids ever get together?

Genre: Y/A, Dystopia, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

This was a lovely ending to the initial trilogy (there is a 4th book in this collection ‘Rebel,’) though I must admit I was expecting a few more twists and turns, or surprises in the mix given how Lu delivered them in the first two instalments. Again, the pacing felt a little bogged down with too much detail and political machinations that I didn’t get to enjoy my time with the characters.

The protagonists keep getting injured and knocked out. How do they not have traumatic brain injury or something? It happens a lot in YA novels (and television) which has me wondering why it never gets addressed. If you are knocked out cold for longer than 6 hours it can spell likely brain damage. It’s just a thing that has always puzzled me and stuck with me because authors love to use getting conked on the head, or falling asleep as a great chapter transition. How many of our favourite book characters are actually walking around oblivious to permanent brain damage?

I don’t feel like Day got a lot of character development – I would have liked to see something more happen with him – something to do with his connection to the people and love of the community. June had a bit more development as a character and got to come full circle in a number of plot points, but there was something about the conclusion, as hopeful a note as it ended on, that felt like it petered out.

I’m of two minds of the ending – politics and feelings like that don’t just evaporate. There are teething problems. And people views don’t just go away. It was wrapped up a little too neatly. But I must admit I did enjoy it. It left me satisfied. It’s got me curious for ‘Rebel’ the next book in the series following Eden.

The ending was mostly predictable, a teeny tiny plot twist that kind-of-but-not-really threw a spanner in the works, but all in all I pretty much guessed all that went down. Again, I was hoping for a bigger unexpected event to add some spice.

I’d have to say it was an enjoyable read, but didn’t knock me for six.

Overall feeling: Cute but a little undercooked for me.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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 – ‘Nexus’ (#3 Zeroes) by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

The anti-super-heroes you want on your side.

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, LGBT

No. of pages: 483

After the shocking conclusion to Swarm, the zeroes are scattered, on the run, and desperate. They’re up against challenges from within and from the world around them, and one thing is certain—an epic showdown is guaranteed.

What a great conclusion to the Zeroes trilogy! Again, I have to say what a unique approach this series has to X-men-esque powers. A bunch of rogue teens have formed their own group (found family) and are the anti-heroes we all need.

The narrative for ‘Nexus’ like all the other books in this series follows a different protagonist of the group for each chapter. I usually dislike this mode of storytelling, with six different perspectives (which is a lot,) but in ‘Nexus’ it is not confusing and does not dampen the pacing.

We see the stakes for the gang of Zeroes increase, as well as the type and number of antagonists to make this a really engaging read. I particularly enjoyed a bit of humanity brought into the story with the main cast challenging their moral compass and some romantic interests.

There were a few plot points that weren’t solved. I was really hoping we’d get to discover more about Scam and the origin of his ability and why he is the only one with these abilities.

Pacing is great, each chapter drives the story forward. I think with so many authors and characters it was a must for this novel to be a success. I know what I wanted for the characters, and their arcs, but the uncertainty about their future because of the nature of their powers kept the plot unpredictable.

The ending does a little flash forward to let us glimpse into the characters futures once the main story has concluded. It was a satisfying end to the series and kept me on my toes because I did not know where the narrative was going to take us.

I had started this trilogy years ago and glad to have finally completed the series… the #BeatTheBacklist initiative is really paying off and reducing that TBR (along with the multiple series I’ve started and been distracted away from.)

I’d definitely recommend this YA, I’ve also listened to the audiobooks which are narrated really well.

Overall feeling: Objective achieved

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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.


To be honest, I did not expect such a poignant quote to come out of ‘The Hating Game‘ but here we are.

What is the latest novel that surprised you? Have you seen the movie adaptation of ‘The Hating Game‘ yet – what did you think?

Book Review – ‘Network Effect’ (#5 The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells

The best team-up in the universe…

Genre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 350

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

I just love Murderbot, and in my past reviews for the previous novellas in this series I was hoping ‘Network Effect’ would be a Murderbot/ART team-up that involved some sort of contact with alien remnants, or a first contact scenario, maybe not quite that but this novel was everything I could have dreamed of.

As fast and easy a read as ‘Network Effect’ was (and the pacing fairly standard throughout) it read a lot like a longer version of the serialised novellas. So there were moments where the pacing dropped off a little. The format Murderbot Diaries has been following in the novellas does not work as well in a full length novel… you need more than one or two twists/reveals, and you need a lot more character development and exploration of secondary characters and their arcs. ‘Network Effect’ did manage this successfully, but it wasn’t a home run. I still had so many unanswered questions. But this is a part of an on-going plot that is continuing on for another four confirmed sequels. So rather than look at this as a standalone novel, or a novel in the traditional sense, I’m viewing it as another novella addition/episode… that happens to be a ‘big’ novella.

Murderbot gets put through the ringer again and we see him get shot, maimed, and suffer forced reboots. It’s become standard that Murderbot will sustain some sort of damage in each adventure; all while pondering its existence, meaning, and relationships.

The snarky/abusive banter between ART and Murderbot is up front and centre in ‘Network Effect’ and added much needed comic relief – and this time some of the humans get let in on the jokes. But in this episode we see the human-type failings of the personalities from both Murderbot and ART.

I wanted a few bigger twists and reveals from ‘Network Effect,’ for some reason the plot did not feel big enough for what I’ve expected from the series to date. But the concept of Abandoned/Reclaimed colonies and seeing the effects of actual alien remnants was a joy. It’s been hinted at for so long in the series, it was so much fun to have a front row seat to an encounter…. well not for the characters in the story, but definitely for the reader.

We start to see a real jump in the expanding universe of Murderbot and I am excited for the possibilities.

The story was mostly predictable with the exception of final reveal – but it wasn’t too shocking, so I think that’s where the slightly underwhelming feeling come from.

Wells does a brilliant job of constructing the world of the Colony, space, and constructs (AI/bots), as well as that of an alien threat. I was completely engrossed and not pulled from the narrative once.

I also loved the discussion of what a friendship or relationship means/is for an artificial construct. Though it’s not defined, ‘Network Effect’ takes some solid steps in that direction. Now I’m totally amped up for the next in the series ‘Fugitive Telemetry.’

Overall feeling: Everything, everywhere, all at once.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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.

#bookporn #coverlove

This book wowed, surprised, and empowered me so much. That is saying a lot from a memoir written by a news host and journalist (now author.) I became an instant fan of someone I was only peripherally aware of; Tracey Spicer has inspired me to research even more memoir’s written by women navigating their way in a male dominated society and finding their voice.

Is there a female figure that has inspired you through a memoir or autobiography?

Book Review – ‘Patternmaking for Fashion Design’ 4th Edition by Helen Joseph-Armstrong

An invaluable addition to my library that I uses often…

Genre: Non-Fiction, Fashion, Design, Textbook

No. of pages: 832

Renowned for its comprehensive coverage, exceptional illustrations, and clear instructions, this hallmark book offers detailed yet easy-to-understand explanations of the essence of patternmaking. Hinging on a recurring theme that all designs are based on one or more of the three major patternmaking and design principles–dart manipulation, added fullness, and contouring–it provides all the relevant information necessary to create design patterns with accuracy regardless of their complexity. Sewing guides included for the pleated trouser (with pattern layout), belt/loops, pockets, and zipper; the jean pant with pockets, countour belt, and fly front; and the gusset. Updated jacket foundation draft includes fabric preparation, interfacing, chest piece, tape control, and shoulder pads. Pant drafts–Trouser draft including pocket, waistband, and loop; dungaree foundation draft; grunge pant draft; and three jean waistline variations including pocket and sewing instruction. Includes fitting corrections for the basic patterns. Unique section on patternmaking for bias-cut garments. For anyone developing their patternmaking skills.

My mother passed on some general sewing know-how: she had completed a drafting course in her youth, and grown up in an era (and poverty) where it was essential to know how to sew for the home, and clothing for the family. I’ve picked up tid-bits here and there and had lots and lots of practice, and had a general idea on how to construct a pattern from scratch, and finishes to produce a reasonable garment. Also making costumes for dance and theatre really drove my skill as it meant saving thousands of dollars. One time when I outsourced a number of dresses due to time constraints, the designer recommended ‘Patternmaking for Fashion Design’ as a great resource. It was the text book they used in his fashion design course. And I can’t say how valuable a resource it has been. This elevated my sewing skill exponentially as it not only gives simple-to-understand instructions for every type of design and construction, but can also be a source of inspiration to make your garment that bit more elevated.


You can craft a design from scratch, to form fit from a body’s measurements, have sewing tips to ensure the best finish, and gives you the ability to produce tools (or purchase them) for a seamless process from start to finish.

This books talks about how to sketch a dress with construction in mind, how to draft up a panel/pattern, how to lay the pattern on the desired material, how the material behaves (stretch, bias, maximise useage, shrinkage after washing, etc…) I can’t list everything here as I would waste an afternoon, but suffice to say this book is a one stop shop for everything you will need for designing and constructing a garment. From formal wear, casual wear, lingerie, to swimwear; I’d happily recommend this book to anyone wishing to elevate their sewing.

I did have to go to a specialist book supplier to get a copy, but it was well worth it.

Overall feeling: Brilliant!

© Casey Carlisle 2023. 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.