Girl and nature in blue

How many paranormal themed books, films and television series deal with the general public choosing to believe in the rational, tactile, and familiar? Frankly if I had witnessed something extraordinary and inexpiable, it would only prove that there is more to the world than we thought. I like weird.

Book Review – ‘Nolan’ (Leech # 3) by James Crawford

Marvelous addition to the Leech Universe – left me wanting more.

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

No. of pages: 227

From Goodreads:

Every High school has its rock star. Maybe it’s the quarterback, head cheerleader, or the valedictorian–the one student who outshines the rest. The one everyone knows will be successful in the years to come. For Nolan that was a lifetime ago, before he lost his sight, before he even knew what a Leech was. 

Now all Nolan wants is seeing Caleo survives to fulfill his destiny. A task that has become increasingly difficult as the government wades into the war, and the number of people trying to kill them skyrockets.


What an explosive, fantastic ending to the Leech trilogy!

James Crawford has been fearless when writing this trilogy, not fading away from carnage and devastation, and his writing has gotten better with each installment. This book was prolific in the grandiose battle and wrapped up the trilogy expertly. This guy really knows how to write a climactic ending.

I did get a little disappointed with having precedence set up with ‘Caleo’ and ‘Jack’ being  each from their perspectives respectively, to ‘Nolan’ told in multiple perspective. And I didn’t get to live inside Nolan’s head for as long as I wanted to. We got snippets of his backstory, but did not get to dwell in the present, fathom out motivations and feelings with him as we did the other main characters in the preludes. So I felt a little cheated.

The actions scenes are still amazing and there was a great mix with the plot line this time. It was a bit like ‘whatever could go wrong did.’ It made this a dynamic entertaining read.

Nolan Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.pngWe get to see a lot of development of Jack’s character, his feelings and motivations are really put to the test and I found myself liking him even more than I did from the first two installments. Still bummed that I didn’t get more Nolan though.

Caleo brought his balls-to-the-wall attitude, and threw himself out there to stand up for his principles and family. IT was great to see him overcome fears and embrace his destiny.

The ending was predictable, and I couldn’t see it happening any other way; although it happened in the most delightfully unpredictable manner, which added to the deliciousness of this trilogy.

There were a few strings not tied up – the translation of “the book,” and more information on the creation, mythology and intention of Leeches. But I guess it leaves it open ended enough for more books to be written in this universe. And James Crawford has even offered to publish a book from another author if they are willing to take up the challenge. (see his website for details)

I did get more of the feels from the first two novels – there was something about the writing style in the conclusion that didn’t have me reaching for the tissues… which disturbed me more than what went down. It has been a pleasure to read about characters who have super powers, or X-men like abilities who identify as gay, but not have either aspect dominate their lives/storyline. It helps to provide diversity and support for those readers struggling with their own issues. While not the best written trilogy, it has a place in my heart and a set of books I’d happily recommend.

Overall feeling: super cool super powers!

Nolan Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carliske

Nolan Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle


© 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 – ‘Jack ‘(Leech # 2) by James Crawford

Great potential for a paranormal series with a gay protagonist.

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

No. of pages: 257

From Goodreads:

Every high school has it’s social elite; the football players and cheerleaders … you know, the popular crowd. At Butler High, Jack Barely was as close to the top as they came. Captain of the swim team, great hair, and abs that most would die for. However, that was all before the Leeches attacked, taking away everything: his popularity, his house, his grandmother, and even his best friend, Caleo, whom he secretly loved.

Now, living in a destroyed world, popularity means nothing as Jack struggles just to keep him and his twin sister, Jillian, alive. With attacks happening more frequently, Jack starts to wonder why they are even bothering to try and hold onto the past when it just reminds him of all they have lost. Just when he has given up hope, Jack hears a rumor that Caleo is still alive and sets out on a mission to find him. But will Jack make it to finally tell Caleo how he really feels?


With a fantastic premise set up in ‘Caleo,’ even if I had issues with the writing style, I was still excited to continue with this trilogy. ‘Jack’ still brings that level of immaturity in the narrative that bugged me from the first novel – but much less of it, thank goodness. We get a clear case of what is going on with the plot of the trilogy for the most part, but there is still a little confusion of some scenes not making sense. The stakes are definitely higher. There is a lot of action, pummelling, fighting and injuries… it is starting to feel like a bloodbath. So, while not top-tier writing, it is definitely compulsive.

On a side note: I did find it comical at the amount of unintentional nudity. The teen girl in me giggled and kicked her legs (no judging me – I already know how lame I am.) In ‘Caleo,’ we did lose a bit of that larrikin humour over the second half of the novel, but it is back and interspersed throughout the narrative in ‘Jack’ and it’s the kind of smart-assery I love to indulge in.

Jack Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleThis time the story continues from Jack’s P.O.V. and he is more single-minded than in ‘Caleo’ – which was great in driving the plot forward, but it also erased some of his complexity. I would have liked to see much more going on with him emotionally and spiritually to turn up the level of tension.

The reading experience felt a lot tighter and more enjoyable. Though personally I’m #TeamNolan and felt like Nolan was pushed aside again for the sake of setting up a love triangle, though, with the third book in the series being from his point of view, I guess I’ll get the fix I’ve been hinkering for since starting this trilogy. *fingers crossed*

I did get more surprises than expected, but there still wasn’t a lot of resolution in the plot for me to feel entirely satisfied. Second book syndrome. Even though there is so much action going on in ‘Jack,’ I felt as though something was lacking – whether it be a few sub-plots, or moving the overarching storyline forward more, it still left me in that state of mind after finishing ‘Caleo.’ Yes, I’m dying to find out what happens next, but annoyed that I have to read yet another book to get a payoff.

I developed a lot more liking and sympathy for Jack after reading this second instalment, but there is still something about Caleo and Jack that doesn’t sit right for me. But let’s see were the journey takes us. Jumping into ‘Nolan’ right now…

Overall feeling: boys, boys, boys!

Jack Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Jack Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle


© 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 – ‘Caleo’ (Leech # 1) by James Crawford


caleo-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, GLBT

No. of pages: 294

From Goodreads:

Every High School has their social outcasts. The band nerds, the math geeks, the chess club, the girl that chews her hair, but at Butler High, even the creepy nose picker in the chess club is more popular than Caleo Anima. No matter what he did, his pale skin, snow white hair, and piercing blue eyes always made him an easy target. He used to think that the only way things could get worse would be if someone found out that he was gay, but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of problems after a mysterious stranger shows up and changes Caleo’s life forever.

Hidden amongst our society, a secret and magical race of people known as ‘Leeches’, have been engaging in civil war for decades. Both sides are desperately searching for a weapon with unlimited power that will give them the advantage they need to rule their world. This wouldn’t mean anything to Caleo, except for one problem…He is that weapon!

Forget making it through High School. Caleo has bigger problems! As the search for him goes on, the world is quickly crumbling around him. He’s now fighting for his life and the life of what little family he has left. With the help of new friends, he has little time to try and master his newly found powers as he tries to figure out who he can trust, who is trying to use him, and who just wants him dead. One wrong step and being the awkward pale outcast will be the least of his worries.


This book made a place in my heart and nestled there. What a wonderful adventure. It was such a pleasant surprise for a gay themed YA paranormal not to be all about the gay thing. Caleo was a story about a teen discovering and navigating the world of his burgeoning powers, and the political landscape of others like him. It was very X-men-like with warring factions and other people with special abilities.

Some aspects of the story-telling really held this book back for me however. The writing style at the beginning felt almost staccatoed. Stuttering along until the story found its legs. As well as the main characters’ behaviour and reactions, more fitting to youths around thirteen and fourteen years of age. And then there were some of those overused tropes: The love triangle, the ugly loner main character who turns out to be the most special one of all, the in love with your best friend thing… I was grinding my teeth together. After the first five chapters this story moves along and gets really good. I just would have liked to have seen some of these stereotypical devices switched out for something a lot more dynamic and turn Caleo into something to knock the competition out of the park.

The pacing is fantastic after we get over that stumbling first section; and it increases and builds with tension right up to the end. I didn’t want to put the book down. I did get a little frustrated about two thirds of the way through when the story line switched gears and the love interests of our protagonist, Caleo, got a switch-hit in dominance from the narrative. It was literally flipped in a page, and nothing was developed around it. A very weak turning point, or change in perception… I don’t know, it just didn’t completely work for me.

caleo-book-review-pic-3-by-casey-carlisleI really liked Caleo’s struggle with hiding who he really is from those who he loves: whether it be coming out as gay, or revealing his ability, different people got to see different versions of him. His fears felt very real and motivated a lot of Caleo’s actions. At times he seemed to have bouts of immaturity or even anger that I found confusing, but I’m chalking it up to a testosterone thing… But on the whole he is a likable, relatable protagonist, and I became very invested in his story.

Jack annoyed the crap out of me. In the first half of the novel he didn’t seem to care much for Caleo, letting him get in harms way far too much. I’m sure there could have been a more palatable dynamic to their relationship. It seemed like they were mates who looked away when the other was in physical danger. That appearing tough and popular to peers was more important to Jack than saving Caleo from some pretty serious beatings. Later in the second half of the story Jack became enraged and jealous, even over small things, which, effectively being Caleo’s step-brother, was somewhat uncomfortable. So I’m on the fence with Jack, he seems impulsive, flippant and a little unstable.

Jillian was everything you’d expect from a pig-headed, yet loving step sister. I was living for her throughout the entire story. As I was Grandma. Both of these women kicked ass.

It was also refreshing to see the family dynamic play out in the storyline, they stuck together, had each others back, and did things without question. I was really cheering for them to survive everything that was being thrown at them.

Nolan turned out to be my favourite. He has a quiet masculinity that appealed to me. He seemed to respect where Caleo’s head was at and never pressured him. So I was angered when the narrative switched gears and suddenly Nolan was pushed to the periphery. It strongly felt like a storytelling device to give Jack some of the spotlight and fuel a love triangle. I was also annoyed at the continual interruptions, I wanted them to have a break so I could really find out what was going on.

Caleo ends with major cliff hangers – I didn’t feel like I got a whole lot of resolution, so, luckily I bought this novel with its two sequels…. It better give me some sort of pay off otherwise I’ll be really angry. The books are fairly short, we don’t get a great deal of answers, I recommend the trilogy as a whole instead of the book as a singular, but only if you sit comfortably with some really overused YA tropes. Great escapism for me 🙂

Overall feeling: pretty good…




© 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.