Review / Spy School: British Invasion

Spy School British InvasionBook: Spy School: British Invasion (2019)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Adventure/Espionage

Basic plot: The Spy School kids are on yet another secret mission, this time to London. Their job? To bring down SPYDER. Their only clue is a key. But because they don’t know who to trust, they must go rogue from CIA, and even MI6. And then there’s Murray Hill who’s helping them. Or is he? 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) This is Book 7 in the series, and while I felt disappointed in the last couple of books, this one brought be right back to the excitement of the first books! Yay! Ben and his friends are back, and to tell you the truth, I’m even okay with Mike being in the mix now. (Note: You’ll see from this review that I initially didn’t like Mike. I mean, I was fine with him as a character, I just preferred it when he wasn’t a spy.)

2) I love Catherine Hale! And, I even really like what Gibbs did with Alexander Hale in this one! (I’m not crazy about bumbling adults that have no redeeming qualities. And that’s the brush Alexander Hale’s been painted with for the last ten books… Yes, I know there haven’t been ten books yet. I’m slightly exaggerating. Anyway, just saying, that I’m glad part of this book was about seeing that everybody brings something to the table, even if we don’t always see it at first.

3) I love the friendship and trust that’s developed between Ben and Erica. And of course, the underlying romantic tension that remains underlying. And I am okay with Zoe misinterpreting a few things. (Like the hand-holding bit. Not what it sounds like.)

4) I loved the setting of this one. London and Paris! The British Museum. Tower Bridge. The Eiffel Tower. Even the Catacombs. All good.

5) This book was quite action-packed. It comes directly on the heels of the book that comes before it. The only breather seems to be the times they’re in the air, flying to their next destination. The climax at the Eiffel Tower was great! I’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower, so I found that part very fun. I’m guessing a lot of the descriptions are true. (Now I want to climb up the Eiffel Tour!)

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The destruction of museum property and artifacts was slightly (no, very) hard to read about. I was somewhat surprised that Catherine Hale (a museum curator) didn’t cringe a little more often!

FINAL THOUGHTS

The kids from Spy School are back in this rip-roaring adventure. Everything you love about Spy School is here in this one. If you haven’t read the first books in the series, please do. And while, I think some of the middle ones sag a bit, they are kind of necessary to read before you pick this one up.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Quick Pick Reviews #16

NOTE: I did a review of Brave by Svetlana Chmakova… which is actually the middle book in the series! So, I decided to do a combined quick pick review of Book #1 and #3. 🙂


awkwardAwkward // by Svetlana Chmakova

Genre: MG, Contemporary Graphic Novel (2015)

My Thoughts: Liked this first book in the series. Peppi has an adorable name! And personality. Particularly funny were all her attempts to avoid Jaime. Of course, he ends up being her science tutor! Cue the awkwardness. (One of my absolute favourite parts was when Chmakova puts little definitions of the word “awkward” = “this” with an illustration similar to the one of the cover the book!)

There’s a fun geocaching section. And I really like how the art and science clubs come together for the fair. What they create is out of this world! 😉

One of my favourite parts of these books is the design gallery at the end. Here Chmakova shows us various sketches and talks about the “making of” process she goes through for each book. [4 Stars]


CrushCrush // by Svetlana Chmakova

Genre: Upper MG, Contemporary Graphic Novel (2018)

My Thoughts: This is Jorge’s story. As I mentioned in my review of Brave, I loved Jorge, so I was glad to get a book devoted to him.

In this book, we get how Jorge is secretly crushing on Jazmine. The cover does a beautiful job conveying this. But it’s about more than that. We also have Jorge’s two friends: Olivia and Garrett. I really liked (painful as it was) the storyline that follows Garrett’s attempts to join the popular crowd and how he [*SPOILER] betrays Jorge in the process. [End Spoiler]

The one thing about this book is that it almost seemed older than the other books. I kept thinking that they were in high school. I checked. No, it’s middle school. Maybe it was the dance that seemed a little like “Prom” to me. (Although, I know there are dances in middle school.) [4 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Cool Zone

cool-zoneBook: Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One (2008)
Author: Judy Blume
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic Plot: This is another story starring the Pain (younger brother Jake) and the Great One (older sister Abigail). Told in alternating chapters, we get their differing points of view. There’s a whole lot of sibling rivalry, but also a bunch of sibling-love at the heart of each story.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I love the sibling rivalry, but I’m glad that there’s more to it than that. Even if the kids don’t quite admit it, they love each other. 🙂

2) I don’t mind the episodic nature of this book. Not many books get published nowadays that are basically a collection of short stories. Judy Blume does a great job with this one. Each story is self-contained and fun.

3) Judy Blume’s characterization of the kids is perfect. Reminds me of her Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series. I love how she starts out each of these books with how the Pain thinks their parents prefer the Great One, and the Great One thinks the Pain gets all the breaks in their family. Isn’t that how it always is?

4) This book is a quick read. I think my favourite story was the one about the lost tooth. (I could feel Abigail’s frustration!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) The only thing I didn’t really like was that the Pain (Jake) calls his teacher “Mary”. Every other teacher in the book is called Mr./Ms. This is just a personal preference of mine. In fact, I ended up just substituting Ms. Mary in my mind every time I saw her name in the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this book. Not sure whose POV I liked better. The POV of the Pain? Or that of the Great One? 🙂


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Spy School Goes South

spy-school-goes-southBook: Spy School Goes South (2018)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Espionage
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: SPYDER is at it again. Murray, who’s been a prisoner at the Spy School since the events of the last book, is willing to lead Ben and Erica to SPYDER’s headquarters. But things (obviously) go wrong. There’s a plane crash and survival tactics come into play. And the best news is that SPYDER thinks they’re all dead, which is perfect when you plan to infiltrate the enemies hide out.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Ben’s a great main character. I love how unassuming he is. And of course, juxtaposed against Erica… well, they make a great team.

2) The Farkle Family Reunion was a fun method for the team of spies to fit in at the resort. I also like that this also turns out to be a bad decision.

3) Love how Catherine Hale (Erica’s mum) shows up.

4) As always, the covers of these books are a fun way to introduce a basic plot of the novel!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Okay, this is where I start pointing out things I didn’t like. And sadly, as this series continues, I find there’s more and more things I don’t like. Why is the CIA and SPYDER run by kids? (Other than Catherine Hale–and the body guards for SPYDER–there are no adults! Even Cyrus and Alexander Hale only pop in at the end, after it’s all over.) I get it. The CIA has been infiltrated by SPYDER. But I still don’t know why Joshua (maybe 18 or 19?) is the one in charge of the special red button that will blow things up!

2) Speaking of the red button… not the most original plot device. I guess this is a spy novel, though.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – This book was okay, but not as good as the first three in the series. I almost wish he’d stop writing this series as it becomes harder and harder to suspend disbelief. I’m guessing he’s going to do at least one more since he seems to have set that up. Do I recommend this book. Sort of. Maybe? Only if you don’t mind kids who make better spies then spies with years of training and experience.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!