#BQ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Casey Carlisle

A truly diverse sci-fi epic! Becky Chambers combines great world building and character development. Highly recommend.



A bit of a contemporary twist on a classic… plus, ballgowns! ‘The Season’ looks like a fun romp. Just the ticket to break away from all the other titles I’ve been reading lately.

Book Review – ‘Nil’ (#1 Nil) by Lynne Matson

Bought this book for the island survival aspect, stayed for the action and mystery.

Nil (#1 Nil) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 384

From Goodreads:

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.


I went into this without knowing much about the Nil universe other than it was a survival adventure for a group of teens on a tropical island. I certainly did not expect the sci-fi twist, which I found delightful and set up an interesting premise. This book felt like a mash-up of ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘Beauty Queens.’

I got a little worried with the dual perspectives, it is usually a note that gives a lot of repetition in the narrative, but ‘Nil’ managed to dodge this pitfall expertly.

There was a little bit of a slow start. The world building took a little bit of time to erect with such a large cast of characters, and the rules of the island inhabitants… and the island itself. It is well worth persevering. I’ve read slower, I think because we learn about the world through ‘show’ more than ‘tell’ it slowed the pace a little. But it’s the kind of writing that I prefer. ‘Nil’ definitely captured my imagination.

Protagonist Charley, an athletic, 6-foot, awkward teenage girl awakening naked on a strange island was a great premise. She really works at finding herself, and her place on the island. I loved how her unique perspective of the island, and its reason for being, adds something new to the story. I love how the attributes she found embarrassing about herself were the things that gave her advantages in this hostile environment.

The constant ticking clock for all the characters added an urgency that really upped the pacing and kept me engaged right to the last page.

Thad, the love interest, was all things hunky hero that you’d expect. The leader, the rescuer. Though he didn’t embody that stereotype completely. He gets to live outside those initial impressions, and lets Charley deconstruct a few of these aspects on her own terms and grow as a person. It was great to read about his doubt and insecurities.

The romance between these two felt a bit insta-lovey. I would have liked have read more of a build and a rocky start. So it did feel a bit cheesy and tropey in that respect.

Nil (#1 Nil) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Contra to that, ‘Nil’ is brutal. Matson is not afraid to pile up the body count – and any character is fair game. I really did not know who was going to make it through to the end. This air of uncertainty, of living in the now, adds some great tension and had me hooked.

Nil’ reads more like a romance with a survival setting. Upon finishing, while satisfied with the resolution of major plot points, the mystery of the island remains unsolved. And I am keen to read on in this trilogy to discover what Nil is all about. Though it looks like the sequel ‘Nil Unlocked’ is dealing with different protagonists.

There was a contrived element that urked me. Like some big Game Master was pulling the strings. Whether this was intentional, and the role of the island itself, or the author setting up the storyline, it’s something that resonated with me in a slightly negative way.

I think if there was a touch more explanation about the island, a little less romance, less of the trope, this would have been a 5 star read. It is still a bonza read. I loved the adventure and the mystery of the island, the challenges to survival, and how visceral the challenges were. Definitely up there with my recommended books. Can’t wait to work out the mystery of Nil in the remainder of the trilogy.

Overall feeling: Not too shabby

Nil (#1 Nil) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Nil (#1 Nil) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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.

Connecting With Professional Writers – Growing Your Network

Connecting with Professional Writers Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Writing in and of itself is a solitary journey, especially in the beginning stages. But when we embark on that publishing and marketing stage it can be extremely difficult and a somewhat insurmountable task. That’s where we need to reach out. Find resources, use editing services, tap into education… but how do you actually grow a network of like-minded professionals short of cold-calling?

I’ve managed to meet published authors and other professionals in the publishing industry through a number of means. But it all comes down to getting involved. Introducing yourself and becoming a part of a conversation. And it doesn’t have to be about writing. Just break the ice, once that is done you can get to more important and exciting matters. Share your experiences.

I’ve attended a number of workshops and seminars and ended up trading emails with people I met there. We keep in contact through social media and arrange the occasional coffee for a chat. I find this helps with staying motivated and meeting others going through the same process reminds me that I’m not alone. Not even in my own neighbourhood.

Business Woman

I’ve also joined a few facebook writers groups. These are great. We swap tips, critique each other’s works, and pass on great contacts that have been vetted. Heck even if I don’t post much there, just reading everyone else’s chats is invaluable. Additional to that, I’ve garnered great contacts through LinkdIn, and registered State literature sites. Not only do they post up-to-date information on writing competitions, postings for paid work, but also regularly release news on gatherings, seminars and workshops in my area. More and more I’m finding that writing does not have to be such a solitary endeavour.

I’ve also connected with published authors through other social media platforms and emails. Whether it be over the love of their writing, a shared review, or a heads-up on something a bit hokey going on with their book. I can’t tell you how many pirated copies of books I’ve been spruiked. I always notify the author so they can take action… We don’t want our industry leeching money when it is already so hard to make a worthwhile living from.

The concept of business, technology, the Internet and the network. A young entrepreneur working on a virtual screen of the future and sees the inscription: Social media

Growing this kind of network can provide you with great Critical Partners, references for editing services, tips and tricks for marketing your novel, and even contacts to get your foot into the door with traditional publishing houses. It also helps get the word out about your novel. Once you have released your book it can mean having the difference of a ‘Street Team’ spreading the word, and having to do it all yourself (or pay big bucks for advertising.)

If you’re reading this blog post – you already have a valuable source at your fingertips. There are authors-a-plenty with blogs of their own. Post a comment or send a direct message – generally the online community is supportive and will help you on your journey.

So don’t be afraid to reach out. Go to a workshop, attend a seminar, visit a book launch, scout out a writer’s group either in your local area or online, register with writing organisations. We all have to start somewhere, and the more friends and resources you have at your back the better chance you’ll have at success.

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!


© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Elites of Eden’ (#2 Children of Eden) by Joey Graceffa and Laura L. Sullivan

Starts off a bit disorientating but brings it home in the end.

Elites of Eden (#2 Children of Eden) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, GLBT

No. of pages: 289

From Goodreads:

Two girls, one destiny.

Yarrow is an elite: rich, regal, destined for greatness. She’s the daughter of one of the most powerful women in Eden. At the exclusive Oaks boarding school, she makes life miserable for anyone foolish enough to cross her. Her life is one wild party after another…until she meets a fascinating, lilac-haired girl named Lark.

Meanwhile, there is Rowan, who has been either hiding or running all her life. As an illegal second child in a strictly regulated world, her very existence is a threat to society, punishable by death…or worse. After her father betrayed his family, and after her mother was killed by the government, Rowan discovered a whole city of people like herself. Safe in an underground sanctuary that also protected the last living tree on Earth, Rowan found friendship, and maybe more, in a fearless hero named Lachlan. But when she was captured by the government, her fate was uncertain.

When these two girls discover the thread that binds them together, the collision of memories means that their lives may change drastically—and that Eden may never be the same..


This book was disorientating at the start and it took 100 pages to figure out what the heck was going on. There was no connection to the prequel ‘Children of Eden’ at all. But when the story got going it was a doozy. I really enjoyed the second half of this book.

I feel character development and relationships were sacrificed for action. While I was totally engrossed with all the goings-on, there were many missed opportunities to build attachments to the main cast.

Yarrow/Rowan still possess that adventurous spirit‎, a dash of naivety, and a whole lot of spunk, but I wanted a bit more from her in this instalment. She doesn’t really get a chance to do much for herself, she’s caught up in a whirlwind of colour, action, and espionage that it felt like she was treading water in a rough sea.

I loved Lark’s role in ‘Elites of Eden,’ but felt like the story changed gears as soon as things started to get interesting. Lachlan wasn’t so prevalent and felt more like a prop to the storyline. With both of these characters as potential love interest for Yarrow/Rowan it added tension and a strained group dynamic. But we don’t delve too much beyond attraction and measuring a person’s worth – there’s none of that real world politics and social pressure leaving the interactions in their purest form.

Elites of Eden (#2 Children of Eden) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There are some banger twists and turns, none of which I predicted. It ends on a note that had me saying ‘What tha!’ out loud, and both excited to read what comes next. The story is not done yet. And now with the finale to this trilogy ‘Rebels of Eden’ already released, I’ve got it in my shopping cart for my next book haul.

The writing style possesses a charm all of its own, an innocence, but overall the narrative felt choppy because of the departure from the first novel, and then lots of action after re-establishing itself. I loved all the plot points and am invested and intrigued, but this was a harder book to get into.

On a personal note I wish there was a little more hype and hint about this series – a year with nothing and then a release with little to no fanfare… I was eager for more and surprised that with such a prolific author in the social media scene that Keywords did not market the novel more thoroughly. Maybe they thought his notoriety would sell it for them?

Overall feeling: intrigued but underwhelmed

Elites of Eden (#2 Children of Eden) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Elites of Eden (#2 Children of Eden) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Dead Ground’ (#4 Harbinger P.I.) by Adam Wright

The Preternatural Investigator is at it again….

Dead Ground (#4 Harbinger P.I.) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Detective

No. of pages: 200

From Goodreads:

When my old friend Jim Walker asks me to fly up to Canada and take a look at a strange murder case, it sounds like a good excuse for barbecue and brewskis. 

But the party gets crashed by a pit-load of demons and things take a turn for the worse. Throw a faerie queen and a couple of ancient vampires into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. 

Time to sharpen the stakes and start slaying the undead. 

Because if you gaze long into a vampire’s eyes, the vampire gazes also into you. 

Then it glamors you. And kills you.


Another instalment in the Harbinger P.I. series sees great twists at the end which redeemed this book in my eyes despite some issues I had in developing the plot and secondary characters. We get a heavy dose of paranormal happenings – witches, fairies, vampires, magical swords and spells.

There’s still more of the machismo that urks me in the narrative, but I am beginning to enjoy this series like b-grade 80’s horror films… there is something camp about it, and find it entertaining despite its faults. There is something addictive and compelling about the Harbinger series.

I wish there was more character development to help me care more about the characters. I’m starting to fall into a speed reading mentality just to find out what is going on because I’m not forming any attachments. This distinct lack of development of characters pulled in to aid protagonist Alex Harbinger in his quest, or in their relationships – they simply came to his aid without question whenever he asked. Even if it meant they could lose their lives. To this end it felt like they were merely a plot device, like Adam Wright couldn’t be bothered taking to time to grow a back story and help the reader develop an emotional attachment to the characters. Overall this was the biggest issue I had with the story.

Dead Ground (#4 Harbinger P.I.) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

To this end, while full of action and fast paced, I felt a little despondent at times. It was feeling a little repetitive. Again not enough is resolved and only little seeds of clues are mentioned for an overarching plot for the series. Much of what stood out to me about the prequels.

The books feel like they’ve been rushed to publish and not given the benefit of a good editor. Nonetheless, I’m becoming a fan and will continue to support the author. I am noticing improvements in his writing with each book in the series. It is starting to become a guilty pleasure with me. I have issues with the writing, but the concept, and potential of Adam Wright keeps me intrigued and coming back for more.

Really interested to see what his next release ‘Midnight Blood’ brings. I know Adam Wright has stated that its publication date has been pushed back because he’s moving house before the final edits, so maybe a fresh set of eyes and experience so far will push this sequel even further.

As much as I enjoy this series, I would only recommend it sparingly, but they are quick, adventurous, fun reads.

Overall feeling: Big on imagination, little on execution

Dead Ground (#4 Harbinger P.I.) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Dead Ground (#4 Harbinger P.I.) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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 – ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ (#1 Not a Drop to Drink) by Mindy McGinnis

A dystopian school of hard knocks..

Not a Drop to Drink Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Dystopia

No. of pages: 309

From Goodreads:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….


From the blurb and some of the reviews I’d read, I expected ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ to be much more gruesome. There is plenty of tragedy and realistic hard living, but I felt it missed having a darker, grittier tone which would have added credence to the story. But this novel is a humdinger, and having grown up in the Centralian Desert, and now residing on a remote mountain top where I have to source my own water from rainfall, many of the elements of this novel rang true. Thank goodness I don’t have to fight off poachers and wildlife! A frank depiction of what could be very possible in the near future.

Our protagonist Lynn reminds me of Kantiss in the sense that she’s brought up in a difficult world of paranoia and survival, where hard choices are commonplace – and because of that she is almost emotionless and calculating in her outlook towards fellow man. A silent huntress. A warrior. And while I enjoyed reading this story and appreciated her hard-knocks attitude, there was something missing about her character to make me feel like she was a fully realised person.

Not a Drop to Drink Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleMother was too hard and cold for me to truly appreciate as a person, maybe she was suffering a mental illness? But her Eagle Scout ways were invaluable in the girls’ survival against man and nature. But was it all that necessary?

Eli, placed as Lynn’s love interest, while cute, hunky, and well-mannered, I didn’t really buy this paring. Maybe it was the writing style, I felt a little disconnected with ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ it could have really dragged out all the feels – the desperation, the isolation, and the need for human connection. But those were left dry… and so too was this novel (pun intended).

Eli’s sister, Lucy was the much needed grounding and softness that ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ lacked and was a genius inclusion. I would have liked to read more about her journey, have her involved more in the main plot and her own story arc. Maybe we’ll see in the sequel ‘In a Handful of Dust.’

Neighbour Stebbs was an interesting character. The wise voice of reason, only I felt he came in much too late in the timeline. I almost felt like his emergence was too convenient and that he should of had a stronger presence in Lynn’s life prior to where the novel started.

It is a great story and I found it highly entertaining with realism and stark landscapes. However, the plot is rather simplistic. The inclusion of a few arcs, maybe a few unexpected twists, and the protagonist failing more would’ve had me more engaged. But only if I’m being picky. Otherwise this is a great, if not bleak, adventure.

Not a Drop to Drink’ has easy language and a nice touch with poetry interspersed throughout the narrative to juxtapose some beauty in the confronting situations the cast faces.

I read it in a day, though I felt it dehumanised death, murder, and survival a bit, but a gem of a dystopian that is not hard to imagine as a realistic future. This has also been optioned by Stephenie Meyer’s production company Fickle Fish to get the big screen treatment. So I’m keen to see how this develops.

Recommended for lovers of the genre, or those wanting some light escapism, however not necessarily a book that will wow.

Overall feeling: I think I need to sit down…

Not a Drop to Drink Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Not a Drop to Drink Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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.