A double whammy of chocolatey goodness

Easter eggs + Triple-choc birthday cake = Heaven… and other reading/writing dilemmas

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I always love it when my birthday falls in the Easter holidays – when I was younger, it meant family holidays across Australia, or a big birthday bash with just about everyone I knew, which always evolved into a massive pool party. (We may have jumped off the roof into the pool – I admit nothing)

Maybe it is time for another blowout – but, with my oldest furbaby passing days earlier, all the party spirit vanished. Guess I’ll save the big celebration to next year? So this year it was a sombre affair full of chocolate and binge watching ‘The Walking Dead.’

I am also a big believer that birthdays should last a week long – so there is more fun activities in store… shopping, dinners, presents. So it’s not going to be a depressing ‘I’m so old!’ mess.

So consequently this blog was a little quiet over the past week. No apologies. I was mourning and taking a break to celebrate another year I’ve managed to cling to this rock hurtling through space. And enjoying chocolate in its various forms. It’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes.

So now it’s back to business as usual. Before my short hiatus I was enforcing some writing sprints. I really want to finish off some projects this year. In 2015 it was all about ideas and planning, so I didn’t feel like I was achieving much. But this year I want to have at least 5 novels off to the publisher. It’s not an unrealistic goal, with 2 in the final edit stage, and 2 near completion, and another 7 plotted and over 20,000 words, I know I’ll hit the mark. Just have to stay motivated and stick to that schedule. Make sure the time I’ve blocked out to write, I actually write.

Same with editing. I just need to get it done!

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I love it all. Writing, Editing. Blogging. Reading. Reviewing. It’s sometimes a challenge not to get distracted by any one thing and stick to the guide I’ve set for myself. On top of that, I am really interested in creating a Youtube channel around my experiences with literature. But it’s finding the type of content I want to create. I curl my lip at producing the same kind of thing that is already out there… boring. I’m not a “personality” and would like to do something that is entertaining and informative. I have a few ideas, but am stalled by perfectionism and the fact that the whole process is time consuming. At the end of the day I am an author, so the bulk of my time needs to go to writing rather than social media. Why can’t I have both my chocolate eggs and cake? I need more time in my day to achieve everything I want to. Progress always feels so slow because my expectations always exceed my ability. Grrrr!

There was no reading over the break either. Actually, I’m not too far off catching up on my reviews and being able to drop back to posting 1 or 2 a week; well, until I have another reading sprint…

Now maybe I’m still buzzing on my sugar high, but it’s forward at full speed, back to reviewing and writing feeling refreshed. Thank you chocolate. It has also made me aware of how important it is to take an occasional short mental break from writing. In the past I’d hit a wall and turn to a reading binge. Not that it’s bad, but I’m attempting to keep everything in balance and gauge my productivity. That way I will be certain of my writing habits and know how much material I can safely turn out in a given period of time. I feel it’s important to a career author to know how long it takes to write a novel. Publishers work to a timetable and like reliable artists to invest in.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 Five Stages of Andrew Brawley’ by Shaun David Hutchinson

Desperate. Funny. Dark… I think that says it all. Read it!

 The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 297

From Goodreads:

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better. 

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When I first read the synopsis, I wasn’t entirely sure about reading this novel, but seeing the great reviews, and after some umming and erring, I finally picked it up. ‘The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley’ was a dark horse and has become one of my favorite GLBTQIA+ reads.

At first I found this frustrating – like, how could a kid go unnoticed living in a hospital? I wondered if he was imagining things and this was some sort of dream. Then I wondered if he was actually suffering some sort of mental illness… but as it turned out ‘The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley’ was much grittier. And real. Well, as the title alludes to – these are our protagonist’s journey through the five stages of grief.

Interspersed between chapters were parts of Drew’s comic book ‘Patient K, – which was a symbolic telling of Drew’s innermost psyche – dark, entertaining and poignant.

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His friendships with the staff and patients is endearing, as is Drew himself. He is a loving, gentle soul who carries the weight of some major tragedy (or sin) along with him. He haunts the corridors of Roanoke General like a ghost – the only survivor left of his family.

Once you get past the half way mark the story really starts to open up – much like a tree spreading its roots in many different directions. It was a true marvel to read – Shaun David Hutchinson is a genius. His writing style is colorful, edgy and magnificent. I could not describe how jealous I was at how he expressed Drew’s thoughts in words. I became an instant fan!

Highly recommend you add this title to your collection 🙂

Overall feeling: Parts of my brain were applauding, other parts exploding…

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.

#bookporn

bookporn Paranormal Books February by Casey Carlisle.jpgIn the mood for something spooky? What about one of these paranormal titles?
 
I’ve had great reviews from friends on all of these books, not sure if I’m up for ghosts, insanity, souls or visions. Maybe it will be a case of closing my eyes and picking one at random.

Book Review – ‘Soundless’ by Richelle Mead

Chinese folklore awakens in a this romantic tale…

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

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

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Not the type of book I would normally choose, but as I’ve enjoyed other novels by Richelle Mead, this title became an exception. ‘Soundless’ was a quick, quaint and entertaining quest.

While nothing extraordinary, ‘Soundless’ tells a gritty story of a delicate artist with growing determination to save her village against greed and tyranny. The folklore here is beautiful, although slowly emerging throughout the story line – and you get a sense that it is only the beginning. There is no big info dump – we learn the facts as our protagonist, Fei, does. Drawing from Chinese and Taiwanese culture, the mythology for this novel provides the backdrop for our heroine’s journey.

I really got sucked into her adventure, traversing the mountain and having to find a way to communicate to all she meets without speech. It was a little disconcerting to read a book with no dialogue, but all communication is in sign language or through written words and picture… that element alone added a uniqueness to the story I was entranced by. It challenges Mead as a writer not to rely on dialogue so much to tell the story, and I feel like she has accomplished this with resounding success.

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There is a distinct air of tradition and honour, deep seated into Fei’s culture that gives this book an old-world romantic feel. It was innocent yet lavish. But with all that I loved about this story, it did feel simple. There wasn’t great complexity and I felt very predictable. There weren’t any big plot twists that I’ve come to expect form Mead from reading the VA series.

The character development was a slow burn which dominated the story line. But not just for Fei and her love interest Li Wei, it was like the whole village was coming of age. Very rarely have I read a book where there is such a dynamic shift for all the cast.

A pleasant, easy read for an afternoon with a mug of hot chocolate, or if you want to really get in the mood, a pot of green tea.

Overall reaction: Elegant.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.