Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Ghost of Flight 401 by John G. Fuller

I ordered The Ghost of Flight 401 after students requested the title. They had read a very intriguing part of this story in reading class and wanted to have the full story of the event.

John G. Fuller is an author of nonfiction titles. He usually investigates heady subjects such as nuclear disasters. One of his nonfiction titles is entitled: Fever: The Hunt for a New Killer Virus.  So he was very skeptical about the story he had heard regarding apparitions of a pilot and flight engineer who had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly when the Eastern Airlines Lockheed Tristar  L-1011 they were piloting crashed in the Florida Everglades near Miami airport. Of the 176 people aboard, 75 survived the horrific crash.
Although this book is written for an adult audience, interested young adult readers can certainly understand it and benefit from the detailed research that John Fuller conducted in order to understand the strange sightings stewardesses and other pilots were having of the pilot—Bob Loft--and the flight engineer—Don Repo--after the crash on other airlines.

I really liked this book! It made me think about the possibility to life after death in a new way. I found the thorough way in which the author told the story to be most compelling.
Students who are mature readers and are open to new ways of thinking about ghosts will enjoy this title.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Chingis and his younger brother Nergui appear one day in the classroom of Mrs. Spendlove in the town of Bootle, England. They aren’t from around Bootle or nearby Liverpool. Rather they are from Mongolia.

No one knows what to make of either of the brothers. Chingis insists on keeping his much younger brother with him in the 6th grade class to “protect him from the demon.” This is so strange sounding to the other students and the teacher that no one can understand it.

Julie is just a normal English student wishing a boy named Shocky would take notice of her and longing to be invited to her friend Mimi’s house after school. She is inquisitive enough to do research about Mongolia so she can better understand these odd cultural differences apparent by the brothers.

Chingis, however, has other demands of Julie. He takes her photo and writes below it these words: Good Guide. Since Mongols are nomads, the brothers will need a guide to help them learn the ways of the school and sports, etc. They have chosen Julie!
Julie rises to the occasion, but her new position causes her to question everything about these strange brothers.

This is an absolutely delightful, quick read. The story is written in a very endearing manner.
Students who like this title will also enjoy reading Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Easy Day by Mark Owen

Mark Owen is not the real name of this author.  Rather it is a pseudonym for the real Navy SEAL who participated in the mission to take out Osama Bin Laden.  He was tired of politicians and the media hijacking this story as their own.  He wanted the story told as it really went down.

The story follows Navy SEAL Team Six as they train and prepare for their most important mission to date.  When called upon for this mission, it is amazing how quickly they moved from Newport News, VA to the US base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and then on to Abbotabad, Pakistan.
Their mission concludes with the night raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, the troubles developed with a malfunctioning helicopter and the eventual success of this dangerous mission. 

This is a true, highly accessible account of the hunt for the world’s number one terrorist and mastermind behind the attacks on the United States of America. Although it is marketed as an adult book, I feel it is accessible to a YA audience.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Warrior's Heart by Eric Greitens

Navy seal, Eric Greitens, poses moral dilemmas at the end of each chapter.  Each chapter ends with the question: "What would you do?"
After graduating from Duke University and attending Oxford University in England on a Rhodes Scholarship, Greitens travels to Zaire, China, Croatia, and Bolivia to help impoverished children. He found the most touching and most needy of the children in Bolivia.
After completing these travels and doing the valuable work in these countries, Eric Greitens enters training to become a navy seal--basic underwater demoltion/SEAL (BUD/S) in San Diego, California. The second half of his book deals with this aspect of his life.
This book was inspiring. Students who like to read about military life, humanitarian efforts to help impoverished children, or the courage it takes to be the best of the best will enjoy this title.
Below is the author discussing another of his books entitled The Heart and the Fist.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers


Warning- although this book, The Yellow Birds, was marketed as being suitable for a YA audience, I feel a warning about graphic language and graphic war-time injuries are necessary.

The book begins with Private Bartle’s transition to his life in Richmond, Virginia after his return from the Iraq war. The story is eventually told how Private Bartle promises Murphy’s mother that he will look out for 18-year-old Murph in Iraq. 

Toward the end of the book, Murph’s bizarre behavior under the stress and trials of war lead to his capture.  Private Bartle agonizes over the consequences of the capture and the whereabouts of his friend.

Mature readers who like to read about what it is really like in war time will enjoy this title.

True Legend by Mike Lupica

Drew Robinson is a gifted basketball player.  His mom moved Drew and herself from New York City to California.  She has a new job working for Seth Gilbert who has assured Drew’s mom that he knows Drew better than Drew knows Drew.   A junior in high school, Drew is only too willing to be controlled by this super wealthy man with connections in all the high places.
When Drew meets a “ghost” player in a local park basketball court, he begins to question a lot of things.  Who is this older ace basketball player? What is his personal story? Why do this man’s questions make Drew rethink his work on the team, his interest in a girl basketball player, his friendship with Lee, his best friend and point guard on the Oakey team, and his relationship with Seth Gilbert?  Can Drew be satisfied if someone else is calling all the shots for his future?
If you like sports fiction and are a fan of Mike Lupica’s writing, this title will be sure to please.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Kayla is missing!  She left Pete’s Pizza with three pizza pies on a delivery and hasn’t been seen since.  When her car is found abandoned with her purse in it, the police believe she knew her abductor as there was no disturbance at the scene.  Later they find a bloodied rock near the river.  The river is at flood stage with snow melt.  Since Kayla’s body hasn’t been found, police believe she was murdered and thrown into the raging river.

Her work mates at Pete's Pizza, Drew and Gabie, are drawn into the mystery of what has happened to Kayla.  Drew received the phone message of the male voice who ordered the pizza delivery.  He just can’t identify who it is or from where he knows this man. Gabie was supposed to be working that and was likely the intended victim.

When the police run through their leads and still can’t find Kayla, they presume she is dead. Gabie and Drew attend her funeral along with loads of other school friends and her family. Gabie still feels strongly Kayla is alive, but where?

April Henry has written a fast paced easy to read mystery which will pull readers in and not release them until the crime is solved. Read The Night She Disappeared. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

I was very interested to read this nonfiction book because I have vivid memories of John F. Kennedy and his young family.  I was in 7th grade when our country held its breath as the Cuban Missile Crisis played out.  We were so close to a nuclear holocaust which would have annihilated the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States.  I was in ninth grade when it was announced in school that President Kennedy had been shot by a gunman and killed in Dallas, Texas.  We were dismissed from school.  I cried all the way on my walk home.  The entire country mourned the death of our beloved president for the next four days.

This book was well researched – relying heavily on primary source documents.  It is written in a highly readable manner.  Although it is written for an adult audience, it is accessible by determined young adult readers.  Be warned that some of the personal issues about the President are for a more mature reader.

To listen to a later chapter from this book, click on the link.

The excerpt is from the audiobook read by Bill O'Reilly:


You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

I am always amazed to read a book written by a man whose narrator is a fourteen year old girl.  I was delighted by Stewart Lewis’s new book where Moon, also known affectionately as Luna and Moon River, tells the tale of finding her deceased mother’s cell phone a year after her untimely death.

Amazingly her cell phone still contains the last seven voice messages her mother received before she was killed tragically by a taxi in Manhattan’s East Village.
Moon’s father is a well-known film director.  Her mother  had been a fashion model totally committed to Moon and her much younger brother Tile.  Imagine Moon’s shock when her father arrives at her summer camp and delivers the news, “Your mother is gone and she’s never coming back.”

 As Moon begins to piece together parts of her mother’ s private life from the messages she received shortly before her death, the image she has had of her beloved mom begins to waiver.  Will her world crumble as she learns more?  Read this realistic fiction novel to find out!


Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough

Jerome Hancock and Heidi Devine are pictured on the front cover.  Jerome was killed quite by accident when his cousin Mike completely missed his mark and accidentally shot an arrow into Jerome’s head.

Jerome has been assigned as part of an angel rehabilitation program to Heidi Devine as her guardian angel.  Poor Jerome--he completely misunderstands his duties! He constantly talks to Heidi.  There is a commandment for guardian angels to never talk directly to the people they are entrusted with protecting. She has been hearing Jerome’s voice in her head for years.  Poor Heidi!  She thinks perhaps she is crazy!
When Heidi drowns trying to rescue her dog on a lake with thin ice, Jerome over reacts  in trying to save her.  He pulls her soul from her body.  Their two souls wander.  Heidi actually helps Jerome to understand what he has done completely wrong in being a guardian angel in his inability to follow the Ten Commandments for the Dead.

Is there any hope for Jerome or will he end up in one of the nine levels of hell?  Will he be able to save Heidi before her soul is lost forever?  Read Devine Intervention  to find out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

What could go wrong on an ordinary trip to the mall? There are always lots of stores, shopping, food courts, meeting friends, avoiding enemies, and trying to stay clear of your family when your friends are around, right?

No one would think of a bomb being planted at a mall, right? What if it was a different kind of bomb? What if it contained a biological weapon. . .something that could make everyone in the mall VERY ill. .  . . .maybe even kill people?

What if the Senator who is visiting the mall with her husband and daughter Lexi, makes the wrong decision in the early minutes of the "attack"?

Read this book to find out how four different students suffer through the ordeal.

Son by Lois Lowry

It's been nearly 20 years since Lois Lowry's The Giver left its mark on a generation of readers. If you have read The Giver, you've been left wondering what became of Jonas. As readers remember, Jonas's assignment was passed over as all the other year twelve children received theirs. It wasn't until later that he was told he would be the society's next receiver of memory. But The Giver leaves the reader hanging. Son reconnects us with Jonas and the child who was left in his care--Gabriel.

Son begins with the story of Claire. At her year twelve celebration, she is given the role of birthmother. Claire knew her poor ability at school had contributed to this less than desirable position in the society. Along with the other newly deemed birthmothers, she will be a vessel for the community. Her product (her son) will be taken from her and raised in the nurturing center until his first year when he will be given to the couple who will raise him.

Claire's body isn't really designed for childbirth so after her son is born and assigned the number 36, she is classified as defective as a birthmother and reassigned to the fish hatchery.

Somehow during this change, Claire was never told to take the pills that all others must take. Since she doesn't take them, she can feel emotions that others can't. Her emotional tie to her son is very strong and she finds ways to watch him in the nurturing center. There she finds he isn't able to sleep well. When he turns one, he isn't assigned parents. Rather, a nurturer takes him home in the evenings to play with his son and daughter. The nurturer's son just happens to be Jonas!

Read this final book in The Giver series to see what happens!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stolen by Lucy Christoper

From the very first sentence of Stolen  I was drawn into this intense novel about the kidnapping of  Gemma, the narrator of the story. 

                You saw me before I saw you.  In the airport, that day in August, you had that look in your eyes, as though you wanted something from ,me, as though you wanted it for a long time.  No one had ever looked at me like that before, with that kind of intensity.  It unsettled me, surprised me, I guess.  Those blue, blue eyes, icy blue, looking back at me as if I could warm them up.  They’re pretty powerful, you know, those eyes, pretty beautiful, too.”

 When Gemma allows Ty to purchase her cup of coffee, she can’t anticipate that he is about to drug her and kidnap her.  Ty has planned this attack on her.  There are disguises for them both hidden in another part of the airport.  Security cameras at the airport will never be able to find how she has suddenly disappeared.
Where will he take her? What are his motives? Does he seek a ransom” No, his motives are much darker than wanting money from her parents.

Read this captivating account of Gemma’s ordeal.
Recommended for mature readers.  Some incidents of strong language in this novel.  Stolen  is a Printz Honor Book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Highly creative plot!  Excellent writing!

Waking up every day is a strange adventure for A.  He has only known a life like this.  He occupies a different person’s body for one day only.  At midnight, he transplants into another person’s body.
All the people whose bodies he resides in are students his own age – but not necessarily his same gender.  By accessing the memory of the person, he is able to function in their family, their school, their sport. Of course it does get tricky at times. Sometimes the family speaks a different language!

A’s life goes on in this perilous manner until he meets the love of his life – Rhiannon.  A’s need to see her again and again complicates everything!
“Every day a different body.
Every day a different life,
Every day in love with the same girl.”

Read this well written supernatural romance!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I loved this story!!! Auggie (August) Pullman will be attending school for the first time in his troubled life as a fifth grader at Beecher Prep.  Auggie has had twenty-seven surgeries to help correct abnormalities to his face with which he was born.  Until the age of ten, he has been home schooled by his mother.

Auggie’s principal arranges to have fellow students meet him before the start of the school year to show him around his new school.  Auggie is a very sensitive kid.  He sees the students’ shocked reaction to his face.  He is not sure if he can make it at school.
Two kids emerge as his friend--Summer and Jack.  One boy, however, clearly makes his life so miserable he wants to never return to school.  Julian is one nasty 5th grader!

The joy in this book is Auggie’s relationship with his very loving and caring parents, his precious dog daisy, and his older sister Olivia (Via).  The emotional growth he experiences through facing the very difficult struggle which is his life is the measure of courage.

The Roar by Emma Clayton

Science fiction at its most imaginative!  Emma Clayton’s first book, The Roar is set in the far distant future after an animal plague where it was necessary to kill off all animals and vegetation on the poisoned earth and retain the population behind The Wall.  England is vastly different from the England we know today.  There are foul areas which are overpopulated.  Food is being totally engineered and is not anything like we enjoy.

Twelve year old Mika and his mum and dad- -Asha and David-- live in a fold-down cramped apartment.  His twin sister Ellie is presumed dead.  Mika senses she is still alive but being held captive for some evil purpose.  When all twelve-year olds are forced to drink Fit and Mix at school and forced to participate in Fit For Life, Mika knows there is an evil purpose behind this new campaign.  When an arcade tournament is held with fabulous prizes promised to the winners and a chance to escape the deplorable living conditions promised to their families, Mika see his chance at perhaps finding his twin Ellie become a possibility.
All the elements of good science fiction are here.  Animal bots, pod fighters, evil characters such as Mal Gorman, the roar of thousands of repressed peoples rising against their oppressors…..


The Whisper by Emma Clayton

The sequel to The Roar by Emma Clayton gets its title from the underground children’s movement to avoid war yet free all the people behind the Wall who have suffered severe deprivation for years.

Twins Mika and Ellie’s combine strength when they unite to fight government’s plans (The Northern Government) to bring some type of peace between the World Conservation Club and their own pitiful society.

Genghi borgs, Berserker borgs, replicating cubes, form formidable defenses at The Wall.  Will the thousands of twelve-year-old children trained to fight by their Northern Government really bring about a peaceful world?

Read The Whisper to see if they succeed!

The Rise of Nine by Pittace Lore

Book three in the popular series I am Number Four will absolutely delight science fiction fans! When numbers Six, Eight, & Ten join together, their mission to unite with the other surviving members in order to kill Setr├íkus Ra becomes all consuming.  Number Four unites with Number Nine.

The most evil of the Mogadorians, their leader Setr├íkus Ra, appears once again!  His transformational abilities make him nearly impossible to kill.  Readers will be shocked at the different personalities he transforms into! How devious he is!
My favorite, Bernie Kosar, serves John (Number Four) in a stellar manner.  He is the ultimate chimera.

This author is highly creative in his story telling.

Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

I’ve been to Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. and I’ve stood in the Presidential box where Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and President Abraham Lincoln sat watching the comedy Our American Cousin with Mayor Rathborn and his finance’ Clara Harris.  It is chilling to read the account of what fateful event took place in that theater.

Lincoln’s Last Days is an excellent, highly accessible account of the events leading to the end of the bitterly fought Civil War, the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln, and the chasing of the assassins.  Filled with archival photos, lithographs, maps and artifacts from the period, the story unfolds in a highly readable text.
Most chilling to me was the reading about the brutal attack on Secretary of State William Seward and his family in their home known as the Old Club in Washington, D.C.  by co-conspirator Lewis Powell. Lincoln’s assassination took place in the Presidential theater booth. Even after Wilkes’s attack on the President, the formidable strength of Lincoln’s physical body was remarkable considering the grave, mortal wounds to his head.

 Students will be fascinated by this nonfiction book!

Girl Stolen, by April Henry

Cheyenne has already survived some horrendous life experiences.  When she was thirteen, her mother was literally ripped from her life when a driver hit her, her dog and her mom as they were walking alongside a road.  Cheyenne lost her sight as a result of the trauma she endured; her mother and her dog were killed outright.  She has finally recovered from her injuries and has begun to embrace life fully when the car in which she is waiting is stolen with her inside it!

The car thief has no idea the car he’s stolen has a blind girl just diagnosed with pneumonia in the rear seat.  Griffin’s father Roy is a professional criminal.  He and his other two workers TJ and Jimbo are into stripping cars and selling them for parts.  This is known as running a Chop-Shop.
When Griffin’s father Roy discovers Cheyenne is the daughter of the owner of Nike, he sets his sights on a five million dollar ransom.  Imagine Cheyenne’s fright at being kidnapped by these thieves!  Will she survive?  Will they really let her live if she can identify them by their voices or their location?

Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen

This highly humorous book is considered realistic fiction because it could happen! 

Kevin, 14, lives with his brother Daniel, 15, and his older sister, Sarah, 16.  Their mother works a lot of hours and their father travels extensively for business and is never home.

Kevin is highly ‘inventive’ in his response to teachers, parents, siblings, and even his fellow classmates.  Another word for inventive could be liar or master manipulator.

Kevin is paired with Katie for a class project.  He can’t stand the idea of spending a week working with her.  His whopper of a lie involves medical problems.  Then Kevin instantly falls in love with Tina.  The lies keep coming from Kevin.  He’s trying to make room in his school day to be with Tina.
Will he ruin his chance with Tina?  Will his parents ever trust him?  Will his friends ever believe him again? Will his lies lead to failing grades? 

Read Liar, Liar to find out!

Crush by Gary Paulsen

Fourteen year old Kevin Spencer is on a mission.  He wants to find out how to meet and make friends with girls- especially one particular girl--Tina Zabinski.  This companion novel to Liar, Liar  and Flat Broke  has a humorous spin.  Its subtitle is The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love.

Kevin decides to conduct scientific experiments to analyze how other couples behave.  In true Kevin style, he manages to botch the best of intentions!
Read about Kevin’s attempt to create the perfect date for his parents.  Will his attempt to get a blind date set up with Gooper and the former homecoming queen be a bust?  Will he succeed in getting six hockey players to match up with six girl figure skaters?  But lastly and most importantly to Kevin, will he dare to speak to Tina?

A Soldier’s Secret: the incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Marr

Sarah Edmond’s father is an abusive, bullying husband and father.  After years of enduring watching her mother and her brother being physically abused by him, Sarah is quick to learn she needs to stay clear of him, especially when she sees that he has been drinking.  When the horse named Trig which Sara has broken and cares for is sold without her permission, Sarah is heartbroken.  When she is told two years later at the age of 16 that she has been sold into marriage to the old man who bought her beloved horse, she decides to run away and assume the identity of Frank Thompson.  As a man, Sarah will have more control over her life.  Surprisingly, she is able to pass as a young male once she chops off her long hair and trades her confining women’s clothing for a pair of trousers and a man’s shirt.

When the Civil War starts, Sarah has escaped from Canada into Michigan and decides to enlist.  Will she be able to pass herself off as a male soldier? Will she be able to live among a company of men without being caught?  Does she have the stamina to withstand the horrors of war? To actually kill the enemy?

Read this excellent, well researched, fictional account of this female heroine of the Civil War.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dan Gutman’s historical fiction novel entitled Ted & Me is a highly entertaining addition to his Baseball Card Adventure Series! Joey Stoshack (Stosh) has an unusual ability. He can travel through time. How does he complete this feat? He simply has to touch a baseball card and he is transported back in time to that era.

In Ted & Me FBI Agent Pluto contacts Joey’s mom. The FBI has a mission for Joey to fulfill. They want him to go back in time to September of 1941 to meet Ted Williams. Ted will have just completed the best batting average in the history of baseball. They want Stosh to convince Ted to visit President Roosevelt to warn him about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor which will take place on December 7, 1941.

When Agent Pluto gives Ted the wrong baseball card from 1953, Stosh is thrown back in time to Ted William’s stint in the marines in Korea. Luckily Stosh survives the plane crash and is able to get back to his time period where Agent Pluto can give him the correct card.

Historical fiction at its best! Enjoy Ted & Me!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Birmingham, Alabama May 1963. We’ve Got a Job tells the powerful story of the Birmingham Children’s March through the eyes of four of its participants—Audrey Hendricks, Washington Booker III, James Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter.

Archival photographs are interspersed with the story of what took place in 1963. It was hot, hot, hot! Segregation was enforced by a white policeman named Bull Connor. As commissioner of public safety, he oversaw the police and fire departments, public schools, libraries, and the health department. He was determined to keep blacks as second place citizens.
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked for the youth to march, they answered his call. The object was to fill the jails and overwhelm the system using a nonviolent approach. The jails were stifling hot—so crowded that there wasn’t room to sit. Some of the children remained in these deplorable conditions for over six days.

Read these personal accounts of what this turbulent time was like for those that survived it.

Vera and Will are very close as siblings. Will being the older of the two is protective of his sister. The future world in which they live exists after The Great War. Water has become the most valued possession—even more valuable than gold. Their mother is very ill—the consequence of having drunk the only water made available to them in the country of Illinowa.

Vera befriends a blonde, handsome young boy named Kai. Kai doesn’t attend school; instead, he lives a highly protected, secretive life. When Vera and Will discover the body of Kai’s chauffeur and bodyguard, they know Kai and his father have been kidnapped. Thus begins their quest to find Kai. By remembering conversations she’s had with Kai, Vera believes she knows where he has been taken.

Will the pirate gang led by the pirate king Ulysses help them or imprison them? Will Vera and Will ever see their deathly ill mother or father after everything goes horribly awry? Read The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher to find out!

on the line
Piper has a lot "on the line". Unlike most girls her age, Piper at age sixteen isn't interested in clothing or makeup or boys; rather, she has her heart set on winning the $25,000 grand prize for catching the biggest bonefish in the annual Bonefish Scramble Tournament on the island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

Piper and her best friend Benny have been scouting out the prime fishing spots for months and logging the coordinates into her GPS. She wants to have every advantage so that she can help her family by winning the $25,000.

Piper's dad owns a charter fishing service. Tourism has been off since an oil spill scared people away from the Keys and money has been tight for all the residents.

While crewing on her dad's charter fishing boat, Piper meets Logan. Being from Michigan, Logan and his dad Nick don't know much about saltwater fishing. Logan lands one of the largest bonefish they've ever caught! When Logan befriends Piper and Logan's dad Nick begins to pal around with Piper's dad, Piper wonders whether she can trust either of them? There is too much "on the line" to risk.

Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper's on the line has strongly defined, realistic characters, authentic dialogue, and an intriguing plot. The encounter with the bull shark is not to be missed!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Fans of Veronica Roth’s first title, Divergent will certainly enjoy its sequel Insurgent! I had been anxiously awaiting the release of this book to find out what becomes of Tris and Tobias.

Divergent ended on initiation day for Beatrice “Tris” Prior. Initiation Day should have been filled with celebration and jubilation; instead it was filled with overwhelming suffering and confusion. Tris witnessed her parents’ deaths, was forced to murder a beloved friend Will who was following commands to kill her and others, and watched her Dauntless friends betray everything she knew about them..

Insurgent continues with the end of initiation day. Tris and Tobias as well as Marcus, Tobias’s father and Caleb, Tris’s brother are making their way to Amity with the hopes of recovering from the horrors they have witnessed. Tris is filled with overwhelming grief. Her emotions are in free fall.

War looms as the factions face off over what has just happened. Who does one trust? Can Tris ever fully believe in Dauntless as she remembers how her fellow initiates just turned on her? Erudite seem to be the least trustworthy. Is anyone left from Abnegation? Will Candor rise to help battle the foes? What about the faction less? Who will lead them? Will they play a prominent role? Read this dystopian sequel to find out.

The Middle School, Get Me Out of Here

I haven’t read the first one in this series—Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life-- by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts. This title is the second one by the two authors and is entitled Middle School, Get Me Out of Here.

Rafe Khatchadorian thinks he has it made in seventh grade. Sixth grade was a horror for him; never had he been in so much trouble in his life as in sixth grade! Rafe's been accepted to art school. When his mother loses her job after the restaurant she works in has a fire, Rafe, his sister and mom move to the city to live with his grandmother.

Rafe’s new art school in the city is highly competitive. Rafe needs to find a way to turn his boring life around. “Operation: Get a Life!” is what Rafe thinks will do the trick to help inspire him in his art. In the same hilarious genre as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Patterson’s book is sure to bring an easy smile to many middle school boys. There are nearly 100 illustrations throughout the book!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Adu, My Grandfather Said, Climb a Tree and Look for the Light

El-Fadel Arbab was only twelve years old when his village in the western section of Sudan was invaded by the Janjaweed. Janjaweed means “devils on horseback”. These men were from the Sudanese military--their mission to target specific ethnic groups. El Fadel’s family and village was part of the Fur tribe, one of the groups targeted by the Janjaweed. More than 400 villages in southern Sudan were completely destroyed and millions of civilians were forced to flee their homes.

His family’s house was set on fire. He was the last of his family to escape their home, suffering multiple burns, and was left alone when his parents and siblings scattered as they fled the attack. El Fadel used the wisdom his grandfather had taught him. If you are ever in trouble, climb a tree and look for the light. By climbing and sleeping in a tree by day, and then walking by dark, El Fadel was able to escape.

His story is one of great courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

As you read his story, ask yourself the following questions: How would I have survived without my parents? How would I know whom to trust once I did reach a city or small village? How would I endure not knowing if any of my family made it out alive? How would I get food and water? Who would help me try to find my family if any of them were able to survive?

I was asked to write a book blurb for the back of this book before it went to publication. Here is my blurb:

“Sobering and beautifully written, the story of 12-year-old El-Fadel Arbab’s unlikely escape from Darfur is a compelling read. This book is this year’s most accessible story for young readers about the will to survive.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Lissa Price has created a unique plot in her new title Starters. Callie is 16 years old and now solely responsible for her younger, very sickly brother. Forced to evacuate their family home by authorities, Callie, her brother and her best friend roam from deserted building to deserted building in the hopes of escaping capture.

Their world has been turned topsy-turvy and upside down. Callie’s parents are both dead—killed as all middle aged people from a spore war. The government wrongly assumed that only the very young and the very old needed to receive inoculations to protect them. Surely the middle aged people would be able to survive! But the government was wrong.

The society now consists of the very old and the very young. When young ones have no surviving family member to care for them, they must find their own way in the world.

Callie becomes desperate for money to purchase medicine for her younger brother. She decides to visit Prime Destinations—a business that pays “Starters”—young people—to allow “Enders”—the very old-- to rent their physical bodies for short periods of time. The Enders want to ski and dance, party and enjoy life that their older bodies no longer give them the pleasure to do.

Is the implanting of the neurochip in the heads of Starters so Enders can use their bodies safe? Will Callie really be paid by Prime Destinations as they promise? Can anything go disastrously wrong when someone else controls your physical body? Could an Ender have you commit a crime? Read Lissa Price’s dystopian title to find out!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Under the Never Sky

Veronica Rossi’s first book in her trilogy is entitled Under the Never Sun. Some type of cataclysmic ecological disaster has occurred which has destroyed what was called the Unity. Groups exist in many different variations and locations. Some groups are highly civilized and technologically advanced whereas others are primitive—trying to eke out an existence from the parched earth.

Aria and her mother live in the Pod called Reverie. Everyone in the Reverie has a Smarteye connected to his/her left eye. The Smarteye functions much as our computers do today. Through the Smarteye Aria enters various virtual environments called Realms. Because the citizens of Reverie are so limited in their activities, they “travel” to these virtual areas and live vicariously through them.

Aria spends her days in this totally enclosed Pod safe from bad air that exists outside the Pod and safe from the savages who roam the wastelands. When her mother is sent to Bliss, another Pod, to help the people there, Aria and a group of her friends venture into a greenhouse area where one of her friends starts a fire. Fire is catastrophic to the Pod. Even though Aria didn’t start the fire, she is banished from the Pod.

How will she survive outside? She has been taught from a very young age that to breathe the air outside the Pod is sure to bring death.

In a culture clash of massive portions, Aria is thrown together with Perry (Peregrine). Perry hails from the Tides, part of the Wasteland. To Aria, Perry is a wild savage. To Perry, Aria is the worst type of Dweller—totally unable to survive on her own.

How will these two survive in each other’s company. How will they get shelter from the Aether storms, the violent electrical storms that burn everything? Read this dystopian title to find out.