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.

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Got the final book to this collection just before Christmas – was great holiday reading to wrap up this amazing science fiction series. Went to places I did not expect.

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.

Book Review – A Court of Mist and Fury (#3 A Court of Thorns and Roses) by Sarah J. Maas

A great story, a beautiful romance and lots of fae.

A Court of Wings and Ruin Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 699

From Goodreads:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.  

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Started off better than I had anticipated. Very impressed. I have to stay I enjoyed this book far more than the previous 2 in this series.

I loved reading Feyre. Although she did feel predictable – I guessed her actions well in advance. But she was ballsy and did not let a man define her (much.) And I liked how the element of family played a strong part of who she is in this instalment. She always wore her decisions, good or bad. It is an admirable quality and helped me connect and invest in her story.

While I loved the relationship between Feyre and Rhys, his character seems to have evolved into a Mr Goody-two-shoes. Where was that scary darkness that he let us glimpse in the first two books? It gave him an edge. So while a great culmination in their story, I was starting to get a little bored with Rhys.

The shining part of this book, as minor as it is, was Suriel. It tugged on my heart strings and even had many tears falling at the beauty of Feyre’s interaction with it in the forest.

A Court of Wings and Ruin Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgMaas is still a fan of overusing the phrase “a mask of…” to describe facial expression and emotion. Almost wanted to turn it into a drinking game. I’m finding frequent repetition of descriptions and qualifiers, which is disappointing because a good editor should have picked these issues up.

I was put off by the overt erotica in some parts – it was fine when it added something to the plot or character development, but the rest just left me feeling… itchy. The graphic content felt like it was included to service Sarah J. Maas’ opinion on the ultimate sexual relationship – how a male should put the woman’s needs first. And left the whole experience a little contrived.

There was a focus on gender within the narrative, and people being coupled off, which while cute and expected in YA, I was hoping for a little more grit and daring. Especially in a fantasy genre where you can push the envelope a bit further.

The second half of the book was much easier to read than the first half – I guess the story arc with Tamlin bogged things down for me. Focusing more on political manoeuvring than action. Though I understand it a necessary part of the overall storyline. As we needed to see some sort of resolution between these two.

Mass’ writing style, especially when setting a scene, painted the landscape with such rich language I was truly impressed.  There was a lot too it. A lot happened. The pace just kept driving forward. Though there were some spots where it felt a little slow. As a lot went down, the cast grew, transformed, challenged, I really can’t comment too much about them without giving away any spoilers – but enough to say I really enjoyed the journey of all the secondary cast members. With such a wide and varied collection of characters, it was easy to track and identify each one.

Have developed a great fondness for this collection.

A Court of Wings and Ruin’ is a big book – I frequently got aching hands trying to hold this slab of paper up. The typesetting and formatting is of a comfortable size and layout so that not too much is cramped on to one page and you find yourself re-reading a line of text. Love the cover art and how it ties into the previous two novels. But it is reminding me that I’ll read books over 600 pages in e-book format so that they are easier to hold.

What started out as a Beauty and the Beast re-telling grew into an epic fae fantasy I’d recommend to lovers of this genre, Romance and female warrior protagonists.

Overall feeling: Brilliant ending!

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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 – ‘The Boyfriend List’ by E. Lockhart

A cute teen diddy.

The Boyfriend List (#1 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlile.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has: 
* lost her boyfriend
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy
* did something advanced with a boy
* had an argument with a boy
* drank her first beer (someone handed it to her)
* got caught by her mom (ag!)
* had a panic attack (scary)
* lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie)
* failed a math test (she’ll make it up)
* hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).
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But don’t worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she’s ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.

I really enjoyed E. Lockhart’s previous novels and thought the Ruby Oliver books would be a fun addition. Previous read ‘Fly on the Wall‘ was hilarious juvenile fiction… but ‘The Boyfriend List‘ was, well… babbly. Think a teen on crack with A.D.D. – it jumped about everywhere, and I couldn’t decide if it was adorable or distracting.

I liked the message and the moral of the story. It takes a healthy approach to mental disorders and provides tools with how protagonist Ruby manages her issues, especially in navigating high school life, boys and bullying.

The character growth Ruby goes through was appreciated, and how we get a strong undercurrent of female empowerment. But because this book was so in the wheelhouse for its demographic, I got bored from the small tangents and footnotes, and really didn’t appreciate the juvenile narrative of it all. I know it is meant to be humorous and really mimics the short attention span of teens, but it kept pulling me from the narrative.

I’m just too old to find most of ‘The Boyfriend List’ charming and funny. And if I was a tween that’s exactly what I’d think of this book… Though I do like E. Lockhart’s writing and our protagonist Ruby graduates at the end of the novel, so maybe the writing style matures as she does, so I’m going to continue with the series and see where it leads.

This was a cute book, but not one I could relate to.

Overall feeling: Boy I feel old now… eep!

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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.