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review 2017-10-19 09:53
Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman
Challenger Deep - Neal Shusterman

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.

Challenger Deep is a deeply powerful and personal novel from one of today's most admired writers for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary."

Amazon.com

 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel does periodically bring up the topic of suicide. 

 

The outside world sees Caden Bosch as a regular high school student. In his own mind however, Caden sees himself as artist in residence aboard a submarine assigned to explore Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Marianas Trench, the deepest section of ocean in the world. What most would consider his real life, that of a HS student, to him is more like a secondary dreamworld. Pay attention and you will see subtle, parallel characters and situations between life aboard the ship and Caden's time in school.

 

Forget solar energy -- if you could harness denial, it would power the world for generations.

 

There are others, fellow crew members on the ship, around Caden's age. Most of these teens come from broken or troubled homes. As for the ship's captain -- who has apparently has a preference for speaking like a pirate -- well, there is something dark and mysterious about him. 

 

Regardless of what world he was in, for me there was one constant about Caden: those elements within his personal story which insisted on keeping my heart just a little bit broken for him all the way through the story. When people try to reach out to him, Caden tends to verbally push them away but deep inside he mourns not having a good enough understanding of what's wrong well enough to let others help. He struggles with his parents' questionable behavior, to say the least. In one instance, they get drunk and pressure him to bungee jump. There was a part of the story, about at the halfway point of the book, where Caden's parents make a decision they think will help him and his inner struggles but for me, it felt that a little more explanation was needed, as far as where the dual realities come into play. 

 

Everything feels right in the world... and the sad thing is that I know it's a dream. I know it must soon end, and when it does I will be thrust awake into a place where either I'm broken, or the world is broken.

 

Over time, Caden develops near-crippling anxiety, but tries out for his HS track team in an attempt to stay connected with schoolmates. There are some laughs when it comes to Caden's therapy sessions... well, if you've been in therapy yourself, that is. It's relatable humor: "I tell him that everything sucks, and he apologizes for it, but does nothing to make things less suckful."

 

I also loved Shusterman's use of analogies. One of my favorites was a car one, and its likeness to therapy: "useless check engine light... but only, the people qualified to check under the hood can't get the damn thing open."

 

Caden does struggle with suicidal thoughts at times, but he says the existence of his little sister is a "fail safe" from actually going through with anything. Even so, he still ponders the subject near the end of the novel, so heads up if you are sensitive to that sort of theme / material. I'm happy to report that while much of the plot is heavy in tone, Shusterman does close things on positive, empowering thoughts. He also provides two pages of resources after the novel to help any reader struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, all of the above, etc. 

 

The artwork you'll find in this book was all done by Shusterman's son, Brendan, who suffers from chronic depression himself. Brendan's own story of struggle, along with his artwork, inspired the adventures and trials Caden of Challenger Deep experiences. 

 

 

 

My initial interest in picking this book up was spurred by rave reviews from so many friends and fellow reviewers saying "This is the most accurate depiction of mental illness I have ever read." I've lived with mental illness my entire life. My mother battled depression, my father agorophobia and bipolar disorder. Both my brother and I were diagnosed with chronic depression, anxiety and PTSD in our adulthoods. So I figured I was going into this on pretty firm ground. While on one hand I could see what Shusterman was trying to convey, the novel didn't always represent my own experiences. But at times it hit it spot on. Then, other times I was admittedly kinda bored outta my gourd. But that's the thing about mental illness, there's no one clear-cut way to have it. Everyone's battle is different. So I took that into consideration when weighing my end thoughts on my reading experience. 

 

While I would not put my vote in with the "best ever" crowd, I do vote that it has its merits when it comes to the subject of mental illness. 

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review 2017-10-18 05:55
Review: Wed to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #1) by Sharon Cullen
Wed to a Spy: An All the Queen's Spies Novel - Sharon Cullen

Simon and Aimee are pretty much set to spy on each other and before they knew it, they are married. I am a super fan of the marriage of convenience and forced marriage genre so I was happy that I had the chance to read this story. Sadly it was not what I expected, not in the romance sense anyway. 

The romance between Aimee and Simon was too forced. I get that they had to marry because it was an order by the queen but their relationship was only beginning to simmer when the story was over. Clearly, there was a mutual attraction at the start of their marriage and what supposedly was a fondness for each other but where was that fondness even coming from as they were strangers? Simon sounded like a real character with personal commitments and frustrations. Aimee in comparison sounded like a lost puppy looking for a new owner. 

There are lost of intrigue since the story takes place at court so there is suspense and drama. If anything that intrigue was the most engrossing aspect of the story. When one of the characters at court is murdered, Simon and Aimee had to learn to trust each other in order to survive the rebellion that takes place at the castle. All of this happens in a relative short period of time and while interesting it still lacked that WOW effect that I would have loved to find in a novel about spies. It wasn’t a terrible read but it definitely needed more, specially in the romantic department.

** I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***
 

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review 2017-10-17 22:02
Not bad for a freebie Kindle eBook…
Rumors of Savages - Carrie Regan

Book Title:  Rumors of Savages

Author:  Carrie Regan

Genre:  Suspense Thriller

Setting:  African Jungle

Source:  Kindle eBook Freebie that I've had for a long time.

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot:  3.8/5

Main Characters:  3.3/5

Secondary Characters:  3/5

The Feels:  3.8/5

Addictiveness:  3/5

Theme or Tone:  4/5

Flow (Writing Style):  3.8/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.5/5

Book Cover:  3/5

Ending:  4/5  Cliffhanger:  Nope.

Steam Factor 0-5:  3 (A very low steam 3)

Total:  3.7/5 STARS - GRADE=B

 

 

 

Rumors of Savages has been sitting on my Kindle for a long while and when I figured out that it would work for a reading challenge of mine, I decided what the heck, I'll give it a whirl.  I wasn't disappointed at all.  The African setting was very well done, and the supernatural element to it was woven in without feeling like a paranormal book at all.  It started out rather slow but picked up at about the halfway mark.

 

Will I read more from this Author?⇜  Doesn't look like she's written anything else.

 

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review 2017-10-14 23:48
Book Review of Ros by Dee DeTarsio
Ros - Dee DeTarsio

 

An out-of-this-world love story . . .

 

Ros is a supernatural encounter with a female from our cosmos: E.T. meets Starman. With the clock ticking, Micki tries to save Ros, who only has a few days left to find her way back home. The bonds of this most unlikely friendship are tested on the run, as they realize that love truly does transcend time and space.

 

Review 3*

 

This book has been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while. I bought it when I first bought my Kindle way back in 2012 and it was on free promotion at the time. I was originally intrigued with the blurb because I love a good space romance. Unfortunately, due to my long reading list, it has taken me longer than I anticipated to get to read it.

 

Micki Cramer is a character I must admit I didn't connect with at first. I initially found her rather annoying. However, as the story progressed I came to like her a little more. She is a divorced mother of two who unexpectedly has a close encounter of the third kind when an alien spaceship crashes close to her house. As she tries to help the alien, Ros, get back home, she finds herself running from the US Navy and facing a dangerous cult who will stop at nothing to capture the stranded alien. Will she succeed in helping her new friend?

 

The blurb is slightly misleading. I thought I would be reading a space romance. However, the story is more about friendship than romantic love. Having said that, I really enjoyed watching the sisromance (can't call it bromance) grow between the two main characters. Ros's character comes across a little one dimensional in my opinion. I think this is because the author may have struggled to imagine what an alien is like, while trying not to make her too human. There is an ET type feel to the story, with action and adventure thrown in along with some quirky characters. I actually loved Micki's ex mother-in-law, Rhoda. She's an eccentric character with the beginnings of Alzheimer's, but she's as sharp as a tack when she wants to be. There are also a few other interesting characters, like Captain James Kerk of the U.S. Navy, and Stanley Brower, Micki's neighbour.

 

I must admit that although the story was interesting, I found it easy to put it down and read something else and then come back to it. I'm not sure if this was down to the author's writing style or if it was my mood at the time of reading. There are some scenes that had me laughing, but I think the author was trying too hard to use wit and it fell flat at times, especially where there was a need to ratchet up the feeling of suspense for some of them instead. Having said that, I especially loved the scene where they steal Stanley's RV and find him in it. Then there's the one... Nope, you may just have to read it to find out more. I did find myself becoming rather emotional near the end and even shed a tear or two. The ending was slightly unexpected, but it left me feeling satisfied.

 

Dee DeTarsio has written an intriguing story. Her writing style is not particularly fast paced, but it kept me turning the pages. The flow of the story was pretty good, but some scenes could have been shortened for more impact. Would I read more of her books in the future? Perhaps. I am not ruling it out completely. I need to reduce my reading list first.

 

Due to some profane language, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I recommend this book if you love chick-lit or science fiction genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-10-14 17:21
Audio Book Review: Laced in Lies
Laced In Lies: A Shelby Nichols Adventur... Laced In Lies: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (Shelby Nichols Adventure Series Book 10) - Colleen Helme

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Shelby's life is always full with the kids and her work as a consultant for Uncle Joey and the police. Her clients cross when she takes a job to follow a friends husband, and ends up in a bar of a gang that's got an amicable deal with Uncle Joey. She calls for help from Ramos, and afterward finds out Ramos has something going on he doesn't want her involved in, but ultimately needs her skills to help him. Uncle Joey meets her family and wants Shelby to go with his son, Miguel, to New York for his audition in a Broadway musical.

Wow. Wendy is one amazing voice actor. She gives Shelby the full feel of a person. I love the lightness to Shelby yet the complete package that she's well aware of what's happening around her is not good (when in trouble). When Wendy slips into Shelby's persona I feel like I'm watching Shelby as she goes through her day and stumbles into troubles. A wonderful combination of Colleen's writing and Wendy's voice makes me giggle in the right moments and feel the excitement in Shelby. Wonderful job.

Shelby is amazing at getting into trouble. But the best part is, even through she's nervous, she works her way out with quick thoughts. She does have a small consulting business of her own and helps with the cops on special cases, and these sometimes cross into the life that's including Uncle Joey. But if Shelby ever gets in trouble she can call on Ramos for help, and she does.

Goodness! Ramos. He's amazing. If you love dark, sexy men you'll love Ramos. I love the time Shelby and him spend together. They tease each other so well, and mean some of what they say. lol. Harmless flirting...maybe? Sometimes I wonder if Ramos doesn't have his own dose of reading minds ability. He's great at knowing and reading people, and finding them in a crowd. He even makes me smile when that all is focused on Shelby. Oh, Shelby is amazing with her husband too. He's different from Ramos, yet just as sexy. I really love both men when Shelby is with them.

Being part of the family with Uncle Joey is growing to a new level for Shelby with her husband and kids. All starting with the family barbecue that they agreed to when at Miguel's musical. Things have really grown with Uncle Joey personally. This leads us to get to spend time with Miguel, which is really nice. The family feel really comes through strong. There are ties that are reconnected and ties that grow to bring a big family feel to the whole story.

Colleen is amazing at writing the characters so I love them and I'm drawn into every moment with them. There is something with each scene that keeps me listening to the words. Shelby has amazing chemistry with everyone she meets. Awesome job!

I absolutely love these books and will continue with Shelby and all the characters as long as there are books written!

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