Excerpt from ‘The Understudy’ by Casey Carlisle

Here’s a little snippet from another work in progress…
The Understudy by Casey CarlisleThe Professor located the spare key, exactly where Ricki had shown us it would be, and opened the door to a surprisingly posh apartment. A small scruffy terrier came bolting from another room to jump up and down in front of us like a kangaroo. Ricki cooed silently at the mutt as it continually attempted to reach the ceiling with each bound.

“What’s the dog’s name?” The Professor asked me.

“Muggles.” I repeated after Stacy joined Ricki in trying to get the canines attention.

I moved further into the lounge area while the Professor went to find the food bowl and give Muggles a meal. The place was spotless, no doubt Ricki’s parents had a cleaner making regular visits, or maybe a neighbour tidied things up when they stopped in to tend to the dog?

Sure the little buggar was cute and all, but I was much more of a cat person. At least cats didn’t demand your attention every hour of the day. To prove my point Muggles began sniffing and pawing at my leg.

“No.” I pointed at him. “Sit.”

Muggles turned his head and pawed one ear the way you see dogs on television acting cute. I bent down to scratch him atop his fuzzy little skull, resulting in a pink tongue lolling out one side of his doggy mouth in satisfaction.

“What exactly are we looking for?” I called out to the Professor, still rummaging around in the cupboards.

“You should be able to feel something… I always got a wave of nausea. Then you’ll be close.” Stacy gave up trying to get Muggles to answer her.

“And then what?”

“I’d release the energy.” Stacy replied matter-of-factly.

“Is that like farting or something?”

“You don’t feel anything?” Stacy ignored my comment.

“No.”

“Try another room. Ricki died in hers. Let’s go in there.”

“You’re not creeped out or anything? Being in your dead friends house?”

“She’s not dead. She’s right here.”

“Says the ghost.”

“Just look around will you.” Stacy waved at the apartment.

The Understudy v 2            I wandered across the lounge with Muggles in tow playing at my feet, taking the few photographs on the Entertainment Unit. A few of Riki posing for school portraits and then a couple of her pulling faces at the camera were cluttered to one side of a large golfing trophy. On the other were two obviously modelling shots, but no evidence of her mother I noted.

“You look so cute in this one.” Stacy complimented her mute friend as they ogled over Riki’s pictures.

Check please! Narcissism for two. Our whole reason for being here began to lose its appeal.

“I don’t feel anything.” Snapped in irritation.

“You sure about that?” Stacy sniggered just as Muggles hugged my leg and began thrusting his hips.

Ricki fell backwards through a wall laughing without a sound.

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Interpreting the spirit

Sometimes there is a different type of language barrier – maybe you’re existing on different Plains?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my favourite challenges while temping, was for a company offering spiritual services and courses. It had more to do with understanding the way my new boss spoke… she didn’t have traditional ways of thinking and I was frequently needing to decipher what is was she was really after. That’s not saying that she was difficult to understand or work for, she just has an artistic interpretation of the world.

We were about to launch a new curriculum and introduce subjects and course material to clientele and the general public. It sounds simple, but throw in a Director who, being true to the stereotype, tended to talk and operate in concepts – and the task became more and more intimidating.

I had to learn a whole new way of communicating and mused how our conversations would look with subtitles:
Topic by Casey Carlisle

Venue by Casey Carlisle

Support Material by Casey Carlisle

 

It may sound like I had a frustrating task with no leadership when attempting to organise a series of spiritual seminars, but in truth it was fantastic. You could get as creative as you wanted, make things bright and colourful, think outside the box… way outside!

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If you want to know what I did for the seminar:

Instead of throwing together a PowerPoint Presentation on a set list of topics, I created ‘Stations’ around the room which had flatscreens looping material on multimedia packets for each area of speciality. Substituting the typical folder with pages of information for products with our branding, complete with information on use, company background, courses, contact info etc. – essentially a show bag of goodies.

Each station was a sensory adventure with music or live instruments, flowers, burning oils, and shimmery stones. A smorgasbord of stimulation. The Director was then able to head to whichever station she wanted to and give her excitable spiel, with complete freedom to follow a train of thought, or follow where the largest group of participants gathered.

Tales of a Temp 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 – The Taking

The Taking Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

A flash of white light… and then… nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ‘n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed… yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra ‘s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken… and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

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I really enjoyed The Taking, I know the story itself is nothing new, but the way Kimberly Derting draws her characters was exciting and relatable. The premise of alien abduction is a major draw card for me in picking up this title, and there is plenty of mystery thrown in here, and I enjoyed how Kimberly wove character development into the story rather than a massive sci-fi fest.

The Taking Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI liked how the protagonist, Kyra, handled her situation, her reactions, her lashing out… it felt very realistic and relatable. I got plenty of feels for her and the people around her: dealing with loss, confusion, and ultimately acceptance.

The love interest – Tyler, definitely made this book for me. He was adorkable and unquestioningly loyal – these traits made him exceptionally attractive in my eyes. Some readers have knocked it for instalove, but if they read the novel properly they would understand that Tyler had been crushing on Kyra since childhood; and now a man, is on a mission to win her heart. He does this by believing and supporting her without question. There was nothing instant about it. He really has to work for Kyra’s affections. And it’s not like Kyra falls for him at once, there’s a graduation from friendship, to security, and to something more. It may be a bit soppy, but I love a romanticised coupling every now and then.

The Taking Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThere was a lot of climbing in and out of bedroom windows, which reminded me of sneaking out so often in my teen years.

Kimberly’s writing style lends The Taking to a fast read, and it is scattered with internet abbreviations (i.e. FML), weird verbs within the narrative: I’m not sure if she was trying to connect with the target audience or not, and while it could annoy some readers, I found it amusing.

The pacing was a little stop-start, as Kyra made discoveries throughout the novel, but it did not distract from my experience and I completed The Taking in one day. Ultimately is was a little clunky, but not unreadable. Maybe with a little more editing/rewriting this could be an outstanding novel. But for now, it falls into the ‘great way to spend a day reading at the beach.’

If you liked the Lux Series by Jenifer L Armentrout, this has a similar feel. And for those of you who remember and loved the television series Roswell on the WB Network – this is in along the same vein.

I am really looking forward to getting the next book in the series, The Replaced in April this year.

The Taking Book Review Pic 04 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.

The Three Furmigoes!

Having the opportunity to work from home means I never miss out on the crazy antics of my fur babies… and this week was a doozy!

 

Writing full time, means I can take my office wherever I go, but usually it is in the study where I have an allotted amount of time to create new content – and it is never without an audience… which can sometimes turn into a big distraction.

MM Dat face! Ben looking cute by Casey Carlisle

The baby of my trio – Ben – and I say baby because he is hopeless. A big snuggly teddy bear – despite being the largest of the three, this cuddle monster is always the one trying to sit on your lap, attached at your feet like a shadow and only comes alive in your presence. At the beginning of the week we had some massive thunderstorms. And Ben hates thunder. He is reduced to a quivering, slobbering mess. It doesn’t matter if you are asleep, he will manoeuvre his was onto your bed and climb atop your head to wake you with a face full of drool. So I didn’t get much sleep that night. I spent it sitting in bed with a towel under the dog, wrapped up in my arms vibrating like a massage chair. Needless to say, the next morning, hours after the storm had dissipated, this fluffy bunny still did not want to be put down. When I went to the bathroom he was most indignant, using the full force of his puppydog eyes in hopes I would pick him up again… I am so under his spell!

MM Bobby loves Baked Beans  by Casey CarlisleOur grumpy old man dog, Bobby, has a protence for all things cardboard. Forget fluffy toys – give him a box or toilet paper roll and he’s in heaven. [Tip: never leave a tissue box in his reach – even if it can be accessed via the chair, desk and bookshelf – he will delight in pulling our every tissue to decorate the room before chewing the box to bits… You get the picture: he’s a freak for cardboard!] So to my amusement, one afternoon when fixing myself a snack of baked beans on toast, the wrapper fell to the floor, which was made out of… you guessed it – cardboard. Only this time I think he decided it would look much better as a necklace than in hundreds of bits over the floor.

MM Hamburger Baillie by Casey CarlisleThe newest addition to the family – Baillie – has personality galore! He loves to sleep in weird places, run, bark… a real ball of energy. So during my cleaning day, I’d stacked the dog beds atop one another while vacuuming. Later I noticed the little black and white mischief maker was nowhere to be seen. I called and called to no avail (which is nothing new – Baillie is selectively deaf and only responds to a squeaky toy or the crinkle of the dog biscuit bag). So I started looking about room by room until, as I walked by the mattresses, out pops a head to growl and lick my leg. Someone was playing hide and seek! Run your fingers along the edge and out would jump a static haired face to make some noise and disappear in an instant. I swear my dogs are batshit crazy at times, but am so glad I get to have the opportunity to witness their childish games.

My work day would be so boring if not for my fluffy companions, they entertain, reduce stress, and listen intently when I discuss my latest plot twist.

I’m just hoping I don’t end up getting labelled the crazy dog lady…

Do your pets help you write?

I’m thinking the personality traits they exhibit would make for some interesting characters.

Muttly Mania 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.

Film vs Novel – The Giver

An audacious experiment in social justice and identity.

 Film vs Novel The Giver by Casey Carlisle

I had brushed past The Giver a number of occasions, and it was only after watching the movie did I bother to give this title a go. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t one of my favourites, and felt like it was an echo of Divergent (actually the other way around since Divergent was written later – but that happened to be the order I read/watched them in). There are many distinct differences between the written and film adaptation; the most notable is that of character development and the passage of time…

Where the movie embraces a more sci-fi element to make the story more visually stimulating, the book focused more on human rights, identity of self, and right to choose. With the advances in VFX, it certainly adds an eye-popping dynamic to any story, and the scenes produced in the film of the drones and technology woven into day to day living enhanced my enjoyment. However, I would have liked to see the film tackle a stronger sense of the more serious topics presented in the book. With that said, I feel that the social aspects weren’t discussed properly in the novel either – merely topics introduced for discussion without truly being explored. Quite possibly they are themes that are carried through in the subsequent instalments of The Giver quartet, but with not addressing them enough in this debut, it felt a little wishy-washy for me.

I noticed how in the movie they completely ignored the fact that all Giver/Receivers had blue eyes, signifying that it was a genetic trait that enabled the person to assume the position, (because the entire community is engineered). I guess they overlooked that to embrace a more diverse cast, but I think it had the viewer confused (it certainly didn’t sit right with me)… the community is supposed to be more sterile and monoethnic.

The Giver Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleJonas in the book was very young when it came to assuming the position of a Keeper of Memory, and I had issue with this. The narrative sounded and felt too old for someone of that age. Plus the responsibilities and tasks felt way too important to be entrusted with someone so young. The passage of time in the book took years through the storyline, which added credence for me, like Jonas was undertaking a real apprenticeship. The film failed to convey this passage of time, leaving me questioning how Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites) sufficiently developed in the story. But I liked the representation of his age in the film – it felt more appropriate.

There were other distinct differences I’d like to discuss, but in wanting to avoid spoilers, I’ll paraphrase… Jonas’s turning point in the film was much more satisfying – it created a culmination of action and tension – and involved more of the cast, where in comparison to the novel, eluded more to Jonas’s character development than an acceleration of blockbuster effects.

The Giver Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Having Asher (played by Cameron Monaghan) become a Drone Pilot instead of a Recreational Director added a different dynamic in the film version. Within in the book it was to illustrate the naivety of war, but in the film it was a tool to expose the landscape in and around the community and it Big Brother-esque governmental control and inject some action and pacing.

I found the book more satisfying, its underlying commentary on identity and community as handled well for a young adult market. The book overall, however felt unfinished and not fully discovered. The Film, comparatively was entertaining but lacked the clout of a social conscious you garner from the book, which left it a little wishy-washy. So it’s the book for the win!

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 – Scarlet

Scarlet Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling instalment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. 


Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

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 Scarlet was highly anticipated and had some big britches to fill after the amount of enjoyment I got out of reading Cinder – and it did not disappoint.

Even though we are introduced to new characters, primarily Scarlet, the storyline also picked up Cinder’s story and wove the two of them together expertly.

Again, as it is based on a fairytale, (Red Riding Hood) there is an amount of predictability to the plot; but yet I was still surprised and delighted at this adaptation and what eventuated in the pages of Marissa Meyer’s second instalment of the Luna Chronicles.

Scarlet Book Review pic 01 by Casey CarlisleScarlet is a great main character, a strong female who can hold her own. She differs from Cinder where she is a little more naive and relies on the help and guidance of her new companion, Wolf. The way aspects of the original fable are brought to life in this science fiction epic are masterful. Scarlet is a girl made through hard yakka and poverty. Intelligent enough to run her own business, but still sheltered: yes her character mirrors Cinder a little, but they shine as distinct separate women. Plus it was great to see the characters from the first and second books interact with Scarlet. The only negative I can mention about this novel, is that I felt that we didn’t get to know Scarlet as well as we did Cinder in the first book – much of this instalment dealt with events around Scarlet, rather than getting to know her as a character. But still very entertaining and totally had me fangirling!

Red Rain Review Pic 2 by Casey Carlisle

Marissa’s writing style is effortless, and at times satirical, to ensure Scarlet is a quick and eloquent read. I did miss the comic relief that was present in Cinder, in the form of Iko… but our little robot friend jumped back into the story later in the novel. But as my favourite character, I would have loved to read more of Iko’s jarring and funny dialogue.

This has been one of my most enjoyed reads (and series) in the past year, so it will remain in my top ten recommendations. Will be jumping into the next in the series, Cress, in the month to come…

Scarlet Book Review pic 02 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 – The Selection

The Selection Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

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I’d passed over this title many times because of the premise – a raffle for a Prince to choose his bride – sounds a little overdone and pretentious. Many have said it was The Bachelor meets The Apprentice (I didn’t get a feel for the Apprentice part until the end of the second instalment though). I must say I was pleasantly entertained by The Selection. Even though it rubs the wrong way against my ideals, and I felt there were some major plot holes in the world building, I was able to submerge myself in the narrative, and admit that Keira Cass has created a piece which has become a guilty pleasure to read.

The ick factor with this book came from the pomposity of the world – it did not feel believable for me. But if you can indulge the fantasy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the development of some of the characters. Plus there are some real mean girls in here that took me back to my high school experience; how I wish I could have dumped a bucket of fish guts over their heads!

The Selection Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleKiera Cass does a great job in using the narrators voice, in this case America Singer, as a tool for her storyline reveals. We discover the facts as she does. A real case of show, don’t tell. It ticked a big box for me. But the most annoying thing about this novel (and which continues throughout the series) is America’s indecisiveness. For such a strong willed character she flip-flops all over the place. At times I just about left dent marks in my e-reader from gripping onto the case in frustration.

It was refreshing to meet a character who started to enjoy the trappings of class. America begins to get more and more daring, putting on more make-up, choosing flashier clothes, getting comfortable with her maids, and made no apology for her excitement. Every girl likes to play dress up and feel pretty. We can’t be self-sacrificing martyrs all the time.

Other issues I had in the storytelling had to do with America not exploring her situation enough. Questioning why things were the way they were… but having said that, if Keira Cass had explored that train of thought The Selection series would have a much different, darker tone, and ultimately less enjoyable. So I’m chalking it up to America’s naivety to the world around her…

The Selection Book Review pic 04 by Casey CarlisleKeira’s writing style is like a warm breeze tickling your skin and waving through your hair: it’s effortless and unseen. I whipped through this book so quickly. Which attributes to the pacing as well, I did not feel the need to put the book down. I have to say, The Selection was a light romantic read very close to a Cinderella story.

If you are on the fence with this series by the end of The Selection, I will say – it gets better. There were a few unexpected twists that brutally surprised me throughout the subsequent editions that I feel totally redeem the collection. So, yes I picked up the next book in the series, The Elite to read straight away…


The Selection Book Review pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 © Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.