Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Picture 3Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, Bk 2) by Ally Carter

After staking out, obtaining, and then being forced to give up her first boyfriend, Josh, all Cammie Morgan wants is a peaceful semester. But that’s easier said than done when you’re a CIA legacy and go to the premier school in the world…for spies.

Cammie may have a genius IQ , but there are still a lot of things she doesn’t know. Like, will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble is she really in after what happened last semester? And most of all, why is her mother acting so strangely?

Despite Cammie’s best intentions to be a normal student, danger seems to follow her. She and her best friends learn that their school is going to play host to some mysterious guests–code name: “Blackthorne. Then she’s blamed for a security breach that leaves the school’s top-secret status at risk. Soon Cammie and her friends are crawling through walls and surveilling the school to learn the truth about Blackthorne and clear Cammie’s name. Even though they have confidence in their spy skills, this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie’s heart–and her beloved school–are higher than ever.

I officially love this series now.  This is the second book and it was just as fun as the first one.  Even more fun, perhaps.  The first book did a lot of set up, but I felt this one allowed Cammie and her friends to grow.  And of course the new additions, the boys.  The affect they had on the girls and the school was pretty fun.  Zach was a fun character and I liked that Cammie never really knew what was going on with him.

I am still itching to do an Alias rewatch now.  I’ll admit that my dog and I were pavement artists on our walk this afternoon.  Marshall is definitely too nosy to be any good at it.  We’ll have to work on him.

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

Picture 2Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

Growing up in a world of wealth and pastel-tinted entitlement, fifteen-year-old Carly has always relied on the constancy—and authenticity—of her sister, Anna. But when fourteen-year-old Anna turns plastic-perfect-pretty over the course of a single summer, everything starts to change. And there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do. With warmth, insight, and an unparalleled gift for finding humor even in stormy situations, beloved author Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other stay afloat.

I had really high hopes for this book.  I’d read an interview on another author’s blog with Lauren Myracle and she talked about setting her books in Atlanta because she grew up here.  I thought this would be a refreshing change from reading books set in NYC or LA.  Well, it wasn’t much of a change.  I guess it was just equal opportunity because all this book proved is that you don’t have to live in NYC or LA to be a rich, vapid mean-girl.  The book was set in Buckhead which should have been sign #1 that I wasn’t going to like it.  I don’t have anything against Buckhead itself.  I have family that lives there and I love them dearly.  I don’t have anything against the “elite” Atlanta private schools.  Again, I have family that went to one of them.  But I did have a problem with the description of the rest of Atlanta.  The one that got to me the most – people that live in Little Five Points are cocaine using lesbians.  Huh.  As it turns out, I live in L5P and have never used any illegal drugs and I’m not a lesbian.  Yes, it was a minor part of the book, but it was reiterated a few times towards the beginning and really turned me off.  I mean, seriously?  A fifth grader wanted to leave a friend’s birthday party because the mom had a ladybug tattoo on her wrist?  The part that amused me the most was that Carly probably actually would have liked and fit in in L5P if she wasn’t so busy being condescending.

There were redeeming moments when I did like Carly and felt she was making a breakthrough, but then she’d do something stupid and I’d lose respect for her again.  I felt the book tried to tackle subjects like religion and racism and kind of failed.  I struggled with Carly’s relationship with Anna.  There were parts of it that seemed absolutely authentic.  I have a sister that’s two years older than me, and we went through some of the issues Carly and Anna dealt with, so it was interesting to read the “big sister” POV, but usually it left me wanting the explain the “little sister” POV to Carly for Anna, or explain to Anna that she didn’t have to always be in need of rescue.

So in the end, I was left a little empty.  I kept waiting for Anna and Carly to grow up, and I guess they did a little in the end, but I spent most of the book a little annoyed with both of them.  I really liked Vonzelle and Roger and even Peyton when she wasn’t saying “JK. LOL. Enter.”  I’d like to read a book about Vonzelle.

Lauren Myracle is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Picture 1 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that the writing is incredibly captivating.  I decided to start reading as I was going to bed a couple nights ago.  I was only going to read for 15 minutes or so, but I found that I couldn’t put the book down and ended up finishing 80 pages and staying up later than I had planned.

In the beginning, the chapters are short and alternate between Grace’s POV and Sam’s POV.  Later, the chapters get longer and several chapters will stay with one character for a while.  I really liked getting both characters’ perspective and thoughts.  It made both characters (and the book) seem more well rounded.   A few parts in the middle were a little slow, but overall I liked the book.

I have seen this book compared to New Moon by Stephenie Meyer and I really disagree with the association.  Yes, it’s about a girl and a werewolf, but Grace is much more likable than Bella.  The drama that Grace and Sam faced was much more interesting in my mind than what Bella and Jacob dealt with.

One last thing – it was really weird reading about (and worrying about) the cold while enduring August in Georgia.

Maggie Stiefvater is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

ityilybtihtky I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science; and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes computer class. So in truth, Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but its really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year shes already fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways.But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks shes an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without his ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, shes beginning her most dangerous mission–shes falling in love.

Overall, I thought this book was really cute.  Cammie is smart and funny and I found myself totally wanting to be a Gallagher Girl by the end.   I think it was my love of Alias bubbling back to the surface.   It was fun to see this super smart, highly trained girl encounter an entirely new obstacle – dating.  The book had more layers than I was expecting, like her relationship with her mom and the danger all the girls’ spy parents are in.   I thought the supporting characters (Cammie’s suitemates) were a little one dimensional.

I have the next two books in the series and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Ally Carter is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.