Book Review – ‘Fly on the Wall’ by E. Lockhart

A cheeky contemporary for younger audiences that has commendable insight on injustice.

Fly on the Wall Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 182

From Goodreads:

At the Manhattan School of Art and Music, where everyone is unique and everyone is ‘different’, Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. It doesn’t help that she’s known as the girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of her favourite superhero, just so she won’t have to talk to anyone. Her best (and only real) friend is there for her, but that’s only if she’s not busy – she’s always busy! 

It’s no surprise that Gretchen isn’t exactly successful in the boy department. Her ex-boyfriend is a cold-fish-sometimes-flirty ex who she can’t stop bumping into. Plus, she has a massive crush on a boy named, Titus but is too scared to make the first move. One minute he seems like a sensitive guy, the next, he’s a completely different person when he’s with his friends. She can’t seem to figure boys out!

Gretchen has one wish: to be a fly on the wall in the boy’s locker room. What are boys really like? What do they talk about?

This is the story of how one girl’s wish came true.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Fly on the Wall’ is a fun contemporary with a magical realism twist.
Gretchen, our protagonist, feels like she is on the outside of everything and everyone at school. Like she’s in a holding pattern for life. Stagnant. Biracial and not quite arsty enough to be one of the Art Rats, and not generic enough to fit in to a normal crowd at a regular high school, Gretchen feels trapped.

fly-on-the-wall-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleWhen her parents break some big news, and she is frustrated about things going down at school. Gretchen  wishes she could see what goes on behind closed doors, get answers that seem hidden from her… and then it happens… literally! She becomes a fly on the wall, stuck in the boys locker room. She gets to see them naked, their “gerkins” up close, and all their emotional politics laid bare. It’s pretty hilarious and cool.

It gives Gretchen perspective. A look into other people’s lives at their most
vulnerable. And she learns some lessons. As well as some valuable truths that will help her out of the rut she’s been in.

I love the language and narrative style. Though, ‘Fly on the Wall’ has a simplistic plot and targeted to younger audiences. The storyline is not much of a mystery and fairly predictable; but fun and witty. This was an enjoyable quick read with loads of character development.

I loved how it tackled discrimination, machismo, and archaic views on patriarchy, and ultimately instigated change.  Also, I liked how it explores female sexuality and how it’s okay to feel want. To feel horny or sexual attraction. Not an awakening, just an awareness and acceptance that we are all humans and have desires. Refreshing for a YA novel to deal with sex, desire and body image without being sexualised.

Overall feeling: weird and surprising.

fly-on-the-wall-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

fly-on-the-wall-book-review-pic-04-by-casey-carlisle

critique-casey-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 – ‘The Decisions We Make’ by RJ Scott

A bit of a bipolar read for me… great writing but poor story development.

The Decisions We Make Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 137

From Goodreads:

Daniel Keyes is an orphan, fostered by the Walkers. The product of a lonely childhood, he is thrown into the chaos of the Walker family and into the life of his new foster brother Jamie. 

This story is the journey of Daniel and Jamie finding their place in the world. Through Jamie being a victim of hate crime to coming out to family and friends, there are many decisions the boys have to make before they become men.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

The Decisions We Make’ was a mixed bag for me. Many elements were so well done, and then others fell way short of the mark leaving the book looking a little amateur. I can’t remember how I came to purchase this book, whether it was on a recommendation from a friend or not, because based on the blurb it doesn’t have much appeal to me. Though, I can see a great amount of potential for the author.

RJ Scott’s narrative styling is a bit dry, but the story is touching and cute.

Our two main characters, Jamie and Daniel were okay, but this novel was so short I didn’t have the time to get me to connect with them. I felt this book was built around a few key scenes without setting the scene and developing the characters enough. We jumped straight into the good stuff and the remainder felt rushed.

The tone of ‘The Decisions We Make’ is blunt. Sexy. Garish. With moments of intense emotion and angst, bringing on all the feels. I lurve these elements in a story, and they are depicted so well, but without to softness of building a rapport with the reader it left me feeling somewhat juxtaposed.

Our cast face some scary moments – both physically and mentally – and I love how RJ can tap into that. I was really engaged in those scenes.

I felt there was some insensitivity when different family or friends kept asking Daniel or Jamie if they could’ve chosen an easier path – like it’s a choice, like it is wrong and dangerous… a very “straight” mentality. It totally rubbed me the wrong way. I’m guessing that’s the link to the title? But other than that, I’m really not sure how the book title is linked to the story. The cover art also threw me – it doesn’t really reflect the characters and, I hate to say it, not altogether polished.

There was a habit in the writing style of friends and family stating that they already knew about Jamie or Daniel’s sexual orientation, or were easily accepting (in a flash of a moment.) And that came across as being falsely and staunchly politically correct and not realistic. Only because everything was so summarised and rushed, it lost the importance and impact of such a declaration.

Some contextual facts that really destroyed the story for me revolved around Daniel being in foster care, and the admission he makes, would make him and his parents liable for persecution from Social Services – where was his Care Worker in this story? Relationships and boundaries as set up early and monitored by Care Workers closely to avoid this potentially psychological scarring event. The whole situation was so glossed over it was painful. I understand it is a simple storytelling device, but it didn’t work for me in this context.

There is a tone of the comical around ‘The Decisions We Make’ as well, there is funny dialogue and situations that had me snorting. Another point I applaud RJ Scott for is some of the educational aspects. It approached both Daniel and Jamie’s exploration and self-discovery in a practical and responsible manner.

Overall an okay read, with all the elements I love in a book, but fell short in the delivery. Sad to say I don’t think I’d recommend it, maybe when the author has had some more practice developing a story…

Overall reaction: Dude!

the-decisions-we-make-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

the-decisions-we-make-book-review-pic-03-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.

Book Review – ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie

A fragile equilibrium is about to be tested…

matched-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.


Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Every one of my friends who read ‘Matched‘ before me gave it different rating – so much so that I had no idea if I would like the book or not. I’m glad it turned out that way, because if I had high expectations, this book would have bombed big time. Going in tentative, this novel ended up being a solid okay read. Which is promising for the series if the writing and stakes are increased with each volume.

Matched‘ is understated and slow paced. I mean that in a positive light. It reflects the attitudes and landscape around our protagonist: carefully filtered to keep things in an artificial balance. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable; and we start to see cracks before the end of the novel.

But the main part of this story revolves around Cassia awakening to the thought that she wants choice. Choice of who she is matched to, choice of her vocation… and that line of thinking is dangerous to their society.

Her biggest dilemma is mixed feelings between two guys: Xander And Ky. I’m loath to call it a love triangle, because it isn’t, even though it falls into that category. It just narrowly escaped one of my all time despised YA tropes. Ky surprised me – I had him pegged as the bad guy, the rebel – but he is nothing like that. Just as Xander is not so much the golden boy he is made out to be.

The characters are rich and we take time to get to know them through Cassia’s perspective. It feels very organic as each of the cast grows and develops.

matched-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

I found myself wanting more fast paced action and for Cassia to stand up and challenge the system – but it’s an easy mistake to make – that would not have worked for this novel, or for Cassia. She hasn’t found her feet yet. But it left me excited for where the next two books in this trilogy.

Ally Condie’s writing style is effortless. She paints colourful backdrops with a breezy prose with you can get through quickly – which helps because of the slow pacing.

I was a little disappointed in the world building. There wasn’t enough information for me to get interested in Cassia’s plight. It was the relationship that drew me in. I’m hoping we get the origins, mythology, and reasons behind this dystopian world better explored in ‘Crossed‘ before I get too frustrated in the series.

I can’t say that the book was predictable, because there wasn’t enough resolution for me to sink my teeth into. I still have sooo many unanswered questions. And the last few chapters dropped so many teasers. I’m kind of thinking this isn’t a book I’ recommend unless your committed to the entire trilogy‎.

Overall feeling: It was okay.

matched-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

matched-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.

Book Review – ‘When’ by Victoria Laurie

A fantastic find!

when-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Mystery

No. of pages: 336

From Goodreads:

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.


Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I read this completely off the recommendation from friend and book blogger; it’s not something that would have jumped out at me normally, but was glad I got a chance to experience the writing styles of Veronica Laurie.

When’ is a paranormal mystery where our protagonist, Maddie, has the ability to see the dates of when people will die. That in itself was enough for me to pick it up. Such an intriguing premise with great possibility. At first I thought it might be a superhero origin story of sorts, or even a quest-like tale, but it went in a direction I did not expect.

Maddie is quiet, I like my main characters with a bit of sass, or attitude. Even her family possess wilting personality traits that paint a deteriorating picture for her life, let alone the added pressures from hiding her supernatural gift. Thankfully the pacing is superb throughout and we don’t get to dwell too long in her despair before things get interesting.

Maddie’s character does grow and develop, but you don’t realise it until the final chapters, her strength and confidence are brought about through necessity in an understated manner. I found that I really enjoyed this writing style, it was elegant.

The story line – being accused of murder, the discrimination, dealing with the law and policing organisations – had moments where it felt far-fetched, or serendipity, that had me screwing up my top lip. But on the whole ‘When’ was extremely engaging. I was right there along with Maddie in her hatred and frustration over the process of the legal system, and the attitudes of the agents investigating her case. It felt all too realistic. So too, was I fed up with the actions of her mother suffering from alcoholism… I just wanted her to pack her bags and leave all that shiz behind. It did a great service to building tension and setting up a wild ride climax.

when-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

Her best friend, Stubby is who really shined for me – even though he was goody-two-shoes and the best friend from childhood, Laurie was not afraid to let him fall. It added such a twist of realism to the story I was totally engrossed and invested in both Maddie and Stubby’s future.

There are so many coloured emotions that popped up for me. Donny, the responsible uncle, the rock in her familial world. Mrs Duncan, the elderly next door neighbour was the heart, and the guy you love to hate, but don’t quite, Agent Farraday. It’s been a very long time since I loved all the cast in a book of this genre, Usually the tropes and stereotypes inch their way in somewhere. Admittedly, there is a bit of that in ‘When,’ but it’s not a dominant aspect to the story.

The main things that detracted from the reading experience for me was around some of the roadblocks our protagonist faced – it was a little too contrite. And I was waiting for some mythology or even some global impact in the light of someone with her ability. Just a paragraph would have satisfied me. But alas, it was completely ignored in favour of the mystery storyline.

I completed the novel in one and a half days – so it’s pretty easy to get sucked into and you’re always left wanting to find out more at the end of each chapter. I won’t say it’s predictable, but I did guess the ending well in advance, though there is plenty of convincing doubt cast in the murder mystery that had me second-guessing for a moment. It’s an interesting little standalone for me, and something I’d recommend because it all ties up nicely and you don’t have to buy into a series.

I was intrigued by the author and her story, and looked at some of her other titles, but will probably leave it at this one. As interesting as her background is, and how well she can craft a story, it looks as though that niggling answer around mythology and repercussions of the gifts and elements she writes about are not addressed in her stories – and that’s something I feel is important to a narrative. A great mystery with a twist – give it a go!

Overall feeling: A diamond in the rough

when-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

When Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

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.

Book Review – ‘Not Your Sidekick’ (#1 Sidekick Squad) by C.B. Lee

Comic book heroes that leap from the page.

Not Your Sidekick Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT

No. of pages: 262

From Goodreads:

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

There is a lot of fun to be had reading this book. ‘Not Your Sidekick’ is choc-full of superheroes, has a diverse cast, and some plot twists that come out of nowhere. Learning about a dystopian earth in the future suffering affects from a solar flare, and humans presenting powers (called meta-humans) run by the government as superheroes. That’s a pretty cool premise.

The first half of the book is a little slow, but still compelling. Mixed with a lot of humour and comic book styled tales, it didn’t bore me at any point. Lee’s writing style is witty and fresh, tapping into the psyche of a sullen confused teen expertly.

If the mention of super heroes hasn’t tipped you off – I’ll tell it to you straight. Expect campy goodness. Cheese and moments that are way over the top. It comes part and parcel with this genre.

not-your-sidekick-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleOur protagonist, Jessica Tran, an Asian bisexual high school student, with just the right mix of confusion, vulnerability and sarcasm to keep me glued to the page. I did find however, due to a few things in the storyline, she can come across as a little dumb at moments – which doesn’t work well with the fact she performs well at school and her new job. I think the author needs to revise that plot point so Jessica doesn’t appear so stupid. Her anxiety over approaching her crush was spot on – I felt all the angst right along there with her. The addition to a great relationship with her parents (also meta-humans) and two best friends, was refreshing. There was no “poor me I’ve suffered so much“ going on with Jessica. She was just a regular insecure teen trying to find her place in the world.

I wanted a bit more of Jessica’s friends, Emma and Bells in the first half. For such a great relationship and how they clicked together (and their humour) I found myself wishing for more of the trio. We hardly get to know a lot about them. Here’s hoping more is uncovered in the sequel/s.

Abby was an interesting character – the supposed ‘golden girl’ in Jessica’s eyes, but at the same time being completely mysterious and aloof. That is a difficult combination to pull off. I guess I would’ve like to see a bit more conflict, have this perception Jess has of her to be challenged more. I like a transformation story arc. As this relationship was the pin that the plot revolved around, it was nice and easy… which is fine, but me likes tension in my main characters. 😉

Lee also manages to deconstruct some tropes in this novel – and rightly so, she is tackling some newish ground with her bisexual main character. It’s not widely prominent in YA and adds a freshness to the storytelling. Her perspective and switching up of stereotypical characters adds that zing that I couldn’t get enough of. It was so pleasant not to be fed those same old types of characters that dominate the YA market.

There are so many undertones in this book which are truly marvellous – but I feel it would do a disservice to discuss them in full in a review, because the book is meant to be a light-hearted, fun read. So I’ll let you garner from the book your own versions of social awareness and hidden messages.

While some aspects of the story line are so predicable it’s painful (one in particular was dragged out so long it became annoying,) others took me completely by surprise. And in a good way. It adds a lot of complexity by the end of the novel and leaves you hanging out for the next instalment. At this stage the second book ‘Not You Villain’ has a release date of 2017; let’s hope it’s in the first half of the year otherwise I may develop an ulcer… or a stalking habit… yet Miss Lee I might hunt you down and annoy the crap out of you until ‘Not Your Villain’ hits the shelves (in the nicest way possible, of course.)

Not your Sidekick’ is engaging, light hearted and has hidden depths. Definitely recommend for the aspect of diversity and the fun ride that goes a long with them.

Overall feeling: Wee!

not-your-sidekick-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

not-your-sidekick-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.

Book Review – ‘So Hard to Say’ by Alex Sanchez

A superb contemporary glimmering with diversity.

so-hard-to-say-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 230

From Goodreads:

When Frederick shows up at school, Xio is thrilled. The new boy is shy, cute, and definitely good boyfriend material. Before long, she pulls him into her lively circle of friends. 


Frederick knows he should be flattered by Xio’s attention. After all, she’s popular, pretty, and a lot of fun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Victor, the captain of the soccer team, instead?

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I felt ‘So Hard to Say’ was more aimed at a middle grade demographic, and in that sense, didn’t have the emotional punch I was looking for. Nor was the storyline complex. However, this novel was innocently concise and poignant. And definitely worth the read.

The narrative married perfectly with the inner voices of our protagonists Xio and Frederick. The Mexican culture that Xio brought, and the confusion and coming of age from Frederick’s story were nothing other than brilliant.

It completely captured those moments of questioning about first love, or attraction, and sexual orientation in the judgemental arena of high school. Even if you removed the aspect of Fredericks questioning his sexuality, the way he approached different friends directly translated to many friendships I had growing up – some you were friends with outside of school, some within… I liked that it showed multiple ways relationships develop throughout your childhood to teen years.

Even though it felt very innocent and stylized, it captures the issues facing our protagonists with an understated grace. This is not an angsty over dramatized account of Xio and Frederick’s life, but a great peek through their eyes with enough insight to set the scene and let you draw from your own emotions and experiences.

Xio’s inner monologue is mixed with culture and a lack of confidence that all teen girls seem to stumble through – what’s wrong with me? Why won’t he love me? I actually loved that realism about her, and her joy at embracing family and heritage.

so-hard-to-say-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle

Frederick’s life in comparison felt sparse – but you soon realise it’s on purpose. He’s distanced many parts of his life because he’s not sure about things. It was a joy to grow with him through the novel and see him fill those empty spaces, on his way to becoming the person he is meant to be.

Xio’s closing chapter was the most touching and prophetic. I’ve had sexual and gender-diverse friends all my life and can’t imagine ever not sharing our journey together. Friendship is forever – especially when the bond is more like family than someone you happened to go to school with.

I personally learnt a lot from Xio; about Mexican culture and home life. It’s not something we get a lot of exposure to here in Australia. And the fact that the language was scattered into the dialogue was fun. Even in the end pages you get a glossary of terms that I found cool.

This is my first novel from Alex Sanchez and has definitely left me wanting to pick up more of his titles. They are short enough with a light writing style that lends to being able to complete in a day. A great book to give to a younger teen. It was educational, insightful and a cute contemporary. I’d recommend this to lovers of contemporary, diversity and simple love/friendships that can resound with you long after reading. It was certainly a pleasant surprise for me.

Overall reaction: How adorable (kinda like this panda – he’s black, he’s white, and he’s Asian.)

 so-hard-to-say-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

so-hard-to-say-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.

Book Review – ‘The Countdown’ by Kimberly Derting

Alien abduction, hybrids, and government conspiracies… wrapped up in a teen romance.

the-countdown-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 368

From Goodreads:

She may no longer be human…but she’s their only hope.

In the concluding book in the otherworldly Taking trilogy, Kyra struggles to understand who she is as she races to save the world from complete destruction.

Ever since Kyra was abducted by aliens and then returned to earth, she has known there was something different about her. Now she knows the truth: she is an alien too. Her alien captors replaced all her human DNA with their own—gifting her with supernatural powers like incredible healing, enhanced eyesight, and telekinesis. But when she’s captured by an unexpected enemy, Kyra begins to wonder if her abilities are also a curse. And is she, as her enemies believe, meant to play some key role in helping an impending alien invasion? Is it programmed into her, something inescapable? Or can she fight that destiny?

No matter what the truth is, Kyra is sure of one thing: She just rescued the love of her life, Tyler, and she is not going to stand by and let anyone hurt him or her friends. Whatever it takes, Kyra will do everything in her power to save the world…even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

clipart-music-notes-zxtg75xiaIt’s the Final Countdoooowwn! clipart-music-notes-zxtg75xia – sorry couldn’t resist. With this final instalment in The Taking trilogy, I was looking forward to a mammoth dramatic end to what has been a fun sci-fi read. But there was a lot going on. A lot of characters and points of view in the narrative. It was confusing and made me dizzy. It took me half the novel to catch up and work out what was going on.

I’ve said it so many times before: I’m not a fan of multiple perspectives.

However, after a disappointing and slow first half, the storyline began to pick up. I could barely put the novel down as I neared the finish line. We got some great pacing and tension. For the last book in a trilogy it should be this way throughout – there are so many ends to tie up, questions to answer. It should be explosive.

the-countdown-book-review-pic-04-by-casey-carlisleThere’s still a tone of immaturity about Kyra and her friends, though I can see how she has grown as a character, I didn’t get all that invested in her or the story. Which is disappointing. The attention the first book of the series really captured my imagination, but things went awry here.

Tyler, our love interest and cute in the-boy-next-door way, only had that going for him. I kept wanting to get more substance. For him to pony up. I hate to say it, but Tyler was a little… forgettable.

Simon, another of the returned and member of their ‘Scooby Gang’ started to grow on me. He was showing some moxy and putting a spanner in the works. This boy had back bone, and then at the end of the novel, I was like – where did all that go. Feelings like that aren’t resolved in an instant…. The resolution felt like little bit of a cop out.

Adam (the alien), the only other character of note didn’t give me that desperation to survive and be reunited with his race I was hoping for. There wasn’t even thankfulness at Kyra and Tyler’s sacrifice to help him escape… It really felt like all the nuance of characters we got earlier on wasn’t carried through right to the end of the trilogy. Characters are the lifeblood of your story, and you need to pay them a lot of attention.

As far as plot goes, it was still light on the explanations; though we get all the relevant answers. Something about the explanation still doesn’t sit right with me. I liked the ending, and considering the romanticism of it all, was surprised there wasn’t an alternate conclusion – I think it would have been a much more impactful ending if it opened up this trilogy to a new world of possibilities. We love to dream about the what-if’s in sci-fi!

Maybe it was the attitudes of the scientists – oversimplified and some forced to fit into the role of a villain… or not. It had me wondering where the complexity was…

As much as I enjoyed the experience reading this, the characters were pretty interchangeable and bland. Their personalities could have shined in obtuse, quirky ways to add a larger dynamic to the narrative. All in all, it was “just nice.”

Great escapism for YA readers. I’d only recommend it to those who have been engrossed by the series, but don’t get your hopes up. A light, easy to read narrative, even though a little scattered. I wanted much more from this final book, but it was still a satisfying conclusion.

Overall feeling: well that didn’t go as planned…

the-countdown-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

the-countdown-book-review-pic-03-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.

 

Book Review – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Traipsing through the City of Lights with tenderness…

Anna and the French Kiss Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 401

From Goodreads:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

Page border by Casey Carlisle

France, the City of Love for a contemporary romance: there’s not much you could do to balls that up right? And well, Stephanie Perkins did not disappoint with Anna and the French Kiss. It’s not my favourite contemporary by far, but this novel was cute, and undeniably heart-warming – like a sigh on a warm summer breeze.

I liked how clueless Anna was when she first arrives in Paris: no idea about the language or what is going on with her new friends. Perkins captures that disorientation we all get when being introduced to a group of people who have been friends for a while – they have their own body language, inside jokes and patterns which are so foreign (being from another country or not). At times Anna annoyed me; she was broody or flighty that screamed immature… but then I had to remember this was a teenager and told myself to settle the heck down. But it was fun walking in Anna’s shoes for a while, especially meeting Etienne.

Anna and the French Kiss Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleEtienne was equal parts dweeby and aloof – that frustrating combination that most boys have at that age which seem to infuriate girls… it’s that whole Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus thing, right?

There is so much misinterpretation and assumption, which makes for good storytelling, and I loved it for the most part. Although that was one of the aspects of Anna that urked me – if only she were a bit more direct.

Stephanie’s writing style is breezy, introspective and lightly comedic. Even though it is around 400 pages, it is something you could read in a day. I can’t say there were too many surprises – with romance novels it’s usually pretty clear the coupling will end up together – and that’s why we read them. We all want a bit of swooning and wooing and happily ever afters.

This is a novel I’d happily recommend to my friends, especially while chilling next to the pool 🙂  A great introduction to Perkins and her writing – am looking forward to picking up Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Overall feeling: magical and adorable

Anna and the French Kiss Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Anna and the French Kiss Book Review Pic 05 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 – Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Getting lost in the High School Conversation – or just being lost in High School.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda Book Review Pic 1 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 303

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Blackmail, best friends, bullying, and a boy called Blue…

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda Book Review Pic 2 by Casey CarlisleSuch a cute read!! (Yes it deserved two exclamation points.) With a mix of emails, text messages and playlists this is an easy to read narrative told from Simon Spiers point of view, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda had me glued to page after page. It’s funny, gripping and ultimately huggable.

Full of misunderstandings and character growth, this book conjures up an image of a baby duck in the pond… Simon being the baby duck, fluffy and cute, following the rest of the clutch across the surface, meanwhile underneath his feet are scrambling tremendously to keep up. It is a light coming of age story with witty and sometimes ironic dialogue, and holds a few surprises to grab your attention.

If I could deduct any points it would be for the repetition of ‘I mean,’ ‘seriously’ & ‘I can’t even’ – it made me feel like I was watching and re-watching an outtake reel of Lindsay Lohan bloopers.

There is plenty of teen angst without being over dramatic. I like the way Simon was able to explore his emotions and feel safe confident about it. It was nice to read, instead of the ‘whole world is going to end if they find out I’m gay’ vibe that some books have.

Simon, in addition to his love of Oreo cookie type deserts and coffee, is trying to sleuth out the identity of Blue – the only boy who he’s had a real connection with (even if it only exists online). I appreciate the fact that Becky Albertalli did not make this Simon’s only relationship, and allowed him to explore the world on a larger scale, even though his understated manner. The cast of characters are each driven by their own motives, mostly unknown to Simon, which I think adds another level of sophistication to the narrative.

Modern, loveable and a little bit kitsch, a definite recommend in my opinion.

Overall feeling: A big warm hug – fangirling!  *squee*

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda Book Review Pic 4 by Casey Carlisle

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda Book Review Pic 3 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 – 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.