The Grift of the Magi

While it’s not 100% necessary for you to read Ally Carter’s Heist Society series (Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and Perfect Scoundrels) before reading The Grift of the Magi, it is highly recommended. You may not fully appreciate the characters in this novella if you haven’t gotten to know them a bit through the series.

Last night, I got to dive back into the Heist Society series via a new holiday novella, The Grift of the Magi. Those familiar with the series already know that it centers around a group of savvy teen thieves (think a YA version of Ocean’s Eleven), and not much has changed in this latest story.

The Christmas season is growing closer, and someone has stolen a valuable donation from the Magi Miracle Network. The charity doesn’t want to go to Interpol about the theft, so they turn to Katarina Bishop, a girl known for stealing treasures and returning them to their rightful owners. This time, she’s charged with finding out what happened to the rare Faberge egg that was mysteriously stolen from the Magi Miracle Network, and she must do it before the charity’s upcoming auction.

Kat begins investigating both the charity and their infamous donation, and her search leads her to some familiar faces. Her boyfriend, Hale, for one. His beloved late grandmother founded the Magi Miracle Network, so he obviously has a stake in what’s going on. At first, Kat wonders if he could have had something to do with the theft, but it doesn’t take long for her to dismiss that notion. But she still wonders if someone close to her could be involved. It’s entirely possible…

As Christmas–and the charity’s auction–draws ever closer, the hunt for the Faberge egg leads Kat and company to the manor home of its donor. Something foul is afoot here, and Kat is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. She’ll need to use every resource at her disposal to uncover the truth, but even that may not be enough.

Will Kat find the egg and return it to the Magi Miracle Network? What else will she uncover in the process? Whatever happens, this is sure to be a Christmas that Kat Bishop will never forget…


This fast-paced novella combines the magic and wonder of Christmas with a fair amount of trickery and thieving. Not a bad combo, in my opinion. Like the novels that preceded it, The Grift of the Magi delivers memorable characters, twists and turns, and an exciting, eventful story. I highly recommend it to middle grade audiences and up.

It was so much fun revisiting the characters I came to love during the Heist Society series. I truly hope we’ll see more of them in the future.

For more information on Ally Carter, the Heist Society series, and her other wonderful books, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

As you can probably surmise from the title of my latest read, Stolen: A Letter to My Captor, this is not a light and fluffy read. This 2011 Printz Honor Book by Lucy Christopher is exactly what it seems. It’s a letter a girl writes to the man who kidnapped her.

We’ve probably all seen stories about abducted people on the news, and the people who take them usually have a certain look about them. I hate to stereotype, but the photos we see on the news tend to depict crazy-eyed, dirty, bearded, white men who, truthfully, look the part. And that’s where this story differs.

When Gemma first sees Ty in a Bangkok airport, she finds him both familiar and attractive. And this blue-eyed, blond, muscled guy seems oddly interested in her. Gemma couldn’t possibly know that he’s been following her for years or that he’s planned to drug her, disguise her, and take her to live in the desolate Australian Outback.

But that’s exactly what happens, and Gemma doesn’t know how to handle her new and frightening circumstances. She tries to escape in a number of ways, but there’s no hope of rescue. She’s stuck with Ty, and he wants to keep her forever.

As days pass, Gemma longs to return to London, her parents, and her old life, but she also learns more about the desert that her captor has chosen for their home. She learns more about Ty. He has a volatile temper and a tragic past, but Gemma realizes that there’s also something gentle about him. He’s promised not to hurt her, and, to a certain degree, she believes him.

Gemma eventually grows somewhat resigned to her circumstances, but what will happen when a terrifying event forces a life or death decision?

Will Ty release Gemma in order to spare her more pain? What will his decision mean for him…and for Gemma? Can Gemma go back to her old self after this ordeal has changed her so much? How does she truly feel about Ty after being isolated with him for so long?

Answer these questions and many more when you read Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher.


Stolen is gritty, raw, maddening, and nearly impossible to put down. I had to keep reading to see just why Ty took Gemma. What connection could they have possibly had that would put such an idea into his head? While that could have been fleshed out a bit more, it was definitely an interesting revelation.

I do think that Gemma’s growing affections for Ty could also have been explored a bit more. At the end of the book, it’s pretty clear that she’s got a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but the build-up to that was kind of abrupt, in my opinion. All of a sudden, Gemma wants Ty by her side when she’s been desperately trying to escape him for the majority of the book. It just didn’t ring completely true for me. Maybe I’m alone in that. Then again, maybe not.

Even with a couple of minor gripes, I enjoyed this book. It had been sitting on my Kindle for a while, and I’m not totally sure what made me start reading it, but I’m glad I did. I think young adult readers looking for something a little different will like this book. (It’s been out several years, so I’m sure lots of teens already like it.)

For more information about Stolen and Lucy Christopher, visit the author’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Now, dear readers, I am going to sign off for a while. I’ll be spending the next week at the beach, and I don’t know that I’ll have a ton of time to check in here. (I do plan to do a ton of reading, though!)

Until we meet again…

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah

A little over a year ago, I read a book by Erin Jade Lange that really spoke to me. That book was Butter. So, when NetGalley gave me the opportunity to read this author’s newest work, I jumped at the chance. Given how I reacted to Butter, I hoped that Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah would also elicit an emotional response. It did, but in a different way. (This wasn’t really surprising. I really identified with the main character in Butter. Not as much in this new book. As we move forward with this post, you may see why.)

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah–which comes out on February 16th–is being billed as a modern-day version of The Breakfast Club. I agree with that…to a certain extent. The kids in this book aren’t exactly stuck in detention. No, their situation is more serious than that. They are on the run from both cops and criminals. (It’s hard to tell which is which in their predicament.) How is this book like The Breakfast Club then? Well, each character is very different and brings their own issues to the situation, but their close quarters and shared anxiety over the trouble surrounding them bring them together.

Let’s take a closer look…

Sam’s night is not off to a great start. If only she had controlled her runaway mouth at work, she may have been able to avoid a whole heap of trouble. But she didn’t, and that led to her being fired. After cleaning out her locker, Sam heads to a pawn shop to buy back her mom’s violin (which is a whole other story). That’s where she runs into Andi, former popular girl and current outcast, and her night takes a turn that she never could have predicted.

Sam follows Andi to a party in the woods…a party that Sam never would have been invited to. Here, Sam and Andi encounter two brothers, York and Boston. When the police break up the party, Sam, Andi, York, and Boston make a run for it. Not the best decision.

In running away from the police, this foursome runs right into trouble. Trouble that involves gunfire, stolen cars, a hit-and-run, and millions of dollars in drugs. They don’t know who can be trusted in this situation…especially since it seems like some of the cops involved could be the same ones shooting at them and dealing drugs. They can’t exactly go to the police with everything that’s happened when the police are responsible for at least some of it.

So Sam, Andi, York, and Boston decide to hide out until they can figure out what to do. In the process, they learn more about each other…and themselves. Sam reveals her struggles with her mom, a recovering drug addict. Andi talks about her issues with her dad and how she went from popular girl to total outcast. York admits that he feels guilty about a terrible incident in his past. Boston tells everyone–especially his brother–about the pressure he feels to be smart and successful.

As they reveal more and more about themselves, these four scared kids decide to present a united front…no matter how things turn out. “All of us or none of us” is their motto. But what happens when they learn that one of them is hiding more than just some family secrets? And when the bad guys catch up to them, will that united front stand, or will it all fall apart? Who will ultimately take the blame for everything that’s happened?

Discover the answers to these questions and many more when you read Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange.


In case you’re wondering, I did like this book. Maybe not as much as Butter, but it definitely held my attention. It was full of action, emotion, secrets, and intrigue, and I would recommend it to many teen and adult readers. (It’s probably a little too mature for middle grade readers, in my opinion.)

I think a lot of people will find bits of themselves in at least one of the characters in this book. I know I did. (For me, I guess I probably related most to Boston, the nerdy know-it-all. This is likely not surprising.) For those who eventually decide to use Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah as a high school book club choice (something I encourage), an interesting discussion could be which characters readers are most like, why they identified with them, and how they would have handled themselves in a similar predicament.

For more information on Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah and other books by Erin Jade Lange, be sure to visit the author’s website, Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook.

Be sure to pick up your own copy of Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah on February 16th. Happy reading!

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

As of this afternoon, I’ve now read four of April Henry’s books. In addition to The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, I’ve read The Night She Disappeared, The Body in the Woods, and Torched. All of these books have convinced me that April Henry is one of my go-to authors for YA suspense. These books are fast-paced, thrilling reads that captured my attention and wouldn’t let go…and they’re all perfect when it’s gloomy and grim outside and you want a book to match that feeling.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, which has been out for a couple of years now, is probably the quickest read of all of the April Henry books I’ve read. The chapters are short, but they pack quite a punch…as does the book’s protagonist.

She comes to in a cabin. She doesn’t know where she is, what’s happened to her, or how she got here. She can’t even remember who she is. All she knows is that two men are standing over her, and it’s crystal clear that they intend to kill her. Why? What exactly do they think she knows?

When opportunity strikes, so does she. She does what she must to get free of one of her attackers, and she’s amazed at the defensive skills she displays. Where did she learn these skills…and why would she need them in the first place?

She’s now on the run, and she doesn’t know who to trust. She simply knows she must find some way to access her memories, no matter how painful they may be. With killers closing in and the possibility of being framed for heinous crimes, this girl needs to find help…fast.

Help comes in the form of Ty, a young man working the late shift at McDonald’s. He recognizes something in this girl that he’s experienced himself: desperation. Even though it could cost him his very life, he offers assistance and works to help her uncover the truth…about herself and the terrible circumstances that have led to this horrific, unimaginable situation.

As the truth comes to light, this girl–whose name is Cady–finally understands what’s going on around her: why she’s a target, what’s happened to her family, and why those hunting her must be stopped. It’s not just her life on the line. The fate of the entire world could be at risk.

Can one teenage girl and her unexpected companion possibly stop someone who’s willing to put the entire world in danger in the name of greed? Just what will become of this girl who was supposed to die?

_______________

I feel like I’ve given way too much away here, and I apologize for that. I didn’t mention several of the major points in the book, so there are still a few surprises in store for those who choose to pick up this thriller. I would recommend the book to any middle grade, YA, or adult reader who is in the mood for a good mystery or suspense novel.

All that being said, I did have one issue with The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. In my humble opinion, the ending was a little too abrupt. It seemed like there was a ton of build-up, and–BOOM–it’s over. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way. Read the book for yourself, and let me know what you think.

If you’d like more information on this book and other mysteries by April Henry, check out the author’s website. You can also connect with the author on Twitter and Facebook.

The Body in the Woods

I love a good crime drama. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours watching Criminal Minds, Law & Order (any of them), or my personal favorite, Sherlock. The same can be said for reading crime dramas, particularly those involving teenagers. Crime dramas–whether in print or visual media–have a way of sucking me in and not letting go until the mystery is solved.

When I got the opportunity to read a galley (courtesy of NetGalley) of the first book in a new YA crime drama series, I jumped at the chance…especially when I realized it was written by April Henry. (I’ve previously read and reviewed a couple of her books: Torched and The Night She Disappeared.)

The Body in the Woods, book one in Henry’s Point Last Seen series, will be released to the masses on June 17th, and readers who enjoy a good mystery will eat this book up.

Told from three different perspectives, The Body in the Woods begins with a Search and Rescue mission in a Portland park. Alexis, Ruby, and Nick are SAR volunteers, and they’re in the woods looking for a missing autistic man. They end up finding so much more. Not long into their search, they stumble upon something their training didn’t really prepare them for…a dead body. It’s not the body of the man they were looking for. No, this is the body of a teen girl, and, based on Ruby’s cursory examination of the scene, this girl was strangled.

The police have a lot of questions for Alexis, Nick, and Ruby, and the authorities urge the trio to leave the murder investigation to the professionals, but that’s not something these kids can really do. For different reasons, each of them is determined to discover who killed this girl.

Nick wants to be a hero. His dad was killed in action in Iraq, and Nick wants to live up to the heroic example set by his father. He imagines himself saving the day and being revered by those around him. Reality, though, doesn’t quite match up with Nick’s imagination. Tracking down a killer forces Nick deal with fear, bone-deep fear that makes him wonder if he’s really hero material.

Alexis needs to escape her life at home. Joining the SAR team seems to be a way to do that, get a good mark on her college applications, and help people at the same time. Even when Alexis is forced to deal with her mentally ill mother, she continues her work with SAR, hoping that she can help to solve this mystery which is growing closer and closer to her own life.

Ruby is a crime buff with no friends, and when she latches onto something, she can’t let it go. She knows she can figure out who committed this crime…and possibly others in the area. When Ruby discovers that another girl was murdered in a nearby park, she takes her suspicions to the police, but they brush her off. Alexis and Nick, however, listen to her and agree to keep digging.

Even when the three are warned off this case–and Ruby’s parents force her to abandon her work with the SAR team–they keep trying to figure out who could be killing homeless girls in Portland. But what will happen when the killer targets one of them? Are three teenagers any match for a sociopath with a taste for murder? Can they stop a killer before one of them becomes yet another body in the woods? Time will tell…

_______________

As with most galleys, there were a couple of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that jumped off the page, but I’m sure those will be corrected in editing.  Those few errors aside, this was a riveting book. While I did enjoy reading each of the teens’ perspectives, I was even more intrigued when given a glimpse into the mind of the killer. (Not sure what that says about me.) Even with those glimpses, though, I didn’t figure out who the killer was until fairly late in the book, and that definitely served to keep the suspense going.

My favorite character in The Body in the Woods would have to be Ruby. When I was reading her point of view, it was all too easy to imagine her as a young, female version of Sherlock Holmes. She just didn’t think the way those around her did. (I swear, if she had told the others to shut up because she needed to go to her Mind Palace, I wouldn’t have been surprised.) Some may argue that Ruby, like Sherlock Holmes, is a high-functioning sociopath, and I think that is true to a certain degree. Like Sherlock, though, Ruby wants to be close to people. She’s just not always sure how to make that happen.

The Body in the Woods, in my opinion, is a great read for anyone (middle grades and up) who likes a good mystery. It is a quick, captivating read, and anyone interested in crime scenes and forensics will be taken in by this story. Definitely give this book to fans of Alane Ferguson’s forensic mysteries (The Christopher Killer, The Angel of Death, The Circle of Blood, and The Dying Breath).

As mentioned previously, this book will be available on June 17th. No word yet on when we can expect the other books in this exciting new series.

 

Perfect Scoundrels

Warning:  Read Ally Carter’s Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals before proceeding. The third book in this series, Perfect Scoundrels, is not a stand-alone novel! You need prior knowledge of the characters to really grasp what’s going on!

It’s my last day of spring break, and, to be totally honest, I am not ready to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, most of the people I work with, and my students…but this week has been kind of awesome. I’ve shopped, taken lots of naps, watched what some would say is way too much Doctor Who, and I’ve read several fantastic books. One of those books, Perfect Scoundrels, the third book in Ally Carter’s Heist Society series, has me wondering how I would fare as part of a crew of top-notch thieves. For a rather large woman, I’m often overlooked in a crowd, so I think I would be great at gathering intel. I’m also fairly decent with computers and research, so that’s another strength. I’m horrible, though, when I have no plan, and you can forget anything that requires even the smallest amount of athletic prowess. So, I guess, at least for the time being, I’ll stick with being an elementary school librarian and part-time book blogger. Oh well…I have my Knight Reader persona for now.

If you’ve read Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals (and I assume you have if you’re still reading this), you probably have something of a crush on the character of Hale. Who wouldn’t? He’s cute, rich, funny, talented, and totally loyal to Kat and her merry band of thieves. So what could possibly happen to cause this seemingly perfect guy to go completely off the rails?

In Perfect Scoundrels, Hale is forced to finally deal with his family after the death of his beloved grandmother, Hazel. Kat doesn’t know how to help him through this, especially when it becomes crystal clear that she does not fit into his high society lifestyle. When Hale is named Hazel’s heir, though, Kat finds herself drawn into a bigger mystery than any she’s ever faced before. Why would Hazel leave her company to a teenager? And why would she leave her oldest, dearest friend out of her will? Something is up, and Kat is left to figure things out. But can she do this without Hale knowing? And if he finds out, what could it mean for their somewhat tenuous relationship?

As Kat and her crew begin to put the pieces together of the events surrounding Hazel’s death, a tale of corporate espionage comes into focus. She discovers that Hazel’s will might have been an elaborate forgery. What will this mean for Hale? And how can Kat prove that the will is a fake when the person who is sabotaging the Hale family seems to always be one step ahead of her?

Kat and crew will have to pull the biggest con of their lives if they have any hope of restoring order to Hale Industries and reclaiming the boy who has come to mean so much to all of them…but most especially to Kat. She feels Hale drifting away from her and toward the life and family he was born into. Can she expose the truth of what’s going on while keeping the boy she’s come to love? Can she convince him that his real family is the one he’s chosen? No matter what, Kat will have to pool every resource, every family member, every friend she’s ever known to reveal the truth of Hazel’s will. The real question is…will it be worth it if she ends up losing Hale? Find out when you read Perfect Scoundrels, the thrilling third book in Ally Carter’s Heist Society series!

Perfect Scoundrels is an excellent book, and it provides a lot of insight into the enigmatic character of W.W. Hale the Fifth. (We still don’t know what his initials stand for, though. Dare I hope we’ll find out in future books?) We learn that his nickname in the moneyed world of Manhattan is Scooter…which totally doesn’t fit the Hale I’ve come to know in previous books. We also learn a lot about how he and Kat met and how he interacts with his family (the majority of whom are cold, greedy snobs.) In my opinion, readers also discover a bit about just how much Hale really means to Kat. (Even Kat didn’t realize just how much she cared for him until she was in danger of losing him.) Kat also realizes how much it means to have friends and family who are always there for her. Even though she’s part of a family of thieves, they’re an honorable group, and family means everything to them. It’s touching.

I really hope that we haven’t heard the last of Kat, Hale, Gabrielle, Simon, Angus, Hamish, Uncle Eddie, and assorted other colorful characters. There’s already a novella that combines the world of Heist Society with Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. It’s called Double Crossed, and I read it yesterday before I began Perfect Scoundrels. It’s a pretty cool story, and it leads me to hope that these two worlds will intertwine once more.

If you like mysteries or tales of teenagers with very little adult supervision and seemingly unlimited resources, you definitely want to check out the entire Heist Society series. You may have to suspend reality a bit while reading these books, but the stories will definitely keep you guessing, and you’ll find yourself eager to see what happens next. It’s kind of like Ocean’s Eleven for the YA crowd.

For more information on Ally Carter, the Heist Society series, and several other books, visit her website at http://allycarter.com/. There’s also tour information and how to interact with the author through Twitter and Facebook. All you visual people may also like the book trailer from Hyperion Teens below. Have fun!

Splintering

I finished a book last night that was very short and extremely easy to read. (It’s a novel in verse, so I flew through it.) The subject matter, however, was kind of disturbing. The book is Splintering by Eireann Corrigan, and it explores what happens to a family after a violent attack and home invasion. (Since I was the victim of a home invasion in September, I related a bit to the characters. Thankfully, I wasn’t home when some lowlife broke into my home. I shudder at the thought.)

Splintering is told in two distinct voices:  Paulie, a fifteen year old girl who has endured way too much in her young life and is barely coping with the horror that she faced on that fateful night; and Jeremy, Paulie’s older brother, who hid in the basement while his family was being attacked by a drugged-out monster. These two teenagers reveal to readers what life was like before, during, and after the attack that would change not only their lives but also the lives of their parents and their older sister, Mimi.

Even before everything went pear-shaped, things weren’t great for Paulie and Jeremy. Paulie, in particular, dealt with being a punching bag for their mother. After the attack, Paulie suffered from horrible nightmares, and she found solace in the arms of a much older boy. Jeremy, on the other hand, retreated into himself. He grew pot in the basement, and he lived with being thought of as the coward who hid in the basement when a madman was beating on his family. Both them are dealing with strained and changing relationships with their parents and worry over how everything impacted their big sister, who is just short of catatonic.

Things are looking pretty bleak for Paulie, Jeremy, and their family, but, somehow, they hold onto a small measure of hope. Hope that things will eventually get better. Hope that they won’t have to live with this fear forever. Hope for some sense of normalcy. Will they ever recover from the attack that changed everything, or will their lives continue to splinter? Read Splintering by Eireann Corrigan to learn how a family comes back from one terrible, horrifying, life-changing event.

In my opinion, Splintering is too mature for most middle grade readers, but it might be a good fit for reluctant teen readers who want to read something that isn’t all sweetness and light. There is frank talk about violence, drug use, and sex, and, even though most adults might not want to admit it, these things are parts of some teens’ daily lives. They might be able to relate to what Paulie and Jeremy are going through (even if they haven’t experienced the exact circumstances themselves).

Heist Society

Before I begin writing about my latest read, I’d like to wish everyone who takes the time to read this blog a happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for all of you, and I appreciate each and every comment posted (and even those of you who’ve never made a comment but still, for some reason, care what I think about books).  Knight Reader started as a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read, but it’s quickly grown into a passion, and my readers definitely help to make this more than a hobby.

Now, on with the show…

I just finished reading Heist Society by Ally Carter.  I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and I finally picked it up this weekend when I was in the mood for something kind of light. While this was a light, fast read, Heist Society was also engaging, fun, and suspenseful.  The story is kind of a blend of Gossip Girl and Ocean’s Eleven, and, even though I’m adamantly against crime of any kind (except the occasional breaking of the speed limit), Heist Society makes art thief seem glamorous and terrifying at the same time.  I would be a horrible thief—I get very nervous when things don’t go according to plan—but the teens in this book make it seem so effortless, much the way Danny Ocean and his crew did in Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen).  But things weren’t so smooth at the beginning…

 

All Katarina Bishop wanted to do was leave her old life as a thief behind.  To do that, however, she had to pull off one more con—scam her way into the best boarding school in the country.  Well, she did, and Kat’s life was boring normal for a while…until circumstances pulled her back into the life and family she left behind.

Kat’s father, a master thief himself, has been accused of stealing a very valuable private art collection.  But the cops aren’t the ones after him.  No, a more sinister character is after Kat’s father.  This bad guy wants his paintings back, and he wants Kat to bring them to him.  There’s just one problem…Kat’s dad didn’t steal the paintings.  But who did?  And can Kat find out and clear her father’s not-so-good name?

As Kat and her motley crew, including the handsome, rich, and enigmatic Hale, travel the world, it becomes clear that to prove her father didn’t steal the paintings, they will have to find out who did…and steal the paintings back.  Can Kat pull off the biggest theft in her family’s history with a teenage crew?  Does she even want to?  Will she be able to leave everything behind again when/if she completes this job?  And is there more to these paintings than meets the eye?  Dive into the mystery when you read Heist Society by Ally Carter.

I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to further adventures of Kat and crew in the sequel, Uncommon Criminals, which is already out.  Even though I did wonder where most of the parents were throughout this entire book, the story was still thought-provoking and entertaining.  Male and female readers from middle school on up will enjoy this one.

For more information on Heist Society and other books by Ally Carter, visit http://allycarter.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/.