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All Fall Down

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By: Ally Carter

An Embassy Row Novel

Grace Blakely is back in Adria, where her Grandfather is US Ambassador and her mother grew up. Her mother is why she is back, and there are so many memories. And memories are a big part of the problem, because Grace knows three things with certainty; that she isn’t crazy, that her mother was murdered and she is determined to find the killer and make them pay. No-one else believes her. Her issues mean she has no-one to trust.

Into this comes Noah, her new self-proclaimed best friend, he simply won’t take no for an answer when he pushes his way into her life. To complicate matters, Alexei the Russian, has promised to keep an eye on her because her brother has asked him to. Then she sees the man she swears killed her mother. Who can she get to help to prove it? It’s all more complicated because everyone on Embassy Row has to constantly be aware of scandal and international implications of what happens between them. Every move, every little action can have big ramifications, even going through the wrong door can cause an international incident. How will she convince people she is not losing it?

Carter has created a city with a story centred on the complexities of growing up in a truly international street. The gravitas provided by the knowledge everything that happens could have impact outside of the small contained world these characters live in, gives the story a whole other dimension. Grace is a damaged character and whilst it is good to see things such as anxiety and the like represented I find the extremes a little too intense. The brief moments of relief somehow don’t seem long enough, even though it does make sense eventually. Even though I did have a few niggles with Grace herself the story was entertaining and I went straight onto the second book.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st February 2015

Key Words: Politics, Family, Conspiracy, Thriller

ISBN: 9781743628942

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Only the Good Spy Young

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By: Ally Carter

Bk 4 of the Gallagher Girls series

Cammie was born to be a Gallagher Girl, and that has always come with the knowledge that it is a life full of risk and danger. There has always been a buzz associated with that, with knowing that she was Cammie the Chameleon. Now though things have changed a terrorist organisation is set on kidnapping her and someone she has always looked up to, trusted and respected has been come to be labelled as a double agent, a traitor. For Cammie it feels as though her world is falling apart. All of this impacts on her school life as well, so many things have changed. Who can Cammie now trust? Her best friends of course. Together they must work through the new problems and still deal with all the stuff spy school throws at them.

This addition to the series throws a darker twist on things as Cammie’s safety nets are pulled from her and she has to discern truth in amongst a whole lot of lies, lies delivered by trained liars. The complexity of the story and the layers drag the reader in an keep you engaged. The world is one as we know it and that makes it identifiable and let’s face it there is a part of many of us who’d love to believe a spy school such as this existed. The characters are varied and complement each other well, within themselves they have strengths and weaknesses that Carter draws out of them. These books are fast paced and sheer entertainment. A great read and to be honest in my humble opinion would be decent source material for a movie or three.

Recommended.

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 24th June 2010

Key Words: Spy, Action, Friendship

ISBN: 9780734411143

Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover

don-t-judge-a-girl-by-her-coverBy: Ally Carter

Gallagher Girls Bk 3

Cammie Morgan’s holiday has just gotten fun, or so she thinks when she gets to join her friend Macey McHenry on her dad’s campaign trail. Fun takes on another meaning when she has to draw on all her skills to prevent her friend from being kidnapped off the roof of a building. Of course Cammie and Macey attend Gallagher Academy where they have learnt rather more interesting skills than those taught in an average high school.

This is just the start of the toughest period of Cammie’s young life because even though Secret Services have become more involved in Macey’s personal security, even when back at school, Cammie, Bex and Liz really can’t leave their friend out there essentially alone. The girls are determined to help keep her safe even if it means going against Cammie’s mother’s instructions. The more they uncover though the more surprising the truth appears to be.

This is a great addition to the series. This has a greater focus on friendship and it is wonderful to read the different character arcs particularly in this case, Macey’s. It is cool to delve into the different spy skills and how they can be utilised. These girls consider themselves family and this is how they treat the situation. When they try to do the right thing and get ignored they don’t give up, they do what they are trained to do. Smart, sassy, determined and more than a little stubborn these girls are not only entertaining they give examples of how girls are just as capable of achieving anything. They are also not invincible or infallible. Cammie’s weakness is her uncertainty of dealing with Zach, and this can unsteady her at the most inopportune tines, but when it comes down to it she will do what ever she has to to keep her friend safe.

Highly Recommended.

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Published: 18 May 2010

Format: Paperback 263 pages

Categories: Family, Friends, Spy Stories

ISBN 13: 9781423116608

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

Cross My Heart Hope to Spy

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By: Ally Carter

Gallagher Girls Bk 2

The Josh disaster of last semester has left Cammie just wanting to have a quiet semester, after all using her spy skills to get her first boyfriend then being forced to give him up was quite enough. She even promises her mother to stay out of trouble. That is way easier said than done when your name is Cammie Morgan and you are the child of spies, attending the premier spy school. Cammie and her friends discover that there is something going on codenamed Blackthorn and they are determined to uncover it. Things aren’t that simple in the spy world and Cammie gets blamed for the biggest breach of school security any of them have ever seen. It’s up to Cammie and her friends to clear her name but that means breaking her word to her mother. Can her life get any more complicated, sure if you throw in another boy who notices the girl who is best at going unnoticed.

Cammie is still very much out of her depth when it comes to the opposite sex and she isn’t really over Josh so she throws herself into school work. Josh doesn’t really remember all of what happened between him and Cammie and that makes things very awkward. Fortunately for Cammie, she has friends and a very useful resource in Macey McHenry, who acts as the boy-translator for the girls. The friends work well together, combining their different strengths in each little task in front of them, whether it is breaking and entering or setting up a hidden command post.

The addition of Zach is great because not only can he match Cammie in specialised skills, like Cammie you just don’t know where you really stand with him. The relationship thing gives these characters a reality that if it wasn’t there would leave these characters a bit two dimensional. As it is it is awkward and amusing but the the really fun stuff to read is the spy stuff. The competition aspect of this book gives it an extra level of tension and tension is what helps make a story interesting. A good follow-up to book one.

Recommended.

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Published: 23 December 2008

Format: Paperback 256 pages

Categories: School Stories, Spy Stories, Romance

ISBN 13: 9781423100065

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You

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By: Ally Carter

Cammie Morgan attends the exclusive Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a school that is not exactly what it appears to be. To the outside it looks like a snobby school for rich brats but behind the walls are classes on chemical warfare, covert operations, code cracking and advanced martial arts. Gallagher Academy is a school for spies. Cammie was destined for Gallagher, both her parents were spies and her mother is now the Academy’s headmistress. Cammie is fluent in 14 languages, can kill a man and is an expert at hiding in plain sight, what Cammie simply is not equipped for is the simple scenario of boy meets girl. This whole situation is made worse by the fact that Jpsh will never know who she really is, and how can a relationship survive that?

A boy meets girl tale with a twist. Cammie isn’t the prettiest or the smartest girl, she has made an art of being the one who goes unnoticed, until Josh does just that. Josh breaks through walls Cammie never realised she had. He is charming, and unskilled at subterfuge. Cammie is totally out of her depth when it comes to this relationship and the fact she has so few boy/girl skills gives this story a fresh twist. It was a fresh, fun read and a great start to this series. Gallagher Academy is the sort of place I would have loved to go, if it was an option, Carter has given it the reality of high school (though not quite the division of groups you see in a normal school) and the layers of a spy school, including cool gadgets. Mostly though it is a look at people skills and the pitfalls of growing up.

Recommended.

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide

Published: 01 April 2007

Format: Paperback 284 pages

Categories: School Stories, Romance, Adventure, Spy Stoies

ISBN 13: 9781423100041

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

Perfect Scoundrels

9780734413468By: Ally Carter

A Heist Society Novel

Kat Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth work well together, it’s no secret that they make a great team even though they come from very different lives. She is carrying on the family business of becoming a criminal mastermind, Hale has run away from what may well be an ideal dynasty. That was before though, before Hale was called back to his family on the death of his grandmother. Much to many people’s surprise Hale inherits a billion dollar corporation and in the process pulls himself away from Kat and their friends. This inheritance means so much to him but is it all it appears?

Kat is stunned at Hale’s reaction but there is no way she is just going to let him walk away. Before she can process all that is going on she is hired to uncover what is really going on with the Hale family business and particularly the will that handed the company over to Hale. Kat has to decide, knowing what the truth might do to Hale and if she succeeds and Hale’s company is saved she might lose the boy. A tough choice to make and Kat has to get her head in the game if she is going to do anyone any good.

Oh I love these books. They are such fun, such pure escapism. Kat Bishop is a character who is larger than life, it is so easy to forget she is supposed to be just 15, but when you remember you just don’t care. You want her to win, whatever it is she is going after. She is smart, strong, loyal and just plain full of spunk, to use a somewhat old fashioned turn of phrase. Hale is cheeky and a great balance for Kat. They make a great team and this story puts them both through interesting character arcs. It brings a solid reality to Hale, who has always been able to flit from scene to scene because of his charm and money. As Kat says, Hale is the perfect inside man. The colourful cast of characters around them bring depth, humour, wisdom and fun to this story, each add something special which makes for a great team.

From sleight of hand, to grand schemes, from intricate planning to dumb luck, this series is a great roller coaster ride of entertainment. I will say again, I love this series. I finished it in one day. If you want adventure and fun and just to get away from reality for a little while and slip into a place where kids have brains and out-manouver the bad guys, with the support of their families, then pick up this series.

Oh, oh, oh, this copy also comes with a Gallagher Girls crossover story.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Lothian Children’s Books

Published: 12 February 2013

Format: Paperback 336 pages

Categories: Crime, Humour, Family, Friendship

ISBN 13: 9780734413468

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

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