Top 5 (Not)Tuesday: Books Under 300 Pages

Apologies for my accidental almost-two-week-long hiatus–it’s been a scramble of unpacking from one vacation and prepping for another, not to mention half a dozen social affairs crammed into just a few short days. Technically, this past week was Bionic Bookworm’s hiatus (click here for the August topics!) so there was no Top 5 Tuesday but since I missed the last one I figured I’d post it this round. I’d planned to have this ready for the Tuesday past and be all “hey, at least I got the day right this time!” but, ah, no. Alas.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

As far as contemporary romances go, Shut Out was a fun change. Inspired by the Classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, as the wives in the original play, the gals of Keplinger’s novel vow to abstain from any kind of sexual activity with their boyfriends until they put a silly feud to rest. This one’s on the list not only because it was funny and different and because the Greek inspo automatically gives it points in my book (which it does) but because the sexual foundation gives way to some frank and important discussions about virginity and consent and knowing what feels right. All the girls come from different levels of experience, different opinions about what they’re doing, and different stances on why they’re doing/not doing it; the realizations they come to by the end of the book were important for me to hear in high school and definitely useful to other girls too. So yeah – top points for impact!

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

I am a sucker for a good spy novel. Two Lies and a Spy was one I expected to be little more than contemporary romantic fluff with some action suspense thrown in; fast forward to crazy family drama, Russian conspiracies, a decent love triangle, a relatively complex espionage adventure, and a main character that grows on you backed by supporting ones you love from the start and it turned into a book I rather enjoyed! It’s not my favourite spy novel ever but it was a really great read and definitely one of my favourite short books.

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook

Another contemporary romance here! Stocking to the ‘espionage’ and secrecy theme of the previous pick, The Almost Truth centres on a family of con artists and a daughter ready to walk away from it all. Though cliché in ways at the outset, it’s the best friend–a boy also taken under the MC’s father’s conman wing–that really made the book for me. Sadie is likeable enough but I found myself attached to Brendan, the flirtatious boy with a broken past and strong loyalties. The con plot is intriguing and surprising, but the family dynamic and the Brendan-Sadie thing make it a top pick for me!

Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Okay, by now most associate Schwab (Victoria for YA, V.E. for adult) with wildly unique and completely amazing fantasy writing. I may (still…) not have read any of the A Darker Shade of Magic books but years ago I read her debut and was just as blown away by it as the rest of the world has been by her more recent work. I actually had an unfinished review for it saved from when I read it in 2015 that spent a single paragraph saying how surprising it was–it was never finished because I couldn’t figure out how to put my thoughts into words. It’s that good.

Crash by Lisa McMann (Visions #1)

This was one of my first reviews on this site (click here to read) so hurray for throwbacks! I was so caught off guard by how much I enjoyed McMann’s whole Visions trilogy – all of which are under 300 pages and each of which could be picked for this top (the second is my fave). Gonna be honest here: I bought it because the eye on the cover was stunning and the blurb’s feuding Italian restaurant families gave off some Romeo and Juliet vibes, from which I am utterly incapable of turning away. But the crazy murder visions and fast-paced prevention chase kept me chasing Jules until I flipped the last page.

Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy

17262751.jpgDancer Daughter Traitor Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Slow. That’s the first word I would use for this book. With only 264 pages, the first 100-150 were purely set-up, which I’m sure you all know quickly becomes obnoxious. This is supposed to be a spy thriller! Where are the spies? The thrill?? The ANYTHING INTERESTING WHATSOEVER????????? Honestly. On average I read 100 pages in roughly an hour and yet Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy took me forever and there were multiple times in which I considered just giving in and not finishing it at all (which I pretty much NEVER do).

I genuinely wanted to enjoy this. I love espionage, Russia is fascinating (I actually took a course last year on intelligence in the Soviet Union so I learned a lot about the KGB, especially their dealings in and with the USA), and the spy war of the Cold War was so ridiculously intense and often cruel that if properly reflected in the book it would have made a pretty kick-ass novel. Continue reading