To say that UNWIND is a disturbing concept would be an understatement for sure, but to Shusterman’s credit, he was very forthright with what to expect; from the title to the plot summery there was no hiding what this book was all about… and I can absolutely confirm, he delivers on the promised creep factor. The basic gruesome premise being that after a War in the US between the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers ends with an unthinkable compromise; abortions banned protecting a child’s life from conception until the age of 13, at which time(until the age of 18) parents have the right to unwind them. To be unwound is basically to be harvested for parts and organs, a process that is done without ever technically killing the child; therefor the Unwind lives on in a “separated state” through the recipients of each part/organ. Needless to say harvesting has become a very profitable business, so to run is to be hunted and hunted hard.
UNWIND (Unwind Trilogy #1) is a book that I’ve almost purchased for the better part of a year now, always opting out (or more accurately put, chickening out) at the last minute. Being a fan of Neal Shusterman, I was initially intrigued, but ultimately freaked out by the concept.. I mean, “unwinding” your teen for parts if they turn out to be too much trouble… ick! But like a passing a car accident on the highway, morbid curiosity won out and I looked. Granted, I took the cowards way out, going the audio route verses actually reading the book in hard copy, usually finding it’s easier to “detach” oneself as a third party observer then to go in alone. The idea being that hearing the disturbing details would somehow lessen their impact opposed to a much more personal and all encompassing experience of reading them and becoming wholly absorbed into the story. Because a book in audio format is more akin to seeing a movie, ultimately you see a the book unfold only with your ears instead of your eyes, at least that’s what happens when the book is well written and the narrator has some chops. But when you read a book (a good book anyway), you become the character and feel what they are feeling. Well experiment coward backfired, at least when it came to the gory details. Unfortunately I failed to factor in one very crucial aspect to reading… the ability to “skip” or “skim”; an ability I lost in audio format and ability I really could have used during the last quarter of the story where things got to be a bit too much for my squeamish nature to handle. In spite of my low tolerance for the ick-factor, in the end I did manage to power through the stomach turning details and was a satisfied customer because of it.
Narrator Luke Daniels does a superb job delivering UNWIND, giving each character a distinct voice that felt true to their individual personality. And as I’ve come to expect from Shusterman, the book is excellent, disturbing yes, but excellent none the less with an eerie, unique and thought provoking concept that gets the reader invested from the get-go. UNWIND is definitely a book I’d recommend; well paced with lots of action, a little romance and plenty of white-knuckle “no freaking way” moments, a truly exciting and horrific tale like no other.
... oh and by the way, "Nice Socks".
What a truly bizarre and yet beautifully written book (originally a three volume set written in Japanese). 1Q84 is a masterfully told tale of two worlds; one, the real world of 1984 and another version tagged “1Q84” by one of the protagonist, Aomame, as she realizes she’s no longer functioning in the “real” world, but life has somehow blurred and merged with a slightly altered version…a version existing with two moons.
So much happens in this trilogy compilation, told from multiple storylines and interesting points of view that all ultimately and seamlessly intertwine into one epic tale. As such, I won’t even attempt to go into the rest of the elaborate plot; or more accurately stated the numerous concurrent side plots. Sound complicated?...Well, yeah it is, very much so actually and with plenty of curious supernatural twist, unexpected turns and overlapping connections (the phrase “six degrees of separation” comes to mind), making Murakami’s long read, 1Q84, all the more captivating and definitely worth the time and mental investment.
Although this was my first Haruki Murakami book, I have to say I enjoyed the Japanese author’s exquisitely strange and creative writing so much, that upon finishing 1Q84, I immediately ordered another of his prominent works (THE WINDUP BIRD CHRONICLE) and look forward to further experiencing his talented skilled pen in storytelling.
A good hearty fiction read, LOST IN TRANSLATION is beautifully told with an abundance of interesting facts about modern day Chinese culture, ancient customs, language, geography and history. Funny enough I didn’t particularly like the protagonist Alice Mannegan (daughter to a raciest U.S. Congressman); but I found myself taken in by the impassioned story telling of Nicole Mones, through the eyes of the unmarried 30 something American woman who resides in Beijing and works as a translator.
With so many fascinating details, it is clear Mones put some effort and serious time into researching the Chinese people and their traditions. Written almost as if a love letter to China; LOST IN TRANSLATION is mysterious, political, sexy and romantic.
Angela Lin's narration, in both English and Chinese, truly and skillfully brings Alice’s voice to life.
THE MAP OF TIME: A Novel is a true work of penned art. The way Félix J. Palma seamlessly weaves the multiple stories, timelines and characters together is absolutely impressive.
And although Palma had me under his spell from start to finish with his clever composition of famous writers like H.G. Wells, Henry James and Bram Stoker as well as appearances by iconic personalities Jack the Ripper and Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man); it was the ‘unknown’ cast that stole my heart. In particular, I was completely captivated my by society girl, Claire Haggerty and small time thug, Tom Blunt’s unconventional love story. The storyline of the unlikely pair was both hilarious and over the top while, oddly enough, wholly romantic in its own way.
In my opinion, Palma’s execution, of what could easily have turned into a mess of names, places and dates, is flawlessly told and fully entertaining. THE MAP OF TIME: A Novel is one of those reads that continues to occupy your mind long after the last page has been read and a solid add to my “favorites” shelf.
“In both cases, weakness and scruples had defeated strength and ruthlessness.” ~Ken Follett
There is just so much story here... masterfully linked over a long period of time and many, many pages, weaving an intricate and epic journey of several very fascinating lives. Wow... Even with the bits of severe violence, language and gory details and despite a particularly disturbing and graphic rape scene that was nearly too much to take, there is no denying THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH is an impressive read.
“Sometimes shame is a more powerful engine than rage.” ~Jonathan Maberry
DUST & DECAY (Benny Imura #2) is even better than the captivating ROT & RUIN!
It’s rare to come across a sequel that is as good as it predecessor and even more rare for one to surpass the original, but Jonathan Maberry does just that with DUST & DECAY. In this thrilling second installment, Mayberry gives us even more emotion, more danger, more action, more zoms and more death. Yes some major beloved characters do die… it’s all very shocking really and a read not to be missed! I cannot wait till the release of book #3 FLESH & BONE; which promises to be another gripping journey in the highly addictive Benny Imura zombie series.
ROT & RUIN is a dystopian type zombie book that’s more about the good and evil of human nature than the living dead. Written in an engaging narrative with unforgettable good guys, monstrous bad guys and…oh yeah, zoms. The characters are well rounded and fleshed out cleanly. Maberry obviously has a gift for dialog. It’s easy to be charmed by 15 year old Benny Imura’s quick wit and stubborn teenage disposition; as well as his older brother Tom, with his calm demeanor and authentic goodness.
Beautifully written, ROT & RUIN (Benny Imura #1) is a book that anyone who enjoys a good story with lots of emotions, layers and adventure will enjoy, regardless of age or gender. This was my first taste of Jonathan Maberry’s work and I can honestly say I’m now a fan… and I’ve already started the next book DUST AND DECAY :)
DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON is an end of the word zombie apocalypse story told in journal format reminding me of I AM LEGEND but only in a less...I don’t know, lonely maybe?...sort of way. I guess the difference is while Matheson’s first hand zombie account had a very isolated hopelessness about it, Bourne’s journal entries were full of humanity and hope. The protagonist, a military pilot, isn’t left hold up on his own to slowly lose his mind with only the dead to interact with. He does move and band with other survivors and even in the despair of the situation and in the face of immense loss he seems to keep his head up for the most part. So what could have easily played out as a very depressing read, considering the topic, DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON didn’t leave me feeling dejected. I found J.L. Bourne’s writing to be an easy read and I liked the “fight” and resourcefulness of our pilot. I was definitely drawn in enough to be interested in continuing on with the next installment.
Although I seem to be in the minority here, I wasn’t a big fan of the highly acclaimed, dystopian cult classic BRAVE NEW WORLD. I just didn’t get it... well, I “got it” but I don’t get what all the hype is about.
In BRAVE NEW WORLD the people of the new “Civilized” world believe they are happy because they want for nothing. All needs are met and all pleasures are provided to them, including mood altering drugs and constant casual sex (everyone belongs to everyone), while marriage and religion are dirty words. They live in a class system that is programed (brainwashed) into them from conception, of which by the way, happens in a lab, no mommies and daddies. But are they honestly happy? Can they be? These people lack any true individualism, connection, passion or actual choice; so really they are a society of glorified meat robots. Then there are the Savages that live in small tribe like communities outside Civilization. These are a Native American-like people with a mesh of religions, cultures and a traditional moral standard. At about the halfway point in the book, the two societies cross paths… and the reader may now commence comparisons. So who’s better?...Really they’re both a mess.
All that, being what it is... a utopia with a definite philosophy (agenda) on how society would best be run, fine I’ll except all that, the concept itself holds some interest, but for me it was the execution of BRAVE NEW WORLD that bombed. The story felt…disheveled and scattered and most importantly I felt no connection at all to any of the characters. Really I couldn’t care less what happened to any of them. They were so flat and uninteresting that, in the end, I just felt the read as a whole was pretty boring
Surprisingly well done! Seth Grahme-Smith does an excellent job respectfully adding a zombie twist to the ever loved, Jane Austen classic PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. With PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES readers can expect Austin’s original tale of 19th Century English society, a great masterpiece, with the added quirky humor of Grahme-Smith’s skillfully infused zombie…*ehem* I mean 'unmentionables' sub-plot. I loved the original sassy battle of the sexes and thoroughly enjoyed this even cheekier “vintage horror” version. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is truly a fun read and definitely worth a look if you are a P&P fan, or are just looking for a smart laugh.
Somehow????.. I didn’t realize that this book was #5 in series when I first bought it or until I was a good 20% in (not really sure how I missed that fun fact)… but to Ms. Vincent’s credit, there had been no blaring red flags giving me that “Did I miss something?” confused feeling. I had no trouble following the story and any prior characters or happenings referenced, were efficiently explained without over hashing them... just enough info that I easily got the gist of the situation.
IF I DIE is an entertaining installment in a series of young unique supernatural species, like Banshees, Syphons, Hell Demons, Incubus, Reapers, Maras, demonic drugs, love triangles, possessions, insane asylums and deadly hot math teachers…Ahh, just another day in High School. And to my own surprise, I found that I really loved the story and the characters and I might just be hooked on this series now.
Amanda Ronconi does a fine job narrating.
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