Book Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source: Borrowed

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 behaviour.

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.

I have a complicated relationship with Neal Shusterman. I really enjoyed Scythe but I didn’t much enjoy Unwind. I never really planned to read this book because it just didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in — I try to avoid sad books whenever I can — but I needed a book with the word “challenge” in the title for my Popsugar Reading Challenge, and, well… here we are.

First things first, this book is sad. It’s about a teenage boy deep in the throes of mental illness, and it’s just heartbreaking. I want to mention here that there are some books about mental illness that I’ve really appreciated. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine comes to mind right away, and so does Turtles All the Way Down. There are also some books about mental illness that I have despised, like All the Bright Places. Because, the thing is, mental illness isn’t something to glamorize. It’s not a cute quirk. It’s not something to be flippant about in a book. Luckily, Shusterman treats Caden’s story with the respect that it deserves.

I’m not going to say that I enjoyed reading this book, because I didn’t. It was hard to listen to. It’s confusing at the beginning, but it’s supposed to be confusing. Caden has trouble distinguishing between reality and his delusions, so we’ll be in his real life for a minute before we abruptly transition to him being on a ship in the middle of the ocean. It’s disconcerting, but again, it’s supposed to be. The book is very, very well-written, but it’s confusing and difficult to read.

There is a bright spot in all of this though, and that’s how supportive Caden’s family is of him. His little sister in particular handled everything so well.

It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’d recommend this book. I think if you’re interested in a really character-driven story about a teenager with schizophrenia, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. If you like your stories with a bit more action and with more of a clear plot, maybe skip it.

#ps19: a book with “pop,” “sugar,” or “challenge” in the title
#mm19: seasons, elements, and weather


Have you read Challenger Deep? Can you recommend any YA about mental illness?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Reading Challenge Update

I really buckled down on my challenges in November, so I’m excited to take a look at my progress.

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

November’s theme was seasons, elements, and weather. Specifically, the instruction was to “embrace a winter wonderland setting, pick a beach read, or read about a natural disaster. As long as a season, element, or the weather plays a key role in the story or is part of the title, it counts.” I really had no idea where I was going with this one, but it turned out that the first book I read in November was set on the water! I also ended up reading a couple more books that I think should count.

December’s theme is last chance. I’ve been meaning to read The Bride Test ever since it was announced and my library hold finally came in, so I’m currently working my way through that one.

I finished a total of 26 books in November, bringing me to a total of 158 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I crossed off a ton of prompts in November. I think I only have two left!

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Hoopla really came in handy for me in November. I might not have enjoyed a lot of what I read (or, probably better said, attempted), but I crossed off a bunch of prompts.

This challenge is still on hold, probably indefinitely. But I did finish Roommates, which I got over a year ago, and We’ll Fly Away, which I had DNFed over the summer.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: The Backstagers 2018 Halloween Intermission #1 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers 2018 Halloween Intermission #1 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 24, 2018
Source: Borrowed

With the days getting shorter and the nights getting SPOOKIER, the Backstagers are back for the Halloween season with all-new tales of terrors and creepy creatures. When Sasha accidentally falls asleep backstage, he ends up locked in the theater overnight! What lurks in the shadows, what terrors will he discover, and what the heck are the stage managers chanting?

From writers James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) and Sam Johns (The Backstagers: Valentines Intermission), and artist Rian Sygh (Adventure Time Fionna and Cake Card Wars, Regular Show), this haunted oversized one-act is a night at the theater you won’t want to miss!

With back-up stories from artists Shan Murphy, Abby Howard, and Savanna Ganucheau this spine-tingling tale of the stage will leave you with goosebumps you can see from the back row!

I really enjoy the world of The Backstagers, so I was excited to find this little intermission on Hoopla! This is a single issue set in the magical Backstagers world over Halloween.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about this one. Of all the characters, Sasha really isn’t one of my favorites, so I was a little apprehensive about this story that primarily features him. I didn’t need to worry, though, because this was super cute. I may even love Sasha now.

I really liked that we got to see more of the stage managers and I wouldn’t mind getting to know them even better. I also really liked the positive message in this issue! I said it already but I’m going to say it again — this was just so cute.

I haven’t checked out the Valentine’s intermission yet, but I really think I should.


#mm19: tricks and trades


Have you read The Backstagers? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

October’s theme was tricks and trades. Specifically, the instruction was to “read a book set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.” For a book set in an amusement park, I was going to go with Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan, and for a book featuring characters with special powers, I was finally going to read Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t completely derail my own plans, so instead, I ended up reading two totally different books!

November’s theme is seasons, elements, and weather. I’m not even going to make a tentative TBR for this one. We’ll just see what ends up happening.

I finished a total of 19 books in September, bringing me to a total of 132 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

Okay, I finally did it. I crossed off some more Popsugar prompts! I think I may have a chance at finishing this thing! In October, I crossed off:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I actually crossed off two prompts for Romanceopoly too! I’m not sure that I’ll finish this challenge, but if I can find some good romance audiobooks to listen to while I’m at work, I might get close. I crossed off:

This challenge is still on hold. I did finally finish Permanent Record, though, which I feel should count for something.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

I’ve been intrigued by Magic for Liars since I saw it on display in Barnes & Noble over the summer. The cover alone really drew me in, so I checked out the audiobook from my library without knowing much about it other than, of course, the magic.

I’m not going to lie — it took me a little while to get into this one. I had to listen to the first ten or so minutes three times because I kept zoning out. But then I got really into it. This book was a wild ride, and it was so much fun.

I think that the first thing I loved about this book was the setting. The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages is really your typical private school, filled with obnoxious teenagers, petty drama, and classes that just happen to teach magic. Ivy is aware that schools like this exist — after all, her twin sister attended one, and now teaches at one — but she herself has never been able to wield magic.

The second thing I loved was the mystery. I had a little inkling of who the murderer might be at the beginning of the book, but then as more and more clues were revealed, I changed my mind at least five times. The murderer makes sense and I was definitely satisfied with how the book played out, but I did not see the circumstances of that murder coming.

The third thing I loved, surprisingly, was Ivy. I say “surprisingly” because she’s a pretty unlikable character. She’s negative, she’s self-destructive, and she almost always does the last thing that she should be doing, but I could get behind it. I could understand her motives. Ivy has been through a lot in her life, and it’s understandable that she struggles with her personal relationships. In fact, one of my favorite things about this book was the way Ivy and her sister, Tabitha, interact with each other.

There were a few things keeping me from giving it five stars, though. First of all, as I already mentioned, it took me some time to actually care about what was happening in the book. Second, although the way the magic system works is kind of irrelevant to the story, it would have been nice to have at least a little more information about it. All in all, though, this was a great book and I really enjoyed it a lot.

A word of warning: cancer and abortion are fairly big themes in this book, although I think both are handled very well.

#mm19: tricks and trades
#romanceopoly: cozy corner


Have you read Magic for Liars? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

September’s theme was animal, number, color, name. I really had no idea what to do with this one (it’s so broad!) but I ended up reading MCMLXXV by Joe Casey for this prompt.

October’s theme is tricks and trades. I’m trying to decide between finally reading Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray and Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan.

I finished a total of 8 books in September, bringing me to a total of 113 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I had hoped that September would turn out better than August for this challenge, but nope. Another month with zero prompts checked off. (Oh well.)

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Same with Romanceopoly! And for the second month in a row, I read no romance novels. Maybe that’s why I’m in a slump. Maybe I just need something cute and fluffy to bring me out of it.

This challenge is still on hold. I did, however, read a couple ARCs that needed to be finished:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

August’s theme was mode of transportation, and to expand on that, its official description is “a book where the mode of transportation plays a role in the story.” I went with The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett for this prompt, mostly because I had started it in July, but also because it takes place over the course of a trek through Europe and how the characters get around ends up being a big part of the story.

September’s theme is animal, number, color, name and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to read, but I am 100% sure that I have some book in some box somewhere that will fit this prompt!

I read a total of 9 books in August and finished my reading challenge! I’m at 105 books read now.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read literally nothing that counted for this reading challenge in August! Next month will be better.

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Surprisingly, I did not read even one single romance novel in August! Who even am I?

This challenge is still on hold for now. I’ll probably pick it back up at some point this fall. I did, however, read two ARCs that have been hanging around for a bit:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!