Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

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!