Wednesday, September 18, 2013

United We Spy

Just yesterday, the series that has been a major player in my life ended. That's right, after eighteen months of waiting, United We Spy, the final chapter in Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series, came out.

I bought this book at six o'clock last night, and finished it at about two o'clock this afternoon. I was so excited, and wanted to see the end! In some ways, I wasn't disappointed, and in other ways, I was.

This book, set a few months after the events of Out of Sight, Out of Time, follows our heroes as they track down the leaders of the Circle, stop them from starting World War Three, and face graduation. I must say, the characters themselves are much less involved in the actual task of finding the people than I has expected. The parental figures in the series tried to keep them out of it for their own protection, but since when do our favorite Gallagher Girls (and Gallagher Guy) ever followed adults' instruction?

In my opinion, overall, this was a great book, and a semi-satisfying end to the series. It closed the arc, and the characters came full circle (no pun intended). Yet, there were things I disliked about this, such as:

There were many things which happened in this book that should have been major plot points, but were just glazed over! Several characters which we haven't seen since Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy show up, but they only get half a chapter, and no explanation of where they have been since then, or why/how they were in the story now. Backstory on one of the main four girls is given, and it is a basis for the rest of the events of the book, but really isn't explained very well. One of the members of the Circle hints to their motive in joining, but we never learn the extent of it, and Cammie didn't express any interest in finding out! A character is revealed to be much more than an acquaintance of the main characters, but that fact isn't delved into really.

At the very end, there is an event which was, to me, jumping the shark, and really sad, and didn't really add to the plot. Well, I guess it did add to the heart feels which were in Liz's valedictorian speech.

Within the book, Cammie talk to several of the heirs of the Circle's founders. With each one, she finds herself about to hear the Circle's plan, then the heir died, the secret along with them. This got old rather quickly.

There were things I really enjoyed, too! I enjoyed how Ally experimented with the characters being in different environments and situations, and how changes affected their abilities. Of course, there was the common theme of Ally Carter books where one moment my heart was being broken, then my mind being blown, then both being mended.

And then, ZAMMIE SCENES. I loved how, against other YA fiction of today, they didn't get too sexual. They were just little take in the moment, taking in being together, taking in being alive together, romantic moments that just seemed to define the couple.

I also loved how Ally, in these last few books, has pulled in facts from previous books that at the time seemed meaningless, but ended up playing a big part in the long run. It gave me a feeling of, What other hints have I missed? This is why I consider her one of the most clever authors I have ever known. She makes her readers go back and re-read. Which I would do, anyway. Even if the series is over, I still hold fast to the fact that I will forever in my heart be a Gallagher Girl.

Which leads me to... the dedication. Ally dedicated UWS, "For all the Gallagher Girls- past, present, and future.The way Ally loves her fans makes me love her even more as an author. This series has been as much a part of her life as it has been of ours: it was not just something she wrote to put bread on the table. It was also for us.  And for herself, and the world she had created and felt like a part of.

And that world has come to its end. I cry as I write this, because this series began it all. Without it, I might never have wanted to write: fiction or otherwise. And outside of that, it has changed me, and how I view the world (not that I am placing it as a higher book than the Bible, of course!) And it also led me to befriend a girl who now I can't imagine life without. God works in mysterious ways: He planted an idea in Ally's head, knowing one day it would lead other girls to.. however it affected their lives, and how it would lead me to be a writer, and a friend. I am still grateful for that.

So, what started with unwrapping a package under a tree one cold Christmas morning ends on a rainy day in Spetember. I wish all of you happy reading, and God bless. I look forward to what else God has in store. Here's to Gallagher Girls, and to the new Embassy Row!

" 'So this is good-bye?' I asked.
   'Come on, Gallagher Girl' Zach turned to me. He winked. 'What would be the odds of that?'"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I can admit when I'm wrong. So, now that is what I am here to do. I was wrong about Reached being the worst book in the Crossed series by Ally Condie.

Granted, it wan't the best either.

(Warning: Spoilers for previous two books ahead) This book takes place almost immediately after the events of Crossed. Our first perspective is from Xander. He, while performing his duties as a medic, encounters the fulfillment of a long-told, and very obscure and obtusely played out prophecy: a terrible disease, literally called The Plague, has made its way to within the bounds of The Society, which causes chaos in a world where there is supposed to be no such thing as sickness.

So, our heroes are now bound on a mission to the Outer Provinces to research for a cure to be distributed by the Rising. During that period, the Plague mutates, and even Ky (as an obvious ploy to make an otherwise sort of boring Outbreak-esque story dramatic) succumbs to it, only causing Cassia to work even harder towards the cure.

We encounter a lot of complicated conspiracy within the Society, and the Rising, and forced romance, and other stuff. What will be the fate of our heroes' country?

Overall, I thought this was pretty good, and though I said earlier that it was sort of boring, it did have its exciting points. I have to admit, I enjoyed the drama with Ky falling sick. It was refreshing to get away from the cliche of the heroine turning to damsel in distress, only for the hero to come in and save the day at the last minute, which is what I had expected once I had wrapped my head around the Plague. I was intrigued by how during the time Ky is sick, we get a deeper insight into his mind, and a little of his past that we still don't know.

One thing I did not like, however, was the cliche distopian open-ending. An election is being tallied at the end of the book, and we don't get any idea as to who actually wins (unless you count Ky and Cassia telling how they voted). Really, Condie, really? I also could have stood a bit more explanation on how the Plague worked. We see the symptoms, but not the disease, if that makes sense.

This was a great book, even though it didn't completely close the series. All three books are on my personal shelf :D

Friday, June 21, 2013


I just finished Alex Flinn's newest book, Towering. Just as Beastly was based off of the timeless story of the Beauty an the Beast, Towering is based on Rapunzel.

This book switched from the perspectives of Wyatt, a boy who just lost his best friend and moved to this town called Catskill, and Rachel, a girl who has never known anyone besides a woman she calls Mama, though she knows that she isn't her real mother. She has lived locked up in a tower in the woods of Catskill since she was very young.

Wyatt moves in with the mother of a friend of her mom's, Mrs. Greenwood, whose daughter disappeared eighteen years ago, and was presumed dead. The first night, Wyatt finds the diary of this girl, and then comes face to face with her ghost, right before Greenwood comes in a scolds him for being in her daughter's room.

He reads the diary, and investigates her disappearance, and the strange singing he keeps on hearing, when no one else does. He discovers Rachel, hidden in the tower all other people thought was abandoned.

The two, of course, fall in love, and together find out a creepy secret about their town.

I didn't enjoy this book. Sure, I loved the mystery of Catskill, but other than that, I really didn't understand it. Even though we got backstories, some of the things in the story still seemed to have loose ends. I can't say much more on that, since I don't do spoilers (except to tease my friends :D )

Also, the romance didn't feel right. In Beastly, you could connect to the characters and fall in love with them. In this book, since Wyatt didn't meet Rachel until halfway through the book, so their relationship was sort of rushed. In general, the individual characters didn't get a lot of time to become relate-able and enjoyable. 

If this, all by itself, were a mystery novel, it would be an amazing story. But in this case, it has to live up to the magic and familiarity of its fairytale, and being a romantic story. In the second case, I think Flinn has failed. In a general opinion, I believe she peaked when she wrote Beastly, and has struggled to live up to the hype it received ever since. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Middle Ground

Katie Kacvinsky released a sequel to her dystopian novel, Awaken, called Middle Ground. Since I liked its predecessor (until its-non-ending), I got this book and finished reading it today.

This story takes place almost immediately after the events of its predecessor. Maddie is supposed to be keeping a low profile, since she is technically supposed to be in a detention center. Of curse, this proves impossible for our rebellious heroine, because almost as soon as the book begins, we find her causing a ruckus in a virtual dance club in L.A. and nearly getting arrested. And guess who had already been there? Justin.

Maddie isn't immediately arrested, but the very next day, Damon, her probation officer, comes to her brother's apartment, where she is staying while she's in California, and takes her to the local detention center. What is supposedly a rehabilitation clinic, detention centers end up being torture centers. I refuse to describe exactly how this is, because it is so disturbing one has to read it for themselves to actually believe it.

I still liked this book, but not nearly as much as its predecessor, mainly because of the scenes in the detention center. Just the same, it had added morals to its overall theme: live. Now it's: live, and stay strong.

I can't decide which dystopian government has disturbed me the most: The government in The Giver, Matched, or this series- all have their ways of manipulating people to their ideals so they can be controlled easier. I guess that's part of why these stories have so much appeal- everyone loves to hate them.

Again, this series has seemed to have less to do with rebelling over abuse of technology, and more to do with Justin and Maddie's relationship. Not that I don't LOVE Justin and wish I had one for myself, but I would appreciate it if the content of a book actually followed its official plot.

As seems cliche for this genre, the story didn't end: it stopped, leaving it open for a potential sequel. This ANNOYS ME to no end! I want to know the resolution of THIS BOOK'S CONFLICT in THIS BOOK, NOT the sequel which is creepier than its predecessor.

Sorry if I'm ranting, this is just my opinion. This book is good, and it's another one of those books I recommend, but at the same time don't recommend

Monday, September 3, 2012


I finished the sequel to Matched today. I'm afraid that this series will end up like the Hunger Games, and digress in plot quality as the series goes on. This book caused these expectations. When I review it, keep in mind that there will be spoilers from Matched. Read with caution!

This book half revolves around Cassia searching for Ky in the Outer Provinces, and half revolves around finding the mythical "Rising", the rebellion against the Society. Cassia and Ky switch off narration by chapter, which is okay at first, but after a while confused me. After Cassia found Ky, they're at the same places, the same events are going on, and the tone of Cassia and Ky's narrations are very similar, so you really have to pay attention to the first page of a chapter or you'll be totally lost until you see "Cassia said" in what you thought was her chapter.

I have fallen in love with how much Ky loves Cassia, and how devoted he is to running from the Outer Provinces, where he has been "fighting" the war with the Enemy, and getting back to Society so he can at least send a message to Cassia. The same goes for Cassia's devotion to Ky, even though he's not exactly the guy I'd fall for.

My hatred for the Society has grown, as we discover that the blue tablet, said to save a citizen when taken, actually is poison to slow you down if taken, to keep you in one place so the Society could find you, or kill you if you have rebelled against the Society and are outside of their range of help. Not that I'm surprised.

This book doesn't end. It just stops. What is Cassia's work in Central? Why wasn't she reclassified? Has Xander told her his secret? Is Ky going to be okay? Does he still have Cassia's grandfather and Vick's tissue samples?

So, overall, this is an OK book, but it lacks a certain something that I was looking for. I do not have much hope for Reached, the final book, coming out in November. I'll still read it, of course. I still like the series, but I think Reached will be the worst of all the trilogy.

I am Here!

The other day, I read a manga book for the first time ever. My friend recommended I do t, so I decided to at least try, even if it is a bit unusual.

I read I am Here! Volume 1 by Ema Toyama. It revolves around the story of a girl, Hikage Sumino , who is basically invisible to others. Her only friends are the two people who comment on her daily blog. But when the most popular boys in her class talks to her, she decides to re-invent herself.

I liked this story, because at times I can relate to Hikage, though not so much anymore, now that I am in high school. I thought the romance between Hikage and Hinata was super sweet! Hinata is awesome, and cute! Yet, so are all anime guys...

I thought the character development was a little bit rushed. I expected this book to be about her getting to know Hinata, and becoming stronger and gradually more confident because of him, and gradually she would become more and more outgoing. But no. At the very end of this book, she announces in front of the whole class that she had always felt invisible, and Hinata was the only person who saw her, and suddenly her classmates are all buddy-buddy with her.

Speaking of her classmates, Aya and her crew were so mean! I really didn't like her! I didn't really understand why she said "This is all your fault.". What is all Hikage's fault??

Overall, I liked this book. I want to get the second book, but my dad doesn't approve of me reading manga. When he saw the book, he asked me "Why don't you read a REAL book?" and I don't imagine he'll let me get the next one. I don't know. I understand where he's coming from, but I do usually read real books! This was just for fun, to take a break! Why can't he just let me enjoy it?

Until next time- happy reading!

Friday, August 31, 2012


I recently read this novel by Ally Condie as filler material between Gallagher Girl books. I LOVED IT! Here's Matched:

This story revolves around Cassia, who lives many years in the future, in the world now known as the Society. The government gives you everything: your home, your clothes, your jobs, deliver your food to your house, and even...your spouse. You are "Matched" (hence the title) once you turn seventeen, but aren't officially married until you turn twenty-one.

At Cassia's Match Banquet, where she will see and meet her Match for the first time, she is shocked to discover that her Match is her best friend, Xander. Most people are Matched with people outside of their province, someone they have never met, so this is very extraordinary. Cassia is very satisfied, happy, and excited on beginning her new life with him.

Each person Matched receives a silver box containing the equivalent of a flash drive with information about their Match on it. When Cassia views hers, just to see Courtship Regulations and a few tidbits she might not already knew, Xander's face disappears, replaced with another boy's- and Cassia knows him, too. An Official tells her it is just a rare glitch. A malfunction. But she's conflicted.

Cassia suddenly finds herself constantly encountering the other boy, Ky. She gradually falls in love with him, and vice versa. She now has to choose: Xander, and a life of safe predictability, or Ky, and a life of new experiences.

I thought this book was AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING! I love stories that take place in a dystopian future. They always make me wonder if that really would be us someday. This Society seems the most realistic of that in any other book I've read. I like it more, because the Society at least gives some choice in life. But of course, the government is worse than any I've seen. They base everything off of percentages and predictions. Every so often they purposely throw a curve ball into someone's life just to see the outcome.

The characters themselves, as seems the way in this genre, are all flat, except for the narrator, Cassia. Except maybe Ky. Sweet, mysterious Ky. Of course, I say that, when I sort of like Xander better. It's a toss up, really. Why does everything have to have a love triangle and make you pick sides?!? I find that more and more in YA fiction these days. It is becoming cliche.

I loved this book, and am currently reading its sequel, Crossed. It confuses me so far, because the narration switches off between Ky and Cassia. I am liking it OK, but it isn't as good as the first. But I AM starting to like Ky better. Mostly because Xander only appears in the second and fourth chapters.... And Ky is super sweet and REALLY loves Cassia. I will review the entire book once I finish, probably sometime over the long weekend. Oh yeah, happy labor day weekend! Bye!

Edited to add: Poems seemed to play a theme in this book, which I really don't understand.