Book Review – Dead to You by Lisa McMann

An echo from the past can haunt you in unimaginable ways.

 Dead to You Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Mystery

No. of pages: 243

From Goodreads:

Some memories are better left untouched.

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family.

It’s a miracle… at first.

Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn’t going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together.

But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked.

Something unspeakable… 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

This is now officially my favourite Lisa McMann title to date. ‘Dead to You’ had a more mature voice and such a simple yet strong vibe throughout that it totally sucked me in.

Ethan’s narrative is authentic and completely drew me into his world. His family also exuded realism, dysfunction and all.

Dead to You Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleEveryone escapes into a fantasy world, and when Ethan returns to his family after nine years of being abducted, foster care and living on the streets, at first that fantasy becomes real… before the struggles of memory, relationships and high school begin to weigh in.

This is very clever, in hindsight, clues to working out the mystery are glaringly obvious. But initially I hadn’t paid them much attention. Also there is a psychological element underlying this story. Lis McMann has always had some sort of challenge around metal illness in her books, but none done as well as this.

Although it’s kind of predictable in the sense that I knew what was coming, but not in how it was delivered. And I love surprises! ‘Dead to You’ has managed to redeem McMann for me, as my interest was starting to wane in her writing.

Apart from our protagonist, Ethan, the rest of the cast has much to offer: his little sister Gracie is adorable; the brother Blake is cautious and stubborn; and Mum and Dad are so gentle about Ethan’s re-introduction to the family it was heartbreaking. A love interest in Cami was amazing too. There was so much love and support around Ethan I was really cheering for him to resolve the tension and get his happily ever after.

Dead to You’ has an easy flow and distinctly adolescent male narrative that I flew through in a day. It gave me plenty of feels and was a refreshing reading experience. Recommended for lovers of McMann’s work or those looking for a quick mystery to while away the afternoon with.

Overall feeling: Like watching a car crash – you can’t help but stare

Dead to You Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Dead to You 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 – Never Never – Part 2 by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

If you’ve forgotten who you are – maybe there’s a reason.

Never Never Part 2 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Supernatural

No. of pages: 158

From Goodreads:

“Never forget that I was your first real kiss. Never forget that you’ll be my last.
And never stop loving me between all of them.
Never stop, Charlie.
Never forget.”

Silas races against time as more truths unravel, while others twist tighter together. And now, the stakes are higher as Silas’ control slips and others begin to point fingers. Charlie is in trouble and he must be the one to bridge the chasm between their past and their present. Because somewhere between I love yous and Never Nevers and Never Agains, a truth they can’t imagine, beckons to be found.

“Where are you, Charlie?” 

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The mystery deepens… and I’m loving it!

More clues, more answers and so many more questions.

(Here’s a short review for a short book in the middle of a series)

There was more of Silas in this book – his obsession with Charlie and finally questioning everything about him. I’m not sure if we get a glimpse of the mythology behind this story, but it is certainly intriguing. I’m buggin out for part three – it can’t come soon enough.

A fast read with real atmosphere, you can really feel Silas and Charlies frustration because just when they think they are getting somewhere, they uncover a clue that flips their entire world again. Struggling in a world to find some traction when the ground keeps moving and you’re questioning everyone and everything.

It’s short, sweet and one of my favorite series started this year.

Overall feeling: Mind blown!

 Never Never Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Never Never Part 2 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.

Book Review – Never Never (Part 1) by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

You can find love in the strangest of places… no matter who you are.

Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery

No. of pages: 159

From Goodreads:

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. 
Complete strangers since this morning.
He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle The author’s names alone had me picking up this title – plus it is a short novel, great for reading after some of the thick, heavy series I’m in the middle of at the moment without killing any momentum. ‘Never Never’ turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I nearly only gave this 3.5 stars because of the overdone aspect of amnesia in a story line, and the fact that the book resolves little… but I also liked that we don’t find out what exactly is going on, but uncover even more that needs to be sleuthed out.

Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCharlie and Silas really are different people from who they were sans amnesia – it is important to realise just how much memories make us the person we are… and how much it doesn’t. And we really get a sense of that here.

I loved the mystery, and how they both tried to uncover answers without spilling their own secret. Each fumbling along in unfamiliarity, it kept me on the edge of my seat. The only thing they have to go on is their gut feelings. Because of this, you see a lot of their true natures shine through.

There is plenty of intrigue here, and an obvious shiz-storm of a situation they had left behind… which they will have to deal with at some point.

I loved that this is a book on its own… like a prelude movie, or teaser.

One aspect that wasn’t so great was the insta-love trying to assert itself. It wasn’t exactly like that, but the undercurrent was looming in the periphery and, thank goodness it wasn’t all out unsubstantiated passion, we merely get a hint, we know there is a history, but it’s tied up in the mystery, so I managed to get past it.

I really appreciated the writing style – it was both melodic and edgy, really fitting the target market, but also with a touch of sophistication. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series, and jumped online and ordered ‘Never Never Part 2’ right away… part three is yet to be released (next year) but something I’m definitely adding to my collection.

Overall feeling: Wondrous and magical

 Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Never Never Part 1 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 – ‘Losing Hope’ by Colleen Hoover

There are two sides to every story…

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

For a companion novel, I thought it did well – You have to expect some repetition, but Losing Hope also introduced new characters, and revealed an entirely other dimension to  the storyline providing a different perspective to Hopeless.

I think I enjoyed this more than Hopeless. The writing was better, you got a strong masculine sense from the writing style, as opposed to the feminine of Hope in Hopeless. And for that I have to applaud Colleen Hoover.

The book is predictable – we already know the story from the previous installment, but the inclusion of Les’ own narrative really sold me on this novel. And the glimpse of something extra at the end…

It was great to revisit the story again, almost like re-reading your favorite book and finding new things to like. This novel was a little too angsty for my general pallet, but nonetheless an engaging read.

One point that I felt could have been improved upon was thatHolden’s narrative began to sound quite like Hope’s toward the end – and you could either put it down to the fact they were getting close and began to think like one another; or, that Hoover was slipping with her inner voice and Holden morphed into the overly dramatic and sensitive guy all girls swoon over. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just something that jumped out at me at one point… I remember thinking ‘Maybe Holden does have a hairy burger – when did that happen?’ But jokes aside, the guy does have to have some compassion. The issues dealt with in this book are pretty intense.

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

I have experienced loss, and abuse. And while the story is a bit overly dramatic and angsty, Colleen pretty much nailed it! The fear, the numbness, the shock and the repressed memories. Best written representation I’ve come across so far. Bravo!

Overall reaction: pleasantly satisfied

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Hope 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 – ‘Hopeless’ by Colleen Hoover … written by Casey Carlisle.

A damaged person can have a beautiful story…

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Hopeless’ by Colleen Hoover is a gem in the rough for me in the world of YA Fiction. It managed to keep me engaged throughout, and, as a mature reader, still managed to reveal unexpected twists.

I loved that all the characters in the book were flawed. It is so refreshing to see real life ooze from the page. I don’t think there was a single character that was cookie-cutter perfect. If I had to pick my favourite aspect of ‘Hopeless,’ this would be it. The complexities of the characters were so well written that their failings made them who they were. Not, this is [so-and-so] and she likes clothes; it was more like, [so-and-so] never had any money to buy new clothes and was ridiculed at school for wearing cast-offs – each foible had a motivation. I feel this is important because of the subject matter this novel deals with. What the characters have lived through lets the reader identify easily with them, even though their decisions may be vastly different to their own.

 

ImageWith that said, I did get a little annoyed at how the main protagonist, Sky, ran away from the story… probably to build suspense in the plot, but nonetheless it was irksome. She was such a strong character and her retreat from the knowledge that she craved distracted me from the story. At one point I had to put the book down and walk away in frustration.

The overall plot and storyline was a little predictable, but still managed to surprise me. The pace and cadence to the writing kept me up all night to finish the book. Although I felt like Sky had been dragged through so much, that by the end, it lost that punch of realism. Additionally the way Sky was raised didn’t sit quite so well with me (even though justifiable to the storyline). I felt, given her strength as a character, she would have rebelled much earlier, or at least had some close calls with the reveal in her past, piquing her curiosity when she had that instinct that things weren’t quite right.

 

 

ImageI’m not a big fan of flashbacks or amnesia as a plot twist. I feel they can be too convenient and have been overdone. And although both are present in this story, the flashbacks are few and far between and the memory loss is realistic. We forget and block out parts of our early childhood, until prompted with a photo or someone’s re-telling, which is how it presents in ‘Hopeless.’ And it is executed brilliantly!

On a personal note, having shared much of Sky’s experiences in my own life, the way everyone was portrayed as a little bit broken was perfection. Had it been told any other way would not have done it any justice.

 

 

It was a very satisfying read and it gets 4 out or 5 kisses from me.

   
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© 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.