Author: Ally Carter

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book Review

Posted December 30, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book ReviewMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt de la Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins
Published by St Martin's Press on October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My True Love Gave to Me was one of the most anticipated holiday reads of mine this season, and I was so excited to dive in and be enchanted. While I liked a few of the stories, I did not like this book as a whole as much as I expected. These are amazing authors, but sadly some of the stories did not wow me. My True Love Gave to Me is a mixed bag of stories ranging from contemporary to fantasy, with a little something for everyone. I don’t want to give too much away since each story is roughly 30 pages, so I’m just going to post my Goodreads status updates for each story. I will note that I might have enjoyed this book more if I had just read a story here and there, rather than trying to binge the whole thing over a few days.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow’s story just massacred my feels! So swoony and perfect and the kind of story hopeless romantics dream of. This was my favorite story of the collection.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Kelly Link’s story is odd and weird and magical, yet slightly creepy. My curiosity kept me going, and I ended up utterly captivated.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
Matt de la Peña’s story was a tad boring, and I could have done without all the swear words and the cheating.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
Jenny Han’s story is whimsical, and I enjoyed that it took place in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, but there’s no resolution. It was too short.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins’s story was really cute. Love the idea of falling in love over Christmas trees and sexy voices.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
Didn’t like David Levithan’s story at all. I liked that we got to see Santa come to life for a little girl, but it was mostly boring.

Krampsuslaf by Holly Black
I did not finish Holly Black’s story. A couple pages into it, and I knew it was not the Christmas story for me. Demons, horns, and scrambling “Santa” to get “Satan” do not mean Christmas to me!

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman’s story had me excited because I’ve never read a Hanukkah story before, but I found myself bored. There were a few lovely moments, and some sweet quotes… But overall I felt meh and wanted to move on.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McIntyre
Myra McIntyre’s story was whimsical, but took a little while to get into. I didn’t love it, but it was fun. I’m kind of a sucker for awkward romance as well. :)

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Loved kiersten White’s story! It’s magical and sweet and completely heartwarming. And I loved the focus on yummy comfort foods and cheesy Christmas decorations.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
I liked the idea of Ally Carter’s story, but it should not have been a short story. We needed more character development, more back story, and more believability. The resolution was way too far fetched and unlikely. If the story were longer, the author might have been able to pull it off.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I LOVED Laini Taylor’s story. It started out a little slow, but I loved the world and the pure magic. I also loved the beautiful descriptions and the writing style. Laini is super talented, and I would love an entire book devoted to the Dreamer. I wanted more.


Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter | Mini Book Review

Posted October 13, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter | Mini Book ReviewUncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Series: Heist Society #2
Also in this series: Heist Society
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 21, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 298
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
4.5 Stars
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

I have really missed Ally Carter’s writing. She writes characters you love and stories you wish you were a part of. It’s been way too long since I read Heist Society (and LOVED it), so I was worried I would not remember enough to know what was going on or who everyone was. Seriously, though, it was like being reunited with old friends. We just all picked up right where we left off. Oh, how I have missed Kat and Hale and all their thievery and romantical tension! Uncommon Criminals was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be.

I mentioned in my review of Heist Society that I thought Uncommon Criminals would contain a little more romance, and I was right. But again, it was not even close to being the focus of the story. And again, I loved it. The mission and the mystery were much more integral parts of the story, and I was extremely satisfied. The tiny bits of sweet romance left me swooning and excited to see what the next book brings.

Kat has changed a lot since the last book. She’s grown up a lot, and has gained this strong independence. She knows she can succeed on her own, and has actually ruffled some feathers by performing missions without her team. I liked her independence, but was also a little sad that she felt too good for the team that made her successful in the first place. I love how her friends fought for her, though. Rather than being mad and saying, “We’re done with you.”, they did everything they could to help her this time around. These people are true friends, and I wish I had some people like this in my own life.

We do not get to see as much of everyone this time around, which was a little disappointing. Kat was the main focus, with a little here and there from Hale. Gabrielle was kind of an afterthought, and the other boys mostly fade into the background. If I had not gotten to know all of these characters so well in Heist Society, I would have no complaints now. But I missed them this time. Still, though, I really like Kat and Hale is adorable, so it’s not like I’m complaining all that much anyway.

Ally Carter is an amazing storyteller. She writes books that read like movies, and her plots are always full of excitement, humor, and even some tenderness. I’m so in love with these books, and am really sad there’s only one left (although I’ve heard rumors that Ally is writing another. Who knows?)! I recommend this trilogy to everyone I know, and can’t wait until I have time to read Perfect Scoundrels!


Heist Society by Ally Carter (Book Review)

Posted May 24, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Heist Society by Ally Carter (Book Review)Heist Society by Ally Carter
Series: Heist Society #1
Also in this series: Uncommon Criminals
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 9, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 287
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I don’t come across many YA mysteries or adventure stories that sound good very often, but after reading Heist Society‘s synopsis and so many wonderful reviews, I pretty much knew I would enjoy this one! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I really like Kat. She tried so hard to leave the family business, but re-entered the crime world because of her family. I love her devotion to her dad. She is confident, but not to the point of cockiness. She understands her limits, but has no trouble pushing those limits as far as possible. She also has this constant battle going on in her head between her conscience and her mission. She’s pretty awesome.

2. Kat’s friends and family, Hale, Simon, Hamich, Angus, and Gabrielle are all amazing and fill the spots in Kat’s heist society. Each of them has a special talent, and when put together, they form this amazing band of criminals. I absolutely love the strength of their relationships, and the lengths they will go to for one another. These people are willing to put everything on the line to protect Kat’s father. I love that. Talk about pure devotion. I have never read a book with such strong familial relationships, and I loved it so much more than I thought I would.

3. I loved Hale so much. He’s rich and classy, and is always looking out for Kat. His previous life goes to show how unlikely a candidate he is for Kat’s crew, but he fits in so well because you can tell how much he cares for her.

4. In the midst of all the hard things they have to go through, these characters say some of the funniest things! Here are a few of my favorite quotes and excerpts from the story:

“Can I see you outside for a second?” Kat glared at Hale, then walked to the patio doors and out onto the veranda. As Hale closed the door behind him, Kat heard Angus say, “Ooh, Mom and Dad are going to fight now.”

“Thanks to you, Gabs, we just figured out a half dozen ways not to rob the Henley.”

 “If you die of pneumonia, I’m pretty sure there are at least a dozen guys who’ll try to kill me and make it look like an accident.”

“Do you understand any of this?” he said, pointing to the lines and symbols that covered the massive screens.
“Some people understand the value of an education.”
Hale stretched and crossed his legs, the settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.”
“I’d settle for the ice cream.”
“Deal.”

SO fun! I love their interactions and silliness. They are all so mature and worldly, but their dialogue helps remind us that they are just a bunch of extraordinary teenagers.

5. Heist Society travels to so many awesome places in the USA and Europe. We get to visit New York, Las Vegas, Sabina Valley, Naples, Vienna, Warsaw, London, Paris, and Rome. I loved all the jumping around the globe we got to do!

6. I read so many YA contemporaries, that it was rather refreshing to have so little romance this time. There’s a little tension, and a little sweetness… but, for the most part there’s no romance. I have a feeling there will be more in the next book, and I’m SO excited about that because I just love the characters so much.

7. The writing style was so perfect that I barely noticed it. Does that sound strange? It just fit the story so perfectly that I forgot I was reading. So often, I focus on a writing style because it is SO bad. And yes, there are other times when I focus on it because it’s so beautiful. This time, though, not noticing it is the best compliment I can give.

This was my first Ally Carter book, and I absolutely loved it! I need to go check out her Gallagher Girls series now, because I love Ally’s strong characters and her storytelling. I’d definitely recommend this to people who are looking for something outside of the normal romance, vampires and werewolves, heavy issues kind of YA books.

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