Book Review – Unregistered

Book: Unregistered

Author: Megan Lynch

It’s been a while, blogosphere, but I am back (I know you missed me) and hoping I’ve got my life in something more resembling order so I can start posting regularly again. That being said, I promise nothing. Though I have read some interesting books in the past 11 months, I have to start with this one. It was too interesting a story to pass up writing a review.

Recently, I read Unregistered by Megan Lynch and Mrs. Lynch, if you are reading this, I have three words for you: I. WANT. MORE. Let me be upfront and say the second book in the series (Unafraid) is out now, but I have not yet read it. So it might be some of my questions and wants are revealed in the second book, but this review is only for Unregistered.

Unregistered is a dystopian tale of four young people living in a society which monitors the crap out of its citizens. The character we meet first, Bristol, is unregistered. Unwanted by everyone except his family, society as it exists is mostly off-limits to him. His sister Denver wants to live her life, but, because of her unregistered brother, suffers from a lowered “citizenship” score. Samara, a teacher, goes to a boy’s prison to teach the inmates and experiences…crazy things. Just. Cray. Jude, my precious Jude, is, get this, “low performing” and imprisoned because of it.

There is so much happening in this book to be as short as it is. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Something happened or was revealed on every page and at so many points in this story I said to myself I wanted to know more. More about the government and how this system came to be. Especially why certain Tiers are permitted to eat certain food while others are not (I am going to harp about the food. Come on. Don’t take away my cheese!). More time spent with each of the four main characters (shout out to my favorite brave kid, Jude!). More about these crazy watches all registered citizens have. Why? How did they come to be? I found each of these so fascinating with the way Mrs. Lynch layered relevant social and political commentary throughout the story. She is insanely clever the way in which she created a society that feels like we are on the precipice of becoming. The way everyone is addicted to their watches the way our society is completely obsessed about being connected is a smart observation and commentary of current societal norms.

Everything about this society is monitored by the government from population control to what each class system (Tiers) are permitted to eat (this really annoyed me, can you tell?) and what jobs each are allowed. The government (Metrics) dictates who you marry and mostly pair individuals who will produce a more uniform race (their idea of eliminating racism). Metrics monitors you and decides if you are going to be a threat to it, or the society it has created, and fabricates a way to lock you in prison without actually committing a crime (Jude! My precious, innocent Jude) if it deems you such.

All of these things sparked OUTRAGE. BURNING FIRE IN MY HEART. Those of you who know me understand I don’t take orders well, if at all. The idea of being told what to do, eat, wear, live and who to marry and share my body with is absolutely outrageous to me. The idea of incarcerating someone merely because they do not fit into your idea of socially acceptable is abominable.

I loathe the enormous authority the government has over these citizens. It horrified me that these individuals and this society in general were blindly embracing a caste system including who you marry and create life with which is such an incredibly intimate thing. It isn’t just that you must marry within your Tier. You must essentially tell the government you want to marry and they assign a person to you. You have no control and no say over who the person is.

My outrage probably stems from two things: 1. I have a serious problem with authority. The idea of being told what/how to do everything in my life, including who I marry and create a child with is abhorrent to me. I do realize this is how marriage was generally conducted up until this last century with your father or male guardian choosing and negotiating your marriage to the man of their choosing. Doesn’t make it OK or mean I would go along with it. 2. I believe wholeheartedly in democracy and the will of the people. You can make the argument that the government acts in the best interests of their people (I am NOT getting into politics with you), but the government as portrayed in this book struck me as similar to the one in The Handmaid’s Tale which I found more abhorrent than in Unregistered. In fact, there were other vague similarities to the Margaret Atwood novel (shameless self-plug for my review of The Handmaid’s Tale) which I found both smart and observant.

The plots for Bristol, Denver, Samara and my boy Jude, eventually all intersect through some cool and interesting storytelling which will leave you grasping for the second book (so make sure you have it nearby). I know I am dying to get my hands on it and now I’ve written this review, guess what I am going to pick up?

What did you think of Unregistered? Tell me in the comments!

If you liked Unregistered, try:


The Handmaid’s Tale

The Power


The Hunger Games


Book Review – The Time Keeper

Book : The Time Keeper

Author: Mitch Albom

I’ve been reading books this summer, but not reviewing them. Why, asks you, my intrepid reader? Frankly, because most of them sucked and I don’t care to write so many negative reviews. For example, The Graces by Laure Eve was terrible (I am not even going to link you to it.). Interesting premise and back cover blurb, but flat out terrible story. The main character was sociopathic and completely unrelatable. Also, I’ve been reading a bunch of my guilty pleasure historical romance novels (or as my mother calls them: Bodacious Bodice Busters – DON’T JUDGE ME!) of which I was assured no one wants to read reviews. H and I have also been rereading (and re-watching) Harry Potter in preparation of our upcoming adventures at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is serious business and we laid out a plan to read and watch all the books and movies before we leave. Those of you who have read the books (if you haven’t, you are seriously depriving yourself and need to read them ASAP) know that is not an easy undertaking in 8 weeks given the sheer size of the books and the general busyness of our lives. H and I are Potterheads and proud of it. As such, we like to pause to discuss and share thoughts and ideas on various HP topics, so HP is taking up my book reading time and mental capacity right now.

The Time Keeper was the first book I’ve read this summer I wanted to review. It was a short book (my copy clocked in at less than 230 pages), but it was a good one. My previous dealings with the works of Mitch Albom have been hit and miss. I loved Tuesdays with Morrie (who didn’t?), but wasn’t too crazy about The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I’ve read and liked a few of his other titles, but did not like any so much as Tuesdays with Morrie. So, skepticism was my dominant emotion when H selected this month’s book club pick.

As it turned out, this Mitch Albom novel was worth it. It was relevant and poignant and it resonated with the members of book club. Dor’s decision to run up the Tower to demand the gods heal his wife was believable and the consequences unimaginable. What grief-stricken person wouldn’t want the love of their life healed by whatever means necessary? BUT, being forced the stay in the cave for thousands of years without being driven mad? No way, Jose. I’d go crazy without reading material inside a month.

Without spoiling anything, we find out our main character, Dor, invented measuring time. I’ve never given much thought to the consequences of that discovery and how much time rules my life because that is the world’s norm. Then, I looked at my work calendar. It is color-coded and completely organized for each half-hour of my day. Each task is given a colored category and a time slot for which I must complete it. If I don’t schedule time to do everything, I would be completely lost and never meet deadlines. As another example, when I was reading The Time Keeper this past Saturday, H texted me and had to remind me to be at her house at a certain time. I forgot I had other obligations and places to be because I was so lost in the story. There were so many other examples I found when I gave it some thought

During book club discussion of the book, we discussed the quote regarding the difference between knowing something and understanding it. When the old man asks Dor why he began to measure time, Dor replied that he wanted to know. But the old man is right; there is a great difference between knowing and understanding. Dor did not understand the consequences for his quest for knowledge and all of human kind (most of all Dor) suffered. That’s powerful. And plain crazy to think about. Almost like contemplating the reason for our existence.

I liked the way Dor’s story aligned and intertwined with Vincent’s and Sarah’s stories. It was interesting to read from each of their POVs and read their reasoning for the things they did throughout the book. The way Dor’s fate wove together with Vincent’s and Sarah’s unique and fascinating. I recommend The Time Keeper to you. It’s a fast read and quite good.

What have you been reading this summer? Send me a comment with your favorite/worst read so far this summer.

If you liked The Time Keeper like I did, you should try:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just kidding! I have Harry Potter on the brain.

Here is your real “try this” list:

Tuesdays with Morrie

The Casual Vacancy

And the Mountains Echoed

The Light Between the Oceans

To Kill a Mockingbird

Book Review – The Girl on the Train

Book: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

H and I decided to try something new for book club and assign everyone a month to choose a book for us to read. J picks the book and restaurant for July, H picks for August, R picks September and so on. You get the picture. There were a few reasons we decided to try this method. One of which being we have a diverse group of individuals in our book club and we all have different tastes, backgrounds and preferences in life as well as books. H and I wanted to add some diversity into the reading material and broaden all of our comfort zones. Another reason we are trying out this new method is to give each of our book club members a voice. They have a stake in A Novel Bunch PGH. They invest as much time as H and I do, right? Why shouldn’t they all be allowed to choose a book?

June was the first month we tried this new method out with G‘s choice of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Gotta say…not my favorite read. I suppose I should preface this review with the fact I am not fond of mysteries in general. I am the person who, when presented with a mystery, flips to the end of the book to figure it out and then reads the middle last. To me, it is about figuring out the mystery, not necessarily about the process. Crime shows (Shout out to my favorite show ever: BONES!) are some of my favorite because the mystery/murder/case/arson/etc. is solved in an hour. I don’t have to invest much of myself into the mystery. Although, I did invest 12 years of my life to BONES and it was so worth it.

I found The Girl on the Train predictable and formulaic of mystery novels. The characters were not likable; I did not feel compelled to connect with one among the bunch. This is an odd occurrence for me as I can usually find some piece of myself to connect to a character or something to like about or commend them. Instead, I found myself apathetic and numb to the circumstances the characters found themselves in and the choices they made. Honestly, I could not even muster surprise at the reveal of the murderer and the climax of the novel. The ending did not feel complete to me. It left me unmoved and disinterested in Rachel’s next steps.

What did you think of The Girl on the Train? Let me know in the comments.

If you thought The Girl on the Train was OK, try:

I Let You Go










Book Review – Between Shades of Gray

Book: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Septys

Sometimes when I watch the news and see stories happening to people on the other side of the country or the world, I feel so disassociated. I say to my TV, ‘Oh that is horrible!” and then the next story comes on the TV, I go about my day and the story floats out of my mind. Have you ever read a book like that? One whose words float right through you?

Have you ever read a book that affects you so deeply they turn your dreams into scenes from the book? One whose words float through the air and into your head so that you see the character’s world through their eyes and feel what they feel? That is what reading the book, “Between Shades of Gray” was like for me. Literally. After I closed this book and laid my head down to sleep, my dreams were pervaded with the goriest imagery from Lina’s story. This book made me feel as if I have failed as a human being.

Ugh. The scene with the lice was one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. I would not like to see a depiction of that, but I would love to see Lina’s drawings. Maybe a fan of the book has created a few I haven’t found yet.

One of the things I like best about this book is something I learned only by reading the author’s note at the back of the book. The amount of research Ruta Septys completed for her work is staggering. She went to Lithuania and talked to survivors about their experiences and drew from each of them. Events portrayed in the book happened. To real people. Less than 100 years ago. There are survivors of those atrocities still alive. Knowing that made this book all the more difficult to both put down and digest. Ruta was raw, brutal and gruesome in her imagery and narration of the things Lina and her family and friends endured.

As a lover of history and culture, I was riveted to this book. As a compassionate human being, I was horrified at what they suffered. We all learned about Hitler, the Nazis, and their concentration camps, the Jewish genocide, the ghettos and Anne Frank. There are hundreds of books written about them and I have read quite a few, but this is the first book I’ve read in regards to what Stalin did to the Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians and more.

The ending of this book (and I will NOT spoil it) left me feeling incomplete. The way Septys closed the book left me wanting more, to know more and read more the way all good books do.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The writing is lyrical and beautiful even when depicting some of the most disgusting and brutal imagery. The story is enthralling. The ending made me so intensely sad I cried for hours after closing the book. If you are not moved by Lina’s story, I have one question: are you a robot?

If you like this book, you might like:

Salt to the Sea

Number the Stars

The Diary of Anne Frank


Schlindler’s List

PS. As my mother works for Barnes and Noble, I am strictly a BN girl. The links above will take you to BN, not Amazon, etc.

Welcome to my world

Have you ever read a book, are dying to talk to someone about it and can’t find anyone who has even heard of it? Welcome to my world. I am a bookworm, bookaholic, bibliophile and I read like a girl. What does that even mean?

Reading like a girl is whatever we (as girls) make it.

It is reading YA in your (eeek!) extra-late twenties and falling for your book boyfriends and shipping so hard for a couple you can’t even deal.

It is reading books you know will make you cry harder than you have in years because you know your life will ultimately be better for having read the story.

It is reading your guilty pleasure, trashy romance novel with scenes so hot steam rises from the pages.

It is reading books about women and men who are making a difference in this world. Movers, shakers, decision makers and thought leaders who are  leaving their mark upon this world and making life better for all humankind.

It is waiting not so patiently for a book to be released, devouring it in one night and then having to wait with breathless anticipation for the next book.

It is standing in line for your favorite author to sign your favorite book of theirs and fangirling over meeting them. (I…umm… have no experience with that one, I swear.)

It is recommending a book to a friend and bonding over your love of the story. Or your hatred of a villian. Or your affection a character. Or your infatuation of a friendship.

It is finding the series that speaks to you or the character you find yourself in, and coming back to her/him over and over again.

It is stumbling upon the book which leaves a mark on your soul. The one that leaves you changed and your world turned inside out.

It is discovering those books that inspire you to do something. To make a difference. To speak up. To stand up. To defend. To define. To leave a better legacy.

Reading like a girl is all of that and so much more.  It is whatever you make it. What does it mean to you?