Book Review – ‘The Night We Said Yes’ by Lauren Gibaldi

… but I think I’ll say no.

The Night We Said Yes Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 294

From Goodreads:

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life. 

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. 

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I picked up ‘The Night We Said Yes’ solely due to the hype it had been receiving on the blogosphere, the gorgeous cover, and a catchy blurb…

Though honestly, by the halfway point I was bored. The reasons behind Matt (the love interest) moving away had me intrigued, and the dual narrative from the present, alternated with that from a year ago and added interest, but the characters came across as bland and silly. I was still waiting to be gripped by something.

The Night We Said Yes’ is a story about flawed characters. It’s well written, but on the whole, it’s a story that could be of any teenager… and that was just it… I felt like it was an anecdote from my past, or my friends past. There wasn’t anything extraordinary to grip me from this tale.

The teen drama was just so juvenile. The behaviour of the main characters was frustrating. And the storyline very, very simple. I wanted more complexity, more tension. The stakes for the protagonist, Ella, just didn’t seem that high. Maybe it was because I didn’t connect with the cast, or the plot.

It’s not a book I would bash for being poorly written or having sub-par construction – like I mentioned, its done well, but just not for me. It’s fairly short and easy to read in one sitting. I spread it over a few days, putting it down frequently due to boredom or annoyance. I think the younger end of the YA spectrum of readers would enjoy this more.

Overall this book felt a little – I hate to say it – bland. It is a cute contemporary, but there wasn’t anything about it that grabbed my attention, and I did not connect solidly with any of the characters or their predicament.

Overall feeling: ho-hum

The Night We Said Yes Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Night We Said Yes Book Review Pic 03 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 – Hold Me Closer : the Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

A book you can’t help but sing along to!

9780525428848_HoldMeCloser_BOM_CV.inddGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I had to pick this up – curiosity got the best of me after having read ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ and a couple of my friends raving about it. But be warned – this is not a novel, but a screenplay (of sorts). What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting to be as entertained as much as I was. There are many laugh out loud moments.

We got snippets of Tiny’s play in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ but here we get the fun, fabulous and full play Tiny wrote, complete with stage directions and notes from Tiny himself.

I thought there would be some more poignant moments, true to the styles of musical theatre and David Leviathan, but ‘Hold Me Closer’ fell slightly short of the feels in that department. But it is still a laugh riot, and I could easily picture it as a stage play in my mind’s eye.

We get to live in Tiny Coopers head for a while, as opposed to third person in the novel starring his best friend Will. There is a true spirit of acceptance, love and an indomitable spirit for life that shines through. 100% Tiny. This work really embodies all things Tiny Cooper.

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

He is articulate and sensitive to all the characters he’s based his musical on, without apology. It was ballsy, comical and touching. ‘Hold Me Closer’ is a quick, fast read.

I’m glad I added this to my collection, even though this is not something I would have readily picked up – because written as a script, it was difficult to get into the narrative. Sometimes it felt jarring. And sometimes the cadence of the melody was difficult to pick, which annoyed me, dragging me out of the story all too frequently.

Where some novels or series that release something extra to the collection usually consist of novellas, I enjoyed of point of difference in the reading a new format and getting to explore the play that was so prominently depicted in the story line of ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson.’

I’d recommend it to fans of David Levithan, lovers of Will Grayson, and anyone who has an itch for musical theatre.

 

Overall feeling: Psychedelic Fun

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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.

Excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ (Book 1 in the Smoulder series) by Casey Carlisle

Smoulder Series Tiles for excerpt

Focused on my little investigation, I neglected to notice Teddy saunter into school, or his surveillance of my activities. I didn’t register Mr Ried’s words in our morning Homeroom announcements as I stewed on my predicament. Instead of heading to my first lesson, as soon as we were dismissed, I hurried to find Tom.

He must have known what was coming, because as soon as Tom noticed my approach, his skin drained white while he stood near the entrance to an empty classroom.

“Can we talk?”

“In here.” Tom led me into the vacant room, closing the door behind us. “I wish I could reverse what I did. You were right. I should have stood up to Teddy. This should never have happened.”

“It’s a bit late for that now. The damage has been done. They don’t remember anything that’s happened between us since I started, not exactly. Rebekah and Bernie didn’t even know who I was.”

“I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“You didn’t think. That’s the whole problem isn’t it?”

“Riley. I’ll do anything, anything to make this right.”

“I’m really trying not to hate you at the moment.” Upon spitting out those words a tear escaped, trailing down the side of Tom’s face.

I wished that I felt guilty, that I could stop, but the venom of my rage failed to waver.

“Riley please-“

“You violated their minds. An essential part of who they are. Doesn’t that occur to you? How serious this is?”

“Of course it does. I don’t do any of this lightly.” The pleading tone had left his voice, replaced with the harsh edge of irritation.

“Like you did with Mrs Noble? That was hardly the last possible choice of action. You could have made up a story, lied?”

Tom simply hung his head, searching for an answer.

“All of you have gotten so used to relying on your abilities, even though you want to appear normal, disconnected from the rest of us. Every time you go alakazam, you fly in the face of everything you’re trying to achieve.” I stepped close, so the seriousness of my face clouded his vision. “Either take ownership of what you can do, limit the damage, or don’t do it at all.”

“I hate this.” He whimpered back. “This is exactly what I didn’t want.”

“I don’t mean to attack you like this-“ I couldn’t finish my sentence as emotion ebbed like a tidal wave from my feet to the tip of my head.

My body sprung forth and I caught Tom in a tight hug, a loud sob escaping from somewhere deep in my throat.

“This feels so helpless.” He croaked as thick arms clutched me against a muscular chest.

Realisation struck at what I was doing, and I pushed him away – well, rather forced myself off his solid frame – my eyes freely trickling with tears as I stalked vehemently from the room.

Hurrying to my special place, I curled up on the bench and willed for the tears to stop. Why was I so upset? Did Tom just use some mind-mojo on me? I waited out the rest of the lesson, using the time to regain my composure.

All through my next lesson, Maths, I pushed every thought of Tom – and that involuntary embrace – into a box locked away deep into the overactive neurons of my cranium. Sneakily pulling out my mobile, I sent a text to Teddy, asking him to meet me at my car for morning break. He was the next victim on my hit list. It was time I made my feelings clear, and be done with him once and for all.

The interior of my bug was like an oven, baked under a boiling sun, I started the engine and cranked up the air conditioning and watched students milling about outside, on alert for Teddy’s approach. I switched on the radio after a minute… where was he?

Just before I ran out of patience and resorted to another text, Teddy appeared through the external doors and headed in a straight line towards where I sat. My heart skipped, it annoyed me how he still managed to boggle my senses, his smooth gait so effortlessly cool. I needed to stay angry to make my point, scowling as he reached the car, knocking at the window. I waved for him to climb in, watching the circumference of the building to see if we were being spied upon.

“This is a little intimate.” He smirked as soon as he pulled the door closed, the radio broadcasting a love song I could not identify.

I switched it off.

“I didn’t want anyone to overhear me screaming at you.” I replied and his smile instantly faded.

“Tom said you tore strips off him.” Of course he did!

“So you know just how angry I am. How indecent it is of you to ask me to be okay with everything that has gone down?”

“I understand. It won’t happen again.”

“And this thing between us-“

“There is still an us?”

“If, and I re-iterate, if, we continue to see each other, I am not going to choose you over my friends. You’re going to have to come up with some other way around keeping what you want secret. Scrubbing out peoples’ memories is no longer an option.”

Teddy replied with a nod and stared at his lap.

“You’re not going to say anything back?”

“I don’t know what to say. At this point let’s just agree to disagree.”

“I can’t be with anybody who condones involuntarily stripping away parts of peoples’ lives.”

“It’s not like that.”

“Then enlighten me. Help me understand; because I want to. I don’t want to feel this way about you.” My words seemed to hit home and Teddy squinted in pain.

“It might be easier for you to understand if you had been living with us for a while. But Roberts’ hunches, they’re never wrong. And he truly believed that there was no other option, a choice between two terrible things, we took the one that meant less death.”

“Less death? Someone is going to die?”

“We think so.”

Another shock, more information that he drip-fed me.

“Get out.”

“What?”

“Please, go. I need to be alone.” He climbed out of the car, pausing before gently closing the door.

“You can ask me anything. Anytime. Just call me and I’ll be there.”

I didn’t want to be sitting at school any longer, with 10 minutes of our break left, I decided to shirk the rule of not leaving the school grounds, and coasted out of the lot, heading towards the closest road out of Alice Springs.

Living in such a small burg, the buildings receded into the scrub very quickly, and within minutes I was surrounded with powder green shrubs and ore coloured rubble. It was the perfect place to gather my thoughts; a clear open sky, nature nestling in from every angle. Parking under the large shadow of a River Gum I waited for my mind to stop reeling.

At least I was taking charge of the situation, although, I did just run away again… Teddy promised no more hidden facts, and I had gotten exactly what I asked for. Was I really capable of handling this? It could be so easy to end all ties and stick my head back into the sand, live out the rest of High School blinkered from the Tavish clan. I could – if I didn’t lose control of my faculties whenever I was in a room with one of them. Resting my head on the steering wheel I prayed a solution would simply fall into my lap and life would be uncomplicated again.

Smoulder series blurb

© 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 – Opal (book #3 in the Lux Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Alien puuurrrfection!

Opal Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Romance

No. of pages: 382

From Goodreads:

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I liked how the start of this book picks up straight after the last one (Onyx) and with introducing another character to the Main Cast, changing the dynamics of the group adding tension, making it a much more interesting read. I always feel spurned on to dive into the next book in the series straight away, but am purposely pacing myself… too much Lux can be sugar sweet and result in toothache.

The repetition that I have now found typical of Jennifer L Armentrout was still present – descriptions of Daemons eyes, body, kisses, or in fact anything to do with Daemon is nice – but every time he’s in the scene… it’s started to get annoying! Come on Jen – it’s the third book we already know how hot he is and the things he does to our bodies!

Opal Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

A slow, wry smile teased Daemon’s lips. “Simmer down, Kitten, before I have to get you a ball of yarn to play with.”

It was great to see Kat flex some serious muscle, after being the verbal sparring wallflower for so long, she finally gets to train and match it with the best of this series antagonists! Girl power! So much more fun to read than the repetitive swooning.

Even the tension between Dee and other cast members had me turning the pages in hope that things could be resolved and I’d see glimpses of that old girly-fluffy Dee! Because of this, the series had been getting better, I love the ever evolving relationships, and Armentrout isn’t afraid of pitting any against the other.

Opal Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Jennifer certainly knows how to drip feed you information to keep the story moving forward. Don’t expect me to blab about it here – you’ll have to read the book for yourself, but so far each edition of the Lux series has revealed surprises to have me eager to discover what’s going to happen next. And therein lies the beauty of this series – I still get serendipity with each volume. Plenty of action, mystery and intrigue mixed in with the romance… the unpredictability of events is definitely a good thing.

Overall feeling: guilty pleasure to the max!

Opal Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Opal Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

     Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

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 – Eleanor and Park

Finding out who you are, who you love and how their view of the world is vastly different from your own – it’s called growing up – and it’s magnificent, terrifying and mind-explodingly beautiful.

Book Review Eleanor and Park by Casey CarlisleThis is the second novel by Rainbow Rowell I’ve read, and has become one of my favorites so far this year. Maybe it is due to the fact is is set in an era when I grew up, maybe it’s because Eleanor is a red head too, or the fact the main characters are a little wierd, a little on the periphery of the High School pecking order. Or just because of the slow burn of the growing and undeniable passion they have for each other – whatever the reason, ‘Eleanor and Park’ spoke to me on so many levels that I can’t squee enough.

Rainbow’s writing style is effortless and never pulled me from the narration. I completed the book in one sitting, totally engrossed in the drama of High School life. Miss Rowell has the ability to create beautifully flawed and realistic characters that you have no other option but to embrace in all their glory. She tackles issues like body image and bullying through the eyes of the main characters that ring true to your own experiences.

It’s a love story, so yes the outcome is predictable, but the path the story takes is beautiful. With moments that could have been taken straight out of my childhood diary, I loved how this book travelled the road of innocence, identity and the angst that a teen feels of – let’s be honest – just about everything.

I don’t want to spoil the book by discussing any more, but it is enough to say that this books gets top marks from me and is a must read recommendation.

Eleanor and Park Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

Book Review – Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson book Cover for Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens – both named Will Grayson – are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in a new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of heart and humour that have won both of legions of faithful fans.

The relationships in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ were complex, realistic and stood out in the YA genre with a line of humour woven throughout. The combination of Green and Levithan produced a diamond in the rough where controversial topics are dealt with class and aplomb. Just like in real life, sexual identity and relationships for those struggling with this issue, can be both easily accepted and subjected to scathing and ridicule from peers – and this novel danced the line for both elegantly.

It was a pleasant and easy read, both authors’ styles meshing seamlessly. The kind of wit and character development both men are famed for writing juxtaposes in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ – even in the alternating points of view from the two Wills. With such an array of colourful and strong cast members, and misunderstanding of the narrator, it brings friendship and loyalty to the forefront.

The storyline was fairly predictable, but the surprises came from the delicate language and inner musings from the main characters – leading opposing perceptions of the central character of Tiny – of whom I feel this novel is really all about. It was also great to see a stereotype deconstructed in an intelligent and sensitive way to uncover the beautiful core of the person underneath.

I don’t want to talk too much about the characters, because in doing so I’d just be listing spoilers, and it is really a great book to read. It’s about people, friendship, and the nature of what we do when they are put to the test. ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ warmed my heart and has a spot in my top ten reads for the year.

The only reason I’m not giving the book a top rating is that I’m not a massive fan of contemporary, and it sometimes lacks that compulsion you get in an exciting and adventurous read. I’d highly recommend you add this book to you collection, it’s funny, and really gets you questioning about values…

Will Grayson Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

   © 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.