Book Review – ‘Favorite’ by Karen McQuestion

Masterful plot for realistic fiction, but felt like I wanted more narrative.

Favorite Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: YA, Mystery

No. of pages: 174

From Goodreads:

Five years have passed since sixteen-year-old Angie Favorite’s mother disappeared without a trace. Since that day, Angie has managed to go through the motions of everyday life—until the summer morning when she’s abducted from a mall parking lot. Angie narrowly escapes, and her attacker is arrested, but he takes his life in jail before he can offer an explanation for his crime. When his mother contacts Angie, begging forgiveness on her son’s behalf, the girl agrees to meet with her in hopes of finding answers to the seemingly random attack. But when she arrives at the family’s massive estate, she is overcome by an unshakeable sense of foreboding…


This read more like a middle-grade novel. While I enjoyed it, the tension built expertly, I found the pacing really slow. Also the protagonist Angie (Angel) felt immature most of the time. While she was ingenious and had a never-say-die attitude that was admirable, I failed to connect with her.

You get a sense very early on in the novel that there is a twist coming. And maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I did not guess the actual twist. I had many scenarios lolling around in my head, some close to the mark, but none with the exactness of how this book unfolds. Which was a pleasant surprise. I like being out-manoeuvred by a well written novel.

Favorite Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI was also wanting more complexity – the novel is very simple – in fact it felt a bit sparse… which considering its length is not a flattering attribute. But I can forgive that considering it was only Karen McQuestion’s second novel. I’ve really enjoyed her later releases and you can see how she had grown as an author. Persistence and practice really pay off.

I feel her writing style needed some embellishment – I wanted a richer painting of the surroundings, sights, smells, feelings. And I think that was why I did not connect with Angie and felt the pace was slow. With engaging prose, I would have whipped through this novel in a matter of hours.

The characters have single motivations and although you get a sense of how the past has shaped them, there was no growth from the events in the novel. It was great realistic fiction though.

I  don’t think I would have purchased this other than filling in McQuestion’s back catalogue from becoming a fan after reading ‘From a Distant Star’ and adding The Edgewood collection to my Library and TBR list.

Some strong story-telling elements, but tone and pacing could be improved. A great effort for this wonderful little novel.

Overall feeling: Interesting but needed more engagement…

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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.

Wrap up – The Taking Trilogy by Kimberly Derting

Action packed science fiction for tweens.


The concept of alien abduction is what first drew me to this series, reminding me of the tv show ‘Roswell’ and the 80’s movie ‘Flight of the Navigator.’ It’s a cute read, more focused on the romance than any alien technology or space travel, but the writing style, especially in the first novel is a little jarring; especially with its usage of text abbreviations in the narrative. (Luckily its only in the first book.)

There is a nostalgic and romantic feel to ‘The Taking,’ I really connected with Kyra and her love interest Tyler. They are all types of awkward teen and angst. With the mystery of what happened to Kyra, filling in the missing years while she was taken, and keeping her abduction a secret’ all adding to a great mix of tension for the series.

I can’t say that any of the concepts, or indeed the content of this series feel original; it was all very high-school-special, and something I’d read/seen before. But they are all easy quick reads and Derting manages to up the ante with each instalment.

the-taking-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleI feel that the series got increasingly messy – with too many points of view and too many characters growing with each book. It’s a trend I’m starting to see in YA which I find disturbing. Most of the time it doesn’t add much to the narrative and loses the connection we have with the main character, which is what draws us to read in the first place. ‘The Countdown’ was definitely all over the place and did not have any of that spark that attracted me from the first novel. It tended more towards conspiracies, alien races on earth and action scenes. The mystery was gone, and so was the fish out of water theme from Kyra navigating her way through the world.

Derting’s writing style got better with each book in the series, but her focus did not.

Looking back, I think I would have like to have seen more ‘sci-fi’ in this series, and had complexity introduced through characters rather than plot. And maybe a new twist on the alien abduction trope – this story line has been beaten to death already.

I’d have to say that it is quite an enjoyable read though – light escapism, nothing all to challenging. It wraps up nicely, though I still had a lot of unanswered questions. If you’re a lover of science fiction, this may not be one for you, I’d only recommend it for younger readers who like a romance with a twist. It is along the same lines as ‘From a Distant Star’ by Karen McQuestion.

Another note: I love the covers! I bought the hardbacks, and the artwork simply glimmers. Typographical headers are so much better than generic models gazing into the lens.

Overall I’d rate the series as a solid three out of five. Not terribly great, but not awful either… a guilty pleasure.


For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Taking’ –

The Replaced’ –

The Countdown’


© 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 – From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

A Mix of Starman and The Host… sweet and sci-fi

From a Distant Star Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Emma was the only one who hadn’t given up on her boyfriend, Lucas. Everyone else—his family, his friends, his doctors—believed that any moment could be his last. So when Lucas miraculously returns from the brink of death, Emma thinks her prayers have been answered.

As the surprised town rejoices, Emma begins to question whether Lucas is the same boy she’s always known. When she finds an unidentifiable object on his family’s farm—and government agents come to claim it—she begins to suspect that nothing is what it seems. Emma’s out-of-this-world discovery may be the key to setting things right, but only if she and Lucas can evade the agents who are after what they have. With all her hopes and dreams on the line, Emma sets out to save the boy she loves. And with a little help from a distant star, she might just have a chance at making those dreams come true. 

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Cute. Easy summer read. A romantic science fiction story.

Some parts of ‘From a Distant Star’ are a little cliché, but it worked. Other parts I had issue with, like the parental attitude – it didn’t ring true, I’m sure the author could have come up with a different reason for their behaviour that added authenticity to the story line.

Emma was intelligent and gutsy and I liked the strength in her resolve because it didn’t depend on being sassy or violent or having amazing ninja skills. She cared. Plain and simple. It was nice to read about a female character that was, well, feminine.

Lucas I didn’t like as much… well, the new and improved Lucas – although lovely, also lacked realism. I felt he could have been more nuanced and conflicted. His development came too easy, too convenient: all of which was just short of eye rolling.

At its core, ‘From a Distant Star’ is a beautiful tale which is a fast paced, easy read. I managed to digest this in a single sitting. I will say that it is no literary masterpiece. It’s not that original, and the plot easily predicted. Many will find this story generic, but I felt its heart shone through.

Better suited to a younger audience, and although classified as science fiction, do not expect a lot of it. I liken it to a very watered-down version of ‘The Host’ by Stephenie Meyer, but with way less action and sci-fi. Categorised for my guilty pleasure shelf; something I’d recommend to keep the reading mojo going in-between much larger intricate reads.

Overall feeling: A wondrous warm hug from the stars

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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.