Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

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.