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Waiting on Wednesday: Mortal Heart

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

I hope you’re all having a stress-free week so far! For today’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) post I chose to focus on Robin Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversLaFever’s third book in the His Fair Assassin series, Mortal Heart.

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

The first two books in this series are both really, really well written books that will hook you from the beginning. I adore the idea of medieval assassin nuns and LaFevers’ characters are just so captivating! I have enjoyed getting little tidbits about Annith in both Gave Mercy and Dark Triumph, so I’m excited to learn more about her story. I am wondering how she’ll fair as she attempts to be an assassin because she just seems so innocent and sweet compared to Ismae and Sybella!

I’ll have to ask for Mortal Heart for my birthday because it is scheduled to release in early November 2014, and my birthday is November 13. *hint hint nudge nudge*

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Plain and Simple: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

PorchWell hi there!

The weather is beautiful today in South Carolina! So, I’m writing this review from my front porch basking in the late afternoon light. Le sigh…Fridays are great!

Okay, so today’s review is all about Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers, which is anything but “plain and simple”.

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for.

This whole historical fantasy thing that LaFevers has going on is right up my alley. Sybella lives in Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversmedieval Brittany in the middle of a resistance to French rule and is loyal to the twelve year old Duchess Anne who has recently been forced into rule due to the death of her father. Mixed in with this historical narrative, LaFevers mixes in a bit of the supernatural focused mostly on the convent on St.  Mortain, the god of death, and his method of communicating with his assassins. I have always been a bit of a history buff and adore the fantasy genre, so swirling the two together makes me happy!

Sybella isn’t as likable or sympathetic a character as Ismae is in book one, Grave Mercy and I wavered over whether I liked her story or not because of this part of her character. As you spend more and more time with her however, you begin to see the pieces of humanity within Sybella that she herself has shut away and is blind to. She has this strength to her that one can only get from tangling with harsh realities. I grew to like her more and more.

As you might expect in a story about “assassin nuns” Dark Triumph is full of action, suspense, and intrigue. Life inside Sybella’s father’s court is full of your usual gossip and social climbing but amidst those things there are much darker forces at play and Sybella is an incredibly experienced spy, assassin, and courtier who knows how to play the game to survive. Because Sybella will do whatever it takes to survive you know that she has little trouble using poisons, garrotes, or knives to complete a necessary task and you never know who will show up next on Sybella’s “hit list”.  Basically, Sybella is a bad@$$! Plain and simple.

And let’s not forget the romance. If I had the ability to add emojis into my blog posts (is this possible?!) I totally would be giving the little “thumbs up” one right now. Yes. The romance is good.

If you’re searching for your next read and you want to be completely riveted to the story you need to check out the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers. Don’t read Dark Triumph (because it’s book 2, silly!) until after you’ve read Grave Mercy, but you should totally read them both! I actually listened to them on audio, so if you’re into audiobooks or want to get started these books are quality introductions!

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Recorded Books (April 19, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 13 hours and 36 minutes

Narrator(s): Angela Goethals

Series: Second in the “His Fair Assassin” series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:

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Waiting on Wednesday: Spies and Prejudice

Hiya everyone!

Welcome back to BookTasty!

As you know, I participate in Waiting on Wednesday each week (hosted by Breaking the Spine) and love to shed some light on upcoming new releases I’m greatly anticipating.

This week, I am pretty excited about Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance.

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy. Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vancespray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death. But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

If you don’t already know (how could you not by now…) I’m a little tiny bit obsessed with all things Jane Austen. Her books are marvelous and I think books that pay homage to Jane Austen and her works are usually pretty fun, so I can’t wait to give Spies and Prejudice a try! I’m also a fan of spy fiction, so the mix between the two sounds like it has potential to be a pretty entertaining read.

The bad news is that Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance isn’t expected to be released until June 11 by Egmont. So we have a way to go before we can read it! :(

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Waiting on Wednesday: Etiquette and Espionage

Hi there!

Wow! It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a Waiting on Wednesday post! It feels good to be back. :)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, where book bloggers get to showcase an upcoming new release that we’re especially excited for.

This week I’m excited about Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage.

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

I have a major track record of really liking boarding school books and this seems like it might be similar to Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series – only more steampunkish!

This is slated to be the first in a four book series called Finishing School and is expected to be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on February 5 this year, so I won’t be waiting too long!

Are there any particular upcoming titles you’re waiting on this week?

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Putting the Spy Skills to the Test: Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Welcome back!

It’s time to talk about the newest installment in one of my favorite YA series out there! I Out of Sight, Out of Time is the fifth book in the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter.

The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carterprotect her friends and family. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, her memory is a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails. All she wants is to go home. But even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers as Cammie and her friends face their most difficult challenge yet. With only their training and a few clues to guide them, the girls go in search of answers on the other side of the world. But the Circle is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

So, we know that the Gallagher Girls are really cool and really fun (I still want to be a Gallagher Girl so bad!!!), but in Out of Sight, Out of Time we get proof that these spies in training are tougher and stronger than they originally appear.  Because this is the most serious and dangerous of all five books, we get to see Cammie and her friends really put their spy skills to the test.

Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors because I am convinced she can do anything.  She successfully takes a dark plot involving a terrorist group and a girl’s amnesia and manages to mix in the perfect amount of light-hearted fun and humor that I love about the other books. It’s a good mimic of real life in difficult times.  I read a quote somewhere, although I’m not sure where anymore, that basically said, “sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying”.  Boy is that the truth!  I love how Carter brings this truth to life in this series, with this book in particular.

There were some major questions answered in Out of Sight, Out of Time, but there is still so much that Cammie and her friends (us too!) have to learn and do in order to move on and potentially put an end to this scary cat and mouse chase. I cannot wait for Carter’s next (and possibly last?!?!) in the Gallagher Girls books and I recommend this series to anyone looking for an awesome action packed read! Also, if you’re looking for a good series to listen to on audiobook, check this one out because the narrator Renee Raudman (who does the whole series) does a great job!

Author: Ally Carter

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (March 20, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length:  7 hours, 42 minutes

Narrator(s): Renee Raudman

Series: Fifth book in the Gallagher Girls series

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book:  Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls)

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Waiting on Wednesday: I, Q, Kitty Hawk

I,Q: Kitty Hawk by Roland SmithHappy Wednesday everyone!

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted weekly by Jill at Breaking the Spine. The purpose of Waiting on Wednesday is to promote upcoming new titles that we just can’t wait to be released.

This week I am waiting for the release of Roland Smith’s third book in the I, Q series, I, Q: Kitty Hawk.  I read and loved the first book in the series, I, Q: Independence Hall two years ago when it was on the Florida Sunshine State book list. I haven’t gotten around to reading book two yet, but my students are crazy about this series!

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while you probably already know that Roland Smith is one of my favorite middle grade authors. I love that his books make my students want to read.  His books are just plain good reads! (I even got to meet him once!)

So, all in all I,Q: Kitty Hawk is going to be released on October 15, 2012.  ARC IQ, Kitty HawkI am so incredibly excited though, because I received and advanced reader copy in the mail a few days ago, so I get to start it before it is released! (THANK YOU Sleeping Bear Press!) I will definitely post a review when I’ve finished reading it!  I also can’t wait to share this advance copy with a student when I’m finished!

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Covert Ops: Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Well hello there!Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Lets talk about the fourth installment in one of my favorite series which I listened to as a part of the 2012 Young Adult Audiobook Challenge.

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when Cammie faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide.  When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.

 In this fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series, the Gallagher Girls must hack, spy, steal, and lie their way to the truth.as they go searching for answers, recognizing that the key to Cammie’s future may lie deep in the past.

I’m a major Gallagher Girls fan, as I’m pretty sure I mentioned in reviews of the earlier books.  The whole idea of growing up in a boarding school is interesting, but a boarding school for spies in training?!  Awesome!  Ally Carter’s books are those that I recommend to my students at school all the time; and I’ve been doing a good job because they’re all currently checked out! (Score 1 for the Librarian!)

First of all, let me just say that the first two books were on the lighter more fun side of the spectrum, while the third book added a bit more serious and intensity into Cammie’s life.  The fourth book, Only the Good Spy Young, picks up right where Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, left off and builds right on top with even more intensity.  So, yes Cammie comes to realize just how dangerous the Circle of Caven really is, but Carter manages to combine the same lighthearted tones as the first two books, with a much more serious plot line.

It makes sense, as the girls get older they’ll be faced with tougher challenges.  That’s one of my favorite things about Only the Good Spy Young – more for real spying!  You’ve got Cammie and her friends following secret passage ways, and cracking codes while also breaking into to places that were built for keeping people out.  Because of all this spying, there is tons of action from the first chapter to the very last.  I was hooked right away and sat in my car to listen “just a little longer” on multiple occasions!  These girls are awesome and I wish I could join them on their covert ops!

Another reason I enjoyed this installment in the series, is because the reader gets more.  More spying (as mentioned above), but also MORE ZACH!  Finally! And we get more Zach and Cammie interaction!  I’ve always thought Zach was a super intriguing and mysterious character. I love how he always shows up when Cammie least expects it, but also when she needs him most. Plus, the way he calls her “Gallagher Girl” is so adorable.  Le sigh…

Did I have questions about Blackthorn? About Joe Solomon? About Cammie’s father?  About Zach?  YES! Pretty much since the first book!  Were a lot of my questions answered in Only the Good Spy Young? YES!

I enjoy this series so much that I had to run out earlier this week, before I had finished Only the Good Spy Young, to buy the newly released fifth book in the Gallagher Girls series, Out of Sight, Out of Time!  For now it’s sitting on my shelf, but it won’t be for long!  I can’t wait to find out if Cammie actually does what she says she’ll do at the end of book four (no spoilers!!)

As said before (in other posts) I recommend the entire Gallagher Girls series to anyone looking for a fun and action packed series to pick up, especially middle school aged readers and up. I also recommend listening to this series on audiobook.  They’re all narrated by Renee Raudman who does as fabulous job!

Author: Ally Carter

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (June 6, 2010

Format: Audiobook

Length: 6 hours and 37 minutes

Narrator(s): Renee Raudman

Series: Fourth in a series of five

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls Series)

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Book Trailer of the Week: Out of Sight, Out of Time

Well, what do you know?! It’s Friday the Thirteenth. Interesting!

Out of Sigt Out of Time by Ally CarterI’m not really superstitious, so lets just get to the book trailer :p

Ally Carter’s The Gallagher Girls series has quickly become one of my favorite series ever. I pretty much devoured the audiobooks for the first three books in the series, I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart Hope to Spy, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover and am currently in the middle of the fourth book, Only the Good Spy Young. There is something lighthearted and fun to these books about Cammie and her friends in spy school, mixed in with some action and excitement! Come on; what girl doesn’t dream of being a spy at some point?!

Well, today’s trailer is for the fifth book in the series, Out of Sight Out of Time, which was just released in March. I just bought the book yesterday with Easter money from my mom (Thanks Mom!)! Check out the trailer in the newest edition of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series.

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A Little More Seriousness: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

It’s about time I posted a review! :) I listened to the audiobook of Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover as a part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge.

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally CarterWhen Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers’ plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

I know I’ve said this before, but I adore the Gallagher Girls. Seriously, I LOVE this series!

I wish I was friends with Cammie and her friends. I love their interactions and the way they’re so loyal to each other. If I was friends with them that would also mean I was a student at the Gallagher Academy too, which would be awesome….okay so anyway.

One thing I appreciate about this series is that it’s so lighthearted and easy to enjoy. I read this series when I need a break from some of the darker or edgier Young Adult fiction. But, despite the lightness these books carry maturity that is at times refreshing from the younger middle grades fiction I read.

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third book in this series, definitely takes Cammie’s story a little deeper and darker that the first two books, but not in an overly intense way. Right away, the girls are faced with what turns out to be real danger, instead of a simple school exam. I know that some readers weren’t a fan of the more serious tone in this novel, but I appreciate the chance to see the characters, especially Cammie, show their more mature and thoughtful side. It’s real to life, because at some point everyone as to mature and deal with real problems – Cammie’s are just full of more secret agent intrigue than normal!

This book is packed with quite a few action scenes as Cammie and her friends strive to protect their friend Macy. Carter always keeps me guessing whats going on until the very end and this one is no different, I kept wavering between different guesses at what I thought was going on and who was actually involved. Carter had me stumped the whole time!

Regarding the narrator, Renee Raudman, I think she does an excellent job. Her voices are all easy to differentiate between the others and she infuses the characters with the right amount of humor and sensitivity. Sometimes her voice for Liz, can be a little over exaggerated, but I think it adds to the lightheartedness of the series.

I need to get my hands on Only the Good Spy Young, the fourth Gallagher Girls novel, before the fifth title, Out of Sight, Out of Time, is released in March! I highly, highly recommend this series to readers middle grades and older.

Author: Ally Carter

Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (June 9, 2009)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins

Narrator(s): Renée Raudman

Series: Third in a series

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls Series)

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Just Finished: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally CarterIf you haven’t read the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter, you’re really missing out on a quality middle grade/YA series.  It has quickly become one of my favorites!  Last night I finished Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third book in the series that follows Cammie and her friends trough their time at the spy school.  I wish I could be a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women!  A review will most definitely be coming soon.

Also, don’t forget you can still enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway until Sunday night!