Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Turn the Page Yet...

Coming soon is a new review of The Magician's Doll! Stay tuned...!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In this gripping, chilling thriller, Neal Shusterman takes organ donation and harvesting to the next level. Sometime in America's near future, parents can send their children away to be unwound...a process no ordinary citizen is entirely sure of, but one that separates a human's body parts and redistributes them to people who are in need of appendages and organs. This government-sanctioned operation (or separation, rather) promises that no one is being killed or dies - just shared with those who can afford better body parts. All parts of the Unwind's body are still functioning, only not in one piece.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are all Unwinds and come from various backgrounds, but their stories all intertwine one fateful day. As Connor and Risa attempt to escape their fates, Lev welcomes it, as he has been designated as a Tithe since he was born. A Tithe is a sacrificial Unwind and one of the highest honors bestowed upon a child, or so Lev thinks. After betrayed by Lev, Connor and Risa manage to escape to a fugitive Unwind camp, called the Graveyard, and things are going well for them. But after a riot at the Graveyard, Connor and Risa are taken to a harvest camp for unwinding. Lev, meanwhile, has become a clapper. Clappers are terrorists/suicide bombers who ingest explosive substances so that, when the time is right, they can clap their hands hard enough and detonate. The novel peaks as Connor is about to be unwound in the same building where Risa is and where Lev and two others are about to fatally clap to blow up the building. In a race against time, it will take all the three have to stay alive and keep from being unwound.

Unwind was a fantastic, thought-provoking novel. It is the first installment in the Unwind Trilogy (the second is UnWholly), and it posed a frightening question of if your parents could choose to get rid of you, would they? Or if they believed unwinding you was for the greater good, would they sign away your body? Connor's parents' motives were because Connor was a problem child, and there was nothing more they could do to try to get him to behave. Risa was an orphan, and the state ward where she lived simply didn't have the money to keep her anymore. And Lev, as previously mentioned, was a Tithe.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers of at least 15 - some of the thematic elements were strong and somewhat disturbing/frightening. Various curses were present in the book, but nothing too awful. 

This is a superb read along with its sequel, and the third in the trilogy, UnSoulled, is supposed to be released this October. 

Happy readings!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Every Day by David Levithan

What if your sense of "you" changed on a daily basis, as if you were a new person every single day of your life? If you woke up in a different body with a different family with different friends in a different place...forever. For as long as can remember, and for as long as you'll be alive. Who would you be? For A, this daunting prospect is a grim reality. Neither male nor female, neither here nor there, A wakes up inside of a different person every day of his/her life. (For the sake of writing this, I will continue by addressing A as a male.)

One day, though, is different than the rest: A falls in love with Rhiannon, a girl with a spirit as wild as his (except that she doesn't jump bodies). Now A, who is in Rhiannon's boyfriend Justin's body, makes Rhiannon believe that Justin truly loves her, that he's changed from harsh and demeaning to warm and wonderful. But the next day Justin is back to normal, and A is someone else entirely. As A continues to try to find ways to get back to Rhiannon, to connect with her, to prove that he loves her, and that he really does exist, he is faced with concerned parents, jealous boyfriends, and a whole lot of trouble from two people who believe A is a demon needing to be exorcised and sent to hell...

Levithan creates a world that is so similar to reality, and yet entirely different. He puts a new twist on "walking a mile in somebody else's shoes," quite literally. This book often reminded me of Leap Day, another great teen read, which dealt with how people's lives are interconnected over the course of one day. Every Day, however, takes place over an extended period of time. A gets to experience a variety of lifestyles and obstacles and Levithan presents the material in such a way that it makes me grateful for the life I have. In the words of Ben Franklin, "Envy is ignorance." The reader, right there with A, deals with questions regarding sexuality, eating disorders, suicide, drugs and alcohol, and, on the flip side, the happier sides to life.

A's existence is not something I would wish for myself. But his existence does cause the reader to question what it would be like, and if we had the choice to be ourselves for eternity or be like A and be someone new forever, what would we choose?

Poignant, dramatic, funny, and captivating, Levithan has conjured up a magically captivating novel. There are scattered curses throughout, some PG/PG-13 rated kissing/romance, and many different types of thematic elements. I'd recommend this book for ages 14 and up.

Happy readings!

What's Write for Me - New Blog!

Me again, Bookenders! I have recently developed and published a new blog, What's Write For Me, with my own personal clips. I figured you all read about what I read, but never get the opportunity to read what I write outside of Bookend. Please remember that all work posted on What's Write For Me is the sole copyright of me, the author, and is not available for reprint without strict written permission of the author. For requests, comments, and/or concerns, feel free to drop a comment or email me at Thanks, and happy readings!

Link to What's Write For Me:

The Final Note by Kevin Alan Milne

Well, I haven't blogged here in longer than I care to admit...But here we go again! For the record, it's tricky to get your hands on YA Fiction when your college library only carries non-fiction books. However, that's no excuse!

The Final Note is by far one of the best books I have read in a very long time - probably at least a year. It follows the bittersweet tale of Ethan and Anna Bright, a young couple whose dreams get put on hold more times than they would ever wish. But still they manage to make the best of their situation, especially when they are graced with a beautiful baby girl, Hope. Told from Ethan's perspective, he recounts how he and Anna met, their romantic courtship, and then the harsh reality of the real world when it hits - and it hits them hard. As Ethan gets promoted up the line through his company, the time he is able to spend with his family dwindles and puts his marriage and his relationship with Hope on the rocks. One fateful day, catastrophe strikes, and Ethan is forced to reevaluate his life, his love, and his sense of self. Gripping, compelling, tear-jerking, humorous, poignant, and all-around phenomenal, The Final Note leaves readers on the edge of their seats until the final word.

Milne weaves a tale as deep as the ocean and as timeless as the world. Though the target audience is geared more towards adults, it can still pass as appropriate for teens. The only (very minor) qualm I have is that the timeline of the book gets a little hectic - like Ethan's life - in the Brights' early-to-mid years of marriage. Otherwise, this book is, in my opinion, absolutely perfect. There is no sexual content, and there are no curses (or if there are, they are hardly noticeable). Thematic material is prevalent, with a few tough-to-read passages. The calamity that faces Ethan, Anna, and Hope is definitely more mature material, but nothing unmanageable for teens around 15 years and older (especially for upcoming drivers!).

Utterly moved by the book, I emailed Milne immediately after finishing the novel. I must admit, the email may have been gushing a bit too much about how great this book was. Milne carries a bit of a Nicholas Sparks-esque passion to his writing and in his characters, but this book is far better than any Sparks book I've read (and I've read several of them). I believe his style surpasses Sparks by far (no offense to Sparks), and his characters are much more dynamic, with perhaps the exception of Jamie and Landon from A Walk to Remember. Basically, if you like Sparks, you'll love The Final Note.

And on that note (see what I did there?), I will leave you Bookenders to it! Expect a review of ML Roble's The Magician's Doll soon/on the shelf.

Enjoy, and happy readings!