Book Review – ‘Noteworthy’ by Riley Redgate

Drag of a different note…

Noteworthy Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 404

From Goodreads:

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

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 This was a fun book to read. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down until I reached the last page.

For the most part I enjoyed protagonist Jordan, I felt she was a fun and adventurous. I also liked how she thought about trespassing on other minority group’s territory; I.e. transgender men, gay men, and feeling like an impostor and essentially wondering if the act of disguising herself as a guy was itself was discrimination. Not as gender expression, but for a chance to join a singing troop. It can certainly be viewed that way, but in another light completely harmless. It’s all about perspective.

I enjoyed how you didn’t get a sense this had a love story in it, but I knew Jordan was going to meet a man from reading the blurb, and it was fun trying to sleuth out which person it would be. I like that is wasn’t clear until the near of the novel, because different people’s reactions played out in realistic and organic ways.

I was horrified about a certain elevator scene – I get the point of gender roles being reversed and it not being made such a big deal of – but in the aftermath (and reveal) I wondered if her fellow Sharpshooter Isaac who was in the elevator with her and listened to her drunken ramblings, then went around exposing Jordan, how nothing was brought up about that altercation. It didn’t play to bolster Isaac’s character at all.

This is so full of drama and angst I was glued to the page.

I liked the social commentary on gender, gender roles, gender identity, and sexuality. It is such a big jumbled mix and really hammers home that we are all simply human – in all different shades.

Noteworthy Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The boys of Raven (The Sharpshooters) each had their own distinct personality, and really added colour and complexity to the world of Kensington-Blaine’s College Campus (and a great example of fantastic writing and character development.)

I’m not a big fan of poetry or song lyrics in novels – they lose their context and meaning in this medium, and I ended up skimming past the lyrics to get back into the narrative. But it’s a personal preference, some readers may enjoy the cadence. I have to admit, I learnt a lot about music and a capella just from the language used and descriptions of the group trying to pull a number together for a performance. So intricate – it really helped paint a picture in my head of how they actually sounded: which is a phenomenal task creating an imaginative aural sound from a sentence written on a page.

I think the ending was oversimplified (maybe a little trite,) but to be fair, if it wasn’t executed in this manner the book would have dragged out another couple of hundred pages. It was a cute tale. Tones of ‘A Mid-Summer Nights Dream,’ ‘Milly Willy,’ and ‘She’s the Man…’ playing with gender roles can be fun. But with such a heavy subject matter like identity and gender roles, ‘Noteworthy’ was wrapped up too quickly and too nicely. I found myself wanting a more resounding conclusion. But what a fantastic writing style. I remember the first few sentences and how expressive they were in setting a great tone for the novel.

It is predictable in that it wouldn’t be a story without Jordan getting found out – so that part was easily foreseen: but the things Jordan went through was waaay more out of the box than I had guessed. I’d expected some hijinks, but this was visceral and poignant. A great social commentary.

Overall feeling: Ay Caramba.

Noteworthy Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Noteworthy 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.

Casey, Cancer and Cabaret

What started out as something on my Bucket List turned into a business and fundraising event that was anything but boring.

Daffodil Day CC220In the spirit of Daffodil Day here in Australia (Friday 28th of August), where we come together to raise funds to help fight cancer, I wanted to step away from the usual blog and share an old story about how I raised funds when I was in the middle of my own battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…

TLEG Promo shot 01I had launched a production back in 2004 booking dancers and variety acts in Perth, Western Australia. I’d been thinking about it when going through Chemo (the second time) and as I was slowly recovering, launched the business. You could say this was the start of my Bucket List – I wanted to cram as many crazy ideas as I could into this short life. Basically, all I had to do was take bookings and manage a marketing campaign. Most of it was done online and at weekends, so it was perfect for someone who was sick half the time.

The company grew and I added drag and cabaret performers into the mix from hairdressing and ballroom dancing contacts. Business was doing really well, and I was growing the company and getting gigs for just about every weekend. That’s when I had the fantastic idea to form a troupe and create an Australian and New Zealand Las Vegas Styled Showgirl tour…

…until I stopped responding to treatment and needed to have a number of surgeries to remove malignant lumps.

Lavender Casey Carlisle ShowgirlBut I wasn’t about to let all that hard work and money go to waist, So instead I decided to put on a charity event for the Cancer Council in conjunction with the re-launch of the refurbished Perth Town Hall. Initially it was supposed to be dinner theatre for four weekends in a row, but my publicity company dropped the ball and ticket sales were poor. In the end we produced one massive night, getting rid of the meals so we could really pack the place. In the week prior both myself and the cast managed to drum up more publicity than the company I’d paid a small fortune to…

It was all very stressful, and in hindsight I should have let it go as soon as my health started to backslide. But when you have twenty employees counting on you, it’s hard to be so selfish. My partner at the time was the Godsend who got me through it all.

If I hadn’t been so ill, I may have been tracking the publicity company more closely and our original intention realised. But that’s all water under the bridge now.

Adding to the pressure, I had three small operations scheduled in the six weeks of rehearsal time leading up to the event. One to remove cancer growing on the cartilage of my nose; another to remove lumps on my jaw (along with a wisdom tooth and molar) and the final one to get lumps on my throat. There were more surgeries planned for larger areas later that year, but given that I don’t respond well to anaesthesia, as much as could be done under twilight sedation was first off the bat.

Stupid me had re-organised the show for the single night gala, where I was basically the headline act. Not having been through surgery before, I had underestimated the recovery time. I did, manage several walk-throughs and kicked butt in the dress rehearsal… over ten years of a dancing career under my belt enabled me to wing a part of it. My stitches were removed two days before curtain up.

I have to give it to my cast mates and stage staff though, they did an amazing job amongst so much change and adversity. Especially my partner in crime, when I was drained and emotional he picked up the slack and kept everything running smoothly and placated the highly strung creative types in this industry.

Perth Town Hall Dressing Room by Casey CarlisleLeading up to the day, I had half of the cast pull out, or had to replace them (due to no-shows at rehearsals) and ended up with a number of drag performers. We combined the numbers around a Beauty Pageant theme with a comedic twist and used the variety acts as support acts in between the group and solo numbers of the main cast. What had been turning into a dogs breakfast transformed into something beyond even what I could have hoped for. So with a mix of Queens and girls it turned out to be a Connie and Carla extravaganza!

The gang pulled together and helped with costuming – with over 120 individual outfits completed, including wigs, hairpieces, feather backpacks, and head pieces… thank goodness for outsourcing!

–ooOOoo–

FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR CANCER… TINA LOUISE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP STAGES FREE CABARET SHOW TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE W.A. CANCER COUNCIL 

Pageant show by Casey Carlisle

On the 9th of September, the Perth Town Hall will be transformed into the glitziest venue in the city for a charitable cabaret show to raise funds for cancer sufferers. The Miss Australia Covergirlz Pageant, brought to Perth by the Tina Louise Entertainment Group, this event asks that the audience makes a donation upon entry for the Western Australia Cancer Council.


Audiences will see six performers, Casey Carlisle, Chaise Punani, Sapphire, Gillette Venus, Elle Niño, and Cinnamon dance, sing and dazzle their way through the evening. With her signature red locks, curvaceous body and flirtatious laugh, Casey Carlisle is the founder of the Tina Louise Entertainment Group. Having survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma twice and just 2 week ago recovered from surgery Casey is trying to follow her passion of performing and raising money to help those who are fighting cancer themselves. The group’s high energy and extensive repertoire of shows are known for their extravagant costumes and hypnotic choreography. The group collectively has experience in acting, dancing, modelling and M.C. work for corporate, theatre, television, photographic and promotional events throughout Australia. 


Don’t miss all the action on the 9th of September 2005 at the Friends and Family for Cancer cabaret show at the Perth Town Hall, corner of Hay and Barrack Streets, Perth. Donation at the door with all proceeds going to the W.A. Cancer Council . Doors open at 7 pm.

–ooOOoo–

We managed to raise just a sizeable sum for the charity and despite the difficulties and hospitalisation, it was one of the happiest and most entertaining nights of my life. Something I am immensely proud of and will always treasure the memories. And well, hey, another outlandish item crossed off the Bucket List.

In 2010 the company was wrapped up after continuing health issues and needing to relocate for further treatment. It was a sad day, but necessary. Although I had many other challenges ready to face from my Bucket List.

I was lucky to gain much of my health back (thanks to miracle-working doctors and a change in lifestyle). Many of my friends and family have not fared so well. I’ve lost some incredible people from my life. Please support this worthy cause when you can. Buy a ribbon, a pin… or do it in big flashy and glittering style. Every little bit helps.

To those no longer with us – I am truly blessed to have shared your journey. You have changed my life for the better and it has truly been enriched to have had you in it.

I miss your face.

Bucket List 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.