Book Review – ‘Prime Deceptions’ (#2 Chilling Effect) by Valarie Valdes

This has it all, like a mash-up of ‘Firefly’ and ‘A Long way to a Small Angry Planet.’

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+

No. of pages: 448

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra find themselves once again on the fringe of populated space—and at the center of a raging covert war. When Eva’s sister asks for help locating a missing scientist, promises of a big paycheck and a noble cause convince Eva to take the job despite lingering trust issues.

With reluctant assistance from her estranged mother, Eva and her crew follow the missing scientist’s trail across the universe, from the costume-filled halls of a never-ending convention to a dangerous bot-fighting arena. They ultimately find themselves at the last place Eva wants to see again—Garilia—where she experienced her most shameful and haunting failure.

To complete her mission and get paid, Eva must navigate a paradise embroiled in a rebellion, where massive forests and pristine beaches hide psychic creatures and pervasive surveillance technology. Can she find her quarry while avoiding the oppressive local regime, or will she be doomed to repeat past mistakes when her dark deeds come to light?

The sequel to ‘Chilling Effect’ brings back the problematic Hispanic Captain Eva and her crew on yet another outrageous adventure complete with psychic cats and a lingering need for a cup of coffee. There is a lot to love about this series.

I had to really think on this… why it was so hard for me to fall into this book, I mean, I really enjoyed the debut in this series. So what was going on? The protagonist. We all know those people: the cocky, always right, sarcastic person, and while entertaining, they are well… a little frustrating and grating to be around. Immature. Hard to relate to or sympathize with. And that’s what we have with our foulmouthed Captain Eva… and why I kept putting the book down. Because though I enjoyed the jokes, she bored me. Not to mention the constant breaks into Hispanic that I had to google translate to get the joke or understand the context. I was constantly being pulled out of the narrative because I have no reference point for the language or culture… way to isolate your reader. I love representation, but this did not give me access to the story.

The second, after a bit of thought, was the info dumping. I’d rather experience the world through a character or dialogue (or another storytelling device) than paragraphs of explanation slowing down the pace and detracting from the ambience of the moment.

I can tell the author had a lot of fun writing this. There is a lot of detail. We get plenty of technology, alien culture, and politics which is great, but it felt a bit too much and bogged down the pacing. 

Our protagonist also gets thrown a lot of obstacles… which are joyous, sometimes hilarious, and interesting, but it felt like Captain Eva was stumbling through the plot rather than driving it forward.

The quality of the paperback copy was much lower than that of the debut… I don’t know if it was because of the page count or cost cutting, but it did have a cheap feeling to it, especially the cover material. But I still adore the cover art: Julie Dillon is a master at her craft.

So this is a difficult book to review for me – it has so many things I praise and look for in my reads, and Valerie Valdes has a gritty, entertaining, and comedic writing style – but I felt a little excluded from the narrative and bogged down with pace and detail. I’m definitely going to be following this author and keen to see what she releases next. On the bright side, with the constant need for me to translate text and look up culture references, I’m getting an education on the Hispanic elements of protagonist Eva and that means easier immersion into the story if this series continues. The story does feel episodic in the Chilling Effect universe, so who knows where Valdes can take this franchise. ‘Prime Deceptions’ wraps up nicely, but there were enough hanging plot points and teasers that can lead to a sequel. As challenging as it has been to read so far, I am invested in the Chilling Effect series, love some of the periphery characters and have a love/hate relationship with Captain Eva. And well, authors grow, so Valdes writing can only skyrocket from here and I am intrigued. No word of another sequel as yet, but I’m going to be keeping my ear to the ground.

I have a lot of praise for this book, but it just did not marry well with my personal experiences. And yes, I’d still recommend this to my friends who love sci-fi and sassy female characters on a hijinks adventure.

Overall feeling: so many things…

© Casey Carlisle 2021. 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 – ‘Chilling Effect’ (#1 Chilling Effect) by Valarie Valdes

If Hans Solo was a swearing Hispanic Woman aboard the Firefly…

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+

No. of pages: 448

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Valerie Valdes has an innate ability to craft tone and ambience with her writing, she can also create amazing action scenes. I was truly glued to the page with those aspects of her story.  I would have liked to see the characters fleshed out a bit more, they weren’t flat, but I didn’t feel an emotional connection to them, though she did map out their motivations really well.

There were so many aliens mentioned in this book (yay for alien rep) I had difficulty keeping them all straight, and to add to that, some of them barely got a description… it was a bit of a messy whirlwind around this aspect, and I would have loved to see her take her time and introduce us to the species properly – or at least have an illustration plate somewhere in the book with an artist’s rendering of the alien species for reference.

The tone of the book and the alien descriptions gave me more of a M.I.B. vibe

We get many plot points that are introduced in the first few chapters –the psychic cats, the Proarkhe technology, the rescue of her kidnapped sister, the hindrance of entitled sex pest Glorious Apotheosis, the mention of a unfortunate past incident (Garilia), and a nefarious mafia style organisation ‘The Fridge’ which our Captain Eva is determined to overthrow… none of these plot points is resolved in ‘Chilling Effect,’ well one is, but being completely circumvented and made completely mute. So the story structure itself was a complete shemozzle. Yes, ‘Chilling Effect’ is a highly entertaining read, one a thoroughly enjoyed, but it did not really go anywhere. It was like an intergalactic road trip with side adventures and hijinks, but the book ends before the protagonist reaches their destination.

Valerie Valdes writing is the only thing that redeemed this novel in my eyes.

A slight annoyance for me though, there is quite a lot of language – but it is part of our rough around the edges Captain. We also get a lot of Spanish… which I had to constantly use Google translate to see what I was missing… with varied success. This fact pulled me from the narrative and set up a language barrier. Granted some to the translated phrases are hilarious, and I now can swear like a sailor in Spanish, but the last thing I want to do when reading a book is to be constantly translating parts and slowing the pace and shattering the illusion. I love the representation of the culture (and language,) but maybe if there were an * and a translation at the bottom of the page, or at least an appendix with all the phrases translated at the back of the book, it would have been a more accessible read. But in its current form, the text proved a hindrance that outweighed my delight at the representation.

Captain Eva is a swearing Hispanic woman that takes no crap from anyone. Think Hans Solo from Star Wars – sassy and is not opposed to breaking the rules. The presence of the psychic cats softens her a little, and with how she relates to aliens (even on an intimate level) I’d describe here as pansexual.

The pacing was surprisingly good considering the plot was meandering, and that science fiction is prone to info-dumping. We literally go from one action scene to the next, or a comedy scene without lengthy transition scenes; Valdes has a fantastic ability to create flow and expert transitions.

The Proarkle Tech was not explored enough, even if this is an over-arching plotline for the series; so too for the psychic cats, The Fridge, and well, Glorious. The latter just seemed to be a comedic punchline in the end, I don’t know why this especially wasn’t brought to some conclusion in ‘Chilling Effect.’ It was literally left hanging in the air. I think if we had gotten a more solid story structure, some of the introduced elements resolved, I would have rated this much higher. I feel I’m being generous, though I feel Valdes writing style and comedic timing were right up there with the best of them. This is a soft recommendation from me because it feels incomplete, but was so much fun to read.

Overall feeling: Fun and funny but a little frustrating.

© Casey Carlisle 2021. 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.

What you doin’ there Buster?

I’ve been distracted from social media fun, posting, and writing in the last couple of weeks due to this face….

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Buster. The newest addition to my little family. And being a puppy, I have to keep my eyes on him 24/7 and develop octopus arms. Pull him away from chewing power cords, eating strange insects, going to the toilet in the wrong place. Having the fun of the first few nights at home where he wakes you up crying, scared of an unfamiliar place away from his litter. Waking you up at 3 am because he wants to play.

He’s the over-energetic silly-pants all puppies are. With super sharp teeth wanting to chew everything, running and pouncing with unco-ordination. Using my plait as a vine as he plays Tarzan swinging from my hair… or clothes… or anything else he can reach. At 10 weeks old, everything is a new exciting adventure.

Buster 11 Aug 2017.jpgWhen he is asleep he is adorable. And he loves his cuddles once he stops trying to masticate your fingers. A number of times I’ve found him asleep, curled up next to my sneakers or slippers, head buried in the open top like he’s trying to find a missing bone deep within my footwear. But he’s fast asleep, high on the fumes of toe jam.

Buster’s big sparkly eyes stare at you with fascination, and he’s just so little and fragile. I’ve been wanting to add a new canine family member to our troop since last year. We lost our two Maltese X dogs early last year to old age, leaving Baillie (the lovable pooch I inherited from my Mother when she passed away) alone and bored. He’s used to having playmates and was becoming anxious and destructive, especially at times when I had to leave him home alone. Hence the Cavoodle cutie Buster coming into our midst.

He’s definitely playful. Adorable. And just the right fit for our mountain-top family.

Now that Buster has settled in and I’ve puppy-proofed the house, I’ll be able to dedicate my time back to writing without having to search for him every few minutes to find out what trouble he may be getting into next… and I’m sure there will be many a funny tales he creates that I can share to any dog lovers out there on occasion.

These little furbabies enrich my life so much, love unconditionally, and fill an empty house with colour and excitement that makes it feel like a home.

Now if Buster can sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, he’ll become an Instagram star for sure 😉

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Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

 

© 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.

Playing Dead

…the one where I kept getting stopped in the street by concerned neighbours thinking my dog has been run over by a car.

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Baillie, my little black and white Shi-Tzu loves going for walks. He is gun-ho all the way. We stop at every blade of grass to sniff and wizz on. We wave to people on the street and get lots of pats. Doting words of what a cute pooch he is. We may stop right in front of said people, or in the middle of driveways to do a big pooh that looks like Polywaffle chocolate bar – lucky I’m not embarrassed. Kids giggle. Adults pretend it’s not happening and move on. I come prepared with doggie bags and praise him for his ablutions… saves me getting interrupted while working with a warning bark at the back door – Toilet time Mummy!

And that’s how the afternoon walk progresses. Heavy panting and pulling on the lead this way and that. Smell. Wizz. Smell. Wizz. Squirrel!

Playing Dead Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgUsually we get home before he drinks half a bowl of water and collapses, blissful, satiated. Though on rare occasions, Baillie runs out of steam… and there he’ll sit. Decided he’s had enough. And he’s not movin’. No way. No how. (At which point I start having flashbacks to YouTube clips of owners dragging their dead-weight furbabies along the pavement by the lead.)

Lucky for his miniscule stature and teddy bear nature, I can carry him the rest of the way home with ease.

He loves to be carried. Like a little child at night time, Baillie will always pretend to be asleep so I have to carry him to his bed. Observant to when I start to turn off the lights, he’ll lie down, faking slumber, waiting to be scooped up and placed on his blankie.

But he doesn’t snuggle into you. He hangs there like a wet limp noodle.

So as I’m walking back home from our afternoon walk. There’s Bailie, flaccid in my arms, tongue lolling out to one side. Flopping with each pace. He really looks dead to the untrained eye.

People run up “Oh no! What happened?” Then Baillie’s head will lazily roll to cast a discerning eye – really, the most minimal effort he can muster to satisfy his mild curiosity; to which I have to explain that he is fine and simply tired. Or lazy. Or just wants to be carried. “Goodness I thought your dog got hit by a car or something.” And then he gets pats and scratches… it’s all a big sympathy ploy I’m sure.

Such a baby.

But I love him to bits. And I’d carry him with me anywhere.

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

Good writing doesn’t equal good speaking

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Chasing my dream as a writer has lead to some unforeseen side effects – my conversational skills have turned to mush.

Writing is a solitary endeavour. I spend days on end alone at my keyboard tapping away. Ideas flow and when I’m typing out sentences and if I can’t quite think of the word I want to use, I can type “?????” and come back later when the word pops into my head, or when reviewing with the aid of a thesaurus.

It doesn’t work so well in real life. You kind end up resembling this…

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The looks I get. People stare at me in tortured delight, like I’m having some kind of seizure. It’s like my brain is on auto-correct as I search for the perfect word to convey my desire. So I simply stop mid-sentence. A prolonged pregnant pause. Or start listing synonyms like in the thrall of Tourrets.

And thus begins the start of a long list of things which jump up like road blocks – just to make my conversation a little more interesting…

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gifAt times, especially if I am particularly nervous, I’ll catch on a certain word, like a CD skipping, in a weird stutter of half pronounce words, desperately trying to catch up with my train of thought before I realise I sound like a Martian. I almost hear my Grandmothers voice reminding me “elocution darling. Use your words.” Thanks Grandma, it’s not like I’m not freaking out enough at the sound of my own voice, bringing the attention to the fact I can’t string two English words together isn’t helping. Go tell Grandad the magpies are stealing his cherry tomatoes again and leave me alone.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle.gifBut a much worse malady occurs far too often – the nervous giggle. Only because it’s infectious, spreading like a virus through the room as other people chime in with return laughter. Before you know it, everyone has devolved into fits of laughter – which doesn’t bode well for me, because I have two types of laugh: the silent scream, where I look like I’m laughing, but someone has hit the mute button; and then the donkey bray, a wheezy shriek punctuated with a snort. Not the most elegant of chuckles. And of course, people laugh at my laugh, which makes me laugh. And the cycle continues until one of us has to pee, passes out, or begin to cough and choke. Believe me when I say this is no exaggeration. It really happens. I’m a great trick you drag out at dull and boring parties to get people in the mood.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle.gifDon’t get me started on nervous scratching, constantly playing with my hair or shuffling paper. My hands just won’t stay still. In the past I’ve had to grip on to the table or sit on my twitching fingers so I don’t look like I’m currently high on ADD medication. If I’m more relaxed, it’s great… if you don’t mind me channelling some Italian old man, sentences running over each other in increasing volume, punctuated by arm waving, flapping and pointing. Yes, conversational semaphore. Clear all glasses and breakable objects from the immediate vicinity, I’m a clumsy excited dope.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gifAnd finally (thank goodness it’s only happened once – and I learnt my lesson) unintentional displays of magic. Note: when clearing breakable objects, remove all vacant chairs around me as well. While giving an oral presentation at high school, I was so nervous, I ended up sitting back on the teacher’s desk to try and calm down as I spoke. Boy was I wired and felt like I was about to explode. Starting my speech, everyone seemed wrapt, but felt it was going well. I kept my eyes glues to my cue cards, and powered through. Until people began twittering. Had I said a joke? Then it happened again, more sniggering. Oh crap! Was there food on my teeth, did I leave my fly down? What in tarnation was going on? Cue the fidgeting, stuttering and giggling… until the teacher called a halt to the torture and informed me of what was so funny: I’d hooked my feet under a chair in front of me and began to lift it up and down. Behold this magical levitating chair! I seriously had no idea that was what I was doing. Did my legs get possessed ‘Evil Dead’ style in dastardly a plan to send my English grade point average plummeting?

I was a bit of a legend in high school for that magic trick.

Fast forward four years and I’m back in the classroom as a teacher. Still just as nervous, but learned to cope with all the ticks I’ve just listed. But now that I’ve been out of practice, apart from the occasional conversation with my dog, my skill have waned. Once again those annoying habits are appearing, and it may sound funny, but it seriously damages my credibility. I’m supposed to be a well-educated professional writer, and there I am pausing, glitching and breaking things wile I laugh nervously… not something you want to be doing in front of your publisher. So thank goodness for the digital age where I can conduct most of my business via email and blame the freeze in conversation on skype as the signal dropping out.

In the meantime I might have to get some teddies set up along my couch and practice – but make sure the web cam is off. I don’t want to go viral as the crazy lady having a teddy bears picnic.

Who else suffers social clumsiness while trying to speak in public? What’s the worst (and funniest) case of ineptitude you’ve had? I love amusing stories: it lets me know I’m not the only klutz in the world.

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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 – ‘Girl Walks Into a Bar’ by Rachel Dratch

Funny, poignant story about a positive and persevering girl continually one step behind.

Girl Walks Into A Bar Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Memoir, Comedy

No. of pages: 248

From Goodreads:

In this side-splitting memoir, the former Saturday Night Livestar recounts the hilarious adventures and unexpected joy of dating and becoming a mother when she least expected it-at the age of forty-four. Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as “Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians.”

Her career at a low point, Dratch suddenly had time for yoga, dog- sitting, learning Spanish-and dating. After all, what did a forty- something single woman living in New York have to lose? Resigned to childlessness but still hoping for romance, Dratch was out for drinks with a friend when she met John.

Handsome and funny, after only six months of dating long-distance, he became the inadvertent father of her wholly unplanned, undreamed-of child, and moved to New York to be a dad. With riotous humor, Dratch recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and the awkwardness of a baby-care class where the instructor kept tossing out the f-word.

Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Dratch’s time on SNL, Girl Walks into a Bar… is a refreshing version of the “happily ever after” story that proves female comics-like bestsellers Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler-are truly having their moment.

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I’m starting to enjoy memoirs a lot more lately. Relating my life to theirs, learning about life’s difficulties by walking in someone else’s shoes and all that. And it definitely helps if they’re funny – I’m a positive person. So autobiographies from comedians always get to the top of my TBR when I’m in the mood.

Even though Rachel Dratch is another great favourite comedian/actor of mine, and for some reason I wasn’t expecting this memoir to be gut-busting hilarious the entire way. Maybe I’ve been educated from my past reads in this genre, or maybe it was the style of narrative in the first few pages that lead me to realise this was going to have much more of a story and a moral about it than a collection of funny stories.

I really enjoyed it. Yes, I had a number of laugh-so-hard-I-cried moments, and there is a lightness and positivity lurking underneath Dratch’s tales of misadventure. I related to her story. A lot. It’s my age, my gender, my experiences with many knock-backs, but an inevitable will to go for what I want. A mix of optimism, pig-headedness, cowardice and mysticism.

Girl Walks Into A Bar Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gifWe get a peek behind the curtain at SNL and some of her acting jobs which was interesting – more so about how she dealt with the environment rather than juicy back stage gossip. But it is her journey through life, and events/opportunities continually coming much later than typically expected (another thing I related to), that were touching and heart-felt. It was not meant to be a poor-me sob story or pity party. It was a plain statement of how society puts pressure and labels on women of a certain age in the various stages of their life. Sometimes it just makes you want to scream ‘Assface’ at everyone, like one of the crazy New Yorkers she talks about. It is unfair and discriminatory (and somewhat bitchy) but Dratch navigates around it all silently, forever searching for her own happily ever after. But – she’ ain’t dead yet, so don’t expect to read it by the end of the book – though the spirit still lives strong in her heart.

Girl Walks Into A Bar Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI would have liked to read more about her creative process, and experienced a little more funny stuff in her book, but feel privileged to have been able to share this snippet of her life. It helped validate my own choices and circumstances.

I read the book in a day, there were no boring bits, no drawling on with dull events. It left me with a feeling of being ready to take life by the short and curlies. I remember to smile, laugh, cry, love my family, and revel in the roller-coaster that is life.

It was an interesting experience to strongly identify with a woman I don’t know, on the other side of the world living a life so drastically different from my own – but still the same in some ways.

A thoroughly entertaining, touching story of getting on with life…

Overall feeling: Gurl – you got me!

Girl Walks Into A Bar Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – ‘Why Not Me?’ by Mindy Kaling

Real life. Real empowerment. Said with a smile.

Why Not Me Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Memoir, Comedy

No. of pages: 240

From Goodreads:

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper. 

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While ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ was a collection of random stuff that was very much like taking a peek inside Mindy Kaling’s brain, ‘Why Not Me’ is like reading her journal. Though it in not as funny as the first book, it deals with topics of more substance. I still laughed out loud in parts, but appreciated her candor and insights – and really, truly, believe Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. Without a doubt. Full stop.

Some parts of the narrative felt a bit waffly, and Mindy tends to wander off the topic many, many times. But that is her style. She is being genuine and true to her way of addressing the world. I actually appreciated it more than in the first book because it mirrors my own thought processes. My stream of consciousness doesn’t travel in a straight line, but jump all over the place before returning to the current topic. I’m like a dog whose attention is grabbed by a squirrel. SQUIRREL!

Why Not Me Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I liked her musings over weight and food (and it should never be an issue – but it seems as women, our bodies will always be attached to our achievements. Sad but true.) Snippets of dating and making friends. Every nerd, book lover, outlier, goes through motions of doing ridiculous things to make friends, impress people, or try to fit in. Mindy’s honesty is like casting a gaze back into my own history and recognising a kindred spirit that has done many an idiotic and incidental event in order to have someone like me. Or something inexplicably random – just because – no reason… and wondered what the hell they put in the water to make me do or say such a thing. Damn Commie Bastards!

I liked her views on confidence, bravery and fear towards the end, but the reading did not feel as compelling as it should, and left the ending feeling a little flat.

But another, quick, enjoyable read from Mindy that will help enlighten other girls, women, and gay men around the globe to stand up and go for your dreams without sham and doubt. Recommended. That is all.

Overall feeling: Mindy always makes me want to dance.

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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 – ‘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 – ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)?’ by Mindy Kaling

Dissecting a modern day woman’s brain – it’s just so fluffy!.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Memoir, Comedy

No. of pages: 222

From Goodreads:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

A pleasant light-hearted look at a woman’s point of view about everything – not to say that it offers advice or opinions, because it’s not. It’s simply a glance inside Mindy Kaling’s head… and it seemed a lot like mine in there.

Some parts were random lists or stories about things, which had me laughing my guts out. Simply because they were random. And funny. And how I too suddenly blurt out the most obtuse and inappropriate things. Mindy Kaling is me and a brave woman suit! Heck no, Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.

I wouldn’t go so far to say this book in hilarious. I don’t think that was her goal in writing this book. Just like as a performer or comedian we’re not meant to be performing monkeys ‘on’ all the time just for your enjoyment. It was like sitting down on the lounge floor in you pj’s and having a gasbag with your girlfriends.

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I love how the structure was broken up into flashbacks, lists, stories and comments on pictures… it really was like how evenings go with my girlfriends, clutching a glass of bubbly reminiscing and making each other cackle until we snort.

I did want it to be funnier though. Or more engaging. But I understand in doing so it would have either been too serious, or too silly. This that the right amount of everything to kick back and relax, and to just enjoy reading.

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I appreciate how Mindy simply blurts out what’s on her mind. It’s finding a voice for much of my internal dialogue; and whether she intended the book to be like this or not, after reading it, I felt that if we were to run into each other at a party would become fast friends. And that is a great tone to have of a memoir. Masterfully done.

So many hot key topics discussed without being pretentious. I recommend this to anyone who loves memoirs, or just loves being a girl.

Overall feeling: Damn girl!

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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.