Book Review – Crash by Lisa McMann

Pizza, premonition and pining

Crash Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy, Paranormal

No. of pages: 233

From Goodreads:

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

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After enjoying the Wake trilogy, I thought I’d give some other titles in Lisa McMann’s catalogue a try, and ‘Crash,’ the first in the Visions trilogy, surprised me.

Where some of the elements I did not like in ‘Fade,’ ‘Wake’ and ‘Gone’ were left behind, like the swearing and slang, ‘Crash’ was less grittier, the narrative had an ease that let me settle into Jules’ world, and I loved the premise of precognition and trying to stave off foretold events.

While this is far from an original storyline, I nonetheless enjoyed it immensely. I laughed and cried (so many surprise feels) with such a light-hearted narrative after the seriousness of Janie and Cabel in the Wake trilogy.

Crash Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI drew issue around Jules’ visions though – it’s one thing to have them; another to be able to stop, rewind and pause them like a video tape. That part had me going hmmmm…

Even though this is a short novel, I did feel that the build up to the climax was a little slow – whether the tension dropped off in places, or there was too much contemplation, I haven’t quite decided upon, but I only mention it because I remember feeling ‘hurry up and get to the good stuff already’ once or twice. I’m so impatient :p

I liked the Romeo and Juliet-esque aspect to Jules and Sawyers relationship, and how her visions makes it even more complicated.

While there were no surprises in the overall plot, I got great delight from the wit and sub plot reveals, for some reason after reading the Wake trilogy it wasn’t something I expected – glad I was wrong.

Obviously targeted for the teen market, but a great simple, guilty pleasure read for the older demographic. I completed it in one sitting – a great way to unwind after a big morning completing household chores.

Overall feeling: Pretty cool.

Crash Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Crash 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.

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Upgrade Your Writing

Making use of technology in the creative process.

Upgrade Your Writing Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

About 6 months ago I had finally been able to replace my aging minilaptop that was the solo piece of technology I used for writing – and what a massive difference it makes to have both a laptop and desktop that actually work and don’t have that processing delay. Additionally, I was forced to become more productive on my phone for online stuff, and treasured an old non-networked computer solely for writing. While that situation was great for creating novels, it played havoc in trying to maintain my blog (my other form of writing). So, my frustrations have finally gone!

Now that I’ve settled into life with all my new gadgets, I’m finding more creative ways to write, read and edit.

While I still can’t go past the trusty red pen and paper for the editing process. Ideas usually get hurriedly typed out on my mobile phone and emailed back to myself. I did try sending myself a recorded voice message, but was so freaked out by the sound of my own voice, that I quickly ditched that method.

Upgrade Your Writing Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve tried a few applications for authors, but tend to stick to Word and my trusty pinboard to track my plot and arcs. It’s the tactile aspect and the fact it’s all laid out in front of my eyes that keeps my writing in perspective. When it’s filed away on the computer it’s easy to forget.

But I have been toying with the idea of using the dictation element on Word to write… does anyone use the speak function on their word processors?

One of the best aspects of this tech upgrade has been the interconnectivity of all of my devices – without having to upload my manuscript into the cloud (I’m a little paranoid about that). Being able to wirelessly connect to my desktop, or plug in a memory stick and work from anywhere lets me move my office into the sun room, on the deck by the spring, titter away in a coffee shop, airport, car, beach…. anywhere that takes my fancy. It does amazing things for your imagination and motivation when you can change your scenery every now and then. Writer’s block be gone!

And reading is easier – I can change up from a book, to an e-reader, or even an audio book. I was such a dinosaur 6 months ago.

Upgrade your writing Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

I know none of this is news to anybody, but not all of us can afford the latest gadgets. But now I can truly appreciate how incorporating them into the writing process can increase productivity.

They can also be a bit time suck or distraction. You still have to be vigilant of your time and not get lost on tumblr or YouTube.

What piece of technology as made improvements to your process? Any tips for using tech for blossoming novelists?

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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 2 by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

If you’ve forgotten who you are – maybe there’s a reason.

Never Never Part 2 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Supernatural

No. of pages: 158

From Goodreads:

“Never forget that I was your first real kiss. Never forget that you’ll be my last.
And never stop loving me between all of them.
Never stop, Charlie.
Never forget.”

Silas races against time as more truths unravel, while others twist tighter together. And now, the stakes are higher as Silas’ control slips and others begin to point fingers. Charlie is in trouble and he must be the one to bridge the chasm between their past and their present. Because somewhere between I love yous and Never Nevers and Never Agains, a truth they can’t imagine, beckons to be found.

“Where are you, Charlie?” 

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The mystery deepens… and I’m loving it!

More clues, more answers and so many more questions.

(Here’s a short review for a short book in the middle of a series)

There was more of Silas in this book – his obsession with Charlie and finally questioning everything about him. I’m not sure if we get a glimpse of the mythology behind this story, but it is certainly intriguing. I’m buggin out for part three – it can’t come soon enough.

A fast read with real atmosphere, you can really feel Silas and Charlies frustration because just when they think they are getting somewhere, they uncover a clue that flips their entire world again. Struggling in a world to find some traction when the ground keeps moving and you’re questioning everyone and everything.

It’s short, sweet and one of my favorite series started this year.

Overall feeling: Mind blown!

 Never Never Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Never Never Part 2 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 – Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Capturing misshapen love across International borders.

Isla and the Happily Ever After Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 339

From Goodreads:

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

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I was both dubious and eager to jump into ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After.’ I did enjoy the previous two novels in this series, but wasn’t really blown away like many of my friends, so I started reading with trepidation and low expectations. However I was keen to complete the series and see how it all wrapped up. I’d heard that the characters from the other books all made brief appearances in ‘Isla’ and wanted to see if my love for this series would grow.

For some reason, I related to Isla and Josh a lot more than I have with any other characters throughout this series. Stephanie writes some very interesting and quirky characters, but Isla and Josh were somewhat more vanilla, and something I liked. Not that they were boring, but it was easier to put myself in their shoes. These two also felt younger and more innocent than the likes of Anna, Lola, Etienne and Cricket, and had an adorable story.

Isla and the Happily Ever After Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe build of the relationship between Isla and Josh felt more realistic this time – like it mirrored my own high school first love – not that is happened anything like their story, but the emotions were identical. The desperation and need to be together and the devastation when you are forced apart… This is by far my favourite Stephanie Perkins novel to date. She managed to capture the tension of first meeting/ first love brilliantly on the page.

One failing was that it felt slower to get going that the other two – I ended putting it down for a break just under half way.

It was a delight to get snippets of Lola, and Anna (and their beaus) here also – like a glimpse through a crystal ball to find out what happens after the books had ended. Additionally, viewing them from another perspective helped round them out even further and proved to be a valuable inclusion to the narrative.

I lurved the ending and how it drew in elements from the entire trilogy to wrap it up nicely – very cute and melancholy. It left me feeling satisfied and like the journey through this trilogy was worth it.

A pleasant end to a series, though pacing somewhat dragging, I was delighted and would recommend this to anyone who loves a contemporary romance with a quietly embellished writing style.

Overall feeling: Just beautiful!

Isla and the Happily Ever After Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Isla and the Happily Ever After 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 – What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson

You can’t run away from life, your problems, or puberty….

What the always tell us Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 293

From Goodreads:

JAMES AND ALEX have barely anything in common anymore—least of all their experiences in high school, where James is a popular senior and Alex is suddenly an outcast. But at home, there is Henry, the precocious 10-year-old across the street, who eagerly befriends them both. And when Alex takes up running, there is James’s friend Nathen, who unites the brothers in moving and unexpected ways. 

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What They Always Tell Us” is a scrappy dark horse of a novel with a strong sense on how those gossipy conversations that take place behind closed doors can impact a life. How the struggle to keep up appearances can weigh down and debilitate. That living one’s truth is the only way to find happiness. And although this books deals with issues of coming out as gay, these same points apply to the rest of the cast in varying degrees. Being so invested in what other people think is crippling.

Having said that, this book is not heavy, it’s light and comical with a serious undertone. The characters are realistic and likable; I felt like I could walk down my street and run into any one of the cast.

Brothers Alex and James’ journey epitomises issues we all face, and the narrative is clever. The dilemmas they tackle encompass many questions we face coming into adulthood and discovering what we are made of. The point which is cleverly made, is that coming out is universal, not just for individuals grappling with sexual identity. Their relationships feel organic and rings true to many friendships that I had in high school. Sometimes you simply see things differently and your perspective on life changes.

I too grew up in a small town and could not wait to get out.

The growing relationship between Alex and Nathen is so indicative of discovering love and coming out in high school, I found it poetically beautiful.

Henry, the ten-year-old neighbour is a breath of fresh air, and a voice of reason. Even though you can see his cogs turning during moments of quiet stoicism, his blatant honesty cuts right to the heart of so many issues.

I really liked the dual perspective in this novel – and the fact there is more than one story line. With so much going on, I was surprised that it felt a little flat. Even the ending was somewhat anticlimactic. I wanted something poignant or symbolic of their growth (other than graduation).

I have a lot of praise for this contemporary for its realism. But I guess with realism, you lose that fantastical happy ending – because, well, life goes on…

A fast melancholic read. Understated.

Overall feeling: quietly cool

What the always tell us Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

What the always tell us Book Review 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.

In for the long haul?

Writing a stand-alone or beginning a series… what do you picture at the starting point?

In for the long haul by Casey Carlisle

With NaNoWriMo in full swing, I wondered how many of us writers sit down and have full intention of composing a series, or is it merely a case of the story growing larger that we first intended, leading us to subsequent volumes?

It is a bit of a mix with me (as art and the creative process always is). I remember starting my Smoulder series with every intention of it being a trilogy. I had the story of my Firestarter mapped out. But upon reviewing, I completely changed the direction of the plot and added in a whole lot more, afraid it was being too generic… and a four book story line emerged. You could put all of that down to a little self-doubt and exposure to countless reading hours of YA. I think my reading habits (market research) helped me identify major plot problems before I got too deep into the writing process.

The For keeps duology was initially one book, but fears that it would end up being a mammoth book and not lucrative for a budding author, I split it in to two volumes. It was fairly easy – There is definitely a break in the middle of the story where things change in context and was perfect tone for a GLBT contemporary novel to end (and pick up with a second instalment). As it was my first attempt at a completed novel (there had been MANY different books written beforehand but abandoned after 30 or so pages in), it needed the most work. It’s been re-written and edited to death! I’ve found that leaving it for 6 months and coming back with fresh eyes for a final edit to be the saving grace.

A science fiction series (LONERS) I started early last year popped into my head fully formed as a four-book series. It is structured a little differently to a traditional series, where either of the first three books can be read as stand-alone, companions, or out of order. That’s the beauty of sci-fi – you can mix things up a little. This experience has really flipped my attitude towards writing and made me realise that finishing a novel can be a quick, easy and rewarding experience. Or maybe that’s be buying into my own insanity :p

In for the long haul 03 by Casey Carlisle

And finally, the re-boot trilogy started from a few scenes in my head, and evolved into three books… and I’ve yet to decide between one of two different directions this series could take.

And so… I had books that have grown into a series, and those I plotted that way from the outset. Additionally I have some titles which could quite easily become a series, but none of the characters have raised their voices with a desire to continue their adventure as yet.

I’m always amazed at creativity and how it just shows up.

Most of the time I simply just sit and write, no planning, just me and a blank page where I’ll scribe away for hours. Then, if it feels like something, I’ll go back, tidy it up, add to it, and eventually plot out a novel, or series. So, out of 23 concepted works in progress, only two were forecasted as a more than one book franchise.

I’m really great at organising things, and could quite easily plot out everything I write before a letter appears on the page, but find I lose my characters voice that way – and consequently, my passion for writing. Plus I like to keep the work malleable, open to change or exploring other arcs. The debut in the For keeps duology deviated into a major arc that added so much to the story (and how it came about to be a duology) that I’m greatful I let the story stray from my initial imagining.

Who knows if what I’m writing is any good or makes any sense – but the point is: I have to write. I write for me. To be entertained, to escape, to laugh, to vent (and the list goes on…)

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And I’ve committed to the decision to give this writing thing a professional go.

In for the long haul 05 by Casey Carlisle

I guess everyone’s process is different, but I simply wanted to share mine and am interested to learn of other author’s process. How do you write a series? Do you need some major brainstorming before beginning, or does it just happen?

Smoulder series by Casey Carlisle

re-boot trilogy by Casey Carlisle

LONERS series by Casey Carlisle

For keeps duology by Casey Carlisle

Stand alone titles 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 – We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Summer has come to an end.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Comtemporary

No. of pages: 219

From Goodreads:

It’s been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college– only, their relationship hasn’t exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It’s time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever. 

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The final instalment to the Summer trilogy – something I enjoyed and appreciated the way it all culminated, but not a series I was particularly in love with.

We really see Belly grow up. Literally and figuratively in this trilogy, and I am happy to discover the woman she turned into after the stubborn and naive girl in ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty.’ Her trait of burying her head in the sand, going boy crazy and disposition to storming about and a stubborn streak had be wanting to put the book down several times. Though the vivid landscape of the Summer House, the well written cast and realistic portrayal of life is what kept my interest. So while I may have had issues with the protagonist (and her love interest(s)), the overall story is beautiful. It’s about growing up, loss, and love.

Life is messy – and so is Belly’s story.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Another quick summer read, and even though it is angsty and deals with death, it is still light enough to enjoy on a banana lounge in the afternoon sun. Jenny Han’s writing style in supreme in its ability to lavish the surroundings but deliver characters and their dialogue in a matter-of-fact way. The story line is predictable in that, it concluded with only ending it could have really – I liked it.

Overall feeling: happy/sad… just like the end of summer vacation.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

We'll Always Have Summer 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.