Category Archives: Title Reviews

Reviews

Son of the Mob

I hope nobody terribly minds the influx of Gordan Korman that will inevitably happen here; when an author has written dozens of excellent titles it’s hard to pick just one…and hard to read anything but that when you’re on a roll. So – Son of the Mob!

Author: Gordon KormanSon of the Mob, 2004 Canada/US Softcover Edition

Summary: Vince Luca is the son of a powerful New York mob boss, but he has a dilemma – he wants no part in the “family business.” Unfortunately for Vince, he keeps getting involved without even knowing it, and finding himself in situations where he can’t avoid stepping in. Even when doing what he believes to be right, he ends up entangled by the mob.

Cue love interest…in the form of an FBI agent’s daughter. In fact, it’s the same agent that has been hunting Vince’s father for years. How can Vince be expected to choose sides without betraying someone he cares about?

Two Cents: This book (and it has a sequel, which isn’t QUITE as good in my opinion) has got all the elements – action, adventure, humour, romance, slice of life. It’s a nice, well-rounded title with a fast-paced plot and realistic emotions. I actually picked it up on recommendation from a customer, a teenage boy who’d read the first one and was coming back to get the sequel, Son of the Mob 2 – he said he never liked reading until he picked this out for a book report.

Recommended For: Teenage boys, probably 13-16s, and definitely any fans of Korman’s work in the 9-12 category will not be disappointed. It has some similar elements to Artemis Fowl as well, so fans of that may want to give this one a look. That said, it appeals across the genre board, so if you’re looking for something that doesn’t fit neatly into one category, Son of the Mob is your book.

Personal Rating: 7/10

Links to Buy: Amazon US / CA / UK

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Filed under Ages 13 and Up, Title Reviews

Such A Pretty Girl

If the books you read say something about a person, then I guess there are a lot of really weird things to be said about me, because when it comes to teen fiction I can’t even look at the Clique or It Girl books; I read Meg Cabot…and stuff like this.

Such A Pretty Girl, 2007 Softcover Edition

Author: Laura Weiss

Summary: Meredith has just turned fifteen, and is facing the most terrible decision of her life. Her father has just been released early from prison, where he has been for the past three years, ever since he was charged with sexually assaulting his own daughter. She was promised nine years of safety, but now her father is back and her mother has clearly chosen his side. Meredith doesn’t have any doubt about whether or not her father will come after her again – the question is, what can she do to stop him?

Two Cents: Dark and gripping. This book’s cover summary was just vague enough to keep me guessing, but by the time I had finished the first chapter I knew I wasn’t going to be putting it down anytime soon. Meredith’s emotional turmoil is very realistic and laced with just enough issues to keep it from being repetitive. Since it’s a first-person perspective, the reader is doing plenty of guessing as to whether she’s overreacting or not – well, I won’t spoil the ending, obviously.

Recommended For: Teenage girls. Obviously, since the story deals with abuse and incest issues, plus there’s some mention of Meredith’s sexual relations with her not-quite-boyfriend, younger readers should be warned. There aren’t any graphic scenes, however, so I’d say 14+, but it’s up to your own discretion. I also can’t quite place this in a genre; I suppose it would appeal to fans of psychological novels and thrillers, plus there’s a small amount of romance. Really I would recommend it to just about anyone of age, because Weiss has superbly dealt with a serious issue that many people are closing their eyes to.

Personal Rating: 8/10

Links to Buy: Amazon US / CA / UK

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Filed under Ages 13 and Up, Title Reviews

Half Moon Investigations

After Artemis I figured I’d check out Eoin Colfer’s other books too. I’ve been a sucker for Holmes (and Poirot, Kudo, et al) for ever, and so immediately hit upon this one. Schoolboy detectives? Oh yes. I was expecting something similar to Artemis, and Fletcher Moon isn’t, but his story was really something too.

Author: Eoin ColferHalf Moon Investigations (UK Hardcover Edition)

Summary: Junior high student Fletcher Moon – nicknamed “Half Moon” thanks to his diminuitive size – is a fully qualified detective just looking for a case. Unfortunately, even doing something as simple as finding lost trinkets is enough to end him in hot water, on the run from the police with an unexpected partner and framed for arson. Going undercover as part of the local mob family, Half Moon unravels the most incredible of plots, at great cost to himself.

Two Cents: While I liked Red and a few others, the sheer number of characters coming at the reader is a bit hard to take in at first, especially since the narrator (Fletcher) doesn’t really know any of them well. That aside, the narrative voice is funny and glib. Glad I read this, and I definitely liked the concept, though as far as I know there aren’t any additional Half Moon books planned. Detective stories are popular in the 9-12 age group and Colfer’s has been executed better than most, with an complex but not difficult to follow plot and an exciting undercover operation. Most mystery novels don’t give the detective a chance to develop his personality, which is probably why Fletcher appealed to me.

Recommended For: 10-12 range, fans of Artemis Fowl,  fans of Hardy Boys or Holmes. Has all the qualities of an adventure novel with mystery and spy elements thrown in.

Personal Rating: 8/10

Links to Buy: Amazon US / CA / UK

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Filed under Ages 9-12, Title Reviews

Beneath the Crown: The Princess In the Tower

 I’ve had an affinity for Marie Antoinette since watching Rose of Versailles two years ago, and now I can’t stop myself from reading everything about her that I can lay hands on, including this very well-researched historical YA novel about daughter Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte. It was initially titled The Dark Tower and later added to the Beneath the Crown series with The Nine Days Queen and The Last Duchess.   

The Princess in the Tower, 2005 Hardcover EditionAuthor: Sharon Stewart

Summary: The story of Marie-Thérèse from her preteen years up to and including her imprisonment in the Temple Fortress. With as much historical accuracy as possible, the author explores Marie-Thérèse’s life at Versailles and her friendships and relationships as the French Revolution occurs and the monarchy is abolished.

Two Cents: Historical fiction seems to be pretty popular nowadays, between The Royal Diaries and Dear Canada and this. I’ve always liked it; especially when it’s accurate, so after finishing this book I did a little Internet research and was impressed to discover the amount of research the author had done to make it as realistic as possible. The voice of Marie-Thérèse is compelling and developed despite the quick passing of weeks and months between scenes.

Recommended For: Ages 11 and up. Even told from a child’s perspective, the Revolution up close isn’t a pretty thing – plenty of death and heartache and (nondescriptive) beheading. Still an excellent read, great for kids who are into history already and those who have trouble finding it interesting.

Personal Rating: 8/10

Links to Buy: Chapters / Amazon US / CA

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Filed under Ages 9-12, Title Reviews