Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

across a star-swept sea diana peterfreund

“Across a Star-Swept Sea” by Diana Peterfreund

3  out of 5 stars.

Quality of writing and storyline was about 4 to 5 stars.

How much I liked it was about 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

After the wars between the genetically altered and the naturals, the world was nearly decimated. Now only two islands still exist, man-made landmasses that cost much but saved what remained of the human race. But all was not lost thanks to Persistence Helo and her cure for those who became victims of the Reduction. Children who were once affected by their parents’ past choices were released from the mental and physical bondage that is the Reduction. The two islands, Galatea and Albion, were relatively at peace with each other since their citizens had been healed. But nothing ever seems to stays the same for long…

Galatea, though not a direct threat to Albion, is tearing itself apart, and it must be stopped from destroying its people completely and before its inner turmoil spreads to the shores of Albion. Persis Blake, A.K.A. the Wild Poppy, is just the person to stop that from happening. Persis has been masquerading about as the Wild Poppy whenever she is in Galatea, and an Albion social light while she is around her fellow aristos. To keep her secret identity, well, a secret for lack of a better word, Persis has been pretending to be a flaky, unintelligent, vain aristo who is only worth her taste in the latest trends. But then she gets to become the Wild Poppy, and that is when she feels like her true self.

Persis has seen the destruction that the tyrannical rule in Galatea has been wreaking on its own citizens for the past six months firsthand. The Rebels have been medically reducing the Galatean people with pink pills as punishment for their disloyalty to the Rebellion. The Rebels are willing to Reduce the young and the old alike, and that is why Persis created the Wild Poppy. The Wild Poppy enables her to help victims of the Rebellion get to safety and receive the medical care they now need. But Persis is only one person and she can’t save them all, no matter how hard she tries or how much she wants to.

Justen Helo’s sole mission in life is to be a doctor, someone who can help and heal others just like his grandmother had. But it is hard to live up to the Helo name when all you’ve ever done is tinker away in a Galatean lab. He’d had one seemingly amazing breakthrough and then it turned out to be a dead-end. Another dead-end. Justen can’t take living under the Rebellion anymore. At first he had believed in the cause, he’d thought they could make a difference in the world, but now he doesn’t know what or who to believe in. What he does know is that he needs to get out of Galatea while he still can, and before his uncle finds out that he’d been the one to tamper with the most recent batch of pinks. He had made a lot of mistakes, but Justen had never intended his discovery be used like this. He had tried to aid the Rebellion in their fight for equality, and they’d just used him to crush the opposition, giving no one a chance to stand up and fight. The Rebels were fighting dirty, and Justen no longer wanted a part in it. Justen is ready to shake the dust of Galatean soil from his feet, but he needs a ride and he doesn’t have any prospects. Yet.

Call it fate. Coincidence. Maybe even chance, but Justen and Persis find themselves both in dire need of assistance; in need of one another, actually. Whether they like it or not, these two unlikely rebels must become allies in order to survive. Can Justen Helo and Persis Blake put their vendettas aside and work together to save their families and their countries, or will their unwillingness to work together allow the Rebellion time enough to start a war?

I was very excited to read “Across a Star-Swept Sea” and had pre-ordered it months and months ago in preparation for its release, and the cover for it…

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To say the least I was enraptured by the beauty of the cover as well as the description on goodreads. But I didn’t get quite what I had expected.

“Across a Star-Swept Sea” is a great book! It is well written, intricate, and original. “For Darkness Shows the Stars” and “Across a Star-Swept Sea” share the same world, but they both of them felt completely different. Maybe that is why I didn’t fall in love with “Across a Star-Swept Sea” quite as much as I did with its predecessor.

I adored (still adore) “For Darkness Shows the Stars”. It is an amazing retelling of a classic novel; Diana Peterfreund’s ode to Jane Austen was so beautiful that it took my (fictional) breath away. It was a slower read, but only because I wanted to savor it for as long as possible. As my sister put it, “For Darkness Shows the Stars” was written in an almost “sweeping” style. It just moved so gracefully and fluidly that I couldn’t put it down. With “Across a Star-Swept Sea” I felt that it was a quick read, but whenever I put it away for a break, I didn’t have the desire to pick it back up again, that I could not finish it and be okay. That makes it sound like a bad book, but it wasn’t at all. It was good, I just found myself to be a bit distant from the storyline and the characters.

The characters in “Across a Star-Swept Sea” were pretty good. I think that having as many point-of-views as it did, I as a reader didn’t get to know a particular character all that well. I felt like I understood some of them, but now that I think about it, I was never super attached to one character; I just floated between them all. I did end up liking Justen Helo and Princess Isla, and it was nice when they were present or narrating the book. But even with them I felt a bit withdrawn. “Across a Star-Swept Sea” is a very well written book and it has great characters, I just didn’t feel emotionally invested in any of them.

One of the things I did like about “Across a Star-Swept Sea” was the world. Diana definitely did some world building and explaining in this book. It was a bit “messy” in the beginning because the names of certain people and events are different in “Across a Star-Swept Sea” than they were in “For Darkness Shows the Stars.” It went a bit over my head at first until the characters started to explain the history of their world. Once they did, it was good and I could tell that the story was well thought out; I admired Diana a lot for her world building in this book. Sometimes authors can’t explain their worlds in the books they write (at least that is how it feels in sometimes) because they themselves don’t have it quite mastered. I never felt that with this book, and it seemed to me that she had a firm handle on the concept of her world. I was a bit confused at parts but by the end I understood it fairly well. So, kudos on that aspect, Diana.

Overall, “Across a Star-Swept Sea” was a really good book, but it just wasn’t my favorite. It felt very different from “For Darkness Shows the Stars”, and that is why I think I didn’t love it quite as much. “For Darkness Shows the Stars” had an elegant writing and storytelling style and I missed that in this book. I haven’t read “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, so maybe that is why I couldn’t appreciate this book as much, whereas I had read and watched “Persuasion” more than once (more like ten or twenty times!). But, I do know that lots of people love this book and it is definitely worth a read. Sorry about the mixed feelings.

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United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6)

united we spy ally carter

“United We Spy” by Ally Carter

5 out of 5 stars.

Cammie, Zach and their friends return one last time in “United We Spy” for an explosive and entertaining conclusion to the Gallagher Girls series. “United We Spy” is a wonderful and thrilling end to a fabulous series.

Cameron Morgan is a senior. A real senior at the Gallagher Academy. That means big choices, and big choices mean that she could make some big mistakes. She has the brains and the grades to get into practically any university she wants. But that’s the problem: Cammie Morgan, for the first time in her life, doesn’t know what she wants. But Cam soon finds out that she will have to decide what she wants to do quickly or else her current circumstances will make that choice for her, whether she likes it or not. One thing Cammie does know is that she wants to be the one to take down the Circle, and she won’t stop until every last leader is found and taken into custody. The Circle needs to pay for what they have done, and Cam is more than willing to deliver them their sentence. In person.

The Circle of Cavan has been breathing down Cammie’s neck for her entire senior year. Now that she remembers the “list”, Cam and her crew are able to track down the Circle’s leaders one by one. Things never go as smoothly as we plan, though, and Cammie’s first confrontation with a Circle leader since last semester doesn’t go as well as she had hoped. Basically, as Bex and her were questioning and attempting to persuaded one of the Inner Circle’s descendents, he got snipered. Needless to say, he didn’t make it and Bex and Cam were quite close to ending up like him. So close, but still so far. But Cammie and Bex don’t come away completely empty-handed in their encounter. Before he had been shot, the Circle member had said that something big was going to go down, was beginning to happen at that very moment, and that he was completely terrified of it. And Cammie dearly wishes she knew what it was.

Soon, though, Cam and her friends all find themselves caught up in the middle of a war that has been storming since long before they were born, and it only a matter of time before they, and the whole world, is swallowed whole by it. This band of misfits must figure out how to save their family and friends, and discover what treacherous thing the Circle of Cavan has planned before the whole world is plummeted into complete and utter chaos. But Cammie, Zach, Liz, Bex, and Macey, the whole Gallagher Academy, are fighters and they won’t give up until the Circle is destroyed and the world is once again safe from Cavan’s original and sinister plans.

My sister and I have been reading through the Gallagher Girls series recently, and it was taking much too long for “United We Spy” to come into the library. So, instead of waiting, we decided to buy ourselves each a copy, because, well, we wanted it RIGHT now.

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After waiting a few days for it to come in the mail, we were a little impatient (at least I was), and then Columbus day came, and that means no mail. *Sighs*. Then, it happened! The nice mail lady walked up to our porch bearing IT. My reaction (once she was safely back in her mail truck) was as follows.

yaaaaaay

So, without further adieu here is my review.

“United We Spy” by Ally Carter is, sadly, the last book in the Gallagher Girls series. It is a bittersweet thing when a beloved series or trilogy ends. You are so happy to see it all get wrapped up but then you realize that it’s really over, and the wonderful ride you’ve had with these characters is about to come to a good, yet sad end; you don’t want the pages to run out, but they eventually do. The end is so sweet but a little bitter too, and that was how “United We Spy” was.

“United We Spy” was a great end to a fantastic series. Ally Carter just gets better and better as her series go on and it was so much fun to see all of these characters grow up and fit into their own two “shoes”, if you know what I mean. Cammie was great as usual. She was a strong, smart, fun, and a realistic eighteen-year-old girl (who just so happens to be a spy and fictional, but you get my point) in “United We Spy.” I think that Ally Carter wrapped up this character really well, and I had fun experiencing her story.

I think despite how much I liked Cammie, my two favorite characters in this book were Liz and Zach. Liz is the most adorable thing ever and I just love her! She was the awesome nerdy girl who saves the day. She may not be great out doing field work, but she helps save everyone (and the day) in her own brainy, technological way. Ally added a lot of depth to this character in this book (as well as in “Out of Sight, Out of Time”), and you found out that Liz has some demons of her own to deal with, and it takes everything in her to fight them and make things right. I was rooting for Liz the whole time.

Zach, Zach, Zach. He was a very interesting character in “United We Spy.” As I stated in my “Only the Good Spy Young” and “Out of Sight, Out of Time” reviews, Zachary Goode has a lot of secrets. You know he is a good guy, but there are still a lot of things that remain unsaid in those books, as well as this one. I was a bit bummed about that, but the way Ally Carter did it made me okay with the undisclosed secrets. He and Cammie will work it out in their own time, and they’ll do it together this time. There was one thing, though, that Ally Carter did put in “United We Spy” that I really liked, but didn’t expect to happen at all. Call me stupid, but that had not entered my mind.

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The way the secret involved Zach made me understand him more, and so I liked that a lot. I liked him a lot. Overall, I very much enjoyed Zach’s character and I am kind of sad to see him, as well as the other characters, go. I wish he didn’t have to go!

“United We Spy” was a really well written and fast paced book. Ally’s characters were so fun and enjoyable to read about, and I especially liked Preston; I wish I would have been able to see more of him and Macey together. Ally Carter wrapped everything up very nicely but not quite with a pink bow, and that made me respect her a lot as an author. I mean it ended happy and good, but it wasn’t perfect and that was good for the age of the characters and the story she had written. This is a great read for Carter fans or anyone who just wants a fun, entertaining read! Loved it, and I am looking forward to future works of her’s.

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Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Chasing Jupiter Rachel Coker

“Chasing Jupiter” by Rachel Coker

4 out of 5 stars for writing quality.

 4 out of 5 stars for character quality.

3 out of 5 stars for how much I liked it.

Scarlett Blaine’s life in the late 1960’s isn’t as easy as you might think. Underneath the Blaine’s’ wholesome all American family image lay troubles that no one would have ever guessed. Scarlett loves her family, but it doesn’t mean living this life is easy; with her sister gallivanting off whenever she wants in search of another “experience”, and Cliff, her younger brother, being a little unusual himself (but aren’t we all?), life is really messy and complicated. Those are just a few of life’s complications and they don’t even include her parents financial woes and their constant arguing. Don’t get Scarlett wrong, she loves her family, but she has to deal with a lot more junk than your average seventeen year-old. And with her free-loving hippie-ish sister gone most of the time and both of her parents working long hours, Scarlett is left to take care of Cliff, their grandpa and herself. A break would be nice, but time stops for no one and so Scarlett has to keep going, no matter how hard that may be for her.

But life isn’t all work and no play and when Cliff makes a birthday wish, Scarlett is determined to make it come true. Cliff, however, is making that a little harder than expected when his request is revealed: he wants to make a rocket so he can travel to Jupiter. In the day and age of Neil Armstrong being the first man on the moon, Cliff is hopeful it will all work out, but there is going to be a lot of hard work involved if he is to make it to Jupiter.

After finding out that they need a LOT more money than they have to build their spacecraft, Scarlett decides to make peach pies all summer long and sell them to earn enough money. But that means being nice to Frank, a boy who never noticed nor cared to be nice to Scarlett before, and asking him if he would make a trade for something of her’s in exchange for the peaches she needs. Lucky for Scarlett, she doesn’t have to make too much of a trade because all Frank wants in return is to be around Scarlett’s sister. But just as things are looking up for Scarlett, an accident happens and Cliff is the one hurt. Can God help her make it through all of this, if He’s even out there, and why would He let something like this happen? And why did it have to be Cliff? Can Scarlett learn to trust God and let go of what she can’t control, or will she clutch her world so tight that it crumples into pieces?

Before I start my actual review, I just want to thank Charleen and Zondervan Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

“Chasing Jupiter” by Rachel Coker was a very well written Christian Young Adult book, and I enjoyed reading it. One of the things I liked so much about this book was the era; it was interesting to read about a time I hadn’t  grow up in but my parents had. The culture and mindset were very different back then than it is now, but it wasn’t completely foreign to me because I had heard a lot of stories from my parents about their childhoods’. It made that time period come alive a bit more for me, and I really enjoyed that aspect about the book.

Another good thing about “Chasing Jupiter” was the main character, Scarlett. I thought it was sad that she basically had to raise herself and her little brother because her parents were gone so much, and then to have the added burden of taking care of a sick relative just makes the job all the more difficult. Back in the 60’s and 70’s the knowledge of health foods and different techniques to help others get better was very minimal and not widely spread. That was sort of the age where they had begun to discover such things instead of already having pocketed that knowledge for use; it was very sad to see her grandpa being so sick and her little brother’s injury go relatively untreated. I mean, you can only do so much for a person with memory loss or dementia/Alzheimer’s, but there are things that can help these days. All of that made Scarlett and her troubles seem very real.

There are quite a few characters that are good in this book but I really liked Cliff, Scarlett’s brother. He was such a sweetheart and he was so adorable. Frank was also another good character, and his and Scarlett’s relation ship was cute. I think my only problem with this book was what happened to Cliff. I won’t tell you how it ends, just that it made me sad. Call me a sucker for a perfectly cheesy happy ending if you want, because that’s what I wanted here. I absolutely know God is good and faithful no matter what, but it still made me sad and I wish there had been a tiny bit happier ending to this story. But other than that, it was a well written and enjoyable book. Very well done!

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #4)

only the good spy young ally carter

“Only the Good Spy Young” by Ally Carter

5 out of 5 stars.

Cameron Morgan has been spending her summer vacation with her good (and mischievous) friend Rebecca Baxter and Bex’s parents in London, England. Yes, this is the perfect (or very near perfect) way to spend a summer away from the Gallagher Girl Academy. But perfection is unattainable and Cammie has to learn this real life lesson the hard way.

Bex and Cammie are just strolling along the Thames, walking toward the Tower of London when HE, the vision of perfection, grabs Cammie from behind and pulls her into the shadows. Well, vision of perfection might not be the best usage of the English language, but Mr. Solomon is the PERFECT spy, and he is quite handsome, so we’ll stick with that description for the time being. Although Cammie is happy to see her Covert Operations teacher in London, she is confused as to why he is there. It is very unlike her teacher, but it seems to Cam that Mr. Solomon is not acting quite like himself, and for some odd reason he keeps telling her to “follow the pigeons”, and is making her promise to follow the seagulls (or whatever breed of birds they are). None of what he is saying makes any sense. To top it all off, Bex’s mother and father want Mr. Solomon to come with them, as if he is a bad guy, the bad guy Cammie has been running and hiding from all summer long. Mr. Solomon a bad guy? Cammie won’t believe it; she just can’t believe that her teacher, the BEST spy she knows could be on the wrong side, could have been on it the whole time she has known him. Cammie finds herself at an impasse, stuck in the middle of a fight she had never known existed, a war that was raging on right in front of her at this very moment in time. In just a few seconds she has to choose whether to believe that “follow the pigeons” is a code for something very important, or if it is just gibberish coming from a crazed, worn out man, a man who is no longer the perfect spy she had known only weeks ago. A person who is now suspected of being a traitor of the country he had once vowed to protect. No lecture on deductive reasoning could have ever prepared Cam for this moment on this bridge; she literally has to choose a side to stand on! But before Cammie can even come to a conclusion of her own, Mr. Solomon (just moments after delivering his message to her) jumps off of the bridge he and Cammie are standing on (quite gracefully, I might add) and plunges into the cold, dark water of the Thames.

Perfection is an illusion. It is a lie that someone tells another person in order to set up false expectations of the people you know, people you trusted with your life. Cammie is disillusioned after her encounter in London with not only Mr. Solomon, but also Zachary Goode. Both seem to have disappeared into thin air. And every piece of evidence that comes forward seems to point at Mr. Solomon being a traitor, an operative of the Circle of Cavan, who are a threat to national (and worldwide) safety and is the Gallagher Academy’s sworn enemy. Adding to Cammie’s numerous troubles is the fact that she had seen Zach AND Mr. Solomon together multiple times. Both are completely off of the grid, their appearances and disappearances coinciding with each others’ almost suspiciously so. Cammie doesn’t want to believe either of them could be traitors, but the facts are solid, the Academy’s theories of Mr. Solomon sound. Can Cammie and her friends figure out whether or not Mr. Solomon and Zach are working for the Circle of Cavan, or will they remain too far in the dark to stop the Circle (and everyone associated with them) from getting exactly what they came for?

“Only The Good Spy Young” by Ally Carter was really good. This one went even faster than the third book, and it had a deeper plot that I have a feeling will continue throughout the rest of the series. Cammie is also older in this book (obviously) and so the theme and plot of “Only the Good Spy Young” are far more mature than the other three books, and so that was really interesting to experience. There was a lot which changed in this book from “Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover”, but I think it was for the better, so I was not at all against those changes.

As usual the gang is back, and they are better than ever! Zachary Goode is also really good in this book and is in it a lot more  than the other books, which meant I got to get to know him more. The more Zach unveils about himself, the more the secrets and the questions about who he really is just seem to build up; I hope that at the end of this series a lot of his super dark secrets will be revealed and resolved. There are quite a few to unearth when it comes to that boy, so I am not sure it is even possible for it all to get resolved because there is just so MUCH to “fix” in a manner of speaking. I’ll be honest, I don’t like lies, and lies do not make for a sturdy foundation in a relationship, so I hope that Cammie and Zach will be able to share their secrets with each other eventually instead of keeping them to themselves.; they seem to work better together when they clear the air, so to speak. I am not sure how that all is going to pan out, but I still have hope that at least  some of the stuff will get resolved.

Overall, I liked “Only the Good Spy Young” the most so far in this series, and I am looking forward to the next installment in the “Gallagher Girl” series. Well done, Ally Carter, well done!

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Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #5)

out of sight, out of time ally carter

“Out of Sight, Out of Time” by Ally Carter

5 out of 5 stars.

Beware, this review does have a few spoilers.

At the end of “Only the Good Spy Young”, Cammie had decided to leave her school, home, and family and friends far behind (for their own safety), and she began to follow the bread crumbs leading her to the Circle of Cavan; she has to destroy them before they get what they want from her and they hurt the ones she loves. She needs to stop them before it is too late. But Cammie is in way over her head, and she is going to need all the help she can get in “Out of Sight, Out of Time.”

Cameron Morgan is a spy (fine, spy in training). She has been called a chameleon for obvious reasons, and she has one of the sharpest minds at the Gallagher Academy for Girls. But this isn’t a mission Cammie could have ever prepared for inside or outside of the classroom, and this is definitely not Gillian Gallagher’s Academy. Worst of all, though, is that Cam can’t remember a thing about how she arrived at the convent in the Alps, banged and bruised up, and how she has no recollection of what happened in the past four months. How could she lose that much time when she already has so little?

Cameron Morgan has so many questions: (1) how did she get to the convent in the Alps having sustained so many injuries?, (2) why is she even there?, and (3) how could four months just disappear from her memory? But Cam has no one to answer any of these questions, questions that just keep piling up inside her head. She is lost, afraid and alone (minus the whole convent of women) and she needs help. More specifically, she needs her friends’ and family’s help. After a quick phone call and a long flight, Cammie is escorted back inside of the Gallagher Academy’s walls, but there is very little relief in her arrival home because things are not as they used to be, as they should be. She was the one to change it all, her running away having caused all this, but the coldness of her friends still stings. Cam doesn’t blame them, but it hurts, and the emptiness she feels when asked about the past summer just makes it all worse. She realizes now that by running away she lost her friends and has nothing to show for leaving. Cam had wanted to protect them and instead she lost them in another way. But Cammie is a fighter, and she will do anything and go anywhere to find out what happened to her during those lost months. She has to make it all right again.

Cammie and her friends have a long journey ahead of them in “Out of Sight, Out of Time.” Things seem to get worse as the days pass for this team but they are determined to bring the Circle down before it is too late. As things begin to come into the light and some of Cam’s memories are recovered, Cammie will discover that some things are best left forgotten. Especially when they involve the Circle.

“Out of Sight, Out of Time” by Ally Carter was another great read! This is definitely the more “dark” book of the series and the most intense so far, and it was great. The plot thickens (yes, it thickens further) is this book, and it was interesting to read from the perspective of someone who is a victim of amnesia. I have only read one other book about someone with a case memory loss that was most likely caused by a traumatic event, and Ally Carter did such a good job writing that kind of emotionally and mentally compromised person. She also wrote really good mystery and intrigue into this book, and it kept you guessing until the very end of “Out of Sight, Out of Time.”

One of the things I really liked about this book was that everyone (Zach, Bex, Liz, Cammie’s Mom and Aunt Abby, Macey, and even Agent Townsend) was working together to figure out why the Circle had taken Cammie, and what they had done to her while she was missing. They backtracked to all the places Cam went to, which included Italy, to see if they could retrieve whatever it was that the Circle had taken and what Cammie had lost her memory protecting. It was very entertaining to see all of their personalities be so present in the storyline.

Zach was one of my favorite characters in this book. He was in it practically 24/7, so I was able to get a feel for his character, and I began to like him more and more as the book progressed. He still had his secrets, but there was more to him than all those hidden things and I liked finally seeing something other than his secrets; I got to see him as he really was. I also enjoyed his a Cammie’s relationship a bit more in this book than the others because they are going on missions together in “Out of Sight, Out of Time”, and it was nice to see them work together. I really hope that in the last book, Ally Carter resolves some of the last-minute issues that arose in this book between Cam and Zach.

Overall, “Out of Sight, Out of Time” was a great, fast read. It was super interesting and it felt a bit different from the previous books, but it still kept the ongoing theme. “Out of Sight, Out of Time” was also really good for the fact that the characters all stayed true to themselves, but they grew and changed as the book went on; they were still the same people I had met in book one, yet better somehow. It was very fun and very original, and I also loved that the background characters took the front seat alongside Cammie and Zach. A wonderful and fantastic read and I LOVED it! I cannot wait until I get “United We Spy”!

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Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #3)

don't judge a girl by her cover ally carter

“Don’t Jude a Girl by Her Cover” by Ally Carter

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Ahhhhh, winter break of junior year should be fun, shouldn’t it? Well, sadly not in Cameron Morgan’s and Macey McHenry’s case…

Macey’s father is aspiring to be the next vice president of the United States, and that means she must be on her best behavior. That means no talking back (while on camera of course), no running off-screen or doing anything “crazy” (while on camera), and she must be the perfect model of the perfect American child who has the perfect All American family. So, basically, Macey McHenry needs to lie on national television about who she and her family really are from this day forward if Mr. Winters is elected president and her father becomes vice president.

No fun, no games. That’s what it sounds like to Macey, but she I hopeful that she will still be able to have fun and be herself (in some ways) despite all of this masquerading in front of the public eye (and on television) with Cammie the Chameleon at her side. Maybe Cam could even share a little of her street skills if the need to disappear ever arises. Macey doesn’t even realize just how much and how soon she and Cammie are going to need those skills.

Sadly, for the two girls, their fun is ended abruptly when they are cornered by an extremely coordinated tactical group on a deserted roof in Boston. Cammie and Macey fight for their lives and barely make it away from their would-be kidnappers. Outside of a broken arm and some bruises and scrapes, Cammie and Macey are relatively okay; their bodies fared better than their minds. But they aren’t out of danger yet, not even close. There is a price on Macey McHenry’s head, and it must be paid. In full.

“Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover” by Ally Carter was another home run. Mrs. Carter just seems to create books that get better and better as her series go on, and the “Gallagher Girl” series is no exception. The second book in this series was great; it had humor, adventure, and a tinsy bit of romance in it, but “Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover” was even more enjoyable than its predecessor.

The characters in this book were great as usual! Cammie was very entertaining (no surprise there), and it was nice to get to know Macey a bit more and to see how her family functioned as a whole (function is a relative word for how her family runs). It made me understand and like her a lot more than I already did. She had to be what her parents wanted her to be instead of just being herself, which is a good person just not a perfect one.

Bex, Liz, and the whole cast and crew of the Gallagher Academy were great and super entertaining. Liz is such a sweetheart with a head full of brains (in more than one respect), but she is a little clumsy and awkward too, which makes for quite a few laughs. Bex is also very amusing, and I like her as the crazy, adventurous friend that you can always count on having your back physically, while Liz will back you up technologically. These four Gallagher Girls have a very symbiotic relationship, to be sure, and it creates for a very funny and entertaining environment as a reader. Another aspect of “Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover” that I really liked was that it was a very engrossing read. I never felt bored or like the story lagged at any point; it was well written and paced from beginning to end, and I just loved it.

Last but not least, the romance. As I said in a previous review, Cammie and her friends are growing up, and so is/are the love interest(s). We’ll use Zachary Goode as an example since he is the main “man” in this book. To be honest with you, I wasn’t that impressed with him in the second book (I liked him but wasn’t in love with the character since I didn’t really know anything about him), but he really does grow on you as the series progresses. At least that was how it was for me. In “Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover” he was present in about half of the book, I’d say, so you don’t get THAT much of him and Cammie together but it gives you enough time to figure out that he has a lot more secrets than you (probably) originally thought. I like his and Cammie’s relationship because it is not insta-love at all. Yay!! I admire Ally for doing that and for them not being obsessed with each other; Cam and Zach really like each other, but their circumstances and personality types do not lead to obsession . Overall Zach Goode is a very interesting and mysterious character that I am looking forward to discovering more about in the next installments of the “Gallagher Girl” series. I loved it! A LOT.

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Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #2)

cross my heart and hope to spy ally carter

“Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy” by Ally Carter

4 out of 5 stars.

Cammie Morgan, Rebecca Baxter, Elizabeth Sutton, and Macey McHenry. No girls in the world can create quite as much trouble as these four can. “I’d Tell You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” by Ally Carter was a fun ride, but in the second installment of the “Gallagher Girls” series, things just got a lot better and…well, a lot more complicated.

Cammie (Code Name: Chameleon) and her band of lip gloss-using operatives (operatives being a tentative use of the word since they don’t actually “work” for an agency) have their newest, and largest, mission yet in “Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.” These for girls (and the Gallagher Academy student body) must all learn how to attend the most elite spy school for girls and act “natural” (AKA covert) around boys. Yes, their most difficult mission involves an exchange program with teenage boys. It might sound easy, but it’s not.

Legend has it, though, that there is an academy out there like Gillian Gallagher’s, but legends are just legends and so Cammie never thought twice about it. But she has overheard conversations here and there about the infamous (and non-existent) Blackthorne Institute for Boys. The more Cammie hears, the more she wonders if the students’ gossip holds some truth to it. And after not to long Cammie and her roommates discover that one of Tina Walters’ infamous rumors is true, and it is about Blackthorne; Tina’s tall tale (or not so tall tale now) proves to be even more factual when some boys come to attend their school. And who would have guessed it: Blackthorne boys are now inside of Gillian Gallagher’s walls.

Mission or no mission, Cammie and her crew are hard pressed on every side, and they soon discover that the Blackthorne boys might be at the Gallagher Academy for some very, very unsavory reasons. Will Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macey be able to figure out why these boys so suddenly showed up at their school, or will the Blackthorne boys get what they came for before the full force of Gallagher Girl fury can come down upon them?

“Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy“ by Ally Carter was a fantastic book! I liked the first book, “I’d Tell You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You”, but the second was waaaaay better. Cammie is a very enjoyable heroine to follow around, and her friends are a riot. While reading this book, I just felt so happy and like I had found a new band of friends to hang out with; it was lighthearted fun with a little bit of adventure thrown into the mix.

As I said before, Cammie and her friends were great, but I must say that I was SURPRISED by how funny they were as a group. Ally Carter did such a fantastic of putting humor into this book, and setting the stage for the next four books that are to come after it. My sister and I were talking and she pointed out that Ally Carter makes her books “grow up” alongside her readers; we as readers mature obviously. Our tastes change and hopefully we get a wise head on our shoulders as we grow older. Ally Carter makes each of the characters in her series grow up as you mature as a person. I think that one of the reasons she is so successful as a writer is that she begins by writing her characters at a younger age (though they seem more mature than it) and then as each book goes on, they grow up just like you and me, instead of staying in eternal warp mode. To me it seems like that is a very smart way to do a book series because each reader feels as if they grew up with the characters (which they have in a way), and it helps you to reach the younger and older generations who love to read. That, I think, is one of the many reasons that I keep coming back for more when Ally Carter is involved. She is such an amazing writer and anything she does in the Young Adult genre, I’ll read.

Another reason why I like Ally Carter’s books is because of the content of each book. As she move on in a series, the content gets a little more mature (intelligence and plot-wise) so a reader never feels like they are reading the same old story, that they are not hearing a broken record play the same cord/lyric/tune over and over again. There is no language in her books (I’ve read the “Heist Society” and now the “Gallaher Girl” series), the relationships are interesting and dynamic, and the romance is cute but never inappropriate. For me, I would recommend her as an author to anyone who might be interested in the Young Adult genre, or in mystery/adventure fiction. Ally has not disappointed me, and I don’t think she will.

Overall, “Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy” was and is a fantastic read. It was loads of fun, and I cannot wait until I get my hands on the rest of this series. Loved it!

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