Cover Operations Report On the twenty-fifth of April, Operative Robinson engaged in the review of a top secret document, the fifth installment in a report regarding the progress of Operative Morgan (currently in remission). The review that follows is accurate to the best of Operative Robinson's ability.
Report Summary PRO: Spies. And all that it entails. CON: Middle grade label. PRO: Spy boys. And all that that entails. ;) CON: No movie. For realz!? PRO: Much edgier writing style. CON: Not enough spy boys.
Huzzah for spy books! Ironic thing is, one of my friends got me onto this series by accident, and she hardly ever reads. The first book in the series, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You was shoved underneath her bed and, like any true reader, I fished it out, asked about it, and the rest is history. I love spy books, but Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series is practically one of a kind. There's nothing to compare it to! Not like that's a problem, really. No other spy series could touch this one.
For (basically) the only one of its kind, I wish it was higher up there in terms of reader level. I'm glad that it doesn't have a bunch of hot and heavy scenes and doesn't have any swearing, but some (just some) of the themes come off as kiddie.
That was certainly true for the first book, at least. Now at the fifth in the series, Cammie is going through much tougher stuff and the writing style and plot got a lot edgier. The older, more mature themes and writing style set a darker backdrop to the plot, showing Cammie's older thought process. I felt on more of a level with her on this book, versus the first four. Still cheered the heck out for her.
Love them spy boys. And there should be more. That is all I shall say on the subject. ;)
I cannot believe this series is not a movie. It would be an awesome movie. Just saying.
The only legit problem I have with this series is that you almost have to read them back to back in order to keep track of who's who and what the heck is going on between books. I completely forgot how the fourth book ended and had to piece it together from the fifth. So I'm rereading the series this summer. Again, just saying. ...more
If you haven't picked up an Ally Carter book yet, consider your life incomplete until you do so. If you don't want to read about a smart thief and a gorgeous best friend (also a thief), then check out the Gallagher Girls: they're spies. (You can't say you don't like thieves or spies, because everyone likes at least one or the other.)
If you need MORE reasons to make Ally Carter your new favorite author:
Thieves. Yes, I realized I already mentioned this, but you've got to admit that it takes a lot of talent to successfully write a book about teenage thieves without making it into a middle grade novel. This new installment in the Heist Society series was a lot edgier than the first book. Kat is dealing with a lot of crap: with her family, with her identity, and with Hale. I totally lent my heart out to Kat through the entire book. (And yelled at her a lot when she wouldn't confront Hale with…certain topics.)
Humor. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for funny books. Even if it has the WORST main character ever, if she's funny (she can't be all that bad) then I'll usually read the entire book without too much trouble. Kat, besides being a completely AWESOME main character, is funny. So is everyone else. Especially Hale when he's mad. ;)
Characters. Did I mention Kat's a world-famous thief? Just think about it: being an infamous con artist makes her smart. And not just smart, but clever. (Yes, there IS a difference, just like robbing a casino and robbing AT a casino.) So Kat is awesome, and Hale is sexy, and Simon is adorable, and Gabrielle is…apparently cursed, and Nick is…well, he's sexy, too. Don't forget the Scottish twins and legendary uncles. So yeah. In summation, you've got a great set of characters.
Plot. Wow. And I thought Patricia Briggs was the only author who could surprise readers with such class. Ally Carter drives her characters seemingly into a corner with no escape whatsoever (even for the world-famous thieves) and then slams you with a plot twist that is so awesome that it's beyond incredible.
I could go on and on. Ally Carter has presented a great addition to Heist Society and I can't wait to see what she adds to this series....more
Being the third and final book in a series, I was going in with mixed feelings. It was nice and long, which of course, I love. But so much happened! I cannot wrap my mind around the skills required to create such a twisted plot--and make it one you can follow. As I read, I kept thinking, "Okay, you know that this is important somehow." But it killed me trying to figure out HOW something, almost completely random, would tie in with the plot.
When you get a really awesome book, it's so hard to write about it without being redundant and without giving anything away. I want to rant about specific parts of the book, just to show you how AWESOME it was, but then hello--total spoiler. So bear with me while I try to water down the awesomeness for the sake of this review. ;)
The characters stayed alive. They're still just as vibrant and alive as they were in book one. I really love Opal's character, though most of the time I was calling her an idiot. I would be reading and I would go, "NO!! What are you doing?!" Multiple times. Out loud. Very loud. XD But Opal's strong and doesn't put up with crap from people, yet she's humble. She's also convinced that everything is her fault, which is like, worthy of a head slap. Still. She's funny and her journey trying to figure herself out is believable...even if it ended up ENTIRELY different than I thought it would.
I love the blending of the two stories. I think it's awesome that Maria V. Snyder has the foundation to bring in characters from her other series. So characters like Ari, Janco, Valek and Yelena make an appearance--many, many appearances. Valek becomes an integral part to the plot, which I liked because Valek is bloody awesome. It's funny though. Having read the Study books through Yelena's eyes, it's so different seeing her through Opal's. Yelena seems so much more intimidating. Like, "Ooooohhh, there's the Soulfinder. The big bad Soulfinder."
The summary hardly does this book justice. The ending was what really killed me. It was SO different than what I was expecting. I dislike love triangles from the start. I was just surprised at how believable I found this particular outcome. I was just like...Oh...okay. And kept going. But seriously--I loved the ending. Sweetness of it aside, it was believable. I cannot say that enough because it's so important.
Normally, I would warn younger teens against reading this book--for now. But if you've followed the Opal Cowan books so far, I'd say you're good to go, content-wise. It really annoys me how these books are listed under adult science fiction. Like, really, really annoys me. They're perfectly suitable for young adults. They're a lot like the Mercy Thompson books in nature. Not a lot of swearing, perhaps mature topics and maybe a few scenes that got a little heated, but overall, not as bad as it could be. I know a lot of young adults books that are worse than some adults books.
The cover: Golly g minor Batman! I love all the covers in the Glass series. Maria V. Snyder has some great graphic designers behind her.
I know that Maria V. Snyder may have plans for another Ixia/Sitia series. Right now, she's got her Outside In stories going. I REALLY want more of Ixia/Sitia. Seeing a Fisk story would be awesome.
So you see, my hands were pretty much tied writing this review. I want say, "Oh, I loved it when Opal did this..." etc. etc., but I do NOT post spoilers. So. For all of you who haven't picked up this series yet (for shame!), you should go find a copy of "Storm Glass" PRONTO!...more
Aurelia I must say is a brilliantly written novel. The plot is one of the best I've read, keeping me riveted to the pages. The style reminds me a lotAurelia I must say is a brilliantly written novel. The plot is one of the best I've read, keeping me riveted to the pages. The style reminds me a lot of Tamora Pierce minus the fantasy twists.
I just have to add that I was so excited about the ending and I thought the closing was amazingly done. Very satisfying way to go into the next book. Aurelia showed them good!
I must find more of Ms. Osterlund's work. I'm definitely taking tips from her on plot twists. :)...more
I've been waiting forever for this book to come in at my library. With no offense to the author, I wasn't expecting it to be popular enough to where II've been waiting forever for this book to come in at my library. With no offense to the author, I wasn't expecting it to be popular enough to where I'd have to wait a long time for it to come in. But no! I was waiting for several weeks (probably carrying over into a month and a half) until I got it.
I don't really have anything negative to say about this book. Like, at all. The characters are enjoyable and well developed (not to mention sharp at their spying techniques). Ally Carter has a fabulous imagination. I love reading about spies and I can imagine how hard it would be to scrape up the material to write a book like this. I definitely admire Ally Carter.
I love the humor accompanied in her books. I've only ever read her Gallagher Girl books but there hasn't been a book yet that has lacked her signature humor.
Though it has "Disney" on it, it's suited for both younger and older teens. There's no language but plenty of in depth romance AND action that older teens want in a book.
This is a book meant for people who can read thick, flourishing descriptions. I say "thick" because details are very, well...thick. Usually it would bThis is a book meant for people who can read thick, flourishing descriptions. I say "thick" because details are very, well...thick. Usually it would bother me (and I have given up on a book or two because the descriptions of the tiniest details put me to sleep) but with this novel, it only required me to have a clear mind while reading. Meaning I couldn't read it in class, but it fit perfectly in my lower backpack pocket, which was a plus.
It took me a long time to read through this. At some times, it was as if the book had no direction and was more of a journal entry rather than a story. Yet the story and plot was original and touching in some sections. The characters were well developed but I was expecting more action from the assassin/spymaster. There wasn't a huge bond there that you usually get. Maybe it was just subtle, but I was hoping for it to be more obvious, if there was a bond at all.
I have not yet picked up the sequel and I'm not quite sure I will. It's one of those novels you read when you wanted to be inspired to write in a lofty, delicate fashion while being hard-core at the same time. Robin Hobb is definitely one to take advice from on writing. Her plot was well paced on average. There's so much detail; it makes me wonder how long it took her to write it, let alone plan it.
There are moments of humor and insight but overall, it's a bit depressing, especially towards the end.
The lasting impression I got was that we didn't get deep enough into Fitz's character. Perhaps I am wrong and it was some months ago that I finished reading this book, but lasting impressions are important.
* Pages - 480 * Some swearing occasionally. * If you manage to get a copy, I doubt it'll be the same cover as the one above. But I like the one above better, to be perfectly honest. * There are sequels. (It's a trilogy.) * Sequels: "Royal Assassin" followed by "Assassin's Quest" ...more
It took me six weeks to read this book. Why? Well, I realize what an obscene amount of time that is, and I fear it's only seconded by the years it'll take me to finish Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. The thing is, I've been with this series since I was twelve-years-old and there's only one. more. book. left. And then that's it for any new Ranger's Apprentice books. And while I can't honestly say John Flanagan blows me away with his writing style, the writing isn't the fun part of it. I didn't read nine Ranger's Apprentice novels over six years because of the writing. It was because of the characters. John Flanagan writes such lovable characters that they are the reason I keep coming back.
The thing about John Flanagan's writing style is that, while it's effective, it's pretty amateurish. Almost everything is told, not shown, and there's also an interesting phenomenon afoot: one line, the reader would be in Will's head and the next, it would be in Halt's. With no indication of switching POVs. He just writes his scenes in a kind of round robin style that is unique, if a bit disconcerting at times. Disconcerting in the way many nonconformist things tend to be. Meaning, it doesn't distract from the story -- I still kept up with the plot and it was exciting -- but I think that, along with the tell and no show dilemma, it loses the impact that it could've had if the writing had been brushed up a bit.
Despite this fact, the characters have been and always will be in my heart. I love how Will has grown so much from the scrawny, fifteen-year-old apprentice to a Ranger within his own right. (He's still scrawny, though.) There's still that connection that runs deep between him and Halt. Their relationship of surrogate father and son is so charming, and one that is seen in stark relief in this installment. Will and Halt aside, I am still a huge Horace fan. I love how the giant-like knight is still a huge goof and can joke around with the best of them, but knows when to knock off the humor. I also liked the reappearance of a few characters from the fifth and sixth books. Being able to craft such excellent characters is what makes John Flanagan such a good storyteller.
Because even with the debatable writing style, John Flanagan knows how to spin a good story. I loved how high the stakes were in this book, and how well they were built up and presented. I felt my fingers start to hurt from gripping the book too hard once or twice from the awesome suspense that had built up. Not only endangering the characters lives, but making it seem inevitable that one will die well before his time? I was on tenterhooks throughout most of the book.
Which, weirdly enough, is why it took me so long to read it. A bit switched around, I agree: usually, the more suspenseful a book is, the faster you want to read it. In this case, the fact that I only have one more Ranger's Apprentice novel after this kept me from burning through it. I read it in bits and pieces so I could spread it out as long as possible, shoving in other books before it on my reading queue so it would stay on my pile a little longer. I'm just as attached to these characters and this world as I am to JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. I remember how it felt to finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back in 2007 and I'm not looking forward to an encore performance....more
The Ranger's Apprentice series has been apart of my life since I was, say, ten- or eleven-years-old. It's one of those series racked right up there with Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl in terms of staying with a person for their entire lives. Even though I picked it up so long ago, the story still captivates me. Starting a Ranger's Apprentice book is like settling down at a campfire with a bunch of friends you've known forever and sharing really good stories.
Really, once a person gets to book 8 in any series, they have a little more than a preconceived notion about how they're going to feel about the book, already having known the history of the characters and knowing how the given world works. So I was already going into this book knowing that it was going to be awesome. My only concern being that if anyone died, I was going to flip #%$!.
The one negative I have on John Flanagan is his writing style. There is way too much telling and very little tact involved. There's also this consistent habit of switching POVs without indication, the reader just knows that the only way a particular sentence makes sense is if it was told in another character's POV. But John Flanagan really makes up for this through his characters and story and world.
I flipping love Will, the main character. And Halt. And Horace. And Will's horse, Tug. This particular installment really focused on the three -- I mean four (sorry, Tug) -- of them. Even though Horace got [spoiler redacted].
I also liked how there was very little romance. That's not to say that all the rest of his stories are full of doe-eyed, sappy-lipped lovers. I was really attracted to the idea that all of that was over by the first few chapters and the ladies bid goodbye to their men with a "okay, honey, have a good time" and let the menfolk go off on their adventure.
And these are legit adventures. Since I grew up on a healthy diet of Harry Potter, I really grew up loving hero stories. And really, this is a hero's story since I've always considered Will to be the main character, and therefore the hero. The good thing about John Flanagan is, though, that he pokes at stereotypes, so all his main characters are heroes in their own way and they all get a bit of the hero's limelight throughout the series. For example, Horace was really the man in this one. By the end of it, given John Flanagan's talent for storytelling, I was left biting my nails and growling, "If he dies..." under my breath while mentally planning all the ways I'd get revenge for any of the character's deaths.
Ranger's Apprentice has always captured me, and this installment was no different. I'm gripped with a terrified anticipation to read the sequel, Halt's Peril because nothing good can come of a title like that.
If you haven't picked up this series, you should get on that. Sit back and indulge on a bit of a hero's journey....more
My god! This was such an AWESOME book. It was such an adrenaline-pumping experience! I'm not even kidding. As I was reading, I could feel my heart beating faster and my breath speeding up...Oh man, John Flanagan really knows how to write! And the best part is, he does this every single one of his books. I hope he continues on with the Ranger's Apprentice books. He's already up to nine, but I love these characters so much and the whole setup--I hope he keeps going.
One thing I've noticed is that great books do not come from a few months of thinking. Oh no. This is the product of years. Why do you think books like the Lord of the Rings and Eragon are so good? Because the authors took their time. They were meticulous in their planning and paid attention to detail and the result was a world rich with believability and details that sustain the imagination. So think about the thought that went into this whole world to keep it going for nine books...Yeah. It's mind-boggling, isn't it? Not something put together in three months then called done.
Wow. There was this one moment in the middle of the book that just had me going--Oh crap. Just pause and catch your breath for a moment, Amelia! I was sitting in my chair, squealing, going, "Oh no! Oh no! Holy crap!" And then! (Oh yeah, it gets better.) At the end--if you've read John Flanagan, you know that the climaxes are always heart stopping--the end was fantastic! John Flanagan knows how to balance out "happily ever after" with reality. Most authors get flimsy and go SUPER easy on their characters. Whoa, not this dude! And that's what makes the characters so awesome to read about! They seem so real because they've suffered losses the same way we do and they live through them and change and mature.
For those who say nay--if you're going, meh, not my thing--think again! There is plenty of action in this book! And okay, so not that kind of action. There is romance but it isn't the center of the book. (If you've been looking for a break from the depths of drama you get from teenage romance novels, look no farther!) Tracking a band of murdering cutthroats across a barren desert? Planning to infiltrate a town to rescue your friends? Nearly dying attempting to rescue your horse? There is more than plenty of action to go around. (And I really had to choose carefully from the wide array of events so I don't give anything away.)
A note on the characters:
I think, above all, Will is still my favorite character. In many ways, he reminds me of Harry Potter--honorable heart, brave but unsure of himself before he finds his place; a natural leader and skilled at what he does.
But GOD! I freaking love Evanlyn's (Cassandra's) character! That girl really knows how it's done! Nowadays, you often expect the princess to be an independent figure, fighting for a place outside of the crown, but have you noticed how most times, the princess is still whiny and incapable? Not in this case! Cassandra knows a) how to use a weapon effectively; b) has a good sense of humor and wit; and c) can hold her own not only on the battlefield, but in delicate negotiations. What's there NOT to admire?
You know who would play a FANTASTIC Halt?! Jeremy Irons! He played Brom in Eragon and has a boatload of acting experience. He has this gruffy, serious by mysterious appearance that covers a soft heart--it would fit Halt perfectly! He doesn't fit ONE characteristic though: Halt's supposed to be a small figure, yes? Well, Jeremy Irons isn't small. :( But that is a mere technicality. If Ranger's Apprentice were to be made into a movie, Jeremy Irons NEEDS to be Halt. :)
If you're a fan of the previous books, you won't be disappointed with this new installment. It carries every aspect of John Flanagan's signature. The characters mature, are given new tests, discover new feelings, have new experiences. A purely fantastic adventure! I loved it!...more
This has got to be one of my all-time favorite books. Will is such a free-spirited boy and Halt is that dominant, silent, intriguing teacher, father fThis has got to be one of my all-time favorite books. Will is such a free-spirited boy and Halt is that dominant, silent, intriguing teacher, father figure. It has amazing actions pieces, believable and appealing characters and brilliant descriptions and not to mention witty dialogue. This book is a perfect pick for any rainy day....more