Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Young Adult
Reading Format: Audiobook read by Luke Daniels
Reading Challenges: 5 for 100+ in 2010, 1 of 20 for the Twenty in Ten Reading Challenge

It's been a few weeks since I finished this book, but I just can't stop thinking about it. This is a book that forces you to think hard about some serious issues, yet it is also pretty much a non-stop thrill ride.

Unwind takes place in a future which has been shaped by a single issue, abortion. America has experienced a second civil war, known as the Heartland War. To end the war, a compromise was reached that ended all abortion. Instead, parents now have the right to elect to "unwind" their children, anytime between the ages of 13 and 18. In the unwinding process, virtually 100% of the child's body parts are harvested for future use. This harvesting of young bodies has virtually erased disease. There is now really no need for scientists to pursue cures to disease as there are plenty of donors available. Unwinding is considered an acceptable practice, and is not viewed by this future society as death, but instead as a transition to another type of existence.

In the novel, the lives of three teenagers on their way to harvest camps intersect, and suddenly they have a chance for survival. If Connor, Risa, and Lev can avoid the authorities until they turn 18, they will be safe, as the law prohibits unwinding after the age of 18. But surviving that long seems more unlikely every day.

What I found especially interesting about this novel, is that Shusterman really doesn't seem to be pleading for either side of the abortion debate. He leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions. I have my own firm convictions about abortion, so this book didn't change my viewpoint, but it did give me a better perspective on some of the complexities surrounding the issue. I found the book to be exceedingly well-written, and the characters to be nicely complex. This is a book that will get you both thinking and turning pages quickly.
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Genre: Adult Fiction, World War 2, British Isles, Epistolary Novel
Reading Format: Audiobook Narrated by Paul Baymer, Susan Dewidan, Roselyn Landor, John Lee, and Juliet Mills
Reading Challenges: 4 for 100+ in 2010

This was one of my favorite reads from last year, and you can find my full review here. Sometimes, as a busy mom, I love to listen to an audio book after I've read the book. That way, in case I miss something, I have some hope of knowing what is going on. It also feels a bit like visiting with old friends.

I loved this production. The cast was perfect. Juliet sounded exactly as I imagined, and the voices really brought the story to life. I thought the multiple narrators were perfect for the epistolary nature of the novel. If you haven't read this book yet, why not? I honestly can't say enough good things about it. Give it a read or a listen today!

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Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Young Adult
Reading Format: Audiobook narrated by Carolyn McCormick
Reading Challenges: 3 for 100+ in 2010

I could write a one word review for this book: Amazing. It might seem strange for me to be saying this the first week of January, but I can already tell the this will be one of the best books I will read this year, and I'm adding it to my list of favorites. Someone asked me a while ago why I read Young Adult novels. The answer is that there are books out there like this one. If all you know of the Young Adult genre is the Twilight novels, then you haven't even scratched the surface.

The Hunger Games takes place in an unpleasant and somewhat bleak future. The country of Panem is situated in North America, and consists of a decadent capitol surrounded by twelve poorer districts that are strictly controlled by the government. At one point, there was an uprising against the government which was put down, and in retaliation the government instituted the Hunger Games. Each year a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen by lottery from each district. These "tributes," as they are called, are transported to the capitol and placed into a massive arena that is controlled by the game makers. Once in this arena, the tributes must fight to the death, until one remains. The Hunger Games are nationally televised, and the entire populace of each district is forced to observe the life and death struggle of these children for the entertainment of the degenerate capitol citizens. The lottery is stacked against the children of the poorer districts, as they are often forced to trade additional entries into the lottery for food and supplies.

Katniss, the main character, is a 16 year old girl who lives in district twelve. From the age of 11, after the death of her father, she has provided for her mother and younger sister, Prim. Against all odds, 12 year old Prim is selected to enter the Hunger Games. Katniss volunteers to take her place. Katniss soon finds herself transported to the capitol, in the company of Peeta, a boy whom she only vaguely knows but to whom she feels she owes a debt. She knows that the only way she can keep her promise to return to Prim is to kill without mercy or hesitation. Now if she can only forget that she is now hunting people instead of the rabbits and squirrels that have sustained her and her family for so long.

This book literally grabbed me from the first few lines. I devoured it. In fact, enjoyed it so much that even after listening to the audio book I purchased a copy for my permanent library. The action is almost continual, but there is also plenty to ponder in this novel. I can't recommend it highly enough. I only suggest that you have the second book handy when you finish! I don't know how I am going to wait until book 3 comes out.
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Genre: Fantasy, Satire
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Mort is classic Terry Pratchett, and also happens to be one of my favorites in the series. Only Terry could make Death such a likable character, and I've always loved that Death speaks in capital letters.

I won't detail too much of the plot since simplifying the plot of any Discworld novel is pretty much impossible. The premise of the novel involves Mort, a young man who accepts an apprenticeship with Death, only to learn that his human nature might make filling in for the boss a bit difficult when he refuses to collect the soul of a young Princess destined to die. Meanwhile, Death is learning more about what it means to be human, although at times it seems as though he might understand it better than most of the living.

This is a great novel. I always think to describe Pratchett's novels as humorous is inaccurate. While there are plenty of humorous moments, this isn't a novel full of slapstick humor. This is dry humor which often camouflages deeper themes. I could go on and on. If you haven't read a Discworld novel yet, make 2010 the year to try. Mort would be an excellent place to start.

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Genre: Humor, Knitting
Format: Audiobook, Read by the Author
Reading Challenges: 1 for 100+ in 2010

If you are a knitter, then you probably have already heard of Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee. If you are a non-knitter, you are probably wondering if it is truly possible for a book to be both humorous and about knitting. Let me assure you that most knitters have a very healthy sense of humor. We almost have too! Surely you have seen some of the hideous hand knitted objects out there.

McPhee is a popular blogger. She writes the blog, Yarn Harlot, and is the author of several engaging knitting essay collections. In Casts Off, McPhee takes the reader on a guided tour of "the Land of Knitting." Knitters don't have a country, but most of us do speak the same dialect, frequently visit our local yarn shops, and carry an ongoing project (or 3) in our bag.

This book made me chuckle more than a few times. When you are obsessed with something, it is nice to be reminded that there are other people out there who "get it." Mcphee perfectly captures so many of the little idiosyncrasies that make knitters such an interesting group. She writes humorously of our tendency to hoard fiber, cast on endless projects, and our sometimes misplaced optimism in a project we refuse to admit is doomed to hideous failure.

I enjoyed listening to this in audiobook format, and Mchpee did a great job reading her book. At times I almost felt as though I was listening to an old friend. I really enjoyed this book, and am sure I will listen to it again at some point in the future. If you are a knitter, or have ever been curious about knitters, this is a fun read. If you find knitting to be somewhat eccentric, cute, or boring, this really isn't the book for you. I really don't mind if you are a not a fan. More sock yarn for me!
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I'm joining the fun! Bart's Bookshelf is hosting the TwentyTen reading challenge. The details are as follows:


  • Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
  • The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
  • Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
  • Each book can only qualify for one category.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  • Books read from 01/01/2010 to 31/12/2010 are eligible.

So, on with the categories

  1. Young Adult
    Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.
  2. T.B.R. **
    Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.
  3. Shiny & New
    Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count!
  4. Bad Blogger’s ***
    Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
    *** Bad Bloggers: Is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made on.
  5. Charity
    Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, f
    or those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.
  6. New in 2010
    This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)
  7. Older Than You
    Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!
  8. Win! Win!
    Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so!
  9. Who Are You Again?
    This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!
  10. Up to You!
    The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.
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