Book Review – The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

The Queens Army Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 18

From Goodreads:

It is time. The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen’s army. To be chosen is an honor. To decline is impossible. The boy is modified. He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death. He proves to the Queen—and to himself—that he is capable of evil. He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants: the alpha of his pack.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Continuing on with finishing up all the novellas in the Lunar Chronicles, ‘The Queen’s Army’ wasn’t really as satisfying as I expected.

While I enjoyed this story, and it was interesting to get a glimpse into a soldier’s perspective of the Lunar Queen’s armed forces, it did not shed a whole lot of new information about the story or characters. It bridged a little of the gap, but didn’t enhance my experience of the Lunar Chronicles so much.

And it was barely longer than a chapter in its entirety, so there is little to add… it wouldn’t hurt anyone to give this one a miss, but if you are obsessed with the Wolf Pack and its origins, then this is one for you.

Overall feeling: sniff… snuff… sneeze…

The Queens Army Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Queens Army Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – Glitches by Marissa Meyer

Glitches Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 32

From Goodreads:

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch…

Page border by Casey Carlisle

In the lead up to reading ‘Winter’ I wanted to read all of the novellas in the Lunar Universe – ‘Glitches’ is the first of three that have currently been released.

This story provides a look into Cinders childhood, with her step father Garan bringing her home for the first time. It was great to get a glimpse into the family before real hardship was dealt.

Cinder was really a blank slate, Peoney (younger stepsister) was a beautiful accepting and playful child, and Adri (adoptive mother) although held some distaste for Cinder, she had yet to start abusing her. Although not altogether a pretty picture, it was a realistic setting from which to start the downfall leading to the beginning of ‘Cinder.’

This story was also about the birth of Iko (Cinder’s android best friend)… my favourite character in the Lunar Chronicles

It ended on a broken beautiful note and well worth the read – and it’s only 32 pages, so it won’t consume a lot of your time.

A great addition to the Cinder franchise.

Overall feeling: Cool!

Glitches Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Glitches Book Review Pic 03 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 – Cress by Marissa Meyer

Once upon a time… in space…

Cress Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 550

From Goodreads:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Cress’ the next instalment in the Lunar Chronicles adds yet even more interesting characters in the mish-mash of fairy tale re-tellings.

There was more involvement in Cress’ storyline with that of the other characters, which we did not get as much in ‘Scarlet,’ and for that I am greatful. Even though Cress gets her own backstory, it was woven into that of the rest of the main cast of the Lunar Universe from the get-go.

Cress Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleCress is a different type of heroine – where Cinder and Scarlet are physical and strong willed, Cress is intelligent, idealistic, but fragile. She plays to her strengths, yet the motivation of all three protagonists remains the same: freedom.

We see all of the assumptions Cress has made of the world outside her single room satellite challenged – there is only so much information you can glean from on-screen dramas. And in fact she chooses to play pretend to deal with the real-world shock of it all, continually repeating to herself she is an actress when plunged into the unfamiliar.

Again, I loved the inclusion of Iko and her comedic timing, and we see elements of this type innocent blundering in Cress, which I feel helped round out this series and inject some much needed light-hearted banter to break up the action and espionage. After all, the world our three protagonists face is bleak; and you need a sense of humour to stop going insane.

With Cress being so young and isolated, the narrative is much more ‘girly’ than we got in the previous editions, and I must say, an enjoyable change. Because of this, and so many elements/story arcs happening the pacing is engaging – and for such a lump of a book (552 pages) – a great feat.

Some of my friends felt ‘Scarlet’ was a little clunky and slow, and ‘Cress’ definitely lives up the standards set in ‘Cinder.’ The main plot points are predictable – I mean we all know how the fairy tale goes. But besides that, much of this book is setting up events for the three characters to deal with an almighty war with Queen Levana in ‘Winter’ due out next month (November).

I have to commend this series for its sheer imagination and the ability to breathe new life into old characters and to then weave so many different fables into one massive overarching plot… I take my hat off to you Marissa Meyer, it is a truly outstanding achievement.

Definitely glad I caught up with this series before ‘Winter’s’ release and can’t wait to indulge over the Christmas break!

Overall feeling: You go girl!

Cress Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Cress Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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 – Fairest by Marissa Meyer

The B!tch is Back!

fairest 01Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure

No. of pages: 220

From Goodreads:

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

The origin story of Queen Levana – you may end up feeling a little compassionate for her… but not for long

I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” a quote from Who Framed Roger Rabbit springs to mind when I think of Queen Levana, knowing that nobody starts out bad, they usually are shaped through events. In other cases, some are born with a little evil and embrace the darkness within until consumes them. You’ll have to make up your own mind which category Levana falls into.

Fairest 02Marissa managed to write a great story with the same magical tone of Cinder. New surprises are uncovered, the world/moon is explored a little more, everything moving to enrich the Lunar Chronicles Universe. Ultimately building an antagonist more terrifying than any Disney baddie.

The prose is easy to read and fierce on pace, it’s definitely a book you can blaze through in one sitting. It doesn’t double dip either. I could see how some topics could have been a big trap, like the virus, or the genetic hybrids – but seeing how they were major plot points in other novels, they were merely mentioned in passing… which is fantastic because my interest would had wavered if suffering repeat information.

There is not much else to say – it was a fun read, and definitely fuelled my intense dislike for the Lunar Queen – in a good way. So I highly recommend you add this title to your collection if you are a Cinder fan!

Overall feeling: I wanna punch that witch in the face – so strong feels!

     Fairest 03

Fairest 05

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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 – Scarlet

Scarlet Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling instalment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. 


Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

 Page border by Casey Carlisle

 Scarlet was highly anticipated and had some big britches to fill after the amount of enjoyment I got out of reading Cinder – and it did not disappoint.

Even though we are introduced to new characters, primarily Scarlet, the storyline also picked up Cinder’s story and wove the two of them together expertly.

Again, as it is based on a fairytale, (Red Riding Hood) there is an amount of predictability to the plot; but yet I was still surprised and delighted at this adaptation and what eventuated in the pages of Marissa Meyer’s second instalment of the Luna Chronicles.

Scarlet Book Review pic 01 by Casey CarlisleScarlet is a great main character, a strong female who can hold her own. She differs from Cinder where she is a little more naive and relies on the help and guidance of her new companion, Wolf. The way aspects of the original fable are brought to life in this science fiction epic are masterful. Scarlet is a girl made through hard yakka and poverty. Intelligent enough to run her own business, but still sheltered: yes her character mirrors Cinder a little, but they shine as distinct separate women. Plus it was great to see the characters from the first and second books interact with Scarlet. The only negative I can mention about this novel, is that I felt that we didn’t get to know Scarlet as well as we did Cinder in the first book – much of this instalment dealt with events around Scarlet, rather than getting to know her as a character. But still very entertaining and totally had me fangirling!

Red Rain Review Pic 2 by Casey Carlisle

Marissa’s writing style is effortless, and at times satirical, to ensure Scarlet is a quick and eloquent read. I did miss the comic relief that was present in Cinder, in the form of Iko… but our little robot friend jumped back into the story later in the novel. But as my favourite character, I would have loved to read more of Iko’s jarring and funny dialogue.

This has been one of my most enjoyed reads (and series) in the past year, so it will remain in my top ten recommendations. Will be jumping into the next in the series, Cress, in the month to come…

Scarlet Book Review pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.

Top Ten Reads for 2014

Top Ten reads of 2014 by Casey Carlisle

Out of all the novels I’ve read (and reviewed) this year, I thought I’d list my top ten and why they tickled my chicken…

 

The Fault in Our Stars Title by Casey Carlisle

 

This book completely destroyed me. I mean messed me up. It was really beautiful… and sad. But I loved it and it is my top pick for this year. The fact I’ve had my own battle with cancer (twice) it really struck a cord within me… but I’m still waiting to meet my Augustus.

 

Anna Dressed in Blood Title by Casey Carlisle

A great mix of horror, dark humor and ghost slaying. With some witty banter and not-so-cookie-cutout characters, I was really impressed. It took me back to my Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. Can’t wait to see what the movie is going to turn out.

 

Cinder Title by Casey Carlisle

A surprising take on the classic fairy tale. Usually this type of book is not one I’d pick up, but given the science fiction twist I was curious. And then fell in love. A cyborg, Moon people, a prince and a robot bestie, what’s not to like?

 

Hyperbole and a Half Title by Casey Carlisle

I squirted tea out of my nose reading this – so fair warning, don’t eat or drink while reading Allie Brosh’s novel, you’ll laugh a lot. And loudly. I definitely got a great ab workout. I was even surprised at how much expression was conveyed in the child-like graphics accompanying her stories. Brilliant.

 

Beautiful Creatures Title by Casey Carlisle

So the movie inspired me to start reading this series, and I was not disappointed. The language itself is worth reading for, even if you aren’t interested in the story. I was in awe at the lyrical tone in the narration. The charm of the South oozes from the page really placing you in the bayou and battlefields.

 

Eleanor and Park Title by Casey Carlisle

This was my childhood – growing up in the 80’s I loved all the pop culture references and the quirks of the characters. The story is unassuming, yet packs a beautiful punch.

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Casey Carlisle

Mysterious. I loved how this book built up a story without delivering a punch line. The language is beautiful and builds slowly easily dragging you into Mara’s world.

 

Obsidian by Casey Carlisle

I really loved this. Although I don’t like chauvinistic characters, the love story sizzles on the page. It has elements of Roswell and I Am Number Four. A guilty pleasure that I am looking forward to continuing with the series.

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Title by Casey Carlisle

The first book I’d read of Green and Levithan, and enjoy the satire and metaphor embedded in the text. They manage to slowly peel back the layers of their characters to reveal someone completely different by the end. Plenty of witty banter and colourful characters.

 

Flat Out Love Title by Casey Carlisle

A pleasant romantic read with a touch of mystery solving. The main reason for loving this book is the research that went behind it – Park really knew her characters and their motivations. A prime example of character driven plot. Celeste had me rolling on the floor with her blunt one liners.

 

What books made your top ten? Tell me what your favourite read for 2014 is.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. 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 – Faerie Tale

Faerie Tale Book Review Cover by Casey CarlisleGoodreads:

Successful screenwriter Phil Hastings decides to move his family from sunny California to a ramshackle farmhouse in New York State. The idea is to take some time out, relax and pick up the threads of his career as a novelist. Good plan, bad choice. The place they choose is surrounded by ancient woodland. The house they choose is the centrepoint of a centuries-old evil intent on making its presence felt to intruders.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

What an amazing world Raymond E. Feist paints, melodic, mysterious and enrapturing.

For some reason this book reminded me of ‘Pet Cemetery’ by Stephen King, moving to a small town, curious children exploring the woods about the house and getting into trouble, ominous scariness lurking… you get the picture.

Source: deviant art - dragoroth

Source: deviant art – dragoroth

This was the first book into the world of Raymond E. Fiest for me, and I have to say, he has a vivid and unabashed style. It may get over-descriptive at times, but I was never bored or skipping pages ahead. ‘Faerie Tale’ is sufficiently spooky and disturbing in parts, and magic and fantastical in others. It still stands the test of time, holding it’s own despite being written over twenty years ago. This is no childhood story re-telling as of the likes of ‘Cinder,’ or ‘Beastly,’ Feist has created his own story based in mythology and cultural history.

I am not one to get overly terrorised by scary books – it takes a lot to get me worrying what’s under the bed or tapping at the window – usually having something to do with the unknown, believability and a great build up in the mythology or world building: and ‘Faerie Tale’ has it. Many nights I had my legs neatly tucked safely under me, away from hooked claws and chitinous legs which may lie waiting in the shadows. The pacing is a little slow, given Feist’s over-descriptive manner, but he builds great suspense. The novel can get a little graphic too: so be prepared to get uncomfortable or grossed out. Additionally, given the slower tenor to the story, the ending did feel abrupt in comparison, but well executed.

The family on which this tale is centred, The Hastings, are slightly stereotypical, but have their own flaws and quirks so they feel real and flesh out the story. The Father, Phil’s reactions to the events that take place in the novel are realistic and add legitimacy to the fantasy, which is needed to juxtapose the experiences of his twin boys, Sean and Patrick. Without giving away the plot, you see a great deal of loyalty and family bonds being tested, which is a great change from rescuing damsels in distress 😉

With more than one Antagonist, the main being Erl King, a nasty faerie leader, who is conniving and terrifying, really makes you fear the dark places. He is supported by the Magi – a human sect intent on aiding the Kings desires. They all weave a bloodcurdling and thrilling ride for the Hastings family.

Source: tumblr a-touch-of-magic

Source: tumblr a-touch-of-magic

A pleasant break from the recently released spate of Young Adult reads, I’d definitely recommend ‘Faerie Tale’ for those who love great escapist novels that buck the trend of star-crossed lovers.

Faerie Tale Book Review  Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

 Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle  

© Casey Carlisle 2014. 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 – Cinder

Cinder Book Cover for Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle, and forbidden attraction, Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This book was a big surprise for me. Fairytale re-tellings are not my cup of tea. Too many times they feel lack-luster and over-done. Occasionally, they blow your expectations out of the water: and ‘Cinder’ definitely did that for me. Throw in a science fiction element and you have my attention. Marissa Meyer writes in a beautiful yet succinct style, leaving your imagination to paint the picture of Cinder’s world. Many authors tackling a fairytale adaptation tend to be flamboyant, or over-descriptive, dragging you attention away from the story – or start to bore you. But this read was perfect.

Was the plot predictable?  Well, duh! We all know the story of Cinderella, yet given this, Marissa weaves a uniquely captivating story; and I only put the book down reluctantly for trivial things like food and sleep.

The biggest issue I had with the novel, and it’s miniscule given how much I enjoyed reading it, was a tendency to a little bit of information dumping (which in common in sci-fi), and I felt it would have leant great credence to the story having Cinder discover some of it on her own. She was such a strong independent character, her uncovering certain facts would have enhanced the story and her role in it. Besides that tiny point, I love, love, loved this book.

Cinder Book Review pic 2 by Casey CarlisleYou can expect a certain amount of spooniness with this story – Cinderella loses a shoe, so Cinder, in turn loses her cyborg foot… but it was handled beautifully. You could really feel Cinder’s struggle and oppression – several times I had to bite my tongue from vocalising my distaste at how she was being treated.

Every character had their own motivation, their own personality and I have to praise the author at the intricate web she wove across with futuristic landscape. The added touch of aliens (Lunar people) to the mix of class structure, cyborgs, virus plague, robots, and a hint of paranormal powers; it ticks all the boxes to keep my up at night to ‘just finish this chapter… and the next one… and maybe one more.’

There are certainly some fantastic plot twists to Marissa Meyers first instalment to this series; and the story does not really conclude, as it is continued in ‘Scarlet’ (a Red Riding Hood adaptation) which I am poised to read with much excitement. Yes, the Cinderella story is concluded, but the Cinder storyline is only just beginning…

Cinder Book Review by Casey Carlisle

    Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. 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.