Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy

Lamar Washington is thirteen years old and the King of the Strikers at Strikers Bowling Alley. His brother is 17 and known as Xavier the Savior of the local basketball team. Their mom died of cancer several years ago and their dad, though involved in their lives, works the night shift.

Lamar and his best friend Sergio are starting to be interested in girls. The trouble for Lamar is that he has always been a prankster so no girl takes him seriously!

The rivalry between Lamar and Xavier is paramount throughout the novel. Lamar's asthma is extreme and life theatening at times. To compete with Xaiver is near impossible for Lamar.

Billy Jenks, a hustler at the bowling alley, "befriends" Lamar so that he can use him to his avantage.

Will Lamar land the girl of his dreams or will she persist in thinking of him as a prankster? Will Billy manage to get Lamar in trouble? Will Xavier continue to bully Lamar? Read this novel by Crystal Allen to find out!
This video has a short piece about the book in the first minute or so of the video.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Death Cloud

Andrew Lane"s new series of the young Sherlock Holmes is sure to capture your interest as it did mine! The mystery is set in England and France. Death Cloud is the first book in his series entitled Sherlock Holmes, the Legend Begins. His next title is Rebel Fire and takes place in America.

Young Sherlock Holmes' father is away in India. Since Sherlock is on summer holiday from school and too young to be on his own, he is staying for the summer with his Uncle Sherrinford and Aunt Anna in their small village of Farnham, England in their home named Holmes Manor. Sherlock's brother Mycroft has a very high position in the British government in London. Mycroft has arranged for an American tutor, Amyus Crowe to work with Sherlock over the summer. Instead of teaching Sherlock Latin and Greek, however, Amyus has instead decided to work on Sherlock's thinking skills.
Sherlock meets another young boy from a lower social class. His name is Matthew Arnatt. Matt witnesses a strange event where a man is killed and mysteriously a cloud of smoke emanates from the body. When Sherlock also witnesses a similar death, both boys become allies in solving the mystery. This sets the boys on a quest to find out who the victim was, how he was killed, and why he was murdered. Amyus and his beautiful daughter help to solve the mystery.  Unfortunately for Sherlock, he is severely tested in this endeavor.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Do you feel the military draft is fair? This book written by Walter Dean Myers looks at the consequences of the military draft during the Civil War. There was a clause which allowed young men to avoid being drafted if they could pay $300 to someone else who was desperate for money and didn't mind serving. It may not seem like a great deal of money to people of our time period, but for some very poor people, this was a great sum of money.
But what happens if you are drafted to serve, you don't want to serve, and you don't have $300 to pay someone else? Well, that is the situation in New York City in 1863. The Irish immigrants are being drafted to serve and don't have the money to buy their way ont. Feeling this is grossly unfair, they begin to take out their frustration on the colored people in New York. It leads to rioting in the streets.
Written in screenplay format, the author tells us the story of fifteen-year-0ld Claire--half Irish and half Afro-American. If you want a good, short historical fiction read, Riot is the perfect choice!'

Monday, May 23, 2011

Heist Society

Kat has tried to turn her life around. Coming from a family of famous thieves, it is not easy to walk away from that life and start a new one. After Kat (short for Katarina) cons her way in to a famous boarding school, Colgan, she thinks she has achieved a normal life until Porshe-gate happens. Kat is implicated in the stealing of the headmaster's mint-condition 1958 Porshe Speedster and placing it on the top of the fountain in the quad at the school.  Her pleading of innocence falls on deaf ears when a video tape of her is shown committing the dastardly deed. She is kicked out of Colgan!
To her dismay she finds that her wealthly best friend Hale was in on Porshe-gate as was her cousin Gabrille. Not to worry they tell Kat. We are doing this because we need you back in the family! Kat's father has been falsely accused of stealing five very expensive paintings from the known mobster named Arturo Taccone. Taccone will kill Kat's father if the paintings aren't returned to in him in 12 days! The plot thickens as more of Kat's relatives and friends are brought into the heist to find out who stole the paintings and how they are going to be able to manage to steal them back!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Lauren Oliver is probably best known for her first novel entitled Before I Fall. Her second title Delirium can best be described as a dystopian romance.
"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure." . . ."Things weren't always as good as they are now. In school we learned that in the old days, people didn't realize how deadly a disease love was. For a long time they even viewed it as a good thing, something to be celebrated and pursued." Everything in this futuristic society set in Portland, Maine is dictated by the Book of Shh. . .The Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook.
Lena, short for Magdalena, is coming of the age where she will be cured. Everyone will know she has been cured by looking at the distinctive scar left on the neck from the procedure. As Lena and her best friend Hana, approach their evaluations and the dates for their procedures, they begin to realize perhaps the government is lying to them. Maybe the border and fencing around Portland is designed to keep them confined rather than to keep out the Invalids (those who haven't been cured). Perhaps the procedure prevents them for feeling any real feelings at all. Perhaps Lena's whole life has been a lie.

The Things a Brother Knows

Imagine that you have an older brother who you have always idolized. He shocks everyone when he decides to join the marines upon graduation from high school rather than attending any of the four ivy league colleges which have accepted him. He  maintains contact through letters and phone calls at first, but his communication falls off as his tour of duty progresses. Even when he has leaves, he decides not to come home. Then imagine his tour ends and he does come home, but he is not the same. He doesn't leave his room for three days. He sleeps around the clock. When he does emerge, he eats and then quickly seeks the sanctuary of his room. You know something terrible is wrong. You know that he needs help but your folks say things like, "Just give him time. He's been through a lot. It will take awhile for him to readjust."
You snoop in his room to find out what he is up to and you find maps printed out. He is planning a trip--that much is obvious. But where he is going is anyone's guess. This is the situation that Levi finds himself in when his brother Boaz returns from Iraq a changed person. Levi relies heavily on his best friends, Zim and Pearl.
This novel really affected me. I couldn't put it down. I kept wondering if Levi would be able to penetrate the protective barrier that Boaz had erected. Was there any hope that Levi would get back the brother he once idolized? Read The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I have always been curious of what leads a person to be a bystander in a bullying situation. I wondered if it was fear that motivated them, i.e. the fear that they might be the next victim of the bully. Is it feelings of inadequacy? So I was very interested to read James Preller's new novel entitled Bystander.The protagonist in this story is Eric. He has just moved into a new town on Long Island. He meets Griffin early on and realizes that he can't be trusted. Griffin is two-faced. He has the teachers thinking he is one type of kid when really he is the worst type of bully. Griffin's gang is formidable. No one challenges the way he treats others. His magnetic personality has many people fooled. Eric doesn't want to step into the middle of situations that he finds distasteful as he fears becoming Griffin's next victim. But isn't Eric's choice of nonconfrontation just the type of situation that fuels the worse in a bully? Read Bystander to find out what Eric decides to do.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

if i stay

Gayle Forman's if i stay novel really drew me in and kept my attention. If I had to classify the type of novel this is, I would say "supernatural." The story is set in Oregon on the day of a two-inch snowfall. Since the county where Mia and her family live has only one snow plow, school is cancelled for the day.

So Mia and her much younger brother Teddy and her parents decide to plan a special day eventually ending up at her Grandparents house of dinner. Since the snow melts quickly, they venture out on the road. "As usual, there is a battle for stereo dominance." They decide to listen to the news first followed by classical music. Since Mia is a cellist, she is delighted to hear the first few bars of Beethoven's Cello Sonata no. 3 playing when suddenly their car is rammed  by a four-ton pickup truck going sixty miles an hour.
Mia can still hear the radio--strange, however, since the car is entirely cut in half. She can see  that her parents have been killed immediately. She strives to find the other half of the car to see if Teddy needs help. When she looks down, she sees herself in the car. But how can this be when she is standing over the wreckage? Is she alive? Is this what it feels like to be dead?
When emergency vehicles arrive and start to work on her, she realizes that she must still be alive.
Read this intriguing story to find out what happens to Mia.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Fallen by Lauren Kate is difficult to classify. So I am giving it the classification of "supernatural."

Lucinda has been sent to a reform school after a boy she was friendly with dies mysteriously in a fire. All the other students at the reform school have had equally horrendous pasts.

When Luce meets Daniel, she is strongly drawn to him. Yet each time she tries to connect, Daniel pulls further away as if he hates her. There is something so distinctly familiar about Daniel that is almost like she has always known him.

Indeed their lives (or past lives) have crossed many, many times!

How is it that Luce survived the fire that killed her friend when he did not? Could it be that someone is watching over her?

Fans will also enjoy the second book in this series entitled
Torment. Watch this book trailer to learn more about this supernatural delight:
Listen to the author discuss her book:

The Running Dream

WOW! I loved this book!
Jessica has just run her best time in the 400 meter track and field event. She's a junior considering how this will likely positively affect her chances for a scholarship for college. But on the bus ride home from the event, an uninsured driver plows into the school bus killing one of the students, Lucy, and severely injuring Jessica--crushing her foot and the lower part of her leg.
Written in concise short chapters, this book is so accessible.
There are many levels to this story: How Jessica comes to
terms with the loss of her lower leg, how her mental and emotional state are affected by this life changing event, how her body has a hard time coming off of the strong pain medications, how her team mates rally to help her by raising monies for a special "running" prosthethic, how her parents respond to all the changes and their mounting bills, how her best friend is her pillar of support, and how a girl with cerebral palsy has a profound effect on Jessica
and her full recovery.
Watch this YouTube video showcasing the author, Wendelin Van
Draanen, and how she was moved to write this novel after having participated in the New York Marathon and seeing all the those with physical disabilities
overcome incredible odds.