Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Silver in the Blood

By Jessica Day George

Blurb: New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare.

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.


Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

Pages: 358

Series: N/A

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If I met Jessica Day George in person, there is a 99% chance that I would freak out; the odds are also high that I would start either crying or incoherently trying to talk about how much I love her books. Perhaps both. She’s one of my favorite authors, so saying that I didn’t like Silver in the Blood really pains me. I was so sure this was going to be my favorite book from her, because it sounds so BEAUTIFUL. 

Let me make it clear why I didn’t like this book. I have a chart. Because science.

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Now, looking at this pie chart, we can see that the slices of pretty dresses and romance, are extremely disproportionate to the butt kicking slice.

This is a problem.

Yes, my problem was that Dacia and Lou are just terrible at being capable protagonists. Actually, Lou’s okay at it, but Dacia downright sucks. And even though Lou is alright at it, this didn’t completely make sense because she’s supposed to be shy and reserved, so why is the Lou that we meet so powerful and in control and not afraid to put people in their place? I dunno, I dunno. Let’s tackle these problems one at a time, shall we?

First; the dresses. There are so. Many. Dresses. The book takes its time talking about what Lou and Dacia are wearing and I just don’t care. I don’t care what color sash Dacia decided to wear with her gown. I’m all for adding a little detail now and then, but come on. This was not fun.

Second; the romance. Can it even be called that? Because I read the book and I still cannot figure out how Lou and Dacia fell in love with these guys. There was so little of it, but all the sudden in the end it mentions that they are apparently couples. It came out of nowhere; I saw hints, but nothing else, and it seems like any romance in this book was just added because it’s YA and ‘that’s what all the teen girls want nowadays, amiright?’ (NO IT’S NOT JUST STAHP PUBLISHERS PLEASE)

Third; the character of Prince Mihai. Now, there was potential here, I’ll admit. This could have been a wonderful villainous character. But no. First clue that I wasn’t going to like Mihai’s character was when Dacia describes him as smelling “like money and masculinity.” Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure that Old Spice sells that scent. Actually, no. I have no idea what that means. Second, some of the things he says sound like a soap opera. Like if it was a movie, you could hear the organ going “duh duh DUH” in the background. They are just so over-the-top menacing. But the final straw was that (spoiler) he threatens to rape Lou and Dacia while they watch. No, no, no. NO. I’m sorry, but that’s not okay, even if he is the villain. (End of spoiler)

Dacia and Lou were not characters I enjoyed reading about, either. Dacia is just a spoiled brat who whines a lot, and I just couldn’t take it after a while. It’s because of her that there are so many passages about dresses in this darn book. Then there’s Lou. She’s supposed to be shy and easily embarrassed, but aside from other characters thinking this about her, there’s really no evidence. I get it; she’s supposed to have overcome her shyness—but it doesn’t seem like there’s much to overcome if there’s really no signs in the book of her being shy. 

Considering that Jessica Day George has written one of my favorite books (Tuesdays in the Castle) I don’t think I will give up on reading her books; I’m just going to consider this a fluke amongst an otherwise wonderful pile of books that I have read by her. Still, I will warn other fans that there is a chance that, like me, you won’t like this as much as the rest of her books. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Nightbird

By Alice Hoffman

Blurb: Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

Genres: Middle Grade Fantasy

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Pages: 208

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3.5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by Alice Hoffman, but I guess she has a pretty large fanbase. (So, sorry I got on that train late, but at least I’m here, right?) I’m not surprised that she’s a popular author, because the writing in this book was pretty superb. The plot, however…well, it’s not so much that it’s bad, it’s just so short that I was disappointed. I really think that it could have been made to be more complex; everything happened so fast. 
You see, if the book had been a little bigger, perhaps I could have gotten to know Twig better. She seems like a protagonist I could really enjoy; she’s pretty smart, she’s a good actress, she loves her family…but I really didn’t get a long enough time to get to know her in between all the important plot points. 

And when the plot is this inventive, it becomes particularly distracting; because then I definitely would rather focus on it. This kind of book is something I know I would have loved when I was younger, because it’s just so unique and magical. The beautiful writing just infuses the plot with a little something special, and it’s hard to put down. Curses? A “monster”? Revolutionary War-era witches? Yes, yes, and YESSS. Especially when the writing complements the fascinating story surrounding these words and phrases so well.

But, like I said before, everything happens a bit faster than I would have liked. I think some of the plot’s complexity that it could have had was lost due to this, not to mention the fact that things started to happen one after another at an alarmingly rapid pace.

The writing and the plotline had potential to make this book really special, but it just went by too fast for me to grow to love it. What could have been a very memorable book for me is probably going to be easily forgotten. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) by Ainslie Hogarth

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated)

By Ainslie Hogarth

Blurb: Noelle takes a summer nightshift job at the infamous Boy Meets Girl Inn, even though she's well aware of the grisly murders that happened there decades ago. That's why she has a diary—to write down everything she experiences in case things go bump in the night. But the inexplicable freezing drafts, the migrating rotten-flesh smell, and the misplaced personal items don't really scare her. Noelle has bigger problems: her father's ailing health, her friend Alfred's inappropriate crush, and the sore spot on the back of her head that keeps getting worse.

When a party commemorating the anniversary of the original killings ends in a ghoulish bloodbath, Noelle's diary becomes the key piece of evidence for investigators. But the cryptic and often incoherent entries suggest there is more to the bizarre case than can be rationally explained...

Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Horror

Publication Date: September 8, 2015

Pages: 271

Series: N/A

My Rating: 1 star

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I'll get it out of the way right now, instead of tiptoeing around the fact throughout the review; I did not like this book. In the slightest. Many parts disgusted me; so did the main character. However, maybe other people will like it; if you are not deterred by extremely gruesome details, that is. And a main character that is just not a likeable person at all.

Let's start with Noelle, because that's the shorter complaint. She's a beyotch. Plain and simple. She's a beyotch to her friend. Simply because he likes her; so what's the natural reaction to that? Taunt him until he can't stand you so much that the crush goes away. Excellent deduction, Noelle! < /sarcasm>.

She's a beyotch to her dad. Who, by the way, is absolutely disgusting. He refers to his diarrhea as burning at one point. I get that he has medical issues (kind of, but that's a spoiler) but DEAR GOD NO.

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Anyway....she's really, really rude to him. She says she hates him, that she wants him to die. That is just an awful thing to say, especially about her father, who obviously loves her--even though he is definitely gross. 

She also likes to pick at her head, and the descriptions she has for what occurs to it are absolutely disgusting. You know what I discovered about myself while reading this book? That when a person describes their head wound as salsa a small part of me shrivels up and dies. 

This book is extremely graphic and gross. The very backstory is disgusting; there's cannibalism and rotting bodies and abductions and it's enough to make me want to barf. The descriptions are what really makes it horrible; perhaps if everything had been a little less vividly described I would not have had such a stomach ache while reading the story, but that didn't happen, and I felt like I constantly needed to go to some gore-less happy place while reading.

But it gets worse. Oh, so very worse. Mostly because of the animal cruelty. (Though I will admit, I could never tell if it actually happened or Noelle was just going crazy and thought it happened. Either way, it was very disturbing to read.) The spoiler is both well, a spoiler, and a rant. So beware.

(Spoiler) A FRICKING KITTY GETS HURT. YOU DON'T HURT KITTIES. ESPECIALLY THIS CUTE LITTLE CAT. IT DIDN'T DESERVE TO GET HURT, THE CATS WERE THE ONE THING ABOUT THIS BOOK I KINDA LIKED. (End of spoiler)

This may be my least favorite book I've read all year. In fact, there is not a 'may be' about it, it really is. I didn't like it whatsoever, and I was glad when I had finished.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Damage Done

By Amanda Panitch

Blurb: 22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .

Genres: Young Adult Thriller, Mystery

Publication Date: June 21, 2015

Pages: 336

Series: N/A

My Rating: 5 stars

I was so in shock as I finished Damage Done. It’s one of those books where the ending is BY FAR the best trait of the whole book, taking the thing to a whole new level of awesomeness. I was quite sure going through the story that it would earn a solid four stars from me, but the ending was just so mindblowing that I had to bump it up. 

The problem with this review is that as much as I want to rave about the ending and all the literary questions that I took from it, that would be a spoiler filled review. And that, my dear friends, is something that I refuse to do. So I really can’t give away as much as I want to, and therefore, I advise you, even if this review hasn’t quite convinced you that Damage Done is worth your time (IT SO IS) just to put doubts aside and read it. Though I should say, only if you are okay with more mature themes (however, I mean, this book is about the aftermath of a school shooting, so chances are if you can handle that you’ll be all right.)

This is the story of a girl, Julia, whose twin brother Ryan, who she was very close with, killed her best friend, her boyfriend, and others in a school shooting. And, I loved Julia as a character. There is something so relatable and understandable about her through the course of the book; though at times that scared me. She expresses love and disgust simultaneously throughout the story, and it just makes you wonder how you would feel if you were in this situation. 

Julia’s friend Alane was so sweet and understanding; I loved how there she always was for Julia, even when other people weren’t. And I also liked Julia’s love interest, Michael. He was more supporting and caring then he should have been.

Julia having to deal with being the media’s scapegoat is heartbreaking was hard for me to read about. It would suck so much, I thought, to have to deal with your brother doing this and then not getting sympathy at all when you were the victim too. And then, when everything began to go bad again, I was just so sympathetic with Julia. This girl did not get a break. 

But the ending. The ending is still the best thing, by far, this book has to offer. The sympathy I felt for Julia, and the questions surrounding the shooting…this ending trumps everything. And it’s just mindblowing and really, really shocking. 

The story also has psychology reports mixed in that tell the story of young Julia and Ryan. They’re important; not only do they show key parts of Julia and Ryan’s relationships, there are also small hints about the ending that I didn’t even recognize as hints until everything came together. Everything just fits so perfectly together in this book.

I am in love with this book. It’s everything I look for in a mystery/suspense novel, and I am a bit suspicious that the awesomeness of this novel is why I’ve been obsessively getting more mysteries lately. It really is a wonderful book. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson

Hapenny Magick

By Jennifer Carson

Blurb: Maewyn Bridgepost, the tiniest Hapenny, a race of little people, spends her days, from breakfast to midnight nibble, scrubbing the hearth, slopping the pigs, and cooking for her guardian, Gelbane, who never spares a kind word. As if life as a servant isn't bad enough, Mae learns that Gelbane is a troll and Hapennies are a troll delicacy. Years ago, a spell trapped Gelbane in Mae's village. Ever since, Gelbane has been chiseling away the magic protections and now Mae's home is destined to become a smorgasbord for half-starved trolls.

When her best friend, Leif, goes missing, it will take all of Mae's courage to friend her friend and protect her village.

When pitchforks, sewing needles, pots, brooms and a little magick are the only weapons at hand, the hapennies discover that great victories can be accomplished no matter what size you are, but only if you stick together.
 

Genres: Middle Grade Fantasy

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Pages: 160

Series: Hapenny Magick (book 1)

My Rating: 1 star

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well, maybe it was a bad idea to read this. Middle grade fantasy has proven to not be my thing, unless it’s the Chronicles of Narnia, in which case I read it again and again. But…the cover. It’s just so cute. I couldn’t resist. 
The bad thing about Hapenny Magick is basically the bad thing, for me, about almost all other MG fantasies. It’s just too sweet and black and white for my liking, and the whole plot always seems like a children’s cartoon version of a watered-down Grimm fairy tale. 

First, we have the main character, Mae, who is a kind-hearted little hapenny with a cruel mistress and a nice little friend named Callum. She’s kind to animals. She’s obedient. There isn’t a bad trait in her body, even though she has every reason to act out at times, seeing as her mother has mysteriously disappeared and her mistress, Gelbane, mistreats her. You know, I really hate to use the word Mary Sue to describe Mae, but if the tiny hapenny shoe fits...
She’s just so perfect. She’s not really given very much of a personality, but the little that she is given just irks me with its perfection. I sound so grumpy right now, I realize that, but man. It was just so sweet it seemed false.

Then there’s Gelbane. She’s ugly and rude and cruel. The epitome of a fairy tale villain; even the illustrations of her look just as you would expect. She might as well have been made out of cardboard. 
The plot, too, is very predictable. It’s quite easy to see who will be the villain, who will be the hero, and key plot twists are apparent from some of the first pages. I have to say, I was rather disappointed.

The final thing that annoyed me were the illustrations. Out of all the things I did not like in the book, this is the one that may be much more “it’s not you, it’s me” than anything. It’s just that they don’t have the charming quality of the cover, and the pictures of Mae only slightly resemble the girl on the cover! Plus, I just don’t like pictures in books most of the time. It’s just not my thing.

I was really disappointed in Hapenny Magick. On the bright side, it couldn’t have taken me more than forty five minutes to read, so it’s not like I really had to labor to finish it. That was about the most positive aspect of the book for me, sadly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave

By Jen White

Blurb: After their mother's recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven't seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station.

Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations. 

When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.

Genres: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

Pages: 320 

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is a middle grade story that feels distinctly middle grade as far as the voice of the protagonist and such, but at the same time I really enjoyed. This is kind of rare for me, because recently I’ve found that I really only love middle grade when the narrator sounds a bit older than the norm in this genre. So this is probably a miracle that will only happen once every thousand years, and you should all bask in it. 

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is sometimes saddening to read because these poor girls have been through so much. But it is also fantastic to read, because the whole story takes place in such a short amount of time, yet the people that Billie and Liberty meet and the way they stick together and care for one another makes it contain the richness and complexity of a story that takes place over a much longer period of time.

Billie and Liberty are two sisters recently abandoned by their father. They have to stick together to try and get in touch with their mother’s friend, but that’s more difficult than it sounds. I just wanted to hug these poor girls; I can’t imagine going through something like this and handling it as well as they did. Liberty’s method of staying calm and having to be mature for her age really made me like her and feel sorry for her at the same time.

All the people that the girls meet, even though some of them are only a part of the story briefly, are all really well written; they all feel human. Some are rude, some are cruel, some are nice, some are scared. Whatever they were like, though, they all seemed to have been well-thought out, rather than background-fillers.

Of course, there’s the question of why Billie and Liberty have been left by their father at a gas station, and I was so angry when I found the answer. But it’s also not a hundred percent black and white as far as how awful their father is, for reasons I can’t disclose, and I liked that.

I really, really liked this story. I think it deals with some topics that aren’t too common in middle grade, and it does them in a way that still retains the genre’s feel. It’s definitely something I’d recommend.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

The Disappearance of Emily H.

By Barrie Summy

Blurb: A girl who can see the past tries to save the future in this compelling tween mystery.
 
A girl is missing. Three girls are lying. One girl can get to the truth.
 
Emily Huvar vanished without a trace. And the clues are right beneath Raine’s fingertips. Literally. Raine isn’t like other eighth graders. One touch of a glittering sparkle that only Raine can see, and she’s swept into a memory from the past. If she touches enough sparkles, she can piece together what happened to Emily.
 
When Raine realizes that the cliquey group of girls making her life miserable know more than they’re letting on about Emily’s disappearance, she has to do something. She’ll use her supernatural gift for good . . . to fight evil.
 
But is it too late to save Emily?


Genres: Middle Grade Mystery

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Pages: 256

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I went into this book thinking it would be a cute little story with maybe a bit of action; the cover sort of infers that, does it not? And the opening paragraphs made me think that perhaps I was right. But no, this book surprised me for the better. It was so good.

Raine surprised me. First, for a stupid reason; I’d forgotten that she had paranormal powers because it had been a month between reading the blurb and then actually reading the book. So, with that new nugget of information, I was honestly a bit unsure of how I would end up liking her, because paranormal stories tend to have MCs that don’t really resonate with me. Thankfully, Raine was different; I really liked her kind-heartedness, how she struggled with mean girls--especially how she struggled with mean girls, and her ability to figure out what was going on. She was really well-developed as a character. 

The mystery was not as cute and childish as I was expecting; it had a surprising amount of depth and intrigue. Emily H.’s disappearance was complicated and the question of what went on right before her disappearance was uncertain and hard to figure out. We get bits and pieces from the sparkles Raine collects that hold memories with clues to the disappearance.

Raine’s ability was actually really fun to read about, and I liked that the author took a paranormal ability that isn’t too uncommon and put an uncommon twist on it. The sparkles, which played an important role in the story, didn’t really overshadow the mystery, either, and I was very impressed with how well the two meshed together; I may even go as far as saying that the Disappearance of Emily H. is one of the best examples I’ve books I’ve read where the paranormal aspect goes perfectly with the plot. I’ve found that usually paranormal books DON’T do a good job of this, but this was perfect.

I also like how the author wove in the bullying with Shirlee (and to a lesser extent, Raine.) Jennifer, the bully was just so unlikeable and horrible; I thought Shirlee’s fear of her was pretty accurate. But she got what was coming to her in the end, and I was very happy. 

I would like to say that the ending was perfect—and it is, don’t get me wrong—but the place where the mystery ends and the actual book ends are two different places, and I would like to elaborate on the mystery more than the actual ending. I was kind of shocked, I won’t lie to you guys. It was just…you don’t see it coming. Now, it’s not a sucker punch kind of shock, but there is a large bit of surprise, and it’s not really a guessable storyline—completely, anyway. Some people amaze me with their ability to guess endings, so I guess I can’t really use universal statements, I suppose.

This book is really underrated. I was impressed with how well it balanced paranormal, mystery, and suspense; it was nearly impossible for me to put this book down. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting, though I may have gotten up once to go eat something.) I’ll admit, I hope that this isn’t the last book that contains Raine’s supernatural mystery-solving abilities. Definitely one of my favorite mysteries of the year so far.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Siren's Fury by Mary Weber

Siren's Fury

By Mary Weber

Blurb: "I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it's no use. The curse I've spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists."

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Series: The Storm Siren Trilogy (book 2)

Pages: 352

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was rather lukewarm about Storm Siren, but I tried out Siren’s Fury because I thought this book would have more what I was missing from the first. That didn’t happen. I actually enjoyed the first book more; this one had more of the problems I had with the first book, only amplified.

The first is that Nym has not improved for me as a character. I have decided that I really just don’t like her that much, which is sad, because there is SO MUCH potential there. The first book, I thought it was just the fact that I didn’t like her and Eogan’s relationship. But now I’ve decided that I actually DON’T like her; she doesn’ t make great choices, and she just didn’t have the kick butt personality that I thought might show up here now that Eogan wasn’t a thing. 

I mean sure, she’s not one to just let other people get in on the action while she does nothing. But I really felt like she doesn’t exactly have a well-developed personality. In my review of Storm Siren, I called it bland, and…yeah. That’s really not changed at all. It’s just so hard to root for her when she’s not all that exciting.

The whole “let’s pity Draewulf” thing just didn’t work for me, either. I like when villains aren’t so black and white evil, yes. But, once you do make a villain that despicable, there really isn’t any going back. Draewulf can have a sad backstory, yes. I mean, even Voldemort kinda had one! But Nym’s pity for the thing that totally ruined her life in more ways than one felt a bit forced. 

And now, we get to Eogan. First note; I still don’t like him. I really don’t like Nym’s relationship with him at all. Which, like I said, is kind of why I read this book even after not liking the first one too much. I thought that No Eogan would mean Good Storyline. BUT NO, HE STILL INFILTRATES EVERYTHING WITH HIS EOGANNESS GAH. I was so. Mad.

Lastly, I still don’t feel like this book utilizes action and thrilling scenes enough. Maybe it’s because I just don’t care enough about the characters for any of the scenes to really thrill me; but I thought there was a lot of lag between scenes that actually had some exciting things happening in them. There was a lot of politics, training, bad decisions courtesy of Nym, but not much excitement. 

On the bright side, the world in this series gets a bit more developed in Siren’s Fury. It filled in a lot of gaps that the first book left wide open. It’s still not as rich as I’d like it to be, but it feels a lot more explained in this book.

Take this review with a grain of salt, because the first book, according to me, was just average. If you loved Storm Siren, odds are this review won’t reflect your opinion of Siren’s Fury. But if you, like me, read Siren’s Fury and couldn’t decide whether it was good enough to continue or not…maybe you should give this one a pass. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Review: May Contain Spies by J.A. Cipriano

May Contain Spies

By J.A. Cipriano

Blurb: Abby Banks is your typical sixteen-year-old girl, except that her entire life has been one big lie. Kidnapped as a young girl and fostered by a government agency as collateral, Abby never knew she was important… until her mom’s terrorist organization unleashes a devastating attack on the facility.

Genres: Young Adult Thriller, Romance


Publication Date: April 23, 2015


Series: N/A


Pages: 150


My Rating: 1 star


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


May Contain Spies was perhaps the longest 193 page book I shall ever have the pleasure(?) of reading. I want to say that it started out well, but it really didn’t. From the first page, I had issues with it, and those issues only intensified with each chapter. I picked this up because I was hoping to read a book that captured the same intensity and girl power as did Gallagher Girls; but, and I really feel bad saying this, May Contain Spies really didn’t contain much of either of those things. 


The first thing to get on my nerves early on was that all the teen girls are Teen Girls—as far as the stereotype goes at least; I can say that there is almost no teen girls I know who act as outrageously as this book portrays them. The main character isn’t actually the worst perpetrator in this story; her best friend is. (Though Abby has problems I’ll tackle later on.) The girl has a notebook that she just fills with her name paired with the last name of the boy she has a crush on at the time. Regina George would have a FIELD DAY with this chick, she wouldn’t even have to LIE to Aaron Samuels. 


Speaking of teen tropes, BEWARE OF INSTALOVE. Insta-love that is the most unnecessary thing in this story. I get it, Stephen’s hot, but Abby is literally lusting over his luscious lips—pardon the alliteration—while they are being chased by people with guns, and in no universe is that okay. The irony of it all is that Abby describes herself as practical, and yet that scene is still a thing. In another instance, Stephen, the Edward Cullen of spies, apparently has a thing for falling in love with girls he protects. Abby frets that—even though Abby first talked to him a couple hours ago at this point—she is the rebound girl. 


I really just can’t get behind Abby and Stephen’s relationship, and not just because of the insta-love, though that is a major part of why I’m not ever shipping this thing. The way Abby describes Stephen is just strange. At one point, the sound of his voice “rolls over her” like “hot fudge and silk.” I know that this was supposed to be romantic, but all I could think about is how sticky that would be. 
Some of the scenes are just so unrealistic in this book. Abby’s mother knifes a shark in the water, killing it, and all I could think was “feeding frenzy feeding frenzy feeding frenzy.” What a horrible decision that would have been in real life! 


Other scenes made me mad because Abby would always do something so STUPID. I really didn’t like her. It took the whole book for her to finally truly stand up for herself, something I was hoping she would do from the get-go. 


I think this book took me a total of a week to get through, which is really rare for me, especially when a story is under 200 pages. It became a chore to read, and that’s never fun. I think this may be a series based on how it ended, but I’m stopping here.