Book Review – ‘Telling Jase’ by Penny Wilder

Interesting and sexy, but not fully realised.

Telling Jase Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Contemporary, LGBT

No. of pages: 35

From Goodreads:

Sean Taggert has been in love with his best friend and former college roommate Jase Shaw for the last two years and nine months. He’s never told Jase how he feels, though. There were always other people in the way. Up until six months ago, Jase was shacked up with his cheating college boyfriend Marcus. Up until last night, Sean was engaged to the mother of his two-year old child, Cody. Cody may have been the result of a drunken one-night stand, but Sean would do anything for his son, including marry a woman he doesn’t love. But when Sean’s fiancée Lisa, calls him from her New York vacation to say that she’s left him and Cody for good, Sean calls Jase, the only person he knows who can get him though this. Now that they are both free, maybe it’s finally time for Sean to tell Jase how he really feels.

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I love getting recommendations from other bloggers, so when Kara Skinner @ Lover’s Quarrel sung praises about ‘Telling Jase’ I went and got my copy right away.

This was titillating, but also awful. It hit many triggers that I absolutely loathe in contemporary short stories. Also, calling people ‘Babe’ or ‘baby’ makes me cringe, that and a few other words had me wanting to bang my head against the wall when combined with all the other factors I’m about to list.

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The whole instant attraction thing –  the protagonists’ romantic relationship was introduced that way, and then went back and contradicted itself. Also the coming out aspect of it was written for maximum drama and minimum realism. Well… the whole tone of the book was exactly that. Lots of bang for your buck (pun intended) but little authenticity.

There were so many facts that were overlooked, ignored, or simply not researched. I understand these novellas are a complete guilty pleasure: read for the angst and highlights of intense relationships, but I need a solid believable storyline, a build-up, and backstory. I want to live in the character and feel their motivations. Grow as they develop, so when we get to the pay-off or climax (pun not intended this time) it means something and has all the pieces clicking into place… and ‘Telling Jase’ did not do that for me.

The two-year-old Cody was unlike any two-year-old I’ve ever known – underdeveloped, quiet, well behaved, and seemed to need little looking after or attention. In real life, children of this age are loud and all-consuming, they don’t sleep through the night and Carers are a delusional mess half the time. Kids are a beautiful miracle, but the early years are a struggle, especially for a sole parent to handle.

Our protagonist and father, Sean, kept falling asleep exhausted from his emotional dilemma, but not from all the attention on his child? Erm…

And Jase all of a sudden is Superdad… not to mention how he and Sean skip through so many massive developmental milestones in relationships and get straight to the old happy married couple stage after one conversation.

I want to enjoy this book for what it is. A fun steamy story about a single dad in love with his best friend, but the practical side of my brain won’t let it be. And though the sex scene was erotic, it felt obviously written from a woman’s perspective on what she thinks man on man sex is like. I felt a little more research could have been done to make it outstanding.

I really liked Penny Wilder’s writing style, she painted great scenes that I could see in my head clearly. I’d love to read something from her that was fully realised instead of a novella. I can almost taste her potential to create a best seller.

These types of stories are so short and predictable, so I didn’t get any surprises. But one would have been nice. Additionally, when a story is reduced to a few scenes, it’s hard to comment on plot or character development. I do like reading these on occasion as a guilty pleasure, but as I’m moving forward in my writing career, I’m increasingly becoming dissatisfied. I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone I know. Sorry ☹

Overall feeling: Awkward

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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 – ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ by April Henry

A solid tween mystery novel.

the-girl-i-used-to-be-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: YA, Mystery

No. of pages: 240

From Goodreads:

When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

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It was a nice break away from my usual genre reads. A YA mystery of a girl uncovering her past and murder of her parents.

I did fall asleep at two points during this novel – and its short- so that had me questioning why. It’s by no means boring or had me wanting to abandon it. I think it might be the frank and dry style of the narrative. Characters aren’t painted colourfully with quirks and foibles. It’s all very realistic, and as such, wasn’t as engaging as it should be.

Ariel/Olivia is a great protagonist. She’s independent and an intelligent thinker. I liked how she took the initiative to sleuth out facts and piece together a story. It felt very organic.

Ariel/Olivia also had a few moments of damsel in distress, like screen sirens of old, toppling over uneven ground and turning an ankle – hasn’t that been done to death by now?

the-girl-i-used-to-be-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleSome problems I had revolve around her amnesia, recovering memories through hypnotism is such over-used tool in this genre I wasn’t at all impressed. ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ also suffers what many in this genre do – how characters are mysteriously compelled to over-share to let the reader garner facts of the case. It’s a bit of a cop out. A clever author will find much more imaginative and fantastic ways to uncover truths.

Duncan, (Ariel/Olivia’s love interest) does not really get developed. He kind of appears, there’s instant attraction… and that’s about it. I feel a missed opportunity to add more to the plot, or in the least an attention grabbing arc would have added a lot to this book.

It wasn’t until very close to the reveal that I pieced together the story, so it is definitely not predictable. We are given many characters as possible suspects, and logical scenarios to show their guilt/innocence. The mystery part of this novel is well done, even if it lacks some sophistication.

I was grabbed in the last quarter as the action and tension heated up, though I’ve read better, so I can’t give it more than an average rating.

April Henry can construct a great landscape and doesn’t let much through to spoil the ending, and while I recommend this book, it’s definitely aimed for a younger crowd. A seasoned reader, especially in a mystery genre, may not get much from ‘The Girl I Used To Be.’

It’s short and easy enough to complete in a day if so inclined. I liked it, a nice break from my usual reads.

Overall feeling: A mystery reader’s first book

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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 – On the Fence by Kasie West

A little on the fence about ‘On The Fence’ but ultimately enjoyed this cotton-candy contemporary.

On The Fence Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 296

From Goodreads:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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On The Fence Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleFor a fun contemporary romance, Kasie West is quickly cementing her place as one of my top go-to authors: interesting characters and stories that are like a warm hug.

I liked how Charlie was an athlete – I was starting to get over alternative, quirky, coffee addicts that have been teeming YA of late. Also, the family dynamic of Charlie’s all-male family added a great dynamic, how the men in her life are protective of her whether she is aware of it or not; and how they rough-house with her as well.

Her fathers, attempts at raising a daughter, while commendable, did come across as a little cliché, I was wondering where the doting father went – he was too stand-offish and left me wondering if he was a good father at all. But he manages to redeem himself in my eyes.

Charlie was a good character to relate to, although at times I felt she was too immature, and her behaviour insulting to herself and her brothers (but sometimes her brothers deserved it.) There were also some trite moments that annoyed me, and I felt, did not need to be in the book. But I won’t talk about them here, because – spoilers!

On The Fence Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleI did take a little issue with the fact how the book step up Charlie (and her missing a female role model as her mother passed away when she was young) in knowing little about fashion and make-up as somewhat deficient in being female. I did not see her as anything less, or nothing other than a strong female role model in herself. It rubbed against my sensibility that an interest in the superficial world of clothing and facial products has anything to do with being female or acceptance by other female peers. But with that said, it was cute and fun (politics aside).

Braden was a sweet boy-next-door character, and again, very typical of this genre, but I liked his tenacity and acceptance of Charlie for who she is, without all the trappings of fashionable accessories.

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Some of the midnight conversations at the fence were touching, and others pointless and contrived. With such a poignant image defining the book, it would have been good that all these interactions were kept embodying the soul of the novel – as some of Charlie’s talks felt immature and irrelevant. But this is only a very small part (and my opinion), and the nocturnal blatherings are a fantastic part of the story and one of my favourites.

I really enjoy Kasie West’s writing style, and have not come across a book of hers that I have not liked. They are luscious uncomplicated reads, yes predictable, but quick, well-paced guilty pleasures that don’t come off too kitsch.

Overall feeling: Cute but average.

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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.