Book Review – ‘Blueberry Boys’ by Vanessa North

Blueberry boys – a little too fruity for me, but has a sweetness to it.

Blueberry Boys Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 186

From Goodreads:

Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other. 

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I’ve really enjoyed a number of titles in GLBT contemporary, and after reading the blurb and loving the cover I bought ‘Blueberry Boys’ expecting a heart-warming tale to while an afternoon away on the couch.

There is a coming out story (as there generally is in GLBT Literature – no surprises there) but the way it was dealt with felt a little juvenile for the age of the characters Jed and Connor, and a farm setting.

The characters at the beginning were likeable, but I started to lose interest in their pairing as it was too rushed and focused on lustful encounters a lot of the time. There was also a heavy element of instalove between Connor and Jeb.

The narrative is beautiful – until the characters get intimate, then it turns into erotica. Which I didn’t expect. And there’s quite a bit of it. It ruined my reading experience somewhat as it was confronting and the language course – drained all the romance out of it for me.

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The dialogue and narrative is also a bit superlative heavy – there are a lot of curse words. I don’t mind them in a novel to enunciate a point, or fit in to with local colloquialism; but when it’s on every page I find it distracting and pulls me from enjoying the book.

I found myself craving more story – it just felt like one sexual encounter after another without any build or character development.

If you enjoy a light m/m love story with titillation this one is for you, but I was left craving more substance.

Overall feeling – *tttthhhh*

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Blueberry Boys Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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 – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

A tale that sparkles in more ways than one.

Lola and the Boy Next Door Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 338

From Goodreads:

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. 

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I was really looking forward to jumping into this series by Stephanie Perkins after all the wonderful things said about it on Goodreads and from my friends and family. I do like a fun contemporary on occasion – and fun is exactly what ‘Lola and Boy Next Door’ is.

It is quirk to the max! Lola, Cal, all the things.

It took a while for me to get into as the first half felt slow. Although Perkins paints a colourful landscape of San Francisco that jumps from the page and is just as bright and blinding as Lola herself.

Lola possess a strength around not giving up her identity (or childish things – well things that could be viewed as childish) which really labels her as an outcast. She is the embodiment of a true artist – they see the world a little differently – and that difference is the thing that brings us joy and other scopes of emotion. And we get all these feels from Lola as she meanders through high school expressing herself through fashion and design.

Lola and the Boy Next Door Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleCal, one of the twins who has moved back next door, is quirky in his own way – and behest to say, did feel a bit of a weak character – but that’s Cal – introspective and intelligent. He has his own subtle way of expression, and you can see it is much like that of Lola’s (but less extreme) and we get a real connection and appreciation of their passions.

Honourable mention of Lola’s functional, wholesome family with gay parents. You really got a feeling of safety and security wrapped up in a big bubble of love.

As I mentioned earlier the pacing felt slow, but leant to Lola’s relationship growing at a slow burn… and completely adorable. I wasn’t as invested in these characters though. ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ is pleasant enough, but it didn’t grip me as much as other contemporaries. But this is a great summer read – light, happy and loveable.

Ending was hella-cute – it brought together a lot of what our cast offered into a heart-warming event and has to be the single thing I liked the most about ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door.’

I’d recommend this to my friends, it has plenty of charm, won’t have you bawling your eyes out, but leave you feeling like you’ve just had a really good hug. A great follow up to ‘Anna and the French Kiss.’

Overall feeling: Has an okay charm

Lola and the Boy Next Door Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Lola and the Boy Next Door 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.

Book Review – On the Fence by Kasie West

A little on the fence about ‘On The Fence’ but ultimately enjoyed this cotton-candy contemporary.

On The Fence Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 296

From Goodreads:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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On The Fence Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleFor a fun contemporary romance, Kasie West is quickly cementing her place as one of my top go-to authors: interesting characters and stories that are like a warm hug.

I liked how Charlie was an athlete – I was starting to get over alternative, quirky, coffee addicts that have been teeming YA of late. Also, the family dynamic of Charlie’s all-male family added a great dynamic, how the men in her life are protective of her whether she is aware of it or not; and how they rough-house with her as well.

Her fathers, attempts at raising a daughter, while commendable, did come across as a little cliché, I was wondering where the doting father went – he was too stand-offish and left me wondering if he was a good father at all. But he manages to redeem himself in my eyes.

Charlie was a good character to relate to, although at times I felt she was too immature, and her behaviour insulting to herself and her brothers (but sometimes her brothers deserved it.) There were also some trite moments that annoyed me, and I felt, did not need to be in the book. But I won’t talk about them here, because – spoilers!

On The Fence Book Review Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleI did take a little issue with the fact how the book step up Charlie (and her missing a female role model as her mother passed away when she was young) in knowing little about fashion and make-up as somewhat deficient in being female. I did not see her as anything less, or nothing other than a strong female role model in herself. It rubbed against my sensibility that an interest in the superficial world of clothing and facial products has anything to do with being female or acceptance by other female peers. But with that said, it was cute and fun (politics aside).

Braden was a sweet boy-next-door character, and again, very typical of this genre, but I liked his tenacity and acceptance of Charlie for who she is, without all the trappings of fashionable accessories.

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Some of the midnight conversations at the fence were touching, and others pointless and contrived. With such a poignant image defining the book, it would have been good that all these interactions were kept embodying the soul of the novel – as some of Charlie’s talks felt immature and irrelevant. But this is only a very small part (and my opinion), and the nocturnal blatherings are a fantastic part of the story and one of my favourites.

I really enjoy Kasie West’s writing style, and have not come across a book of hers that I have not liked. They are luscious uncomplicated reads, yes predictable, but quick, well-paced guilty pleasures that don’t come off too kitsch.

Overall feeling: Cute but average.

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On The Fence Book Review Pic 07 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.

15 minutes to Hollywood curls … by Casey Carlisle

Put the bounce back into your step with a head-turning hairstyle.

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Do you admire the shiny and wavy hair of television or movie stars? I know I do! Let me share with you a secret that will give you a similar look… and it doesn’t take hours in a salon. You can achieve it right at home in no time at all – and you don’t need to be an expert.

You will need some equipment – Hot rollers are inexpensive – I bought my set for $40. There are a lot of different products out there, but I recommend you purchase ones that are smooth and have a soft velvet-like cover. Rollers with prongs for grip, do exactly that – I’ve had to gently and painstakingly remove these type of tangled rollers from many of my friends hair over the years. The rubber coated ones (gel rollers) are great too, but as they age the covering breaks down and sticks in clumps like glue to your lovely locks. So for value of money and durability, the fabric covered thermal type are the way to go.

“Wands or curling irons are great, but you have to curl and hold each section, which is time consuming – with hot rollers you can set and go…”

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I’d incorporate this procedure into your routine: Turn the hot rollers to heat up while you shower and wash your hair. It works best on clean hair; oily hair won’t take as well, and the heat helps to spread natural oils from your scalp, making your hair look even dirtier.

Once you’ve toweled dry and blow-dried your hair (just blast it dry, no need to use brushes – not unless you have unusually unruly hair). Feel free to use a moisturizing mousse and/or a thermal styling agent before drying; they are light and help protect from styling stress.

Then starting from the top, grab small handfuls of hair and roll up, starting from the ends, curling it towards the scalp; and then fasten with a jaw-clip. You don’t have to be overly particular with placement – most of the curl is concentrated on the mid-lengths to ends of the hair. A whole head should take you about 5 minutes, 10 at the most.

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Once you have the whole head in rollers they need to stay in until cool – usually 15-20 minutes – so you have this time free to get other things done in your routine. Sometimes I leave the rollers in for 30 minutes, it just depends on how quickly I need to get out the door. Use the time to do your make up, get dressed, make the bed, do the dishes…

Once the rollers have cooled, you can pull them out (using an un-rolling action to avoid snarls); give your hair a quick brush, using either a soft bristle brush or a wide-tooth rake. If you need to remove any ‘dents’ from the clips or rollers, blast your hairline & close to the scalp with the blow-dryer. It will loosen the curl, so don’t do it too aggressively, or for too long. The whole process (called ‘dressing the hair’) should only take about 5 minutes, and whamo! You have movie star hair!

So, for an investment of an additional 15 minutes, you have salon professional-looking styled hair.

For me, personally the curls last a few days, and plaiting your hair back when you sleep helps to maintain the curl and keep the hair smooth and shiny.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. 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.