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Category Archives: Fiction

Flashback Friday: The Gallagher Girls Series

My first flashback friday! This is where I go back and review my favorite books/series I’ve read in the past. This week I’m covering my all time favorite series from one of my favorite authors, the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.

Borrowed from AWhaleOfATail.files.wordpress.com.

Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Summary: Cammie is your everyday average teenage girl. She goes to school, she has great friends, and struggles with the ever problematic opposite sex. Except, she speaks every language (all of them), knows various ways to kill a man, and oh, did I mention that school she goes to trains its students to be spies? And not just any spies, some of the best. Gallagher Academy doesn’t claim to produce exceptional young women for nothing. Cammie spends her days sneaking in and out of her school, uncovering top secret information, and escaping multiple near death experiences. So maybe she isn’t so average.  Through her adventures in espionage, and in going through the usual difficulties of being a teenage girl, Cammie finds that she is stronger than she ever believed herself to be. Throughout the series’ 7 volumes, Cammie grows and matures from the awkward teenage stage we all dread to an empowered young woman who is an ideal role model for girls across the world.

Notes: There are 7 books in the series including (in chronological order): I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You, Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy, Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover, Out Of Sight Out Of Time, and United We Spy. The series also has a connection to various short stories: Classified Materials-Gallagher Girls 4.5, A Gallagher Wedding, and a Gallagher Girls-Heist Society crossover, Double-Crossed.

Review:
As a reader, you only hope to come across a series of books that you connect to, and stays with you even after you close the final page of the last book in the series. Ally Carter has created a suspense filled coming of age saga that every girl should read. A strong female lead without ever meaning to be, Cammie is a role model that struggles with all of the issues of being a teenager, and on top of it, she’s being trained to save the world. Okay, maybe not the whole world, but by the end of the last book, I have no doubt she could.

Carter is one of those writers who knows how to create the kind of characters that are so relatable, you think you know them. Cammie is one of those characters in which every teenage girl can see a reflection of themselves in some way. Her characters’ quirky qualities make falling in love with each and everyone inevitable. The girls of Gallagher Academy are the kinds of role models young girls today need. Where strength and courage are power, intelligence is a virtue, and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood and friendship could mean the difference between life and death, the Gallagher girls embody the type of relationship we should all wish upon the female teenage race.

On top of it all, you’ll be turning page after page for all of the action and adventure. These books flow perfectly, within each volume and from book to book. I had to wait for the last three books to come out, and let me just say, it was years of torture, and completely worth it. But if you’re just joining the Gallagher Girls now, you’ll be able to fly through all seven novels – though I suggest a slow and steady read because you will never want this series to end. Its an absolute page turner series, highly recommended for any teenage girl or mother-daughter pair – my mom and I read them together and she adores them just as much as I do. This is the kind of series you’ll want to pass down to every girl in your life.

Booksquirmer Rating: 6 stars (Because I’m the admin and I can hand out as many stars as I like. Besides, this series deserves them.)

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The Queen of the Tearling

queen_of_the_tearling_cover_blackAuthor: Erika Johansen
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of Publication: 7/8/14

Summary: A young princess that has lived in hiding for 19 years of her life must take the throne in a land she has only heard of from her caretakers; an illusive thief, a magic necklace, and enemies at every turn. Kelsea Glynn must face an attempt on her life before she is even crowned. She immediately takes the throne of a land in turmoil living in the shadow of the evil Red Queen. Taking place 300 years in the future, this is a tale of attempted dystopia meets Medieval Europe. Will Kelsea be able to help the kingdom she was destined to rule? Or will the kingdom of the Tear fall around her?

Notes: Johansen has signed a 7-book deal with HarperCollins in February of 2013. Awarded #1 Indy Next Pick and Library Reads Selection. Optioned for a movie by Warner Brothers with Emma Watson to star and act as executive producer.

 My Review: First, I would like to emphasize that this story takes place hundreds of years into the future after people left modern society to start a new community and begin life from scratch, with none of the modern luxuries that have driven us to become victims to technology. This is a statement against many of the comments and reviews I have read previously about this book. Aside from anything else I have to say, keep an open mind about this book and give it a chance. Normally I say don’t just a book by it’s cover, but when you see how hard designers have worked creating this incredible package, I’ll allow you to judge on the unfinished edges, gorgeous endpapers and luxurious gold foil laden cover(meaning, the book is fantastic).

If that isn’t enough, Emma Watson (known for her roles as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter Series) gave up her hopes of never taking part in another franchise to join up with producer of the Potter saga, David Heyman, for the book’s film adaptation.

There is a queen’s guard, royal families, dark magic, and it is listed under the genre of fantasy, but know that the medieval state of the community is not a reflection of the 12th century. This is the 24th century, where immigrants have evolved over time and reached a medieval era. Knowledge has been passed down through time, and some still retain knowledge of technologies from the land in which they came from which is reflected in mentions of genetics, and even Harry Potter (ironic considering the star optioned for the book’s film adaptation).

If you’re looking for anything you would expect a YA, fantasy novel to be, don’t. The Queen of the Tearling is far from any teen targeted fantasy novel that has already been published. Also, it’s not actually YA, it is published as an Adult novel but contains some YA appeal (lust, magic, adventure, and a 19-year-old leading lady). Looking for a PG experience? Don’t look here. There are mentions of sex and sexual activity, but there are also mentions of dark magic, illusive and attractive men of the X-rated Flynn Rider variety(yes I just made a Tangled reference), and a very real and very relatable main heroine.

No, it is not Game of Thrones and it is not The Hunger Games; this story is in a realm of its own. Quite literally considering the book takes place hundreds of years in the future. Dystopian society meets the Middle Ages. A world so far from our own, yet so close to home. More literary than YA novels, and a younger star than we are used to in Adult fiction, but if you can be mature enough to make your way through some of the blood, sex and gore, this is a book you won’t be able to put down. Set aside at least 24 hours or be prepared to lug around the 400 page novel – because the package for this book is phenomenal and deserves to be used in its physical form rather than digital.

Johansen creates a unique world in which past and future collide. One community escapes to solve their problems, but can starting over lead to a different end? Or is history doomed to repeat itself? Alliance, jealousy, magic, and feuds all rage in this captivating debut novel. Two thumbs up and 5 gold stars on this one. Cannot wait to see what is yet to come from this incredible new talent.

Booksquirmer Rating: 4.5 Stars