Book Review – ‘Perception’ (#2 Clarity) by Kim Harrington

A great follow-up novel for a YA paranormal mystery, but I wanted a little something more…

Perception (#2 Clarity) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

No. of pages: 275

From Goodreads:

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you? 

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past. 

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her. 

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back? 

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

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This was a nice little parcelled story. Another murder mystery in the same vein of the debut ‘Clarity.’ I did sleuth out the killer very early on though – but the author Kim Harrington has a way of providing clues but not spilling the beans. A fun, if somewhat formulaic YA paranormal mystery.

The tone of ‘Perception’ felt a touch more mature than ‘Clarity.’ And while there were some burning unanswered questions from the debut still lingering by the end of ‘Perception’ – and after doing a little research – I discovered there were plans for more books in this series, but due to poor sales it has been abandoned. It felt like that kind-of-okay television show you were just getting in to and it gets cancelled. Grrr!

Our protagonist, Clare has all of her usual spunk from ‘Clarity,’ but with an increased number of complications to deal with. This really added some tension and helped her character mature. Yay! Way to up the anty Harrington! I enjoyed reading her journey.

But I wanted to bash my head against the desk repeatedly over the love triangle trope. So overdone. But at least it wasn’t filled with swoony, angsty behaviour. Thank the lord. Clare approached her options logistically. Believing in letting her feeling progress naturally to make a decision between her ex, Justin, and the new guy Gabriel.

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I will say that Clare’s family unit is still going strong, and to have her mother play a present and involved parental role resonated with me. I sing praises for YA books having family units as a strong theme within the narrative.

I would have liked a pun about Mrs Vaddja (the fortune teller from ‘Clarity’) in the final lines… it would have fit. But that’s the writer/editor coming out in me. Additionally, there were some mysteries touched on again that never progressed – I would have like a few more clues scattered in to progress the arcs. Maybe it would have made this book perform better in sales and increased interest in a sequel? A few breadcrumbs isn’t going to entice readers to wait for the next book in the series with butt-clenching excitement… you need to start building and establishing an over-arcing storyline solidly grounded in each novel in the series. As a reader I appreciate a well thought out and paced development throughout a series.

Percertion,’ and ‘Clarity’ for that matter aren’t what I would call favourites – I feel there is something missing from the narrative. Maybe Clare feels a little too distant with her romantic relationships to connect with the target market? Maybe their psychic gifts weren’t utilised in a spooky enough way to hook their readers? It was more of a murder mystery aimed at a tween market. Again, I saw so much potential in this series – and in Harrington as a writer.

I was initially attracted to this series when it popped up in my recommendations on Goodreads because of the stunning cover artwork. After reading the blurb I was definitely intrigued. This collection definitely has all the attention grabbing gravitas – it just needed a few tweaks to turn it into best seller material.

A fun read, but a lukewarm feeling upon completion. There are so many fantastic elements but were either not explored enough, or not put together properly to make this an outstanding read… so I won’t count Harrington out yet.

Her following publications seem to be more middle grade though, so I don’t see myself picking up any more of her titles unless she releases another YA or adult novel. But it was the perfect move for her writing style and I can see her garnering a lot of success.

An enjoyable series to read, but I can see why it has been discontinued.

Overall feeling: Entertaining and underwhelming all at the same time.

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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.

Book Review – ‘Clarity’ (#1 Clarity) by Kim Harrington

Psychic teen hunts down killer with cute boys at her side…

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

No. of pages: 246

From Goodreads:

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift. 

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

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I enjoyed all the elements of this novel. It hit the right tone of paranormal and mystery for me. I can also happily say that it was not so predictable – I had no idea who the killer was, even right up until the reveal… and I pride myself at being able to preconceive these things. So it is a joy when an author can stump me.

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgClare ‘Clarity’ Fern was an interesting protagonist, but the freaky outsider trope is nothing new. Neither is the love triangle which looked like it was forming. For some reason Clare, and the storyline felt very ‘done.’ Nothing about ‘Clarity’ felt original. Don’t get me wrong. It is highly entertaining in an episodic after-school-special kind of way. But expect cliché and stereotypes. Clare is strong-willed, level headed and takes in the world with a sense of sarcasm and irony. She is definitely a fun character to read.

Both Justin and Gabriel – the ex and the new hot guy were also fun to read – though I never felt like we really get into their heads. Maybe it’s the sparse form of the narrative, or that I failed to get an emotional connection with them. My biggest connection came in the form of Perry (Periwinkle,) Clare’s man-whore brother. He was funny, oblivious, and so… well teen guy. I wonder if he will develop as a character in the sequel ‘Perception?

Clarity’ felt very much an average read. The writing style, though breezy and totally encapsulating the tone of a teenage psychic, did not embellish much outside the essential. I wanted more description of the landscape, of feelings, and of the visions. Some showmanship if you will. This felt like a bare-bones narrative. I guess because of this approach the pacing was maintained from one scene to the next, focusing on the clues and misdirection.

There are plenty of easter eggs planted for the follow-up, but there is also enough solved in ‘Clarity’ to make you feel satisfied at the end. I’m definitely intrigued to see what ‘Perception’ brings. But I hope Harrington’s writing style improves to paint a more colourful canvas to keep me engaged. The formation of a mystery story line is masterful, her characters delightful, I’m just wanting to be dragged more into Clare’s world.

I’d recommend this more for the younger end of the YA market as the language choice, content, and structure is geared more towards a tween reader. A great starter novel for those wanting to test the waters of paranormal mystery.

Overall feeling: Pretty good

Clarity (#1 Clarity) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Clarity (#1 Clarity) 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.

Book Review – ‘Into the Still Blue’ (#3 Under the Never Sky) by Veronica Rossi

The hair-raising conclusion to a lightning filled dystopian world that fizzled flat.

Into The Still Blue Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 389

From Goodreads:

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they’re using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival—he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most. 

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The battle is real – with this conclusion to the trilogy ‘Into the Still Blue’ brings about all the physical fight against the elements and each other in hope to find an Oasis from a decaying environment and factions struggling for power. On the surface the plot is outstanding, but the delivery felt a somewhat lukewarm.

I felt Aria finally got her sea-legs. In the previous novels I felt she bounced around between place, people and conviction. As much as I did not connect with her, I appreciated her story.

Perry just seemed to struggle. From the start – right to the end… and I think that is just who he is. So that left me kind of meh!

I think I was more excited about the dog Flea in this novel. The mention of him always brought a smile to my face.

Into The Still Blue Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleIt felt masterfully crafted, though I must admit I never really connected with Aria or Perry throughout this trilogy; and something about the writing style had me wandering away from the book quite a lot. It’s not that it was boring, I just never felt compelled to read on.

I feel like I want to say that the supporting characters had more depth than our two protagonists. Maybe because Aria and Perry were so single minded. So serious. That their narrative came across slightly monotone. There was no fluctuation in ambience and motive.

There wasn’t anything that struck me as particularly wrong with this concluding novel, just there was something missing. I think the dual perspective, again, gave too many answers and details for the story, eliminating a great opportunity to up the tension.

On the subject of loss and Death – I was a little on the fence with how this was dealt with. There were varying degrees of impact from the loss of certain characters. I felt more importance and compassion should have been considered. It would have also made for a much more poignant conclusion. I also did not like how murder and killing were handled either. Again, the facts were mostly glossed over to move the story along. When it would have been a great opportunity to up the emotion and paint a picture of devastation, brutality, and inevitability of the fight for survival against nature, and each other.

The plot unravelled very organically and I never felt the hand of the author guiding along the story. Though, the writing style did not paint a detailed enough picture of the world for me. I still have trouble picturing the main characters and the landscape they live in. Some aspects are crystal clear, but others felt washed out.

I liked the tone the novel ended on and how the storyline wrapped up. But I was still hoping for more mythology from this dystopian world to explore. Get some more technology in this sci-fi. Oh well…

It’s not a series I would recommend to friends – it’s okay. But there are much more entertaining collections out there.

Overall reaction: *rocking hand motion*

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Into The Still Blue 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 – ‘Under the Never Sky’ by Veronica Rossi

Enjoyable but had me frowning at some inconsistencies…

Under the Never Sky Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 374

From Goodreads:

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered.

This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky. 

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I’d been uncertain of picking up this book for over a year, and decided to put myself out of annoying procrastination and read the damn thing. “Under the Never Sky” was an epic dystopian adventure that entertained me to no end with its blend of science fiction and primitive civilization.

Written in alternating POV’s from our protagonists Perry and Aria through their trek and survival, was compelling, but I’d much rather have maintained a single voice in the narrative. Though the dual perspective does add layers to the story.

Under the Never Sky Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe Aria/Perry relationship was believable, and even though a slow burn, I felt a little rushed towards the end. Aria learning skill so readily – I would have liked to see her trip up a little more often instead of becoming an instant warrior. But really loved the character development.

Under the Never Sky” gave me the feeling that it was coloured with shades of so many other YA books, and did not feel entirely original. It is gritty and raw with violence and death and although not totally predictable, it failed to give me any surprises.

Veronica Rossi did a good job at setting up the villain Consul Hess. I really did not like him or his motives and am interested to see where the continuing story leads us. (Don’t worry this is no spoiler, we discover early on just how diabolical Hess is.

Would have liked a bit more about the history on how the world became what it is. The reasoning behind the epidemic of DLS felt flimsy at best. The social structure and the fact of two warring civilizations also felt wishy-washy… there seemed little reason they weren’t more aware of each other, especially with the primitive ‘Dwellers’ searching for a cure to DLS and scientific advancements.

Ever Blue? A great myth/quest. Not sure how it could exist given the information we’ve been fed already on the state of the planet. So my hope is that we have naive or unreliable narrators with Aria and Perry and the truth is yet to make some sense, because as it stands, I’m having trouble stomaching the world around them.

I liked where the ending was going, but it lacked punch and didn’t really have me with a burning desire to pick up the sequel, but alas, my nature will force me to see it through to the end. Let’s hope the series improves.

Overall reaction: C’mon… really?

Under the Never Sky Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Under the Never Sky Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.