Friday, 29 April 2016

All Fall Down and See How They Run by Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Published February 2015 by Scholastic
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars

From the blurb: Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three certain things:1. She is not crazy2. Her mother was murdered3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him payThe thing is, nobody else believes her and there's no-one she can trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.Grace's past has come back to haunt her... and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

I'd never read anything by Ally Carter before, but I'd heard good things about her previous books, so I decided to give her latest series a go, starting with All Fall Down, which I received for review a year ago. It's a book that I probably would have given up on, if the sequel hadn't also arrived for review, and I was a little surprised at what I found by finishing the book.

Grace Blakely is sixteen years old. Her mother died three years ago in what was deemed an accident, but Gracie was there and swears a man with a scarred face shot her. She's received some treatment for this as no one believed her and eventually she was hospitalised. Her father is in the army and her older brother is in training. Grace gets sent to the fictional European country of Adria, and joins her grandfather there where he is the US Ambassador, in the city of Valencia.

I wanted to stop reading because of Grace, I judged her for being irrational, erratic, and for putting herself in danger time and time again. But eventually I softened towards her as she really had been through a lot. There's quite a lot of detail about her PTSD and I think this was well done. Her panic attacks and flashbacks are traumatic and it can't help when everyone thinks she's lying or trying to get attention.

I also loved the friendships that were slowly formed. Grace is slow to trust and she's not good at communicating, but Noah, Megan, and Rosie were wonderful additions to her life. I like that the story poked fun at the spy genre, with Noah reminding them that they're only capable of so much as they're just teens, but also found it realistic that these children, who have spent a lot of time around their important parents, would have picked up some of their talents when it comes to spying and hacking.

While this is not a book I would have chosen to read, I'm glad I finished it and discovered what I would have missed out on if I'd quit when I originally wanted to. It's an interesting exploration of PTSD and how that effects an entire family, as well as the person suffering from it.

Thank you to Scholastic for my review copy.

See How They Run (Embassy Row #2) by Ally Carter
Published February 2016 by Scholastic Press
Source: the publisher
Rating: 2 stars

From the blurb: Some secrets are better left unfound . . . For the past three years, Grace Blakely has been desperate to find out the truth about her mother's murder. She thought it would bring her peace. She thought it would lead her to answers. She thought she could put the past to rest. But the truth has only made her a target. And the past? The only way to put the past to rest is for Grace to kill it once and for all. On Embassy Row, power can make you a victor or a victim, love can turn you into a fool or a fugitive, and family can lead you forward or bury you deep. Trust is a luxury. Death is a very real threat. And a girl like Grace must be very careful about which secrets she brings to light. 

See How They Run is the second book in the Embassy Row trilogy by Ally Carter. Grace is still reeling from discovering the truth about her mother's death, and the attempt on her own life. Her brother, Jamie, arrives to check in on her, and brings along his friend, Spence. When another murder occurs, putting her friends in danger, Grace sets out to find the truth.

As I mentioned in my review of All Fall Down, I find Grace to be a trying character. Despite all the danger and the attempted murder, Grace still manages to act recklessly and continues to keep secrets from those that love her. Part of me can't blame her, she is a teenager, but often in the story Grace's thoughts will show that she knows what she is doing is wrong, but she goes ahead and does it anyway. At least this is realistic, I know people often do things we know we shouldn't, and that's frustrating. But also the people looking after her, her grandfather (mostly absent during the sequel), and Ms Chancellor, don't seem too concerned about her safety, often encouraging her to go outside the embassy, despite the angry protesters and rowdy festival-goers.

I feel like with both books, there's a lot of moving about but not a lot really happens, or is revealed, until the very end. There are some clues planted along the way that had me guessing in sort of the right direction, but the final reveal was a surprise.

Thank you to Scholastic for my review copy.


  1. Great book reviews on both of them.

  2. I haven't picked up this series yet but I'm sorry to see it was a disappointment! I enjoyed Carter's Gallagher Girls series (admittedly, I was a LOT younger when I read those so who knows how I'd feel about them now?!) so I was curious about these books as well. I might just have to skip them, though--I don't quite think they're exactly up my alley. Thanks for such helpful reviews, Mandee!


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