Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

dissonance by Erica O'Rourke

Delancey (Del) and her family are Walkers.  In this multiverse where every choice made creates a parallel universe populated by Echoes of those in the Key World, the One True World from which that Multiverse sprang.  Regular people are the Originals. Walkers such as Del and her best friend Eliot can hear frequencies that others can’t. “To be a Walker requires obedience, diligence, and sacrifice.  The calling to Walk between worlds is both a gift and a burden.”
Del is in training as is Eliot.  Del’s grandfather Monty has always followed his own instincts rather than the highly prescribed path the Consort demands all Walkers to follow. 

The world of Walkers is such that they cannot reveal their existence and abilities to the Originals in the Key World.  Casual acquaintances or business interactions with Originals are tolerated, but strong attachments are forbidden.

When Delancey begins flirting with Simon, who is not a Walker, Eliot calls her on it.  Romantic relationships are frowned upon because the Consort wants to maintain the genetic line of Walkers.
But Del isn’t looking to marry Simon or so she thinks now.

Read this multiverse futuristic novel to find out if the Consort’s intentions can be trusted.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick

Malala dedicates this book as follows: “To those children all over the world who have no access to education, to those teachers who bravely continue teaching, and to anyone who has fought for their basic human rights and education.”

I was very fortunate to be the first one to read this powerful story of the youngest girl to win the Nobel Peace Prize. There are two versions of Malala’s autobiography. We own the Young Reader’s Edition.

Until October 2012 Malala and her family lived in the Swat Valley of Pakistan in a city called Mingora. Hers is a close-knit family. Malala is the oldest of three children with two younger brothers, Khushal and Atal. Her father is well respected in the community as he is a teacher and the founder of three schools. Malala’s mother is friendly with all the women in their community. Although she doesn’t read herself, she highly values education. From these strong family ties, Malala has an insatiable desire to learn.

Malala’s father founded a school for girls in Mingora where she attended and excelled to first in her class. Malala describes her life before the Taliban took control of her region as similar to most teens—friends at school, books and movies she adored, fights with her brothers, wanting to sleep in late in the mornings, etc. Tourists would travel to the Swat Valley due to its beauty—tall mountains, lush green hills, and crystal-clear waters. She loved living there and attending school.

All that changed when the earthquake (7.6 on the Richter scale) of 8 October 2005  devastated the mountain villages. The government of Pakistan was slow to arrive to help the victims, but rescue workers from a conservative religious group called Tehrik-e-nifaz-e-Sharia-eMohammadi (TNSM) or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law lead by Sufi Mohammad and his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah did. Mullahs from this group preached that the earthquake was a warning from God. If the people of Swat Valley did not change their ways it could happen again.

This is how terrorism arrived in Mingora. The group first endeared themselves to the people and then threatened them with severe punishment if they did not abide by sharia law. Women must never leave their houses unless accompanied by a male relative. All women must be fully covered with a burqa. People must stop listening to music, stop going to movies, stop dancing. “Radio Mullah” would broadcast this type of strict adherence to sharia law daily. Finally, “Radio Mullah” (Maulana Fazlullah) denounced schools for girls. All schools must be closed. This step was just too much for Malala and for her father. She bravely started speaking out.

On October 9, 2012, the Taliban made good on their threat to finally silence Malala. A gunman fired on her as she sat on her school bus (a truck with bench seats in it.

Everyone needs to read this autobiography to understand the courage of Malala’s family and the price they paid. Also, people need to be educated as to how terrorism takes hold in a community.

I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Fourteen year-old Tom Raines has led a rather unconventional life. His father Neil is a gambler who drifts from casino to casino in the hopes of winning enough to quit this life-style. Tom knows better. His mother has already deserted them. His dad’s drinking is clearly interfering with his judgment. The only one making any money is Tom- an ace at virtual reality gaming.

When Tom meets Heather in his virtual school- Rosewood Reformatory Sim- he can’t believe his good fortune. Heather invites Tom to a video chat the next day. She coyly says, “What network address will you be at tomorrow, Tom?” Little does Tom realize that Heather will share the network address with General Terry Marsh who has been trying to track down Tom to become part of the military.

World War III is being waged. Combatants control drones remotely. As General Marsh explains to Tom, “But the Russo-Chinese military went a step further and gave human beings active control over their combat machines. Strategists. Unconventional thinkers. Risk takers. Mavericks. Young ones because teenagers have certain attributes critical to this type of warfare. So now we too have young people on the front lines, young people playing a critical role in the war effort.”

Neil grudgingly signed the papers that allow Tom to travel with General Marsh to the Pentagonal Spire. But the general hasn’t been completely forthcoming. Neural processors are installed in all plebs (young military recruits). If Tom goes along with General Marsh’s plans, will he ever be the same? The chance is too great to take.

Tom begins to back away when suddenly Heather appears wearing the insignia of the intrasolar fighters.

What will Tom decide to do?  Will this be the biggest gamble of his life?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is a dear story. Animal lovers will especially like it. The animals in the story can talk to each other!

Ivan is a silverback gorilla living in the Big Top Mall off of Exit 18. Since he has been living there since he was a baby gorilla, he is used to captivity.

Stella, an aging elephant, also lives at the Big Top Mall. Her memory- being an elephant- is much better than Ivan’s. One of her feet is infected causing her a great deal of discomfort. She remembers life before cages.

Mack owns the animals as well as the mall. Times are hard. Money is scarce. The animals’ care is not the best as a result.

Mack discovers Ivan’s ability to “draw” objects. A money making idea occurs to him. Frame Ivan’s creations and sell them at the gift shop.

When Ruby- a baby elephant- is purchased by Mack to create more interest thus increasing profits, Stella knows how dire the situation is for Ruby. Her life will never be the same.

George, the custodian for the mall, and his daughter Julia prove to be “good” humans as the animals soon find out.

Read this dear novel if you enjoy animal stories.

Broken by C.J. Lyons

Scarlet wants to be a normal high school student. Her health problems have prevented anything but a normal life. Finally, her dad and stepmother have given her a chance to attend a week of high school at Smithfield High School where her mother works as the nurse- Nurse Killiam.

Each chapter in this book records her struggle for each day of that week.

Scarlet is suffering from a terminal disease called Long QT which affects her ability to breathe and makes her heart race. “I am very aware that I ‘m taking my life in my hands by coming to school. Being normal might just kill me.”

Scarlet clearly has led such a sheltered life that she is unprepared for the taunting and bullying which immediately becomes apparent.

Scarlet doesn’t know whom to trust, but when Jordan, Celina and Nessa rise to her defense in the cafeteria, raising the ire of the jocks, Scarlet feels this might not have been the best idea.

Scarlet’s biology teacher, Ms. Blakely, assigns a project to track a medical family history and identify any possible genetic traits and then analyze them. A classmate, Anthony Carrera, asks to be Scarlet’s partner.

Anthony’s (Tony’s) interest in Scarlet’s disease might just save her life!

This story was compelling! The author C.J. Lyons is a former pediatric emergency room doctor so the medical explanations are spot on. As a reader, you are routing for Scarlet- hoping against hope that she can finally feel like a normal girl.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read The 5th Wave, the first book in the series, stop reading this blog posting and instead read that book first.

The Infinite Sea begins after the 4th wave. With winter fast approaching, Cassie Sullivan, her younger brother, Sam, Teacup, Dumbo, Poundcake, Ringer (Marika) and Ben know that they can’t survive in the hotel they currently inhabit. Their goal is to get to the caverns where they stand a chance of being warm enough to endure the harsh winter.  If they stay above ground, their fires to ward off the cold will draw The Silencers to them.

Cassie doesn’t want to leave the rat infested hotel.  She is still waiting for Evan Walker’s return.  So boldly Ringer and Teacup start the walk (about 20 miles) to see if the Other’s might be setting a trap for them at the Caverns or whether this will become their winter hideout.

Ringer and Teacup are captured.  Ringer knows that Vosch will use Teacup’s life to force Ringer to comply with his devious plans to exterminate all life on earth.

“I’m dizzy; the room won’t stay still. Bluffs inside bluffs, feints within counter feints, I’m in a game in which I don’t know the rules or even the object.  This is the bind.  This is the trap. This is where the road of impossible promises dead-ends.”

This book The Infinite Sea and The 5th Wave are recommended for mature readers.  The plots are very complicated and some of the plot twists and turns could cause nightmares.  Be warned!  This title is not for everyone.  Fans of The 5th Wave should love it.  A final book will finish the series.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

Many, many students have enjoyed this series by Cassandra Claire. I had to find out what they were raving about so I read Book #1 City of Bones.
Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray and her mother Jocelyn live in New York City on the fifth floor of a five-story apartment without an elevator.  After a disturbing night out at a club called Pandemonium with her best friend since early childhood named Simon, Clary really feels the need to talk with her mom about baffling events she saw at the club.  But her mother is instead packing up their belongings to make a hasty trip to the country. 
Clary argues with her mom and storms out.  That is the last time she sees her mom as her mother goes missing.  The apartment is in shambles; Clary wonders if her mom has been killed or kidnapped.  Then Clary is attacked by a demon!
This series is filled with action! Why could only Clary see the two men and the one woman at the Pandemonium Club while Simon couldn’t? Does she have “the sight?” What does she do when she discovers a whole group of “people” she never knew existed--shadow hunters, demons, fairies, werewolves, and vampires?
Has Clary’s mom protected her for years? Is her mother more than an artist? And what about Luke, her mother’s friend? Is he really minding a bookstore or does he also have another “hidden” past?
Readers of fantasy should continue to enjoy all the books in this series.

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary by Jeff Kinney

What did it take to turn Diary of a Wimpy Kid from a book into a movie?  More than you would ever believe!
If you are interested in the complex task of turning a book--any book--into a full length motion picture, this book will walk you through the steps one by one.

Some things I found fascinating were the following:

·         7 1/2 hours of filming usually produce 2 minutes of actual usable clips for the final cut.

·         Scenes are not shot in sequence; rather any scenes needing a certain set are shot whether they occur months later in the actual sequence of the movie

·         Child actors must complete 15 hours of education through the use of tutors weekly--plus child actors can’t work more than 7 ½ hours per day.
Read this easy to understand nonfiction title to see how complex the production of a movie from a book really is.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

Sometimes series don’t end the way we would like. For me, this is one of those series which I hoped would end another way.

Cia Vale and Tomas have been assigned different university placements following their success with The Testing. Cia had wanted Mechanical Engineering but those in charge of her placement, Dr. Barnes and Professor Holt, have decided she will be in City Government while Tomas receives the placement of his choice, Biological Engineering.

Not only has Cia received this placement but she will be interning with the President, President Collinder.  When the President explains that Cia’s assignment will be to help bring down (kill) those in charge of The Testing, Cia is shocked but very pleased as The Testing has led to many deaths for those who don’t succeed.

The problem for Cia becomes, who can she trust?  There is a rebel group hoping to overthrow the government which   has infiltrated members into the University hoping to revolt.

Feeling secure that tracking devices have been removed, Cia begins to work on the problem (murders) of the key personnel in charge of The Testing. Who will truly be trustworthy?

What type of Graduation Day will Cia and her fellow students face?

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t first read The Testing,   stop reading this blog posting and do that first.
Malencia “Cia” Vale along with her best friend Tomas from Five Lakes Colony have successfully passed The Testing. Their memories have been wiped out yet for Cia she has recurring nightmares and flashbacks.
They find themselves now at University in Tosu City where other students from Tosu City have been selected to also join those who have survived The Testing.
Cia wants to be in Mechanical Engineering, but the officials decide she should be in Government.  Tomas is placed in Biological Engineering.
The brutal induction challenges by final year students into these schools cost some participants their lives.
Nothing is as it should be! Cia and Tomas both realize that. They don’t know who to trust.
“And while the only way to beat them (the officials at the University) is to do as Ian says and excel at my classes, I cannot help but worry.  If they expect me to fail, how will they react when I do not? Will scoring top marks keep me safe or will it prompt anger and punishment?”
This is a fast, engaging read. It leaves you hanging as Graduation Day is its sequel.

The Body in the Woods by April Henry

What a rag-tag trio of teenagers! Alexis has a mother who should be on medication. Nick’s father died serving our country, and Ruby is quite obsessive.

The three teens are all in the Portland Country’s Search and Rescue group.
When an autistic man goes missing, the kids are sent to a part in the forest to look for him while other teams are sent in different directions.

What they find, however, is the body of a dead girl!
Alexis notices that for all Nick’s bravado, he is the only one of the three to become physically sick at the sight of the girl.  Ruby’s parents are appalled when they learn she helped find a murdered teen.  They prohibit her from being a part of the Search and Rescue team.  Alexis’ mother’s mental illness is so severe she goes missing for days.

Despite these problems and complications Alexis, Nick, and Ruby can’t stay away from the investigation of the murder.
Is it possible they saw the man (murderer) in the forest that day? Could they set a trap to see if they can catch him? Will they put themselves in great physical danger as they try to unravel this mystery?

Read The Body in the Woods to find out.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry


Imagine losing your memory….not knowing who you are…how you got there, who your parents are…
When she comes to, she is being dragged outside by two men intent on killing her.  She has no idea where she is, who she is, or how she got there.  One thing she does know is if she does not get away, she will be dead.  When one man leaves the other to finish the job, she makes her move.
She doesn’t know if the fall to the head has killed her captor. She just knows she has to escape.  When she enters the cabin, she sees where her captors have tied her to a chair, she sees that two fingernails have been removed from her hand, and she finds her captor’s car keys.  Can she drive?
Evidently she can! She takes off! But which way will lead to a city and the police? Little does she know, she has quite a few more hurdles to clear before she will begin to learn her name is Cady and that the cabin she was held in was owned by her parents.
Read this fast-moving novel to find out who has tried to kill her! Can she trust anyone to help her?

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

A novel in FREE VERSE
Josh Bell is an ace on the basketball court- -the star of the team! Despite this achievement his nickname is Filthly McNasty.  He earned this name by being so untidy with the way he didn’t organize or clean his room, but the name stuck and his fans and parents love to scream it at his games when he scores.
Josh is also a rapper and his story is told in “quarters” as if he is playing a basketball game.  His father is his greatest coach and supporter.  An athlete in his own right, Josh wishes his dad would let him wear his champion ring that he won back in his day…but the answer is “No.”
Josh’s story told through verse is really the story of his twin brother Jordan, also a basketball star, his mom, a doctor, and his Chuck Bell, known fondly as “DaMan” during his heyday as well as his dazzling crossover on the court.
The book’s title The Crossover has a duel meaning in the book.
Sports enthusiasts who enjoy the game of basketball should really enjoy this novel in free verse.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Mackenzie Bishop at age 16 has a lot to contend with in her life.  Her younger brother Ben was killed crossing the street by a hit and run driver.  Her mom’s way of dealing with 10-year-old Ben’s death is to be constantly in a whirlwind of doing things--moving the family to a rundown former hotel called The Coronado to open up a coffee shop, painting, cleaning, ordering, etc. –anything to keep the pain of losing Ben at such a young age at bay. Mackenzie’s dad avoids his grief by downing coffee after coffee and losing himself in reading.
Imagine dealing with all this plus being one of the youngest keepers ever.  Mackenzie’s maternal grandfather, affectionately named Da, realizes Mackenzie’s high potential for becoming a Keeper in their society. This highly secretive position is quite dangerous.  It involves keeping Histories-- people’s spirits who have passed--in check.  When a History escapes into the Narrows, the Archive sends Mackenzie a message with the person’s name and age.  It is her job to find an entry into the Narrows using the Keeper Key that Da gave her before he died.
Once in the Narrows, Mackenzie must find the wandering person and get them through a door for Returns.  The fights that ensue when some don’t know where they are or are filled with rage lead to many bruises and scars which are hard to explain to her parents.
When Mackenzie meets Wes Ayers, another Keeper, she finally has some help in dealing with the out of control Narrows below the Coronada.
This is a fast paced, well written, part mystery and part dystopian novel.  Mature readers will love it!
Book #2, Unbound has already been released!

Rain of the Ghosts by Greg Weisman

I love the cover of this book. Rain, the main character, stands prominently on the lookout, a mysterious plane flying overhead with a gold bracelet of intertwining snakes forming the letter “O” in the word ghost. All of these images play a part in this “ghost” story mystery.
The story is set in the Florida Straits on eight islands knows as “The Ghosts.”  Sam Prospero Island is the main island.  Rain Cacique’s family owns  a Bed and Breakfast as well as a boat for hire.  Rain’s best friend is Charlie.  They entertain themselves by playfully “shooting” and avoiding tourists who are always trying to snap photos of them as “native” islanders.
Rain has always heard the beat of drums or music which warns her of events to come.  Her ninety-year-old beloved grandfather Bastian gives her an armband of gold with two snakes intertwined.  He has felt protected since his grandmother gave it to him after a severe war injury he sustained in WWII. 
When Rain puts the armband on, she begins to see a “Dark Man” surrounded by eight other ghosts.  The eight are asking Rain to help them “go home” and are pointing into the sea.  Only thirteen-year-old Rain sees the ghosts.  Charlie begins to think his lifelong friend is going crazy!
Throw in two dogs--Mag and Opie-- who occasionally act as narrators and you have some idea what the first book in the series is about!
Let’s just say that the armband is a magic key which open clues – a total of nine armbands will be needed to solve the entire series.  Rain and Charlie aren’t the only ones trying to solve the mystery-- there are people willing to pay Callahan, an Australian, $50,000 per armband!
I especially enjoyed Charlie and Rain’s relationship.  Here is Charlie trying to explain Rain to Miranda who doesn’t know Rain well-  “….trust me on this; she is the strangest person you’re ever going to meet….but that is a good thing.”

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

You think you have it bad as a teenager? What if you were raised by a single, selfish mother in Las Vegas who always picked the wrong type of guys and then marries them!
Carley Connor’s life hits a real low when her mother’s new husband, Dennis, beats her up and then attacks Carley’s mom.  A long hospital stay and rehabilitation for her mom means that Carley must be placed in foster care.

The Murphys are like no one Carley has ever known.  Mrs. Murphy is too good to be true.  She actually listens to Carley!  Michael, Eric, and Adam are the sweetest boys, but the oldest son Daniel really has a chip on his shoulder.  Mrs. Murphy is a Red Sox fanatic!  Carley finds herself wondering, “Can I really find a place in such a family?”

If you enjoy reading realistic fiction, this book is a perfect choice for you.
You will be cheering Carley on--hoping her past experiences with her inadequate mother won’t prevent her from learning what a true family’s love feels like.

Push Girl by Chelsie Hill & Jessica Love

In real life, one of the authors of Push Girl is paralyzed from the waist down and appears on Sundance TV’s series Push Girls. I feel her real life story is reflected in this fictional account of Kara.
Kara is driving herself to Taco Bell after having an argument with Curt, her boyfriend of a year.  He’s been drinking at a party at Rob Chang’s house.  When Kara arrives at the party, Curt promises to pull himself away from his Water Polo teammates and speak privately with Kara about issues going on between her parents at home.  When Curt forgets about Kara, she confronts him and leaves on her own.
When Kara wakes up two weeks later in a hospital, she can’t believe what has become her fate!  Yes, she survived the horrific accident which left her Prius a jumbled ball of metal, but she can’t feel her legs!  Kara is a dancer.  She can’t imagine life without dancing!
Worst of all to Kara is that her boyfriend Curt is curiously absent.  He doesn’t text her, doesn’t come to the hospital, doesn’t answer her phone calls.  Her whole world is shattered and the person she thought she could depend upon, someone who would be there for her, isn’t anywhere to help.
How will she overcome this deep depression, learn to tolerate the various medications she has been put on to recover and find her way back to her senior year in high school? It might be quite surprising!
The story is so believable because of the input from Chelsie Hill whose real life experiences after a drunk driver nearly killed her, adds much depth to the character of Kara.
Students who appreciate stories about people overcoming terrible odds and choosing to lead their best lives will really enjoy this title.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato

What happens when two very different high school students share the same music practice room on alternating days?  Tripp Broody claims the odd days while Lyla Marks uses the room on even days.

Could two more opposite personalities exist in the same space even on alternate days? Tripp is not doing well in school since his father’s sudden death.  His guitar is his whole world.  His mother tries to provide the structure he needs to get back on track by locking his guitar in a storage closet in their rug and carpet store.  She figures without his distraction of the guitar, Tripp will buckle down and get serious about school.  Not!  Instead, Tripp finds a way to borrow an old beat up guitar from his school and use the practice room.

Lyla is a straight A student and a promising cellist.  Her dad has her life closely guarded with concerts lined up and auditions for private schools.  Although his intentions are good, what Mr. Marks doesn’t realize is the anxiety and pressure Lyla feels all the time.

When Tripp leaves “trash” on the music stand in the practice room, Lyla writes him a short missive designed to correct him.  Thus, begins their “guitar notes,” and thus begins their unlikely friendship!

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written piece.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stronger by Jeff Bauman with Bret Witter Non-fiction-Memoir

I remember seeing smoky photos posted on Facebook within minutes of the bombing at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  When I saw them, I thought maybe someone had set off a smoke bomb.  Never did I think it was another terrorist attack!

Unfortunately for Jeff Bauman, he was at the finish line waiting for his girlfriend Erin to cross when Tamerlan Tsarnaev placed the black backpack with the bomb at Jeff’s feet. Imagine Jeff’s fear when he turned to see that Tamerlan was no longer there but his unattended black backpack was! Within seconds the bomb contained inside the bag went off-- blowing off Jeff’s feet and legs. It is a miracle he survived this heinous attack on innocent people.

There is a famous photo of Jeff being wheeled by a man in a cowboy hat from the bombed area to an ambulance.  That iconic photo has become a symbol for this entire tragic event.

There were many reflections of Jeff’s that were stunning to me.  He survived the loss of his legs and was still conscious!! He tried to tell the ambulance attendants, “I know what happened. It was a bomb. I saw the guy who did it.” But Jeff was slipping in and out of consciousness.  He finally asked to be put under. Because the EMT’s misspelled his name as Bowman, police were not able to find him. They simply weren’t looking at the hospital records for Bauman.

Read this highly informative book to grasp the courage it takes to come back from an event as devastating as the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Haven

Shiloh and her group of friends at Haven Hospital and Halls are known as Terminals. Their lives are highly regulated. They drink the “tonic” they are given before bedtime as they are told to do.  The music begins and within minutes all are magically deeply asleep.
The “tonic” is placed beside their bed when they awaken to another piece of music. Everything about their lives is regulated.

They have been taught to never touch each other. Touching could spread contagion. Yet, despite all these rules, at least two Terminals per month are removed due to what they are told is disease.
When Dr. King and Principal Harrison come through the lunch room doors, everyone is silent. All know someone will be removed.  Upon their return, it is obvious operations have always been needed to contain the disease in the students who have been removed. Some of a lung removed, others need to have an arm or a leg amputated to contain the disease. Despite witnessing this event, students believe “We are lucky to live here. Haven Hospital and Halls is the finest Treatment Center available.”
But is Haven Hospital and Halls the safe place it claims to be?

Shiloh begins to doubt when Gideon her friend starts to question: “No more! There has to be a promise. This is wrong. It doesn’t have to be this way.  We all know we’re Terminals, but what we don’t know is why. Why us?”

Shiloh begins to wonder--could Terminals be cured? While others feel Gideon had a mental malfunction, Shiloh and another boy Daniel feel he is making perfect sense.
Is rebellion possible?  Read The Haven to find out!

Don't Turn Around

Off the grid and on the run describe Noa perfectly.  She has been a product of what she refers to as the failed foster system ever since her parents died.

A total loner, she has created a fake identity, bank account and shadow life.  Her mantra is “trust no one.”  Noa’s expert hacker skills have made this type of existence possible until the unthinkable happens.
Noa wakes up on the cold stainless table- an IV in her arm, a scar on her chest and absolutely no memory of how she got there.  At first she believes she must have been the victim of a car accident as she mistakenly believes she must be in a hospital.  But it doesn’t smell like a hospital and the people don’t appear to be doctors.  Pulling the IV from her arm, she makes a daring escape.  She’s right!  This is not a hospital. Rather it is a warehouse!

Her mind is filled with questions: Why is she so cold? How come she is no longer hungry? Where is she and most importantly why is she here?  Noa’s survival strategies kick in full force and she is able to flee but will she ever be safe again?  Is there a tracking device inside of her chest?  Is this why she was operated on?
Read this fast paced mystery thriller to find out!
Note: Book #2 is entitled: Don’t Look Now.  Book #3 Don’t Let Go  won’t be released until August 26, 2014.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Margaret (Maggie) Silver has been warned by her mother many times, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Maggie’s parents work for a top secret spy agency known as the Collective. Her parents make quite the pair—her dad knows many languages and Maggie’s mom can hack into any system.  Maggie, herself is quite talented as well. She was able to unlock her first padlock at the age of four! Her skills at breaking and entering into locked spaces are now legendary in the espionage community.
Their last spying assignment had the family located in Reykjavik, Iceland. Maggie can’t wait to get off the island of Iceland when the family is relocated to a loft in the area of Manhattan known as Soho. Her mother’s words of warning, “Be careful what you wish for,” clearly should be heeded.

Maggie has never had the chance to attend school. She’s never been in one place long enough to even make friends! Suddenly she is thrust into a private high school. Then the assignment comes. It will be Maggie’s first assignment. Her mark is Jesse Oliver, the son of Armand Oliver. Armand is about to release information that could be damaging to the Collective. Maggie must find where Armand is storing the documents, and she must steal them before the Collective is destroyed,
When Jesse decides to throw a party, Maggie sees an easy way to gain access. What Maggie doesn’t bargain for is falling for Jesse!

I enjoyed reading this new series! Maggie’s friendship with the most mistreated girl at the school named Roux and her special relationship with long-time family friend and master spy, Angelo made the story engaging.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Going Rogue by Robin Benway

**Be sure to read the first book in this series- Also Known As by Robin Benway.
Maggie Silver has enjoyed living with her parents in their loft in Manhattan. It’s been a year since they moved there.  For a change Maggie can actually experience what most teens her age stress about rather than worry about her safecracking and spy activities.
She and her best friend, Roux, are studying for the SAT exam. Jesse Oliver remains the boyfriend of Maggie’s dreams until. . .
Her parents, renown spies on their own, working for the Collective, have been falsely accused of stealing some extremely valuable coins dating from the 1930’s.  In order to clear her parents’ names and reputations, Maggie will have to enter an apartment owned by Dominic Armenti to find his hidden safe and secure the gold coins.  All seems to be in order when Maggie is able to get past the security system and make her way into Dominic’s apartment.  But things get complicated when Maggie realizes Dominic hasn’t left--he is upstairs showering! 
Can she still pull off the theft of the valuable coins worth 700 million dollars despite the fact that Dominic could come downstairs at any time and catch her?
Will Roux, Jesse, and Maggie be able to remain friends?
Will the stress of being the world’s best safe and lock cracker tear the friends apart or will it bring them back together as close as they were a year ago when they foiled the attempt by Colton Hooper to kidnap Maggie?
Read Going Rogue to find out.

Mindblind by Jennifer Roy

Nathaniel Clark is brilliant. At eleven he graduated college! His scores on the SAT were perfect.  His ability to solve complex mathematic problems is beyond most people’s comprehension.  Nat’s latest dilemma is what graduate school he should apply to and what course of study he should undertake.

There are other issues in Nathaniel’s life, however. He has a condition known as Asperger’s- -his ability to understand and express his emotions makes him socially inept.
Nat’s condition has caused his parents to react in very different ways.  His mother is his rock, while his father’s treatment of him seems abusive.  The parents divorce.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to see the world through someone’s eyes who is a high-functioning autistic person with Asperger’s, this book will clearly fit the bill!

Wonderstruck by Bruce Selznick

If you read and enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, you most certainly will also enjoy Wonderstruck!
Selznick has created a new genre of fiction--part fictional storytelling--part graphic novel.
Plagued by repeated dreams of wolves chasing him on a cold winter’s night, Ben lives just 83 steps away from the house he used to live in with his mother.  After her tragic death, Ben is being raised by his mother’s sister and her family in their cabin on Gunflint Lake in Minnesota.  Ben’s story is told in a traditional written format using text.
Rose is the central character of the graphic novel.  She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, fifty years before Ben’s birth.  Her story is told through detailed illustrations.  Born deaf, she rebels against her parents and runs away to New York City where her brother Walter lives.  She is desperate to become educated and overcome her extreme isolation.
In a very cleverly written plot, the two characters meet.  What they have in common will surprise the reader!
Enjoy this beautifully told story.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of Nature by Ryan Winfield

Book #3 of The Park Service Trilogy

Jimmy has warned Aubrey repeatedly that he can’t trust Hannah. After the horrific ending on Isle of Man orchestrated by the Professor and Hannah, they must confront Hannah, free the people trapped in Holocene II and disarm the unmanned drones.
They are unprepared for what they find when they reenter the Foundation in the submarine! Hannah has recreated Eden. There are Tunnelrats from the lowest level of Holocene II who have repaired everything! Jimmy and Aubrey are in a state of shock! They find Red dehydrated, beaten and locked in a room. Hannah manages to trick them. By holding Jimmy hostage in the chair in Eden, she pressures Aubrey to lie to the people of Holocene II. Hannah is not the only crafty one, however. Jimmy and Aubrey manage to escape from Holocene II.

They find there are others who want freedom, too. They have been planning and plotting the right time to strike.
Jimmy and Aubrey travel to the jungles of South America, to China, and back to a peaceful valley reminiscent of Jimmy’s original home.

This third book is filled with twists in the plot, betrayals unimaginable and lots of suspense.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Isle of Man by Ryan Winfield

Book Two of The Park Service Trilogy

 Aubrey, Jimmy, and Hannah reenter The Foundation by boat to see the results of the flood set off in Book #1. The bodies of most of the scientists who resided on that level are floating in the receding waters. One scientist has survived, but he seems a bit touched in the head. Luckily, he usually does finally remember the access codes to secure areas.
A plan is hatched to get the master codes that control the unmanned drones terrorizing the remaining humans on the surface of the earth. Hannah argues that they can’t free the people in Holocene II until the drones are controlled.

In their journey to the lower levels of Holocene II, Aubrey meets “Red”, the boy who used to bully him on Level 3. Red returns to The Foundation with the professor, Hannah, Aubrey and Jimmy.
Nothing is easy! The clue to cracking the code is complicated. They need an encryption key! They must first solve a riddle! “Where man rises from the sea, in the right hand of David, you shall find your key.”

Where does man rise from the sea? Could the David mentioned in the riddle possibly be the statue of David by Michelangelo? Here’s a hint: the professor, Jimmy, and Aubrey with Junior travel in the submarine to the Isle of Man. Read Book #2 to find out if they succeed in their mission. You will be surprised at what they find!