Numbers 3: Inifinity

Thought I should share my views on the third and final book in Rachel Ward’s trilogy Numbers. Numbers 3: Infinity did the trilogy justice and did a great job in tying up the stories. It was action packed and I must admit, I read it in the space of 4-5 hours in just 2 sittings (would have been one if sleep and eating easter eggs hadn’t got in the way!)

This book, like book 2, has Adam and Sarah as the protagonists. Adam is now famous, like his mother Jem was in book 1, for seeing the death-date numbers in people’s eyes and saving them from the ‘chaos’ in book 2. He is living with Sarah, her daughter Mia (the result of incest from book 1) and Sarah’s two brothers sort of on the run. Or definitely, in the rough as the ‘chaos’ destroyed most homes. The government want Adam’s help in order to look at people’s numbers so they know when people are going to die i.e. where not to waste the country’s precious resources. Nice.

We have Saul in this book; a baddie. Something we haven’t really experienced in the books yet. The drama has originally come from circumstance and results  of the predicted numbers. This book still has all that, but it has this extra villain to add to the mix. Saul is working for the government and after impatiently realising Adam won’t come nicely, he forces him (and Mia and Sarah) to go with him. To a prison like place in the hillside. But it isn’t just Adam that Saul is interested in…… and it isn’t just Adam that has an interesting gift. We discover that Saul can ‘steal’ people’s numbers in order to live forever. We also know that Mia, whether intentionally or not, can do this. She took Nan’s number in the ‘chaos’ and survived instead. Mia didn’t just inherit Nan’s number though, she can also see people’s auras and colours, just like Nan did. So there is some special gifts floating about – but will they be used for good or evil?

Without giving anymore away, we learn in this book that the numbers aren’t as factual as numbers should be. It isn’t as clear-cut. Adam thought he know how it all worked but now people’s lives are at risk. Can he keep his little, dysfunctional family alive? And can they escape the number-sucking grip of Saul?

I truly recommend these books: to adults and teenagaers alike. They are a fantastic and dramatic read. It has as many twists and turns as there are numbers on this world. I don’t think I have ever been fascinated by something that was dominated by numbers  – as we all know, I am more of a words kind of girl 😉

So, One, two and three: read them all!

Happy reading this weekend!

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Miserable Cinderellas

‘There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.’

I saw two productions over half term. The Burton Operatic Society did a production of Cinderella at a local school. (I have discussed a production in a previous blog: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/good-vs-evil/) I also saw Les Miserables (finally!) at  the cinema. Both productions were fantastic but naturally they are every different in terms of context and plot. But in this case, they are both musicals and me being me, I wanted to draw some comparisons from the characters. (Call me lazy if you like for not writing two separate reviews!)

I must confess that I didn’t really know the story of Les Mis. before I went. I know, I know, English graduate who has not read it or seen a version of it. Reasons, or excuses being, well for starters the book is reallllly long! I have since downloaded it to my Nook and it is a worryingly long 4000 pages! (You may not see so many blogs lately 😉 ) Also, I just never saw a production through reasons such as money, opportunity and I never particularly studied it. It was worth the wait though!

I loved the film of Les Mis. and recommend anyone who has not seen it, to go. Or wait for the DVD 😉 It was a brilliant portrayal of Paris after the French Revolution. It focuses on the poor – or asles miserables’ can be translated as ‘the poor ones,’ ‘the miserables,’ or ‘the victims.’ Then there is the juicy part of the plot of the June Rebellion also known as The Paris Uprising of 1832. This was good viewing and really gave a depiction of this battle between the rich and the poor man. I don’t want to go too much into the story because that isn’t the purpose of this blog. But just a few more thoughts of mine about the latest film version: the singing was good overall. I was well aware it was a musical and was fine with the characters singing when there was a vital part to the plot, when they had to sing their own thoughts or sing as a group  – fine. I wasn’t so sure about them ‘singing’ conversations to each other. That was a bit odd! I know that that is the case with all productions of Les Miserables but it just seemed a little odd to me. Russel Crowe singing seriously was even odder – he was the only one that I cringed in my seat a little when he let the notes escape his mouth. My other main point that comes to mind, is the children. They were fantastic little actors and really did the characters justice. Brilliant.

Cinderella I would think we all know a little about. It was a great production by Burton Operatics and an old story with a new twist, yet it still kept the original magic. I laughed out loud when the mice came out though – as they were played by children, they were nearly as big as Cinders herself! The actress playing Cinderella was amazing and had that inner happiness to her that only resurfaced when she was with the mice, or day dreaming or when she meets the prince. She played the miserable and slave side to the character equally as well. (The other actors and everyone involved did a fantastic job too – to risk a shout out!)

I started to see the old fairy tale in a new light though last week. Possible because it was the first time I had seen it as an adult. It really is about a poor orphan girl, treated badly because of the times and bad luck of being left with an awful family. We are talking 17th century when this first was written, reflecting the role of women at the time. If women had no family or husband then they were worth nothing really. It isn’t until she meets her Prince Charming that her life becomes livable. The feminist in me, sobs at this.

This is what got me thinking when I saw Les Mis. Cosette is a lot like Cinderella. Think about it. They are both;

  • orphans and are left in terrible circumstances because of this.
  • slave like characters who like to dream and hope. The song at the top is from Les Mis. and sung by Cosette but it also reminded me of Cinderella.
  • young and beautiful
  • women in society who are not able to help themselves
  • (in the end) married to their heart’s desire who happen to rescue them from their misfortune. (I will admit Cosette was already saved early on by Jean Valjean – but again saved by a man)

So whether fairy tales or historical dramas, women were still depicted and were indeed treated in the same, awful way years ago. In terms of fairy tales, I do sometimes think why didn’t Cinderella (or Snow White, or any other) put the broom down, go out get a job, fend for herself and forget about men? But as Les Mis. shows, it wasn’t as simple as that indeed in France or England or anywhere. I was horrified by Cosette’s Mum in the film (played by Ann Hathaway) and how she had to have her head shaved to sell her hair and have her teeth pulled out for money. Definitely showing the hardships of the time. Poor women then had to resort to prostitution if they weren’t lucky to get rescued by the Jean Valjeans or the Prince Charmings of the world.

I suppose, though, the Valjean character does show us just how hard it was for men too. He wouldn’t have been able to turn his life around (well firstly if he didn’t steal a lot of silver!) if he hadn’t the run and under cover, carving and scraping a life for himself along the way. But being a hero of a story, he still managed to save Cosette on the way also. Like fairy tales, there is some sort of happy ending.

So how many Miserable Cinderellas are out there today? Women that have nowhere to turn or are so desperate that they turn to a horrible way of life. Because, unlike fairy takes, there isn’t always a happy ending in life. 😦

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Numbers 2: Chaos

The second book in Rachel Ward’s fantastic trilogy doesn’t disappoint. It is just as exciting, if not more, than the first. I must say though, if you haven’t read the first book yet – then click off this page now until you have. As it may spoil some of the plot from the debut. 😉

Half of this book is from the perspective of Adam, the son of Jem and Spider. The other half is from Sarah’s point of view – one of Adam’s school colleagues, who first knows him from her nightmares. She can see the future, you see, in her nightmares. And Adam, you’ve guessed it, has his Mum’s gift and can see the numbers in people’s eyes. Yet, the gift seems to be developing with each generation and Adam can see and feel how the person is going to die too.

Spider and Jem aren’t in this book – you’ll see why at the end of the first book 😉 We are left with Adam, his great-nan from the first book and Sarah to try and help save London from the looming disaster. Adam keeps seeing the same number: 1st Jan 2027.  He sees it in people everywhere he does and knows something terrible is going to happen. This is no London Eye incident from the first book, this is going to affect thousands of people.

Adam starts to record the numbers, the people he saw them in, the place he saw them and the kind of death they will have. He starts to notice a pattern: fire, water and tumbling rubble. If people aren’t going to die on New Year’s Day then a lot of them are predicted to die days after. So what is going to happen? And can Adam change the future by warning people? Is anyone actually going to believe him?

Sarah has the same nightmare every night and her days are filled with a nightmare too  – her Dad rapes her on a regular basis. Up to this point, I thought these books would be great for teenagers in schools to study, but it does has very adult themes like this. Something good comes out of her horrible ordeal though. A child. Which to me, seems a bit odd. I mean, I get why it happened, as a result of incest. But she seems absolutely fine with bringing up her Dad’s baby and doesn’t seem emotionally torn in how to love the baby or now – I just thought that may have been more of an issue. And what will happen when the baby asks about her Dad one day? But Ward does do a great job with Sarah and her love/hatred/fear of her father. And the story running parallel to the first book : means she also runs away. She is also partly running away from Adam, he may have met her at school, but she has known him for years from her nightmares! She is terrified of him but doesn’t know why and as much as she runs, she finds that she always runs into him.

Together, will they figure out a solution to the looming New Year’s Day? Will they all survive? And since the gift has now changed through the generations – can Adam now change the numbers?

My only issue with the book (apart from the baby issue that I have already mentioned) is technology. I like how the book is set in the future and people get chipped and there are these palm computer gadgets that every school pupil has. There are TV screens all over London giving safety info. That all seems quite believable. Yet, Adam doesn’t know how to use the internet. Whaaat? Ward claims, Jem always kept Adam away from the internet because it is full of rubbish. But would we seriously believe that a teenage boy, even these days, would do as his Mum says and avoid the internet completely? Let alone in 14 years time! Teenagers can’t avoid the internet, yet Adam doesn’t even know how to warn people of 1.1.2027 through forums or blogs or anything. I find this to be unrealistic, as I imagine people will pretty much use the internet to survive in the future! Adam would have grown up with it.

This book is aptly named ‘Chaos’ as there is nothing but that from beginning to end. It isn’t a particularly happy book,  but as I say about things like that, it will always make you feel better about your own life 😉 I did get a bit freaked out though by the 1st Jan 2027 date – because could something happen on that day?  Could Ward be right? But I guess you always get that with books set in the future – and George Orwell wasn’t right with 1984 was he?! 😉

Happy reading,

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Numbers

I have never had a head for numbers. You may have realised that I am more of a words kind of girl. 😉 That doesn’t mean that I am not fascinated by numbers though – even if I can’t always add them together very well 😉 For this reason, I would like to say that is why I was drawn to reading the book Numbers by Rachel Ward. But I was bought it randomly by my sister and her boyfriend for Christmas – random, just as numbers can be.

Numbers is a trilogy  – Numbers 2 Chaos and Numbers 3 Infinity completing the trio. So far, I have read the first two. And they are fantastic. Full of drama and twists and turns. And, I know we shouldn’t judge a book by the cover and all – but they are pretty ace too. Numbers also litter the pages and I swear I could see numbers along the closed pages when the book is shut – but I wasn’t sure if I was going a little crazy like the characters and thinking I could see numbers 😉

The first in the fantastic series….

But I haven’t told you enough to make you want to pick up a copy yet. In the first book, Jem is a troubled teenage girl and she can see numbers. In people’s eyes. It is a date. Of when they are going to die. As soon as I read that on the blurb, I was intrigued. I like psychological plots and I knew this would be one. Like, would she ever tell someone their number? Could she save lives? Will she find out her own number? It is compelling stuff because if you think about it, we all have a number. A death number. Without being too morbid, we are all going to die some day. But we don’t think about it because there is no point. We don’t know when it will be. Even if we have a terminal illness, we don’t know the exact day. Would you want to know? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I would be terrified of that day getting nearer. We all like to believe that we have a long stretch of life in front of us and maybe that’s what gets us from day-to-day.

But Jem does know. She sees a number each time she looks at someone, meaning that a lot of the time she doesn’t want to look people in the eye. She is a typical teenage girl in that she avoids eye contact and is awkward in social situations. She is not so typical for the reasons though: She not only sees the date that will end a person’s existence but she has lost her mum to drug addiction, she has no other family and gets shoved from foster home to foster home and she has no friend in the world. Depressing yes – so maybe not get it your teenager to help cheer them up 😉

It is however action packed and this begins when she meets Spider. Jem is a small, delicate, white girl. Spider in strong contrast is a tall, black, gangly bloke. They are opposites, yet find that one thing in common. They are both outcasts and both lonely.

The plot thickens when Jem and Spider are out for the day. Hanging out in London like teenagers do, they want to go on the London Eye but realise it’s too expensive. Jem quickly realises this is meant to be, as all the people around them, have the same death number. The date of that day. She manages to convince Spider, without telling him why, that they need to go. Minutes later, the London Eye explodes. Taking lives and reinforcing the fact that the numbers must be true! But they are seen running from the London Eye just before the explosion and the police think they are responsible for it. So they go on the run.

I won’t give more away but it all gets very intense as these two naive teenagers go on the run. Spider steals cars yet he has never driven one before. The whole country knows their faces so they have to keep hidden. And remember, as soon as Jem looked Spider in the eye, she knew his number. And she knows his fateful day is going to be soon. So it’s all about can she change his number? Can they stay hidden from the police and the press? Or is she going to have to come clean about her number visions?

It really is an amazing story and they are believable characters. Spider’s gran adds a lot of humour and wackiness to the story, whereas Karen, Jem’s foster Mum brings in the realistic and sensible elements – and tries to bring in some stability for Jem.

I’ll discuss the second book in a separate post – but if you like drama, action and romance, then this book is a great combination of all three! 🙂

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A Book Lover’s Post

I think it is safe to say that everyone who writes, loves to read. Yet,  I am not sure if this is the same vice versa. My collection of books keeps growing and growing and I have just noticed that my new Xmas reads will not fit on the book shelves. My boyfriend has tried to aid this problem by buying me a Nook this year. I love it and it is a modern gadget that can make searching for books and reading them exciting. It is also just plain easier at times as you can hold it with one hand… it holds hundreds of books so you don’t have to carry them. However, I have told him, and I will tell you that I will not stop buying real books by my favourite authors. I love to look at them on the shelf and love the process of selecting one to read. Buying books is also a hobby, as I love to search old book shops and charity shops for books I have not heard of or ones I have not read by favourite authors. I love the smells of old books (and new books), the different covers (I have 4 different versions of Pride and Prejudice) and I just feel my house is not a home without a multitude of bookshelves… even though, I am not sure my boyfriend agrees with this!

I have a book diary. As I mentioned yesterday (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/scared-of-a-word), I love notebooks and writing thoughts in them. Well, I also like diaries. As a teenager, I used to write in a diary on a daily basis with all my thoughts and observations of the day. (See my post: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/to-my-14-year-old-self/). As, you have gathered, I also love books. So to have a diary to record my thoughts about books is just genius. My friend bought it for me a couple of years ago and I love it! I record various lists of books I have read in my life so far, that year, need to read, want to read and books I should read before I die. Only a true book lover will understand the use of the verb should. How can you call yourself a book lover if you haven’t read the works of Austen, Shakespeare or Dickens? Some may disagree and think that reading should be about what you want to read. I agree in a way and I do, mostly. But there are these works of fiction that I just feel I need to have an opinion on  – can’t believe I’m about to mention this in the same paragraph as Dickens and co, but that is why I read 50 Shades. I wanted to know what all the hype was. So, some of these famous (or infamous) books may be on my ‘to read list’ for many years to come (for example War and Peace –  I mean, it’s just so long isn’t it?!) But hopefully I will get there one day.

This is the copy I own… a beautiful way to record your passion for reading….

I definitely recommend a book diary. You can also record notes about the books you have read, who recommended it to you and who you then recommended it to. You can note down good book sites, shops and reading groups. In mine there is an A-Z of books you have read so you can add to it from year to year. It is also full of quotes about reading and books and I read them again and again whenever I come to use it.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from The Book Lover’s Diary:

‘There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep on growing until I die. This has exasperated my daughters, amused my friends and baffled my accountant. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have much more money in the bank today; but I would not be richer.’

(Pete Hamill, D’artagnan on Ninth Street: A Brooklyn boy at the library.)

This is me… or it will be one day! Long live books in all forms! Happy reading… and recording!

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