The Book Thief

As is the case with so many books, I’m late to the party on this one. The Book Thief has been in my I’ve-been-meaning-to-read-this-for-a-while-but-haven’t-gotten-around-to-it pile since I first became a school librarian (way back in 2005 when the book came out). Like Ender’s Game, it was the desire to see the movie adaptation that really spurred me to finally read the book…and I’m so glad I did.

I finished reading The Book Thief less than an hour ago, and I was so moved by the book that I was sitting in my library crying my eyes out. My students and my clerk thought I’d lost my mind. (By the way, I have no problem taking some time to read at school every now and then. How can I expect my students to learn to love reading if they don’t see me modeling it?)

Anyhoo, back to The Book Thief. This book tore me apart, and I can only hope that the movie will, in some small way, live up to its source material. I’m going to see the movie this afternoon, and I fully expect my heart to be in shreds by the time I get home tonight. Here’s hoping…

The Book Thief takes place in Molching, a small town outside of Munich, Germany, during World War II. It is told from Death’s point of view, and the story follows the journey of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, the the lives she touches, and the books she steals during this turbulent period.

I’ve read quite a few fictional accounts of WWII, but most of those tend to focus on the experience of Holocaust victims and survivors. This may be one of the first books I’ve read that details the experience of a German teen who has to at least pretend to tow the party line while quietly protesting the world around her. Liesel finds power in words, and she does everything she can to gain access to as many words as possible…and share those words with those most important to her.

From her foster parents to her best friend to community members to the Jewish man hiding in her basement, Liesel, through both words and deeds, touches every life around her and demonstrates how much one girl–a book thief–can impact so many lives…and can make even Death stop to take notice.

I’m not going to say much more about this book other than it is at once heart-breaking and heart-warming. I was pulled in by the unique way this story was told, and I stayed because I truly grew to care about Liesel, her family, and her friends. The Book Thief has more than its share of tragedy, but there’s so much more to take in here. Even in the midst of a war, people find ways to experience joy, peace, laughter, friendship, and courage. Some of those things may reveal themselves in unexpected ways…perhaps in the form of a stolen book.

If the movie adaptation is even half as good as the book, I think I’ll be pretty happy.  I guess we’ll find out at 4:25 this afternoon!

For those who haven’t seen The Book Thief yet, here’s a movie trailer to whet your appetite. It worked for me!

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 11:41 am  Comments (2)  
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Looking for Alaska

Over the past year or so, I have experienced a great deal of grief because of my emotional attachment to fictional characters. Most of the blame for my grief can be laid at the feet of two men. The first (and worst) offender is one Steven Moffat. (I’m sure my fellow Whovians and Sherlockians can sympathize.) The second man to bring on copious feels is author John Green. I read The Fault in Our Stars in July of last year, and I was an emotional wreck for days because of that book. Well, earlier today, I finished reading Green’s Looking for Alaska. This Printz medal winner was released way back in 2005, but, for whatever reason, I didn’t get around to reading it until this week. The simple fact that Looking for Alaska is a John Green book should have let me know that I would need tissues by my side while reading, but I was woefully unprepared for how overwrought I would become because of this book. I read the latter part of the book without wearing my glasses because the tear residue was too much to see through. Yes, it’s that good.

When Miles Halter–or Pudge, as he would come to be called–began attending Culver Creek, a boarding school in Alabama, he didn’t really know what to expect, but he was hoping that his life would become something more than what he left back in Florida. Almost immediately, he gets more than he bargained for thanks to a couple of new friends that will change his life forever. The first is his roommate, the Colonel, who is some kind of math genius with a fondness for video games, cigarettes, and booze. The other friend is a girl named Alaska. This girl is quite probably the most beautiful creature Pudge has ever seen…and the most volatile. Despite the roller coaster that comes with knowing Alaska, Pudge is drawn to her and the excitement and mystery that seem to be a part of Alaska’s very being.

The first part of Pudge’s year at Culver Creek is one filled with friends, pranks, laughs, and his first experiences with smoking, drinking, sex, and breaking school rules. The second part of his year takes a turn, however, when something terrible happens that shakes the foundation of his entire world. (If the title didn’t clue you in, this horrible event revolves around Alaska.) As Pudge, the Colonel, and a couple of other friends look for answers, they all begin to question why things happen the way they do and if there’s anything that could have been done to stop tragedy from striking their lives. Will they find the answers they seek, or will they forever be looking for Alaska?

I’ll be the first to admit that the recap above…well, it kind of sucks, and it doesn’t come remotely close to conveying just how amazeballs this book is. It contains so much awesomeness that, quite frankly, it’s probably impossible for me to write a decent blog post about it. Looking for Alaska forces readers to examine some pretty deep existential questions. It alludes to great works of literature and gives us information on famous last words. It teaches us about relationships and how much they mean to us. And it shows us that some emotional damage may be too much to overcome…or it may just make us stronger for having gone through it. I cannot say enough good things about this book, and, despite the grief I’m experiencing right now, Looking for Alaska made me love John Green even more.

One word of caution.  Looking for Alaska is not a book that I would recommend to readers younger than about sixteen. It contains quite a bit of cursing, and the characters are not shy about enjoying smoking, drinking, sex, and subverting authority. (I’ve taught middle school, so I’m not naive enough to believe that younger readers don’t have experience with this stuff, but I do think librarians, bloggers, teachers, and others should be careful when recommending this book to readers who may not be mature enough to handle it.)

In closing, read Looking for Alaska if you haven’t already. It’s an exquisite book that will stay with me for a long while.

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Beautiful Redemption

Spoilers ahead!  If you haven’t already read the first three books in The Caster Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, and Beautiful Chaos) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, do so immediately! They are AMAZING, and you can’t possibly understand the fourth book without reading these first!

Yesterday, fans of YA literature descended on Charleston, South Carolina, for YALLFest.  Sadly, I was not among them.  I’ve been feeling kind of crummy lately, so I decided to stay at home and get some much-needed rest.  (This turned out to be a very good decision as I’ve been sick all weekend.  Wouldn’t have been a good idea to be three hours away from home with the way I’ve been feeling.)  Anyway, even though I wasn’t at this young adult book festival in person, I was there in spirit (and I hope I can be there physically next year).

Since my weekend was rather uneventful, I did get to spend a lot of time reading.  This week’s pick was Beautiful Redemption, the fourth and final book in The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (one of the driving forces behind YALLFest, by the way).  I had been looking forward to this book for a while, and my appetite was only whetted by seeing the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of the first book, Beautiful Creatures.  Beautiful Redemption was released on October 23rd, and I waited a little while to start reading it.  (I had to finish a couple of other books, and I needed to re-familiarize myself with how Beautiful Chaos ended.)  I started Beautiful Redemption at the beginning of this week, and I finally finished it this morning.  At several points in this book, I had to put it down–not because it was bad, but because I had to calm down, breathe, and remind myself that the characters I’d come to love in the previous three books had to have a happy ending in this final one…even though things weren’t looking good for them at present.  You see, I’ve become attached to these characters (as so often happens when I get absorbed in a series).  I think part of it is because the major part of the action in these books takes place in South Carolina (my home state), in a community that’s not at all different from the one I live in now.  I relate to these characters.  No, I’m not a Caster (witch)–at least, I don’t think so–but I do know what it’s like to be different in a small southern town.  It’s not easy, so I tend to root for anyone, real or fictional, who’s trying to survive when the odds are stacked against them…and when others keep telling them that what they’re trying is impossible.  And things don’t get much more impossible than rewriting history and coming back from the dead…

Ethan Wate has sacrificed everything, even his very life, to restore Order to the world.  He fell from the Summerville water tower to save everyone he loves.  But death is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Ethan is determined to find a way back to his small town of Gatlin, his family, his friends, Amma, and the love of his life, Lena. He becomes even more determined when he realizes that his death was not something that had to happen.  Horrible forces are rewriting destiny to suit their own ends, and Ethan may be the only one who has any hope of stopping them (and restoring his own life in the process).  But Ethan needs help.  This is a huge, seemingly impossible, task and one he can’t complete on his own. He needs to find a way to communicate with Lena and Amma and get their help to save the world…again.

Lena is heartbroken by Ethan’s death, but she knows that he’s somewhere out there watching over her.  Ethan, however, may be even closer than Lena knows.  When she sees things moving (things that only mean something to her and Ethan) and gets strange messages in the local newspaper’s crossword puzzles, Lena knows that Ethan is trying to reach her.  It’s not always clear why Ethan needs the things he’s asking of her–river stones, an audience with the Greats, the Book of Moons–but Lena knows she must find a way to help him  if she has any hope of uniting with Ethan one day.  Getting these things, though, is the easy part.  It then becomes Ethan’s job to use what Lena–and Amma–send him to fight the evil that is threatening to destroy the world that he sacrificed so much to save.

Ethan will face unspeakable horrors in his quest to return to Lena–old and new enemies alike.  He’ll also encounter some unexpected allies along the way, those who have been tortured by the very being that Ethan must now destroy.  But will Ethan’s quest to reverse his fate and prevent even more atrocities be successful? Can one young man defeat what he believed was his destiny and make it back to the life and love that mean so much to him?  What bargains will he and those he loves have to make this time, and will they be worth what comes next?  Nothing that Ethan is facing is easy, but he and his loved ones will do what they must to be reunited once more…no matter what the cost.  Will it be enough? Is redemption possible?  Read Beautiful Redemption to discover how far people are willing to go–and what hells they’re willing to travel through–to get just one more chance to be with the ones they love.

It should go without saying that I love this book…and the three books that preceded it.  This whole Caster Chronicles series is made of awesome, and I just wish I had been able to make it to YALLFest to hear the authors talk about the series in person.  (I would have also like to get my books autographed!  Maybe next year.)  Even though the ending of this series made me cry (which isn’t difficult since I’m a big softie), I was very satisfied with it.  It ended the way it needed to, in my opinion.  I applaud Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl on a truly excellent supernatural series, and I can’t wait to read more of their work in the future.  Kudos!

If you’d like to learn more about this series, the authors, or the upcoming movie adaptation of Beautiful Creatures, I urge you to visit one (or more) of these sites:

You may also want to check out this book trailer for the entire series.  It doesn’t give away much, but it does look pretty cool.

Published in: on November 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Catastrophic History of You and Me

A few days ago, my friend Jen (also a kick-butt librarian) recommended that I move The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg to the top of my reading list.  I took her advice, and I am SO GLAD that I did.  This book is made of awesome!  Within the first fifty pages, I had laughed, cried, and started singing a soundtrack in my head.  Things only got better from there.  The voice of the main character, Brie, is so spot-on that I felt like I was in the head of a somewhat self-centered almost-sixteen-year-old.  (Yes, I’m aware “self-centered” describes most, if not all, almost-sixteen-year-olds.  I know it describes what I was like at that age.  That’s what makes this character so relatable.)  I can’t think of anything negative to say about this book, and, for those who know me, that is saying something.  I loved the characters, the chapter titles (popular songs that oh-so-accurately describe Brie’s journey), the plot, the subplots, and the extremely satisfying conclusion.  This book is a winner!

Brie is almost sixteen when she dies of a broken heart.  Yep.  A broken heart.  Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and Brie drops dead in the middle of her dinner.  Her heart simply splits in two.  Everyone is baffled, especially Brie.  This just doesn’t happen, so, of course, it happened to her.  Now what is she supposed to do?  Spend eternity watching everyone go on without her? 

As it turns out, being D&G (Dead and Gone) is a little more complicated that Brie thought it would be.  With the help of Patrick—resident Lost Soul, hot guy, and one of the first people she encounters in her new “life,” Brie will go through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance—so that she and everyone she left behind can move on.  Brie gets the sense that Patrick wants her to move on with him, but how can she when her heart is broken and love seems to bring nothing but pain?  Can she learn to love again despite everything?

Brie isn’t having an easy time of it.  (Apparently, death is not all fluffy clouds, eating chocolate, and frolicking in meadows.)  Those she left behind are falling apart (with a little help from her in a couple of cases), and Brie wants to make things right for them.  The more she learns about what happened after her death, the more determined she becomes to make the lives of those she still loves better.  But how can she do this?  What will she have to give up for a second chance to make things right?  Can Brie make things better for herself (and Patrick) as well?  What will it take to reverse the catastrophe that her life—and her death—has become?  Discover how broken hearts are healed when you read The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg!

In the words of my friend Jen, “I loved this book hard.”  It was absolute perfection, and I find it hard to believe that this is the author’s first novel.  The book is that good.  It even inspired me to visit iTunes and add a few songs to my playlist.  If you’re looking for a book that grips you from the first page, makes you laugh and cry, and makes you examine your own relationships—with family, friends, first loves, and soul mates—you must read The Catastrophic History of You and Me.   Seriously.

For more information on author Jess Rothenberg and her amazing writing, visit http://www.jessrothenberg.com/ or follow her on Twitter @JessRothenberg.

For even more goodness from The Catastrophic History of You and Me, check out this book trailer from PenguinYoungReaders:

Published in: on April 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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Radiance

I began reading Radiance by Alyson Noël as a favor to my cousin.  She’s getting ready to start the fifth grade, and she started reading this book because she liked the cover.  (We have that in common.)  Anyway, having never really read much fantasy before, my cousin got a little freaked out that the main character in Radiance is a dead girl, so she stopped reading.  I let her know that I would read the book, hoping that having someone to discuss the book with would help ease her mind.  Well, I just finished Radiance, and I must say that, although I enjoyed the book, I’m not quite sure that my cousin is ready for it.  It is an excellent book, but my dear cousin—like myself—is a bit of a scaredy cat, and I think some of the imagery in Radiance might scare her.  If she decides to face her fears and read this book, however, I will be more than happy to talk with her about it.

In Radiance, we are introduced to Riley Bloom, a twelve-year-old girl who died in a car accident and is not happy about it.  (Who would be?)  She crossed the bridge into the afterlife with her parents and her dog, but she’s still focused on the life—and the older sister—she left behind.  That’s all about to change, though.  It’s time for Riley to find her purpose Here (the author’s version of Heaven).  And just what is her purpose?  Well, she’s going to be a Soul Catcher, or someone who convinces souls tied to earth to make the journey across the bridge to Here.

Riley has no idea what she’s supposed to do, but The Council, in addition to giving her a job, has also provided her with a guide.  Bodhi is forever fourteen-years-old, kind of a dork (but with definite cute potential), and surely keeping secrets from Riley.  All of that has to be put aside, however, as Bodhi takes Riley on her first assignment.  They journey to England where a being known as Radiant Boy has haunted a castle for centuries.  It is up to Riley to convince him to cross the bridge and find a new life Here.  She’s convinced it will be a breeze, but can she succeed when so many Soul Catchers before her have failed?  What will happen if she fails?  What will happen if she succeeds?  What next?  And why is Bodhi so nervous about this particular assignment?  What else is going on?

Join Riley and Bodhi as they face their fears and learn that letting go can make them truly free when you read Radiance by Alyson Noël.

Even though Radiance may be a little much for my ten-year-old cousin, I think it is great for upper elementary and middle grade readers, maybe even some reluctant readers at the high school level.  It’s a quick, easy read, and the characters are memorable and engaging.  There is some scary imagery (an evil clown with dental instruments, for example), but the lesson about overcoming fear is more powerful than those images.  I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading the second book in this series, Shimmer, soon.  (It’s in the mail right now.)

If you think you’d like Radiance or would like more information on this series and others by Alyson Noël, visit http://www.alysonnoel.com/index.php.

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Chaos

Spoiler alert!!!  Before proceeding with this post, read Num8ers by Rachel Ward.  Although this sequel can stand alone, your reading experience will only be enhanced if you know some of the back story provided in Num8ers.

About a year ago, I read Num8ers by Rachel Ward.  I was fascinated by the book’s concept, and, when I heard that there would be two more books, I was super excited.  Well, I just finished reading the second book in this series, The Chaos, and let me tell you that this book was well worth the wait.  I think it’s even better than the previous book, and I look forward to seeing how things progress in the third book, Infinity.

The events in The Chaos take place roughly sixteen years after the end of Num8ers.  The year is 2026.

Adam inherited his mother’s curse of seeing the date of a person’s death when he looks into his/her eyes.  But his ability comes with a twist.  Adam can also see how the person will die–if it will be peaceful, brutal, quiet, or violent.  This curse is quickly driving him mad, especially when it becomes clear that a lot of people in London are going die very soon…on January 1st, 2027, just a few short months away.  The deaths will not be peaceful.  They will be full of pain, violence, fire, and fear.  Is there anything Adam can do to stop what is sure to come?  Will anyone even listen to him?

Sarah is a young girl with problems of her own.  She is pregnant and scared, even moreso when she first sees Adam at school.  She’s seen him before…in her worst nightmares.  They’re in a blazing fire, and he’s taking her baby away from her.  Sarah knows she must run away from the threat she feels when she looks at Adam and the abuse she faced at home that led to her current situation.  But where will she go?  How can a fifteen-year-old mother survive with no money, no food, and no home?  And can Sarah figure out what Adam has to do with her future before nightmare turns to reality?

As these two tortured teens battle demons no child or adult should face, their paths become entwined.  There is fear of both the known and unknown in their eyes, but they know that something bad is about to happen.  Can they work together to stop the chaos and save those they love, or will fate decide that their numbers are up?  Find out when you read The Chaos, book two in the Num8ers series, by Rachel Ward.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of everything that happens in this book.  You’ll just have to read it and discover the awesomeness for yourself.  There is some adult content and language, so this book (and the one preceding it) may not be appropriate for younger readers.  I am eagerly anticipating the U.S. release of the third book in this trilogy, Infinity.  I think it’s going to be released in the U.K. this week, but I’m not sure yet when we can expect it here in the States.

For more information on the Num8ers series and author Rachel Ward, visit http://www.rachelwardbooks.com/.

The Replacement

The Replacement by Brenna YovanoffIsn’t this cover awesomely creepy?!  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to read this book.  In this case, the tone set by the cover definitely carried over into the book itself.  The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff is terrifying and ugly, but the story is still starkly beautiful.  The main character is tragic and sympathetic, and, even though readers know he’s not the typical “hero,” I think they’ll still root for him to win against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Mackie Doyle is a replacement.  It’s something that everyone in the town of Gentry knows, but no one ever talks about it.  They know that children are stolen in the dead of night and replaced with something similar but still not quite human.  It’s just the way things are in Gentry.  They look the other way so that the things that go bump in the night won’t destroy the town.  Mackie is a part of this “bargain.”  Mackie knows he’s different.  He can’t be around anything with iron, including blood, without getting sick; he can’t stand on consecrated ground (which is kind of a pain when your dad is a preacher); and things seem to be getting worse.  Mackie has all but given up hope…he know’s he’s dying, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.  Then again…maybe there is.

When a young girl dies, and Tate, a classmate of Mackie’s, isn’t convinced that it was really her little sister that died, Mackie is drawn in to the seedy underworld that occupies Gentry.  He travels to the House of Mayhem, where he meets people like him…and beings much, much worse.  It is there he discovers the truth about what really goes on in Gentry, why the town looks the other way when bad things happen, who is really behind the terror, and how he might save Tate’s little sister. 

After years of trying to go unnoticed in Gentry, Mackie finds himself in the middle of the very things that the town most fears.  Will he take his place next to people like him?  Can he walk the fine line between two worlds?  Can he save Tate’s sister and any future “replaced” children?  What will it mean for Gentry, his family, his friends, and his own life if he’s successful…or worse, if he fails?  Read The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff to learn the truth about the dark secrets hidden beneath the town of Gentry.  What dark secrets lie beneath your town?

This book was awesome, but I must admit that I tried to keep my reading to daylight hours.  Even then, I still had nightmares about fighting evil fairies.  The Replacement is spooky and leaves you with the feeling that something wicked lurks in the dark.  That’s not a pleasant thought for someone who lives alone.  That being said, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story with dark, creepy characters and settings.

For more information on The Replacement and author Brenna Yovanoff, I urge you to visit http://brennayovanoff.livejournal.com/.  I’m truly looking forward to the next book from this wonderfully talented author!

Before I Fall

What would you do if you knew today was your last day on Earth?  Would you tell people what you really thought of them?  Would you spend the day with friends and family?  Would you avoid everyone and be depressed all day?  Before I read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, I thought I knew the answer to this question.  I thought I’d tear into my “enemies” and let them know what horrible people I thought they were.  I thought I’d eat all of my favorite foods without worrying about my blood sugar or weight.  I thought I’d have a Star Wars movie marathon.  I thought I’d spend a little time with my family.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Before I Fall really made me think about how I’d want to spend my last day, what’s really important to me, and what I could do now to change people’s impressions of me before it’s too late.

Samantha Kingston is one of the most popular girls at Thomas Jefferson High.  She’s got awesome friends and a hot boyfriend.  She’s invited to all the parties.  She gets the best table in the cafeteria.  So what if she and her friends can be a little mean to the people around them.  It’s high school, right?  Survival of the fittest and all that Darwinian drivel.

This day should be like any other for Sam.  She goes to school, cuts a class, gets some roses for Cupid Day, makes plans with her friends and boyfriend, and goes about her business.  But today is Sam’s last.  Her last everything.  In the blink of an eye, everything stops…then, it starts again.

Sam has an opportunity to change things.  Somehow she’s living her last day over and over again.  She can make different decisions.  She can be nicer (or meaner) to the people around her.  She can right some wrongs.  But will she?  And what impact will these changes have on how things turn out for Sam and the people around her?

Sam relives her last day seven times.  Does she learn anything?  Does she become who she really should be?  Does she realize what’s really important?  I’ll let you find out for yourself when you read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

Before I Fall is an extremely powerful book, and it really makes the reader think.  Like I stated before, it forced me to think about what I would do if I knew this were my last day on Earth.  Honestly, I don’t have all that figured out (and I hope I never actually have to), but I like to think I would spend as much time with my family as possible, and everything else would fall into place.  Given recent events, especially the increased number of suicides among gay young adults, I think this book also helps readers see that actions, whether positive or negative, have lasting and often unintended results.  You never know what’s going on in someone’s head or how your words and actions could impact them.

If you liked Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I think you’ll be really pleased with Before I Fall.  To learn more about this amazing book and its author, Lauren Oliver, visit http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/.

Num8ers

My latest read, Num8ers (or Numbers) by Rachel Ward, was an intriguing book.  The concept is an interesting one–Jem can see a person’s date of death when she looks into his/her eyes.  When I discovered that this was the book’s premise, of course I had to read it.  Things started off a bit slow, and there was quite a bit of English slang to wade through–the story is set in England–but the payoff was well worth the time spent with this book.  I cried like a baby at the end.  I know I’ve said that about books before, but it truly does take a powerful set of circumstances to illicit that kind of emotional response, and Num8ers definitely delivered.

Jem has not had an easy life.  She witnessed her mother’s death at an early age, and she’s been shuffled through the foster care system ever since.  She hates school, has no friends, and doesn’t see a lot of hope for her future.  On top of all of this, when she looks into people’s eyes, she sees the date they’re going to die.  She’s had this “gift” forever, but she didn’t know what it meant until the day her mother died, and the number she always saw when she looked at her mother was written on the death certificate.

Jem does her best to avoid people, especially looking them in the eyes.  She doesn’t want to be burdened with the knowledge that this person has just a few weeks to live or that person will die well into his nineties.  It’s a lot for a fifteen-year-old to handle.  Well, there’s one person who won’t let her avoid him–Spider.  He’s got just as many problems as Jem, and he senses a kind of kindred spirit in her.  Both of them are outsiders, and it seems that they may have a shot at just a little happiness together.  But there’s one big problem holding Jem back from reaching out to Spider.  Each time she looks at him, she’s hit with the knowledge that his time is limited.

Despite everything, Jem and Spider form an unlikely friendship.  After a series of events finds our duo suspended from school, the two take a day trip to London.  It is here that Jem notices something strange.  When she looks at the people gathered around a popular London attraction, she notices that all of them have the same death date…and it’s today.  Jem can’t tell Spider why they have to leave in a hurry, but she lets him know that they have to get out of the area immediately.  Shortly after they make a run for it, chaos reigns when the tourist attraction is the target of a bomb.  Suddenly, Jem and Spider are on the run for a different reason.  They were seen running from the scene shortly before the bomb blew.  They’re suspects!

What can Jem and Spider do?  Where can they run?  They have nothing, and they must depend only on each other for their very lives.  Can they clear their names before their numbers are finally up?  Read Rachel Ward’s Num8ers to find out!

Num8ers is an awesome book!  It does have some bad language and adult scenes, but those things are true to the setting, characters, and tone of the book.  I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, and I just found out that a third book is on the way!  For more information about Rachel Ward and the Num8ers series, visit http://www.rachelwardbooks.com/.

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dirty Little Secrets

It is with a sense of relief that I have finished my latest read, Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu.  First of all, while I’ve been reading, I’ve had the song Dirty Little Secret by the All-American Rejects stuck in my head.  While I like the song, I don’t want to hear it on a seemingly endless loop.  Also, the book’s subject matter, hoarding, has made me want to deep clean my house.  I can’t even watch the A&E show, Hoarders, because I can’t seem to quell the urge to disinfect things after seeing how these people live.  Anyhoo…after I finish this post, I plan to clean a little, listen to some music to replace the song repeating in my head, and move on to my next book.

In Dirty Little Secrets, Lucy is hiding the dirtiest of secrets.  Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and the piles of garbage have overrun their home.  Her siblings have done their time in the house, and her father has a new family, so it’s just Lucy, her mother, and piles and piles of junk.  Lucy can’t have friends over because she can’t risk the fallout from people discovering how she lives.  The garbage in her house has spilled into her life, and Lucy is simply counting the days until she graduates and can finally leave.

One morning, Lucy makes a gruesome discovery.  Her mother is dead.  Lucy can already see what will happen if she allows paramedics to see how her mother lived and died.  The media will be disgusted yet fascinated by the girl whose mother died in a house full of garbage.  Lucy will lose her new friends when they discover how she’s been living.  All of her carefully guarded secrets will become fodder for the public.  Lucy knows she must take drastic actions to keep her family’s secrets, but what can she do?  How can she get rid of years of accumulated filth and junk?  How can she possibly let people see the wreck her mother allowed their lives to become?  Is there anyone she can turn to?  Read Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu to see how far one girl will go to protect her mother’s dirtiest secret.

While this book was quite the downer, I think it highlighted an issue that many children face.  Hoarding is a serious problem, and the children of hoarders are victims of their parents’ disorders.  To learn more about Dirty Little Secrets, C.J. Omololu, and to find information on compulsive hoarding, visit http://cjomololu.com/.

Now, I must clean!

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