Wrap up – Hourglass Series by Myra McEntire

Started off with a pow… and ended in a fizzle.

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I picked up ‘Hourglass’ from a recommendation through a YouTuber I subscribe to – don’t ask me which one, because it’s been over two years since I started this series. Why so long to complete a trilogy? It took me a while to track down the rest of the books in Australia without paying a ridiculous amount for them.

Anyway, the debut was riveting. I loved the time travel/science fiction and the witty dialogue. Emmerson was a great protagonist – beautifully damaged with something to prove, desperately trying to navigate this strange new world without tipping her hand to her family and being locked up in a psychiatric ward again. I really couldn’t get enough!

So when I had finally tracked down the remaining books, I jumped into them with high hopes… which were a little dashed. Now I did enjoy the rest of the series, but all the elements I’d come to love in ‘Hourglass’ appeared less and less in the remaining two installments. And to make matters worse, Emmerson was no longer the protagonist – each book takes the P.O.V. of a different character.

With each novel we moved from science fiction to romance, and it was difficult to discern each of the characters if you weren’t told who was speaking because they were all so alike.

I think there was a great potential in this series, the action scenes are great in all three books – but the expert storytelling goes downhill from the start.

I’d recommend it to anyone who loves YA paranormal romances with a science fiction twist and doesn’t mind ‘head-hopping.’

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For individual reviews:

Hourglass: https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/book-review-hourglass/

Timepiece: https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/book-review-timepiece-by-myra-mcentire/

Infinityglass: https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/book-review-infinityglass-by-myra-mcentire/

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

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Book Review – ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ by Stephen King

Woodsy creepiness at its best.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Horror, Thriller

No. of pages: 264

From Goodreads:

Trisha McFarland is a plucky 9-year-old hiking with her brother and mom, who is grimly determined to give the kids a good time on their weekends together. Trisha’s mom is recently divorced, and her brother is feuding with her for moving from Boston to small-town Maine, where classmates razz him. Trisha steps off the trail for a pee and a respite from the bickering. And gets lost.

Trisha’s odyssey succeeds on several levels. King renders her consciousness of increasing peril beautifully, from the “first minnowy flutter of disquiet” in her guts to her into-the-wild tumbles to her descent into hallucinations, the nicest being her beloved Red Sox baseball pitcher Tom Gordon, whose exploits she listens to on her Walkman. The nature writing is accurate, tense, and sometimes lyrical, from the maddening whine of the no-see-um mosquito to the profound obbligato of the “Subaudible” (Trisha’s dad’s term for nature’s intimations of God). Our identification with Trisha deepens as we learn about her loved ones: Dad, a dreamboat whose beer habit could sink him; loving but stubborn Mom; Trisha’s best pal, Pepsi Robichaud, vividly evoked by her colorful sayings (“Don’t go all GIRLY on me, McFarland!”). The personal associations triggered by a full moon, the running monologue with which she stays sane–we who have been lost in woods will recognize these things.

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I’m getting back to my roots – back in Junior High I took interest in reading through Stephen King, Isaac Asimov and Dean Koontz. Since graduating I have read little of their titles since, so am currently attacking King’s back catalogue – maybe to recapture my youth, but definitely reliving the fun I had when reading. ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ was a great addition to my collection and a welcome distraction to many of the YA titles I’ve been reading of late.

I really liked the play of perception and the POV of Trisha (Patricia) our protagonist, lending the interpretation of the story open to the reader to draw her or his own conclusions.

Trisha has an indomitable spirit.  I was really cheering for her and amazed at how she faced each challenge.

Tom Gordon, the form of Trisha’s guardian angel, or inner strength was a great symbol to focus on. Though some of the baseball jargon got a little tiresome for me because I loath baseball – it’s not really a big thing here in Australia – I appreciated it for what it was. A distraction and a coping mechanism to get Trisha from point A to point B.

Our antagonist could fall under many forms – nature, fear fuelled imagination, her family; and I loved how it morphed from one to the other, never leaving you certain of anything.

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It took half the book to wind up and get interesting. I find every now and then Stephen Kings’s books do get a bit waffly in setting up the story and exploring the casts back stories. I know it is to get us to care about the characters and offer some perspective, but sometimes it feels a little long winded.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ had the right amount of suspense and hair-raising creepiness. The second half of the novel was absolutely brilliant and I could not put it down.

I enjoyed this a lot more than many other of Kings titles, because it was based on character development and an inner struggle rather than gory monsters and demons (though this could be argued). It was a psychological thriller instead of horror, and appealed to my survival instincts. I have found myself lost in the bush many times, having to trek a day or so to safety. It was so vivid, and the descriptions of the landscape – mysterious and beautiful at the same time. Nature can be astoundingly picturesque and the face of death at the same time.

A great read that induces chills and makes you want to pull your feet up off the floor, with the hint of the disgusting and the unknown. Totally recommending this to all my friends who like a scare, but don’t want to feel like tossing up their dinner from gore.

Overall feeling: wickedly chilling

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

Take a good look at yo’self!

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I decided it was time to get serious about my #healthgoals and take a proper stab at losing some weight and increasing my endurance… that’s the Pageant way of saying I felt fat and needed to do something other than starvation.

I’ve managed to let 20kgs creep on my hips and thighs over the past 2 years. Now I’m at the point where I don’t feel attractive in my clothes anymore. So I started to eat clean* and expected the weight to melt away like it did in my 20’s

The results: Bitch you’re delusional!

You’re practically middle-aged! You work as a writer. Sitting on your dimply ass banging away at a keyboard all day. The most amount of exercise you get is lifting a weak cup of tea to your lips in a poor excuse for a bicep curl.

Snap out of it!

Sorry about that – I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and the inner Diva emerged. But in truth I think I needed to be read. I’ve been telling my friends I was on this health kick, and I have been for many years. Making sure I was eating the right food, and the right amount of food. Getting regular exercise. But nothing happened. Instead, I actually got fatter. What the Hell?

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Looking back I think it was because as soon as I got a little bit uncomfortable, or just started to sweat in the workouts, I had decided that was enough.

Duh! Have you not watched any weight loss television show? Do you not see the thousands of Gym’s and Weight Loss Centres all around? Doesn’t that tell you that slimming down isn’t that easy?

I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to be that one in a million girl that never has trouble managing her weight… like I said – delusional!

So what am I doing to change it? Well I did the gym thing, and it was too easy to skip when the weather was bad, or I had a packed schedule. And every now and then, I’d cheat on the meal plans – only because I was continually re-stocking the pantry with biscuits to temp me. One snack here and there adds up to a lot of biscuits by the end of the week.

I stopped buying foods that I shouldn’t eat. And I bought an elliptical. That helped. A lot. But it didn’t all magically happen from there. I had months of stop-start with the healthy lifestyle I had pictured for myself. It is true that weight loss is about training your mind. Finding that strength inside to keep going.

So after many, many, many, many, many (well, you get the picture), many failed attempts; I’m finally starting to see results. I have a system that works for me. Controlling what I eat isn’t too hard for me, so the perseverance came from working out. Every day. I started with an attainable goal, half an hour of walking, and each week increased the intensity. Now I’m running 10km mist mornings in 45 mins followed by some sit-up and stretches. And I feel great.

It’s not about me having lost any weight, in fact I wasn’t weighing myself at all. Just the fact that I’d achieved something I thought impossible makes be happy. Things aren’t jiggling as much on the elliptical anymore, so I know I’m toning up. Though I have to also be careful with my expectations… suddenly fitting back into a size 8 after a week is. What? You say? DELUSIONAL!

But I’m hoping for half a kilo or maybe a whole one… So what are the results?

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After being on the regimen for 6 weeks I’ve lost 2.5kgs and an inch from around my thighs and waist. So I finally feel I’m on the right track. Something is working! So my journey with continue through the Australian winter, and who knows, maybe come spring I’ll feel confident enough to don a swimsuit again (of course after I tame the native forest that has populated my legs under pants in the chill).

So to anyone who is wants to change the way they think about their weight – don’t worry about the number on the scale. Not at the start. Begin to develop a daily habit of exercising and cleaning up the type of food you consume. By no means have I jumped straight into an extremely healthy diet, and daily workouts, it took me a few months of building it up slowly to get to the point where I’m starting to see results. That’s because I have no motivational trainer, have a low tolerance for pain and discomfort, and let’s face it, not exercised regularly beyond breaking out in a sweat for many (too many to count) years. I work at a sedentary job – so yes, I am a marshmallow. It was more beneficial for me to get into a routine, and build from there.

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Once you’ve trained you brain that this is what you do every day, it is not going to fight back to slip into old habits. IT will also allow you to increase the intensity or length of your workouts every few weeks without feeling like you’re about to die.

Well that’s the start of my journey to a happier, healthier body and mind – I hope it can help someone else along a similar path. Go for it!

*Eating clean is a term used by nutritionists regarding consuming foods if their most natural state. For me, it meant cutting out things that came in packets – those notorious biscuits, chips, anything processed. I also made an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar intake, the number of cups of tea/coffee. I also had one day (usually Saturday) where I didn’t follow any rules as a reward/relax. And let me tell you – I stopped wanting junk/fast food and actually craved healthy meals as sugary foods left me feeling sluggish and headachy.

I wasn’t strict about the routine or eating plan simply because it would be unrealistic to expect me to follow it – I’m a rule breaker, so leaving some leeway keeps me on goal.

Casey Carlisle Contributing byline

 

 

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

© 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.

 

LONERS : Prelude #bookteaser

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I’m just about finished with my second draft of ‘LONERS : Prelude‘ The start of a science fiction series where Taylor Kate disappears in an explosion of light, leaving her boyfriend Gavin devastated. Now Gavin is trying to make sense of his loss, and work out if the world is under attack by aliens, and if humankind even has the ability to fight back.

Something deep inside him keeps repeating over and over that Taylor is still alive. Somewhere. But how can he get the answer when he doesn’t even know the questions to start asking?

Exciting stuff is coming!

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Book Review – ‘The Comeback Season’ by Jennifer E. Smith

Wasn’t quite knocked out of the park…

The Comeback Season Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Contemporary

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn’t thinking about what she should be doing. She’s not worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it’s been five whole years since the last time she was really and truly happy. Because she’s finally returning to the place that her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on this — the fifth anniversary of his death — it feels like there’s nowhere else in the world she should be.

Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. Good luck is often hard to come by at a place like Wrigley Field, but it’s on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past, or believe in the promise of those reassuring words: “Wait till next year.” Is it too much for Ryan to hope that this year, this season, might be her comeback season?   

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I’ve been dying to get into a cute contemporary of late, it feel like it has been ages since I picked up a title to make me smile and tug on my heart strings, and so ‘The Comeback Season’ jumped out at me from the shelf. But comparatively, this books was sweet but dull.

If you are not a baseball fan, or a sports fan for that matter, ‘The Comeback Season’ may feel a bit slow, the narrative is bogged down with statistics and aspects of the game. For me, that’s what happened, and found myself skimming forward frequently. I had read a number of reviews that have stated the same opinion, but I just had to find out for myself given how much I enjoyed other titles by Jennifer E. Smith.

The Comeback Season Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleAlthough our protagonist, Ryan, and her love interest Nick are relatable, there was nothing outside of the baseball connection that had me particularly relating with them. But I must admit, they make a really cute couple and I definitely ship them J Overcoming their personal obstacles in an unassuming manner to discover the truth under their noses was endearing.

This book talks a lot about loss, and what happens after. And despite the fact that I too have lost a parent not too long ago, the book failed to draw the raw emotion to the surface. And that bothered me. I did however, shed a tear from a scene from Ryan’s childhood and the loss of her dog. That was heartbreaking and beautifully written.

I loved the note this book finished on – in true contemporary style, and is worth the read just to get to that destination.

We touch on some girl politics and friendships in high school, and it was a great relief to see them have great depth and evolve throughout the novel, avoiding the trap of a two-dimensional character… well done Smith!

For an unassuming book it has a lot to say. I truly wish I had connected with the book more, but by the end the narrative felt clunky and some of the symbolism, a little cliché. So, this juxtaposed with the beauty of Jennifer E Smith’s prose left me with an unsatisfied feeling from what I have gotten out of her other titles.

I think if there wasn’t so much baseball in the content I would have enjoyed ‘The Comeback Season’ a lot more, despite its authenticity, and rated it much higher.

A quaint contemporary, but not my favourite by Jennifer E. Smith.

Overall feeling: It’s okay…

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The Comeback Season Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.