Book Review – ‘The Summer It Came For Us’ by Dan Rix

A car crash… your friends disappear… and something invisible is stalking you…

The Summer It Came For Us Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 378

From Goodreads:

No one believes Remi’s account of the night Vincent disappeared. 

How the night sky lit up like day, how they lost control of the car and crashed into a ravine, how she remembers seeing a nine-foot-tall man—and how when she woke up the next morning, the only thing left of her best friend were his footprints, fleeing off into the dark woods only to come to an end, inexplicably, in the middle of a clearing. 

If the urban legends are to be believed, he’s been swallowed by an ancient, nameless evil. 

And she’s next. 

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This has to be my most favoured book from Dan Rix so far! ‘The Summer It Came For Us’ starts off with a bang and never lets up.

The characters are nuanced and typically YA – but not in an annoying way. I’ve found many of Rix’s characters can get on my nerves, but in ‘The Summer It Came For Us’ the cast were realistic, relatable, and often comical.

Protagonist Remi was like every horror movie heroine. Sufficiently girlie, stubborn, and has some guts; empathic and curious. I enjoyed her journey of self-discovery the most. Though she was a strong character, there was still something forgettable – or I should say, typical about her. I think because there is so much action, and running, that we don’t get to see her personality develop outside the immediate threat. Maybe a few scenes alluding to her past could have fleshed out her character a bit more, made her more memorable. But that is me being nit-picky. Remi is interesting, sensible, intelligent, and not afraid to stand up when it really counts.

The Summer It Came For Us Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleLove interest Malcolm – we see him set up as a bit of a dick. And at first I was really confused why he deserved that wrap. And after finishing the novel, I’m still perplexed. He did not exhibit any of the phallic behaviour that we’d expect. I’m putting it down to him having a home life of a drug addicted mother and an alcoholic father: everyone just assumed he was bad news. Yes, he was guarded and stoic – but wouldn’t you be if you grew up in that environment? It was some great misdirection. Though I would have liked his undeserved reputation established a bit more solidly in the beginning to really drive home his character arc.

Vincent, Remi’s little brother’s best friend (and person of colour) is the most endearing character. A true innocent victim of circumstance. He seems to be the object around which all the other characters revolve – even if they don’t notice it.

Zoe. Insert any blonde haired best friend here. Hysterical. Screaming and running. The kind of chick that gets bumped off early in any horror movie. Though she was supportive, I was hoping she would lend more to the storyline than a potential victim.

The final character to round out this gang of bumbling teens is Jace, who wraps up every teen boy I went to high school with. A loud annoying prankster. Doesn’t listen to anyone. Again. Like with Zoe, I kind of wanted him to contribute more towards the plot. Give some insight or expose a plot point. It’s not that I don’t like either of these characters, just that I didn’t want them to be so generic. *spoiler* because when it appears we lost them I was not affected emotionally *end spoiler*

I pretty much guessed the science behind the story within the first three chapters – and that hypothesis was confirmed more and more as clues were dropped. The only thing that was threw me was the Glipper… I mean WTF was that. It was a bit of paranormal, a bit of mystic, a bit of alien added into the theoretical science of it all. While part of me feels like it shouldn’t have been there, that it didn’t make sense; another part loved the monster concept, and a voice in the back of my head saying aliens, or alien technology could look like magic to us. So, although the Glipper is not fully explained, I enjoyed its part in the story and loved the tension it played on our cast.

There is a clear evolution in Rix’s writing he is definitely getting better with each novel. The pacing and tension are so much tighter than I’ve experienced from his previous works. The writing style is light and quick to read. I’d love to see him start to bring in some more complexity in word usage – he’s drawing on some pretty variegated scientific theories, and I’d love to see some of that cerebral matter transpose into the narrative. Maybe if the protagonists weren’t always young adults we’d see a much different tone? That is a book I’d love to read.

Completed in a day and something I’d happily recommend to YA lovers, or those looking for a light sci-fi thriller.

Overall feeling: Go you good thing!

The Summer It Came For Us Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Summer It Came For Us Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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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A fun standalone – a mix between science fiction, thriller, and paranormal. So far all of Dan Rix novels have been quick interesting reads. He’s co-authored a series with his wife Laura Thalassa which I’m eyeing off next.

Book Review – ‘Demon in Sight’ (#6 Translucent) by Dan Rix

 The saga of Leona and her discovery of dark matter and alien beings draws to an epic climax.

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

It’s like somebody hit the pause button for the entire planet.

Earth’s streets are jammed with motionless cars, their still-warm occupants slumped over the steering wheels, bodies paused mid-breath. They have no pulse.

The sun has winked out, plunging the globe into permanent darkness. Fire no longer burns. Electronics sputter and die, inexplicably drained of charge. The whole world, and all seven billion inhabitants, are in suspended animation.

But three people are awake. 

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Demon in Sight’ was a well anticipated read. Having to wait over a year for it to be released in paperback after the e-book publication date, and having enjoyed the previous five novels in the series, there were a lot of expectations wrapped up in this finale. It stayed true to the tone and writing style we’ve come to expect from Dan Rix and the protagonist, Leona.

I had been hoping for a little more seriousness and maturity from Leona herself. But she still had her moments of idiocy and stubbornness. Personally it was a little infuriating, but she has been this way all along, so why did I expect some miraculous transformation I don’t know. Characters aside, the plot itself is pretty amazing Rix has a way of letting things go wrong for his protagonists and there is a very organic feel to how they react and find solutions to overcome roadblocks.

Demon in Sight’ is another quick engaging read. There is plenty of mind-bending action and science fiction theory to warp your mind. I love his concepts. I will say there was a something about the writing style of this finale that felt a little flat: maybe it was my feelings at Leona slipping back into her behavioural patterns from earlier in the series, that immaturity; or the sudden soppiness between her and love interest Emory. The angst was gone. Something just wasn’t grabbing me as much as before. It feels all very ‘teen drama.’

That aside, the action and adventure aspect to this series, and indeed this finale is cool beyond measure. I was enthralled by those climactic scenes and this is definitely the novels stand out feature. The tension and challenges Rix weaves into the narrative is what I will keep coming back for.

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Leona definitely has a unique style of facing challenges – which I found to be an admirable trait, but that remaining thread of jealousy and reactionary impulses held me back from truly loving her. Emory morphed in this final book to become a true, if not, somewhat overly sappy romantic lead. I felt like he needed to be in more of the action, show more physical prowess, and challenge Leona for control a bit more. The best friend, Megan, took a back seat for most of this novel. I could usually count on her for some hilarious one liners, or leading Leona astray, but there was very little Megan for those moments to break the tension. Fellow cast mates, Sarah and Natasha instead have their time to shine. Providing maturity and level-headedness for the team they helped form in saving the world. I really appreciated having them so prominent in ‘Demon in Sight’ and found a small amount of disappointment at the series ending and not having to get to spend more time with them.

The Translucent series is definitely bang on the money for a YA science fiction read – skewed more for a younger market in tone, but definitely interspersed with some adult content. I’d either like to have seen more mature protagonists, or have the adult content removed to give this series a better chance at being marketed to the best demographic. Rix is certainly a fantastic writer, and I enjoy his novels, but there needs to be just one level up on the editing/publishing end of his process. I’ve found an occasional spelling or grammatical error and some issue with the formatting or presentation of the physical book. ‘Demon in Sight’ was superior in this aspect of the series. But I feel with this small attention to detail, it will give him an even more professional edge.

I’m certainly eyeing off another series to jump into next, and with Rix being such a prolific author there is definitely plenty to choose from.

Overall feeling: Bittersweet goodbye

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

Still Slaying that Series…

In February of 2016 I started a quest to complete all of the series that I had begun (slay that series,) but had yet to finish. I knew I wouldn’t get it all read in that year, so let’s check in to see where I’m at now…
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Of the 18 series I listed last year, I completed 9 – so half way. Not bad. I probably would have read more, but kept getting distracted by new releases. Plus, I tend to not enjoy marathoning books so much, I like variety. Also if you read many series end to end, some details start to feel repetitive as the author usually has to re-introduce you to the world, or summarise the story so far with each instalment of the collection.

But my TBR for slaying that series has also grown. Books which I thought were standalones have turned into many more. And sometimes I could not resist picking up another novel which is a start of another collection… glutton for punishment anyone?

Now my new ‘slay that series’ tally stands at 19. How sad to feel I’ve made no progress staring at that number. But going back I have completed 11 series that weren’t included in this read-a-thon I’d set myself over the year.

So here’s where I’m at (in no particular order):

The Lunar Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Lunar Chronicles by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I kind of stalled with this series, I don’t mind fairytale re-tellings or science fiction, I think after a break away I’ll polish them off in quick succession.

Shadowhunter Universe:

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Slay that Series The Infernal Devices by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Bane Chronicles by Casey Carlisle Slay that Series Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Dark Artifices by Casey Carlisle

It’s like when your at a candy store and there’s so many yummy choices that you end up catatonic. Must. Read. So. Good.  I really want to marathon the rest of this series, and I know there will be more to add to my collection, but I’m not letting myself buy any more Shadowhunter goodness until I read the rest of these.

Darkest Minds Trilogy (and Novellas):

Slay that Series Darkest Minds Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Again, another crowd favourite that failed to impress me. An average sort of read, though I’ve only read the first novel, there is plenty left in the series to blow my britches – fingers crossed! Plus with a screen adaptation on it’s way I want to finish off this trilogy before viewing.

The Caster Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Caster Chronicles by Casey Carlisle

I absolutely adored the debut novel, but held off after reading bad reviews for the subsequent installments, but I’m getting that itch again. Maybe I should stop looking novels up on Goodreads and just enjoy the experience as I turn the page – let the words cast their own spell on me… (see what I did there?) Plus there hasn’t been a witchy read in by reading list for years.

Unwind Dystology:

Slay that Series Unwind Dystology by Casey Carlisle

Teens for spare body parts – love it! We were just on the verge of rebellion in the first novel, so I really want to get back into this series. I don’t even remember why I stopped.

Lux Universe:

Slay that Series Lux Universe by Casey Carlisle

Ahh, hot glowy aliens… need I say more? A guilty pleasure with angst, heavy petting, and high school. With two more books just added to my collection I need to get on to it! There are lots of other Jennifer L. Armentrout series waiting for me to sink my teeth into next.

Translucent series:

Slay that Series Translucent Series by Casey Carlisle

A new series I recently got into. Easy, fast sci-fi reads. Invisibility and dark matter. Not the best written series, but a great way to spend an afternoon. I can’t wait to see what Dan Rix will do with these girls… but the final book was published in e-book form over a year ago and I’m still waiting for it to be released in paperback form to complete my collection – so frustrating! Get a move on Mr Rix!!

Deathworks Series:

Slay that Series Deathworks series by Casey Carlisle

A Grim Reaper. A multi-national company of Grim Reapers! And it’s set right here in Brisbane, Australia! Such a great seires by some local talent, took me ages to track down the rest of Trent Jamieson’s books, but now I have them in my hot little hands.. mwah ha ha! (that was my maniacal laugh btw.)

Under The Never Sky Trilogy:

Slay that Series Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

While I haven’t been all that impressed with this trilogy, there is only one novel left – and it’s typically the best one. Looking forward to putting this series behind me.

Fetch Series:

Slay that Series Fetch Series by Casey Carlisle

The second of this series is yet to be released, but I had fun reading about this dystopian world. Not sure if it will remain a duology, or continue expanding, but its fun light reading. And dystopians always remind me of my highschool days for some reason :/

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Collection:

Slay that Series Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children by Casey Carlisle

Heard lots of great things. I was so-so on the first book, but love the mythology. Really keen to see where Ransom Riggs will take as.

The Lady Janies Trilogy:

Slay that Series My Lady Janies Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Scarcasm and hilarity in this historical fiction fancy. Can’t wait to see what they do with other Jane’s from the past. Eagerly waiting for the relese dates to complete the trilogy.

Elemental Series:

Slay that Series Elements Series by Casey Carlisle

Picked up the first book on a whim and sped through it. Along the lines of Jennifer L. Armentroug’s Lux series. A guilty pleasure paranormal romance full of tropes and hot boys. Nice to break up the more heavier reading content.

Red Rising Trilogy:

Slay that Series Red Rising Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Struggling with the writing style of this series, but with only one book to go am determined to finish. Then I’ll decide whether I want to attack Pierce Browns new Iron Gold trilogy in the Red Rising Universe set to start releasing in 2018.

Between the Lines Duology:

Slay that Series Between the Lines Duology by Casey Carlisle

An interesting contemporary, and am curious to see where the story does in the last part of the duology. Fictional characters coming to life – yes please!

Red Queen Collection:

Slay that Series Red Queen Collection by Casey Carlisle

I’m having a love/hate relationship with this series, sometimes I am raving about it, sometimes a bit meh! But just have to wait for one more release in 2018 and we can call it quits. Plus I’d like to see what Victoria Aveyard will write after this series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy:

Slay that Series A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Really enjoyed the first book, the second I struggled with a bit, but am expecting an explosive thrid installment in true Sarah J Mass Style. I thought it was only going to be a tirlogy, but in the end pages of A Court of Wings and Ruin we are teased with a new realease in 2018 – WTF!

No Ordinary Star Trilogy:

Slay that Series No Ordinary Star Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Wonderful premise, but this is a trilogy that I’d rather poke my eyes out than read, but my OCD won’t let me just drop it – lucky they are short novellas… let’s hope M.C. Frank can turn my opinion around.

Zeroes Trilogy:

Slay that Series Zeroes Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Such a fun gritty series and incredibly well written to boot. I have the second book ready to go and the third preordered to satisfy my Zeroes lust.

Sidekick Squad:

Slay that Series Sidekick Squad by Casey Carlisle

A new series that has captued my imagination – funny, witty and just enough sass! Not sure how many novels will be released in this seires, but eagerly waiting for ‘Not Your Villain’ out in October this year.

The Illuminae Files:

Slay that Series The Illuminae Files by Casey Carlisle

Hurry up May 2018! Have been having a blast reading this series and hope it continues with its masterful tragectory. Who hopes this is more than a trilogy too?

Children of Eden:

Slay that Series Children of Eden by Casey Carlisle

Children of Eden’ was a bit of a surpise for me, and I got toatally invested in the story. Let’s see if Joey Graceffa can keep it going with the next book due for release in October this year.

Warm Bodies:

Slay that Series Warm Bodies by Casey Carlisle

Two short stories and a trilogy from our all-around favourite zombie, R. Love Isaac Marion’s writing and eager to complete this collection and find out how the world recovers from a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully all the books will be released by the end of 2017.

Tales From Foster High:

Slay that Series Tales From Foster High by Casey Carlisle

Something about the topical writing with gay main characters struggling through high school (and much adversity) has wormed its way into my heart. I think I’m committed to see this series through to the end – another one of my guilty pleasures. It’s like finding out what happens after the fairy-tale ends…

The Girl With All The Gifts:

Slay that Series The Girl With All The Gifts by Casey Carlisle

Upon first reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ I didn’t totally love this series – but it grew on me, and am excited to see what new discoveries about the zombie-like world can be made in the sequel…

 

That leaves 66 books left to read to finish off all the series listed here – so it’s definitely going to take me longer than a year to read them all – especially given I like to sprinkle in stand-alones, new releases, and am making my way through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler’s back catalogue. Plus some of the titles above have not been released yet, or not confirmed as complete, so this list will continue to evolve and change… but hey, I’m not adverse to adding more books to my TBR. It keeps me excited.

What series are you determined to finish of this year? Got any opinions on any of the books listed above? Your works might just push a book to the top of the pile…

In the meantime – happy reading 🙂

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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.

Book Review – ‘Entanglement’ by Dan Rix

Great science – awful characters

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

No. of pages: 324

From Goodreads:

In a world like ours, humans are born in pairs. When a newborn boy takes his first breath in the coastal town of Tularosa, the exact time is noted, recorded in the Registry, and later compared to the birth times of other newborns around the globe. There will be one identical match—his half. They will meet on their eighteenth birthday and they will spend their lives together. Except this time, there is no match.

Hotheaded heartthrob Aaron Harper is scheduled to meet his half in twenty-nine days, and he doesn’t buy a word of that entanglement crap. So what if he and his half were born the same day and share a spooky psychic connection? Big deal. After breaking one too many teenage girls’ hearts, he’ll stick to brawling with the douchebag rugby players any day.

Until the day a new girl arrives at school and threatens everything he takes for granted.

Cold and unapproachable, Amber Lilian hates the growing list of similarities between her and the one boy she can’t read, Aaron: born the same day, both stubborn, both terrified of meeting their halves. . . . All the more reason not to trust him. That she would rather die than surrender herself as her half’s property is none of his damn business. But once lost in Aaron’s dangerous, jet black eyes, she’s already surrendered more than she cares to admit.

Tangled in each other’s self-destructive lives, Aaron and Amber learn the secret behind their linked births and why they feel like halves—but unless they can prove it before they turn eighteen, Aaron faces a lifetime alone in a world where everyone else has a soul mate . . . and he’ll have to watch Amber give herself to a boy who intends to possess not only her body but also a chunk of her soul. 

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Entanglement’ sounded right up my alley, a fun dystopian world with a mythology deeply seated in fringe sciences, but it didn’t quite live up to my hopes. There were so many stereotypes and tropes in this novel, I just about gagged. The mad scientist, the jock with a supposed heart of gold, the woman-abusing bad boy, the hot bitchy girl who feels like she is not worthy of love… need I go on.

Talk about dysfunctional, abusive relationships. I don’t think there was a healthy one in this novel whatsoever. I wanted to put the book down so many times because it was making me sick. The violence, subservitude… not the best read I’ve had this year.

Entanglement Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThe protagonist Amber was self-destructive and always playing games – so not cute. In fact, I had no love for her at all. Her love interest, Aaron was just as bad – I’m not sure what he was playing at, other than going after something he knew he couldn’t have.

Dan Rix does write great actions scenes and can build tension expertly. I was really intrigued about the mythology of this novel and would have like to learn more about the universe of ‘halfs.’

I think if the first half was condensed and edited heavily to remove the self-destructive behaviour, this would have been fantastic. Much more palatable, and the romance much more believable.

I really liked the second half of the book once I got over myself and ignored all of the violence. I’ve become a big fan of Dan Rix, he comes up with some great concepts, can really write an explosive build up and story climax. He also weaves angst like a pro… but I wish half of the characters weren’t such great big a-holes. Seriously, just about all of his main characters are smart arses.

I think this was his first published novel – and judging from the number on the spine, I’m guessing he had the intention of it becoming a series. But five years on, another 20 novels released and no sign of a sequel. He must have lost interest. I don’t know if I’d recommend this one – it’s an okay read, and the science behind the story is well worth putting up with all the other issues I had with ‘Entanglement,’ but with such troubling relations between characters, I wouldn’t want any young adult thinking it is cool or okay to treat others like that.

Overall feeling: looove the good bits – loathe the nasty ones. Argh! Such a love-hate relationship I have with this!

Entanglement Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Entanglement 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.

Book Review – ‘Black Sun’ by Dan Rix

A plot line that zigs and zags…

black-sun-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

Orbiting three hundred miles above an alien planet, Space Shuttle Endeavour desperately searches for signs of life following the mass abduction of all humanity. Its crew: an Air Force colonel, an astronaut, and two teenagers.

To Leona, the mind-numbing hours of radio silence mean everyone who loves her is dead. Onboard, the one boy she might confide in hates her guts. It’s all she can do to not give up.

But when an explosion knocks the shuttle out of orbit, forcing them to crash land on the dead planet, it seems all hope is lost.

But no one expects the bizarre reality awaiting them on the surface.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

The Translucent series has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride – so much going on, characters popping in and out of established traits – and ‘Black Sun’ sticks to this pattern. We go back to annoying and immature Leona at the start of this novel… why are you punishing me Dan Rix? I was just starting to like her and now it feels like nails on a chalk board.

Black Sun Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgLeona took this step backwards for much of the novel, but I was glad to see her redeemed before the end – though this is something that is going to have me deducting a point. After so much growth and development I don’t want to waist a large part of the book reading drivel. I also got annoyed at the repeated phrase of Leona biting her nails – surely you can use your writers brain and come up with a few more synonyms Mr Rix.

A tawdry sex scene later in ‘Black Sun’ did nothing for me. It was uncouth and animalistic (and sudden,) no build-up of emotion to the moment. I thought I was reading soft core erotica. It seems to be the trend in YA at the moment, many titles have rough and urgent copulation that doesn’t add a lot to the story or the characters’ motivations; and I can only guess it’s included for sensationalism and titillation. It’s not something you expect to read in YA science fiction if it is not driving the story forward in some aspect.

I was delighted again for the last quarter of ‘Black Sun’ when we got ballsy Leona again, thank goodness. I hope her strength and sassy nature remain throughout the final novel in this series.

Loving the twist with her love interest Emory! And I didn’t really have a clue what was going on. That kind of plot developments is what keeps me reading.

The sci-fi element is fan-bloody-tastic! Dark matter, portals, white space, black holes, evil entity/alien… I’m totally engrossed. Still trying to make sense of everything – and appreciate how it’s not all explained and the story keeps changing – Leona being an unreliable narrator – well, they all are, because no-one knows what the hell is going on. What started off as slow and annoying, ‘Black Sun’ changed its tune with pacing towards an end that was invigorating. All that craziness (and the conclusion in a hum-dinger of a cliff hanger) – now I’m hankering for the 6th and final book to come out near the years’ end.

Overall feeling: I had ups, I had downs

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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.