Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early Review: Original Sin (Sally Sin #1) by Beth McMullen (ARC)

Book: Original Sin (Sally Sin #1) by Beth McMullen
Release Date: 12 Jul 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Mystery, Humor, Espionage
Summary: On the surface, Lucy Hamilton looks just like all the other stay-at-home San Francisco moms. She takes her three-year-old son, Theo, to the beach, to the playground and to the zoo. She feeds him organic applesauce and free-range chicken. She folds laundry and plays on the floor with Matchbox cars until her knees ache. What no one knows about Lucy, not even her adoring husband, is that for nine years Lucy was Sally Sin, a spy for the United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction. And that's just the way she wants to keep it - a secret. But when Lucy's nemesis Ian Blackford, a notorious illegal arms dealer, hits the USAWMD's radar, the Agency calls Sally Sin back to action to lure Blackford out into the open. Racing against time, Lucy must fight to save herself, her loving family - and, oh right - the world. Hilarious and resonant, ORIGINAL SIN is the story of one woman’s quest to find that most elusive work-life balance in the face of danger, intrigue, and proper recycling habits.
Buy It: Amazon
Note: Please note that I received this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. I did not receive monetary compensation for my review and receiving this book in no way affected my opinion or how it was expressed in my review.

Review: Sally Sin traded in her life as a spy for the United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction after nine years for the life of a stay at home mom to her three year old son as Lucy Parks. Sally faced some of the worst criminals in existence, all of whom wanted her dead, as well as regular kidnappings from her very own nemesis. Sally eventually met a man and finally wanted out of her life of danger, however, one of the conditions was the possibility of being called on for a mission should her expertise be needed. Caring for her son has been her mission for the past several years and it's been no less troublesome and difficult. How is Lucy going to come out on top when her old boss shows up unexpected and unwanted claiming that Ian Blackford, the nemesis, isn't as dead as they thought and that he is looking for her?
There are lots of wonderful things I can say about Original Sin but only one thing really matters. It was hilarious. Laugh out loud in public and not even care that people are looking at you like you're crazy, hilarious. Many books are meant to be humorous but either it's not my kind of humor or it just isn't funny. I was expecting Original Sin to be lighthearted and cute, both of which it was at certain points, but I wasn't expecting to be giggling to myself every page I flipped. My favorite humorous aspect of the book was that there were so many simple everyday mom truths that normally you never think twice about, but Sally makes them hilarious with her sarcastic, witty inner monologue.
The book didn't really have that much in common with the USA show Covert Affairs but I often found myself comparing it to that tv show. Both have a fabulous female main character who is clever, witty and a little bit sarcastic. They both have the same tone and while both have an enjoyable story, it's really more about the more subtle aspects; relationships, character growth, dialogue etc. Maybe it's because both characters were picked up by 'the agency' for their language skills and ulterior mysterious motives... anyway, couldn't get the similarities, however little they were, out of my head.
I fell completely in love with Sally's character. Not only was she so much fun to read about but she was a competent agent. I've read about so many wonderful, hilarious incompetent characters (think Stephanie Plum) but I don't think I've read about a single competent one. McMullen manages to keep the humor despite this which I think is a spectacular achievement. Yes, it's funny witnessing the struggles of a character who is probably making the same mistakes you might, but I love that Sally is skilled yet still human with her own struggles and flaws.
While I loved seeing Sally's life before she quit the agency, there were a few flashbacks too many for my tastes (probably half the book). I enjoyed everything we saw and it flowed pretty well but there were basically two stories going on which was a little distracting.
I am already eagerly awaiting the next installment in Sally Sin's adventures. McMullen has me enthralled in Sally's story of espionage and humor. Original Sin is a must read for anyone looking to laugh but will be especially appreciated by mothers and those who have experienced the terrors that are small children.

Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
  • So how to explain what I'm doing right now. Gardening? Searching for a lost contact lens? Seeing if there is a stranger crawling around under my shrubs waiting to sneak into my house and strangle me with a length of piano wire? Ha! Love her inner monologue so far. Hope the book continues to be this amusing!
  • After a dozen or so close calls, I discovered my son is simply a potty tourist, interested in visiting potties the world over. Let me tell you, it gets old pretty fast. Omigosh, that was me when I was young. I wanted to use the restroom everywhere. I used to sing 'I see London, I see France. My mommy isn't wearing underpants' though. Her greatest wish is that one day I'll be as mortified as she always was.
  • “You know what to do when an agent dies, don't you?” “I didn't read that part of the manual, Simon. So I guess I'm going to have to leave you here on the street, let the rats have at you.” He smiled through his pain. “Bitch,” he said. “I might really die.” “Stop being a baby,” I said, his blood soaking through my fingers. “Nobody dies from a gunshot wound.” One of the things I love most about Sally is that she isn't an incompetent agent. Been there, done that.
  • And Ian Blackford would have remained simply that for me, a story, a myth, a cautionary tale, had he not gone and started kidnapping me over and over again. Sally's already got a husband and a son so I doubt Ian will be the despicable love interest. I've gotta say that he has me very intrigued thus far though.
  • Later, Simon Still berated me for passing out over something as mundane as a dislocated shoulder. He reminded me that passing out was only acceptable if I was dead. This chapter really put Simon into perspective. He's an absolutely nutjob with an obsession and he's willing to sacrifice anyone and anything. I found him sort of pathetic at first and pitied him but now... not so much.
  • Will picked up the day's Wall Street Journal and held it between us like a wall. “The paper is upside down,” I said. He flipped it but continued to use it as a shield. He was patient. He would wait for me to answer his questions about counting contractions if he ended up having to deliver the baby himself, which was not something I saw myself enjoying. I love it when books make me laugh at 'men antics.'
*all quotes are taken from an ARC copy of the novel and may not reflect the finished version

Rating: 4 Bites

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