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.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

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.

Book Review – ‘Six Days Earlier’ by David Levithan

A short little snapshot!

 Six Day Earlier Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 47

From Goodreads:

Every morning, A wakes up in a different body and leads a different life. A must never get too attached, must never be noticed, must never interfere.  

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I read ‘Six Days Earlier’ as it was purported to be a prelude to ‘Every Day’ and was interested in how this set the scene. Plus it was ultra short and could give me quick insight into what to expect in this series.

This felt a little hit and miss for me – I loved the snippets of lives and the attitude for wearing their skin, leaving everything at a point where the owner could step back in without too many changes.

A’s attitude about life, people, and how to treat others is steaks beyond much of YA out there. The open and non-judgemental mind developed over so many years of walking in just about everyone else’s shoes.

Love the concept, enjoyed a voyeuristic snapshot of so many lives, but ultimately was left feeling a little disorientated and wondered what the purpose of this novelette was… maybe I’ll get some more perspective when I read more of the franchise. I think I’ll have to revisit this short after reading ‘Every Day’ and put it into context; but as a whole I’m not sure what it was supposed to add to the series – but a great snapshot of what to expect, though, too short to give you any answers.

Overall feeling: Fantastic premise but lost me out of context

Six Day Earlier Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Six Day Earlier Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – Hold Me Closer : the Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

A book you can’t help but sing along to!

9780525428848_HoldMeCloser_BOM_CV.inddGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I had to pick this up – curiosity got the best of me after having read ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ and a couple of my friends raving about it. But be warned – this is not a novel, but a screenplay (of sorts). What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting to be as entertained as much as I was. There are many laugh out loud moments.

We got snippets of Tiny’s play in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ but here we get the fun, fabulous and full play Tiny wrote, complete with stage directions and notes from Tiny himself.

I thought there would be some more poignant moments, true to the styles of musical theatre and David Leviathan, but ‘Hold Me Closer’ fell slightly short of the feels in that department. But it is still a laugh riot, and I could easily picture it as a stage play in my mind’s eye.

We get to live in Tiny Coopers head for a while, as opposed to third person in the novel starring his best friend Will. There is a true spirit of acceptance, love and an indomitable spirit for life that shines through. 100% Tiny. This work really embodies all things Tiny Cooper.

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

He is articulate and sensitive to all the characters he’s based his musical on, without apology. It was ballsy, comical and touching. ‘Hold Me Closer’ is a quick, fast read.

I’m glad I added this to my collection, even though this is not something I would have readily picked up – because written as a script, it was difficult to get into the narrative. Sometimes it felt jarring. And sometimes the cadence of the melody was difficult to pick, which annoyed me, dragging me out of the story all too frequently.

Where some novels or series that release something extra to the collection usually consist of novellas, I enjoyed of point of difference in the reading a new format and getting to explore the play that was so prominently depicted in the story line of ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson.’

I’d recommend it to fans of David Levithan, lovers of Will Grayson, and anyone who has an itch for musical theatre.

 

Overall feeling: Psychedelic Fun

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

A unique definition of a relationship.

The Lovers Dictionary Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 211

From Goodreads:

A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.  

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With the appetite for something different, I grabbed a copy of ‘The Lover’s Dictionary’ knowing it was narrated in a unusual layout – each chapter written as a definition of a word. All of it pertaining to a relationship.

What a novel idea (pun intended).

It felt like flipping through someone’s photo album, getting snippets of people’s lives, each frame a small story in itself, of just a brief feeling or word…

I liked the concept, it made it an engaging read.

There was a lot of humour and emotion interspersed throughout, and some half- conversations planted to mislead, and then back track, so you are never quite sure what really happened. It changes time and POV to really keep you on your toes.

On the whole it is really a bunch of moments of a young gay couples encounters eloquently told in tiny entries (say that fast 10 times).

I garnered a lot of insight about the characters and their relationship, and even their views on the world. But what I didn’t get was a story line, this is more like a stream of consciousness.

At the end I felt like I missed the pay off. Although it does wrap up nicely, it is anything but a traditional book. A welcome break in my usual diet, but a little disappointing. Commendations on the work as a whole though.

It’s a quick read as some chapters are only a word or sentence long… could be completed in an afternoon.

Overall feeling: That was different…

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The Lovers Dictionary Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

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.

Film vs Novel – Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

I think this film has dyslexia…

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I loved the novel, and am of the opinion that it is definitely the best of what Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written together. It is gritty, artsy and embodies the soul of New York and garage bands. The characters are all painted with bright colours and flaws making them all loveable in individual ways.

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The film captures that same spirit, and while I enjoyed it, was a little taken aback as they mashed some of the sequences of the novel with others. Dialogue came from different people and scenes took place in different settings. I was also disappointed that some of my favourite scenes from the book were not included in the film. Overall I thought the picture was so-so, nowhere near as poignant as the book.

Although the narrative is witty, and such edgy symbolism is planted throughout, ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ suffered from two of my biggest turn-offs in books: the flashback, and excessive embellishment of a scene (otherwise known as mental wanderings). I think if it hadn’t exceeded my expectations in all other areas I would have abandoned it early on.

All of the cast in the movie gave me issue – Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor (Norah and Caroline respectively) felt too mature for this, even though I agree Kat played the lead expertly. I could see how her humour embodies much of Norah’s character, but we never got to really see her shine. Michael Cera was a genius casting choice, although I had pictured Nick much differently, Michael really captured the nonchalance of Nick perfectly. One scene in the book where he and Thom talk about The Beatles and are holding hands was cute, but it got ruined in the movie for me, when, I only presume for comedic purposes – Nick is seen by some passers-by and breaks the hand hold. In the book, Nick really does not care about sexual orientation or being touchy-feely with anyone… dropping Thom’s hand felt like the screenwriters had just flown in the face of everything Nick is (to get a laugh from the audience). He had so many other comedic moments in the story – why not use one of those instead of making him seem homophobic?

Nick (Michael Cera), Caroline (Ari Graynor) and Norah (Kat Dennings) star in Columbia Pictures and Mandate Pictures' comedy Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Nick (Michael Cera), Caroline (Ari Graynor) and Norah (Kat Dennings) star in Columbia Pictures and Mandate Pictures’ comedy Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

It’s a little hard to compare the story of the movie when it was such a jumbaliah of the written word. I longed to see Norah pushing Nick into the closet, catch more of Norah’s physical comedy and deadpan punchlines… and although the movie was great, it left out so much of what I found endearing. So it’s another novel for the win!

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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.