April 28, 2011

Review: The Chaos (Numbers #2) by Rachel Ward

Adam has more than inherited his mother's curse: When he looks in someone's eyes, he not only sees the date of their death...he feels the searing, shocking pain of it, Adam lives by the sea with his great-grandmother, Val. But when rising tides flood the coast, they return to London. The city is an alien, exciting, frightening place. Most disturbing of all, Adam can't help but clock how many people's numbers are in January 2027; how many are on New Year's Day. What chaos awaits the world? Can he stop a catastrophe? Or is he, too, counted among the "twenty-sevens"? (Amazon)

If you are looking for a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat than I highly recommend reading The Chaos by Rachel Ward.  I loved the first book in the series Numbers, but I definitely think the author out did herself on the sequel.  The entire time I was reading this book I was fighting the urge not to flip to the end to find out what happens. The tension that builds throughout the book is what makes it an awesome read, but I felt like I needed to know NOW how it was going to end!!  I consider reading the end of a book first to be cheating, so luckily I was able to fight the urge and actually wait until the end to find out what happens. You do not necessarily need to read Numbers in order to understand what is happening in The Chaos, but reading The Chaos first will ruin the end of Numbers.  Therefore if you have not read Numbers and you plan on doing so, STOP reading this review right now and go read Numbers!!!!!!!!!

            You’re still reading my review?  Ok, well I warned you, so don’t blame me for ruining Numbers for you!!  The Chaos takes place 16 years after the end of Numbers. Adam, Jem and Spider’s son, is now 15 and living in Weston (the town by the sea that Jem and Spider were trying to escape to) with his Nan, Val.  Things on earth are changing and the sea is staring to reclaim her land. As the book opens Adam and Val are being evacuated due to massive flooding. Wait! What happened to Jem?  I could tell you . . . but I won’t!!!  Adam is not happy about leaving and blames Val for everything wrong in his life.  He panics when he thinks he forgot his book, which luckily is in his pants pocket.  What’s in the book!?!  Ok, I’ll tell you!!  Adam has inherited his mother’s gift for seeing numbers.  Every time he looks someone in the eye he sees the date of his or her death flash in his mind.  He knows from experience that the numbers are never wrong.  He knows from his mother never to tell anyone about the numbers.  That is why he feels the need to document every number he sees in his book.  As if seeing the numbers isn’t bad enough, Adam can actually feel how each person is going to die.  Two things torment Adam:  1) He has no idea what his own number is, and 2) The majority of people he sees will die on 01012027.  He knows that something horrible is going to happen on New Years day and he has no idea how to stop it. 
            One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book is that Adam is not the only narrator. Sarah, a 15- year old girl with secrets of her own, narrates every other chapter. What are her secrets!?!  If I told you, it would ruin the story!  One thing I will tell you is that when Sarah enrolls in a new school and sees Adam for the first time she recognizes him as the boy from her nightmares.  She has been dreaming about him for months, and none of the dreams have been good. When Adam sees her number and feels her death he needs to know exactly why she is so utterly terrified of him.  Throughout the book Adam has two goals:  figure out how to save the people who are going to die on New Year’s Day and find out why Sarah is so terrified to be around him.

The story also has a minor character named Mia and I only mention this because the next book I read, Gayle Forman’s Where She Went, has two characters named Adam and Mia.  Kinda funny how things like that happen.  If you enjoy dystopian fiction and you love a great roller coaster ride then you absolutely need to read Rachel Ward’s The Chaos.  You will not be disappointed!!!!

April 26, 2011

Blog Redesign!!!!

I just spent 3.5 hours redesigning this blog.  Thank you to Shabbyblogs.com for providing me with awesome templates!!  I am definitely not even close to technologically advanced, so I'll take all the help I can get.  I would love to know what everyone thinks and get any advice on how to make it better.  Due to my ADD the header is driving me nuts - I hate that blank space on the right!!  Does it bother anyone else? I'm too tired to change it now.  Also, how do I get the cute buttons to connect to my Facebook and Twitter? Ugh!!  I really need to hire someone to do this for me.  Who knew blogs could be such a pain?

April 20, 2011

What Did I Read This Week?

Since I read way more things than I actually review I thought I would share those with you too.  I am a huge believer in not reading something that I don't like and I share that philosophy with my students, so here is where you will find the titles I didn't finish and why.  This is what I've read so far:

Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber:  I did finish this one, but it really didn't do anything for me.  I thought it would be funny and fluffy, but it just fell flat.  The mystery was too transparent and the main character was far too serious.  I would have to give it 2 out of 5 stars.  It was Just OK.

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin:  Still reading and hope to finish this weekend.  This is a Tween read that I think would make an excellent classroom novel.  The characters are well written and the plot is quirky and fun.  Expect a full review when finished!!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman:  I know I have been talking about this one A LOT - but it was just that good!!  Here is what I wrote on Good Reads after I finished:  Although I gave this book 5 stars I could never read it again. I can barely even get through a booktalk. This was the most emotionally devastating book I have ever read. It kept me up at night pondering all of the "what if's" and uncertainties of life. It had me convinced I would never let my children ride in a car again, especially if there is snow on the ground. In the end I do not think I would have made the same choice as Mia. I am not that strong . . . Teddy will haunt me forever. . 

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connlley:  Everyone is talking about what a great movie this is, so I picked up the book last week.  LOVED IT!!!  Great plot with a ton of twists and turns.  I really liked the main character Mickey Haller, he wasn't as sleazy as he thought he was.  I did not see the twist at the end coming and I'm getting pretty good at figuring those out.  If you like courtroom drama this is definitely a must read!!!  4 out of 5 stars.  I loved it and I think you will too!!!

Crazy  Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted:  I found this book at a reading conference this winter and was surprised I had not heard of it.  I loved the cover and the story was intriguing: A boy with hooks for hands (because he blew them off in an accident), falls in love with a girl recovering from the recent death of her mother.  Unfortunately, it just didn't hold my attention.  I am very picky about the voice of teen characters.  They should not sound like adults trying too hard to sound like teens.  The story POV changes between the two characters, a la "Perfect Chemisty" by Simone Elkeles, but the magic that Alex and Brittany found is just missing for Lucius and Aurora.  I quit after the first two sections, but I might try it again.  The cover is just too enticing!!  I also plan on getting a student's opinion.  Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean they won't.

Numbers: The Chaos by Rachel Ward:  I am reading this one right now and LOVING IT!!!!  The first book, "Numbers," is an intense read, but this one takes it up about a million notches!!!!  I cannot wait to find out what happens!!!  Full review by the weekend!!

That is all I've had time for this week.  Hope my reviews were helpful!!



April 16, 2011

Ultraviolet Review

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R.J. Anderson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source:  Net Galley

“Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."
Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori's body has not been found, and Alison can't explain what happened. (Net Galley)

R.J. Anderson’s novel Ultraviolet is an emotional rollercoaster of twists and turns.  From the moment Alison Jeffries wakes up in the psychiatric ward of St. Luke’s hospital you are taken on a journey that is both beautiful and terrifying.  Alison’s story is one that will haunt readers long after they have finished the final pages.

Sixteen -year old Alison Jeffries does not know what she did to get herself locked up in a psychiatric hospital.  What she does know is that she does not belong there.  She is not insane, even though she is positive that she is responsible for the murder of her missing classmate Tori Beaugrand.  Alison is not even sure how she killed Tori, as her recollection of the event is next to impossible.  While Alison might not think she is insane, she does believe that she is dangerous and needs to leave the hospital before she can harm anyone else.   

All of her life Alison has been different.  Her mind is filled with the colors, shapes, and tastes of every sound and word she hears.  Unfortunately, Alison’s gift has struck fear in her mother, who in return has maintained a distance from her daughter throughout her life.  Ultimately it is her mother who decides to have Alison committed, creating a further chasm in their already complicated relationship.  One thing Alison has learned from her mother is to never reveal the things she sees.  Not even to her own doctor.

Throughout the story Alison meets a myriad of unique individuals, each with their own tragic history. The most unique character being the unorthodox Dr. Faraday.  He is unlike any one Alison has ever met.  As she agrees to help him with his study, she finds herself being increasingly drawn to him and chooses to trust him with her secrets.  Including what she believes happened to her classmate Tori Beaugrand.  Yet, Dr, Faraday is not who Alison thinks he is and the answer to what really happened to Tori is far more complicated than a simple murder. 

R.J Anderson does an excellent job of weaving together a story that is extraordinary, yet realistic at the same time.  Alison’s journey is one of self- discovery as she learns that her perceptions of the world and the people around her are not quite what she has believed them to be.  The characters are well developed and the writing is descriptive without being cumbersome.  The beautiful imagery Anderson uses to illustrate Alison’s unique abilities allows the reader to easily envision them.  Ultraviolet is a masterpiece of not just words, but of all the senses.   

April 7, 2011


Yesterday we had about 15 minutes of independent reading time at the end of my sophomore class.  I needed a new book and saw that "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman had been returned.  I snatched it out of the pink crate before another student could get their hands on it (I've been trying to read it all year), and was feeling pretty smug about the whole thing.  For once I won!!  My feeling of elation didn't last for long and by page 22 I had lost it completely.  In front of 15 teenagers.  As a rule teachers are not suppose to cry in front of their students.  It usually encourages them to continue the behavior that reduced you to tears in the first place and in fact it will usually get worse!  But there was no sign on the cover of the book that said: WARNING!  Do not read if 1) You cry at dog food commercials 2) Have a blond haired, blue eyed, incredibly adorable 7 year old son, or 3) Are sitting in a room filled with teenagers waiting for a reason to publicly humiliate you.  Therefore, I dove right in!  I stopped at page 22, but once the kids saw my reaction to the book I knew I had them hooked. By this morning my other classes heard about it and are begging to be the first ones to read the book when I am finished.  I will be traveling to the Half-Price Books in Chicago this weekend to see if I can get another copy or two for the classroom. All of this in only 22 pages!  It is rare when a book comes along that can grab the attention of both genders in my classes.  Not only are the kids in a frenzy to read "If I Stay," they are already begging me to buy "Where She Went," so that it is there when they need it!!  THANK YOU GAYLE FORMAN!!! Your books are turning non-readers into readers (and making my job much easier!)

April 5, 2011

My Top 12 YA Books of the (School) Year!!

I tried to compile a list of the 10 best books that I have read since September, but that became a bit difficult.  I settled for 12, but might have to add more if I can remember everything I've read.  Luckily Goodreads.com helps me keep some type of record, or else I would be completely discombobulated!!  After the top three they are really in no special order since I loved them all.  Here's my list.  Hope it helps you find something fun to read!!

1. A Match Made in High School - Kristin Walker
2.  Swim the Fly - Don Calame
3. Numbers - Rachel Ward
4.  Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood - Aileen Cook
5.  Hate List - Jennifer Brown
6.  Whip It - Shauna Cross
7.  The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan
8.  The Morgue & Me - John C. Ford
9.  Messed Up - Janet Nichols Lynch
10.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian - Sherman Alexie
11.  Get Well Soon - Julie Halpern
12.  Suicide Notes - Michael Thomas Ford

Not all of the books are current releases, but it is a pretty eclectic list.  I still have 2 months until school is out, so I definitely will be adding more.  Happy Reading and let me know what you think about any you have read or read in the future!!


April 3, 2011

Review: Swim the Fly

Title: Swim the Fly

Author: Don Calame

Synopsis(from Goodreads.com): Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, always set themselves a summer-time goal.  This year’s?  To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. As far as Matt is concerned, they’d have better luck finding the lost city of Atlantis. But seeing a girl in the buff starts to seem like child’s play compared to the other summertime goal Matt sets for himself: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) in order to impress Kelly West, the hot new girl. So what if he can’t manage a single lap, let alone four? He’s got the whole summer to perfect his technique. What could possibly go wrong?

Review:  I think what attracted me to this book is the fact that my 7 year old son has two best friends named Shaun and Cooper.  If the fictional Sean and Coop are anything like the real ones then I knew this book could be nothing but hilarious.  I was right! 

This has to be one of the funniest, laugh out loud books I have ever read.  Every scheme Matt and his buddies come up with to meet their summer goal backfires in the most hilarious way.  I never realized how funny laxatives really could be until I read Swim the Fly. 

Matt’s friends are not the only ones getting Matt into crazy predicaments.  Throughout the book Grandpa Arlo requests Matt’s assistance in his plan to woo the recently widowed Mrs. Hoogenboom.  Unfortunately, he chooses Mr. Hoogenboom’s funeral as the perfect time to put his plan into action.  Needless to say, things don’t go so well. 

Swim the Fly is not just about laughs.  There is a bit of romance and self-discovery as well.  Matt has agreed to swim the 100 -yard butterfly for his swim team because he wants to make his crush, Kelly West, notice him.  Although Matt is physically unprepared for this challenge and describes himself as incredibly lazy he attacks his goal with a determination that he didn’t know he had.  Giving up is never an option, even when reaching his goal becomes next to impossible. 

I knew this book was a winner when I was unable to get my hands on the classroom copy.  Teens, both male and female, have kept Swim the Fly in constant check-out and the list of students who still want to read it is long.  This is a classic story that both teens and adults will relate too.  There is something for everyone: action, comedy, drama, and romance.  I would recommend Swim the Fly to anyone who enjoys clean, although at times gross, fun and loves to laugh!

April 2, 2011

Getting Started!!

This is the first official blog of the X-treme Readers!!!  Yahoo!!!!!  What will we be doing with this blog?  Reviewing the latest and greatest of Young Adult and Adult Fiction!!!!  I just signed up on Net Galley, so hopefully I will have some advanced copies of new titles to review ASAP!!  Can't wait!!  Let the X-treme Reading Revolution begin!!!!