#bookquotes

BQ Flawed by Casey Carlisle.jpg

An action packed story set in a dystopian world that has an undercurrent of what it means to be a human being. Beauty and perfection vs. humanity and compassion.

Loved it – keep watching for the review coming soon.

Book Review – ‘Flame’ by Amy Kathleen Ryan

A book in another world to its predecessors.

Flame Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 309

From Goodreads:

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn’t go quite as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth’s health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second is a risk in this explosive finale.

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The final book in the Sky Chasers trilogy and another collection down in my Slay That Series year!

Flame’ is so much better than its prequels. The religious aspect was kept to a respectful belief system of those who chose to live by it, and I didn’t feel like it was being crammed down my throat or the crew being oppressed by it.

The political struggle became raw and visceral. It was thrilling. And action – I don’t think I’ve read a book with so many twists and turns. I was thoroughly impressed. Such a departure from my experience so far in this trilogy.

Again, like in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark,’ I loved the character growth and arcs. People are fallible and it could not be more true about the cast of the Sky Chaser trilogy. Some redeemed themselves, some didn’t. and I loved this aspect of the story. One thing that has stood out about this series is the types of characters, how their beliefs motivate them, how they are changed by their experiences.

I found the long-winded postulation and stream of consciousness were just about gone. The pacing far superior than in ‘Glow’ and ‘Spark.’ I read this in one sitting. I get distracted by long speeches or pages and pages of deliberation – it goes down as well as a fart in a space suit with me. So I was delighted that the lamenting had been replaced with sci-fi action.

A factual thing that is still niggling in the back of my brain is in regard to the gene pool – how many off spring of a couple of girls are there? It was mentioned over 100 embryos were ready… the new generation sounded like it was going to be majorly made up of Waverly’s children. Doesn’t leave much room for them to repopulate the new planet when prospective partners consist mostly of your half brothers and sisters… They’d have to map our genealogy out carefully. I felt like this was an important issue not to be addressed. You go to all this trouble of kidnapping, murder, and essentially raping your girls of their genetic material only to risk the future of the human race to genetic degradation from inbreeding. I mean, c’mon!

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The ending was lovely, if a bit spoony. Having everyone coupled up and all the loose ends tied up neatly can feel cheap in an epic sci-fi; I tend to like it conclude with possibility and wonder, or just a hint at an amazing future. It was a cute ending, and I liked it, but after wading through so much I was hoping for a bit more of a significant event or image for the series to end on.

It has been a bit of a journey for me. I had a low opinion of this series and Amy Kathleen Ryan at the start, but after completing ‘Flame,’ I have to eat my words. She crafted a marvellous story. I still feel the issues I had with the first two books are legitimate, but have seen Amy’s growth as a writer over this series, I now actually look forward to reading more of her catalogue.

Overall feeling: Wow! Where did that come from?

Flame Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Flame Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.

Squash, Stitches, and a Scared Doctor

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That one time I got into the squash championships, almost lost an eye and threatened my doctor.

Not only was I a big old nerd when I was in high school, but I was also a bit of a tomboy. And growing up in the ‘80’s, living in a small dustbowl of a town in the middle of the Australian desert, you need to make your own fun lest you go insane, turn to drink, or think it’s a great idea to build a house out of recycled tin cans. That, and my hyperactive constitution, my parents forced me into as many activities as they could because I’d probably burn down the house experimenting with my Chemistry Set. (Though I did burn down the neighbour’s car once – but that’s another story.)

So I was signed up for T-ball and swimming as a kid, but then graduated to horse riding and squash. The latter I got pretty good at, and while vying for the Town’s Junior Squash Championship, at a tied match point… I know this is the tense stuff of cinematic legend, and I am not embellishing… my partner was about to miss the ball and I’d become the victor! But as luck would have it, he decided to run backwards and leap into the air to spike the little black ball. However, in his back swing he managed to collect my eye.

My eye! Argh, I was scarred for life and probably blind. That effer! I’m meant to win this game. And you’re not meant to hit girls! Squash is a non-contact sport!

That’s exactly what ran through my head the seconds before the world went black and white noise filled my ears.

When the world came rushing back, my eyes wouldn’t open, but I could feel lots of warm stickiness running through my fingers. It’s still a bit fuzzy, even to this day about what happened. A lot of people were talking at me. Guiding me. A cold wet cloth pushed to my face. I was in the car one moment. And the next at the doctor’s surgery. Sometime in the car my face muscles had unclenched and I was able to open the unaffected eye.

There was a lot of blood. A hell of a lot of blood. I panicked, thinking I must be holding my eyeball in my skull. My skin must have been half ripped from my face. This is not a good place to be. I guess it looked bad enough to get to see a doctor immediately, which turned out to be a tiny, soft spoken Asian man. I’m no wilting flower, tall, fit, and vocal. This medical professional only came up to my armpit, but Mum assured me he was the best doctor to help. I was terrified. I mean, my eye!

Squash, Stitches and a Scared Doctor Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleThe worst part was the Doctor told I’d need stitches. And I am more needle-phobic than the regular person. But practically crushing Mum’s fingers in a death grip, I had to suck it up and suffer through the procedure. Only, at the worst possible moment I opened my eye to see a giant needle coming straight toward my eye. Having it so close, it looked like a nuclear missile with a metal pike about to slam into my head. And I don’t care how okay you are with needles, wave something in front of your vision, and anyone would flinch. My reaction was to push the doctor across the room screaming “Touch me with that thing and I’ll deck you.” I was such the well-bred young lady.

I don’t know how she did it – maybe some Mamma Bear determination – but Mum calmed and encouraged the skittish doctor, and despite being half my size, splayed her body over me and pinned me to the operating chair, directing the doctor to “Just do it.” A completely different take on the Nike catch phrase.

I survived. My eye hadn’t fallen out. But I did lose the squash game. Junior Champ Runner-up. And a lovely scar that took seven stitches to mend. Nearly invisible in the crease of my eye. A gnarly black eye, that when I returned to school caused my partner to get harassed no end. *grins evilly*

When the eye completely healed I’m not sure if I was relieved at how invisible the scar was, or disappointed that physical proof of my ordeal was so miniscule. The guy who won the Junior Championship never spoke to me again. In fact, he avoided me like the plague. And after that my parents stopped trying to force me into activities. I returned to my nerdy ways and avoided needles with even more vehemence.

I don’t know what happened to the kind Asian Doctor, maybe I rattled him so much he quit the Practice and moved to a place where young girls didn’t threaten to bash him into a bloody pulp. Or my photo is on the wall behind the receptionist’s desk with the words ‘Banned For Life’ in big red letters. I never got to thank him. I waited a week longer than necessary to get the stitches removed – because you know – terrified. But in the end a portly nurse in a pale blue uniform removed them by distracting me in conversation, saying she was just cleaning the area before starting… and the next moment – all done.

And that’s the story of how this geek-jock lost the Alice Springs Junior Squash Championships sometime in the ‘80’s and managed to get a doctor cowering in a corner.

Casey's Childhood Banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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 – ‘Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity’ by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

A road trip of two teens facing their fears…

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy named Jeremy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first, Jess has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just told them she wasn’t coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe—nicknamed Chunk—is joining her. Chunk has always been there for Jess, and he’s been especially supportive of her transition, which has recently been jump-started with hormone therapy.

Along the way from California to Chicago, Jess and Chunk will visit roadside attractions, make a new friend or two, and learn a few things about themselves—and each other—that call their true feelings about their relationship into question. 

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I was looking forward to ‘Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity,’ it promised interesting characters and a journey filled with crazy events. What I got was cute, cheesy, and sometimes a little frustrating.

I liked the narrative style – it was about people, and not the body issues they struggled with (Jess struggled with her gender and Chunk with his weight.) I liked how it illustrated how not everyone gets it. And how any one person is more than one thing and has faults of their own… how the sum total of many things makes us up as individuals.

I did find our protagonist Jess a bit selfish. How she was all about her transition. But I know people who have lived through that process, and it sums up their mental space for that period of time. They’ve been on this journey for so long it consumes them. Not to say they are bad people or narrow-minded. They are simply protecting themselves, anchoring to their core to allow growth once they’ve found that safe place within. But I would have like to have seen her step outside issues other than her gender expression. Nut her story is an important one, and I liked how she interacted with the outside world and started to test boundaries.

Chunk could have been a little more expressive and assertive. He was so compassionate, it felt crippling. I was praying to see him a little more confronting and add some tension to the story, force Jess to think with a bigger perspective. He just such a big adorable teddy bear.

Jess and Chunk were both likeable, and engaging to read, but I wanted more dimension and intensity. It would have lifted the tone from pleasant to impactful.

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It was a great story illuminating issues trans people face, and showing representations of sexuality. It was also wonderful at depicting the fear and doubt that non-hetero-normative people live with for their entire lives. But the other side of this is that these issues weren’t really delivered in a realistic way other than a stream of thought. Jess was sheltered and detached from the community, and from taking part in all the activities of the road trip. I get that she was afraid and protecting herself, but not having the issues she faced connected to the reader in some real life experiences, or those of other characters, diminished the importance of these somewhat.

But this book is a marvellous tool in offering a starting point for dialogue about so many issues of the human condition, and how we treat each other.

I loved the nerdy and sci-fi references – nice touch and appealed to my inner geek. It was also great to read about diverse characters that had real world problems.

I’m ambivalent on the ending – while I enjoyed it, I think that there was more character growth and a lot more issues they needed to work out to reach that point. It felt rushed. Otherwise, wonderfully dramatic and managed to drag out all the feels..

Overall feeling: not too shabby.

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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 Fly on the Wall by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I’ve been collecting E. Lockhart titles, and am excited that many have been re-printed with similar design and typography so my collection look like a set! Makes my bookshelf all pretty.

Fly on the Wall was an interesting read – a contemporary tale with a sci-fi twist. Plenty to giggle over on this YA title targeting the younger end of the market.

Albinos and all their stuff

What’s the most common question I get asked as a writer?

How do you remember all this stuff?

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It’s usually in awe at the wall of folders I have from my works in progress. I keep a folder on my desktop of ideas for novels, characters, scenes… but when I get something more developed, a rough plot, a cast, a more definite outline… along with pages of writing, either the beginning, or a few key scenes – it gets a ring binder and a place on my shelf. I keep all my notes in there, I design a cover and spine. That way my idea feels real. And when it comes time to do some writing on said project, I can pull out the folder and everything I need is contained within.

And when you have over 40 titles on the shelf you find people staring at them wide eyes and asking you – how do you remember all this stuff? How do you keep the characters straight in your head and not mix the books up?

My answer is always very simple. I remember all my friends, and family. I know where they live, I have an idea of their wants and desires, what they look like, their little personality traits and favourite sayings… so it’s just like that. The books and characters within are the same as friends and family. In fact, I probably spend more time with my fictional family, because they live in my head more prominently, I go on adventures with them. We have conversations. They might change or grow up even before I put words on paper.

The human brain has such a capacity for learning and remembering, why does it always seem like a shocking feat to remember the books I’m writing – or even the books I’ve read?

I guess for someone who is not in the habit of writing books, or reading a lot for that matter, easy recollection of fictional facts seems almost like science fiction. Like you are some sort of genius. So when they get over the realisation that I’m not hiding away in a dark room with over a dozen cats writing erotic fiction for my own fancy, and actually see the scope and effort I put in, something grinds and crunches in their heads that I must be the re-incarnation of Albert Einstein himself.

How does their brain take the leap from some mousey, unattractive shut-in with sexually deviant tendencies to a crazy haired genius after entering my office? Surely there is a somewhat more modest middle ground?

Albinoes and their stuff Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI think writers are much like albino animals – rarely seen in the wild, perceived as odd, weird, or magical, but on the whole, (apart from the propensity to get sunburn) no different to the regular coloured masses. I’m beginning to learn that the general public’s assumptions of what a writer is, is so vastly different to what I actually do. It’s up there with astronaut or vascular surgeon – it sounds impressive but we don’t know the ins and outs of what they actually do every day. (Not that being a writer is as important as an astronaut or a vascular surgeon – just that they are job titles not many know details about) I’m frequently launching into the mechanics of writhing and the publishing world for friends and family. Their notions that I sit at my computer for a few weeks, churn out a novel and then send if off into the ether to be transformed into a book on the shelves of stores is completely naive.

I spend a lot of time writing, and with the characters, worlds, and story acrs that I write; so why wouldn’t I know them by heart? If I was in any other occupation, wouldn’t I know all the intricacies of that job too?

So, I guess I have to embrace being some albino animal as well – though it’s not too much of a stretch having pale skin, red hair and freckles – where people come and stare in stack-jawed intensity when they discover what it is I really do on occasion. But on the most part, I just get on with it.

Though I always get surprised at some of the frequently asked questions – I mean, if they thought about it, even only fleetingly, the answer is so obvious I may as well slap them in the face with a rubber chicken…

In fact, I may do just that.

Albinoes and their stuff Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.

#bookquotes

BQ Openly Straight by Casey Carlisle

Love this quote from ‘Openly Straight!’ It challenges the lexicon of tolerance and acceptance – instead asking for celebration of differences. Though it is context of sexual orientation, it applies to all different types of diversity : race, mental health, body image, class, gender, religion… words that could help create a more peaceful world.

Book Review – ‘Rebel’ by Amy Tintera

Zombie soldiers revolt against the evil corporation that created them… where do I sign up?

Rebel Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 340

From Goodreads:

Wren Connolly thought she’d left her human side behind when she dies five years ago and came back 178 minutes later as a Reboot. With her new abilities of strength, speed, and healing—along with a lack of emotions—Wren 178 became the perfect soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Then Callum 22 came along and changed everything.

Now that they’ve both escaped, they’re ready to start a new life in peace on the Reboot reservation. But Micah 163, the Reboot running the reservation, has darker plans in mind: to wipe out the humans. All of them. Micah has been building a Reboot army for years and is now ready to launch his attack on the cities. Callum wants to stick around and protect the humans. Wren wants nothing more than to leave all the fighting behind them.

With Micah on one side, HARC on the other, and Wren and Callum at odds in the middle, there’s only one option left…

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A great follow-up to the debut novel ‘Reboot,’ I enjoyed this more than I expected. I went into this book not really expecting much, but as the relationships and mythology were explored further, I developed a new found appreciation for this new take on zombie super soldiers. There is a certain amount of predictability for ‘Rebel,’ I easily guessed the ending – but I mean it was pretty obvious given the title; but the twists and turns it took to get there certainly made a wild ride. With just about everything imaginable thrown at the reboot gang, this was an engaging read.

Rebel Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleOur protagonist, Wren, felt more human; and I was able to connect with her character better than I had in the debut. She was able to emote and make human connection, where I had difficulty relating to her in ‘Reboot’ because of her cold stoic nature. Her love interest, Callum, still reminded me of a loyal Labrador in this follow-up, and felt like the grounding force amongst all the chaos for Wren. I liked how he found his place in the dysfunctional rag-tag group they formed while running for their lives.

The element of politics and alliances was a great touch and added a layer to the story telling, one-upping the plot complexity from the debut. The narrative still felt a little bland – but I’m not chalking it up to Wren’s nature like I did with ‘Reboot’ – I think it’s tone and style of Amy. And in saying that, I think this book could have been more engaging, which is why I’ve given it an average rating. It didn’t leave a large impression on me.

There wasn’t the great uncovering of the mythology and science behind the existence of reboots, or much explanation into the experiments being performed on them, it was cursory in nature, which is a shame – I like more science in my sci-fi. I was waiting for the nuts and bolts of the world building and that ah-ha moment around Wren, Callum, and HARC; but the impact was soft and not satisfactory.

Towards the end, a few things felt coincidental and rushed for the sake of wrapping up everything in a pretty pink bow, but with YA and Amy’s writing style, it worked. This is cute, and gave me a pay-off worthy of the duology, and makes me want to recommend to fans of dystopians. A fun and interesting read all up.

Considering it took me a while to get into and finish ‘Reboot,’ I completed ‘Rebel’ in one sitting over the course of an afternoon. The pacing and tension were handled better than the first novel, and even though the narrative was still dry, was much more engaging. I’m looking forward to trying out her latest series ‘Ruined’ and ‘Avenged.

Overall feeling: I’ll give it a thumbs up

Rebel Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Rebel Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.