I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You & The Heist Society by Ally Carter

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

1) This is a story to introduce. It simply introduces you to Cammie, her life, her friends and what they do at a school called Gallagher Academy. I found that in the books after this, the first book doesn’t really apply. It was just made because Ally Carter had an interesting idea that led into a bunch of other ideas about the same setting, but not necessarily building on the first book like most series tend to do. So technically, I’d say this is more of partner/introduction novel to the rest of the series.

2) This is in no way the best spy book I have ever read.

3) This is a girl book aka a chick flick, in case you didn’t notice by the title. (Which was of a heck of lot longer than most of titles I write).

Building on point number 3, I was honestly disappointed by this series. It seems like girl spy books aren’t taken that seriously anymore. It’s all about romance and ‘most dangerous mission of all’. Romance, technically, is NOT the most dangerous mission of all. The only girl I liked in this story was Bex, Cammie’s best friend, but not really anyone else. If anything, the only good I really liked in this series was the second-to-last one, which, sorry to say, was kind of a long time to wait for the book I wanted to read.

Yes, I do think that Ally Carter is a pretty good writer. I was a fan of her Heist Society series, which was actually pretty cool. It was just this series that I didn’t like. I, like many other people have, rounded. The reason why I gave this book 4 stars on GoodReads was because I couldn’t give it 3.5 stars.

I can see how this would be appealing to other teenage girls, but after you’ve read Ian Fleming, Robert Muchamore, Robert Ludlum, Suzanne Collins, Ann Aguirre and other kick butt spy/action novels, it’s kind of hard to be impressed by this. Sorry for being the one to ruin it, guys. It’s like this, except the other way around: (I actually love this pic…)

images

Now, for what I did like about this series. After about the third or fourth book, this series actually gets pretty interesting. Cammie herself wasn’t bad as a character, but I didn’t like the way Ally Carter made her sound in her narration. There are some aspects to this book that actually will make you laugh and smile, and I appreciated that, but some of Ally Carter’s sentences sounded like she meant them to be funny but they weren’t funny to me, which was a bummer.

This book did keep me amused, and it brought a lot of new ideas into my mind–as every new book does, regardless of being good or bad, so I did enjoy it. This book makes a great gift for girls 12-15, or girls who are reluctant readers.

pg count for the hardcover: 284

Series: Gallagher Girls

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Personally, I would much rather recommend this book than I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, it made more sense, was better organized, had better characters and was more of an all-around, great spy/thief book.

Synopsis: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

pg count for the hardcover: 284

Series: Heist Society

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Orphan Tessa Gray, sixteen, crosses the ocean from New York to find her brother Nate in Victorian London, her only possession a clockwork angel necklace from her mother. She is ignorant of her power to transform; the Dark sisters are not. They kidnap her for the Magister, who wants to marry Tessa and claim her power.

Shadowhunters, warriors of angel blood, battle demons and keep the peace in the Downworld of vampires, warlocks and other supernaturals. Orphan teen Shadowhunters Jem, Will, and Jess rescue Tessa and agree to help save Nate. Vengeful vampire Lady Camille Belcourt and her current lover, warlock Magnus Bane provide entrée to the Magister’s secret Pandemonium Club.

I just finished Clockwork Princess, the final book in this trilogy. I’m not sure if I was happy with the ending. In a lot of books, I’m really partial to one character. In the bits of Twilight that I did watch, I was partial to Jacob. In Pride and Prejudice, I was more on Darcy’s side. In Jenny Han’s Summer trilogy, I was more partial to Jeremiah. In this book, both Jem and Will managed to win me over. It’s not just the strength of the brotherhood between the boys, and the friendship they share, but their unwillingness to betray one another.

I can’t say that I was happy with the ending Cassandra Clare pulled. It just seemed a little…wishy washy, I guess. (Don’t worry, I’m not gonna give away spoilers). I’m still thinking about whether or not I liked it a lot, even though I finished it three weeks ago. It doesn’t really matter though to me. I’ve been a big fan of Cassandra Clare for a long time, and her Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series have been among my favorites at times. Her writing style, originality, curves in the plot, humor and well-defined characters who are truly unique, have impressed me many times. This book has been no exception to that, and I think it was very original and clever, if nothing else.

The covers are beautiful as well.

The magic, mysteries and wonder of Victorian London is a fantasic backdrop to this story, and Cassandra Clare defines it in the best ways possible. Actually, it’s like Victorian London isn’t even scenery. It’s very finely tuned in with the story, every nuance and detail in place so that I can clearly envision the world of Tessa Gray, the Shadowhunters and the Pandemonium Club. I would highly recommend this book for teenagers. It’s a great read, though not necessarily as fast at times. I was really happy to have read this and the final installment in this series will not disappoint fans, that I have great confidence in. Well worth the time to read.

My favorite Cassandra Clare covers:

1fav 2fav 3fav

pg count for the hardcover: 478

Series: The Infernal Devices

Gone by Michael Grant

Everyone disappears in the blink of an eye. Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. Gone. Hence, the name.

I thought that this was a great book. It hooks you in right at the very beginning. The narrative and Michael Grant’s voice as a writer clearly shine through, which impressed me. I love the creativity of good writers, and Michael Grant is no exception. This book is brave, surreal and really cool. The concept is both amazing and terrifying. It is quite interesting, actually. Would make for a great, extremely deep and philosophical discussion.

I had a few problems with the characters, and I felt like the book didn’t have to be 576 pages, but it was fine for me. All in all, I liked the characters. Not my favorite characters, not so bad that I feel that I need to rant on about it.

This book is really readable, gripping and is exciting. Highly recommended for action-loving teens. Great book. 4.2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 576

series: Gone

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

So, a couple weeks ago in the car on a ski/snowboard trip to Whistler, BC Canada, I looked up Michael Scott to see if this was the book I was thinking about. I clicked on images so I could see the cover and what came up was a ton of pictures of Steve Carell from the Office. And this:

fearedorloved

Personally, I love Steve Carell as an actor. And this was hilarious to me. I was laughing for a whole forty seconds. (Which is actually pretty long for a laugh). This picture pretty much sums up my feelings for this book though, except in a different way. I am afraid of this book and I love it.

First off, the kids were annoying. Sophie and Josh were bratty and didn’t understand the situation. I felt like choking Josh sometimes. His density and nativity squandered some of the important moments in the story. I was disappointed that the characters had to ruin those moments, because those were the moments in the book that would’ve really impressed me.  There were also parts to the story that I hated, because of the plot of Sophie and Josh saying something wickedly smart and extremely intelligent and then do some really, really DUMB things. It’s like one second they understand and the next second they’re fed up with the situation that they don’t really know if they understand.

far_side-1

Just think of some of Gordon Korman’s work. Gordon Korman is able to reference to modern day devices, phones, events that are really going on and make it work. There are many talented authors that can make you feel like you’re living in history with the scenes and backdrops of books that you read about. I think Michael Scott was bordering on the edge of something dangerous by referencing back to history and current-day stuff so much. I just had this chagrin in the back of my mind as I read the story, kind of waiting to see what Michael Scott would do. I was glad that it worked though, and I breathed a sigh of relief when it did. I was happy in the end, even though I felt like he was going to mess it up the entire way through. It was more relaxing to read the second time around. On the second time, I felt like those events made Michael Scott’s story more immediate, relatable and believable, which I really appreciated.

The magic in this story was really interesting, connected with the five senses and all that. Michael Scott did a great job of coming up with some original magic that I could bounce back ideas with as I read the book. I love books that inspire me.

If I could change one thing about this story, it would definitely be the characters. I would’ve liked to see Josh and Sophie grow more as people throughout the series. It’s weird that they don’t fight in the beginning. That works for some people, if you can come up with a good enough reason for why they don’t fight. Maybe one sibling is a pacifist. Maybe one is a Gandhi-in-training. Maybe they were both part of some freak accident and no longer have no one to turn to but each other. I don’t know, I’ve seen all kinds of books that made it work and all kinds of books where the theme was the broken relationship between siblings or a family. If Josh and Sophie had argued, it would have opened up all kinds of possibilities for the two of them to go and grow, adding onto the fact that it would’ve seemed more realistic.

3.5 stars. Like the books in the later series better. Recommended for tweens girls and boys.

pg count for the hardcover: 375

Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.

The rhythm, the prose and the plot line all come together in this story to make a truly enjoyable read. It’s a quick read, and perfect for a summer day. A genuinely cute story that’ll make you smile and think to yourself what you would do in James’s situation. If you liked the Borrowers or Stuart Little, you’ll really enjoy this story. This story has simple, elegant writing that is easy to understand and is fun to read. Four stars.

pg count for the hardcover: 304

1984 by George Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Animal Farm freaked me out, but the ideas behind it were nothing short of amazing. This book creeped me out, but it’s ideas were nothing short of insane(ly realistic). I read this for extra credit and then did a study guide on it in the beginning of seventh grade. I was blown away by the ideas of it all, and for nights afterward, I would just think about the book before I fell asleep. This book is insane, but at the same time it is not. Haha. Pun. Contradiction. (Ah, well, at least I get it).

This story is closer to our world than many people realize. The situation, in a nutshell:

Once upon a time, there was a man named Winston. He had a job rewriting history. He came to fall in love with a girl who rebels against the government. He, in turn, became involved with the rebellion. He learns about what it means to oppose the government, and just how easy it is for people to become one, single mind. He realizes that the only people with the power to overthrow the government are unmotivated and happy with themselves. This is his story, a story of betrayal, loss, what it means to love another and the sacrifices every hero makes.

Not my best synopsis, but it’ll do. Much better than those synopsis’ like the first one up top. It basically tells you how amazing and mind-blowing it is without really telling you anything about the story. I hate those kinds of synopsis’. It’s like people who didn’t actually read the book is stalling. It’s the same mindset as this:

download

Don’t you just hate that? Someone hands you a flyer you have absolutely no interest in so you want to hand it back but that wouldn’t be ‘socially acceptable’, so you just take it and throw it away three feet from where they were standing. They don’t do it so you have to.

1984 is a cautionary tale on social commentary, what we do and just how close the future is. I mean, when everyone who knows the past is dead, when the history books are rewritten, then who is left who knows what the past really was? That’s even happening in other countries, it’s happened in the past. Books are things to be feared, people. They’re knowledge, and power. I’d highly recommend this book, but it’s not for those who are weak of heart or need instant satisfaction on every page. You have to get about thirty pages in for it to get interesting. Definitely not for younger readers.

pg count for the paperback: 328

My study guide on this book: 1984 study guide

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series–dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

cover

Look at that beautiful cover.

pirates_lasers_ninjas_and_rectangle_magnetExcept, in this story it’s ideals of right, wrong, people who want to kill you, bullies, guns and the certain type of person you are.

I loved this book. 4.3 stars. This is really a book about self-discovery and owning up to who you are, what your talents are and what you’re going to use them for. After this book, I was really disappointed. Unlike Prodigy, the sequel to Legend, both by Marie Lu, I felt like Veronica Roth didn’t make a sequel to beat the first book. She made a sequel to follow up on the first book, which isn’t enough.

I had a great time reading this book, but on a deeper, more psychological level, there’s a lot to be said about this book. Alan Moore said in V for Vendetta, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” And that’s true. There’s a lot to be said about what governments everywhere. When governments start taking things away, when does that stop? Who decides that that gets to stop? Can we even stop it? But then there’s the people. The will, hope and strength of the human mind, body and soul never ceases to amaze me both in stories and real life. This book is a representation of why governments fear special people. Because they’re special, while some people will sit around and let the world go by, those people are leaders. Those people are heroes, and they will never stop fighting for something better.

My teacher had a problem with the violence in this book, but she thought it was necessary to prove the point that the book made. About heroes, war, discovering who you are, why the government fears people who think outside the box, part of the violence in this book pushed that. It was really insightful, and I’m really glad I read it. It was like I wanted something, and Veronica Roth just handed it to me. A truly enjoyable read that was action packed, a ton of fun and highly recommended. Exactly what I was looking for at the moment. Very satisfactory.

little hand

pg count for the hardcover: 487

Series: Divergent