Monday, August 30, 2010

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Quick Summary: Cammie Morgan, now a junior, must tackle her biggest mission yet: discovering who is after her, what they want from her, and just who belongs to this secret group.

My thoughts: This is my favorite Gallagher Girl book so far. I like the “darker” turn to the book as Cammie delves into her family’s (particularly her father) secrets. I tried typing my thoughts several times, but I found I was giving away too many of the plot’s twists and turns.  Cammie grows as a character and as a spy through this book: she is more confident in herself and her abilities in than in previous books. She also tackles on more difficult tasks, which adds to the adventure of the book. The supporting cast is as strong as in other books, and the character of Zach and the mystery surrounding him is developed further in this fourth book.

Once again, I must praise Ally Carter for the thought she puts into her books. Events are well-planned, and while the twists are surprising, they are not unrealistic. I can’t wait to see what happens in Cammie’s senior year!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sworn to Protect

Summary: Danika has already paid a stiff price for protecting America's border: her husband's life. Determined to find his killer, Danika suits up every day to catch the criminals who now threaten her own life as she uncovers a conspiracy surrounding her husband's murder.
My Thoughts: Immigration is a tough issue, and the Border Patrol is often a hot topic for many. DiAnn Mills manages to show both sides of the fence (no pun intended…yeah, well, maybe.) DiAnn Mills humanizes the issue: the reality of the laws in America, the struggle of many illegal immigrants, and the balance we must find as human beings. The book has action and a few twists I wasn’t expecting. I look forward to the third book in this series!

Ruby Unscripted by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Summary: Small-town Ruby moves to a big city after the divorce of her parents. Confronted with a whole new world so different than the one in which she grew up, Ruby must find herself and her place in the world.

My Thoughts: I don’t know entirely what I think about this book. I liked the concept for the book, but I wasn’t impressed by the development of the story. Ruby moves to the big city, and she becomes friends with a gay guy. She wonders about her beliefs on homosexuality, but this storyline is never developed. Ruby continues her friendship with Frankie, but after bringing up the ideology of the church and homosexuality, I felt the issue should have been addressed. The second thing that bothered me was that Ruby’s close friend becomes sexually active. Again, the author brings up a topic but never addresses the aftermath of the topic. If this is book one of a series, this may be okay. Ruby also struggles with her own beliefs in God, trying to line up how she sees God in relation to how her family sees him.

Both of these topics are relevant to today’s teens, especially those who are Christians as Ruby is in the book. However, because the author brought up these tough topics without developing them further, it seems to be a waste of a great book that could spark dialogue between teens about faith. This book had too many loose ends for me.

I did like Cindy Coloma’s writing style, so I may check out another of her books for comparison.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter

Summary: The third book in the Gallagher Girls series finds Cammie Morgan involved in a presidential campaign when her schoolmate Macey's father is running for vice president. When Cammie and Macey escape a kidnapping attempt, Cammie and the rest of the Gallagher Girls must protect Macey from those wishing to attack her. Old secrets are revealed, and the Cammie realizes Macey was not the intended target of the kidnapping...she was.

My thoughts: I bought book four in this series, and I decided to reread book three before starting book four. I LOVE this series. The book's plot moves along swiftly with several twists, turns, and surprises. Ally Carter plans her novels out carefully, and the end product reflects that thought as characters are fully developed, the plot twists aren’t contrived or expected, and the events are realistic (as realistic as having teens perform spy missions can be). There's also a little bit of age-appropriate romance involved. (I can't wait to see what happens next with Zach!)

As I've said about every Ally Carter book, I respect how she treats the young adult character. The girls are strong and intelligent. I'm tired of books that show teen girls as superficial and concerned only with materials things. Although the Gallagher Girls are fictional, they are good role models for young girls who have big dreams—work hard and work together.

I recommend this series to all teens and preteens. I let my sister borrow the series, and she's hooked too. So, it's a great series for a mom and daughter to read together.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I just accepted an offer to become the librarian at an elementary school. I'm so excited about starting a new job, but I'm a little nervous about working with grades K-4 after teachingg 7th grade for so long.
Since I am starting a new adventure, many of my reviews will be of books for elementary aged kids since I need to get to know the good books out there for kids!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

Summary from the back of the book:
At age 83 and in failing health, Olivia Morrow must decide--should she expose a long-held secret? Olivia has letters from her deceased cousin, Catherine, a nun being considered for beatification--the final step before sainthood. The letters are evidence that at age seventeen Catherine gave birth to a son whom she surrendered for adoption. The baby's father was Alex Gannon, who made a fortune inventing orthopedic devices. The rightful heir is Catherine's granddaughter, a 31-year-old pediatrician, Dr. Monica Farrell. Those now squandering the money must prevent Monica from learning the secret and will stop at nothing--even murder.

My thoughts:

Mary Higgins Clark is one of my all-time favorite authors. I started reading her books back in high school, and I have enjoyed them ever since. What I love about Mary Higgins Clark’s books is that it is obvious the book is well planned. The storyline flows, and the characters are woven to together perfectly. Like most books by Clark, the protagonist Monica is a strong, independent woman who is able to think and act for herself (with the help of a nice guy).

Even though the reader knows who the murderer is and who Monica Farrell really is, the ride to find out what will happen to the characters is still entertaining with a slight twist at the end. The supporting characters of Olivia, Ryan, and even Sally are balanced and support the main plotline well. The connection between the main character Monica and a saint was an interesting and thought-provoking subplot.

The one downfall of the novel is that the book seems to follow the same formula as many other books by Clark. The saint/healing subplot is what kept the book unique.

Overall, I recommend this book to readers who like mysteries without too much gore. Mary Higgins Clark is a class lady, and her books reflect that. Therefore, these books are also good for high school kids who want to read a good mystery.

Buy from Amazon: Shadow of Your Smile on Amazon