Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unwind, Plus a Few Others...

Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Reading Level: YA
Rating: 5 (because the concept blew my mind!)
Summary: This harrowing novel is set in the years following the second civil war in the United States, known as the "Heartland War." Shusterman imagines a world in which today's debate over abortion ultimately lead to armed conflict between the pro-life and pro-choice armies. And just as there is no clear winner to the argument today, the two sides come to a compromise that fails to adequately address the situation. As a result of the agreement, human life is inviolable until the age of 13, at which point any children who are unwanted can be effectively and retroactively aborted. They're not exactly killed, however. Thanks to recent medical advances, every single body part is donated to those who need (or who can at least afford) them; thereby allowing that child to continuing living on, simply in a different form. This process is known as unwinding.
At the beginning of the novel, three teens are set to be unwound: Connor - a trouble making teen whose parents have signed the irreversible unwind order. Risa - a ward of the state who is not quite talented enough to continue her life as is. And Lev - a boy who is being offered up as a tithe.
Review: As I stated before, this book totally blew my mind, specifically for the concept. I'm all about a good thought-provoking, controversial, arouse some serious discussion novel. And this is definitely that. I'd love to see what a group of teenagers would do with this one. I mean, it's all there: political issues, war, coming of age, oppression, standing up for what you believe in. And it's easily attractive to both guys and girls. The characters were well-developed and the book itself was well-written and moved at a fast pace. And yes, it's a bit creepy, but I seriously give Shusterman props for creating such a thought-provoking novel.

~ And here are just a few of the others I've read over the past couple of months; in abbreviated form:

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 5
Summary: click here
Review: I've been meaning to read some of the classics I somehow missed while in school and let me say that Jane Eyre was just beautiful; the writing, the love story, everything. Yes, it took me about 50 pages with a dictionary before I was used to the 1800's English, but after that I was simply awed at the description and use of the English language. I wish we still spoke that way. If you've never read it, please do. It defines the term "classic."

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Reading Level: Adult
Summary: click here
Rating: 3.5
Review: This one was nominated as the top book of 2009. It's a story of three women in 1960's Mississippi, and how their lives intertwine. It's a lovely story set during the Civil Rights movement. Though some character development was lacking, it was a good first novel for Stockett.

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Gacia & Margaret Stohl
Reading Level: YA
Rating: 4
Summary: click here
Review: I really enjoyed it. A love story with magic. And the beginning of a trilogy. Could it be the next Twilight?

Title: Three Cups of Tea
Author: Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Reading Level: YA - Adult
Rating: 4
Summary: click here
Review: A beautiful account of one man's mission to change the lives of young girls in the small Pakistani village of Korphe. Want to be inspired? Read this!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Hunger Games

Ok, so let me start with the two I just finished - simply because they're fresh and because they so completely rocked my mind. I finished each (since they're a series) in one day; burning through the night, ignoring my child, reading while cooking and while my kid took a bath. Please don't judge. Books just kind of do that to me sometimes. Even Stephenie Meyer was quoted saying she brought Hunger Games with her to dinner and read under the table! Anyway, here they are:

Title: The Hunger Games; Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reading Level: YA
Rating: AMAZING!
Summary: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen- year- old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games...Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review: W-O-W! This book totally blew me away. I could NOT put it down! And even when I finished, I couldn't get it out of my head. The story was excellently told, and constantly moving. And once the Games began, it was just awesome. I really don't want to give anything away, so all I can say is to go get it and read it! ASAP! And if you love books like I do, get it in hardback. It's totally worth it. :0) Book 2 is just as good and I am anxiously waiting for the final book of the trilogy due out in August. My only complaint is that there's an Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle that annoys me. Those never turn out well.
If you've got a reluctant reader, these books could get him/her interested. I'd definitely put it on the summer reading list for my high schoolers if I was still teaching. It's a great war, coming of age story.
So, check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Ok, I'm Back...

Man, it has been a crazy few months. I never intended to stop posting, but sometimes life just has a way of making you crazy! And though I haven't posted, I HAVE been reading, and some definite winners too. Um, Hunger Games seriously rocked! But more on that later. Just give me a day or two to remember all the books I've read in the last few months and I'll post my reviews here along with some other challenges I've joined. See ya soon!