Numbers by Rachel Ward

NumbersWhenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode! (From Amazon.ca)

First, I did not realize this was setting place in England, I only found out after reading a few chapters in. I don’t recall too much British slang in this book, and if there was, it was easily understood.

To start off, Jem’s gift for seeing numbers is interesting and it’s what sets itself apart from other books where the main character is always either hearing voices or seeing ghosts. So I thought this idea was rather unique. The plot itself is interesting and the pace is steady; neither fast or slow. Several scenes were times where I laughed (Jem and the birdie doo incident got me laughing so did Jem’s rolling ankle moments. I think the image of Spider cracking up laughing about it helped as well). There were other tender moments, and other moments that got me shaking my head. The reader experiences different emotions throughout the story, and this is what makes it such a great plot. Both Jem and Spider are excellent and well written. They both develop as the story goes on and it provides a real good entertaining read.

I liked both characters. They did fit well together and complimented each other. Spider was more of the comic relief between the both of them and Jem did the worrying part. However I liked how Spider looked out for Jem and although he was in trouble himself, it didn’t matter as long as the two of them were safe. All in all, I really did enjoy Spider as a character.

There was a part that irked me however, when Jem was freaking out and attracting attention to herself and Spider. That annoyed me. If she wasn’t freaking out like an idiot none of the rest of the plot would have happened but I can’t help but wonder, “what if?” things were different. Then again, perhaps the plot wouldn’t have been as exciting and it would have been a much different book.

Although the plot was great, I couldn’t help but notice some of it was just predictable. The ending was all right though, it was sad, but you figured that would happen. It was well written, and I will be reading the book after this one. It’s a great book with plenty of character development and leaves room with, I’m hoping, a sequel that lives up to this one.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

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Once by Morris Gleitzman

Once A story of children in the Holocaust, Once is poignant and powerful without being frightening or graphic. With his gentle and utterly alive manner, Gleitzman reads the tale of Felix, a Jewish boy who runs away from the convent where his parents had him hidden and roams the countryside with an orphaned girl until they find their way to the cellar of a print shop in the Warsaw ghetto, where an old dentist has been protecting lost children. (From Goodreads)

Despite the serious and sombre subject matter of this book, I really liked how it was told. Felix is also a storyteller and it’s very fitting as his parents were booksellers. His naivete shows with the significance of finding a carrot in his soup, but as the book gradually progresses, he quickly matures. He also gradually finds out what’s happening to his own people and this is where his naivete stops completely.

Once Zelda comes into the picture, Felix becomes an unofficial guardian for her. She may seem annoying and does patronize Felix much to his annoyance, but she also has a secret that the reader does not expect until the last third of the novel. I thought this was an interesting twist and definitely unexpected. However it shows no matter who’s side anyone is during times of war, everybody is a victim. I couldn’t help but feel sad for Barney, I admire his bravery for protecting lost children, and in the end it was almost just too sad to read because his fate remains rather grim.

The ending leaves for another book (it is a trilogy) and I think it’s well worth picking up. The fate of Felix and Zelda are left out in the open and I’m curious as to know what will happen to them.

It’s a great book for middle grade children and informing them about the Holocaust through the point of view of a child. It’s well written without the awful graphic details one might find in books containing this subject. I definitely do recommend this book for those interested in this subject and who want to teach younger children about it.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Book Blogger Hop 8/26

Book Blogger Hop

Today’s question is: Do you have pets?

Why yes I do! I have one furbaby named Coco (although he’s nicknamed lots of things, such as The Crisp, and beastie, or lazy beast if you will). He’s about 12 years old (human years) so he’s getting on. He’s still my furbaby though. He also knows I love to read, so where I’m reading, he’s nearby snoozing and keeping me company 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! ginger snaps for everybody!

The Thirteen by Susie Moloney

The ThirteenHaven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness. A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell. (From Amazon.ca)

Ohhhhh. I wanted to like this one. I really did. When I read what this book was about, I immediately went to take it out of the library and giggled with glee as I didn’t have to put it on hold or anything. It did have it’s great moments! I was all ready for a really nice dark gothy read! I loved the idea of a cat filled town (furbabies!!!) where things aren’t what they seem. The town had a nice dark theme to it, almost akin to Witches of Eastwick mixed with Stepford Wives theme. So that in itself was great. Audra’s curse was great! I thought that was really interesting and fun to read. It’s most certainly a well descriptive curse.

Each of the ‘witches’ and what they wished for was also interesting, but of course everything comes at a price. When things do get messy, the consequences are severe. This was also fun to read – especially when they all go into a panic. The panic gets contagious and they’re suddenly resembling frantic chickens.

Then…the story itself just falls apart.

What is it with this dogs vs cats theme? that really bugged me. It really played on that a little too much and the old adage of cats being the ‘witches familiar’ is really really old. That bugged me because I knew in the long run in this book, that there was going to be a mass killing of cats somewhere along the line. Oh for crying out loud. Seriously? we’re still writing about how evil they are and that dogs are every body’s best friend and the champions against the dark witchcraft magic. Have we suddenly gone Middle Ages all over again? the animal cruelty (both for dogs and cats) was not necessary and this dogs vs cats thing was silly.

Let’s now talk about Rowan. She was all right. For a while. Until the story starts in her point of view. Then we get writing like this:

“No one answered it of course, until
(another weirdo)
the nurse Tula came down the hall”

WHY were her thoughts written this way??!!! WHY??? not only did this interrupt the flow of the story but it was very distracting and haphazard to read. It was so disruptive, it was almost as if these thoughts were interrupting the book itself. It made for very annoying reading.

Finally, we go to a chase scene, where it was going at least in a circle three times and it made the reading redundant and the last scene of the book felt so long to play out because of this. Although it was rather exciting to read, as the chase started getting longer, it started getting absurd.

This was certainly a book you can pass on. I expected so much more and it ended up falling short. It’s definitely not what I was hoping for.

I give it a 4/10

The Line by Teri Hall

The Line

The Line

An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It’s said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line. Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel’s dad died in the last war. It’s a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help. Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right? (From Amazon.ca)

It’s an interesting book within many in the current trend of dystopian fiction. What I really enjoyed is the clever idea of the background on how the setting came to be in form of a history lesson from Rachel’s mom. She poses it in a question and answer (Rachel gives the answers in good detail) format so the reader is informed on the background information needed to understand this novel.

It does take a while to get started, despite the length of this novel (about 219 pages) I’m not sure why the pace was unbelievably slow for such a thin book. You do feel a lengthy lull and you wonder where this is all going to end up. Also, I am not sure what to think about Rachel. One the one hand, I liked her for her strength to do what was right, regardless of the consequences. Yet there was just something about her that I didn’t like. Perhaps it was her personality?

The book does take a turn for the more interesting as it progresses. Despite the fact that I am not really a fan of Rachel in the first place, she does develop into quite a character within the last third of the book. When she meets Pathik, things get even more interesting and you’re left with a tremendous cliffhanger at literally, the very last pages of the book. That got me pulling my hair out.

What irked me the most about the book is the name of other countries besides the US (Unified States). What was that all about? why were they named such strange names and how did it come to be? to be truthful, the names of these other countries sound like they should be different planets instead. Maybe they’re inhabited by aliens? I don’t know, it sure sounds like it though. Although the pace of the book was slower than usual, it changes towards the end and the pace suddenly becomes faster than the speed of light. It’s inconsistent and uneven.

I will look for the second book only because this one ended in such a huge cliffhanger I am curious to know what’s going to happen next. Not sure if I could recommend this one, take it or leave it as there are much better novels featuring dystopias out there.

I give it a 7/10

Gone by Michael Grant

Gone

Gone

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…
(From Amazon.ca)

The sheer size of this book at first may seem daunting. However the story istelf is so well written and so interesting, you don’t realize how far into the novel you got until you stop and take a break. Then you realize, the book was certainly fast to go through because it was just that good.

The action starts right at the first page. It then keeps going. I loved the mystery behind it all. Little bits and clues are finally given through the later half of the book, but it’s well drawn out. Not to mention, there is also the survival issue that plays a very important part in this book. A lot of the emphasis is on survival and the breaking off of the teens in several groups or cliques. The plot does certainly become darker up to this point. Especially when the bullies come in to enforce their own style of rules. When Caine steps into the picture, the plot takes another twist. It was one thing after another, and I could not tear my eyes off of this book. I was so engrossed in it, I had to keep going back after taking a break because the plot was just that interesting. You could say it’s a version of Lord of the Flies on a grander scale. It also shows human nature and its brutality through Caine and his group. Some of the things his group does may seem shocking, especially as these characters are teenagers and not fully grown adults. (I could not get over the cement thing…just could not)

There is quite a number of characters to keep track of. However it’s not hard as each and every one of them are memorable – whether through their personality traits, or their own super skills, they’re easily identifiable. It’s also made simple. There’s good versus evil. Then you can even break it into smaller groups based on their ‘social status’. You can even go further and organize the characters by their skills or powers if they have any. It was a great way to identify the character and remember them throughout the book. More do get added as the story progresses, but their personality traits are different from one another so it’s not hard to remember them at all.

I can’t really decide who would be my favorite character. All of them have something I like. Except for Quinn. He’s the biggest coward on the block. I admire Sam for being so forgiving. I however, probably wouldn’t be so forgiving towards Quinn for his idiocies. He would be my least favorite character in the book. I like how some of the more important characters have their own story, and their own issues. It certainly does give them a more ‘three-dimensional’ feel to it.

I had already picked up the second book, Hunger, before finishing this one, and I have no regrets purchasing it. Gone is by far, one of the best books I’ve read this year (even though I’m a little late to join the bandwagon on this series!) I do recommend this to everyone, even if you’re not into YA but like books where things in the world just run amok. It’s a great book and well worth the time spent reading.

I give it a 10/10

Citizen Out by Marie Crist

Citizen Out  A man patiently watches a group of young girls walk home from school, waiting for the perfect moment to take the one child he has designated as his next victim. Once in his clutches, she will endure acts of violence and horror that such a young girl should never have to experience. However, what this predator does not know is that he, too, is being stalked. There is someone in the shadows—a trained Citizen—who is ready to make sure that the child under his assigned protection is never harmed. One pedophile, one abuser, one killer at a time . . . this Citizen and others like him will take a stand against those who prey on the weak and the innocent.

I loved the idea of this book. A vigilante group that stalks pedophiles and other criminals and prevents them from claiming other victims. The way the book introduces the reader to this group is very interesting and is very attention grabbing from the first page. The passages written from the point of the view of the criminals are chilling, and makes the skin crawl because it has a very real feel to it. It’s very understandable then, that there’s a feeling of satisfaction when these criminals get their due.

The actual organization of the Citizens itself is an interesting idea and I liked how it was written. There was good detail and the author did a great job in describing how the organization was run. Each character in the novel had its’ role in the group and it was described in an understandable and enough detail so the reader could have a good comprehension who this vigilante group was and how they were organized.

Although I loved the idea of the book, and at first it turned out to be a really interesting read, there were a few things that did not sit well with me. First, it was how the characters acted amongst each other. To me it seems extremely fake and artificial. They were just so happy go lucky and so well put together, it was almost to the point where I couldn’t read the dialog between them. It was like watching a very corny 1950’s movie where everyone one is so happy and chipper. I just couldn’t understand what was the point of reading their oh so happy dialogue when they had criminals to track and catch. There was a large emphasis on Citizens and their workplace. I was more interested on how they managed to capture these bad guys instead, so I wish the author put more emphasis on their cases and how they caught them.

Also to note, how Seth and Veronica (two new recruits that joined the organization) came to join was just a little too unbelievable to me. It’s nice though, because they were undergoing severe difficult times only to be whisked away and helped. Yet the help they received is just a little too good to be true for my tastes. Perhaps I’m too cynical and too pessimistic to believe such a thing to happen, but it’s just way too good to be true for me. At this point of the book, my interest started to wane, as it focused on these characters way too much and the overall “good guy” tones was starting to be over the top.

The ending proved to be very unsatisfactory for me. It may come across as a giant cliffhanger to some, but to me it was more of: “Okaayy….soooo..I read 200 and some pages for..this?” I just wish there was much more than just reading it from the Citizen’s and their organization’s point of view. Sure, the detail was useful, but shouldn’t they be out tracking the criminals instead of admiring their lunchrooms at work? I was waiting for maybe some sort of twist to surprise me, but unfortunately that was not to be.

I did like this book because it was a very unique and great idea but the execution of it could have been much better. More emphasis could have been on the criminal cases and catching the bad guys instead of having the spotlight on the new recruits and their happy go lucky friends. It’s nice they get along, but these characters need to have a few flaws as well to make them more realistic.

I give it a 6 out of 10