Why moving house is a lot like editing.

source: ellenturningpages.wordpress.com "2010 Wuthering Heights"

source: ellenturningpages.wordpress.com “2010 Wuthering Heights”

It’s no secret that the past few months every one of my days has been filled with packing belongings in boxes and renovating houses. It’s a time of upheaval, evaluation and renewal.

I swore that I was not going to blog, or whine about the endless task I am currently undertaking, but then I realised much of what I am doing is not dissimilar to my writing and editing process.

Your body of work, or work in progress, is your house. You’ve lovingly created a home, complete with all your little nick nacks and creature comforts. You’ve settled in and made a space for yourself that is all your own. It’s safe and comfortable.

But when it comes time to move, and the daunting task of carefully wrapping up every belonging in readiness for transport…

You pick up each item, and ponder ‘do I really need this?

It’s so much like going over your first draft, crossing out obsolete sentences and paragraphs to ensure your manuscript is well paced and engaging. Deleting waffle and nonsensical phrases, weeding out the useless.

The house may need some touch ups for the new owners or renters – a coat of paint, some new appliances…

Which I liken to improving my draft with better flowing prose and new content to give it a ‘wow’ factor.

And just like the anxiety of leaving your old house behind, melancholy over the history you shared; mixed with the excitement of a new horizon in a new place…

Once the changes are done with your writing masterpiece, it’s time to hand it to the publisher or printer, because that’s as good as it’s going to get. Time to start a brand new piece.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner 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.

 

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Book Review – Will Grayson, Will Grayson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Grayson Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

   © Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Cinder

Cinder Book Cover for Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle, and forbidden attraction, Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This book was a big surprise for me. Fairytale re-tellings are not my cup of tea. Too many times they feel lack-luster and over-done. Occasionally, they blow your expectations out of the water: and ‘Cinder’ definitely did that for me. Throw in a science fiction element and you have my attention. Marissa Meyer writes in a beautiful yet succinct style, leaving your imagination to paint the picture of Cinder’s world. Many authors tackling a fairytale adaptation tend to be flamboyant, or over-descriptive, dragging you attention away from the story – or start to bore you. But this read was perfect.

Was the plot predictable?  Well, duh! We all know the story of Cinderella, yet given this, Marissa weaves a uniquely captivating story; and I only put the book down reluctantly for trivial things like food and sleep.

The biggest issue I had with the novel, and it’s miniscule given how much I enjoyed reading it, was a tendency to a little bit of information dumping (which in common in sci-fi), and I felt it would have leant great credence to the story having Cinder discover some of it on her own. She was such a strong independent character, her uncovering certain facts would have enhanced the story and her role in it. Besides that tiny point, I love, love, loved this book.

Cinder Book Review pic 2 by Casey CarlisleYou can expect a certain amount of spooniness with this story – Cinderella loses a shoe, so Cinder, in turn loses her cyborg foot… but it was handled beautifully. You could really feel Cinder’s struggle and oppression – several times I had to bite my tongue from vocalising my distaste at how she was being treated.

Every character had their own motivation, their own personality and I have to praise the author at the intricate web she wove across with futuristic landscape. The added touch of aliens (Lunar people) to the mix of class structure, cyborgs, virus plague, robots, and a hint of paranormal powers; it ticks all the boxes to keep my up at night to ‘just finish this chapter… and the next one… and maybe one more.’

There are certainly some fantastic plot twists to Marissa Meyers first instalment to this series; and the story does not really conclude, as it is continued in ‘Scarlet’ (a Red Riding Hood adaptation) which I am poised to read with much excitement. Yes, the Cinderella story is concluded, but the Cinder storyline is only just beginning…

Cinder Book Review by Casey Carlisle

    Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Flat Out Love

Flat Out Love Book Cover by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side… and the social skills of a spoon of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is  a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is travelling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, emails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that… well… doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

soucre: librarianwhodoesntsayshhh.com

soucre: librarianwhodoesntsayshhh.com

Such a great summer read! Quick, extremely witty and mixes emails, facebook updates and the inner musing of the main character, Julie, to create a story that is delicate and compassionate.

Flat Out Love’ had a great pace and there was always something to captivate your attention, be it the mystery Julie was trying to uncover, hilarious one liners, or the awkward situations she found herself in the middle of. It’s a testament to rolling with the punches all the while keeping a sense of humour about you (because the alternative is to get stressed out – or even worse…)

Jessica Park is a pleasure to read, her style is uplifting even dealing with the darkest moments. I pretty much predicted the ending of the book after the first quarter, but it did not detract from the reading experience, because is was more about how the ending happened, not that it happened.

source: Goodreads.com

source: Goodreads.com

One of the best aspects of Park’s story is that she allowed the characters to unfold in their own time, letting the reader slowly get to know them – much like we do in real life. There was an issue I felt overlooked, in that Julie never questioned what was going on hard enough; but that has more to do with my bull-at-a-gate personality than the writing, and it was plausible, given that Julie was an introvert and not wanting to rock the boat with the tenuous atmosphere.

Matt and Finn are equally funny in their own particular styles, and found myself looking forward to status updates – they were sheer gold! It was hard not to fall in love with either. While their little sister Celeste was a hoot, again in her own way, much like the straight man in a television sit com, calling it like it is. She was intelligent and screaming out to be loved, there was no hope but instantly gravitating towards her adorableness.

source: girlwhowouldbeking.com

source: girlwhowouldbeking.com

Flat Out Love’ left me feeling great. A simple, brilliantly told story. There is much more depth to it than I first thought, Jessica Park really understands the psyche and her characters motivation. I’m adding the companion novel ‘Flat Out Matt’ to my reading list in hopes of more of Jessica-goodness. Highly recommend this for a light and fun read, or maybe as a break in between heavier novels.

 

Flat Out Love Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle    © Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Shatter Me

Shatter Me Book CoverFrom Goodreads:

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

This book has been the hardest one to finish this year so far. Which was totally unexpected given the reviews from fellow BookTubers and friends. The main reason behind my difficulty in progress through the novel was due to the fact that I could not relate to Juliette, the protagonist. That, and the occasional crossed out words of her retracted inner thoughts. They were distracting and pulled me from the story.

Now the premise of the book was great, held copious amounts of promise, but the way in which Juliette dealt with her dilemma had me squirming. She came across as erratic, weak and slightly out of touch with reality. Which is understandable given the predicament she found herself in, but lacked the realism… and ultimately lead to a superficial feeling in the developing character arc when she began too find her confidence and strength.

The story didn’t pick up until the last quarter – when the action and pace matched my enthusiasm – and from then on was totally engrossed.

Upon finishing the novel I really felt you could have whittled out half of it’s content and it would have been a way better book. And it urks me that given so many of my peers rave about this book and the series that something major has slipped past me. Even in an attempted re-read I still hold true to my conviction and have to agree that this it the worst book on my reading list for 2014 to date. I will, however, go on to read the second book in the series at a later date and hope for it to not suffer the same damning review. Given that the slow preamble of her origins has already been told and left it open in the middle of a build up to some great action scenes, it should by far surpass ‘Shatter Me’s’ score…

Shatter Me Banner

My favourite Character has to be Adam – steadfast in his resolve, a quality I always adore in the ‘knight-in-shining-armour types. Plus he didn’t feel the need to compensate for moments when he was weak and added credibility to his character. I really would have abandoned the story completely if it weren’t for Adam and his compassion and resolve.

Warner, the antagonist, however, followed the same doomed path as Juliette… the first three quarters of the novel I was literally rolling my eyes at how two dimensional and stereotypical he felt. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had grown a moustache and curled the ends with a maniacal laugh as he tied Juliette to the train tracks. Though in that last quarter of the story we caught a glimpse of something else – a sincerity and a righteous point of view that suddenly sparked my interest. It certainly adds to the potential for the sequel.

Tahereh Mafi’s writing style is quite readable, and I enjoyed her short expressionistic lexicon on the whole, but those crossed out words subtracted from my experience. So did some of her stuccoed sentences used in moments of stress; it gave me the feeling of someone speaking slowly and simply as if you had difficulty in understanding in what they were trying to say.

Shatter Me Quote 01

The storytelling device of Juilette’s power is a fantastic one – a concept that had me picking up the book in the first place. I like the way it is handled in the novel too, yet so much unexplored, and so much too convenient in the novel. I’m really hoping Tahereh has worked out the bugs and really starts to play with Juliette’s power in the sequels. I’m still having difficulty in understanding the world of the novel though, it is sort of dystopian, and wasn’t explained convincingly enough for me to buy into it. I feel that you either have to do a bang on job of setting the scene, or hit the ground running and leave it as a mystery of how it all came to be – unfortunately ‘Shatter Me’ did neither for me.

There are some great quotes – as I mentioned before Tahereh has moments of truly beautiful writing. I also loved the symbolism of the bird used throughout the first novel and how it is woven expertly within the story. All in all it wasn’t a terrible book, but difficult for me to get into.

Shatter Me Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle  

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Progress on the Smoulder Series:

For those of you who follow my blogs regularly and know about my works in progress, you are aware I like to create my own book covers while I’m writing. An inspirational/motivational tool to cheer me on. Given that I’m half way through writing the series, I wanted to design some covers that tie the books together, and designed a new set. Check out my handiwork below:

 

The Smoulder series

 

New covers:

Smoulder #1- Smoulder Series by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #2 - Embers by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #3 - Wildfire by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #4 - Firestorm by Casey Carlisle sml

Old Covers:

Smoulder by Casey Carlisle sml Embers by Casey Carlisle sml Wildfire by Casey Carlisle sml Firestorm by Casey Carlisle sml

 

Do you create your own covers for works in progress? Does it help you stay motivated too?

I’d love to see some of your creations…

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.