Book Review – ‘The Memory of Death’ (#3.5 Death Works Trilogy) by Trent Jamieson

This is the way you breathe new life into a series…

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, novella

No. of pages: 94

He thought he’d return from Hell a hero. But things are never easy when your business is Death.

Steven de Selby gave up his love, his life, and his lucrative position as Head of Mortmax, the corporation in charge of Death. Then he found himself banished to the briny depths of hell. But hell has never held him before …

Now Steven’s back from hell, after escaping from the cruel Death of the Water, but he’s not sure how or why, or even if. No-one at Mortmax trusts him, and he’s running out of time to prove he is who he says he is.

Steven is about to discover that hell really is other people, and the worst of them may well be himself.

There seems to be some confusion over this novella. The cover is calling it Death Works novel #4, yet Goodreads has it labelled as #3.5 – I guess Trent Jamieson is the only one who can clear all this up. And I’m wondering if the franchise ends here – will the story continue, or has interest and marketability of the Death Works franchise dried up? It has become a guilty pleasure for me. The references to Brisbane and its surrounds are my back yard. And I kind of like paranormal tomes that deal with various incarnations of Grim Reapers and the subject of the afterlife. Jamieson has a wit and irony about this world and protagonist Steven de Selby that I find alluring.

The Memory of Death’ sees Steven (in parts) dragged from The Death of Water where we saw his ending in ‘The Business of Death.’ Going into more detail will spoil happenings for this novella. But it sets up an interesting premise for this franchise to move forward. Turns the relationships of the characters on their head. It is such a genius twist that it renewed my interest and has me hoping that this is not the end.

A lot happens in this short novella. I did wish the first half was a bit punchier and clearer. It takes a beat for the reader to get enough information to make sense of things. In that sense it was disorientating for me and I kept putting the book down for a rest. Not something you want to hear about a novella. But once the story got its legs, it was in short, brilliant. So the pacing went from faltering to light-speed.

Steven de Selby has an arc of sorts – more like a reconstitution. He’s the same but not. I liked in ‘The Business of Death’ how he went dry – gave up drinking completely because it was starting to become a problem for him. I was not all too happy to see him start up that habit again. His relationship with Lissa is completely different, and the engagement is brought up but there is hope that it can get back on track – for which I am greatful. I was really starting to ship these two.

I was astounded and delighted to read a preview from ‘The Carnival of Death’ touted as the Death Works novel #5. This is a great under hyped series that I am happy to recommend to all my friends. There is even a bind-up of the trilogy available… I’m just praying that Jamieson continues this series because it’s a little taste of home and a little taste of weird.

Overall feeling: Don’t say it’s over…

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 Business of Death’ (#3 Death Works) by Trent Jamieson

This series gets better and better – talk about apocalyptic endings!

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

No. of pages: 225

Life is tough at the top when work is a matter of life or death.

It’s one thing to run Mortmax International as head of a team, but it’s quite another to rule alone. Staff fatalities have left Steven by himself on the Throne of Death, and there’s no time to get comfortable. The Stirrer god’s arrival is imminent, threatening life as we know it. Plus Steven has managed to mortally offend the only ally strong enough to help out.

And how can he ask someone to marry him when the End of Days seems inevitable? As if they’re going to think he’s committed. The portents don’t look good as a comet burns vast and looming in the sky and Steven can almost hear a dark clock ticking. He will have to play nice if he wants his ally back, and must address the madness of the Hungry Death within himself if he even has a chance at defeating the Stirrer god.

If he fails, Hell and Earth are doomed and wedding bells will be quite out of the question.

This was the cinematic ending (sort-of) I had been anticipating. I say sort-of because, though touted as a trilogy, there is a forth novella in this series, which supposedly re-boots the Mortmax universe. Leaving the series open for more possible sequels, or just concluding with a more open-ended and hopeful tone. The ending of ‘The Business of Death’ concluded with a PERIODT. It’s very final. Very satisfying in a romantic sort of way if you follow the tone set throughout the series, it makes sense. But I can see some readers not getting the sayonara they wanted.

In this instalment, Steven de Selby has gotten another promotion to Orcus as the managing directors of the worlds regional chapters of Pomps (grims) committed suicide, and transferring their collective power to Steven so he would stand a chance in fighting off a war of the coming Stirrer god. A god. One who rules over the dead, who is forcing an apocalypse and plans to decimate and take over the Earth.

There is all the sarcastic wit I’ve come to love from this series. I liken it to the Buffy franchise with the dark comedic tone. There were a few elements that held me back from truly getting sucked into the narrative this time around however: the first half of the novel is clunky. It didn’t have that flow, which made it feel like the plot was floundering even though it wasn’t. Because of this the pacing was patchy and I put the book down a lot. When things start to get really interesting in the second half the plot is magnificent, though I was pulled from the narrative again with really short and consecutive chapters. It was almost like Trent Jamieson really struggled in writing this conclusion. But that is the worst of it – some pacing and formatting issues. Jamieson’s writing is a pleasure to read, he can weave a great plot, surprise you, make you holler and laugh, and craft appealing and flawed characters, all wrapped up in Australiana – set in and around Brisbane (where I currently reside.) So the story strongly resonated with me, and I was so proud to have this calibre of writing come from my home town.

I was surprised to see even more character development from Steven as a main character, drying out from his alcohol addiction, facing death at least four times with consternation. He wasn’t this confident hero, blustering with bravado, Steven is a normal man, out of his depth, floundering for a victory with nothing but his determination. I really loved this trait and had me rooting for the underdog all the way through this series. I feel like we have an undervalued writer and under-hyped series on our hands. I’d really like to see this collection get more exposure internationally. A strong recommendation from me.

Overall feeling: Seriously cinematic!

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

I’m free, I’m free! – An August reading and writing wrap-up

Reclaiming old habits… about time!

With the virus that shall not be named causing many States in Australia to jump up and down the levels of restriction I’m still gobsmacked at the world we are living in – and the stupidity of the few causing issues for the rest of the population. People: get tested, follow the guidelines. Use some common sense and err on the side of caution.

Now that rant is over, we’ve been lucky here on the Sunshine Coast. Everything is mostly back to normal as long as you observe social distancing recommendations. I got to return to the gym and start to lose some of this weight that’s been sneaking on in the lock-down, plus it feels great to get in a workout, get those endorphins running, and have a professional help with a variety of exercises and challenges. It’s fine to exercise at home, but with a few health issues, I need the guidance of a fitness professional to  avoid exacerbating a back injury. The right equipment, and the correct way of using it is a must. I finally feel like I’m back on track with my fitness goals.

I managed to complete reading 5 novels in August. (Nearly 6, I was only 40 pages to the end, but it will go towards September instead.) I love knocking down that TBR! The number is now at 412… but I will be ordering some new books in the next week or two so the number will jump up again next month, but it’s the first time this year I’ve added to the TBR pile. And I won’t do so again until Christmas, so I can live with that. Besides I managed to get another series finished that has been hanging around for years, and make progress on another two. All the novels have been pretty interesting, but nothing that blew my socks off.

Writing wise was non-existent for my WIP’s. I have had to take on copywriting, content writing, and ghost writing jobs as I’m the only one in the household earning an income… up until the last week when my housemate finally got to return to work. So now I can scale back on the number of submissions and return to my own writing – back to making progress next month. *Happy dance*

The biggest thing happening in August for me has been getting my puppy’s coats back in order – because I was busy at the computer all day, every day; I left the grooming to my housemate, and, erm, well, he doesn’t follow instructions well. Or chose not to. With fluffy furbabies, you need to brush all the knots out of their coat before you wash them to avoid their coat becoming even more matted. Two baths later and I’ve got a bigger job than usual in taking care of my babies. I could have shawn their coats real short, but with the cooler weather of late, I was a bit hesitant. So a number of short sessions spread over a week and a bit have eaten up the little free time I had to care for my pups. 

I have had a few other side projects to boost the household income on the backburner and finally been able to start implementing them during August, so that is another personal win for me.

I don’t feel I got to do much else – not even catch up on movies and tv series. I’ve just been so mentally drained at the end of the day I pass out cold in a drooling mess. Though with the eased Covid-19 restrictions I finally feel like I’m able to get back to some of my yearly goals that have been sidelined for close to 6 months now. 

How has life been going for you? What’s your wordcount? How many novels did you get to read? Has Covid-19 changed the trajectory of your yearly goals?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

Still Slaying that Series…

In February of 2016 I started a quest to complete all of the series that I had begun (slay that series,) but had yet to finish. I knew I wouldn’t get it all read in that year, so let’s check in to see where I’m at now…
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Of the 18 series I listed last year, I completed 9 – so half way. Not bad. I probably would have read more, but kept getting distracted by new releases. Plus, I tend to not enjoy marathoning books so much, I like variety. Also if you read many series end to end, some details start to feel repetitive as the author usually has to re-introduce you to the world, or summarise the story so far with each instalment of the collection.

But my TBR for slaying that series has also grown. Books which I thought were standalones have turned into many more. And sometimes I could not resist picking up another novel which is a start of another collection… glutton for punishment anyone?

Now my new ‘slay that series’ tally stands at 19. How sad to feel I’ve made no progress staring at that number. But going back I have completed 11 series that weren’t included in this read-a-thon I’d set myself over the year.

So here’s where I’m at (in no particular order):

The Lunar Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Lunar Chronicles by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I kind of stalled with this series, I don’t mind fairytale re-tellings or science fiction, I think after a break away I’ll polish them off in quick succession.

Shadowhunter Universe:

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Slay that Series The Infernal Devices by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Bane Chronicles by Casey Carlisle Slay that Series Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Dark Artifices by Casey Carlisle

It’s like when your at a candy store and there’s so many yummy choices that you end up catatonic. Must. Read. So. Good.  I really want to marathon the rest of this series, and I know there will be more to add to my collection, but I’m not letting myself buy any more Shadowhunter goodness until I read the rest of these.

Darkest Minds Trilogy (and Novellas):

Slay that Series Darkest Minds Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Again, another crowd favourite that failed to impress me. An average sort of read, though I’ve only read the first novel, there is plenty left in the series to blow my britches – fingers crossed! Plus with a screen adaptation on it’s way I want to finish off this trilogy before viewing.

The Caster Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Caster Chronicles by Casey Carlisle

I absolutely adored the debut novel, but held off after reading bad reviews for the subsequent installments, but I’m getting that itch again. Maybe I should stop looking novels up on Goodreads and just enjoy the experience as I turn the page – let the words cast their own spell on me… (see what I did there?) Plus there hasn’t been a witchy read in by reading list for years.

Unwind Dystology:

Slay that Series Unwind Dystology by Casey Carlisle

Teens for spare body parts – love it! We were just on the verge of rebellion in the first novel, so I really want to get back into this series. I don’t even remember why I stopped.

Lux Universe:

Slay that Series Lux Universe by Casey Carlisle

Ahh, hot glowy aliens… need I say more? A guilty pleasure with angst, heavy petting, and high school. With two more books just added to my collection I need to get on to it! There are lots of other Jennifer L. Armentrout series waiting for me to sink my teeth into next.

Translucent series:

Slay that Series Translucent Series by Casey Carlisle

A new series I recently got into. Easy, fast sci-fi reads. Invisibility and dark matter. Not the best written series, but a great way to spend an afternoon. I can’t wait to see what Dan Rix will do with these girls… but the final book was published in e-book form over a year ago and I’m still waiting for it to be released in paperback form to complete my collection – so frustrating! Get a move on Mr Rix!!

Deathworks Series:

Slay that Series Deathworks series by Casey Carlisle

A Grim Reaper. A multi-national company of Grim Reapers! And it’s set right here in Brisbane, Australia! Such a great seires by some local talent, took me ages to track down the rest of Trent Jamieson’s books, but now I have them in my hot little hands.. mwah ha ha! (that was my maniacal laugh btw.)

Under The Never Sky Trilogy:

Slay that Series Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

While I haven’t been all that impressed with this trilogy, there is only one novel left – and it’s typically the best one. Looking forward to putting this series behind me.

Fetch Series:

Slay that Series Fetch Series by Casey Carlisle

The second of this series is yet to be released, but I had fun reading about this dystopian world. Not sure if it will remain a duology, or continue expanding, but its fun light reading. And dystopians always remind me of my highschool days for some reason :/

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Collection:

Slay that Series Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children by Casey Carlisle

Heard lots of great things. I was so-so on the first book, but love the mythology. Really keen to see where Ransom Riggs will take as.

The Lady Janies Trilogy:

Slay that Series My Lady Janies Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Scarcasm and hilarity in this historical fiction fancy. Can’t wait to see what they do with other Jane’s from the past. Eagerly waiting for the relese dates to complete the trilogy.

Elemental Series:

Slay that Series Elements Series by Casey Carlisle

Picked up the first book on a whim and sped through it. Along the lines of Jennifer L. Armentroug’s Lux series. A guilty pleasure paranormal romance full of tropes and hot boys. Nice to break up the more heavier reading content.

Red Rising Trilogy:

Slay that Series Red Rising Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Struggling with the writing style of this series, but with only one book to go am determined to finish. Then I’ll decide whether I want to attack Pierce Browns new Iron Gold trilogy in the Red Rising Universe set to start releasing in 2018.

Between the Lines Duology:

Slay that Series Between the Lines Duology by Casey Carlisle

An interesting contemporary, and am curious to see where the story does in the last part of the duology. Fictional characters coming to life – yes please!

Red Queen Collection:

Slay that Series Red Queen Collection by Casey Carlisle

I’m having a love/hate relationship with this series, sometimes I am raving about it, sometimes a bit meh! But just have to wait for one more release in 2018 and we can call it quits. Plus I’d like to see what Victoria Aveyard will write after this series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy:

Slay that Series A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Really enjoyed the first book, the second I struggled with a bit, but am expecting an explosive thrid installment in true Sarah J Mass Style. I thought it was only going to be a tirlogy, but in the end pages of A Court of Wings and Ruin we are teased with a new realease in 2018 – WTF!

No Ordinary Star Trilogy:

Slay that Series No Ordinary Star Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Wonderful premise, but this is a trilogy that I’d rather poke my eyes out than read, but my OCD won’t let me just drop it – lucky they are short novellas… let’s hope M.C. Frank can turn my opinion around.

Zeroes Trilogy:

Slay that Series Zeroes Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Such a fun gritty series and incredibly well written to boot. I have the second book ready to go and the third preordered to satisfy my Zeroes lust.

Sidekick Squad:

Slay that Series Sidekick Squad by Casey Carlisle

A new series that has captued my imagination – funny, witty and just enough sass! Not sure how many novels will be released in this seires, but eagerly waiting for ‘Not Your Villain’ out in October this year.

The Illuminae Files:

Slay that Series The Illuminae Files by Casey Carlisle

Hurry up May 2018! Have been having a blast reading this series and hope it continues with its masterful tragectory. Who hopes this is more than a trilogy too?

Children of Eden:

Slay that Series Children of Eden by Casey Carlisle

Children of Eden’ was a bit of a surpise for me, and I got toatally invested in the story. Let’s see if Joey Graceffa can keep it going with the next book due for release in October this year.

Warm Bodies:

Slay that Series Warm Bodies by Casey Carlisle

Two short stories and a trilogy from our all-around favourite zombie, R. Love Isaac Marion’s writing and eager to complete this collection and find out how the world recovers from a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully all the books will be released by the end of 2017.

Tales From Foster High:

Slay that Series Tales From Foster High by Casey Carlisle

Something about the topical writing with gay main characters struggling through high school (and much adversity) has wormed its way into my heart. I think I’m committed to see this series through to the end – another one of my guilty pleasures. It’s like finding out what happens after the fairy-tale ends…

The Girl With All The Gifts:

Slay that Series The Girl With All The Gifts by Casey Carlisle

Upon first reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ I didn’t totally love this series – but it grew on me, and am excited to see what new discoveries about the zombie-like world can be made in the sequel…

 

That leaves 66 books left to read to finish off all the series listed here – so it’s definitely going to take me longer than a year to read them all – especially given I like to sprinkle in stand-alones, new releases, and am making my way through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler’s back catalogue. Plus some of the titles above have not been released yet, or not confirmed as complete, so this list will continue to evolve and change… but hey, I’m not adverse to adding more books to my TBR. It keeps me excited.

What series are you determined to finish of this year? Got any opinions on any of the books listed above? Your works might just push a book to the top of the pile…

In the meantime – happy reading 🙂

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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 – Managing Death by Trent Jamieson

Dude has more than nine lives!

Managing Death Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Urban Fantasy

No. of pages: 327

From Goodreads:

It’s not easy being Death. For starters, people keep dying. And then, they keep getting up again.

Steven de Selby got promoted. This makes the increasing number of stirrers (and the disturbing rumors of a zombie god rising sometime soon) his problem. That time management seminar he keeps meaning to take would also remind him that he’s got a Death Moot to plan, a Christmas party to organize, and an end-of-the-world thing to avert.

Steven must start managing Death, before Death starts managing him, or this time the Apocalypse will be more than Regional.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

After being so excited over the debut of this series, I picked up the next in the franchise with eager hands… Trent Jamieson’s novel approach to the Grim Reaper with this urban fantasy set in the streets of Brisbane, Australia; saw Steven De Selby once again face enemies gunning to knock him off his throne as a General Manager in the Death Business.

While ‘Managing Death’ wasn’t as good as the first book, it maintained all the elements I enjoyed in ‘Death Most Definite’ except for the romance between Steven and Lissa. Their relationship is still in the forefront of the story line, but had lack-luster shine in comparison to the first book in the series. I liked the edgy, snarky thing they had going with an undercurrent of true passion – it didn’t have that same feel in this novel. I guess because there was just so much going on. Talk about action and politics… we had it in spades. I’m not alluding world politics, I’m talking Death politics… and that’s a whole other ballgame; and it has to be read to be believed.

With Jamieson’s writing style, it was graphically and gloriously colorful as always, however the exposition dragged in parts. Also it felt like there was a lot of repetition in the narrative in rehashing history or facts… once is enough! (But many sequels suffer this fate, but it was a little too much for me.)

The build-up felt slower, despite there being a lot of action (I blame the unnecessary rehashing). I nearly got fed up with it, but the story managed to keep my interest with its twists and turns.

Still loving the mythology, as I did with the first novel. You get more in ‘Managing Death,’ and deeper into the story behind Death and its origins, plus heaps more of the fantasy aspect. Totally enrapturing.

Managing Death Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The climax nearly blew me away, and it’s certainly a compelling reading.  I was twitching and tense (and one scene with a razor left me green to the gills – look out for that one).

I have mixed feelings about the next book, I am pining for the tone set out in the first book. Initially the Deathworks series was meant to be a trilogy, but have since found out number 4 is already published and Trent is hard at work on installments 5 & 6… so let’s see where it leads us. I’ve yet to get copies of the next book(s) but will read and review as soon as I do.

Not the outstanding follow-up I was hoping for, but one Hell of a story! (Pun intended) And I can see it’s setting things up for a much more interesting plot… dun, dun, duuuuuuhh!

Overall feeling: Sensory overload!

Managing Death Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Managing Death Book Review Pic 03 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 – Death Most Definite

Death Most Definite Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Steven de Selby has a hangover. Bright lights, loud noise, and lots of exercise are the last thing he wants. But that’s exactly what he gets when someone starts shooting at him.

Steven is no stranger to death-Mr. D’s his boss after all-but when a dead girl saves him from sharing her fate, he finds himself on the wrong end of the barrel. His job is to guide the restless dead to the underworld but now his clients are his own colleagues, friends, and family.

Mr. D’s gone missing and with no one in charge, the dead start to rise, the living are hunted, and the whole city teeters on the brink of a regional apocalypse-unless Steven can shake his hangover, not fall for the dead girl, and find out what happened to his boss- that is, Death himself.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I happened across this book at the airport and bought it to while away the hours spent soaring across the Australian sky with no prior knowledge what this book was about and was happily surprised. ‘Death Most Definite’ is a gem! And the start of a the Death Works Trilogy!

An elegant twist on a Grimm Reaper, Trent Jamieson builds a supernatural world on top of Brisbane, Queensland with great artistry. It was also great to read an urban fantasy where the protagonist, (and most of the cast for that matter) are close to their family. Steven gives a satirical narration with a refreshing realistic take on events. He’s not afraid to cry at loss, feel love and express it, or get pissed off and kick something. Steven felt so real to me.

Trent Jamieson has an easy going writing style and I never found myself pulled out of the narrative. He expertly builds the story and pace, I barely put down the book and the ending delivers a fantastic pay off. I am so happy I have discovered this author! Such rich, well thought out characters that deliver quirks and failings in full technicolour. With a great sense of irony and comedic timing I embarrassed myself repeatedly in parts when I barked a laugh out loud while reading this on the plane, tram and in the park.

The flow of the novel is somewhat predictable in the sense of it fitting into the typical horror genre format; but the particulars are unique and entertaining.

If you loved ‘The Mortal Instruments,’ you may want to give this series a go.. it’s grittier but has all the elements I loved from Clary’s world and comes from a masculine point of view with a great dose of Australiana. Additionally any fans of the film ‘R.I.P.D’ staring Ryan Reynolds will enjoy this extravagant tale.

Highly recommend this to anyone with a fetish for the supernatural and/or afterlife. I’ve already added the second installment of this series ‘Managing Death’ (Death Works Trilogy) to my reading pile.

Death Most Definite Book Review pic 01 by Casey CarlisleCritique 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.