Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Challenger Deep

18075234Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Contemporary, YA, mental illness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
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.
A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens. 
This book really hit home for me, especially with recent events in my life. Dealing with mental illness is hard for everyone involved, but Neal Shusterman writes about it with such compassion and understanding. This is such an eye-opening book, and I recommend that everyone reads it.

Most books I have read about mental illness treat the illness like the elephant in the room: everyone knows it's there but no one wants to talk about it. The main character is typically struggling with something, and his/her parents and friends are generally clueless. If someone is there to help, it is often in isolation and after some form of deeply traumatic incident. Basically, the main character is defined by their struggle against their mental illness, and it is often portrayed as something you have to figure out and overcome on your own.

Neal Shusterman does write a story about a boy who struggles with mental illness; however, he includes a support structure and a far more compassionate and realistic view on what it's like to battle your own mind. Not only do Caden's parents take an active role in getting him help, so do other adults and friends. Caden is never alone, as much as he may sometimes feel that way. Shusterman also does a phenomenal job of showing how different kids deal with their demons differently; some take longer to heal than others, and some can never heal at all.

What I appreciated about this book was how it told a very emotional and difficult story without ever truly feeling depressing. There was always hope, be it a lighthearted joke or a friendly pat on the shoulder, even during the most intense parts of the book. As someone who has friends with mental disorders and someone who experienced depression, I can say that these things don't ever truly go away. There's no magic happy pill that can make your demons disappear; you just find better ways of telling them to leave you alone. Shusterman respects that, and doesn't try to sugar-coat the truth, yet at the same time he presents his story in a very positive and encouraging way.

I cannot even put my thoughts together about this book because it affected me so emotionally. I want everyone to read it because this is the sort of book that clears up misconceptions and helps people become more supportive and understanding of people they know who may have mental illnesses. It's a book that tells you that you're not alone and that there is help and hope for you even if you can't get the demons out of your head. This is a book that changes lives, and maybe even saves them.

A free e-ARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Talk: Book blogger vs the real world

What I love about the blogging world is that it feels like a safe place for me. I can rave about books I love, fangirl over upcoming releases, rant about bookish pet peeves, and push books on people like no other, and no one judges. We all love books, we've all been there, and I feel like I have had a lot of great conversations and made friends with people I've never met in person.

Most of my "real life" friends know I'm a bookworm. Every birthday present since the age of five has involved books or gift cards for books or bookmarks. What my friends don't realize is just how much I read, and that I get review copies  and ARCs from publishers. Sometimes I'm so excited about a book that I have an ARC of and I start recommending it to my friends and then they ask questions about how the whole blogging thing works and then comes the inevitable question:

Can I see your blog?

I don't know about you, but ironically my blog is my secret safe place. I feel like I can be completely honest about what I liked and didn't like and not be judged for it. With friends who know me in real life and who have a certain expectation or image of me, I'm a little nervous about them judging my reading tastes or my eloquence (and lack thereof) in my reviews. So many of my friends only read literature and classics and as much as I enjoy a good piece of classic or contemporary literature once in a while, I much prefer my books to be fun. I mostly read genre fiction because it's entertaining. I love being emotionally invested in characters and worlds, and I read books so that I can laugh and cry and think about all the what ifs. I feel like my more...literary...friends would judge my reading tastes and maybe even look down on me. I'm not ashamed that I mostly read genre fiction, but it still stings when someone tells you, "Oh yeah, you still read sci-fi and fantasy and all that, don't you?"

 You, my readers, know who I am in the book sphere. Somehow I'm not as worried about what you bookworms and bloggers would think of me if you met me in real life as I am of real life friends discovering my blogger self. So far I've only met one blogger friend (Nikki from TWBI!) and it was so much fun. I felt like I could still be myself and the only difference was that I was freaking out in person instead of in all caps on twitter! I'm looking forward to going to an author signing or a conference at some point and getting to meet even more of you lovely people!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

3581Title: Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume 
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Mystery, classic

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Since his first appearance in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most beloved fictional characters ever created. Now, in two paperback volumes, Bantam presents all fifty-six short stories and four novels featuring Conan Doyle’s classic hero - a truly complete collection of Sherlock Holmes’s adventures in crime!
Volume I includes the early novel A Study in Scarlet, which introduced the eccentric genius of Sherlock Holmes to the world. This baffling murder mystery, with the cryptic word Rache written in blood, first brought Holmes together with Dr. John Watson. Next, The Sign of Four presents Holmes’s famous “seven percent solution” and the strange puzzle of Mary Morstan in the quintessential locked - room mystery.
Also included are Holmes’s feats of extraordinary detection in such famous cases as the chilling “ The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” the baffling riddle of “The Musgrave Ritual,” and the ingeniously plotted “The Five Orange Pips,” tales that bring to life a Victorian England of horse-drawn cabs, fogs, and the famous lodgings at 221B Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes earned his undisputed reputation as the greatest fictional detective of all time. 
I'm a little disappointed by the detective who inspired millions of fans and countless adaptations.

Some of the mysteries were great, but a lot of them were really random. It seems like Sherlock Holmes can solve entire mysteries in a glimpse, but enjoys making other people look stupid while they try frantically to piece together what he has known all along. I love that Sherlock Holmes is clever, but hate how he toys with and baits everyone around him. What was even more annoying was how Watson just fawned over him without any self-respect.

I know these stories were written in a different time period, but the amount of racism and sexism in the stories really bothered me. I think another reason I didn't connect with the original Sherlock Holmes is that the stories were a lot of exposition and then explanation of what happened, and there was hardly any suspense or character development. Again, I feel like this is just a different style of writing due to the time period.

I can definitely respect Dir Doyle for coming up with such clever solutions to mysteries and for creating a character that won the hearts of the world. I think I'll stick to adaptations from now on, though.

Have you ever been disappointed by a classic? What are your thoughts on Sherlock Holmes adaptations?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


This is one of the easiest TTTs for me to do because I have just over 10 favorite authors!

3. Also Scott Lynch, creator of my friends the Gentleman Bastards

4. Melina Marchetta, whose every book has made me cry in pain and happiness
5. Markus Zusak, for writing one of my most treasured books (The Book Thief)
6. Patrick Ness, for all those books that gave me a hug when I felt lost or alone
7. Margaret Atwood, for never failing to make me see beauty and hope in the strangest of circumstances
8. Neal Shusterman, whose books have made me laugh, cry, scream, and jump for joy
9. Laini Taylor's writing is utterly gorgeous. I have fallen in love with all her books. Also, look at how well she can pull off hot pink hair!
10. Most recent addition to my favorite author list: Sarah J Maas for making me love Celaena even when I started out hating her.

There are a few favorite authors that got left off the list, but you can find them all here!

*Side note: I hadn't seen pictures of some of these authors so it was fun to see what they looked like!* 

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