Hello there

I’m Kay: an opinionated book blogger enamoured with the world of novels. Reader of Speculative Fiction (the posh word for Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and Young Adult (don't judge, it's brilliant). Believer in the many uses of the towel, the science of deduction and other fandom in-jokes.

Review: Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Review: Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally CarterOut of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Series: Gallagher Girls #5
Published by Hyperion
Published on 2012-03-13
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Pages: 304 • Add it: Goodreads
Source: Purchased myself
Rated: four-half-stars
The fifth sassy installment in Ally Carter's best-selling spy-school series delivers the most nerve-wracking, high-stakes adventure yet! The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect 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. 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.

Thoughts: When I started the Gallagher Girl books, I was entertained but not exactly fulfilled. They felt like young, fun books that straddled the line between Middle Grade and Young Adult.

But as the characters have matured, so have the content and the writing. These have turned serious, meaty books that deal with a lot more than just teenage shenanigans. The change was gradual and it was only in Out of Sight, Out of Time that I really felt it come through. Needless to say, I am a big fan!

Out of Sight, Out of Time is by far my favourite in the series. The novel opens with an amnesiac Cammie being tended to by Austrian nuns – so right from the start I knew I was going to be in for a treat. You’d think the amnesia trope would be too cliché to handle, but instead it gave the book an overarching mystery that I really enjoyed. What happened to Cammie? How did she suddenly become a bad-ass warrior? What did Bex and Zach get up to while Cammie was away? ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Not only did Ally Carter deliver a fantastic mystery, she wrapped it up in a kick-ass ending. This book had me salivating for the next (I managed to delay the satisfaction of starting that one… by 2 whole days).

Bottom line? If you gave up on the Gallagher series during the first few books, please reconsider! They get plottier and more awesome as they go on.


Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge: Show It Off 3.0!

Hellow fellow read-a-thon-ers!

Thinking about sneaking a nap in? No way! Grab a cup of tea or coffee (or a Red Bull) because you’re in for the long-haul now. While you’re at it, get out your camera’s for the Hour 8 “Show It Off” Mini-challenge.

Here’s your challenge: I want you to show off a book (or books) from your shelves that you are extremely proud of. The unique, signed or simply dear-to-your-heart editions that you’d grab if there were a fire.

Need some examples? Well, how about that signed, personalised edition by your favourite author? Or how about that shelf of painstakingly-collected of every Jane Austen-related book in existence? Perhaps you’ve an extremely dog-eared copy of a book that’s been passed down through your family? Anything goes – just make it something special to you.

Last year, I showed off by wonderful signed copy of Bill Clinton’s Giving: How Each Of Us Can Change The World. The year before that, I highlighted my near-and-dear to me copies of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (beautiful editions that have been in the family for decades).

This year I wanted to show you guys two wonderful books I have signed by one of my favourite writers: George R. R. Martin. Seeing as how I chose one of his books for the readathon, it made sense to share these volumes for Show it Off.


Back in 2011, Game of Thrones had REALLY taken off and the Iron Throne was making a tour around the world. I was one of those new fans who rushed to pick up a signed copy of A Dance with Dragons the minute I realised I could. Then, the next year, I got to meet GRRM a few times at Eastercon! It was a thrill and he was the most awesome person in…er… person. Despite con rules (which I didn’t know about until much later), he was the first to sign my Tea poster (to the left) along with a ton of other authors (including Gail Carriger, Tricia Sullivan and 20 others – I think everyone was willing to get on board once they saw his autograph!). He also signed this first edition of his novel A Song for Lya (I adore the psychedelic 1970s cover).

In short: GRRM is awesome.

Now, show off yours!

  • Take a picture of a book/books from your library you really want to show off: signed editions, rare editions, obsessively-organized Sherlock Holmes collections – just whatever is special to you!
  • Post your photo on your blog, twitter, facebook, flickr, etc. then add your link in the Linky below.
  • Use the hashtag #showitoff and #readathon if you are sharing on twitter/instagram
  • This challenge will close in three hours (just before hour 11)
  • One winner will be chosen to receive  $15/£10 gift certificate to Amazon/Book Depository OR this SIGNED COPY of The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Challenge closed and the winner is… #49 Elishia! I will be in touch soon with your prize.

Thanks EVERYONE for you FANTASTIC entries – this year was an amazing success! If you’re stumbling across this post months from now, go and check out some of the links above for some beautiful books. :)

Readathon! Readathon! Readathon!

ReadathonIt’s readathon season!! WhooHooo!!! I have been looking forward to this all month and cannot wait to get started.

Once again, I am going to be hosting the Show It Off! challenge at Hour 8 – so stay tuned for that! The books I am showing off this year are both recent acquisitions, so I am rather excited to share.

What’cha reading?

I am going for a completely different approach this year, focussing on one long novel I have been putting off completing for years and… graphic novels!

I started reading A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin way back before Season 2 of the series had even aired. Unfortunately… I got stuck. At page 728, if my bookmark is correct. Well, I plan to finish this tome today! I am only 300 or so pages to the end, so completion is feasible!

Y’all have probably noticed that I have really gotten into comic books these past few months, so it made sense to add a few to my pile for when Clash of Kings gets a bit too dense. I’ve got some well-loved favourites in my sack, namely the first volumes of Saga and Y: The Last Man as well as Joss Whedon’s Fray and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In case I really want something different, I’ve also got an anthology: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. I picked up this Ellen Datlow anthology at BEA last year and think it is a good volume to try some different authors from.


Opening Questions

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

La France!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Hmm… I am not sure. Probably most eager to complete Clash of Kings – if only so that I can start on the next book!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

ALL MY TEAS. I don’t get much of a chance to brew tea during the week (too much work!) and so this will be a chance for me to try some of those odd teas I’ve had sitting in my cupboard.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Oh, hello. I’m Kay – I read fantasy and YA and Sci-Fi and other awesome, awesome books. I’ve been blogging about books since 2009 and it totally changed how I view books and publishers and the whole she-bang. This is my 4th time participating in Dewey’s readathon and I will be hosting a challenge at Hour 8!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I wasn’t able to do the Spring readathon *sad face* and last took part in October 2013. This year I am taking a completely different approach for the readathon (all explained above!).

End of Event Meme

1) Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 8, just as my challenge was about to start! There were so many things that could go wrong….

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Go with Graphic Novels – Saga was a great readathon pick this year!

3) What were the names of the books you read? Which book did you enjoy most?

Clash of Kings and Saga – I was surprised how much I loved getting back into the GoT universe!

4) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

100%! Cannot wait for the next readathon! Hope to host a challenge again:)


Hour 1: Lunch has been had, and I have a masala chai in hand. Starting off with Clash of kings!

Hour 3: I needed appropriate Game of Thrones music while reading, so turned to 8tracks. Love this Arya Stark mix!

Hour 4: Clash of Kings is dragging a bit – although maybe that’s just my lack of chocolate talking. May start in on Saga instead…
Pages read:  72

Hour 6: I am a fair ways through Saga (love it) but think I shall be returning to Clash of Kings. Reaaaallly want to finish that during the readathon!

Hour 8: My Show it off challenge is getting some fantastic responses this year! It’s distracted me from my books but it’s the best kind of distraction :)


Coffee or Tea? Challenge at Fig and Thistle


(My third cuppa) #TeamCSLewis #readathon

View on Instagram

Don’t get me wrong: I like a latte in the morning. Vanilla Soya Extra-hot Grande, if I can get to a Starbucks – and an espresso with milk if I cannot. But tea is my comfort drink. There is nothing a cuppa cannot fix – I guess I am just very British that way. #TeamCSLewis

Quotable Quotes Challenge at Breathes Books


There are gods, she told herself, and there are true knights too. All the stories can’t be lies.” Sansa, A Clash of Kings p. 757


Name-your-readathon Challenge at The Geeky Blogger




Name your #readathon challenge! Mine is rather epic…. The Last Clash of Knight Saga! View on Instagram

Book Tower Challenge at thesmalltownlookbook


My book themed #10minbooktower! This was my first attempt at vertical book stacking #readathon

View on Instagram

Review: Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Review: Only the Good Spy Young by Ally CarterOnly the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Series: Gallagher Girls #4
Published by Hyperion
Published on 2010
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Pages: 273 • Add it: Goodreads
Source: Purchased myself
Rated: three-half-stars
When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. She just didn't know that life would start during her junior year of high school. But that's exactly what happened when Cammie faced off against a mysterious organisation called the Circle of Cavan.

Now even Cammie 'the Chemeleon' can't hide. Danger has followed her to London where she discovers one of her most trusted allies has been labelled a double agent. The Gallagher Girls quickly realise that the Circle's agents are closer than they'd feared - maybe even within the Gallagher Academy's own walls. Cammie and her room mates must call upon old friends if they want to find the traitor at their beloved school before it's too late.

Thoughts: I’m surprised every time I pick up a Gallagher Girls book. It always starts off the same:

  • Page 2: My god these characters are juvenile.
  • Page 3: Honestly, how many excited can anyone possibly get about a teenaged boy?
  • Page 5: OK WOW. Everything just got real really fast – the world is a lie, and everyone is a liar – this is life/death here, people!

In other words, Ally Carter manages to make the Gallagher Girls real teenagers (worried about nails, and boys, and their homework) while still involving them in life-or-death scenarios. To make things even better, there is are about 10 underlying mysteries that have been woven through the series. With each book we get more revelations that often lead to more questions than answers. I’m reminded – bizarrely enough – of the Harry Potter books. Of how no one would answer Harry’s questions because of his age – but his age, determination and friends were what gave him the ability to succeed where grown-ups failed. Same goes for Cammie.

Only the Good Spy Young gave me so many answers I’m been waiting for! We find out more about Mr. Solomon (oh, Mr. Solomon), Blackthorne Institute and – shockingly enough – Zach (oh, Zach). Read it to find out, but I let me just say I loved it all. Each revelation made the books grittier and darker – always an improvement, in my mind!

But, most of all, I loved what Cammie did as she uncovered each new piece of information. She was smart and logical while still recognizing her emotions. She discussed it with her friends and didn’t just fall into a boy’s arms. YA heroines could learn a lot from Cammie – she was a Gallagher Girl through and through.

Bottom line? This series gets better and better with every book: darker, more complicated and utterly kick-ass. They are light reads but highly enjoyable.


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