Book Review – ‘Beauty Queens’ by Libba Bray

Sarcasm all wrapped up in a pretty pink bow.

Beauty Queens Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Adventure

No. of pages: 396

From Goodreads:

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

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At first I thought ‘Beauty Queens’ was going to be a steaming pile of bat guano given the over exaggerated aspect of the narrative with immature and shallow characters, but then it got sarcastic, funny and ironic… and then a little weird.

Beauty Queens’ is unlike anything else I’ve read before, some parts, and bits of the dialogue were like eating glass because of the low-brow idiocy, and others shine with brilliant satire – though one would not work without the other… it’s campy & sarcastic. It’s also dramatic, enthusiastic, hyperactive, and flamboyant.

Following a collection of teenaged vapid beauty pageant contestants in a reality television show who survive their airplane crashing on a tropical island – some of the girls continue in pageant mode, while others break out of character and form survival skills on an unforgiving island.

Each character is unique and brings a lot to the table as far a diversity and comedy. Libba Bray includes a transsexual and lesbian character in her cast of unlikely marooned teens. Later, the addition of a group of boys – from a pirate television show, which is produced by the same team that mastheads the pageant: The Company.

It was a little difficult to get into at first because it has such a unique narrative style, after which I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek, over the top antics of ‘Beauty Queens.’ This is all about hi-jinx! Don’t expect anything serious from this novel, except for a big case of sparkly ponies, eye-rolling, and snorting.

We have ‘ads’ interspersed in between chapters as well, like a word from our sponsor – The Company (again) that added a fun touch.

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At first I thought it was going to feel immature, like it was pitched to a young tween market, but then with some of the references and content, I discovered that it wasn’t taking itself seriously at all. It was like a drag queen had taken over the stage and was entertaining me with vicious quips, reading the audience, and strutting her stuff while downing a VB. It’s obtuse and entertaining

I may have rated it higher if it allowed me to connect with any of the characters, or had some realism in it to help me care. Instead it was like a really long episode of a teen SNL cast. And on a side note – there is a hilarious epilogue that is the icing on the cake.

I loved the funny, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. But I am really looking forward to picking up another title by Libba Bray…

Overall feeling: sugar sweet, like vomiting confetti

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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.

Writing getaway

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The beach, tropical sunsets… the perfect backdrop to dive into my latest writing project.

Except I didn’t.

I had every intention to scribble out some prose during this short holiday to N.S.W. But I’ve been catching up with relatives, checking out the sites, and stuffing my face with seafood. So the writing thing just ain’t going to happen. Neither will uploading the book reviews I had planned – the only internet access I have is via my phone. (So this post comes compliments of my Blackberry)

I have managed to get some reading done – as you do in tropical surrounds. I brought 3 novels with me and have since added another 2 from shopping (I’m such a lost cause and always indulge in book sales)

Final edits on my book ‘Smoulder’ have been going well though; I was hoping to have it finished by the end of Feb, but I think it’s going to be another month yet – and that’s if I don’t decide on any major re-writes.

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So the seaside locale of Ballina has been wonderful food for the soul – plenty of time to read, the sea spray and sunset walks over soft sand. I can feel the cobwebs being blown out of the grey matter! The holiday is only half over, so plenty more time to explore, edit, read and write…

This trip started out as a planned catch-up with family, but turned into a muse for plenty of prose on my return home.

Keep an eye out for more book reviews in a weeks time when I’m back to the regularly scheduled posting.

And as always happy writing (and reading)

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.

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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.

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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 – It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

A strong sense of adolescent drama through a picturesque summer…

 It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. 

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I did not enjoy this as much as the first, however it was a great sequel.

Mixed with melancholia, for me personally and for the Summer franchise. Having lost my own mother recently, and experienced my own battle with cancer, the tone of this book resonated strongly with me. The need to hold onto, even if you have to battle hard and risk losing everything else, certain reminders of the love that you have lost. It’s all consuming.

Belly’s love life was annoying – and I’m still not entirely convinced I like it. Not only has her age lent a certain immaturity to the story, but the fact she was a little flippant left me thinking of her as shallow and without strength of character. She was very reactionary and did not give anyone around her cause to accept she was in charge of her own destiny. Maybe it’s my age showing, but behaviour life that, especially in female protagonists rubs me the wrong way.

It does, however, lend to great drama and angst – which we get plenty of.

And just as much as Belly frustrated me, so did Conrad. He really fails to communicate, or get involved in his family despite what he is feeling. It is such a typical masculine trait. This is not a criticism on the novel, but rather, on Conrad himself. His stoicism amped up the drama in this beautiful Summer House setting.

I’ve never read a book with such annoying characters that I enjoyed so much – it is quite a feat – Thanks a bunch Miss Han.

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Jenny Han was able to create such a wonderful ambiance with ‘It’s Not Summer Without You.’ As she did in the debut, ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty,’ you can smell the coconut oil and salty afternoon breezes through the narrative without lengthy exposition. Again another quick and easy read that projects all the feels and offers up a few surprises.

I found myself craving for some depth and maturity from this story, but great escapism bringing me back to my teen years…

Overall feeling: ugly but interesting = cute.

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.