Book Review – ‘Salvation’ (#3 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

Another twist in the saga as a bunch of powered teens battle hungry aliens…

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 432

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

These are the words Kenzie has always lived by. The problem is, she’s fallen down too many times to count.

Kenzie and her friends have already escaped two vicious alien attacks—not to mention the corporate bounty hunters sent to capture them. They’re haunted by the friends they’ve lost and the hard choices they’ve had to make in this war they never asked for.

And now, thanks to superpowers she received from the very aliens she’s fighting, Kenzie has stranded everyone on a strange planet with no way off. She just wanted a safe place from the monstrous creatures terrorizing her world, but this new planet has dangers of its own, and Kenzie will have to uncover its secrets if she has any hope of ever making it home again.

Sacrifice is nothing new for Kenzie. She’ll do anything—anything—to destroy the aliens that killed both of her parents. But how can Kenzie save Earth if she can’t even save the people she loves?

Salvation’ is a wonderful and unexpected twist on the Sanctuary trilogy. This concluding novel really captured my imagination but managed to stay grounded in reality as protagonists have to face consequences of their actions.

We see more loss in ‘Salvation’ and I’m on the fence over how this is dealt with… but I guess for a YA novel, and needing to move the plot forward, the author did justice for the characters and story, despite the gruelling situations.

I don’t feel like we got much more character development in ‘Salvation’ – the characters have already been put through the ringer. Here, it is more about strengthening their resolve in the face of desperation and insurmountable odds.

I also feel, for the first time, the aliens were finally grounded in the narrative, their backstory is revealed and no longer felt like a two-dimensional, single-minded antagonist.

There is still a juvenile tone to the narrative – as that is the target market for this novel, but I would have liked a more mature and calculated tone to elevate the story and characters. I don’t think it would have isolated the target market, making them feel like intelligent readers.

The pacing is fairly steady and really ramps up in the last quarter of the novel, and had me eagerly flipping through the pages. Though in having said that, I did feel there was a long build up to the conclusion. This is only because we had to go through a whole lot of world building of yet another new environment we find our protagonists in. But it was a fun mystery to unravel… I certainly did not guess it.

In the beginning novels we see a lot of squabbling between the protagonists, but in ‘Salvation’ it is less so because they are a lone group of survivors, reliant on each other to get out of their situation alive. And while Lix does a great job at keeping the clashing personalities strong in the narrative, I felt a need for the characters to have different motivations to create tension, rather than grating personalities. But Lix has done a stellar job in crafting distinct characters that you love to hate, and love to love.

It was a great conclusion to the series, but I was left wanting a little more of resonance on that final paragraph to get a hint at the protagonists’ future… just a minor tweak to really fuel my imagination.

Certainly a great number of surprises and reveals that delighted me. I think it was more tone that stopped me from truly being immersed in the narrative.

Salvation’ has definitely returned to the standard and promise of ‘Sanctuary,’ where ‘Containment’ suffered a little of that middle-book-syndrome. However, a strong finish.

Overall feeling: Surprising sci-fi!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. 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 – ‘Nil on Fire’ (#3 Nil) by Lynne Matson

An all-stakes battle with teens pitted against a sentient island in a pocket universe.

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 416

Despite Rives and Skye’s attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won’t let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can’t ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As Skye fights to keep her mind intact, she realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil’s vicious cycle once and for all—and she can’t do it alone.

Who are Nil’s new arrivals? Who will return to the island? And who will survive in the end? In this final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher.

Losing isn’t an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.

I have so many feelings about this fantastic concept – sentient portals abducting teens and depositing them in an alternate pocket universe to survive Island-style, and try and find a way home again before their time runs out.

I appreciated the narrative around colonisation and erasure of aboriginal culture underlying ‘Nil on Fire,’ but I still don’t think it was handled as delicately as it could have been, but the representation and exploration of the Polynesian culture was a big plus for me. So too was the diversity – many cultures and languages represented in the characters, yet still no getting a chance to lead the narrative.

Unfortunately there were drawbacks in this concluding novel of the Nil trilogy. This felt long, facts kept getting repeated and I did not like the direction the last instalment in this series took us. I struggled a bit with the narrative, losing interest many times, the characters started to feel more two-dimensional despite the hell they were being put through. The deaths were shrugged off a little at the end. It was just disappointing for me.

There are multiple perspectives in ‘Nil on Fire’ we follow Skye, Rives, and a schizophrenic omnipresence of Nil (the island) and the story picks up pretty much right after the events ending in the second book in the series ‘Nil Unlocked.’ I did like how we got all the characters from the first two novels in this final book of the trilogy, facing off against the island itself, and the mythology behind its creation. This concluding novel does offer explanation and wrap up the series well, but it was the mythology that did not sit well with me. It was a little too fantastical. Nil is a great series and the premise had me hooked… I would have loved this to stick to a more science fiction route than it had – given the alien consciousness presence and the alternate pocket universe. The precedence had been set. Otherwise maybe the series should have taken the more mystical route and leave the mythology grounded in the Polynesian culture. The philosophy of the Nil series felt like a jumbled mish-mash of both elements and lacked conviction.

As we are dealing with established characters, who have already run the gauntlet, there is limited space for them to develop further. In that sense we get the main cast helping secondary characters grow from their own experience. I guess that is another factor that separated from the narrative. I kept getting bored with too much detail, repetition, and short chapters jumping from perspective to perspective. The narrative didn’t sit long enough with a character for me to really get sucked into the Nil universe, or form strong emotional connections with the cast. ‘Nil on Fire’ is banking on the reader already having forged those bonds in the first two novels to carry you through this finale.

Lynne Matson has a great writing style for setting the scene and world building, I loved her descriptions of the island and its mysterious sway on the teens. She is also great at character development from the previous novels. I’d like to read something from her told in first person with no switches in perspective and see how that affects my reading experience.

So this was a mixed bag of feelings for me. I loved getting to meet all the characters again, and have the mystery solved… I just didn’t like the direction it took.

Overall feeling: *nose-dive*

© Casey Carlisle 2021. 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 – ‘Obsession’ (#1 Arum) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A more grown-up take of JLA’s famous franchise that didn’t quite do it justice.

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 384

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something… unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?

He’s arrogant, domineering, and… To. Die. For.

This book just wasn’t for me. I usually get a modicum of enjoyment from JLA titles, but the tone of ‘Obsession’ felt possessive bordering on abusive, and smutty (but not in a good way.) I missed the witty banter, the angst and slow burn romance. This was thinly disguised hate-banging. The whole book left me squirming uncomfortably.

Told in two different perspectives – that of Selena, attempting to clear her murdered girlfriends name… where sometime through the narrative it turned into retaliatory justice. And that of Arum Hunter. Hunter is quite frankly, a dick. Sexually aggressive, arrogant, and stays that way throughout the entire story. There is only a hint of a softer side as he develops feelings for Selena, but because of the nature of the tone in this novel, I am not convinced. I feel the heavy hand of the author weaving the threads of their fate. And Selena… you in danger girl. She just keeps overlooking warning signs. She reminds me of one of those supporting characters in a Mob Boss movie. You know, that girl who’s hanging around for sex and clout because she doesn’t feel like she deserves any better. That’s the impression I get of Selena.

There is a lot of death and dismemberment, a lot of swearing, and bumping uglies… and I’m sorry but some of the descriptions of the intimate times had me roaring with laughter than feeling my feels. I just can’t.

The plot is simple. I would’ve thought that bringing the Lux universe into an adult setting we would have gotten a more complex, ‘adult’ multi-thread storyline. This was even more simple that any of its YA counterparts. It felt like an excuse to have some characters in this universe finally get to have some sex scenes in the forefront. Total wish fulfilment. Given that it had such a one-note story, it was also extremely predictable. And I ended up speed-reading the entire novel only to slow down on the occasional good bit. I still like JLA’s writing style, but there was so much not working for me in ‘Obsession,’ that it didn’t really get a chance to shine.

Given this was published 5 years ago and there hasn’t been talk of a sequel as yet, I’m guessing it wasn’t as well received. It has potential, but it’s completely outshined by the rest of the novels set in the Lux universe.

This is a complete miss for me and I don’t recommend this unless you desperately want more of the Lux cannon. You won’t miss anything about the series if you skip this title. Maybe the more recent Origin series set in the same universe will fare better…

Overall feeling: left a bad taste in my mouth…

© 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 – ‘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

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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.

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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

© 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 – ‘Sanctuary’ (#1 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

A slow start for Sanctuary.

Sanctuary (#1 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 480

From Goodreads:

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

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I was very excited for this novel – a space prison jail break mixed up in an alien invasion – all the hallmarks for a riot of a sci-fi read. Count me in.

However, the first half of the book was laboriously slow. I took me over a week just to reach the midway point, continuously putting ‘Sanctuary‘ down for a rest because I wasn’t compelled to read on. The subject matter was fine, it was the pacing. And a bit too much information off topic. I feel you could have edited out 100-150 pages from this first part and not lost a thing. It would have turned ‘Sanctuary‘ into a cracker of a read.

Comparatively, I completed the second half of this novel in an afternoon. The pacing and action were top notch, plenty going on to drive the plot forward, turning points for the characters… there was not much I could fault.

Our protagonist Kenzie didn’t seem all that interesting at the start, but certainly developed into a character I began to care about. She starts out very rule-following and vanilla; and I didn’t really get a strong sense of emotion and connection to other cast members of the novel. Even the growing romantic interest in prisoner Cage – motivations and situations felt tenuous at best. Not so realistic or justifiable. I’m wondering if it simply boiled down to the fact of the horrible pacing in the first half. A more compact, punchier introduction to the world of ‘Sanctuary‘ and getting to know the players in the field may have created the tension needed to create a strong bond?

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

The plot and storytelling of ‘Sanctuary‘ was highly entertaining. I was gripped in action scenes, got all the feels from the right places, and even surprised at several plot twists. There was an element of predictability, but not enough to render this read unsurprising or boring. Pacing issues aside, I have to commend Caryn Lix for her debut. I am definitely engrossed enough to be picking up the next novel in this collection ‘Containment.’ Given that the world building is established, characters fleshed out, the sequel should have better pacing, and Caryn Lix’s writing experience improved from publishing ‘Sanctuary.’

I’m on the fence about recommending this one – it took a while for me to get into, and lovers of sci-fi may get bored quickly. But for YA readers who like a touch of science fiction, this may be thoroughly entertaining… so I’m torn. This was a slightly better than average read for me, so maybe it’s worth a shot?

Overall feeling: so-so

Sanctuary (#1 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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 – Oblivion (#1.5 Lux) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The flip side of Obsidian.

Oblivion (#1.5 Lux) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 352

From Goodreads:

I knew the moment Katy Swartz moved in next door, there was going to be trouble. Lots of it.

And trouble’s the last thing I need, since I’m not exactly from around here. My people arrived on Earth from Lux, a planet thirteen billion light years away. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that humans can’t be trusted. We scare them. We can do things they only dream about, and honestly, we make them look weak as hell. ‘Cuz they are.

But Kat is getting to me in ways no one else has, and I can’t stop myself from wanting her–or wanting to use my powers to protect her. She makes me weak, and I’m the strongest of our kind, tasked with protecting us all. So this one simple girl…she can mean the end for us. Because the Luxen have an even bigger enemy–the Arum, and I need to stay on my game.

Falling for Katy–a human–won’t just place her in danger. It could get us all killed, and that’s one thing I’ll never let happen…

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This was a nostalgic read. It felt like I was reading ‘Obsidian’ all over again. I enjoyed living in the Daemon-Katy world once more. Plus, I really enjoy Jennifer L. Armentrout’s writing.

Though, there wasn’t anything new brought to the story told from Daemon’s point of view. I would have liked the opportunity to learn more about Luxen history, more about Daemon’s relationships with others of his clan. It was all repetitive. If there hadn’t been so many years between when I had read the debut of this collection, and this read, I may have gotten bored. In fact I did a lot of speed reading because it was all so familiar.

The other thing is that ‘Oblivion’ felt dated. My reading habits have grown and evolved, the market has changed. The old tropes just don’t hook me so much anymore. A brooding, rude, on-again, off-again love interest is more frustrating than titillating. I found myself poking at character behaviour… but at least there was no eye rolling involved.

Oblivion (#1.5 Lux) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

For all of the aspects that detracted from my enjoyment, the nostalgia, great writing, humour, and guilty pleasure all helped keep this novel in the wheelhouse of indulgent fun.

There’s not much I can add to the characters than what has already been said in reviews of the previous books in this collection, so this is a very short review. I’m relieved that Jennifer L Armentrout is moving on from this series, because it was starting to feel like flogging a dead horse.

I am interested in reading ‘Obsession’ a book told from an Arum’s perspective, and there is a new trilogy set in this universe following different characters which I will tackle next. We do get more of Katy and Daemon, but they are not the protagonists. Hopefully this will grow the universe and breathe new life into something that was getting slightly repetitive and drawn out.

Overall feeling: Nostalgia

Oblivion (#1.5 Lux) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Oblivion (#1.5 Lux) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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.

LONERS : themes behind the sci-fi series

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A look behind the curtain into the creative process.

I was asked by a friend last week, when discussing my progress on the science fiction series I’m writing, what the significance of the titles were? So I thought I’d share my answer to the inspiration here as well…

The main novels in this collection all bare names of a deity from ancient Earth mythology. The books themselves do not involve Gods, or their mythology. It’s merely symbolic. Although we could view aliens and their technology as god-like: and that’s as far as the collusion goes.

Each book in this series, with exception of the first (‘Prelude’) follows a theme that the name incites. Asherah in Semitic mythology is the God of the oceans. Or Mother Goddess. She is also purported to be God’s wife. What better idea for the conception for a series of books? So, when Taylor finds herself on a strange planet entirely covered in water, the only human in an alien world, I felt a kinship with the name.

At the beginning of each novel there is also a quote around the mythology of the deity pertaining to the theme of the novel. It’s from some imaginary tome in the LONERS universe. I’m a big fan of literary quotes at the start of books – they help set the tone.

Hestia is the goddess of the home and hearth. Which this next book in the series deals with Taylor surviving on a harsh desert-like planet with three suns. It appears to be inhabited by… something adept in advanced technology. But there’s a heavy theme of surviving in the outback on her quest to get back home with this installment.

Gemini is the most recognisable name, which needs little explanation, as both the stories of Asherah and Hestia collide in an unexpected way.

The final book in the collection (for the time being) is Isimud. Drawn from Sumerian mythology, who is a messenger of sorts, delivering news of consequences to other Gods. Isimud is usually depicted with two faces, one staring into the past, the other into the future. With the nature of space travel and the space-time continuum this deity was the perfect choice for venturing out into space answering a message… but that’s about the most insight you’ll get for this novel 😉 Not about to spoil you on any plot points.

Themes aside, I’m really proud of the mix of adventure and science fiction that follow our protagonist heroine Taylor. Who, after being caught in a weird explosion of light, finds herself having to fight for survival in a myriad of alien situations. A story of hope and humanities will to keep on keeping on.

Taylor is a mix of a nerdy biologist and a girl who loves hiking and the outdoors. She’s going to have to use all her intelligence, wits, and will to make it through another day to survive.

Aiming for a late 2017/early 2018 release date.

LONERS Prelude teaser 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – Invaded by Melissa Landers

Exiled to an alien planet without your Boo…

Invaded Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 356

From Goodreads:

Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life.

The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return? 

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I have been intrigued with this trilogy by Melissa Landers, the first novel ‘Alienated’ was fun and easy to read, though the insta-love and narrative style kept it from a 5 star review. I was hoping ‘Invaded’ would bring something new to the story… and while we got to explore Aelyx’s planet through Cara’s eyes and see if their relationship would survive being apart, this second instalment, although enjoyable failed to surpass my initial opinion and rating.

Not sure what it was that didn’t have me totally invested in our protagonists, Aelyx and Cara. Maybe they were a little too goody-two-shoes and didn’t make mistakes? There was no downfall. We see them go through difficulty, but it felt like neither lost all that much to give them opportunity to grow; and subsequently I wasn’t rooting for either character. They lost the underdog edge. Or a good redemption story. Only a little insecurity made them human (pun intended) with an otherwise cyclone of crap hurled at them. So I guess for me the story is great, but the character development lacking.

There are still some fangirly moments over Aelyx – if you enjoy that sort of thing, but understandably, they are few and far between with our OTP separated for the duration of the novel. The biggest thing I appreciate about Cara is her strength and determination, there is a tenuous line of feminism in her bearing.

Invaded Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The political intrigue grew even stronger and is the best part of this series. Landers really knows how to write tension and collusion in each culture. She also is adept in how many of the secondary cast had separate character arcs.

I really savoured the storyline, it kept me guessing right to the end, and the narrative style is again, easy to read, lending me to complete the novel in a day. But having said that, I didn’t really get into ‘Invaded’ until the last third – a lot of set up for the storyline sapped the pacing. Though it did paint a fantastic landscape for the final instalment of this trilogy.

Which has me looking forward to the last book ‘United’ due for release in August this year. I’m anticipating that the pacing should really be amped up and foreseeing Cara and Aelyx reuniting and facing down their foes.

Overall feeling: cutting and cute.

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Invaded Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle    

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – Translucent by Dan Rix

An alien encounter of a different kind.

 Translucent Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 266

From Goodreads:

When a meteorite falls near her campsite in the San Rafael Wilderness, troubled teen Leona Hewitt ventures down into the crater looking for a souvenir. What she discovers changes her life.

Contained in the meteorite is a sticky, mucous-like fluid that bends light, cannot itself be seen, and seems to grow in the presence of living tissue. It’s drawn to her.

But when a government team arrives in hazmat suits and cordons off the meteorite impact site, Leona questions her decision to take it home with her. For one thing, there are rumors of an extraterrestrial threat.

For another, it has been speaking to her.

It wants to be worn . . . stretched on like a second skin. It’s seeking out her weaknesses, exploiting her deepest fear—that the only boy she’s ever loved will unearth the vile secret in her past and see her as a monster. Now it promises salvation.

It can make her invisible.  

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A great little science fiction read. It starts off cliché, and the protagonist, Leona, annoyed me many times. But the concept of the mythology is very interesting. ‘Translucent’ has been a great introduction into Dan Rix and his writing.

I must admit, the cover is what attracted me to this book – and don’t get confused – there is another novel by Lauren Bird Horowitz with a very similar cover. (Why do publishers do that?) But once I read the blurb, the addition of sci-fi and an alien substance that you can wear –ding- I’m sold and this title was instantly added to my cart for checkout.

Translucent Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleOur protagonist Leona. While I loved reading her story and the narrative style, I did not agree with many of her decisions. I understood her reasoning, but her actions had me shaking my head many times – but hey, it made good reading. We see some kind of arc and character development for her, (and then everything is left up in the air.) Leona, is tormented with guilt. With a fantastic back story which is unravelled throughout the course of the novel, you are able to see this history influencing many of her decisions. Even though she is not my favourite character, she is definitely well written.

Megan (the best friend) felt like my best mate. She embodied all the idiocy that we had in high school. And, while not the voice of reason, was genuinely looking out for both her and Leona. I was a little disappointed that her story line had dropped away towards the end. Without Megan ‘Translucent’ would have been considerably less entertaining.

Emory, Leona’s love interest, felt the least convincing character – I felt there was not a lot that justified his actions. Was he sad? Was he a bad boy? Why was he so predatory with Leona? I wanted more insight into his psyche in order to relate to him. Maybe we’ll get more in the following books, maybe we won’t. But I’m on the fence with Emory.

While there is resolution at the conclusion of ‘Translucent,’ I wanted more of a solid ending (though I do like a good cliff-hanger). There was a bit too much left hanging for me to feel totally satisfied – even if it is the first in a series– it’s the first in a four book series (at the time this review is being published.). It was as successful as many other debut novels. But I nonetheless was hooked, and really enjoyed the experience, devouring the novel in a day. I’m planning on reading ‘Of Starlight’ in the next few weeks and see if Dan Rix is going to hook me as another must have author.

It’s something I would recommend, but don’t expect amazing things; though the whole dark matter-invisibility thing is cool.

Overall feeling: Oooh, that was pretty good.

Translucent Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A steamy beginning to a sultry saga.

Shadows Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 179

From Goodreads:

The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence…and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself. 

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This is the prequel (novella) to the Lux series, dealing mostly with Dawson and Bethany. I felt like it was the best written book I’ve read in the franchise to date.

Shadows Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere wasn’t a saturation of heavy petting, the pace and story line moved along at a great pace throughout.

Plus the bonus of learning about the story arc leading up to where ‘Obsidian‘ kicks off the series is a wonderful addition to the franchise. I’m always down for more Daemon goodness J

There are some ironic nods to what happens in the series to bring a smile to your lips, and I love Armentrout’s style with dialog of the youngsters, her turn of phrase is current and comical in places.

It also sets up Daemon’s attitude towards humans much more effectively than any other book in this series, and I can totally relate to his rude obstinate behaviour towards Kat starting in ‘Obsidian‘ now. So that was a plus to redeem him and his behaviour, because Daemon really fitted into the bad boy trope… at least this is deconstructed a little.

On a side note – Daemon and Dawson in the same room shirtless – it’s just too much!!

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‘Shadows’ brought all the feels, passion, love, fear, determination, frustration, and conflict… everything to make this a stand out tale – a must have for anyone who loves the Lux series. Highly recommended.

Overall feeling: Just brilliant!

Shadows Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Shadows Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.