Hello Old friend… I had a whale of a time!

Falling back into old habits – and what a way to jump back into the coast than with some whale watching.

Hello Old Friend Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI took a quick day trip to do some whale watching yesterday. There are so many places along the coast here offering trips out to indulge in some good old cetacean-staring. It’s not until you get up and close that you appreciate just how enormous these mammals are.

It’s been over 18 months since I’ve indulged in a post around Marine Biology (my other love.) There wasn’t a lot of opportunity when I was living in Melbourne, and now on the Sunshine Coast, it’s on my door step. A Freshwater natural spring on my property and the coastline a 20 minute drive away… it’s about time!

Hello Old Friend Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI caught up with Philip, an old friend from my JCU days who has some contacts with diving and tour establishments locally, and did some light cajoling to get me on a cruise. It’s been over ten years since I’ve been on open water, and forgotten just how much I love it. I was also roped into some manual labour to get the vessel ship-shape before cast off – and cheeky Philip pulled me up to share some knowledge on Humpbacks and what other great marine animals were present in the area. Boy did I have to dig deep having been away from the coast for so long.

We were treated to some curious visitors and rewarded with a few breaches, mind you, you’re out on the water for half the day and the encounter (if you are lucky) may only last 15 minutes.

Hello Old Friend Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleWe also used a hydrophone to record some whalesong too, which Philip collects and sends to one of the Universities. Someone there is trying to decipher whale language. The whole day had me melancholy for my research days.

At least this time out I didn’t trip, or fall, or manage to clumsily do something to embarrass myself – I’m famous for landing on my backside at least once an excursion. The closest to a mishap was narrowly avoiding some spray from a motion sick passenger.

All in all a magical day!

I’m going see if I can do some volunteering with Dugong or sea turtle tagging later in the year; or maybe venture out on my own and do some diving if I can borrow or hire some equipment.

Head Under Water 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.

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Book Review – If I Told You So by Timothy Woodward

Rebellious teens, idiotic dares, sassy best friends, gorgeous boys and lots of ice cream!

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

The summer you turn sixteen is supposed to be unforgettable. It’s the stuff of John Hughes movies and classic songs, of heart-stopping kisses and sudden revelations. But life isn’t always like the movies. . .
For Sean Jackson, sixteen is off to an inauspicious start. His options: take a landscaping job in Georgia with his father, or stay in his small New Hampshire hometown, where the only place hiring is the local ice cream shop. Donning a pink t-shirt to scoop sundaes for tourists and seniors promises to be a colder, stickier version of hell. Still, he opts to stay home.

On his first day at work, Sean meets Becky, a wickedly funny New York transplant. The store manager, Jay, is eighteen, effortlessly cool, and according to Becky, “likes” Sean the way Sean’s starting to like him. But before he can clear a path to the world that’s waiting, Sean will have to deal with his overprotective mother, his sweet, popular girlfriend, Lisa, his absentee father, and all his own uncertainties and budding confusions. 

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When I was reading this, it felt like sitting around with a bunch of friends reminiscing about our summers in high school – it was realistic, intimate and heart-warming.

If I Told You So’ really captures those moments of first love – or first contact and physical closeness. The innocence and naivety wrestling with hormonal forces beyond control. The urgency. And the finality of actions and words. This felt a little like it could be anyone’s adolescent coming out story. It had an easy appealing feel with a positive message even though it is about the difficult process of exploring sexual identity.

Sean Jackson is relatable and genuine, he is refreshingly honest and leaves judgements at home. I liked him from the get-go, determined to blaze a trail of his own away from his Fathers plans of manual labour in the family business. The parentals are always trying to instil lessons of a work ethic and learning the value of the dollar, and it’s so much more fun addressing that on your own terms – even if it is at a campy ice cream parlour or a MacDonalds franchise.

Becky is also witty and straight-to-the-point as his new best friend. We all need someone to call us on our shiz… Plus she was there to give Sean a gentle shove when he needed one. And let’s not forget Jay, the manager at the ice cream parlour that Sean becomes so enamoured with. The way their friendship develops felt so real, and Jay does a great job as the patient mentor (at work and in coming out). Such a wonderful cast of endearing characters, painting them at face value until they prove themselves something different.

It is brilliantly light-hearted, with a jovial narrative that really pulls you into the coastal small town. I was easily lost in this pleasant read, devouring it in one sitting. Great for a lazy day at the park or beach.

It was fairly predictable, but in a good way – you are jostling for a happy ending from the start as the characters are all so loveable. If you like sweet contemporaries that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, then this one is for you.

Overall feeling: Such sugary goodness I can’t stop…

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Beauty and the Beast turned Fae – Yes Please!.

 A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 416

From Goodreads:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

This is the first novel from Sarah J Mass that I’ve read, and I have to say I was impressed.

Not being a fan of fairy-tale re-tellings, but am finding this genre to continually grow on my bookshelf – ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses,’ puts an original spin on the Beauty and the Beast fable.

Outstanding story telling – although there are a few moments, one at the start and one near the end, that felt a little too convenient and were made to happen for the sake of the story line (and to fit into the original fairy tale mould). Which is what ultimately knocked this down half a point for me; I guess because the writing and character development had so far exceeded my expectations that these contrived plot points were glaringly contrite. But that is the worst of my criticism.

It has been years since I’ve gotten lost in a fantasy world. I’m usually reading contemporary, science fiction or supernatural. But Maas got me hook, line and sinker…

Feyre is obstinate and challenging from the first page – and we really get to believe her assumptions, ‘know’ that she is right. And then it slowly gets pulled apart like a slowly unravelling jumper. I loved her fierce independence and will to stand up on what she feels is right. Feyre is the type of character that spurns me to continue reading page to page – and that’s without the action and intrigue of her story.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Tamlin is a great beast. Scary, complex, intelligent and handsome. Most incarnations of beasts are superficially frightening, but Tamlin is righteously terrifying in all his glory. And, as the story goes when he’s softened and tamed by Belle (Feyre) we get to see more of his beauty. Don’t think he’ll become any less infamous though.

The adventure has only just begun. It’s obvious upon completion this is not a stand-alone, and I am very excited and eagerly awaiting the next instalment. So, in the meantime, I will catch up to many of my bookish buddies and fill in time working my way through the Throne of Glass series.

‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ left me feeling a little shell-shocked by the end. We really get put through the ringer. It’s fast paced adventure makes the 400+ pages a breeze and Maas’ beautific writing style pull you into a magical world and make reading effortless.

Even though we all know the story of Beauty and the Beast, this story still manages to surprise. Definitely adding this to my favourites list and it is listed in my Top 5 Favourite reads of 2015. Highly recommended, even if you are not into fantasy, this will blow your mind.

Overall feeling: *uplifting music*

A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

A Court of Thorns and Roses 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.

Book Review – It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

A strong sense of adolescent drama through a picturesque summer…

 It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. 

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I did not enjoy this as much as the first, however it was a great sequel.

Mixed with melancholia, for me personally and for the Summer franchise. Having lost my own mother recently, and experienced my own battle with cancer, the tone of this book resonated strongly with me. The need to hold onto, even if you have to battle hard and risk losing everything else, certain reminders of the love that you have lost. It’s all consuming.

Belly’s love life was annoying – and I’m still not entirely convinced I like it. Not only has her age lent a certain immaturity to the story, but the fact she was a little flippant left me thinking of her as shallow and without strength of character. She was very reactionary and did not give anyone around her cause to accept she was in charge of her own destiny. Maybe it’s my age showing, but behaviour life that, especially in female protagonists rubs me the wrong way.

It does, however, lend to great drama and angst – which we get plenty of.

And just as much as Belly frustrated me, so did Conrad. He really fails to communicate, or get involved in his family despite what he is feeling. It is such a typical masculine trait. This is not a criticism on the novel, but rather, on Conrad himself. His stoicism amped up the drama in this beautiful Summer House setting.

I’ve never read a book with such annoying characters that I enjoyed so much – it is quite a feat – Thanks a bunch Miss Han.

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Jenny Han was able to create such a wonderful ambiance with ‘It’s Not Summer Without You.’ As she did in the debut, ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty,’ you can smell the coconut oil and salty afternoon breezes through the narrative without lengthy exposition. Again another quick and easy read that projects all the feels and offers up a few surprises.

I found myself craving for some depth and maturity from this story, but great escapism bringing me back to my teen years…

Overall feeling: ugly but interesting = cute.

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 Death Cure by James Dashner

The conclusion… da da daaah!

The Death Cure Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopian

No. of pages: 325

From Goodreads:

It’s the end of the line.

WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.

Will anyone survive?

What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.

The truth will be terrifying.

Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all.

The time for lies is over. 

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So, I finally got my answers, after being strung along for two novels and dragged through action and running and death… was it all worth it? A bit of yes, and a bit of no.

The Death Cure’ maintains the precedence set up in the first two novels leaving you thinking if there is still a puppet master behind the whole situation. But it’s something you, the reader, needs to decide for yourself.

The Death Cure Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleYou get a real sense of rebellion here, where in the first two it was all about surviving from one moment to the next. Don’t get me wrong, Thomas and his friends lives are in jeopardy on every page, but they have gained some power through their struggles, and with what they uncover, gain strength in their convictions.

I’m glad I was able to resolve many of the questions I had throughout the whole series, but if left me with the feeling that the plot was… well, contrived. I lost a little respect of James Dashner on that point. I still have trouble swallowing the motivation behind the mythology of the Maze Runner universe.

On the other hand, we get to find out more about the technology behind the elaborate sets Thomas and Co. have been tortured with, and that was geeking out the sci-fi girl in me.

I enjoyed this book more than the others – probably because my curiosity was satisfied – but still underwhelmed. I wanted a more poignant event for all of Thomas’ efforts in this conclusion. There has been so much death, terrifying conditions and gritty survival from the get go, which roped me into ‘The Maze Runner’ and throughout. And how this universe marries technology, massive arenas for our players, and a dystopian world desperate for a light at the end of the tunnel is amazing.

I’ve been enjoying the film series much more than the novels so far – some inconsistencies and flimsy justifications have been fixed up and I am practically salivating to see how they will conclude the franchise on the big screen.

Overall feeling: Great, but underwhelmed.

The Death Cure Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

The Death Cure Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – Never Never (Part 1) by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

You can find love in the strangest of places… no matter who you are.

Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery

No. of pages: 159

From Goodreads:

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. 
Complete strangers since this morning.
He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle The author’s names alone had me picking up this title – plus it is a short novel, great for reading after some of the thick, heavy series I’m in the middle of at the moment without killing any momentum. ‘Never Never’ turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I nearly only gave this 3.5 stars because of the overdone aspect of amnesia in a story line, and the fact that the book resolves little… but I also liked that we don’t find out what exactly is going on, but uncover even more that needs to be sleuthed out.

Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCharlie and Silas really are different people from who they were sans amnesia – it is important to realise just how much memories make us the person we are… and how much it doesn’t. And we really get a sense of that here.

I loved the mystery, and how they both tried to uncover answers without spilling their own secret. Each fumbling along in unfamiliarity, it kept me on the edge of my seat. The only thing they have to go on is their gut feelings. Because of this, you see a lot of their true natures shine through.

There is plenty of intrigue here, and an obvious shiz-storm of a situation they had left behind… which they will have to deal with at some point.

I loved that this is a book on its own… like a prelude movie, or teaser.

One aspect that wasn’t so great was the insta-love trying to assert itself. It wasn’t exactly like that, but the undercurrent was looming in the periphery and, thank goodness it wasn’t all out unsubstantiated passion, we merely get a hint, we know there is a history, but it’s tied up in the mystery, so I managed to get past it.

I really appreciated the writing style – it was both melodic and edgy, really fitting the target market, but also with a touch of sophistication. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series, and jumped online and ordered ‘Never Never Part 2’ right away… part three is yet to be released (next year) but something I’m definitely adding to my collection.

Overall feeling: Wondrous and magical

 Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Never Never Part 1 Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

Love happens in many different ways…

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

After doing a comparison of ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,’ I was keen to give another title by this duo a go… where the book by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn is witty, punchy and just a little emo, the film is like an adorable alternative romantic comedy. ‘Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List’ brings another contrast to the colourful characters Levithan and Cohn are praised for.

Naomi and Elys No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI honestly liked the movie better than the book. I found Naomi to be whiny and immature, flying off the handle randomly, or failing to see reason – which is the point her character is so interesting… but in the movie, you get a break from her character. Naomi is played by Victoria Justice, and I think I’ve only seen her in some Disney movie, but Justice played Naomi to perfection, I got all the same feels from her performance as I did while reading the book.

Ely, played by Pierson Fode brings some incredible eye-candy. I was literally drooling at the screen. Fode compliments Ely’s character with an aloofness that added dimension to the character that I did not get from the novel. We know he was clueless, but in the novel, he came across as selfish, where in the movie we get to see it’s all in Naomi’s head and Ely is just being Ely.

Other notable performances that excelled my reading experience was Gabriel played by Matthew Daddario and Bruce 2 played by Ryan Ward… maybe it had something to do with the hotness metre blowing a gasket, but these boys really fleshed out the characters. I don’t think I liked Gabriel all that much in the book, but Matthew Daddario totally redeemed him in my eyes. Bruce 2 had the opposite effect, I got a geeky confidence from him in the novel, even though he is an introvert, but the film Bruce 2 felt like a lost lamb falling prey to both Naomi and Ely. I got the vibe of his self discovery from the page – not so strongly on the screen.

Plus, New York, with all of Naomi and Ely’s friends was so much more interesting in bright colour on the big screen – I didn’t get such a rich feeling of subculture from the novel. It is such a short book, and its focus is on Naomi and Ely’s relationship, so superfluous description of the setting would have been a hindrance, so I’m greatful to the film for adding yet another layer to my enjoyment.

The emotion was dialled down a lot more in the movie as well, which I appreciated, leaving me with a more rounded experience from all the cast, other than just Ely and Naomi.

I’d recommend to read the book before the movie, but it is totally the film for the win!

Naomi and Elys No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.