Book Review – ‘Made You Up’ by Francesca Zappia

What do you do when you don’t know what is real?

Made You Up Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 428

From Goodreads:

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

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This was a brilliant little story that gripped me from beginning to end.

I don’t know if my deductive skills were on point, but I had sleuthed out all but one minor plot reveal well in advance. But even though the book felt predictable in that sense, it has a weird charm that enticed me.

Protagonist Alex’s schizophrenia is scary and comical, and kept me as a reader on my toes – eyes always sharpened to try and discern what was fact and what was delusion. ‘Made You Up’ has a certain style and charisma. A romantic heart. And all the characters are flawed in some way. Even though Alex sees things that aren’t there, they operate on an instinctual level, making sense of the world and confirming hunches, about what might be going on under the façade we all put up.

Made You Up Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere is a lot of subtext going on with ‘Made You Up.’ And I had to sit and think for a while after finishing the novel to form some realisations. I won’t go into any detail because I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s reading experience if you are yet to pick up ‘Made You Up.’ But suffice to say, there is very little in this novel that doesn’t have some sort of meaning to the plot.

I loved the positive message it sends to those afflicted with some sort of mental illness. It’s treatable, and doesn’t morph the sufferer into a criminal, a molester, or a monster. They are simply people who deal with the world in a different manner and should be afforded the rights and dignity of any human being.

I really wanted to see the bullying tackled in a more head-on way and dealt with responsibly. There was so much unchecked behaviour in this novel that had me, a former high school teacher, grinding my teeth. Totally unacceptable. And a large part in why events escalated as far as they did in ‘Made You Up.’

It was a wonderful depiction of schizophrenia – not that I have any experience or professional knowledge of the condition – merely just an observation on how Alex really could not distinguish reality from episodes. How that affected her relation to the world at large. How would any of us deal with not being able to trust what we see and hear without context? It was beautiful in a way.

Made You Up Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Miles was an interesting love interest. Quite possibly on the autism scale, but never confirmed. It was as if his way of viewing the world countered Alex’s. In their weird banter and practical jokes were a different form of witty conversation that we see a lot of in YA. This felt truly authentic and unique.

Even though the parents weren’t absent, it felt like they were. It was almost abusive. It is a shame they did not get involved in Alex’s life more – or maybe it was easier to keep that distance? Maybe Alex would have pushed them away? It’s hard to get a beat on it, other than their behaviour did not sit well with me from the outset.

For some reason I thought it would be a shorter book – but it was still a quick read. Completed in a few sittings. Though the pacing got a lot better after the halfway mark, and the narrative interesting, I did feel like there was something missing to really push it up for a perfect rating. On reflection, I want to say emotion. Romantic angst. Something to drag more of the feels out of me. ‘Made You Up’ was intellectually interesting but emotionally so-so.

Definitely recommend this to everyone. It’s a standout for subject matter, style, and individuality.

Overall feeling: Superb!

Made You Up Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Made You Up Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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 – ‘Real Live Boyfriends’ (#4 Ruby Oliver) by E. Lockhart

The final book in the Ruby Oliver Quartet… boys and mental illness.

Real Live Boyfriends (#4 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 225

From Goodreads:

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
* her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos
* her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator
* Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar
* Gideon shows up shirtless
* and the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks? Will she ever understand boys? Will she ever stop making lists? (No to that last one.) Ruby has lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love, more than once. She’s lost her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humour.

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‘Real Live Boyfriends’ was a pleasant end to the Ruby Oliver series. Overall, I didn’t enjoy it so much – it’s all high school drama and teen angst, and the writing style E. Lockhart uses in this collection is skewed for a tween demographic. So it left me feeling old and unsatisfied. At least they are quick reads and lightly entertaining in that watching your younger siblings or nieces and nephews go through those years when appearance, and boys and girls are EVERYTHING. Reminds me of similar books like ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.’

Real Live Boyfriends (#4 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI enjoy realistic fiction in this target market and ‘Real Life Boyfriends’ is an important novel because it deals with love, crushes, parental relationships, and mental illness in a light-hearted but serious manner. Plus, protagonist Ruby seeing a Councillor (and recommending it in the footnotes) shows some great practical devices to deal with the issues brought up in the series as a whole.

It ends on a lovely note and we do see some character development from Ruby (finally) though I wouldn’t say it was as fully formed as I’d liked – but hey, she’s still a teenager and has a lot of growing up to do and life to experience. As with these novels, there are a lot of boys and flipping from one opinion to another on a dime, but Ruby seems more grounded in her convictions.

My favourite character has to be Polka-dot, the Great Dane and loving canine pet of Ruby and her family. At times he had more personality than his human counterparts.

Real Live Boyfriends’ was a cute reading experience, but on the whole, not something I particularly enjoyed or would want to read again. I’m too old and cynical to enjoy the writing style or subject matter. But that’s just because I’m not the intended audience, so duh! But I would recommend this to my tween nieces in a pinch. They would think these novels are hilarious.

I was entranced by some of E. Lockhart’s other works, hence the addition of this series to my collection. I’m glad I got to have read them, but it not a series that will resonate with me past the day I finished the book.

Overall feeling: Oh my hip! Boy I feel ancient!

Real Live Boyfriends (#4 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Real Live Boyfriends (#4 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – ‘The Treasure Map of Boys’ (#3 Ruby Oliver) by E. Lockhart

Ruby Oliver does it again in her boy-obsessed crazy world.

The Treasure Map of Boys (#3 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

Things are looking good for Ruby Oliver. It’s the thirty-seventh week that she’s been in the state of Noboyfriend. Ruby’s panic attacks are bad, and her love life is even worse, not to mention the fact that more than one boy seems to giving Ruby a lot of their attention. 

Rumours are flying, and Ruby’s already not-so-great reputation is heading downhill. Not only that, she’s also:

* running a bake sale
* learning the secrets of heavy-metal therapy
* encountering some seriously smelly feet
* defending the rights of pygmy goats
* and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.

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This didn’t feel as annoying or juvenile as the previous two books in the series. You can feel our protagonist Ruby is growing up. But she is still all-boy-consumed. Boy-crazy. I kept wondering if she was going to find something else in life other than her obsession with the opposite sex and what everyone thought of her… and we get a glimpse of it.

I feel like she slowly starts to come to the realisation of how the people around her actually treat her. What their real motives are. It was the first refreshing moment I’ve had while powering through this series.

The Treasure Map of Boys (#3 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgThe addition of Polka-dot was also a breath of fresh air. So too was working at the zoo. Something about animals and Ruby’s interactions with them humanised her more than anything else I’ve read so far.

It was nice to read that all the boys had faults and good points. That they were real. That there are no movie styled endings or plotlines to how life pans out.

And this book actually felt like it had some substance and an ending. Ruby finally had a turning point, or and epiphany that spoke to me. I’d been breezing through this series with no real connection or interest, waiting for E. Lockhart to dazzle me like I have experienced in her other novels, and I finally got a tiny glimpse of it. While I’m not yet ready to shout about this book series from the roof tops, I’m beginning to grow an appreciation for it. Yes, it is pitched at a tween girl demographic, and usually the writing is easy enough to digest – but with all the footnotes, the ‘ags!’ and goldfish attention span, it was very difficult to connect with the material. But I’m sensing a shift in the dynamic. With only one book left in this collection – and the glimmer of hope I’ve gotten, I’m actually looking forward to the final book. Slightly invested in Ruby’s plight.

Stay tuned to what will seal the deal of my opinion of the Ruby collection in ‘Real Live Boyfriends’….

Overall feeling: mmm I’m starting to like it…

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The Treasure Map of Boys (#3 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

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© 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 – ‘The Boy Book’ (#2 Ruby Oliver) by E. Lockhart

Ahh… back to the time when a girls brain is addled by boys, and tormented by mean girls…

The Boy Book Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

Here is how things stand at the beginning of newly-licensed driver Ruby Oliver’s junior year at Tate Prep: 

Kim: Not speaking. But far away in Tokyo.
Cricket: Not speaking.
Nora: Speaking–sort of. Chatted a couple times this summer when they bumped into each other outside of school–once shopping in the U District, and once in the Elliot Bay Bookstore. But she hadn’t called Ruby, or anything.
Noel: Didn’t care what anyone thinks.
Meghan: Didn’t have any other friends.
Dr. Z: Speaking.
And Jackson. The big one. Not speaking.

But with a new job, an unlikely but satisfying friend combo, additional entries to “The Boy Book” and many difficult decisions help Ruby to see that there is, indeed, life outside the Tate Universe.

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The Boy Book’ was more entertaining than the debut (‘The Boyfriend List’). The main reason for this was down to less annoying juvenile tangents in the narrative, as if both the protagonist Ruby and the author suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Look! Squirrel!The Boy Book’ has a charming quality. Though I still skimmed, it was much less than in the first book of the series, and there were even a few laugh out loud moments.

You clearly get a sense of Ruby evolving. Through her shrink and introspection – though she still does not understand why she has the impulses she does. I did get annoyed with Ruby and her boy-brain. I mean, sort yourself out and make a decision girl. I’d be greatful to have one interesting man wanting to initiate a relationship. Clearly I have sour grapes… now that I’m a dried up raisin with no attention flinging my way from the opposite sex. Maybe I should hire a sky writer? But I digress…

There’s still the turmoil and drama of high school, the passive, and not-so-passive bullying. The girl code. It was amusing but not all that interesting for me. I was excited about the slight change in tone, like Ruby getting more mature; hopefully leading to an even better read in the sequel ‘The Treasure Map of Boys.’ I have no patience when it comes to bullying in real life, so when it drags on in a novel without any definite measures taken to alleviate the situation, I feel like I’m sitting there, boiling in frustration. But: bravo to E. Lockhart for tackling this issue. Especially while the protagonist is dealing with mental health issues.

The girl dynamics are very true to life. And I think this is the shining light of ‘The Boy Book.’ Some friendships come and go, some need work and can be repaired. And some are strong no matter what goes down… and you just have to roll with the punches. Very representative of my youth. I still miss some of the girlfriends growing up in my home town, but inevitably people change and move away (and drop off the face of the map so there’s no hope of stalking them online.)

The Boy Book Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Dr Z seemed to play a more prominent role and show a bit of personality. Which I found as a great reprieve. For the authority figure, and the one who is helping Ruby come to terms with her mental illness, is both a valuable resource, and a human being.

The Boy Book’ has some fun parts and is a fast read. Cute quirky humour. I enjoyed the family dynamic more as we see Ruby’s parents seeming to get along better.

An okay, fun and super-fast read for the younger end of the YA demographic. Slightly elevated my opinion of this series. Interested to see what the next book brings.

Overall feeling: Flashback to my own school experience *I’m scared*

The Boy Book Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Boy Book Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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 – ‘The Boyfriend List’ by E. Lockhart

A cute teen diddy.

The Boyfriend List (#1 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlile.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has: 
* lost her boyfriend
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy
* did something advanced with a boy
* had an argument with a boy
* drank her first beer (someone handed it to her)
* got caught by her mom (ag!)
* had a panic attack (scary)
* lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie)
* failed a math test (she’ll make it up)
* hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).
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But don’t worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she’s ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.

I really enjoyed E. Lockhart’s previous novels and thought the Ruby Oliver books would be a fun addition. Previous read ‘Fly on the Wall‘ was hilarious juvenile fiction… but ‘The Boyfriend List‘ was, well… babbly. Think a teen on crack with A.D.D. – it jumped about everywhere, and I couldn’t decide if it was adorable or distracting.

I liked the message and the moral of the story. It takes a healthy approach to mental disorders and provides tools with how protagonist Ruby manages her issues, especially in navigating high school life, boys and bullying.

The character growth Ruby goes through was appreciated, and how we get a strong undercurrent of female empowerment. But because this book was so in the wheelhouse for its demographic, I got bored from the small tangents and footnotes, and really didn’t appreciate the juvenile narrative of it all. I know it is meant to be humorous and really mimics the short attention span of teens, but it kept pulling me from the narrative.

I’m just too old to find most of ‘The Boyfriend List’ charming and funny. And if I was a tween that’s exactly what I’d think of this book… Though I do like E. Lockhart’s writing and our protagonist Ruby graduates at the end of the novel, so maybe the writing style matures as she does, so I’m going to continue with the series and see where it leads.

This was a cute book, but not one I could relate to.

Overall feeling: Boy I feel old now… eep!

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The Boyfriend List (#1 Ruby Oliver) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlile.jpg

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© 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 – ‘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.

Beauty Queens Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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.

Book Review – P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Boys, bullies and b!itches, and how be cool, calm and  fabulous amongst it all (sort of).

PS I Still Love You Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

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Now this is how you write a sequel! It was better than the first novel in every area, and has cemented Jenny Han as one of my favourite authors.

There are still parts where I was rolling my eyes at the cheesiness (but it was expected after the precedent of ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’), but what surprised me was how much I laughed. Not only from Laura Jean’s wit, but also from moments of physical comedy… I was tickled pink.

There is all the high school drama we can expect from a contemporary and a plethora of eye-candy.

I felt it was a little smarmy how so many good looking boys fell at Lara Jeans’ feet after she was so unsure of herself (with boys) in the first novel. I would have liked a little more conflict or tension in those relationships – like with Peter. Because of that, the book had an overall feeling of it being just an everyday high school experience story, which knocked it down a mark for me.

The ensemble of characters really shone. Lara Jeans little sister (Kitty) was much more likeable and I felt their relationship more realistic. As with the first novel in this series, the family dynamic is stronger – and ever more present here. I appreciated Han’s description of sister relationships. The strong bond these girls have grown up with and how they support each other. You get a tangible sense that these girls are growing up – Jenny Han doesn’t let any of these characters back slide from the progress they’ve made in ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.’

PS I Still Love You Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

P.S. I Still Love You’ is a bit of a light and fluffy contemporary, a gentle afternoon read with a strong sense of self – and of family. With a pleasant, easy-flowing writing style and great pacing, it can be a fast read. Recommended for a lazy afternoon with a mug of hot chocolate.

Overall feeling: You go girl!

PS I Still Love You Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

PS I Still Love You Book Review Pic 04 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.

When is a lemon not a lemon?

lemon wars 05My childhood home had a multitude of citrus trees around our pool, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and mandarins. It’s no wonder we were always outside swimming in the Centralian heat, desert temperatures perfect for aquatic adventures and food within arm’s reach. The neighbourhood kids would come over and we’d all be bombing into the water and playing Marco Polo. Quite often some of the fruit would make its way into the pool, and, as you do when you are a child, you’d throw it out of the water… usually directed at someone standing along its edge.

And so was born the Great Age of the Lemon Wars!

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Before my parents came home from work, we’d chuck all evidence over the back fence. I was sure to get any play privileges revoked with the back yard littered with yellow bombs. Though, as luck would have it, our neighbours took unkindly to our dumping of copious fruit over the fence and proceeded to toss them back over – and whola! It’s raining lemons.

Lemon Wars on Steroids!

I’m positive it was not our neighbour’s intention for us to enjoy the barrage of flying citrus. We danced and giggled dodging projectiles and pitching them back over to continue the game. It goes without saying we were not popular with those who dwelled over the back fence. But nonetheless they provided us with hours of entertainment in the summer months.

I don’t think ever met these tumultuous neighbours in the ten years I lived there, or even bothered to learn their names. They were just ‘the enemy.’ It’s funny how childhood perception is so limited… It never occurred to us that what we were doing was wrong, that is could land my parents into trouble. We lived in a fantasy world of exploding mortars and mermaids and sharks, living off the land on an alien planet.

I must thank those unnamed people who dwelled over my back fence, you fed my imagination, kept me entertained and were a constant companion through gangly limbs, braces and sunny weekends. (Who knows maybe you actually enjoyed throwing lemons backward and forward?)

But as in all wars, there are causalities… It’s all fun and games until someone gets pelted in the face with a lemon – and leaves in tears. Which happened to be my best friend. She had reached that age when you start to discover boys – and instead of standing guard, was ogling the boy from down the street diving into the pool and did not see the incoming projectile. It was of the slightly over-ripe variety. A little mushy. So when it connected with her cheek it exploded in magnanimous glory, covering her entire head in sticky goo. We thought it was awesome, my friend not so much. She was totally humiliated in front of the boy she liked and stormed out in a trail of language to put a truck driver to shame.

And that caused a cease-fire. At least until the next weekend…

Make love not lemon wars… or at least, if you have to, make lemonade.

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Casey's Childhood Banner 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.

I could have been Ginger on my own version of Gilligan’s Island! …. by Casey Carlisle

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ImageBlue skies, calm azure seas, tucked into a life vest on a ship with eight hot guys… was I wrong to wish for a shipwreck?

And I’m not talking about a singles cruise, or a fishing trip with the boys. I had signed on for a couple of months as research assistant tagging turtles along the Far North Queensland coast on weekends, monitoring their migration patterns and population dispersal. Just shy of completing my Marine Biology degree, of which I was completely in awe of, having grown up in the CentralianDesert, so every attempt was given to volunteer for assisting the PhD students in their practical studies. I managed to participate in many, but this was, by far, my favourite.

Not only was there great eye candy, I could lavish in the warm coastal currents, scuba dive, and have said cuties help slather on yet another layer of sunscreen. The hard part – long hours, (about 22 hours on the vessel) and having to baby sit a couple of the lads with motion sickness (albeit brought on by the previous nights drinking game). We would catch and release continuously through the night as well, and what little sleep I did manage, was disturbed by farts, burps, coughs and groans of the men resting soundly: I had many thoughts of dropping them overboard just for some peace and quiet.

We found an alarming number of turtles garnished with plastic rubbish and a lurking Great White (maybe it was following the trail of vomit behind the boat?) There was also evidence of silt killing off a part of the coral and seagrass beds, kicked up from the shipping lane.  However the rest of the journey was filled with pristine waters and its coulourful inhabitants. It certainly raised my awareness in how our garbage is disposed and recycled, and the importance of environmental impact studies on industry.

It was a fantastic experience diving in waters with great visibility and contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. Meeting a group of socially aware and intelligent young men and actually having a constructive conversation without any awkwardness or need for a drink in one hand. I must have snapped at least 10 rolls of film (no digital

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camera back then) of the gorgeous ocean, above and below the waterline… and the hunky shipmates. So what started as a chance to hitch on a trawler and dive on reefs around our fair town for free on the weekends, and enhance my education, turned into an exercise in a global consciousness. I think I’ll trade in Gilligan’s Island for Captain Planet any day!

Save the turtles! Save our Oceans!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. 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.