Monthly Archives: December 2015


UnBound Book Cover UnBound
Neal Shusterman
Juvenile Fiction
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
December 15, 2015

Find out what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev now that they’ve finally destroyed the Proactive Citizenry in this collection of short stories set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. Connor Lassiter’s fight to bring down Proactive Citizenry and find a suitable alternative to unwinding concluded in UnDivided. Now Connor, Risa, and Lev are free to live in a peaceful future—or are they? Neal Shusterman brings back his beloved Unwind characters for his fans to see what’s left for those who were destined to be unwound.



I’m going to keep my review of “Unbound” short and sweet, as I don’t want to give away who has their own individual stories to those who are fans of the excellent “Unwind” dystology.  If you aren’t a fan or haven’t read them, what are you doing here?  Shoo.  Go read them and then come back.  Otherwise you won’t appreciate, much less understand, anything about this book.

Highly recommended for fans of the “Unwind” series.  You won’t be disappointed.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Disturbing Imagery

Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep Book Cover Challenger Deep
Neal Shusterman
Juvenile Fiction
April 21, 2015

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."



I really have no idea of how to review “Challenger Deep”, but I am going to try.

It is an extremely well-written book on mental illness, complete with drawings to accompany the story.  The plot is very confusing, as it is meant to be, but all becomes clear in the end.  If I try to describe much else it will spoil the experience for you, so I am going to stop there.  It’s something that needs to be discovered on your own.

I would like to commend Brendan Shusterman, Mr. Shusterman’s son, for sharing his own story with us on the pages.  It is not non-fiction, but his own struggles add a very personal touch.  Also, his drawings are amazing.

I recommend “Challenger Deep” for anyone middle grade and up who wants to learn about, or is struggling with, any type of mental illness.  While it may be difficult at points to read, please stick with it.  It is worth it.


Content Warning:

Language, Violence

It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History

It Ended Badly Book Cover It Ended Badly
Jennifer Wright
Henry Holt and Company
November 3, 2015

A humorous, well-researched pop history of the disastrous love lives of prominent historical figures, from Lord Byron to Elizabeth Taylor If you are lying in bed right now, a pint of ice cream in one hand, a bottle of scotch in the other, and this book clenched between your teeth (one tooth is missing from last night's bar fight), with tears streaming down your face over how much you loved, loved, loved your ex, let me commend you on how well you are coping. You could be doing so much worse. So much worse. You could be beheading your ex, or castrating strangers, or starting an exciting new life with a sex doll. YOU ARE A HERO. In It Ended Badly, New York Observer columnist Jennifer Wright guides you through thirteen of the worst breakups of notable figures in history--from Emperor Nero (sadist, murderer several times over), to Viennese artist Oskar Kokoschka (he of the aforementioned sex doll), to Norman Mailer (public stabbing). With her conversational tone and considerable wit, Wright digs deep into the archives to bring these terrible breakups to life. It's fun, pop history that educates, entertains, and really puts your own bad breakup behavior into perspective. It Ended Badly is for anyone who's loved and lost and maybe sent one too many ill-considered, late-night emails to their ex--reminding us that no matter how badly we've behaved, no one is as bad as Henry VIII.



“It Ended Badly” is one of the perfect kinds of books.  Not only do you get to learn something, but you also get to laugh.  Educational Entertainment:  What’s not to love about that?

There are thirteen true tales of love gone wrong that will have you grateful for the relationship you have, as well as the ones you no longer have.  At least they didn’t end THAT way.  “It Ended Badly” is also a perfect gift for a friend or a loved one who is suffering a recent heartbreak.  By the end of the book they will be laughing so hard they’ll forget what was wrong in the first place.

I recommend “It Ended Badly” for pretty much any adult who loves history or a unique book of humor.  Five enthusiastic stars!

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers

The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers Book Cover The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers
The Devil's Engine, Book 1
Alexander Gordon Smith
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
December 1, 2015

When a sixteen-year-old troublemaker named Marlow Green is trapped in a surreal firefight against nightmarish creatures in the middle of his New York City neighborhood, he unwittingly finds himself amid a squad of secret soldiers dedicated to battling the legions of the devil himself. Powering this army of young misfits is an ancient machine from the darkest parts of history. Known as the devil's engine, it can make any wish come true-as long as you are willing to put your life on the line. Promised powers beyond belief, and facing monstrous apparitions straight out of the netherworld, Marlow must decide if he's going to submit to a demonic deal with the infernal machine that will enable him to join the crusade-if it doesn't kill him first.
From the author of the Escape from Furnace series, here is the opening salvo in an explosive new horror trilogy about an ordinary American kid caught up in an invisible war against the very worst enemy imaginable.



I really wanted to like “The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers”.  The plot summary sounded promising.  It also sounded very unique.  Unfortunately, the promise of a good book fell flat.

That isn’t to say that parts of the book were not enjoyable.  The first quarter or so was non-stop action.  I wanted to know more about the characters.  Of course, this created an even worse disappointment when the rest of the book moved at a snail’s pace.  Seriously, it could have been trimmed seventy-five pages and nobody would have missed them.

There was a mystery as to what was driving the entire plot, and had the book dropped more clues it would have left me dying to keep turning the pages.  As it was, by the time I got near the end I didn’t care what was going on and as far as I was concerned almost all of the characters could be eaten by demons.  I wouldn’t have cared.  I wouldn’t have even sent virtual flowers to their funeral.

“The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers” may be a good choice for those who don’t mind an original plot that drags out.  It wasn’t for me, though.  The audience is definitely more mature young adults, so please be careful if you are choosing a book for a gift.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Underage Drinking, Violence, Gore, Terrifying Imagery