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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Spies, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 37
1. The Double Traitor

So I finally read The Double Traitor, by E. Philips Oppenheim, and I’m not surprised that it’s Evangeline‘s favorite of his books, because it’s awesome.

Francis Norgate is a young diplomat, recently assigned to Berlin. He’s sent home again after only a month, having offended one of the Kaiser’s family members, which sucks for him professionally, but turns out to be for the best. On the way home, Norgate encounters Mr. Selingmann, a German businessman, and becomes suspicious of him. But neither his bosses, his friend who’s a cabinet minister, or Scotland Yard will pay any attention, so he singlehandedly sets himself up as a double agent and does what he can to prepare for war.

The Double Traitor isn’t as twisty as the other Oppenheim books I’ve read, but it’s suspenseful in a fairly straightforward way, keeping you guessing about whose loyalties lie where. You’re never in doubt of Norgate — which is nice because it allows you to sit back and watch him work — but pretty much everyone else is a bit of a question mark. Mostly this is a novel about how Norgate goes about being a double agent, which it turns out is a thing he’s mostly pretty well fitted for. He’s also ridiculously open at times — I love that he’s constantly going to his friend Hebbelthwaite and saying, “So, this is what I’ve been getting up to lately in my capacity as a German spy,” but…well, really?

There were things that I found disatisfying, and threads that were dropped and never picked up again. I never figured out exactly what happened with the suicide of one of the characters early in the book, and I objected pretty strongly to the way Oppenheim dealt with Norgate’s manservant. But mostly this was almost as much fun as I’ve ever had with an Oppenheim novel. It helps that the other Oppenhem novel it most resembles is my favorite, The Great Impersonation (which I’ve apparently never written about? I could have sworn I had). Both are about spies and impending war, and a particular type of young man working alone for his country. I like Oppenheim less when he does financial conspiracies and politics and people who are totally self-absorbed. But this has only a little bit of those, and lots of patriotic fervor and a young couple who work well together and almost an excess of spies. It’s pretty cool.


Tagged: 1910s, adventure, ephillipsoppenheim, spies, wwI

4 Comments on The Double Traitor, last added: 1/2/2014
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2. Giveaway! Win Also Known As by Robin Benway!

 

About the book:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As by Robin Benway? Just will out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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3. Chase Danger, Super Spy, #2: Pirates of Pineapple Island by Case and Lisa Olivera

4 Stars Chase Danger, Super Spy: Pirates of Pineapple Island Chase & Lisa Olivera Adam Goodman 32 Pages:    Ages: 4 to 7 ................... From Website:  7-year-old super-spies Chase Danger and Princess Ali Bali must think fast when they discover pirates have stolen Zalezgon’s magical pineapples.  But that’s not all!  Ali’s little brother Aiden has been [...]

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4. Santa’s Eleven Months Off by Mike Reiss

5 Stars Santa’s Eleven Months Off Mike Reiss Michael G, Montgomery Peachtree Publishing 32 Pages   Ages: 4 to 8 (+) Cover & Jacket:  From December first through Christmas, Santa Claus got down to business, making fifty zillion toys for the world’s good girls and boys. All that month, he worked his rear off. Then he [...]

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5. Tamar, a Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal by Mal Peet

Tamar is one of those stories that is difficult to talk about without giving too much away and spoiling the twist that comes at the end of the novel.  And Tamar is well worth the read just to get to that.  It begins in 1979, when William Hyde asks his son Jan if he and his wife would consider using the name Tamar for their expected baby, to which they happily respond in the affirmative.  It is this daughter, Tamar, who narratives the story that follows.

The story then switches to 1945, introducing Dart and Tamar, undercover names (based on English rivers) for two Dutch born, British trained agents for the SOE (Special Operations Executive) just as they are about to parachute into the Nazi-occupied  Netherlands to work with the Dutch Resistance in an attempt to reorganize it during that terrible Hunger Winter when so many people died of starvation.  Once inside Holland, Dart, who is the team's radio operator, operates under the name Dr. Ernest Lubbers, living and setting up his radio at the local mental asylum.  Tamar, under the name of Christiaan Boogart, is fortunate enough to be placed in the home of Marijke Maatens.  Tamar/Christiaan and Marijke have been lovers for a while, but when Dart/Lubbers realizes what is going on between them, he becomes very angry and jealous.  He has also fallen in love with Marjike.

The narrative moves to the spring of 1995.  Jan Hyde's daughter Tamar Hyde is now 15.  Her father has be missing for a few years and her beloved grandmother, Marijke, has recently passed away, after being placed in a nursing home because she was seemingly suffering from dementia.  Now, her grandfather has just committed suicide.  As a result of that, Tamar finds herself in possession of a box full of his World War II memorabilia.  Tamar knew that her Grandad "was fascinated by riddles and codes and conundrums of labyrinths, by the origin of place names, by grammar, by slang, by jokes...by anything that might mean something else.  He lived in a world that was slippery, changeable, fluid." (pg 111)  And so Tamar begins a journey to figure out that codes messages her Grandad has left regarding his life and suicide.

From here on the story alternates between 1945 and 1995 as events unfold and characters are explained.  I don't want to say too much more at this point and risk an unintended spoiler, which can so easily happen with suspense novels you feel enthusiastic about.

Tamar is an exciting, suspenseful, very sophisticated and often gritty YA novel, but it is definitely not going to be everyones cup of tea.  A lot of readers said they had a hard time getting into the story, while others complained that it was big (379 pages)  and too slow moving, while other readers thought it was a 5 star story.  I tend to be on the side of the 5 star folks.  

Peet's teenage narrator proves to be quite formidable.  One would almost think beyond her 15 years, but given Tamar's life experiences so far, maybe her formidability is completely understandable.  Through her voice, Peet details her discoveries in a very straightforward style, clean and clear, yet it is all done in such lyrical prose that sometimes it often made me almost forget the subtext of the title.  Without my realizing that he had done it, Peet has taken that subtext espionage, passion and betrayal, wound and woven them together in a story that left me unsuspecting until the very end and then totally surprised.  In fact, after I finished it, I thought the whole novel is really a reflection of of William Hyde's love of all things enigma and that, I think, that is what makes Tamar such an unusual story.  And yet, all along the way, Tamar gives us innocent (?) hints about where things are going.

The book is recommended for readers age 14+
This book was bought for my personal library

Walker Books Australia has a very nice teacher's guide here.

This book was awarded the following well-deserved honors:

2005 Carnegie Medal
206 Wirral Paper Back of the Year
2008 ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
2011 De Gouden Lijst

This is book 4 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry
This is book 2 of my 2013 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

14 Comments on Tamar, a Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal by Mal Peet, last added: 2/1/2013
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6. Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

 

 

Title: Also Known As

Author: Robin Benway

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.


Review:

When I saw Also Known As on Netgalley, I immediately requested a copy.  I love YA books featuring spies, espionage, and danger, and this title looked like it had all of that in spades.  Plus, as an added bonus, protagonist Maggie is a gifted safe-cracker.  Seriously, it just doesn’t get any more fun than that!  The first chapter kind of bogged me down, but once I hit my stride, I gobbled Also Known As in just an afternoon.  I didn’t want to put it down, and it had me so engaged in the story that I was able to overlook a few inconsistences that would have driven me crazy otherwise.  This is a fun read, with a confident though in over her head heroine, and an engaging cast of supporting characters.  I really hope Maggie will return for more adventures.

Maggie has been living the life of a spy forever.  Both of her parents are employed by the Collective, and they spend their days trying to make the world a safer place by putting the brakes on gun runners, human traffickers, and other nefarious plots designed to shake up the world order.  Maggie has been cracking locks since she was a toddler, and she fully expects to follow in her parents’ spy footsteps, cracking locks and stealing away with evil doers’ plans to destroy peace and stability.  When she’s given her first solo assignment in NYC, she couldn’t be more thrilled.  All she has to do is befriend Jesse Oliver.  Jesse’s father runs a powerful publishing empire, and he’s planning to run an expose outing Maggie, her family, and the Collective.  If she can’t steal the documents that threaten to ruin her family, they will be in big, big danger.

Now, I’m not even going to wonder why the Collective, a super secret spy organization, is putting an inexperienced spy in charge of saving everyone’s bacon.  Instead, I allowed myself to get sucked into Maggie’s upbeat and very entertaining narrative.  She has all of the confidence in the world, and she is going to make everyone proud of her.  She is going to live up to her legacy and steal those damaging documents!  All she has to do is pretend to be friends with Jesse, and she’s in like Flynn!

Only that’s not how things work out.  As Maggie embraces her assignment, she’s determined to do everything in her power to be successful.  But as she makes friends with a social outcast, and gets caught up in going to school and hanging out with kids her own age, she starts to see that it’s more difficult to pretend that she ever had thought.  And after she and Jesse connect on a personal level, she realizes, to her dismay, that she’s not pretending anymore.  She really likes him, and she really likes her new friend Roux, and she knows her parents are never going to understand her lapse in judgment.  They’ve trained her better than that, haven’t they?

I loved Maggie’s anxiety about hurting her new friends.  Now that she actually has some, she is loathe to lose them.  She is lying to everyone, though, and it’s making her miserable.  Being a teen spy is just not as easy as it sounds!  She can’t let her parents know that she kissed Jesse (and that she’d do it again in a second), or that her friendship with Roux isn’t just for cover.  She is dealing with so many issues that she never considered, it’s no wonder she can’t get a decent night’s sleep!

Also Known As lived up to all of my expectations, and even exceeded them.  The pacing is spot on, the plot never lagged, and Maggie is a fun, likable character, even if she did need to be knocked down a peg or two.  Recommended for fans of Ally Carter.  Check back later today for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As!

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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7. Excerpt- A Secret in Her Kiss by Anna Randol

Here is a book at the top of my wish list.  Once I get my TBR under control, I will pick it up.  Until then, I will just keep looking at the pretty cover.  Here’s an excerpt – are you interested in reading A Secret in Her Kiss by Anna Randol?

A SECRET IN HER KISS by Anna Randol

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8. Only the Good Spy Young

Only the Good Spy Young Ally Carter

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger who has this problem-- you read a book and are ready to review it, only to realize that you never reviewed the previous book in a series? Or am I the only who's stupid enough to try to review every book they finish?

And it's not because I didn't enjoy the book. I mean, I pre-ordered this one and it arrived on my doorstep during ALA Annual 2010. Now, 2010 was in DC, so after a day of conferencing, I came home to shower, eat, change and then go back for the Printz reception. Only, NEW GALLAGHER GIRLS. Never mind the huge bag of highly-anticipated ARCS I had just carried home. NEW GALLAGHER GIRLS. Of course I started reading it. Of course I got so caught up in it that I was late the Printz reception and missed the 1.5 acceptance speeches.

But, afterwards, I got to talk to Ally Carter herself. And tell her that I was late and missed speeches because her book was (so far) really, really good. She didn't look at me like I was crazy or nuthin'. Because she's nice.

And then MT Anderson dropped some cake on me, but that's another story.

Anyway, because I've waited so freakishly long to blog about this (ALMOST 2 YEARS?! WTF?!) The details are hazy, so here's the description from the book jacket:

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn't know was that the serious, real-life danger would start as soon as her junior year. But that's exactly what happened when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie "The Chameleon" can't hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most trusted allies is actually a rogue double agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers--or even her own heart.


Despite the fact the details are hazy, here is what I remember

OMG SO FREAKING GOOD!

A whole new level of excitement and danger-- it's not a game anymore and things are getting real.

Shifting alliances-- you really don't know who's good and who's bad anymore-- lots of gray areas.

Even better? Lots of backstory. Exciting exciting backstory that's super-relevant to the plot.

LOVE this series. And luckily the next installment is out! Huzzah!

Book Provided by... my wallet

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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9. Out of Sight, Out of Time

Out of Sight, Out of Time Ally Carter

Cammie remembers leaving school to find the Circle of Cavan, to keep everyone else out of danger.

She wakes up 4 months later in a convent in the Alps.

She remembers nothing in between.

But suddenly she's back at school, trying to discover what she did on her summer vacation. The adults are freaked. Her friends are treating her oddly. And Zach is apparently now a student.

Oh, and if you think that the teachers at Gallagher Academy will cut you a break because you have amnesia and missed the first month of class, then you haven't been paying attention.

Love! First, off Gallagher Girls, of course there's love.

I like Cammie's struggle as she tries to come to terms with this person in the mirror that she doesn't recognize, as her friends try to come to terms with her, their anger at her leaving, the mystery of what the hell happened.

Not as many cool gadgets, or spy lessons, but enough snipers and car chases and explosions to keep a girl happy. This book really focuses on who Cammie is now, and the mystery of what happened to make her that way.

Now, some things I caught onto right away (and if you know how "Early one Morning" and Spike go together, you will, too.) But who the bad guys were and why was a surprise.

It's a page turner that kept me up all night.

AND! MY FAVORITE PART! I can't talk about here, because it's a spoiler, but click here if you've read it already.

Book Provided by... the publicist, for review consideration,

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Out of Sight, Out of Time as of 3/29/2012 8:18:00 AM
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10. Dreamers of the Day

Dreamers of the Day. Mary Doria Russell. 2008. Random House. 254 pages. 

I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling, even to me. Nevertheless, I am sure of this much: my little story has become your history. You won't really understand your times until you understand mine.

There were a few things that I just loved about Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. For example, I loved the first few chapters. Readers see the impact of World War I and the 'Spanish' influenza on our heroine, Miss Agnes Shanklin. She truly lost everyone. Her mother. Her sister. Her brother-in-law. Her two nephews. Her brother. These chapters spent describing both the war and the influenza were truly fascinating. Here she is as a young woman trying to make sense of the world, of the war, of her place in it all, she's just an ordinary woman, a school teacher, and within weeks or at the very most months, to face such sudden devastation.
A few months after these losses, she decides to visit the Middle East, to visit Egypt, Cairo, in particular. She wants to see the land where her brother-in-law and sister spent their happiest years together before the War. Her sister was friends with T.E. Lawrence, and soon she is too. She is soon mingling with other famous people too--like Winston Churchill and Lady Gertrude Bell. She is listening to their heated discussions on the Middle East. Everyone has an opinion on what is best for the many people who live there, an opinion on who should rule, how they should rule, how many countries or nations, etc.
She also makes a "special" friend while in Cairo. A man who is very, very interested in what she has to say. A man who listens intently. A man who always treats her with such kindness and respect. But this "relationship" has its basis in politics too, as she later realizes.
But as much as I loved a few things about this novel, there were other things that I just did not like at all. And these weren't small things that were bothering me. For example, I did NOT care for the narration at all. I do not like dead-narrators, for the most part. People who are telling their life story from beyond-the-grave. I do not like dead people narrating on the present, and sharing their so-called wisdom. I especially do not like opinionated dead narrators who treat Christianity with disdain and contempt.

Read Dreamers of the Day
  • If you are interested in novels set during the 1920s, this one, I believe, is set in 1920/1921.
  • If you are interested in reading about World War I, the 'Spanish' influenza, etc.
  • If you are interested in politics and history
  • If you are interested in the Middle East, the formation of the Middle East; much of this one is set in Egypt, but they also travel to Palestine.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

4 Comments on Dreamers of the Day, last added: 4/11/2012
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11. The Shadow Collector's Apprentice by Amy Gordon

It's 1963, and in the small town of Medley, Cully Pennyacre's summer is about to get more complicated than he ever imagined possible. With his dad on a world-traveling hiatus and his family's apple farm losing financial ground, Cully takes on an apprenticeship that ends up adding more to his life than just a little extra cash. Click here to read my full review.

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12. Out of Sight, Out of Time (YA)

Out of Sight, Out of Time. Ally Carter. 2012. Hyperion. 304 pages.

"Where am I?" I heard the words, but I wasn't sure I'd said them. The voice was too rough, too coarse to be mine. It was as if there were a stranger in my skin, lying in the dark, saying, "Who's there?"

Out of Sight, Out of Time is the fifth book in the Gallagher Girls Series. Did it disappoint? No!!! It was just as fabulous as I expected, as I hoped. Am I growing tired of this series? No, not yet! I'm not sure I ever will. What do I like best about this series? Well, to be honest I love the balance. How it's plot-driven, premise-driven, to a certain extent, so much does depend on pacing, action, and mystery. But. The main character, the narrator, is such a GREAT character. I mean there's nothing flat about her at all. She's so fascinating. I feel about Cammie Morgan the same way I used to feel about Georgia Nicholson. (These two series are SO VERY DIFFERENT from one another, I don't want you to get the wrong idea about either one.) I suppose what I mean is that I enjoy her character so much that I'm just always glad to spend more time with her. There's also a good balance between action/adventure/mystery and humor/romance.

What can I tell you about this specific adventure? Well. Not much. Not much at all. Because it is the FIFTH book. And you need to read books one through four to meet the characters, to get to know the plot, to know what the big, big mystery is that we're trying to solve. I do think the books are getting even better. (And I loved the first ones!)

Read Out of Sight, Out of Time
  • If you're a fan of the Gallagher Girls series
  • If you're looking to find a boarding school full of girl spies
  • If you're looking for action/adventure with plenty of danger and plenty of fun
  • If you're a fan of Ally Carter

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Out of Sight, Out of Time (YA) as of 4/28/2012 9:09:00 AM
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13. Sunday Salon: Fake Mustache

Have you been to the Spy Museum here in DC? I highly recommend it. Don't forget the gift shop, either-- they have a great selection of cool spy things, but also an amazing bookstore with fiction and nonfiction for all ages (seriously, excellent book selection).

How excellent? Well, they realize that a slapstick comedy about a fake mustache turning your best friend into an evil super-genius and the only way to stop him is to dress up like a tween superstar cow girl and then team up with that cow girl and her wonder horse is the PERFECT fit.


So, on Friday, Tom Angleberger will be there signing copies of Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind.


Here are the details:

Come to a fun-filled mustachioed family event at The International Spy Museum on Friday May 18th from 2-4 PM. Don’t have your own mustache? Not to worry, they will be handing them out free. Theirs won’t be the Heidelberg Handlebar #7 with special powers that stars in the book, but they will be hairy none the less.

Books will be available at the store. This event is free.

Here's the review I ran last month:

When Lenny's best friend buys a suit and a fake mustache for that "man about town" look, everything goes wrong. The Heidelberg Handlebar #7 has special powers and Casper (or, as he's now known, Fako Mustacho) becomes an evil mastermind. He robs banks for billions of dollars and rigs a presidential election. Only Lenny isn't hypnotized by the power of the mustache. But, with the help of Jodie O'Rodeo, a former TV Cowgirl sensation, they might just be able to save the world.

As you can probably tell from the plot description, this one is wackier, siller and more of a tall tale than the Origami Yoda books. As such, it wasn't really my cup of tea BUT it's one that middle graders will eat up. I liked the fact that Jodie O'Rodeo did all her own stunts, just not her own singing. I also like that both Lenny and Jodie narrate this one, but they don't alternate chapters--it's more or less in thirds. I also liked the crazy things invented by he Heidelberg Novelty Company.

ARC Provided by... the publisher, at ALA

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Sunday Salon: Fake Mustache as of 5/13/2012 9:22:00 AM
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14. Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven

It has been almost a year since I reviewed Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven.  As you may recall, Velva Jean married at 16, learned to drive and at 18, drove from North Carolina to Nashville by herself, leaving her husband and hoping to a sing at the Grand Ol' Opry.  Talk about coming of age.

But then World War II began and VelvaJean found herself in the WASP Program (Women's Airforce Service Pilots.)  Now, in Becoming Clementine, it is June 16, 1944, Velva Jean is 21 and a seasoned pilot.  So seasoned that she has just become the first woman to fly a B-17 Flying Fortress across the Atlantic Ocean to Preswick Airfield, Scotland.  Proud of her accomplishment, she also has an ulterior motive for accepting this challenge - her beloved brother Johnny Clay, a paratrooper, hasn't been heard from since October 18, 1943 and Velva Jean is on a personal mission to find him.

As luck would have it, Preswick has been short of pilots since D-Day, less than two weeks earlier and Velva Jean decides getting to Europe would be the best way to find Johnny Clay, so she convinces all relevant authorities to let her copilot a mission to France.  On July 13, she gets orders to fly to Roun, dropping supplies and a team of OSS agents and returning immediately to base.

Naturally, over France, the plane is hit by enemy ground fire and badly damaged though still flying.  Then, when they finally find the place to make their drop, they realize it has been compromised by Germans.  In an attempt to avoid them and singing "My Darling Clementine" to keep herself calm, the plane nevertheless crashes. Velva Jean's flight crew is killed.  The team of five she was to drop does survive, but, angry and disgusted, they want to leave Velva Jean behind and try to find their own way.

Well, they may have wanted to leave Velva Jean, but she was a woman with a mission and a strong will.  Eventually, the survivors meet up with a member of the resistance and that begins their journey through occupied France with the aid of the Underground, eventually ending in Paris.  Through all this, Velva Jean finds herself more and more attracted to the leader of the OSS team, Émile Gravais and eventually this becomes a mutual attraction.

In Paris, Velva Jean is given a new identity, Clementine Roux, an American who married a Frenchman, unable to return to the US after the war began and her husband was killed.  Now, she is pulled into the mission Gravais and his team are to accomplish - rescuing an important agent code-named Swan being held in a woman's prison in Paris.

Velva Jean alias Clementine's new mission: get herself picked up and sent to the same prison.  Is that what happens?  No, it isn't.  And don't think for a moment she has forgotten about Johnny Clay.

One of the things I found very interesting in Becoming Clementine was how difficult it was for Velva Jean to embrace her new identity as Clementine Roux.  It is a testament to her strong sense of who she is that made Velva Jean want to keep surfacing, even in the face of danger.

I did feel that some of the technical bits about planes and things like that could have used some editing, mostly because I have no idea what I was reading about.  Confession: I thought skipping those bits but actually read on, all the while realizing that my fear of flying was getting the best of me and that some readers would find this fascinating.

Becoming Clementine has something for everyone: excitement, espionage, romance (but not much sex, none explicit), action, but it also has violence, lots of it and cursing, lots of that, so be warned.  It is a gritty, fact-paced novel but I felt it may still have the same level of YA appeal that Velva Jean Learns to Fly had even since it is still a coming of age story of sorts.  After all she had been through, it was hard to realize the Velva Jean is only 22 by the end of this novel.

And yes, there will be a fourth Velva Jean novel in autumn 2013.

This book is recommended for readers age 18+ and sophisticated teens with an interest in WWII
This book was received as an E-ARC through Net Galley

For another review of Becoming Clementine at So Much So Many So Few, followed by a wonderful interview with the author Jennifer Niven

1 Comments on Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven, last added: 9/28/2012
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15. Hour 42

Hours Spent Reading: 27
Books Read: 8
Pages Read: 2330
Money Raised: $715.54
What I'm listening to: Life Begins At The Hop

Please remember that I'm reading to raise money for Room to Read, which builds libraries, stocks them with books, and trains people to become their librarians.

Alibi Junior HighAlibi Junior High Greg Logsted

Ok, so here's a problem with working at a library and read-a-thons. I'm always thinking "Great! This can be when I read all the books that are due back and I haven't gotten to yet, plus all those books that I bought and haven't read yet because my book buying eyes are bigger than my reading eyes..." But then I start checking out all these extra books for the read-a-thon. Because I didn't have enough already?

Then, when you spend a day at the library in the middle of a read-a-thon?

I think it shows admirable restraint that I only walked away with 1 extra book today.

Somehow, I had never heard of this one before, when it caught my eye on the book cart this afternoon.

Cody has grown up with his dad, helping him with CIA stuff, his entire life in deep undercover. He changes identities every week. He speaks 5 languages and knows many, may ways to kill you. After a cafe bombing in Santiago, Cody's facing his biggest challenge-- junior high.

It sounds like it should be a comedic romp, but it's not. Cody has some serious PTSD issues from the bombing. He's completely unprepared for junior high-- how to dress and talk like a normal kid, to not be smarter than your teachers, all the unwritten codes he's never had to deal with before-- it's not easy to adjust. Plus, his dad is still out there, somewhere, fighting the bad guys.

To make matters worse, it looks like the guys who were after his dad in Santiago are now after Cody. Luckily, his neighbor is an Army Ranger who's just returned from Iraq missing an arm. The guys bond (without talking about it) over their mental recovery and physical training.

Not to say that there aren't funny bits. It is darkly comedic. And good. I'm surprised it didn't get more buzz last summer when it came out. It should have.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

2 Comments on Hour 42, last added: 6/6/2010
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16. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy John Le Carre

There's been a shake-up at the Circus (which is what British intelligence calls itself.) Control is out (and dead). Percy's in charge and swept out a lot of Control's men, including George Smiley.

Smiley's wife has left him for good and he's wondering what to do with his life when he gets sucked back in. There's a mole at the Circus, and they want Smiley to find him, but no one at Circus can know what he's up to.

Smiley doesn't look like much of spy, but he's one of the best, and he's about to blow the Circus wide open.

You know what I loved most about this? That it wasn't all international danger and action. While it did look back at past operations by different characters, all the present action mostly consisted of Smiley sitting in a hotel room, reading stolen files, trying to piece together a story.

And you may not think that makes a very thrilling novel, but it does. The reader gets bits of files, bits of Smiley's memories as they're triggered, and tries to put it together, to get the story of Control's downfall and Percy's ascent, and to figure out who's been passing information to the Soviets...

The tension builds slowly, and different mysteries pile on top of each other, we try to tease out the answers, to see if they're related or not. There's a reason this is considered a masterpiece of the genre!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

2 Comments on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, last added: 6/11/2010
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17. NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society

NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One)NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society Michael Buckley

Jackson Jones is an all-around good guy that everyone loves, until the day he gets braces. He loses his spot on the football team, loses his friends, and loses his ability to get away with anything. In loneliness, he starts spying on everyone at school. That's how he finds the secret lair under the building, that's how his braces get upgraded to a fighting mechanism. That's how he ends up joining NERDS-- a children's branch of the CIA.

Of course, the rest of the NERDS aren't so welcoming. They never liked Jackson-- he has always been a bully that tormented them mercilessly and he's really, really bad at this spy stuff. They (understandably) have no desire to help him become a better spy or to make him part of the team.

But, the mad scientist Dr. Jigsaw is currently trying to rearrange the continents in order to reunite Pangea. In order to obtain his goals, he's kidnapping various scientists from around the world to use their ideas, technology, and skills. Unless the NERDS can stop him first.

Lots of fun, with cool gadgets and action, and a good dose of silly fun. It's sure to be a hit with middle grade readers, especially boys. I didn't like it as much as I lurve Buckley's Sister Grimm series, but it is a lot of fun.

I most loved the character of the Hyena-- the tween femme fatale who wants to be a hired assassin, but can only find goon work. She can kick a lot of ass in heels, but keeps breaking them in the process, so needs to rethink her footwear. I liked her career conundrums, and really, just the thought process of a bad-guy for hire. She's my favorite character by far and I would love to read a series just about her.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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18. Spies for Peace?

A transnational peace activist for roughly half a century, Nigel Young has spent his life on the margins of political and state boundaries. Below Young reveals what he has learned to be a fine line between espionage and conflict research (i.e. “the perfect cover”).

By Nigel Young


By the time I first moved into peace research in 1963, I had become aware of the State’s interests (or often several States’ interests) in the anti-war movement: McCarthyist informers, Cold War agent provocateurs, intelligence sniffers, as well as plain opportunists, con-men, the confused, and mavericks – it was not only phone taps and men in macs. And then there were some odd characters in the peace movement itself, like Bertrand Russell’s secretary, R. Schoenman, and on the margins Pergamon Press’ Robert Maxwell, or the MP John Stonehouse in the U.K. The Quakerly dictum, “think the best of everyone you meet”, was certainly the one that many of us aspired to, but how many “strikes” before someone was out of the reach of trust and credibility? During the anti-draft movement in the U.S.A., the “plants” were obvious, their jeans and denim didn’t fit, they were awkward and not very with it, and their sunglasses were not cool. But they sowed mutual suspicion and that was enough. Many groups broke up. And during and after McCarthyism, in the 1960s, I directly experienced the entry of agents, often ex-military, into peace studies and action roles – not so much to gain information as much as to disrupt, divide and dismantle.

Those who work on the margins of states and boundaries – spies and peaceniks – have a lot in common. They sift the same information. They share not only their extra-national orientations, but their ambivalent loyalties and often the frontiers, or “walls” – around which they work in. I remember one occasion when a somewhat eccentric combat military officer, turned critic, turned journalist, turned researcher, (and temporary colleague) asked me, “But why would a spy be in peace research?” My response was immediate: “Because it is the perfect cover!” It’s one better than journalism, or refugee work, better than the U.N. and far better than the diplomatic corps. The genuine conflict researcher has legitimate roles in zones of conflict and violence and talks to both – or all sides – the IRA, the Brits, the Loyalist paras, the police, always “listening” carefully. The difference is between the overt (if still confidential) and the covert, the dissembler.

Of course, peace researchers are not free of their own agendas; even for more universal values. I made myself very unpopular in one North American University seminar by saying that I would have been sorely tempted to help Klaus Fuchs (the Atom Spy) escape if I was sure it could have helped nuclear disarmament. And I knew people who succumbed to similar temptations; or to covertly support one of the big battalions in a moment of crisis. Inevitably, transnational activism and study brought us into contact with senior military or ex-military, or intelligence – some as colleagues. Some turned for help to us; I still recall the unnameable high ranking North Vietnamese intelligence officer defecting (with my and others’ help) to Scandinavia, via embassies in Europe. It was he who had sought assistance. Very real, human, not an imagined ghost; he was desperate to tell his story, at length; though how much of it he told I’m not sure; but it had the passionate ring of authenticity and a plethora of details.

Most of us are caught up, one way or another

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19. Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender

Jones, Carrie. 2011. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Great Pretender. Minneapolis: Lerner.

Author, Carrie Jones, probably best known for her Need series, is not be the first author who comes to  mind when thinking of picture book biographies, however, in Sarah Emma Edmonds, she has clearly found a subject that sparks her interest.
Sarah Emma Edmonds was born in Canada to a cruel father who wished she were a boy.  Unhappy and unable to please him, she eventually fled to the United States and began a new life on her own. She began by selling Bibles, door-to-door, and soon discovered that she sold more and was more readily accepted when dressed as a man. When her adopted country began recruiting soldiers for the Union Army, Sarah joined up, disguised as a man, and giving the name of Frank Thompson.  This would be remarkable enough, but Sarah Emma Edmonds went on to become a successful Union spy. She darkened her skin with silver nitrate and posed as a Southern slave, stealing information on Southern positions and fortifications.  Two months later, she returned to the Confederacy. 
This time she pretended to be Bridget O'Shea, a chubby Irish peddler. She was a woman (Sarah) pretending to be a man (Frank) pretending to be a woman (Bridget).  This would be confusing for most people, but not for Sarah.
Jones does a fine job of distilling the life of this complex woman into a hero story that can be easily understood by younger readers.  The basics of the war are explained, but the war is not the story here.  Sarah Emma Edmonds is the story; children should find her bravery and cunning fascinating.

Although the Author's Note reveals that Sarah Emma Edmonds later revealed her Civil War exploits in a memoir and was belatedly accepted by her fellow soldiers (even the federal government eventually granted her a pension), the book ends with the following, 
She pretended that she was never Frank Thompson, never a spy, never rode a horse named Rebel, and never stole Confederate secrets. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a fantastic pretender.  No one had a clue.
Hopefully, readers will persevere through the fine print author's note and discover the successful resolution of Sarah Emma Edmonds' dual life. Leaving the reader with the impression that her valor and determination went unappreciated is a bit disheartening. Overall, though, this is an inspiring story of a young woman who took a bad beginning and turned it into a grand and honorable adventure.

Sarah Emma Edmonds bookmark available as a PDF download.


Digital Advance Reader copy supplied by Netgalley.

Because I do not own a Color Nook, I will again refrain from commenting the double-spread, painted illustrations by Mark Oldroyd.  In the future, I will be sure not to request picture book review copies in digital format.  My apologies to Mr. Oldroyd.


Photograph of Emma Edmonds in women's clothing 4 Comments on Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender, last added: 1/24/2011 Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Incident in Yorkville by Emma Gelders Sterne

That's The Way It Was Wednesday



Incident in Yorkville begins with the homecoming of Erich and Carola Braun. These two American children have been living in Nazi Germany for 5 years at the insistence of their now deceased father so that they might be educated in Nazi ideology. And it has worked.

Erich, 14, is a proud member of the Hitler Youth, wholeheartedly believing every word that has been preached to him. Carola, 6, isn’t quite as indoctrinated but she does crave her brother’s praise and so will say whatever she thinks will please him. Erich has been well trained to observe everything around him and now everything he sees disgusts him, from the “inferior” Polish boy he met when he arrived in Yorkville to the game of ball being played in the street by the neighbor kids and their dad.


Erich and Carola are now living with their mother, Helena Braun, in an apartment in Yorkville, a section of New York City that is densely populated with Germans, German-Americans and Irish. Also living there is their uncle Wilhelm Kulner, a German who has a barbershop on the ground floor of the building, and his wife Minna, Helena’s sister. The sisters are German-Americans from Wisconsin. All but Helena are virulent Nazi supporters.

Erich is immediately introduced to Herr Wild, a former youth leader in the pro-Nazi German American Bund before it was outlawed. Both men tell him that he must do whatever it takes to fit in and appear to be a well re-assimilated American. For instance, if the Americans laugh at Hitler, he must also, a task Erich find difficult to accept.

To further this pseudo-assimilation, Erich is immediately enrolled in a summer program at the local public school. In his class are Mike Hershey and Stanislaus Prazmian, the Polish boy Erich saw on his arrival. The Hershey’s, parents Mike and Eve, Mary, 14, her twin brother Mike, 5 year old Johnny and baby Dinah live in the apartment above Erich. When eldest son Pat Hershey joined the Army, Eve Hershey had welcomed Stanislaus into their home. The kids are a fun-loving group who try to make friends with Erich and Carola, but find it difficult to do.

Erich’s Uncle Wilhelm notices that Mike Hershey Sr. has rented an empty room in the back of the building that he had wanted to use for secret Bund meetings. He tries to find out what Mike is doing in the room, but can’t. Mike goes so far as to cover the keyhole with his jacket.  Kulner reports this suspicious behavior to the local Air Raid Warden, seeing it as an opportunity to deflect attention from his own suspicious behavior. But this backfires when the FBI investigates and discovers that Mike is hand tooling spikes for the Navy, for which the Navy is presenting him with a civilian medal at an upcoming block party.

Erich continues to desperately cling to his Nazi ideas, his Hitler Youth uniform and especially to this record book, in which he writes down all his observations, practice for the wars to come when he is old enough to achieve his great goal of "dying for Hitler.” But when he learns, early one Sunday morning, that the FBI has arrested a group of German saboteurs that

2 Comments on Incident in Yorkville by Emma Gelders Sterne, last added: 3/6/2011
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21. Reviews at EP: Prince or Chauffeur?

So, hey. There’s this. Prince or Chauffeur? by Lawrence Perry, over at Edwardian Promenade.


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22. Wolf Mark

Wolf Mark Joseph Bruchac

I am so excited that this book is FINALLY out so I can start shoving it into people's hands and making them read it.

Here's my short annotation:

When Luke’s ex-government agent father is taken, Luke devises a plan to break into the shady corporation at the edge of town to rescue him. Luckily, he’s just discovered he’s a werewolf. Unfortunately, his Russian mafia classmates might have also just discovered this as well.

Longer version:

Lucas's dad used to be black-ops with the Marines--special missions that didn't technically exist. But then Lucas's mom died, and so did Uncle Cal, Lucas's dad's best friend and intelligence partner. Now Lucas and his dad live in a trailer on the edge of town, where Lucas remembers all the training his father and Cal gave him and his dad just drinks and smokes his way into oblivion.

Then Lucas's dad is taken and the old codes-- the one that Lucas never thought they'd ever have to use are brought out and Lucas stumbles into something much more complex and dangerous than he ever imagined.

Basically, this book has the Russian Mafia, bad evil corporations, teen spies, and lots and lots of action. Oh, and werewolves. And vampires.

Think Alex Rider, but with paranormal abilities that mean he doesn't need as many awesome gadgets.

Seriously kick ass fun. Plus, a werewolf/vampire book that's totally boy friendly.

Plus, it's Bruchac and one of Lee and Low's new Tu books. Tu is an imprint specifically looking for fantasy/sci fi with characters of color. Bruchac is known for writing books with authentic Native American characters and themes. Lucas is Abeneki and the hott love interest is Pakistani. Plus, you know, Russian mobsters.

Lucas's werewolf abilities come from Abeneki werewolf stories (more shapshifters than turn-into-a-monter-at-full-moon types.) BUT! There is also some German blood in his heritage as well, and so he also has some of that European flavor of werewolf mixed in. I love how Bruchac mixed different cultural legends and myths about werewolves and molded them into one solid world while acknowledging what came from where. It's done very well.

It's just an awesome thrill ride with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. A great book for readers who like action, spy thrillers and are a bit burned out on paranormal. YES paranormal! NO melancholy, love triangles, or wallowy ick.


Galley (pre-ARC) Provided by... the publisher, for use in my MLA presentation on diversity.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

1 Comments on Wolf Mark, last added: 9/20/2011
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23. I Have an Idea

Well, I did have an idea. A little while ago, I created a story about two unsuspecting fourth graders that suddenly find themselves in the middle of some serious, high-tech, international espionage. It is now available from Trestle Press.



That's right, ten-year-old spies that travel the world learning about each country they visit. The stories are humorous, suspenseful and exciting.

Star athlete Josh and computer prodigy Madison are recruited by the mysterious Mr. Crux to attend a special summer camp. The two elementary school kids then begin the adventure of a lifetime. They discover that the Small World Global Protection Agency is a network of talented and skilled children in countries all over the world. Their mission is to help other kids and save the day when adults can’t.

In Case File: 001-A, New Kids on the Rock, Josh and Madison start their adventure with the Global Protection Agency. Their first mission takes them to Australia to help teen pop singer Ja-Naya and discover what her evil manager, Feeble Bix is up to. Their counterparts, Mick and Kim, are ready for action as they head across the Outback.


The Small World Global Protection Agency is an adventure serial aimed at third through fifth grade readers. Each volume will take Josh and Madison to a different country. The stories will be entertaining, sometimes suspenseful, sometimes humorous. Each story will introduce facts about other countries and cultures, educating the reader through the eyes of children their own age while having fun. 



This is a great one for you teachers to read in class. Just ask my third graders from last year!

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24. Review: Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare

 

Title: Once Upon a Winter’s Eve: A Spindle Cove Novella

Author: Tessa Dare

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

ISBN: B0061SNX1I

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Some wallflowers bloom at night…

A Spindle Cove Novella

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren’t beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet’s feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He’s wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he’s not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable… Love.

Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter’s night.

Review:

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve is the first Samhain title that I’ve read, and it’s also one of the growing number of novellas that I have read in.  After recently discovering the appeal of shorter length stories, I have been snapping them up as I see recommendations from bloggers I follow.  I can’t remember where I learned about this particular one, but I’m happy I gave it a try.  At under a dollar, it was a fun read, and a great introduction to both Tessa Dare and Samhain.  I’ll have to go back and read the first Spindle Cove book, A Night to Surrender (which is an Avon release, go figure).

Violet Winterbottom  has retreated to Spindle Cove, where she is nursing a broken heart.  The love of her life, who she now refers to as The Disappointment, loved her and left her, with hardly a word.  Ruined, she is trying to come to terms with her feelings, and is resigned to heed her parents’ demands to return to London.  They are determined to find a match for her, unaware of Violet’s turmoil and her unrequited love for their young neighbor.  When an injured stranger bursts into the Christmas Eve ball she is attending, she’s stunned when the man collapses at her feet.  His incoherent babbling slowly begins to make sense to her.  Gifted in several languages, Violet is tasked with quizzing the man – is he a spy?  What is he doing in Spindle Cove?

This is a fun, fast-paced read with an abundance of action and adventure.  After Violet decides to assist the stranger, she is sent on the adventure of her life.  She is an intelligent and capable young woman, and I quickly began to like her.  And to dislike the man who kicked her to the curb and left her and her bruised heart to fend for themselves.  When Violet is drawn into intrigue by the handsome stranger, she is given the spark that her life has lacked for the last few months.  She embraces the danger and the adventure, and becomes a willing participant in the suspected spy’s attempts at escape. 

While there’s not a lot of depth t

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25. Man Overboard! by Curtis Parkinson

Man Overboard! is a novel whose opening action takes place on the very real Rapids Prince,  one of several large steamships which ran the rapids on the St. Lawrence between Prescott and Montreal, Canada before the St. Lawrence Seaway was built.  Though dangerous when it passed through the maelstrom, the trip was otherwise routine.  
So, when high school friends Scott and Adam took summer jobs as deckhands on the Rapids Prince, they never expected to have the kind of adventure it turned out to be, and all because of Scott’s passion for a Packard Twelve Touring Sedan and a delicious piece of apple pie with ice cream.
It all started when the chauffeur driven car arrived at the dock and a a very wealthy-looking man got out and boarded the Rapids Prince under the name G. Phillip Dale.  Scott wanted to take a look at the car, and asked the chauffeur, named Twitch, if it would be OK.  Twitch promptly told Scott to get lost.  Meanwhile, Adam, now a waiter instead of a deckhand, slipped the apple pie to Scott.  Looking for a quiet place to eat it, Scott decided to sit on the car’s running board.

A Packard Twelve Touring Sedan
That was when he overheard the conversation between Twitch and Mr. Dale who was really named Mr. Vandam.  Vandam was telling Twitch that their contact, Heinrik, was being followed, presumably by a government agent.  Vandam and Heinrik plan to deal with this agent onboard the Rapids Prince, while Twitch takes the car to Montre

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