Book Review – ‘Jealousy’ (#3 Strange Angels) by Lili St. Crow

It’s getting better! Dru really sink her teeth into the story in Jealousy.

Jealousy (#3 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 316

From Goodreads:

Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha—half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead—but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to—especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life, and the only person who can save him is Dru.

The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to…

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Things are starting to get interesting again – we’re back on the path to finding answers, fighting the big bad, and making serious head-roads into a serious relationship.

There were some parts of ‘Jealousy’ where the pacing went flat: getting bogged down in a lot of mundane detail. And then there was the repeated reference to many things like the necklace, the owl, the touch…. we get it, they’re important to the plot, but the continual referencing was starting to get tedious.

The love triangle thing came out in full effect in ‘Jealously’ and, to be frank, I don’t like it.

Just. Stop.

But besides that, I lurved ‘Jealousy.’ The formation of strong friendships, the battles, the espionage and back-stabbing. It made for some delicious reading. The 14 year old girl in me was all-a-squee.

Jealousy (#3 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleOur protagonist Dru felt like she was finally starting to take her future into her own hands, challenging the direction those around her of whom were pushing her in earnest. She made up her own mind with the facts that were presented. I loved how Dru showed compassion with Ash the tortured and broken werewolf; I really started getting wrapped up in her story and could feel the character development ooze from the page.

Christophe was absent for most of the story, but when he appeared, he landed with a clap of thunder and shook everything up… I’m still of two minds about him though. As lovely as he is written, there is something altogether creepy about him.

My heart belongs to Goth Boy. Graves in all his laoup garou glory. I adore his sarcastic sense of humour and how he supports Dru as a partner and not a dominator.

Again, I got a number of delightful little surprises from the plot, many of which I didn’t see coming. Anna plays a wonderful role in the unveiling of the past, and mythology. Though this does end on a cliff-hanger; it has a sense of hope and strength and I’m keen as mustard to get my hands on ‘Defiance.’ A great addition to my YA collection. Recommended.

Overall feeling: Falling in love with this series.

Jealousy (#3 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Jealousy (#3 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Every Heart a Doorway’ (#1 Wayward Children) by Seanan McGuire

The start of a delicious fantastical story…

Every Heart a Doorway (#1 Wayward Children) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: YA, Fantasy, LGBT

No. of pages: 169

From Goodreads:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children

No Solicitations

No Visitors

No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Such a colourful world that exists in this novel. Reminded me of ‘Hex Hall’ by Rachel Hawkins and ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ by Holly Black.

I loved the descriptions of all the realms existing through the other ends of doorways – portals to other worlds. But I am still trying to figure out why – what is the purpose of the doorways – how are they all connected… and what it means to the story. It wasn’t answered in this first instalment, but with another three books in the series ready to read, I still might yet get my answers.

The characters are all very interesting – colours of personality, identity, gender, sexuality, all mixed in with quips and foibles. Such a delicious array of characters, McGuire’s writing style stands out in shining holographic light. Maybe an author from a Nonsense world?

Every Heart a Doorway (#1 Wayward Children) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Nancy, as the protagonist was probably the most sedate of all – a little uninteresting, but it was great to get exposure to the worlds behind doorways through her eyes. Experience her own world and the yearning to return to it. How ‘normal’ people assumed that they were all mentally ill, suffering a breakdown or possessed an overactive imagination.

She had a quiet strength that only appeared when absolutely necessary.

Such a diverse cast. An asexual protagonist and a transgendered friend – I love the way the issues were dealt with, how they were introduced, like they weren’t anything new or unusual. It’s something that happens, like breathing. If only attitudes were like this in real life.

The plot twists were masterfully crafted and I did not see them coming. For such a short novel this really packs a wallop. The one downside is that I did not get enough of the bigger questions resolved, just a few of the smaller plot points. But it is a series, so I am excited to see where this is all going. Definitely picking up ‘Down Among the Stick and Bones’ very soon.

I felt like I was flying through this book, the chapters are shortish and introduce a plot point or tidbit of information and kept the pace going right until the end. I had to spread this out over a week or so because of my lack of free time but will definitely be re-reading this before long – maybe marathon the entire series. Sounds like fun. Especially since I was so impressed with the writing, it’s promising. Totally recommend!

Overall feeling: Way above my expectations.

Every Heart a Doorway (#1 Wayward Children) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Every Heart a Doorway (#1 Wayward Children) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Betrayals’ (#2 Strange Angels) by Lili St. Crow

The next instalment in the Buffy-esque YA creature feature.

Betrayals (#2 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 296

From Goodreads:

She’s no angel…

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England Schola for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem—she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide…

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

This sequel to ‘Strange Angels’ is still with the fun characters, the adventure, and action filled storylines. St. Crow definitely has a superb writing style, however this felt a little wah-wah for me.

The plot felt like the Scooby Gang just went from point A to point B while fighting off some nasties. I missed the sarcastic humour and banter, I missed some major plot development, and finding out about some of the mythology of the ‘real world.’ It was definitely an engaging read, little tweaks on creature features were delightful. Though it did read like a middle book. I felt if there were some more reveals in the plot, a touch of character development this would have felt like a novel, not just a couple of chapters in a larger story.

Betrayals (#2 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe love triangle-esqe thing was a little bit tiresome, but I definitely lavished in how the relationship is building between Dru and Graves. This is my pairing for the win! There’s not much else to say about the characters, it was such a short novel that mainly consisted of a journey… but we don’t get any hero transformation because it is only part-way to the destination, so while I loved the story, and it was an entertaining read, it felt, well… empty. The only plus side in commenting on characters, it that of the protagonist – there was a real sense of Dru being lost that rang through strong and resonated with me…

This short novel was completed in two sittings, and am keen to continue on with the series in ‘Jealousy.’ I’d recommend this, but make sure you have the entire series to marathon because the individual volumes in this series don’t quite stack up as separate novels.

Overall feeling: Cool, but…

Betrayals (#2 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Betrayals (#2 Strange Angels) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Strange Angels’ (#1 Strange Angels) by Lili St. Crow

A cool sarcastic ride of the paranormal… shades of Buffy.

Strange Angels Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 293

From Goodreads:

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.) Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her?

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Strange Angels,’ it starts off with a bang and takes one surprising road after another. There is an ancient twist to the monsters and mythology in this novel that kept me engaged. It did not feel like every other YA paranormal in this genre.

I was engaged throughout and found myself investing in our protagonist Dru, and even began to ‘ship her and Graves. Dru is a gritty independent heroine, but also a teen girl with hopes of normality. I was really rooting for her, and forever trying to work out what was going on.

Christophe was introduced too late in the novel for me to care about. But Graves, the only other male was Asian geeky deliciousness. Easy going and loyal to a fault. And thank goodness it did not feel like a love triangle, or instalove even though it had all the ingredients for this trope.

Strange Angels Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

There are some spoony moments and this has a heavy ‘Supernatural‘ (the television show) vibe, except it’s a female lead instead of the Winchester brothers.

Lili St. Crow has a wonderful writing style. Her wording was so unexpected yet flourishing and edgy, complementing the tone of ‘Strange Angels.’ It’s a dark horror comedy that definitely entertained and I have become an instant fangirl.

I don’t feel like there was a whole lot of resolution – in fact very little – but it has asked a whole lot of questions that I can see stretching out over the four novels to follow. I’m intrigued to find out what happens in ‘Betrayals.’ And discover even more about the mythology of the real world and Dru’s heritage.

Definitely recommend this to lovers of the YA horror/fantasy genre. A quick punchy read.

Overall feeling: Holding on to my socks!

Strange Angels Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Strange Angels Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

A whole new world inspired by ‘Fangirl’ that is magical and swoon-worthy.

Carry On Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy, GLBT

No. of pages: 522

From Goodreads:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I’ve read ‘Fangirl,’ but I have to say, I enjoyed ‘Carry On’ better.

The first thing to note – this is not Cath from ‘Fangirls’ fanfiction, nor is it the original written by Gemma T Leslie from that universe; this is a completely new take on our two male leads, Simon and Baz pipelined straight form Rainbow Rowell’s brain to you. So don’t expect to see any of the text from ‘Fangirl’ in this book – it is its own creature. Additionally, I’ve not read any of the Harry Potter books (better get on to that) from which the world of Simon and Baz is loosely based, and that did not detract from any enjoyment of this book. So you don’t need to have read either ‘Fangirl’ or any of the Harry Potter novels to understand ‘Carry On,’ it’s a marvellous little stand alone.

I deducted half a mark solely for the pacing – especially in the first half. It felt like it was dragging and I put the book down several times, tempted to read something else for a break. Also, even though the ending was great, magical and fantastic, it wasn’t epic. Other fantasy or glbt books have had a more dramatic ending suiting to an angsty protagonist. ‘Carry On’ fell a little flat for me.

But on the whole, I loved it!

Carry On Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleSimon is a bit of a whiney character, but grounded and all of these points, surprisingly, make him endearing.

Baz is completely misunderstood, and it was valuable to get his POV to gain some insight into the developing plot.

There is a lot of head jumping in ‘Carry On,’ Penelope, Lucy, Simon, Agatha, Baz, The Mage, Ebb, Nicodemus, which I found a little distracting, but it also broke up the narrative into delicious bite sized bits and provided a welcome break to what would have been a very long and boring explanation had it remained as Simon’s POV. It added to the pace and really drove story forward, especially in the last half of the book.

The love/hate relationship between Simon and Baz has its twist and turns, and while I fangirled over the pairing, a key turning point did not have the weight and reaction from Simon as I would have liked – but that is me – I love to revel in the angst. And while there is plenty of that in ‘Carry On,’ I always have an appetite for more.

Some of the more comical moments are presented expertly and got a chuckle out of me frequently – as did some of the characters names – it was very Potteresque.

There is a certain amount of predictability as with most fantasy, but there are many fun surprises as well. This is a big departure from the usual contemporary for Rainbow Rowell, and I have to say, she should write more fantasy – this was thoroughly enjoyable! Highly recommending this one to all my friends and family.

Overall reaction: Gave me all the feels.

Carry On Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Carry On 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.

Film vs Novel – Vampire Academy

A sassy romp through high school –Mean Girls with bite!

Vampire Academy Review by Casey Carlisle

Usually I have read the book before viewing the movie, but in this case it was the other way round; and I wonder if that spoiled some of the experience when reading, because I already knew what was going to happen. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still enjoyed the written version by Richelle Mead, but there were some parts where I felt the story dragged… and found myself thinking ‘get to the good stuff already!

Both the style of the movie and the book were funny and skipped along at a reasonable pace, although the film adaptation, in my opinion was that much more sassy – reminding me of the witty banter in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’  From watching the movie, a lot of the history into the Strigoi (bad vampires), and Elemental Magic was rushed, and the viewer was lead to accept that that is how it was. Alternatively, in the novel you got to learn much more about these aspects to the story line, and they were slowly built on throughout the entire book to a big reveal and climactic finish. With that said, if I had read the book first, the ending would have packed much more of a punch.

Rose (Zoey Deutch), Lissa (Lucy Fry), and Natalie (Sarah Hyland) styling up the Formal Dance in Vampire Academy.

Rose (Zoey Deutch), Lissa (Lucy Fry), and Natalie (Sarah Hyland) styling up the Formal Dance in Vampire Academy.

The two main characters, Rose Hathaway (a Dhampir) and Lissa, (Moroi Vampire Princess) have great chemistry on and off screen. Even though the story is told from Rose’s perspective, we get glimpses for Lissa’s school experience through their shared psychic link.  I connected with Zoey Deutch’s portrayal of Rose in the film much more than I did the character in the book – only because she came across as a more everyday girl with attitude (knowing she was way over her head but doing the best she could); where in the book I got a more of a stuck up vibe under all that bravado, like she was certain she was good looking, and could do whatever she wanted; which didn’t work well with the loyalty she had for Lissa and being her bodyguard.

I’d have to say the opposite for the character of Lissa though, Lucy Fry did a commendable job, but didn’t quite sell the image I conjured up from the book. I want to say Lucy lacked the presence that Lissa exuded, but then again – that kind of thing is what you feel from first person contact and is hard to replicate on a screen.

The one casting decision I wasn’t happy with, was that of Dimitri, played by Danila. I wanted him to look a bit younger and hotter! But that’s just my girlie hormones kicking in for my ideal dream guy. Danila’s acting was perfect for the movie, but I didn’t get the sex appeal from him I did from Dimitri in the novel.

I can’t say that the movie was predictable, I didn’t guess what was going to happen, and delighted at every twist and turn. Roses’ one-liners have to be my favorite. I was hoping to read my favorite line from the movie, but unfortunately it wasn’t there – so I must commend the script writer there, you made my day!

Vampire Academy Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

I’d say the movie is well worth the viewing, if you love ‘Buffy’ type films, you’ll get a kick out of this one. As for the book, yes I liked it, but I wouldn’t rave about it. Being the first in a series, it’s quite possible that the best is yet to come. I’ll read the next in the collection and let you know how it measures up without a movie spoiler! With the movie doing poorly at the box office, and second installment, ‘Frostbite’ now turning to crowd funding, it may mean an end to the series on the big screen L

So in the end, the movie wins out, breaking the trend … and here’s hoping the fans do get behind the second movie because, although it wasn’t a classic, I still thought it was pretty awesome.

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.