Monday, March 29, 2010

Son of the Mob
By Gordon Korman

Vince Luca is your basic seventeen year old high school student. His best friend Alex is constantly vicariously trying to score through him with “This is my love life we’re talking about” every time Vince is about to go out on a date. His older brother is a pain. His father has a successful vending machine business. Well, that was the cover up his mother told him when he was little to explain his father’s different working hours from the other fathers in the neighborhood, telling him “you never know when a vending machine is going to break.” It isn’t until Vince is older when he learns his father’s true occupation and what brings in the money that provide a roof over his head, the clothes on his back, and the food in his stomach – Vince’s father is a Mob boss, which explains why Vince has listed sixty plus “uncles” during his youth without knowing exactly how they were related as his father was an only child. Vince wants nothing to do with his father’s “vending machine” business, but, as one could expect, being the son of a Mob boss can put a serious crimp in his dating life; particularly when he begins dating Kendra, who father is the FBI agent who wants more than anything to put Vince’s father in jail. Vince’s voice as he tells the story is full of his wonderfully dry, sarcastic sense of humor which this reader found immensely entertaining and appropriate to the story being told. The pace of the story is quick with something always going on or a new twist about to be discovered. However, the ending, at least to this reader, felt a bit rushed though it did tie together the subplots.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Most Excellent Year
By Steve Kluger

What does Fenway Park, finding first love, and Mary Poppins have in common? The most excellent year for freshmen students T.C. Keller, Augie Hwong, and Alejandra Perez. There are three loves in T.C.’s life; his dad, his best friend and unofficial brother Augie who he met shortly after his mother died when he was six, and the Red Sox. But during freshmen year he begins falling in love with Alejandra. Though Alejandra plays hard to get, she also begins falling in love with T.C.’s Boston accent while pursuing her interest in singing and dancing (which gets her a part in the school’s play of Kiss Me, Kate) under her political parents’ noses. Due to his love of musicals and old school screen sirens, and his preference to perform the songs traditionally sung by women, everyone close to Augie seems to know he is gay, except for Augie. That is until he begins falling in love with Andy, who may or may not have the same feelings for Augie. The majority of the story is told through a diary assignment as T.C., Augie, and Alejandra study The Diary of Anne Frank in their freshmen English class. Similar to how Frank named her diary Kitty, T.C. addresses his entries to his dead mother, Alejandra to her role model Jacqueline Kennedy, and Augie writes to several “Divas of the Week” including Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, and Judy Garland among others. Incorporated throughout the entries are IM messages between T.C., Augie, Alejandra, and Andy, e-mails from and between characters, transcripts of T.C.’s meeting with his school advisor, notes passed during study hall, and Augie’s mother’s theatre review column from the Boston Globe. This charming, funny story will be enjoyed by its target audience as well as an adult audience.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eleventh Grade Burns
By Heather Brewer
Series: Fourth in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Warning: Review may contain spoilers to Eighth Grade Bites, Ninth Grade Slays, and Tenth Grade Bleeds

Depressed following his break up with Meredith and convinced he is the Pravus but unsure about how the ruling over vampirekind and enslaving the human race side of the prophecy will play out, Vladimir Tod begins his junior year. But it’s going to be a dark year for Vlad. His Uncle Otis is awaiting trial for crimes against vampirekind which is likely to end only in his being sentenced to death. D’Ablo has somehow secured a seat on the Council of Elders and continues his desire to perform the ritual that will transfer Vlad’s Pravus powers to himself. A new vampire, Dorian, comes to help Vlad but has a palate for uncommon blood, and since Vlad is the only half-vampire, half-human in existence, he has the rarest type of blood. Plus Joss, Vlad’s ex-friend vampire slayer, is back with nothing to stop him from eliminating Vlad. This penultimate volume of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod is full of twists and surprises that will keep Vlad fans turning the pages. But nothing can prepare Vlad or the reader for what is waiting at the end.