…the one where my girlfriend was peeing in the bushes and the cops showed up.

Some memories of high school still make me roar with laughter.

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Picture this: Alice Springs, a small outback town in the middle of the desert, nineteen eighty something.

When there isn’t a lot to do in a dust bowl of a town like the one we were fortunate to grow up in, you make your own fun. And this night it happened to be in the form of ‘cruising around.’ Where hapless teenagers would drive from the Truck Stop to the Golf Course, to the Speedway or Drive-In on an endless loop, hooting and hollering at other kids from the same school indulging in the same activity. Aimlessly wandering the streets in a car said that we were free! To have a car was a massive status symbol… and my Mum’s Mercedes Benz was the biggest statement of all – especially filled with a four-pack of gussied-up teenage girls.

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We call it cruising around because not only did we partake in the automobile activity, but it was usually accompanied by Vodka Cruisers, Goon-bags of wine, or in our case, West Coast Coolers. But before you get your fingers out to waggle at me, I was the designated driver, so no alcohol for me. If my parents had gotten a sniff of trouble, or I so much as sullied the shine of the Merc, my car privileges would be revoked until I was a hundred years old. That meant no freedom, no flaunting for boys, and nights filled with lame video marathons and grumpy parental chaperones.

As it sometimes happens when you’re driving about with a car full of four buzzed pubescent girls, someone needed to pee. Real bad. And we were ages away from the nearest facilities. Being Alice Springs, it’s just a case of pulling over on the side of the road and you can sneak into the bush to do your business – So that’s what we did.

I had to angle the cars lights off the road so my friend could see where she was walking, and while she ventured into the scrub we turned up the radio and proceeded to dance in the headlights – as you do when you’re feeling the chemical rush of half a West Coast Cooler in the middle of nowhere.

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Just as we bust a move, hear the trickle of pee splash from behind a shrub, a cop car pulls up. Great!

One of my friends freaks out, dives into the car and is desperately shoving our coolers under the seats – yes, we were drinking under the legal age. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes, so to say it looked like she was in the throws of a heart attack is an understatement.

I’m a little shocked and dumbfounded to see the men in blue show up in the most deserted place in Australia, one friend gyrating in the headlights, another hyperventilating inside the car, as another stumbles out of the bush yanking up her jeans. What must they think?

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They do what cops back then did – posture a little, have us line up and invade our space… no doubt trying to detect a waft of booze on our breaths. Luckily we all managed to pull it together long enough for the boys in blue to believe our story that we only pulled over for an emergency toilet stop. I didn’t know it at the time, but they had actually suspected that we’d stolen the car and were out joyriding (another activity of the local youth in this armpit of a town.)

Just as they were about to leave, headquarters radioed them back, a check on the licence plate number had yielded a result, and wouldn’t you know – my parents hadn’t paid the latest registration fee.

Needless to say the night ended with my father coming to collect us, screaming at the cops because they wouldn’t let him drive an unregistered car. But like hell he was going to leave a luxury car sitting on the side of the road waiting to be stolen. My friends were dumped home, and, like ninjas, my parents collected the car in the shadow of night while I kept a lookout for the police as we sneaked the car home.

I don’t know when they found the bottles of booze under the seat, the next time I checked, they were gone. But I didn’t get into trouble, or have my car driving privileges revoked… thankfully they were too embarrassed at having my friends and I hassled by the police for driving an unregistered car.

That’s what I call a lucky break! And that’s how we roll in country towns 😉

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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.

Book Review – ‘Frigid’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A winter romance that left me cold…

frigid-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 252

From Goodreads:

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love. 

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have. 

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

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I love JLA’s writing, it’s always great smutty escapism, but with ‘Frigid’ I was so annoyed over the first few chapters I was close to DNFing it. The relationship and behaviour of our two main characters was really off-putting. With a narrative told from two differing points of view, that of Sydney and Kyler as they dance around each other in varying degrees of love, like, lust and hate…

Sydney was cute as a button – and I mean that sarcastically. Hopelessly in love with her best friend. Hey we’ve all been there, and I pretty much ignored it too, and fantasized in private. *sigh* But the manhandling and controlling behaviour from Kyler blargh! – and she enabled him. Big time. It was painful to read. But I did have some favourite parts about Sydney: her clumsiness. The head-to-chin-butt had me in stitches.

There also seemed to be some sort of sick fascination about people putting their hands on Sydney’s hips – I think it was mentioned at least three times per chapter.

Kyler is so weak-willed, misogynistic, possessive, and controlling. Stereotypically the tall handsome hunk. It’s okay for a man to sleep around, but somehow, not for Sydney. Everything about this guy rubbed me the wrong way. I really wanted to punch him in the face. Additionally, to top it all off, a pet hate of mine are guys calling you “baby,” I winced every time Kyler said it. Sydney girl, you could do so much better.

I don’t think the dual perspective of Sydney and Kyler did all that much for the narrative, jumping in and out, just to hear how hot they thought the other one was. Other than that, it didn’t reveal anything new for the plot.

With what seems to be a lot of drinking and swearing, (again, unnecessary) it wasn’t setting the mood or the scene, just made the main characters look like potty-mouthed lushes who wanted to hump everything that walked by. Made me feel like I had a dog latched onto my leg. That, and the F-bombs. Drained the romance right out.

There were some intense sex scenes: some of it titillating, some of it not. I also just about gagged when Sydney was described as being “tight and drenched down there”… I mean, ew. There’s got to be some more passionate, creative ways to describe arousal that doesn’t sound like leaky plumbing. Another aspect that had me cringing was the whole sex-while-Sydney-is-asleep-thing. Creeped me out – I know it was meant to be sexy, build the tension and angst between the pair, but it had shades of rape that didn’t sit well with me.

And someone shooting a gun at some point felt like overkill. But, after all the bagging I’ve done, I got into ‘Frigid’ for the last third of the book. It felt like good old JLA again.

There’s just something about this coupling, and the situation that hasn’t sold me. The ending is very cutesy, but didn’t wrap everything up. Very mixed feelings about this book, overall it was okay – I kinda enjoyed it. But don’t think I’d recommend it. She has written so many other good books, this one pales in comparison.

Overall feeling: I shuddered, not shivered…

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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.

Book Review – ‘The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love’ by Sarvenaz Tash

Fanboys, fretting and fabulousness.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?
Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones. 

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Maybe because it was all about geek culture. Or that it’s been a while since I’ve read a contemporary. Maybe it was about falling in love with your best friend. Or maybe because it was all about some fun, complex characters… ‘The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love’ is everything I want in a contemporary in fell in instant lust with this story.

I must admit, I bought this on the recommendation of another book blogger. It sounded cute and interesting – and while it proved to be just that, I wasn’t compelled to start reading it as soon as it arrived in the mail. I picked it up after completing a previous disappointing title and was hinkering for a quick, happy contemporary.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love’ really surprised me. It was instalove in real life. And I mean that in a good way… It was like a re-telling of something that happened to me going through those awkward years in high school.

The cast of characters are anything but adorable. I wanted them all to be my best of friends. Our protagonist, Graham and his bestie, Roxanna worked together tirelessly creating their own comic book, swooned over fan fic and lived in Znation.com chatrooms (a fansite for their favourite comic series.) That aside, they had a collection of great friends and performed well at school. There was no bullying culture, no heavy load of pressure, and even the teen angst was at a tolerable level (even if I like some teen angst.) All of this let the characters personalities shine and gave the narrative written from Graham’s point of view a breezy quality. It really lets you inside his head and the discover the world of NYCC (New York Comic Con) through his experiences. Talk about geeking out.

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The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love’ also had a subtle way of deconstructing its characters and preconceived ideas, as it does about the world the cast experiences NYCC. This is probably one of the stealthier aspects to the novel, where other symbolism may stand up front and centre, and blatantly pondered over by Graham.

I would have liked to have gotten some more wit or humour. It is discussed at several points in the story how funny Graham and Roxy are in their joint comic creation. And there are amusing points in the novel too, but I was hoping for more of their humour to spill in the narrative, and not some elusive skill we never got to experience. That, and I also wanted to have the emotional dilemmas turned up a notch. The framework was there, but Graham’s reaction felt a little tranquilized. (Maybe it’s a guy thing?) But these small points are what drew me back from awarding a perfect rating.

Female representation here is wonderful. They all have soft edges, but also dominant and fearless, where others are innocent or even uncertain. There was so much to be thankful for where stereotypes had been avoided. I think that’s is why I’ve rated this book so highly.

Aggressively recommend this book – it’s fun and not all too long, has an uplifting story and chock-full of nerdy goodness.

Overall feeling: This was simply wonderful.

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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 – ‘You Know Me Well’ by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

A contrary contemporary.

You Know Me Well Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 248

From Goodreads:

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.  

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This is by far my favourite book penned by David Levithan to date. I like his novels, they have interesting characters, a gay narrative, build great relationships and end in some poignant positive note. ‘You Know Me Well’ was all that and more. I will be investigating some of Nina LaCour’s titles as well and see if they stack up.

We get a young teen coming of age, laced with edgy sarcastic humour. But this time the portrayal felt more realistic to me than in many of Levithan’s other titles. And just when I was sure the direction the book would take – it shot off on a tangent. I wasn’t expecting the big Pride fest either. A little cheesy, a little overdone gayness, but had an easy flow and captured my interest from the get go – I could barely put it down. Not that its compelling, rather more engaging and heart-warming. I connected with Mark and Kate more than I have with any of the cast in Levithan’s previous novels. And it was great to have a lesbian perspective. Most of his books have been dominated with a gay male perspective – it was great to see more than one gender represented.

you-know-me-well-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleMark is an all American boy in love with his best friend. I like how he finds his sense of adventure, but never knows his destination. Kate was interesting, sensitive, yet with a strong sense of who she was. She just needed the confidence to say it out loud. To go for what she wants. And their relationship was beautiful. Instead of instalove, it took the shape of instafriends… and I have experienced that single moment of attraction to someone who has become a life-long friend. I understand the connection and feeling, and haven’t seen it represented so succinctly in a book before.

We also get a great supportive cast, each with their own path.

Honestly, it was touching to read a depiction of a friendship between gay and lesbian teens – it’s not something I see represented a lot in literature – or in real life. In the GLBT community there seems to be a segregation and cliques. It’s more common to see a gay man and his female best friend in this genre.

Overall fantastic tension and angst – almost palpable. And a sensible (happy) ending. This kind of light-hearted, pleasant read is what keeps me coming back to YA contemporary when I need a lift and an afternoon in the sunroom reading.

Overall feeling: Friendship hug!

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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.

Outback sleepovers (it’s called camping people)

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In a world where glamping is the ‘in’ thing today, back in the ‘80’s, growing up in the desert, one of the things we did for fun (and to get away from the parents) was good old fashioned camping.

You only had to travel five minutes out of town to find a spot if you wanted to – there’s not much as far as facilities outside of Alice Springs. Smack bang in the centre of Australia, surrounded by bush and desert. So, as teens if we didn’t go ten-pin bowling, attend a Birthday Party, have a video night, hang out at the Truck Stop, or visit the Speedway on a Saturday Night (alternatively, there was the Drive-Inn… yep there were no cinemas in those days – the fun was seeing how many people you could fit into your car, admission was $10 per car. After we parked up, it was like a circus automobile with dozens of teens exiting and heading to the cafeteria before the matinee started) In a small town everyone knew everyone else, so if you wanted to get up to no good – you needed to go bush!

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Our idea of debauchery was gossiping and telling ghost story’s around the campfire… and maybe partaking in whatever booze we could get our hands on. Which usually consisted of bag wine, West Coast Coolers, or Port. Oh how times have changed, I’d sooner stick my arm up a Yeti’s bum than partake in any of those beverages these days. But what can I say, we were teen rebels! Sometimes we’d also play Spotlight. Which is a form of tag, or touch-chasey in the dark, where the person who is “in” has a handheld torch and it’s everyone else who hides and tries to get close enough to touch the torch bearer (and hopefully scare the pants of them as well) without being “spotted” by a beam of light.

I’m undecided if these nocturnal activities sound lame or not. I think I’d still prefer such idiotic fun over scrolling through social media feeds on a phone for hours. The only thing that could entice me away was a good book. But hey, I am a huge nerd. #nerdpride

Taking anywhere between one and four cars, packed to the top of the windows with food, bedding, water and contraband, we’d randomly head off in a direction away from the prying eyes of our parents. Little brother’s in tow (usually the payoff for some bribe to keep his mouth shut from witnessing a previous indiscretion.) And we were free!

Usually our campsites were pitched in or around the numerous dry riverbeds that meandered the landscape. Our outback sleepovers were always eventful. It meant flirting with your crush (however ineptly in my case), and we could make as much noise as we wanted – no adults to tell us to keep quiet. Yay!

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But the outback is fraught with perils: poisonous snakes and spiders, large goanna’s, and other four-legged wildlife. We were survival savvy though, and nothing nasty ever interrupted our partying. The only notable incursions took the form of a dingo, riffling through our belongings as we slept, and took particular favour to my leather camera case… there were bits and pieces scattered everywhere when we woke the next morning. And the canine perpetrator sitting beside the car patiently waiting for another morsel when we cooked our (usually inedible) breakfast. Of course I had to wail “A dingo took my camera case” for a few laughs (if you don’t get that joke google Lindy Chamberlain.) Another encounter, and one that could have been dangerous in hindsight, was when we woke to find ourselves surrounded by cows. Close to a hundred of them. I opened my eyes to find a bovine staring back, stupidly chewing its cud, threatening to drop a huge gob of saliva on my forehead. We literally had to push the ambivalent things away, careful not to spook the herd and avoid getting trampled. Thank goodness no-one was stepped on overnight.

It was all in a night’s fun for this outback girl, until we discovered how to get fake ID’s and hung out at the only club that would permit us entry… but that’s another story.

I miss my friends, and our (mostly innocent) fun, and look forward to a reunion of the old gang later in the year – maybe I’ll dredge up some more humorous anecdotes to share… watch this space!

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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 – ‘Shug’ by Jenny Han

Realistic fiction at its best with Han’s easy-breezy style.

Shug Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 248

From Goodreads:

SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she’s about to become your new best friend.

Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there’s nothing worse than being twelve. She’s too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there’s not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren’t acting so dear anymore — especially Mark, the boy she’s known her whole life through. Life is growing up all around her, and all Shug wants is for things to be like they used to be. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there’s just no figuring out today? 

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Shug’ is cute and thoroughly enjoyable. It is everything that I’ve come to expect from Jenny Han. A young protagonist dealing with the pressures of coming of age. Moments of flightiness, misunderstanding and heartbreak. It’s all here.

Shug Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgShug, an affectionate nickname for out protagonist, Annemarie, is teetering on the edge of childhood, about to take the first steps of maturity and claiming womanhood. Her perceptions of gender roles, of responsibility, are that mix of naive and clear black and white… but as in life, nothing really works that way. So Shug has to find a way to learn to deal with it all.

Her best male friend Mark, and BFF Elaine are facing issues of their own. As they start to grapple with independence and carve out the person they want to grow into, it inevitably leads to distance. Distance from Shug. Somehow they have to navigate this predicament and determine what it means for each of their relationships.

Jack, (one of Marks best friends) also faces the same conundrum, but as Shug grows to learn more about him, soon discovers he is nothing like she first assumed.

Shug’s parents are grappling with difficulties in their own relationship as well – and this throws her compass for safety spinning.

All of this leads to an engaging read about life, relationships and saying goodbye to a part of your childhood.

The narrative is deliciously innocent, while the tone of the novel more melancholy. So, combined with Han’s smooth writing style and a slow but gradual build with pacing, ‘Shug’ braces at that edge of adulthood expertly. The story did feel a little flat – but I liked the simplistic plot and easy to read style (though it is targeted to a young audience). A pleasant read for an afternoon.

Overall feeling: sweet and pleasant, like a deep breath of fresh mountain air…

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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.

Dad’s car is a death trap!

Dads car is a death trap Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgA stroll down memory lane to the time when I had a brand new driver’s licence I happened to borrow my dad’s ute to take a girlfriend home… and well, the trip didn’t go as planned.

First of all – no jokes about female drivers please. I know sometimes we can be overcautious (as I can be) but gender has no weight on someone’s driving skill. I should know, my Mum was a rally car driver.

Picture this – Sicily 1949… sorry, I just caught an episode of ‘Golden Girls’ and couldn’t resist. Anyhow, the year was in the late 80’s. I had big hair, cut-off acid wash jeans, legwarmers and a hypercolour t-shirt. And I looked narly! At that time I lived in Alice Springs, a small desert town smack bang in the middle of Australia. In other words: Satan’s armpit.

My best friend and I were 16 going on 23; and after spending most of the day inside watching movies (the type you had to hire from a video store and watch on a VCR) due to an unseasonal summer shower, it was time to end our girlie hang out and get her home. I’d not long had my driver’s license and yet to buy my own car, but my parents usually let me borrow the family car. But this time it was unavailable, and the only thing free was my dad’s ute. A small maroon V8 flatbed truck. I really didn’t want to be seen driving it at that age – it was ugly.

But hey – it was a set of wheels – which meant freedom… and beggars can’t be choosers.

This thing gurgled and grumbled like a vintage airplane. We prayed no-one we knew would spot us in this bogan muscle car. So, off we ventured on the wet roads to the other side of town, taking the back streets with Bananarama blearing out of the tape deck. Yay! ‘Venus!’

It was pretty uneventful for half of the trip. I was freaking out a little, because the auto was bigger than I was used to, and smelled like stale boy and cigarette smoke. But at least it was an automatic, no embarrassing struggles trying to change gears. Given this was a column shift, the shift lever stuck out of the steering wheel column. Gah! End me now!

The only issue was that the accelerator pedal was a touch sensitive.

And a touch is all it took to send us rocketing down the street, pushing our bodies into the back of the bench seat. As if we were about to leave the atmosphere on a quick jaunt to the International Space Station.

And that’s exactly what happened after I pulled to a stop sign, seeing the roads clear, went to turn a corner… and we suddenly found ourselves in a world of blurred landscapes, teenage screams and screeching tyres.

A wet road and a monster of a truck aren’t a good mix…

Dads car is a death trap Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.gifWhat happened next was a collage of permed hair and hooped earrings flapping in the breeze as the car skidded across the road, turning one and a half times, jolting to a stop on the other side of the road facing the wrong way. And off to the side of the road a large dirt storm gutter decorated with metal star pickets.

Dads car is a death trap Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gifThank goodness for deserted small towns. And that the car stopped at the curb. Unscratched, still rumbling like a leopard with a cold.

I swear my girlfriend needed to buy a new pair of nickers. I just about soiled myself. This whole event cemented the hatred we had for supped-up muscled cars even more. They were a death trap waiting to happen.

The weird thing was, when the car hurtled from the place I’d stopped at the intersection, we squealed. And after a momentary shriek we fell silent, mesmerised by the suburb sliding across the windshield. We stared at each other with pale faces and a look that said everything – ‘what the frig was that?’

Driving lessons from my Mum had kicked in, I’d lifted my feet from the pedals and turned into the spin without thinking… Love you Mum!!

It could have been so much worse. We could have crashed and died. I think my handling of heavy machinery is also the reason that my partner never lets my mow the lawns, or pick up an axe… it will inevitably end in some weird mishap. Like the time I was digging a hole and broke a window; or the time I was using a belt sander and knocked down the neighbour’s fence. I have a knack for setting off a chain of events to disastrous results.

Consequently, 16 year old me never told my parents of my driving incident for fear of getting my driving privileges revoked. Because at that age, driving is EVERYTHING. It elevates your status and makes you cool. And in the 80’s wasn’t everything cool?

Today – I’m a much better driver. Really. I am. Though the atrociously permed hair is gone, my bestie and I still catch up and reminisce over our teen adventures in an outback town. Oh, remind me to tell you the one about how we were pulled on the side of the road so our friend could pee in the bushes and the cops showed up… that was fun.

Till the next trip down memory lane, Happy reading and get to writing that next best seller 🙂

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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 – If I Told You So by Timothy Woodward

Rebellious teens, idiotic dares, sassy best friends, gorgeous boys and lots of ice cream!

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

The summer you turn sixteen is supposed to be unforgettable. It’s the stuff of John Hughes movies and classic songs, of heart-stopping kisses and sudden revelations. But life isn’t always like the movies. . .
For Sean Jackson, sixteen is off to an inauspicious start. His options: take a landscaping job in Georgia with his father, or stay in his small New Hampshire hometown, where the only place hiring is the local ice cream shop. Donning a pink t-shirt to scoop sundaes for tourists and seniors promises to be a colder, stickier version of hell. Still, he opts to stay home.

On his first day at work, Sean meets Becky, a wickedly funny New York transplant. The store manager, Jay, is eighteen, effortlessly cool, and according to Becky, “likes” Sean the way Sean’s starting to like him. But before he can clear a path to the world that’s waiting, Sean will have to deal with his overprotective mother, his sweet, popular girlfriend, Lisa, his absentee father, and all his own uncertainties and budding confusions. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

When I was reading this, it felt like sitting around with a bunch of friends reminiscing about our summers in high school – it was realistic, intimate and heart-warming.

If I Told You So’ really captures those moments of first love – or first contact and physical closeness. The innocence and naivety wrestling with hormonal forces beyond control. The urgency. And the finality of actions and words. This felt a little like it could be anyone’s adolescent coming out story. It had an easy appealing feel with a positive message even though it is about the difficult process of exploring sexual identity.

Sean Jackson is relatable and genuine, he is refreshingly honest and leaves judgements at home. I liked him from the get-go, determined to blaze a trail of his own away from his Fathers plans of manual labour in the family business. The parentals are always trying to instil lessons of a work ethic and learning the value of the dollar, and it’s so much more fun addressing that on your own terms – even if it is at a campy ice cream parlour or a MacDonalds franchise.

Becky is also witty and straight-to-the-point as his new best friend. We all need someone to call us on our shiz… Plus she was there to give Sean a gentle shove when he needed one. And let’s not forget Jay, the manager at the ice cream parlour that Sean becomes so enamoured with. The way their friendship develops felt so real, and Jay does a great job as the patient mentor (at work and in coming out). Such a wonderful cast of endearing characters, painting them at face value until they prove themselves something different.

It is brilliantly light-hearted, with a jovial narrative that really pulls you into the coastal small town. I was easily lost in this pleasant read, devouring it in one sitting. Great for a lazy day at the park or beach.

It was fairly predictable, but in a good way – you are jostling for a happy ending from the start as the characters are all so loveable. If you like sweet contemporaries that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, then this one is for you.

Overall feeling: Such sugary goodness I can’t stop…

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

If I Told You So Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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.

Film vs Novel – Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

Love happens in many different ways…

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

After doing a comparison of ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,’ I was keen to give another title by this duo a go… where the book by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn is witty, punchy and just a little emo, the film is like an adorable alternative romantic comedy. ‘Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List’ brings another contrast to the colourful characters Levithan and Cohn are praised for.

Naomi and Elys No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI honestly liked the movie better than the book. I found Naomi to be whiny and immature, flying off the handle randomly, or failing to see reason – which is the point her character is so interesting… but in the movie, you get a break from her character. Naomi is played by Victoria Justice, and I think I’ve only seen her in some Disney movie, but Justice played Naomi to perfection, I got all the same feels from her performance as I did while reading the book.

Ely, played by Pierson Fode brings some incredible eye-candy. I was literally drooling at the screen. Fode compliments Ely’s character with an aloofness that added dimension to the character that I did not get from the novel. We know he was clueless, but in the novel, he came across as selfish, where in the movie we get to see it’s all in Naomi’s head and Ely is just being Ely.

Other notable performances that excelled my reading experience was Gabriel played by Matthew Daddario and Bruce 2 played by Ryan Ward… maybe it had something to do with the hotness metre blowing a gasket, but these boys really fleshed out the characters. I don’t think I liked Gabriel all that much in the book, but Matthew Daddario totally redeemed him in my eyes. Bruce 2 had the opposite effect, I got a geeky confidence from him in the novel, even though he is an introvert, but the film Bruce 2 felt like a lost lamb falling prey to both Naomi and Ely. I got the vibe of his self discovery from the page – not so strongly on the screen.

Plus, New York, with all of Naomi and Ely’s friends was so much more interesting in bright colour on the big screen – I didn’t get such a rich feeling of subculture from the novel. It is such a short book, and its focus is on Naomi and Ely’s relationship, so superfluous description of the setting would have been a hindrance, so I’m greatful to the film for adding yet another layer to my enjoyment.

The emotion was dialled down a lot more in the movie as well, which I appreciated, leaving me with a more rounded experience from all the cast, other than just Ely and Naomi.

I’d recommend to read the book before the movie, but it is totally the film for the win!

Naomi and Elys No Kiss List Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

A great realistic tale, but a little flat.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Book Review pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 230

From Goodreads:

Naomi and Ely are best friends. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their “No Kiss List” of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine…until Bruce.

Bruce is Naomi’s boyfriend, so there’s no reason to put him on the List. But when Ely kisses Bruce, the result is a rift of universal proportions. Can these best friends come back together again? Or will this be the end of Naomi and Ely: the institution?

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I managed to read this in a day. And while I got a kick out of it, I was still a little ‘meh’ by the end.

There are a lot of different POV’s in this book, so if that is a pet hate, steer clear! You’ve been warned. However, I felt it worked. It was great to take a break from some of the angst of the main narrator and see the situation from someone else’s eyes.

The material was witty and had a charm about it appealing to the coffeehouse crowd. And the style of narration flows with a simplistic young voice. I didn’t get any surprises out of the story – it is easily predictable… but it is also realistic. And that I liked.

I must admit I was expecting to get more feels from a contemporary like this; especially with David Levithan’s authorship, but felt more like a snapshot of your typical college drama. And that’s okay, this novel does not purport to be anything but.

Coming from the president of the Fag-hag club of everywhere – My best gay friend of twenty years and I are still fiercely close – this book depicts the very real perils of having a G.B.F. It’s pretty cool to see a book like this written, back when I started friendship with my bestie, you definitely would not see mainstream literature of this kind. It is great to find a relationship that is something other than girlfriends, or a romance which has the possibility to last a lifetime. In life, most of anything does not fit in to a stereotype or fix in a square box.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Book Review pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I’m really looking forward to viewing the film released this month starring Victoria Justice and Pierson Fode (maybe a little later in Australia), and see how they interpret the novel.

Overall feeling: Cute.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Book Review pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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.