Book Review – ‘The Living’ (#3 Warm Bodies) by Isaac Marion

The end to the saga – even if it did feel like it jumped genres.

Genre: Y/A, Dystopian, Horror

No. of pages: 433

Before he was a flesh-eating corpse, R was something worse. He remembers it all now, a life of greed and apathy more destructive than any virus, and he sees only one path to redemption: he must fight the forces he helped create. But what can R, Julie, and their tiny gang of fugitives do against the creeping might of the Axiom Group, the bizarre undead corporation that’s devouring what’s left of America?

It’s time for a road trip.

No more flyover country. This time they’ll face the madness on the ground, racing their RV across the wastelands as tensions rise and bonds unravel—because R isn’t the only one hiding painful secrets. Everyone is on their own desperate search: for a kidnapped daughter, a suicidal mother, and an abused little boy with a gift that could save humanity… if humanity can convince him it’s worth saving.

All roads lead home, to a final confrontation with the plague and its shareholders. But this is a monster that guns can’t kill. A battle only one weapon can win…

This was definitely an interesting read and conclusion to the Warm Bodies series. We follow R and Julie across America, waking up zombies, avoiding Boneys, The Fire Church, and Axiom; desperate to find a place to call home with all the members of their assembled family.

We get a lot of secrets from the casts past uncovered. Find answers around the formation of the two (three) struggling power regimes. And a strong undercurrent of philosophical conversations on living.

I started this but it did not grab my attention straight away the tone of the novel feels more philosophical and waxing the poetic than in the previous novels in this series. Also the changing in perspective at the start instead of picking up with R had me scrambling a little. I ended putting this down after 50 pages to read a few other novels before returning.

While I loved the more ‘woke’ tone of ‘The Living’ in comparison to the debut ‘Warm Bodies,’ this is a complete departure in writing style and narrative form. ‘Warm Bodies’ was a satirical love story with an element of the mystical; and ‘The Living’ is a collection of differing points of view, omnipotent, the living, and Nearly Dead alike. The structure felt a little scattered, and the frequent mental posturing over the current state of the world, or a characters inner thoughts, or that of whatever presence is included in this narrative, pushes this finale away from that YA demographic. ‘The Living’ is such a different creature. So, nearly all the elements that had me falling in love with this series at the beginning were sparse in the conclusion. I guess this is more an observation of the author, Isaac Marion’s journey as a writer, than on the franchise. He’s maturing and exploring a more thoughtful writing style.

We see R and Nora get some great character arcs, and the rest of the group get resolution to their storylines. As epic as the ending scene was, it still gave the impression of going out on a whimper rather than a bang. But it gives great hope for a possible future. I found myself wishing for something more resolute in the writing. Less touchy-feeling and more grounded in a physical/scientific parallel; or heck, even a frank conversation to plainly and definitively summarize what the eff happened. It’s what we expect of a dystopian novel. It’s based in theoretical science in its core. So I was disappointed I did not get that resounding thump at the end.

Because of the scattered nature of the storyline, jumping from place to place, perspective to perspective, it was hard to predict where the story was going. Intuitively I knew they would have to resolve the mystery of the zombie apocalypse and uncover the main casts pasts, bringing them together in some sort of epic battle, but there wasn’t a strong enough thread in the narrative. I feel like ‘The Living’ needed an edit from someone who loved ‘Warm Bodies’ so this series concludes in the same vein as it starts. Also for this reason, the pacing of ‘The Living’ also feels really slow. I have to admit, it was a difficult book for me to get through.

While I like the themes in ‘The Living’ I’m of two minds in recommending it because it is such a departure from ‘Warm Bodies.’ I think this is more a book only for the hard-core fans, and those wanting resolution to the franchise.

On a side note, I bought a hardcopy from the author, and while it is an attractive book, great cover art, binding design and illustrations for chapter titles; this book was heavy. The paper stock thick, nearly like card, I had difficulty holding the book up to read. So while it may look and feel great, my copy was physically awkward to read.

I’m glad I got to the finale of this franchise and now am eagerly awaiting to hear more news on the development of the television series. I’d be interested to see what treatment it gets, and an interpretation of R and Julie’s post-apocalyptic world.

Overall feeling: I liked it but…

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

Over 500 Book Reviews!

I noticed last week that I have posted over 500 book reviews since starting this blog, so I thought I’d commemorate this milestone with a badge.

A little nod to myself for a great achievement.



Feel free to use this badge for your blog if you have reached this milestone too.

Happy book reviewing! 😀

#bookquotes

#BQ The Danish Girl by Casey Carlisle

Though I had issues with the novel, Ebershoff’s writing is beautiful. I found this particular quote resounding not only in protagonist Lili’s head, but also in the transgender community in general. Though our society is slowly evolving to inclusivity, there is still the existence of transgender invisibility.

No-one should be ignored just because they are a little different.

I’m free, I’m free! – An August reading and writing wrap-up

Reclaiming old habits… about time!

With the virus that shall not be named causing many States in Australia to jump up and down the levels of restriction I’m still gobsmacked at the world we are living in – and the stupidity of the few causing issues for the rest of the population. People: get tested, follow the guidelines. Use some common sense and err on the side of caution.

Now that rant is over, we’ve been lucky here on the Sunshine Coast. Everything is mostly back to normal as long as you observe social distancing recommendations. I got to return to the gym and start to lose some of this weight that’s been sneaking on in the lock-down, plus it feels great to get in a workout, get those endorphins running, and have a professional help with a variety of exercises and challenges. It’s fine to exercise at home, but with a few health issues, I need the guidance of a fitness professional to  avoid exacerbating a back injury. The right equipment, and the correct way of using it is a must. I finally feel like I’m back on track with my fitness goals.

I managed to complete reading 5 novels in August. (Nearly 6, I was only 40 pages to the end, but it will go towards September instead.) I love knocking down that TBR! The number is now at 412… but I will be ordering some new books in the next week or two so the number will jump up again next month, but it’s the first time this year I’ve added to the TBR pile. And I won’t do so again until Christmas, so I can live with that. Besides I managed to get another series finished that has been hanging around for years, and make progress on another two. All the novels have been pretty interesting, but nothing that blew my socks off.

Writing wise was non-existent for my WIP’s. I have had to take on copywriting, content writing, and ghost writing jobs as I’m the only one in the household earning an income… up until the last week when my housemate finally got to return to work. So now I can scale back on the number of submissions and return to my own writing – back to making progress next month. *Happy dance*

The biggest thing happening in August for me has been getting my puppy’s coats back in order – because I was busy at the computer all day, every day; I left the grooming to my housemate, and, erm, well, he doesn’t follow instructions well. Or chose not to. With fluffy furbabies, you need to brush all the knots out of their coat before you wash them to avoid their coat becoming even more matted. Two baths later and I’ve got a bigger job than usual in taking care of my babies. I could have shawn their coats real short, but with the cooler weather of late, I was a bit hesitant. So a number of short sessions spread over a week and a bit have eaten up the little free time I had to care for my pups. 

I have had a few other side projects to boost the household income on the backburner and finally been able to start implementing them during August, so that is another personal win for me.

I don’t feel I got to do much else – not even catch up on movies and tv series. I’ve just been so mentally drained at the end of the day I pass out cold in a drooling mess. Though with the eased Covid-19 restrictions I finally feel like I’m able to get back to some of my yearly goals that have been sidelined for close to 6 months now. 

How has life been going for you? What’s your wordcount? How many novels did you get to read? Has Covid-19 changed the trajectory of your yearly goals?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 – ‘Winter’ (#4 The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

All the crew get their time to shine in this big screen styled finale.

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction
No. of pages: 827

Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She’s said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana…

When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin.

But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter claim their happily ever afters by defeating Levana once and for all?


A fitting end to a marvellously entertaining series (even though there is a collection of short stories and graphic novels that take place after ‘Winter.’)


I started reading ‘Winter’ back in 2016 and then abandoned it after 145 pages. Mainly because of the pacing. There was so much detail bogging down the narrative flow – and so many character perspectives setting the scene in multiple locations – that I simply put it down in favour of more engaging reads. But now with my attempts to #BeatTheBacklist – basically my goal to reduce the ridiculous amount of titles on my TBR shelves, and to complete all those series I started to read and abandoned halfway through.


This time around, I did feel that sluggish start, but it wasn’t too far past that 145 page mark where the pace picked up and kept on a solid beat right up until the end. (With exception of the last few chapters which I thought could have been better as an afterward – as it was tying up minor story threads after the main plot line concluded.) Every character got their time to shine, face obstacles, got thwarted, and battle to victory… not without a cost. Marissa Meyer’s ability to track so many story arcs, have them all weave into each other AND mirror elements of the original fairytales she has based her characters on is simply masterful and a joy to read. With a glut of fairytale re-tellings on the market, this collection is one of the better in the YA genre. Plus this girl loves her science fiction. ‘Winter’ managed to feel original and have all the Disney trappings I have known from childhood.


There is an awful lot that goes down in this novel – and for its 800 plus pages you’d expect so. I kept getting a sore wrist trying to hold my hardcover copy.


Marissa Meyer’s writing style is an easy read and builds the world of the Lunar Chronicles effortlessly. Iko’s bubbly effervescence is always a welcome break to the narrative. I’m looking forward to graphic novels ‘Wires and Nerve’ following her story after ‘Winter.’ I won’t get into details of the plot and character development for this concluding instalment because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not read ‘Winter.’ But it does justice to the themes and character arcs.


I would have liked the ‘voice’ of our main heroines to feel a little more distinct. If you removed their names from the narrative I would have had difficulty discerning who was taking the point of view. As much as I enjoyed ‘Winter,’ and loved the complexity of the plot, I feel it lost a little of its magic because of the pacing. Though it engaged me enough as a reader, parts are slow, and this is one huge book to get through. Especially for YA. But having said that, many who get this far along in the series will be fans, and such small criticisms like this will not deter them. So if you love the concept of a fairytale retelling with a sci-fi twist, this is a beauty!


While this is the last novel in the collection, there is a following collection of short stories ‘Stars Above’ that I will follow this with. And as mentioned, the graphic novels following Iko’s story.


Overall feeling: End to the epic



© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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

Space opera of battling planets from a far flung solar system. Currently halfway through the final book of this duology. Seeking other recommendations for the space opera genre – I don’t see a lot of recent releases from this niche, which is weird considering the popularity of the Star Wars franchise…

Tip Sheets – and why it is important to create at least one for your book.

There are many aspects to launching your book and creating awareness, tip sheets are a must-have element to include in your marketing strategy.

Launching your book, or gaining exposure through media outlets can give you immediate results and boost not only your sales, but your profile as an author. When you have toiled for months and years writing your novel and honing it into a masterpiece, you would want it to have the best possible chance to become a commercial success. You can outsource this kind of task to a publicity or PR firm, blast it on social media. However, creating a tip sheet for release to the media can save you some big dollars and give your marketing schedule a massive boost.

I know numerous authors who have created their own tip sheets, and implemented them with local media outlets and seen immediate results. Below is information I have collated from several sources and examples to help you create and implement your own tip sheet for your book launch, or increase exposure in conjunction with a special offer.

What’s a tip sheet?

A tip sheet is a short publication intended for media outlets containing the latest information, anecdotes, theme-related content, and quotations pertaining to your book, usually in easy-to-read bullet form.

It is similar to a press release – a self-contained story focused around elements of interest from the book (not the book directly) that can be run as-is for the media bodies

Generally tip sheets showcase a novel’s content, theme, message, or author related subjects, while getting the book title in front of the target demographic.

Tip sheet topics and elements

If you hire a PR company or publicist they will do all the hard yards for you and provide a proof for approval before release, but if you want to save some bucks and tackle this yourself, here’s some examples of things you could include. Don’t throw everything and the kitchen sink in your tip sheet, keep it succinct, on topic, and easy to read.

A must is an attention grabbing headline. Something that will not only peak the interest of the media outlets, but also your target audience. It should directly lead to the topic you are discussing in your tip sheet information.

Have an opening paragraph that introduces your topic, or raises a problem/issue that your are going to provide solutions for.

Don’t forget to have a concluding paragraph with information about you, the author, and your book (and it’s release date.)

Here are some ideas to prompt you in crafting your tip sheet:

  • Providing factual or historical information on what your book is about/ where it is set
  • A unique anecdote about the author, or material/themes from the novel
  • Solve a problem that is introduced in the book in some way, or something that the author overcome to write the book.
  • How topics or themes in your book relate to trending news stories.
  • Something that is unique about you, or your book.
  • A top 10 tips list

The list is endless, it’s about hooking the interest of your reader – but remember a tip sheet is not directly about your book, it’s a publicity tool that relates to your book. We’re not spruiking ‘buy my book because it is a fun read with great magical elements and a tough-as-nails protagonist.’ Instead we are creating ambient buzz. For instance, you could be discussing the influence of pop culture on the rise of wicca from tv shows like ‘Charmed’ and ‘Buffy’… and then mention at the end of your discussion how your interest in this topic lead you to writing a unique magic system for your novel.

Breaking it down

HEADLINE

Think of a tip sheet like a news or magazine article – a catchy headline. Click-baity. On-trend words and phrases. What titles grab your attention when skimming the newspaper, what blog article headlines do you click on when browsing the internet? Pay close attention to those elements and you’ll have a roadmap to creating a great headline.

OPENING PARAGRAPH

In that opening paragraph when you state what this story/tip sheet is about – use facts, statistics, and/or quotes to ground your article. This shows you are coming from a place of knowledge. An expert.

A well researched tip sheet is a successful one. It lets the media outlets your pitching to sound like experts too. The less work the journalists, presenters, or bloggers have to do, the better. They are usually time-poor, so the less preparation they have to do, the better your chances are for them picking up and running with your story.

Provide a quote from yourself, or someone else (cite sources) that add something new to the story – a new fact or perspective, a twist, or even inject some humour.

INTRODUCE your tip sheet topics in one sentence.

TIP SHEET Topics

List your tip sheet topics in bullet form, short, to-the-point  and easy to read.

CONCLUSION

The final paragraph ties everything up with two or three factual sentences about the author and the book.

Here’s some examples of what a tip sheet looks like to get you started on creating your own:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

4th September 2020

FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR CANCER… AUTHOR JENNIFER DUGGAN TAKES PART IN A VARIETY SHOW TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE CANCER COUNCIL

On the 20th of November the Town Hall will be transformed into the glitziest venue in the city for a charitable variety comedy show to raise funds for cancer sufferers. Author Jennifer Duggan brings her unique style of stand-up in a star-studded event. Miss Duggan asks that the audience make a donation upon entry for the Cancer Council.

Audiences will see six performers, Jennifer Duggan, Michael Plott, Michelle Foley, Frederick Grainger, Kate Millichamp, and Doug Deep bring the funny in ten minute sets, with drag sensation Willma Fingerdo as MC for the night.

With her cutting and sarcastic wit Jennifer Duggan has paved a successful career with her comedy stylings, and with one her sister currently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lympoma, Jennifer Duggan follows her passion of stand-up and raising money to help those like her sister who are fighting cancer.

The Olivia Newton John Foundation states that “We all know at least one person who has been affected either directly, or indirectly by cancer.” With members of the foundation in attendance along with some support staff from the local hospitals oncology ward.

Jennifer Duggan has said “It’s important we get the funds needed to fight this thing that is taking so many members of our family. Research into a cure is paramount. Nobody wants to be sick. Being able to laugh in a time of such difficulty has been important for me and my sister, so I wanted to share that with everyone. That’s why I’m taking part in this variety show. It’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart.”

Jennifer Duggan also has a memoir being released on 5th December that further showcases her humour and anecdotes of growing up in Australia and a behind the scenes look at the world of stand-up comedy.

Don’t miss all the action on the 20th of November at the Town Hall. Come down and support our local artists and raise money for our fight against cancer with all proceeds going to the Cancer Council. Doors open at 7pm. Visit http://www.jenniferduggan.com.au for more information.

ENDS

For further details, interview or photographic opportunities please contact:

Jennifer Duggan

Telephone 555-456-9910

email author@jenniferduggan.com

Contact: Jane Doe, 555-727-3910, Janetheauthor@janedoebooks.com

Nine tips for writing op-eds that get published

ROCHESTER, NY – November 15, 2014 – Op-eds – essays that appear opposite the editorial pages of newspapers – are powerful communications tools for nonprofit organizations working to influence public policy or initiate change. But one communicator says that too many local nonprofits miss some of their best opportunities to inform readers through these opinionated essays.

“National headline news stories give nonprofits the hook their opinion pieces need to catch an editorial page editor’s attention, but nonprofits don’t always take advantage of this because they can’t react quickly enough to write and place an essay when it’s still timely,” says Jane Doe, author of Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions (Kaplan Publishing).

Jane Doe recommends having at least one op-ed written in advance to use when a news event brings the op-ed’s topic to the public’s attention. She cites recent headlines as examples: The latest celebrity starting a family before getting married creates a news peg for pro-family organizations while a weather disaster provides a hook for groups helping businesses and individuals prepare for disasters.

Jane Doe’s book offers these nine tips for writing effective op-eds you can update according to the news story for immediate publication:

· Introduce yourself to your newspaper’s op-ed page editor by telephone or e-mail and request the publication’s op-ed guidelines. Then follow them.

· Determine your goal. What do you want to achieve through your op-ed? Do you want people to behave differently or take a specific action? Keep this goal in mind as you write.

· Select one message to communicate. Op-eds are short – typically no more than 800 words – so you have room to make just one good point.

· Be controversial. Editors like essays with strong opinions that will spark conversation.

· Illustrate how the topic or issue affects readers. Put a face on the issue by starting your essay with the story of somebody who has been affected or begin with an attention-getting statistic.

· Describe the problem and why it exists. This is often where you can address the opposing viewpoint and explain your group’s perspective.

· Offer your solution to the problem and explain why it’s the best option.

· Conclude on a strong note by repeating your message or stating a call to action.

· Add one or two sentences at the end that describe your credentials as they relate to the topic.

“With this approach, when your issue is suddenly making headlines, you can write an introduction that connects the news to your essay and e-mail it to the editor quickly,” adds Miss Doe.

Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure that Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions is available at neighborhood and online booksellers or by calling 800-245-BOOK. For more information, go to http://www.nonprofitpublicity.com.

  • Simply substitute in your details, quotes, resources, and information and there you go!

Useful hints to remember when creating your tip sheet:

Remember to look at a plethora of newspaper and magazine articles before writing the tip sheet. The news writing style is informal and factual. 

A tip sheet is commonly written to help people solve a problem. State a problem . . . offer your solutions.

Offer an incentive or reason to buy your book.

Promote something important or unique in your story.

How to use tip sheets

Distribute tip sheets to media outlets that would be interested in the content.

There are interesting tutorials on skillshare.com about this if you need more of a visual learning aid, coming from people who successfully use what they are discussing. You can pay for a month’s subscription for a small investment in your career, get what you need, and cancel the service.

There is information on media outlet websites with guidelines on how to submit your material, so be sure to check those out before emailing. Make sure that your story is similar to the types of articles they frequently publish.

Alternatively there are services like eReleases  that can help.

Welp, I hope there’s enough information here to get you started. And remember, tip sheets are just an aspect of your book launch, or growing your author profile. You should calendar out your book launch and use tip sheets in conjunction with many other activities like social media marketing, book signings, talks, interviews, blog tours…. start building your marketing schedule today!

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 – ‘Off the Page’ (#2 Between the Lines) by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

A cute magical romance where the main character is a literary book boyfriend.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 368

goodreads banner by Casey Carlisle

Delilah and Oliver shouldn’t be together. But they are together. And just as they’re getting used to the possibility that happily ever after may really, truly be theirs, the universe sends them a message they can’t ignore: they won’t be allowed to rewrite their story.

Delilah and Oliver must decide how much they’re willing to risk for love and what it takes to have a happy ending in a world where the greatest adventures happen off the page.

Page border 2020 by Casey Carlisle

This was simply a lot of fun to read. It’s nice to indulge in some silliness in my reading on occasion, and ‘Off the Page’ is just what the doctor ordered.

Off the Page’ certainly elevates everything that happened in ‘Between the Lines.’ More magic and more characters involved with the fantastical world. We see a serious side slip in too; plus the crux of why we pick up this kind of novel in the first place – the romance. The pacing is pretty good, though towards the end the story keeps flopping about and adding a twist here and there and dragged the narrative out a little longer than necessary. But that’s my one big criticism… which wasn’t a huge thing in the overall experience of reading ‘Off the Page.’

We see the characters get arcs, grow and develop. We see the universe inside the fairy tale expand, and the world outside of the story book expand through the fantasy characters eyes. It was such a delight.

The plot was very predictable, but deliciously so. Though those few little twists got me right in the heart muscle.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Told in alternating perspectives between Delilah, Oliver, and Edgar, each chapter moves the story forward and lets the ensemble cast shine. Usually I’m not a fan of multiple perspectives, or of so many characters, but Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer made it work. Each character was individual and had a distinct voice. And despite it having been 3 years since having read the debut ‘Between the Lines’ it was easy to pick up the narrative and get sucked into the world without needing a refresher. It is testament to great story and character crafting.

The conclusion ends on a note that wraps up all of the major plot points – but there are still some ties left loose which could lead to another sequel; but given five years have passed since ‘Off the Page’ was published it doesn’t look that promising, but never say never.

I’d recommend this to those who want a light fun read, or maybe as a pallet cleanser between novels with heavier topics. Even though it is stated that it could be read as a standalone, I don’t think you would truly be able to appreciate the journey/relationship of Delilah and Oliver without reading the first novel ‘Between the Lines.’

Overall feeling: a solid effort.

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Off the Page (#2 Between the Lines) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

#bookquotes

Silhouette of business people work together in office. Concept of teamwork and partnership. double exposure with network effects

I’m having a lot of fun reading this series – a unique take on superpowers, and I can really envision this as an excellent television series.

What books do you find immediately turn into a tv series in your mind? (Me seeking some great reading recommendations.)

Book Review – ‘Containment’ (#2 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

A middle book slump for me…

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 496

goodreads banner by Casey Carlisle

They may have escaped Sanctuary, but Kenzie and her friends are far from safe.

Ex-Omnistellar prison guard Kenzie and her superpowered friends barely made it off Sanctuary alive. Now they’re stuck in a stolen alien ship with nowhere to go and no one to help them. Kenzie is desperate for a plan, but she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone has their own dark secrets: Omnistellar, her parents, even Cage. Worse still, she’s haunted by memories of the aliens who nearly tore her to shreds—and forced her to accidentally kill one of the Sanctuary prisoners, Matt.

When Kenzie intercepts a radio communication suggesting that more aliens are on their way, she knows there’s only one choice: They must turn themselves in to Omnistellar and destroy the ship before the aliens follow the signal straight to them. Because if the monstrous creatures who attacked Sanctuary reach Earth, then it’s game over for humanity.

What Kenzie doesn’t know is that the aliens aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Omnistellar has put a bounty on Kenzie’s head—and the question is whether the aliens or Omnistellar get to her first.

Page border 2020 by Casey Carlisle

I was so eager to continue with the story of Kenzie and the gang, their fight for survival against greedy corporation Omnistellar, and an alien threat. ‘Containment’ brought all of that in spectacular fashion, but there were a few issues I had that which disappointed me. This novel was laboriously slow. Where was that pacing from ‘Sanctuary?’ We got a few great action scenes, but the rest of ‘Containment’ was bogged down in detail, internal lamenting, and repetition. The continual reiteration of the facts became boring, so too did the repeated use of certain descriptors… I feel like Caryn Lix’s editing team really let her down on this one. I even found a few grammatical errors. With 496 pages, this is a long YA, and it was made worse with the slow pace and juvenile attitudes popping up every now and then from the cast. I felt like a 2 year old kept saying ‘mine.’ The power struggles between the characters could have been dealt with in a better fashion so they weren’t so aggressive and immature to give the narrative a better flow.

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere was also too much repetition from the plot of ‘Sanctuary.’ I know it was to give a symbolic twist to the story – a chance to change an outcome, but it read a lazy and trite. While I love the science fiction of it all, the scary aliens, the strange abilities the teens have, and Lix’s ability to write great action scenes, the soul of this story wanned in comparison to the debut. ‘Containment’ has really suffered from the middle book slump. Let’s hope it’s a slump and not a trend for a downward spiral.

Ultimately, ‘Containment’ wasn’t a terrible experience, it just felt really long. And I wanted something more original to happen within the plot – and I don’t know, the characters to grow up a bit after the experiences they have survived.

I love the action far more than the melodrama and the characters. The cast really shines under pressure and have to fight for survival, but when they are relating to each other, they revert into sullen teens that have me grating my teeth. So I fip-flopped from finding Kenzie and the gang from being annoying to heroic. I hope Caryn Lix can find a balance.

The theme of family (that is of their constructed family) was a pleasure to read. Plus, I definitely felt the scare and anxiety of the hull-shredding aliens in the story. These great points along with some intriguing concepts introduced in ‘Containment’ have me really keen to see where they go in the next sequel ‘Salvation.

It felt very predictable. I only got one surprise from a plot twist at the end, but for the most part this felt like a mediocre read, and I am on the fence about recommending this one… I’d have to wait until reading ‘Salvation’ before doing so, because if it is just a middle book slump, then, I can get over it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall feeling: I just wish it was better…

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

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