Released: June 5th 2014
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Models, spies and lipstick gadgets... When Jessica's father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She's not just a daddy's girl who's good at striking a pose; she's a trained spook who knows how to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game. (from Goodreads)
I have always loved spy books and grew up with series like Alex Rider and the Gallagher Girls, so naturally I was very curious about Code Red Lipstick. After reading it, I can safely say that I really haven't changed at all - I still think spy books are awesome, and I will be looking forward to adding the rest of this series to my collection.
I really liked Jessica. She and her dad had a close relationship, which was nice to see, and he was the one who readied her for the world of spies. Her dad was ex-MI6 turned private investigator and he taught Jessica a lot about being covert and sneaking around as well as how to use a lot of his cool gadgets. When Jessica found out her dad was missing, her first thought was of course to find him. And while Jessica perhaps did seem a bit older than her age of fourteen, the way she used her surroundings and modelling to make it to Paris was well done and I liked that she had an actual plan of what she was going to do. She was determined to find her dad, no matter what, and she wasn't going to let any MI6 agents get in the way of that. It was admirable, though definitely reckless (a few of the scenes did push the limit of believability) but I have to say that Jessica was way more fearless than I would have been her situation. I did think she maybe didn't pick up on a few clues she really ought to have, but I guess she was so worried about her dad that a lot of the time she wasn't thinking properly about the things she'd seen and heard.
There wasn't much focus on secondary characters in this book, besides the agents Nathan and Margaret, who I'll talk about later. However, I did like Jessica's best friend Becky and I hope we get to explore her character a bit more in book two. Jamie was a potential love interest but Jessica was too busy trying to solve the mystery of her father's whereabouts in this book to really concentrate on him (which I actually really liked because I think a romance would have ruined the plot at this point). It may be that he plays a larger role in the next book, so I am intrigued about that. In regard to Nathan and Margaret, [spoiler, highlight to read] I suspected Margaret from the start, she was way too accommodating and pushing Jessica towards Allegra who was obviously dodgy whereas Nathan seemed genuinely concerned [end of spoiler]. I think maybe Jessica should have realised what these characters' aims were, but as I said before, she was probably too worried about her dad to think about anything else. I do hope to see more of Nathan and Margaret in book two, especially after the ending, because it will be interesting to see how Jessica will act around each of them now she knows more than she did at the start of book one.
Plot-wise, I have read a LOT of spy books, so I did find a few things a bit predictable (e.g. the villain, the ending) but to be honest, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book and a lot of the time I really didn't know where the story was going. I was pulled in from the beginning, which was a great way to start the story, and it was also fun to read about Jessica combining her model skills and her spying skills and seeing her snoop around to look for clues. I liked how things turned out and I am very excited to see what Jessica does in the next book. I really want to find out more about Sara as well, whose character was very briefly focussed on and yet managed to be one of the most interesting of the lot. This book actually reminded me a little bit of Miss Congeniality (in a good way, of course) but with younger characters, and I can see it making a good film.
Overall, I really enjoyed Code Red Lipstick, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequels. Recommended to people who like spy books, especially if you're looking for something to fill the gap now that the Gallagher Girls series is over, but also to people who enjoyed Geek Girl, because the modelling aspects are similar.
Sarah is a freelance education journalist and lives in West London with her husband and two young children.
She grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.
She trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol. Her highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and lowest point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition.
Sarah worked as an education correspondent for a national newspaper before going freelance. She now divides her time between journalism and writing.
She loves reading, baking, table tennis and martial arts. She's a green belt in kick-boxing and a brown with two white stripes at karate, currently training for black.