Film vs Novel – The Fault in Our Stars

Strumming heart-chords everywhere.

The Fault in Our Stars Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

Where the film devastated me, the book completely annihilated me.

I nearly wasn’t going to read or watch anything to do with John Green’s creation, mainly due to the fact I’m easily reduced to a blubbering mess for days in stories like this; and sense-memory of my own battle with the big ‘C.’ But as evident of this review I finally caved – and true to form, was not fit for public appearances for at least two days.

I loved how the book gave the reader glimpses into how undiscriminating cancer is, how it steals your dignity, and how moments of despair and resolve wash over you. The movie interpretation doesn’t do this as successfully though – it was too ‘pretty.’ Sick people really don’t look as pleasing as Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who play Hazel and Gus respectively.) It was a heart-warming love story though, and if the reality of their situations were laid bare in technicolour, I don’t think many would watch it. So, a sanitised version for the big screen is something I’m prepared to overlook.

The Fault in Our Stars Film vs Novel Pic 1 by Casey Carlisle

Going into the book without expectations, and not trying to anticipate the plot let me revel in the beauty of Hazel and Gus. See the determination and will to experience life through their eyes. You also get a sense of this in the film, but it is not as prominent. Where the book has layers about love, life, survival, death, significance/insignificance (and I could list ten more) the movie was essentially a romance. So while I enjoyed both, the delicate undertones and meaning of John Greens’ writing did not translate well to the big screen.

So too did I feel the characters were a less sparkly version for the screen: where Hazel was quiet and strong and Gus was devilishly cheeky and debonair, even though both actors imbued the characters with these traits, they were so much stronger in the novel.

Both are in my top favourites and I urge you to read the book before watching the film – be warned: the story may destroy relationships for you forever. Gus is a hard guy to live up to.

And it’s the novel for the win… okay? Okay!

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.

Advertisements

Book Review – Eleanor and Park

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

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

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

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

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

Eleanor and Park Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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

Getting the job done

Call it time management or motivation, but there is a lot that goes into sticking to your self imposed writing deadlines – creativity can be a fickle creature.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve had some writers tell me I’m absolutely insane to have a number of works in progress going at any given moment. Maybe it’s not how they operate, but it works for me.

The sole reason I keep projects running congruently is because I can’t control in which direction my inspiration flows on any given day. Who am I to argue with the mostly irrational inner workings of my mind? I have a daily word count and an overall plan to complete projects on due dates – but the logistics are free flowing and intuitive. Many attempts have been made at singular manuscripts consecutively, and it’s not that I get writers block, but the ideas get a bit stale, and my attention wanes. So having multiple books in development works.

And yes, sometimes my workstation looks like I’ve dropped a grenade on it, coffee mug rings on stacks of paper, bowls with remnants of cereal or icecream; and others it’s pristine and organised – exactly like me!

I keep track of my writing progress with tick box lists and charts – it gives me great satisfaction to mark off my progress at the end of each chapter. It happens daily or weekly, either way I get a regular boost encouraging me to keep writing. Pictures and bright colours adorn the wall over my desk, so at any given point in time I can switch to something seamlessly, or get a snapshot of where I’m at.

It may sound a bit hectic. But it’s how I write.

The way I have my workspace set up means I can immerse myself in each project – plus I have more than one workspace (and sometimes like to write on the move) to keep it fresh and interesting. Creativity does not happen in a vacuum, so you cannot expect the ideas to keep coming if you are locked in a dark room starting at a blank screen or piece of paper. Venture out of your comfort zone.

Mind you, I don’t write willy-nilly, I’m passionate about my novels, and pepper my enthusiasm with intervals of reading and discussing my W.I.P’s with friends. It is great stimulus. I also create my own book covers to help envision a finished product.

It’s a delicate balance between structured and free-flow writing, applying just enough pressure to get the job done without stressing yourself out.

My books have outlines and plots, but the characters choose their own direction in the storyline. Every day is exciting to find out what they are going to do with what I throw at them. Keeping the surprises in my writing is what makes it interesting.

How do you feed your inspiration, keep the motivation?

Do you like to write form start to finish following an outline or let the words flow through you when your at the keyboard? I’d love to hear how you write. Comment below and tell me all about your process or latest project.

And as always, happy writing! 🙂

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.

Film vs Novel – Outlander

Historical fiction at its best.

Outlander Film vs Novel Review by Casey Carlisle

Historical fiction is generally not something that excites me, but with the time travel twist added in, ‘Outlander’ grabbed my interest.

Up front, I have to say I enjoy the television series more than the novel – chiefly because of being able to forgo a lot of the exposition about the era and just enjoy the story. As much as I was engrossed in the novel, and enjoyed being educated about how people lived in 1700’s there were many times I skipped ahead in the written version. Dianna’s eye for detail in researching every small thing about life in that era is uncanny, you really get a feel for how difficult living was without the creature comforts. I take my hat off to her in that respect – it was really educational. Conversely it was some of that content that had me skipping forward. So I guess you could say I had a love-hate relationship with parts of the monologue.

The novel allowed you to get a real sense of history with the characters and set them up for the journey. The television series on the other hand does it through flash back and narration… which is well done and not distracting, although at times Claire’s voice over feels out of place even though the content is vital to the scene/story.

I feel the small screen version to be a lot more confronting. I remember reading the scenes in the novel, and I guess I mentally edited or sanitised the events somewhat to my own comfort level: seeing them replayed on the flat screen had me squirming at times. Though, I think they only enhance Claire’s story and not added to the production for shock value. Life in the 1700’s was raw, hard and a battle for survival (especially for a woman) and to show this you expect to be made uncomfortable. The added  bonus with seeing the story retold in picture medium is the truly spectacular scenery – it had me fighting off the urge to jump online and book a Scottish getaway.

My imagined version of Jamie from the novel was rugged, huge with an imposing physical presence, where the actor playing Jamie in the television series, Sam Heughan, presents a softer, vulnerable more attractive version (not to say he is not imposing when he needs to be). Heughan cast as Jamie lends credence to the intimate scenes the Claire’s character; in the novel the conversations they have when they are alone is not something I could picture a battle-scarred highlander having with his woman, but this actor hits the perfect balance of naivety, strength, and masculinity to keep me engaged in the more difficult dialogue to swallow from the book.

Outlander Film vs Novel Pic 1 by Casey Carlisle

Maybe because of the medium, but I find the television series keeps the pace going so much better than the book – as I mentioned I skipped ahead in the novel, but in watching the series, I’m always anticipating the next episode. The creators of the small screen version are doing Dianna a tremendous service in bringing the world of Claire to life.

Gabaldon really packs a punch in this story, I can’t say I predicted the story that well. She presents options for Claire, building up both sides of an argument to a point when even the reader has difficulty making a choice. Dianna really knows how to plan out a gripping storyline and make it real.

As you can garner from my critique, I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love it; the show however… so much more satisfying.

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 – Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meeets Boy Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Quirky. Witty. Enjoyable. ‘Boy Meets Boy’ had me gripped from the first page. It was pleasant to dive into a world full of colourful characters, no looming apocalypse, no life threatening enemies, just a rollercoaster ride for your heart.

David Levithan paints characters wonderfully unique, whether they are a part of the main cast or ensemble. It had me paying attention to every word on the page. The same goes for the dialogue – it is a laugh riot at times.

The biggest drawback about this novel for me was that it was a little too gay – in the sense that nearly every character has a touch of Dorothy about them. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, it’s only that it pulled me from the story because of the lack of realism. It lost that contemporary feel. The landscape was very ‘safe.’ Though, this aspect certainly did not detract from my enjoyment and love of the story. Contradictory to that, the setting allowed exploration of sexuality in many forms which would have been impossible in a more realistic setting; and you would have lost that candy-crush-light-hearted-romantic feel of the novel, because you would be faced with some of the more ugly aspects of society and how it deals with difference. Additionally, it mirrors how sub-cultures develop in the wider community, as like gravitates towards like to create their own safe haven.

David’s characters are always so beautifully flawed that you just have to wrap your arms around them with a big hug. I love reading his books and get such a different view of the world from my own.

Boy Meets Boy’ is a light read, embracing diversity, positivity and dry humour in one boys journey to find love. A great summertime read, or for a break away from heavier content to lift your spirits.

Boy Meeets Boy Book Review Pic 1 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.

T.B.R. (To Be Read).

Reading not only entertains, it enhances your experience through the written word.

Recently I’ve had a couple of friends ask me why it was so important to do a lot of reading in order to become a great writer. Shouldn’t novelists instead do a lot of writing in order to practice and hone our craft? I think my friends are secretly looking for an excuse to not feel so bad because they read very little.

I’m not sure if I got my point completely across when I summarised it simply: reading is like doing research and gaining exposure to what’s happening in the literary world.

Yes, it is also so much more. But to explain it better I’d lose their attention in detailing all the benefits of maintaining an interesting reading list (not to mention the fantastic entertainment value).

Shaking my head at a comment (and somewhat naïve one) that writers were essentially stealing ideas from what they read. I guess essentially it does influence us at times, feed our imagination – like how you get an idea from external stimuli. And unless you are outright plagiarising text, partaking in the art of reading for writing’s sake, has nothing to do with how an author creates prose.

I’d have to say that since deciding to embark on writing as a fulltime career, facts and tips garnered from reading widely, writing book reviews (and reading or watching on YouTube), has greatly improved my manuscript development.

It’s given me analytic tools in addition to opening my eyes to differing styles and tone within genres. I particularly love book reviews and the points the reader makes when something didn’t work for them – it’s gold for improving my own writing.

How do you go about choosing the books for your TBR pile?

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.

Book Review – Flat Out Matt

Flat Out Matt Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he’s witty, he’s brilliant.

And he’s also very, very stupid.

When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit?

It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn.

But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister Celeste, who may need Julie the most.

You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in Flat-Out Love. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this Flat-Out Matt novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again.

Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven Flat-Out Love chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

After enjoying ‘Flat Out Love’ so much, I went into this with high expectations, only to find it is more of a companion/outtake/behind the scenes type of publication. It still had that quick wit and invoked the passion felt in its predecessor, but lacked the continuity of a story, jumping forward in chunks of time. There was also too much repetition. Experiencing events through Matt’s eyes did not uncover anything drastically new, or put an interesting spin on events.

Jessica Parks writing is flawless and I completely love her style, I just didn’t get into this so much. There is more adult content in this edition (unlike ‘Flat Out Love’) which does not detract from the story – in my opinion, it reflects Matt’s maturity and redeemed the book.

Although highly predictable I wish it could have explored more of the family’s issues and/or history and reveal more about their lives. Or even a new character introduced into the mix that Julie never got to meet. I was left feeling a little unfulfilled at the end of the story, but got a warm hug in re-connecting with one of my favourite literary couples.

I’d only recommend this to hard core fans of the first book in the series – it’s definitely not a stand alone.

Flat Out Matt Book Review Pic 2 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.