Challenger Deep- Book Review

Cover of the book Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Review by laurae87

Caden Bosch thinks too much. As a fifteen-year-old struggling with schizophrenia and anxiety, life is one confusing mess of hallucinations and worried thoughts. With the growing concern of his family, Caden takes too many painkillers, eats too little, and paces around the house in a dissociated state. At school, his test scores are dropping, and his paranoia is rising. School becomes a place that triggers panic, so Caden starts skipping classes, and instead, walks around town. His “thought-voices” torment him and make him think unpleasant thoughts. Caden is slowly losing his grip on reality. His parents notice his unusual (and worrying) behavior and admit him into a psychiatric ward. There, he meets other teens who are battling their own mental illnesses. He slowly becomes friends with some of the teens, and tries to help them with their struggles, along with getting better himself. However, one situation that occurs is so shocking that Caden doesn’t know if he will be swallowed whole by the gaping jaws of schizophrenia, or if he’ll manage to get out alive. Will Caden have the courage and strength to battle his mental illness and win, for now? To find out and follow Caden through his journey, read Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This novel is about courage, self-reflection, and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia, mania, and anxiety. Challenger Deep lets people who have been there know that they are not alone in their struggles. In the last pages of the novel, Shusterman provides resources and help for those dealing with mental illness.

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The Elementals- book 1 -How it all Started

Image of sphere broken into four elements.

By: sharkgirl25

Chapter Four – Her Bark is Worse than her Bite

“Oh. My. Gosh!” Marina yells in astonishment. “I cannot believe that we have powers!”

“Okay, okay! Calm down, Marina! It’s not like we just won the lottery or something!” Earth says.

“Actually, Earth, it’s just like winning the lottery! Just think of what we can do!” Inferno says.

Earth thinks of the possibilities. Well, she thinks, I can always grow a tree and tie Shatcene the drama queen to it, and then have poison grow out of her sock. And I can make lots of trees grow, so that way the loggers don’t have to cut down the rainforests, and I can turn dry, dead grass into fresh, new green grass! 

“Well… WHO THE POMEGRANATE AM I KIDDING?! THIS IS SO AWESOME!” Earth yells, startling her friends.

Eliza walks by, and purposefully knocks Earth to the ground, shoving Inferno and Marina as well. When Earth’s hands touch the ground, two flowers pop up. She realizes what she did and points her hand toward Eliza’s feet, and poison ivy slinks its way up her leg, tightening its grip. She goes to take another step, and falls, smearing mud all over her pink dress.

“Auuuuuugghhhhh!” she screams, realizing that poison ivy was holding her down, and that she got mud smeared along the front of her new dress.

Vines wrap around her, pinning her to the ground, which Earth had coated with a fresh layer of mud. Earth, still on the ground, laughs so much she turns into a hyena. Earth the hyena rolls on the ground, laughing, and then springs up and runs circles around Eliza, laughing. Inferno and Marina stare at Eliza, who is on the ground, struggling, and then at Earth the hyena, who is running circles around Eliza, still laughing. Marina can’t stand Earth’s laughing, and Eliza’s screams, so she yells,

“STOP! IT’S TOO ANNOYING!”

Earth changes back into a girl, but still has a hyena tail. The vines and poison disappear, and so does the mud on her dress. Earth’s hyena tail vanishes, and she stands up, saying,

“What. The pomegranate. Just. Happened?”

Eliza stands up and says,

“Ewww! What was I doing on the ground?! And why are you guys here? Get out of my way!” She walks away, clearly having no memory of the previous events. Earth, however, remembers it all.

“One thing’s for sure,” Marina says.

“What’s that?” Inferno asks.

“Earth’s bark is worse than her bite!”

Earth laughs. “Depends on what type of tree it is!”

 

The Leaf Reader (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

The day Andrea Quinley went missing, all of the problems started. The town Colesbury didn’t think much of the disappearance. After a few months without finding anything they concluded she was gone for good and stopped the search. Some people like Matt Cotrell don’t want to give up that easily, so as a last resort he has his fortune read to find out where Andrea is.
Marnie Wells has been a fortune teller ever since she found a tea leaf reading book on her grandmother’s shelf. Marnie has fun doing the readings and she knows they aren’t real, but her customers start to believe in her abilities. When Matt comes to her seeking answers, she assumes he is just there to make fun of her, but when his reading comes true he keeps coming back for more. Matt shows Marnie some e-mails he received that say they are from Andrea, and soon they are trying to solve this mystery together.
Matt gets a tip in an e-mail and they find a body, but now they are more confused than ever. Together Matt and Marnie uncover more and more secrets about what happened. When they figure it out, the criminal is someone no one expects.
I liked The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault because it was full of surprises and I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this book because it was a great mystery that left me guessing. until the end.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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“Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
                                                                                                                                                          The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: be a weapon. Or be a warrior.”

Continue reading

Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally

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Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

 Review by: fmarie0112
        When I first started reading this book I instantly though I wouldn’t like it. The main character, Kate, was judgmental and got on my nerves. It was obvious that some of the other characters in the book felt the same way and many times I found myself cringing because of what she had said. I just kept thinking about how embarrassed I would be if I had acted that way. After a few chapters of this I almost wanted to stop  reading the book, but I continued to read the book and I’m glad that I did. As the story progresses you get to see Kate grow and become more understanding, while not letting go of her personal beliefs.
        Kate grew up in a very conservative Christian church and she followed the rules set forth by her religion very strictly. Initially this was one of the things that bothered me because she did not only followed the rules but she also acted as if she was forcing her belief upon others. When her friend Emily got an abortion due to an unexpected pregnancy she was practically shaming he for her decision. Ultimately, this caused Emily and Kate to get into a fight that resulted in them not talking for most of the summer.
        When Kate goes to camp she is faced with many fellow counselors who also don’t follow her strict beliefs-here are boys are girls sleeping in the same cabins! A counselor lying and breaking the camp rules! As the story continues Kate is faced with these many dilemmas and she struggles to understand how she could be friends with people who do not share the same beliefs as her. Should she just say quiet and let others live their lives as they please or should she voice her beliefs as she always has? This is a constant struggle for Kate as she exits her sheltered life and enters the real world. I enjoyed watching Kate grow as the story goes on (despite how frustrated I was with her in the beginning) and I grew to respect her for staying true to her herself, not giving into peer pressure and not abandoning her beliefs.

The Girl Who Could Fly

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Review by: Glory Skyfire

This book, as you would expect, is about a girl who can fly. Her name is Piper McCloud.

When Piper reveals her powers in the middle of a baseball game, she expects her family and new friends to be surprised, but proud. What actually happens is that her new “friends” shun her, her overprotective family drags her home, and she has to hide from the paparazzi. When the mysterious director of a special school shows up at her farm and promises to teach her to control her powers and help her meet other people with similar abilities, Piper accepts.

When she gets to the amazingly futuristic Institute, she meets a group of super-cool kids who can control the weather, use telekinesis, and more.

Despite a cover review comparing this book to X-Men, the director of the Institute is definitely not Professor X. Dr. Letitia Hellion has an ulterior motive for gathering all these very special children… and if they knew what she was doing, they wouldn’t like it.

But eventually, Piper loses a friend, does some exploring and finds the flip side of the Institute: a mission to totally destroy everything that makes her and her fellow students special. Through rigorous planning, misunderstandings, a few fights, personality conflicts, and a lot of character development, Piper manages to convince the others that they should leave. But quite a few obstacles will be thrown in their way… including a betrayal.

Pros:

This book has a very sweet and true message that originality is a good thing and trying to squash someone’s natural gifts is not good for them.

The characters are all strong and well-defined. Piper has endearing strength of character and natural curiosity. The antihero was empathetic and intriguing. Even the most minor named characters have defining moments that serve to make them sympathetic.

The plot twists – There are two major ones I can think of, and while the first one is stunning while remaining logical, the second one had me empathizing with the villain – in a good way.

The setting – descriptions are very well done, which is natural, because the setting serves as a partial focus of several plot-lines.

The non-human characters – Forester has a very good imagination, and the descriptions during Piper’s out-of-bounds exploration were clear and totally easy to see.

Anything I don’t specifically mention below was probably good.

Quibbles:

Some of Piper’s portrayal is exaggerated and stereotypical. I feel that Forester should have shown more respect for her character’s uniqueness instead of throwing a few mildly insulting, unrealistic “old-timey rural farmer” clichés into a present-day setting.

The book is significantly darker than it seems at first glance. A main character is tortured. Several other sympathetic characters are irreparably harmed. One is killed. Everyone is out to get the main squad, and by “get”… I mean brainwash and practically kill. This is all described in painstaking detail. It’s more like “Whoa, things have just gotten unexpectedly horrifying,” than “Ooh, plot twist.”

The author is trying to be punny, and can’t figure out the right/write way to go about it. The Institute’s full name can be shortened to I.N.S.A.N.E. Also, the flying girl is Piper McCloud? Really?

There is a sequel, The Boy Who Knew Everything, but I would like to warn you not to read it. It doesn’t even approach the quality of the first book. The new characters are much flatter. The plotline adds so many irreconcilable elements to the world of The Girl Who Could Fly that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief and enjoy the story. The moral is saccharine and schmaltzy and is crammed forcibly down the reader’s throat. I couldn’t finish the second book, and it almost ruined my ability to enjoy the first one.

Summary of the Review:

I give this book a very precisely calculated 3.75 out of 5 stars. It’s worth a read, but possibly not a purchase, so see if your local library has it. I loved the characters, plot, and writing, but several other elements of the story were slightly lacking, which prevents me from giving The Girl Who Could Fly four stars. You’ll probably like it, so you should try it and let me know how it is.

 

Freya (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

Freya, the Norse goddess of love and war, beauty and death, has been living as Sarah Vanadi in a mental hospital. For years she has been growing weaker from the decreasing number of worshipers for her. Freya isn’t getting many worshipers at the hospital but she has nowhere else to go.

All this changes when a government employee comes to see her because he knows her true identity. He’s trying to recruit her to join his organization, Finemdi, that collects gods so they can get more worshipers. Freya is suspicious of him so she declines, but he won’t take no for an answer. He tries to take her by force, but she manages to get away with her meager strength. She and her new mortal friend Nathan create new lives for themselves in Orlando, Florida so that they won’t be easily found. Unfortunately, they meet Dionysus and he hands them over to Finemdi.

Freya will not stand for what they are doing to the gods they capture but has to play along anyway. She knows that she needs to open the eyes of the other gods so they can revolt against the government and be free. All of this comes at a price, but Freya is prepared to fight.

I liked this book because it included a wide variety of gods from different civilizations and I learned a lot of new myths. I recommend Freya by Matthew Laurence because it was interesting and I couldn’t put it down.