Book Review – ‘The Merciless III : The Origins of Evil’ (#3 The Merciless) by Danielle Vega

Going back to the beginning…

The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror, Paranormal

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

Brooklyn knows that there’s no good without evil, no right without wrong. And when a helpless girl calls her teen helpline, whispering that someone is hurting her, Brooklyn knows that she needs to save her anonymous caller, even if it means doing something bad.

Her parents and friends assure her the call was probably a prank but Brooklyn has always had a tendency to take over, whether someone has asked for help or not.

She discovers the call came from Christ First Church and finds herself plunged into the cultish community of its youth group. She’s especially drawn to Gavin, the angelic yet tortured pastor’s son.

Torn between an unstoppable attraction to Gavin and her obsession with the truth, Brooklyn is forced to make a devastating choice to rid Christ Church of evil once and for all. . . . But the devil has plans for Brooklyn’s soul.  

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This is a prelude to the first two novels following the story of a new protagonist, Brooklyn, leading right up to the events in the debut novel. It has all the uncertainty that I find Danielle Vega does so well in her writing. You want gore – you got it. And again, ‘The Merciless III’ is a quick punchy read that you can visualise as a movie.

I loved following Brooklyn’s transformation, the increments that lead her from each action, escalating as the plot evolves. You are always questioning. Is this mental illness or different shades of crazy? Is this Evil? But it is all based in reality and justifiable, so it’s a grey area. The special effects (so to speak) are straight out of a Hollywood Blockbuster and I loved the descriptions of the evil Brooklyn faces. She is gritty with a rebellious streak, determined not to become a sheep or a clone like the popular girls, sans Mean Girls.

I’m on the fence about the rest of the characters in this novel, only because I found it all a tiny unsettling. You were either getting a culty-religious-zealot vibe, or possibly-possessed-by-a-demon vibe, so it was hard to relate to, or sympathise with the cast. But those elements helped in constructing Riley as a goody-two-shoes judgemental antagonist and leader of the popular girl gang.

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There is a bit of two guys fighting over Brooklyn’s affections. Gavin, the pastor’s son: angelic and tortured. And then there’s Elijah, the laid back dude. But there’s not instalove or anything, just like and lust, so it does not read as a love triangle.

The story is predictable – I mean it’s a prequel to the first two books, so you know in which direction it’s heading, but boy oh boy if it doesn’t still throw a cat at your face. I still get shocked at the *cough-torture-porn-cough* and it is still a fast paced read. It has got me even all the more excited to get to the fourth and final book for the series. At this point I don’t know how any of the characters are going to end up surviving. Maybe they’ll all take a big dirt nap in Hell? Who knows?

I’m really loving Danielle Vega’s writing style. She can throw misdirection and doubt like a master, her characters aren’t so cookie-cutter typical either, and most always have a hidden past that is intriguing. It’s fast-paced, interesting and very teen slasher movie. Another definite recommend from me for a light YA horror which is an easy read.

There was some disorientation upon first reading as I went into this novel without any prior knowledge – eager to continue in Sofia’s journey – and felt a little confronted by a different perspective and new characters. But I quickly got over myself when I worked out what was going on.

Overall feeling: Keeping the creep factor alive since 2014.

The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

 The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) 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 – ‘Goodbye Paradise’ by Sarina Bowen

It felt like that inappropriate conversation you had at your last dinner party.

Godbye Paradise Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Contemporary, Romance, GLBT

No. of pages: 266

From Goodreads:

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world. 

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves. 

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires. 

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels? 

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This book was difficult and uncomfortable for me. Which feels hard to say because the narrative style and writing was quite pleasant. My discomfort came from the subject matter – a polygamy cult. Most of the time, anything I’ve read with a strong religious element is written so badly, and the prejudices that go along with their belief systems really gets my shackles up – so much that I usually toss (or throw) the book aside in frustration. But my biggest issue with ‘Goodbye Paradise’ was plausibility.

There were so many issues with poorly researched facts that I was grating my teeth through the entire novel. Men at the age of twenty, with a third grade education, isolated from the outside world would have a vastly different mindset to those of Caleb and Joshua. The lexicon they used was way off base. So too were a lot of their behaviours. The structure of the cult was on point, but the psychological ramifications of growing up in that environment were for the most part, completely ignored. Let alone introducing characters struggling with their sexual identity. In reality they would be seriously messed up.

Caleb and Joshua seemed to have everything so easy given their circumstances. So many missed opportunities to develop the characters and have them connect through these difficulties. I mean, the angst could have been off the charts. Instead, there was some fascination (in secret) followed by full on man-groping sex. The way it was written and presented made me lose all interest in seeing this couple together in an intimate way whatsoever. The language was rough and confronting. No romance. Though there were some occasional cuddly moments afterwards… but all that does not a memorable romance make.

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Another pet hate – especially in romance novels with erotic content, is partners calling each other ‘baby.’ It’s just a thing which is a personal trigger of gagging noises… so it was just another thing working against me liking ‘Goodbye Paradise.’

Caleb and Joshua didn’t even have troubles to overcome in the real world all too much. Not over having grown up in a cult, not over having practically no education, and not over their self-tortured homosexuality. Even their attraction with each other was met with little self-flagellation.

I picked this book up after a rave review from a book reviewer I follow, and even after I bought it and read the blurb warning lights went off *trigger warning* this sounds like religious zealots, oppressed homosexuality and explicit sex scenes. This trope has been overdone. A little. But on the faith of a fellow lover of this genre I dived in. It’s a short book anyway, so it wouldn’t take up too much of my time.

The sex scenes did not feel titillating at all. It was all swearing and wham-bam-thank-you-man. Little build up, practically zero foreplay, a brief description of all the important bits, then a short dalliance in the afterglow. For a couple of bible bashed repressed young men, it felt totally out of character. I like my sex scenes to mean something to the plot, and to the characters. I need an emotional connection to find the scene rich and engrossing. Otherwise it comes off as insincere and smutty. ‘Goodbye Paradise’ was just on the wrong side of the line between the two.

So, I couldn’t get past the plausibility of the story to enjoy much else. Salina’s writing is lovely, but am hesitant to try any other one of her titles given the lack of character development, build-up of tension, and the abrupt, couth sex scenes. I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone – there are so many better written novellas out there. Maybe I’d revisit this author again after she has cut her teeth on many more releases.

I didn’t get the complexity of plot or storyline either that I was hoping for – the blurb of the novel just about summarises the entire book. This was highly predictable with no surprises.

The last 20% of the book was fantastic – the pacing spot on, the plot twist and tension practically created a mini novel within this one. This last section is ‘Goodbye Paradise’s’ saving grace. I’d love to rate it higher, but looking at it as a whole, and what is already on the market, I’m sticking to my guns.

One little factoid – Sarina had previously released this book in 2015 under the pen name Nealy Wagner and it was titled ‘In Front of God and Everyone.’

Overall feeling: I wanted to love this, but I just can’t

Goodbye Paradise Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Goodbye Paradise Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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

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I really liked the end line of this quote – it resonated with me. It led me to belief of how some people do everything to survive. To live. No matter the discrimination and challenges they face.

It gives me courage.

Book Review – ‘Black’ by Fleur Ferris

People can be scary, and the past can be even scarier…

black-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Mystery

No. of pages: 276

From Goodreads:

Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too. 

Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed.

Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way.

But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge.

If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?

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I’d seen ‘Black’ pop up on my recommendations a number of times, and had some fellow book bloggers also gently nudged me to pick up this title. I’m really glad I did. It’s great to add a title from an Australian author, and I had a blast reading it. ‘Black’ has moments of suspense, but wasn’t a compulsive page-turner, though, engaging enough for me to complete in a few sittings.

Ebony ‘Black’ Marshall is an intelligent, gutsy protagonist. I found her engaging and interesting to read. Not a loner, or warrior-heroine, she’s just a girl going about her own business, trying to get through high school, and ignore vindictive gossip.

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I liked her moxy. She thinks things out for herself. Investigates. And doesn’t need to be mooning over a guy to make her life worth anything. The backdrop of the National Park and Water reservoirs added a point of difference for me. Black wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get dirty.

I had guessed most of the plot early on, however, I got few surprises, but still enjoyed the book despite the predictability. Fleur has a unique narrative style that feels everyday Australian. After so many American authors, I felt relaxed and the writing style resonated with me. It really did feel like home. As though no-one was pretending to be someone they are not.

This is a well-paced mystery. I liked the elements around Black’s past and gave me a shiver or two. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves YA mystery. While it didn’t blow me out of the water, it has a unique style that is very appealing.

Overall feeling: Sensational ‘Straya

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.

Film vs Novel – The Body Snatchers

The alien threat that started a sci-fi movement…

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The Body Snatchers’ has stood the test of time, from being written in 1955, it still managed to draw me in with its creepiness. And as evident, has inspired many screen adaptations, tapping into the audiences paranoia and wonder at the unknown.

The Body Snatchers Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGiven the different era where the novel takes place, I found I was noticing how many of the characters smoke, and how our protagonist, Miles Bennell was the hero for the love interest Becky Driscoll. While Becky did have moments of her own heroism, she was still, at most times a silent companion and willingly followed Miles’ instructions. Much of that machismo is slowly deconstructed through its various incarnations, with a female lead in over half of the adaptations.

I loved the scientific explanations and long expository paragraphs of the state of affairs in the original manuscript – they reminded me of recordings of radio broadcasts of the 1950’s I listened to as a child in my grandparents lounge room. I could hear the accents and intonation where they sounded ‘proper’ and knowledgeable. It added an old-timey ambience to the story. A respectful gentleness that is absent from much of today’s new fiction. This esteem of knowing gets lost in many of the screen adaptations, apart from the earliest version. The later versions become more sensationalised and heavy on special effects, losing some of the core tension of the original story. Though the latest Nicole Kidman version does try to make a return. Labels as a bit of a box office flop, it was one of my favourite released of that year.

There is a strong sense of the paranoia of the time (in the 1950’s) of the novel, when the country was at war against communism, ‘The Body Snatches,’ taps into that fear to build a scenario where the people you know and love are not what they seem, where your home has suddenly found itself in the grips of an invasion. I’m greatful to say that this theme carries through all incarnations, whether it be sci-fi, horror, or suspense.

While this novel isn’t particularly scary, or alarming, it does possess an aura of the unsettling. An unassuming tension which resonates with the reader long after the book has been returned to the shelf. And I really wish that embodiment had translated to the screen – I think the closest it came was with the tv series ‘Invasion’ starring Eddie Cibrian. I’d discovered this series after it had been cancelled and loved their take on the franchise. Sad to have it canned after just one season.

I have seen all the movie and television adaptations, being the big sci-fi geek girl I am. ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ is one of my cult faves. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read the original script that kicked off this movement. I guess I was scared I’d be underwhelmed. But thankfully not. I really enjoyed this origin that has spurned so many re-inventions. Though, I must say none of those actually mirrored the story completely, and all had different twists and endings. So, while you will already know the premise of the story, there is still an element of surprise with this debut.

For lovers of the classics, old fashioned values, cult followers, and anyone in between, I highly recommend you give the novel a go. Just to see what happens. It has stood the test of time for a reason. Some of the screen adaptations – well, let’s just say they tried. And for the time in which they were released, pretty good. But now I have to try and stop laughing in some, as the over acting and special effects just about do me in. But it’s all in good fun!

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 – Sweep – Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan

Abracus Boringus!

Sweep Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Occult

No. of pages: 176

From Goodreads:

Something is happening to me that I don’t understand.

I see things, feel things in a new way. I can do things normal people can’t do. Powerful things. Magickal things. It scares me.

I never chose to learn witchcraft. But I’m starting to wonder if witchcraft is choosing me.

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Sweep isn’t the type of novel I’d usually pick up, but after enjoying Beautiful Creatures so much and a recommendation from a fellow book reviewer, I jumped in with little expectation…

I can’t really list anything that I felt redeemed this book, and consequently am abandoning the series. This felt more like a ‘How-to’ manual rather than a story. Hardly any character development, no tension, and I found it difficult to ascertain what the book was about other than a girl who willingly joins a cult – a morbid description, but that was the impression I got after reading.

There was little done to build a captivating world, and any mystery about the world of the occult omitted from the story. For all intents and purposed I really felt like I was reading a recipe book.

Its only godsend was that it was a short book, easy enough to read and I didn’t waste too much of my time in reader’s agony.

Overall feeling: What a load of…

Sweep Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Sweep Book Review Pic 03 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.