Book Review: “Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy” by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls, #2)

Is it strange that I actually have this whole outfit in my closet? It's all in brown, but that's pretty much the only difference.

Check out my review of the first book, I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You, here or on Goodreads!

Title: Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Ally Carter (needs to come to NY or Boston so I can meet her :D)

Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle, Audiobook.

Maturity Level: YA. There’s definite appeal here, both for the young end of the YA spectrum (13-16) and the older (16+). Some mild violence and kissing, no real sexual content to speak of.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoyed the first book; if you’re a fan of the television shows Nikita, Buffy, or Veronica Mars; if you like well-crafted YA with strong and realistic female protagonists.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you expect a serious spy thriller; you don’t like YA.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Cammie Morgan is pretty tired of excitement. Her Stake-out/Obtain/Then Give Up Boyfriend Operation has left her pretty down, and all she wants is to settle down and continue studying CoveOps. Before she knows it, however, the prestigious “spy school” Gallagher Academy is welcoming a group of mysterious boys—BOYS!—codenamed Blackthorne. Throw in a security breach that Cammie appears to be at fault for, the unclear motives of the Blackthorne boys, and the aforementioned CoveOps training, and you’ve got one hell of a semester.

Oh, and the incredibly handsome, heart-pounding, ANNOYING boy known simply as Zach.

Previously On…: I have to admit, I wasn’t very stoked about this series at first. It looked like pretty typical YA fare—kick-butt girl meets boy, falls sappily in love with him, and slowly falls prey to a terrifying disease that I have termed Badass Disintegration Syndrome (BDS), pulling out her badassery only to save The Boy. I was pleasantly surprised by the first book, which had its fair share of sappy lovey-dovey moments, but also developed Cammie Morgan through her relationships with her friends, mother, and teachers. She also NEVER lost her Badass Mojo, and that definitely carries through into Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy.

Overall: I was very impressed by Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. This particular installment had more spy!plot, less romance, and as always I enjoyed the antics of Bex, Liz, and Macey just as much as Cammie’s. The “progress/case reports” are always fun to read, and I absolutely ADORED the ball!exam and all the scenes it produced. Cammie’s family/past—and her missing father—get a bit of an exploration in this one that I hope to see continued in future books. And I have to say, I like Zach more than I liked Josh—but maybe that’s just my love for snarky dudes showing.

Pros

  • The CoveOps reports.
  • Spies, guys. Girl!spies. At a school for girl spies. WIN.
  • Buffy/James Bond/Veronica Mars references.
  • The romance.
  • The spy!plot.
  • Annnnd the balance between the two. Superb.

Cons

  • Having it all be a test at the end was a bit predictable, but that’s just a nitpick.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pg 175: Cammie basically asking Zach out and the dynamic between them.
  • Pg 224: After Cammie has a BAMF moment. “Did you learn that in PE?”/”No. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
  • Pg 226: A forklift is once again used as a deadly weapon J

Favorite Line (s)

  • “Most little girls in England grow up wanting to marry a prince. Bex grew up wanting to kick James Bond’s butt and assume his double-0 ranking.”~ pg 13
  • “Real life in the clandestine services isn’t cat and mouse—it’s cat and cat.”~pg 184

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars.

Final Grade: A-. I will definitely be obtaining the next book very soon—this series is so very fun.

Book Review: “Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex” by Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl, #7)

I do adore this cover, both for the color balance and for a full profile of Artemis. 😀

Title: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex

Author: Eoin Colfer

Available In: Hardback, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle, Audiobook.

Maturity Level: All Ages. Very light romance, some swearing but nothing too terrible.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy science fiction, humor, and genii, or if you’re a fan of the Artemis Fowl series as a whole.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you haven’t read the previous books in the series.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, OPINIONS, AND FANGIRLING. A LOT OF FANGIRLING.

Mild spoilers ahead!

Artemis Fowl has come a long way from the 12 year old evil super-genius that we were introduced to in the first book. He’s battled manically evil pixies, the LEP, fellow megalomaniacs, his younger self, and demons hell-bent* on destroying humanity. But can he win when the grounds of the fight lie within his own mind?

This does definitely seem to be the main plot of The Atlantis Complex, despite the usual trappings of Colfer’s books. I certainly enjoyed this installment, in particular the portrayal of Artemis as he sinks deeper and deeper into his own pathos (something that Colfer has always pulled off pretty damn well, considering that he is a humorous writer). Still, something about this book bothers me—it’s just kind of flat compared to the ones that came before it. I have a feeling that it’s just because the series has run for so long, and I’m hoping that Colfer pulls out all the stops in the finale, but it definitely wasn’t as mind-meltingly awesome as, say, The Eternity Code or The Lost Colony.

Overall, though, this was a solid addition to Artemis Fowl canon. I loved that it ended the way it did, setting up what has the potential to be a brilliant finale.  

*I should no longer be allowed to make puns. I am obviously terrible at it. 😛

VERY VERY spoiler-y material ahead! You have been warned!

 

Pros

  • Butler and Juliet. Awesome sibling dynamic between two badasses of epic proportions. I like.
  • Artemis and Holly.  I love the slightly awkward romance that turns a little sweet towards the end. I really would like to see the two of them get a real resolution in the final book. 🙂
  • Atlantis Complex.
  • Certain events were sort of connected back to the alcoholic sprite that started the events of book 1. The continuity nerd in me loved this 🙂
  • The ending. I love that Artemis is most assuredly not all right—I’ve always been very intrigued by Colfer’s delicate treatment of mental illness, and in this regard he does not disappoint.

Cons

  • Colfer kind of seems like he’s trying too hard with his witticisms in this one.
  • Plots are getting kind of tired. Oh, look, there are criminals. Mulch Diggums is back. Holly pilots an unlikely vehicle and saves everybody. I’ve just seen it too many times.
  • I didn’t find Turnball to be a very convincing villain.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pg 183: Orion/Artemis going on about smiting and the reactions of Holly and Foaly 😀
  • Pg 191: Holly punching Orion/Artemis.
  • Pg 351-353: Artemis and Holly are my OTP, okay? ❤

Favorite Line (s): “If he asks you to look for birthmarks, say no immediately.”~ pg 181, Foaly to Holly concerning Orion’s… erm… intentions. 😀

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars.

Final Grade: B. Enjoyed it because it’s AF, but it wasn’t as thrilling as previous books. Am holding out for the final book in the series in hopes that it  will bring the dazzle back.

FridayReads 3/9/2012

So I have been skipping FridayReads most weeks, as you guys have probably noticed. I got so caught up in reviewing that I just plain forgot about it, to be honest. When I did remember, I decided it was probably time to revamp, as you can see by my nifty little graphic. It takes up less space in the post than inserting each cover picture and contains more information, and mostly, I just like fiddling around with graphics on occasion. 🙂

Without further ado, let’s go on to the ‘reads!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: This one is not quite living up the hype, I just have to say. I kinda like it, but it feels to me like the core of the story– the Cinderella retelling– gets lost amongst all of the sci-fi trappings. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi, but I did go into this expecting more of a… well, Cinderella story. Overall, though, it’s been a good, fun, fast read so far. Here’s hoping that the fairy-tale comes out a little more while still keeping all of the awesome sci-fi elements in the rest!

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer: So far, this one is awesome. It’s a bit like City of Ember meets Lord of the Flies. Sometimes, the plotting gets a little overly convoluted, but overall, it’s proving itself to be a solid read. 😀

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner:The worldbuilding in this one is PHENOMENAL. At only 15% in, I don’t really have much to say aside from that.

What are YOU reading this Friday? Drop me a comment and let me know!

 

Book Review: “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #1)

Title: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Available In: Hardcover (Library Binding), Paperback, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle, Audiobook.

Maturity Level: 13 +. Some kissing and light violence, but overall very clean.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy fast-paced, light-hearted stories and/or if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon (the writing style seems very much influenced by his work, and there are plenty of Buffy references).

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re looking for a serious spy novel ala John LeCarre.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Cameron Morgan is not your average private-school girl. Then again, Gallagher Academy is not your average private school—it’s a spy school, with a curriculum designed to turn out some of the best-trained surveillance agents in the world. So when she meets the incredibly normal Josh, she’s not quite sure how to proceed. Luckily, she has a team of very good friends there to help her sift through his trash, hack his computer, and arrange strategic meetings away from prying eyes. And along the way, Cammie just might learn something about love — and the importance of being true to oneself.

Overall, I thought this book was really fun. It’s a bit like Nikita meets Harry Potter meets Buffy. There are some very good messages twined up in the lighthearted narrative as well, making this a book that I’d recommend to any teenage girl (or, for that matter, any girl ever). The spy element was nicely handled, and I loved reading the descriptions of a typical day at a “spy school”. Throw in a whole load of Buffy references, and I am a very happy reader. It was also a wicked quick read, especially the last hundred pages or so—the sort of book you could finish in an afternoon if you had no interruptions. I’m looking forward to the next book—which, according to PaperBackSwap, is headed my way as of this morning—and I’ll also definitely be checking out Heist Society when I finish with the Gallagher Girls series.

Pros

  • Spy girls. Spy girls are always a plus.
  • Gallagher Academy is kind of like Harry Potter for spy girls. AWESOME~
  • Cammie’s mom. She’s awesome, and I love that her and Cammie have a very close relationship, which is not often seen in YA.
  • Bex, Liz, and Macey. They’re smart, sassy, and they’re great friends. What’s not to love?
  • CoveOps. I would totally take this class.
  • Short chapters make for a fast-paced read.
  • I really, really love the overall message, which is basically to stay true to who you are when you’re in a relationship, not true to what your partner might want you to be. Also, don’t ditch your friends. They’ll be around long after your BF has taken off.

Cons

  • Some of the “mean girls” in this book are pretty flat and stereotypical.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pages 87-90, when Mr. Solomon makes his point about what failure in a CovertOps mission would cost you. Very tense, very dramatic.
  • Josh driving a forklift through the wall on page 271.

Favorite Line (s): “Our lies come complete with Social Security numbers and fake IDS, and our truths cut like Spanish steel.”~pg 221 of Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars.

Final Grade: A. Will probably reread, will definitely read next book in series.