Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children

What an unusual book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is! This intriguing mystery is also a novel about paranormal experiences! I loved it!  It is written by Ransom Riggs and is his first novel.

The protagonist is Jacob Portman. He is the grandson of Abe Portman. Abe was part of the kinder transport of Jewish children by their parents from Poland to protect them from the Nazis. Abe was evacuated to a mysterious island off the coast of Wales.

Jacob has grown up with stories from his grandfather. These stories are told to Jacob by using  accompanying photographs from the period to tell these wild tales. Nearly all of the photos reveal something very peculiar about the children in the photographs such as the cover photo on the novel that shows a young girl levitating several inches off the ground. As Jacob grows older, he believes his grandfather has really lied to him and fabricated most of the stories.
When Jacob’s now elderly grandfather is viciously murdered in Florida, Jacob sees the creature who committed this horrendous crime. His dying grandfather’s last words send Jacob on a quest to solve the mystery of what really happened at the orphanage during World War II.

Mature readers will especially find this title to their liking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dust & Decay

The sequel to Rot & Ruin—Dust & Destroy-- is finally out!  Rot & Ruin ended with Tom & Benny and Nix all intrigued with having seen a jet fly over them. This is unheard in the fourteen years since First Night occurred which released the virus which has turned society as we know it into a much different place.
Seasoned bounty hunter and older brother Tom Imura has worked tirelessly to train Benny, Nix, & Chong so that they will be warrior smart. He knows that they aren’t quite prepared to survive in the Rot & Ruin, but events in their town have propelled them to start on their journey east towards Yosemite sooner than expected.
Tom has sent supplies head of them. What Tom doesn’t know is that someone has intercepted the supplies. He also doesn’t know that a new Gameland has been created after he burned the previous one to the ground and freed all the children being held captive.
Lilah, the Lost Girl, is also traveling with them. She has survived in the Rot & Ruin for years on her own. When Chong panics and takes off on his own, Tom leaves the others to find him.
The forces of evil have regrouped with a new leader. Could it possibly be that Charlie Pink-Eye survived? Is he the one leading them? Or has someone else surfaced?

Read Dust & Destroy to find out whether Charlie Pink-Eye did somehow miraculously survive his death. What is the New Eden that Preacher Jack wants to institute? Fans of the first book will not be let down with this sequel.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stuck on Earth

David Klass has written a very funny book! Stuck on Earth had me laughing outloud! Imagine if you were an alien from the planet Sandovin. Imagine that you had to figure out whether the human race on earth was worth saving or whether the Gagnerian Death Ray should be used to erase the human species for good. How would you decide to go about it? 
David Klass creates the character of Ketchvar III. Ketchvar looks like a common snail. But he is much more than that! He is the alien sent to determine whether the human beings on earth should be spared. Ketchvar decides to crawl into the brain of a normal teenager. He decides to use the nose of Tom Filber to slide into and thus enter his brain where he obviously can experience everything that Tom does. What could be better than to become a part of a normal fourteen year old who is in good health with above average intelligence?

What Ketchvar doesn’t realize is that Tom Filber is not your normal teen. Rather he is awkward and not liked by his peers. Ketchvar witnesses Tom’s life—the dysfunctional family members, the school buddies, the beautiful next-door neighbor. The more Ketchvar begins to see life on earth through Tom’s eyes, the more difficult time he has in knowing whether Homo sapiens are really worth saving.
I imagine any teenager would love this hilariously funny book! Read it and see for yourself.

After Ever After

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick is a sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie which tells the story of Jeffrey’s older brother, whose own eighth grade year will be remembered as the year his little brother got cancer. Now that the little brother, Jeffrey Alper, is in 8th grade himself, and now that Jeffrey has passed the five year remission mark, he’s free to live the life of a normal kid. Or at least that is what most people would think.

The “after ever after” part of Jeffrey’s life includes a number of attention and learning challenges as a result of the treatments he received. He has always depended upon his older brother. This year is different. Jeffrey’s older brother is not around to help him cope. He is off in Africa learning how to listen to his own drum; literally, he is studying drumming. Jeffrey’s best friend, also a childhood cancer survivor, will face challenges of his own. A beautiful new girl in his school provides added excitement and distraction. Eighth grade is certainly going to be interesting!
This realistic fiction book is just that--realistic. It does provoke emotions in the reader. (Note: You do not have to have read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie to thoroughly enjoy this book.)

Three Rivers Rising

Written in verse form, Three Rivers Rising, a novel of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889 has multiple narrators that tell the story of that tragic day which took so many lives.
One narrator is Celestia. She is 16 and along with her mama and papa and older sister Estrella vacation at an elite resort in the Alleghany Mountains. The resort sits on Lake Conemaugh –a reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Three rivers—South Fork Creek, Little Conemaugh River, and Stony Creek converge at the town of Johnstown in the valley below the resort.

A second narrator, Peter, lives with his father, a coal miner in Johnstown. When he takes a job at the elite resort, he meets Celestia and is immediately attracted to her.

A third narrator, Kate, is a girl determined to become a nurse.

A final narrator is Maura. She is the mother of four children all under the age of four years old. Her husband drives the locomotive which runs through the valley where the three rivers flow.
As their stories unfold over the course of several months, you are pulled into their time and history. You can witness the flood. You will feel what it must have been like on that fateful day when the dam gave way!

Ninth Ward

What must it have been like to survive Hurricane Katrina in one of the poorest areas in New Orleans—the Ninth Ward? Read this excellently written fictionalize account which tries to help all of us who wondered why more people didn’t heed the warnings to evacuate when there was still time to escape Hurricane Katrina’s wrath.
Lanesha is twelve and living with her Mama Ya-Ya. Mama is in her 80’s but has always loved and cared for Lanesha since her birth. Lanesha’s mother died in childbirth with Mama Ya-Ya as her midwife. Mama has so much wisdom and knowledge which she has managed to impart to Lanesha through her twelve years.

Mama Ya-Ya can also sense things that others can’t.  She tells Lanesha after the brunt of the hurricane is over that the worst is yet to come. She has some type of foresight that allows her to know the future. What the worst of the storm is Lanesha has no way of knowing until it is upon them!

Read this excellent, brief, historical fiction novel  written by Jewell Parker Rhodes to feel the terror and uncertainty that all those who survived Katrina must have felt.

Crossing Stones

What a delightful piece of historical fiction Crossing Stones by Helen Frost is! Written in verse form and told from the perspectives of four teenagers in 1917, I was immediately drawn into their lives and decisions.

Emma and Frank Norman are neighbors to Muriel and Ollie Jorgenson. Both farm families live on land separated by a brook. Cleverly placed stones in the brook allow the families a convenient route to each other’s homes by avoiding a much longer route by land.  The title of the book Crossing Stones comes from the stepping stones placed across the brook.

Muriel is plucky—outspoken in her beliefs about the President, Woodrow Wilson, and the war (World War I) in Europe. She longs to make her mark in the world. Emma, however, is more content with her life and longs for a more normal life as a married woman with children.

When Frank, Emma’s brother, goes off to war, both families worry terribly about his fate. Ollie, though underage to serve in World War I, sneaks away to enlist and follow in Frank’s footsteps. Muriel’s Aunt Vera is involved in the movement to allow women the right to vote.
Will Ollie and Frank return home from the war? Will plucky Muriel follow in her bold aunt’s footsteps and join her in the Suffragist Movement?  Read this great historical fiction piece to see what life was like in 1917. Watch the second author on this YouTube video to see Helen Frost discussing her book.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Box Out

Basketball enthusiasts will surely enjoy John Coy’s novel entitled Box Out.

Imagine being a sophomore in high school and being moved up to play on the varsity basketball team due to a team mate’s injury. Six-foot-tall Liam Bergstrom has the height to garner rebounds like the senior player he has replaced. What Liam doesn’t have is the experience to play at this level. He must learn techniques from the varsity coach—Coach Kloss.
Prime for Liam to learn is the technique called box out—“to position your body between an opposing player and the basket in order to get a rebound.”

When Darius Buckner, another sophomore and defensive star player quits the varsity team after Liam’s first varsity game, Liam takes notice. Darius is probably the best aggressive player on the team. Without him, will the team make the playoffs?
Another dilemma catches Liam off guard. Unlike his junior varsity coach, Coach Kloss insists on praying before the start of teach game. In fact, players are called upon to lead the prayers. When Liam realizes that not everyone on the team is comfortable with the Christian nature of the prayers, he begins to question whether the coach is violating separation of church and state.

To add to Liam’s stress of trying to play catch-up on the varsity team and being conflicted about the coach’s methods, Liam’s girlfriend MacKenzie is on a student exchange program in France for the semester.
Will Liam stay on the team? Will they advance to the playoffs? Will his coach keep his job? Will MacKenzie stay committed to Liam? Read this play-by-play basketball novel to find out.


Kathy Reich’s new novel entitled Vivals is the first book in her new series for young adults. As Kathy has done with the popular BONES television show, she uses forensic science with the solving of a mystery.
The setting is South Carolina near Charleston. Tory Brennan has just been reunited with her father, a scientist, after the sudden death of her mother in a car accident. Since Tory’s dad never even knew about Tory’s existence until her mom’s death, it is easy to imagine how strained their relationship proves to be when Tory is thrust upon him at the age of 14.
Tory and Kit (her father) live on Morris Island while her dad works on Loggerhead Island where it appears a mysterious, secretive experiment is occurring.
Tory forms a friendship with three boys—Ben, Hi and Shelton. In one of their adventures, Tory is pelted in the head by something thrown by a monkey. The monkey’s “bullet” is mud caked with a dog-tag from the armed service stuck inside the mud.
The four kids set about deciphering the name on the heavily corroded metal name tag. Since Tory is really into science, she spurs the group to enter a locked area on Loggerhead Island to use the science and lab equipment which will help them identify the identity of the service person. Little does the group of four realize that they will inadvertently come upon a secret lab where experiments with a wolf-dog are being conducted! When Tory takes pity on the caged pup and decides the group needs to free the pup that is when the real action begins in this adventure/mystery.

Readers who aren’t daunted by a long book, who enjoy mysteries and stories packed with adventure and intrigue will certainly find enjoyment in this first book of the new series by Kathy Reich.

Addie on the Inside

I hope every seventh grade girl has the chance to read Addie on the Inside by James Howe. Why? It is a fast read—written in free verse, but it touches on all the emotions and feelings most seventh grade girls feel.

Tall for her age and smart, Addie is, however, outspoken. She does have a tendency to alienate some of the more socially conscious students in her classes. Not fully developed in her body, Addie has insecurities the same as most teenage girls’ experience.

The author of Addie on the Inside, James Howe, clearly understands the angst that defines being a teen. His message is spot on for all girls—don’t let others define who you are. Although this is a companion book to The Misfits & Totally Joe, a reader does not have to have read the others to thoroughly enjoy this read.