Tag Archives: genre: spy fiction

Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! Review

agent_q_or_the_smell_of_dangerAgent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1416986409

Synopsis: Now that the monks of Vbngoom have been saved and their monastery relocated (see Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware), Lily, Katie, and Jasper are eager to get home. But the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro and his agents at the Ministry of Silence have other ideas, and they will do anything to detain both the children and the monks. Including hiding in glove boxes and disguising themselves as furniture in order to apprehend the fugitive travelers!

Why I picked it up: I always enjoy a bit of light reading after a long, arduous week of work.

Why I finished it: It’s been a while since I read Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, so picking up this book had me a little bit lost. I guess I had gotten lucky and picked up the ‘stand-alone’ books in this series (Whales on Stilts!, He Laughed With His Other Mouths), so it wasn’t necessarily important for me to have remembered an entire book. Then again, this is what I get for reading series books out of order. So don’t be like me: read them in order. Okay, PSA over. Turns out it’s just as hard to get out of Delaware as it is to get in, maybe even harder since the Ministry of Silence is always watching you. Except when they lose track of you. Which isn’t often. Because these guys and gals are good. So good there’s even a whole TV series devoted to the best of the best of the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro’s spies in which they expose themselves and their dastardly deeds before a live studio audience…of spies! The story is part spy thriller, part after school special, combining the derring-do heroics of an action-packed thriller with the ridiculousness of our favorite Saturday morning cartoons (they still have those, right?). I love that Anderson is able to take the time within the text of the story and in footnotes to give the reader hilarious commentary about some of the more over-the-top elements of the story. There is a bit with sentient lobsters about half-way through the book that the author points out would be totally ridiculous in almost any other story…except this one, in which there are sentient lobsters…that are actually an important bit of the plot. It’s a fun and engaging mystery/thriller that will have readers eager for more of Jasper, Katie, and Lily’s adventures.

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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Double Vision: Code Name 711 Review

double_vision_code_name_711Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley

HarperCollins, 2013. 978-0062104403

Synopsis: Lincoln Baker thought he was done with Pandora after his mission to Paris – turns out, he was wrong. When Agent Stark shows up in his neighborhood with a mission that is a matter of national security, Linc says yes. After all, it will get him out of his history test. But this mission is going to be more of a history lesson than he ever bargained for, and with the help of the first daughter and his double Benjamin Green, he might just make this mission a success.

Why I picked it up: The author emailed me and asked if I would be interested in writing a review, and since I love free books and fast-paced fiction, I said yes.

Why I finished it: Bradley’s follow-up to Double Vision is even more fast-paced and fun than the first. The novel, set in Washington, D.C., draws on a piece of American History with the focus of the mission on the recovery of a national artifact and the existence of the nation’s first spies, the Culper Ring. This time, Linc and Ben are competing to see who can close the case the fastest and the competition between the two works to further develop their characters. Linc is becoming much more of a spy this time around, using what he learned on his last mission and applying it to the second. He’s still somewhat sarcastic and a rule-breaker, but what twelve-year-old isn’t resistant to authority in one form or another? The ‘Bond Girl’ this time around is first daughter Amy Griffin, and she seems to match Linc prank for prank, which is probably the reason the two characters click so quickly. It is her knowledge of D.C. and her desire for some sort of life outside the White House that makes her engaging and likable. Like the first book, the story is fast-paced and action packed, keeping the reader turning the pages and salivating for more until the last pages. Bradley had given us a new hero to cheer for that deserves a place next to Charlie Higson’s young James Bond and Axel Avian’s Colt Shore.

Other related materials: Double Vision by F.T. Bradley; Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian; Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers by Gary Blackwood; Upon Secrecy by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by Jeff Crosby and Shirley Ann Jackson; The Scarlet Stockings Spy by Trinka Hakes Noble, illustrated by Robert Papp; Top Secret: Shady Tales of Spies and Spying by DK Publishing; George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer; The 39 Clues books; Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer; Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz; Young Bond series by Charlie Higson;  The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman; Spy School by Stuart Gibbs; Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt

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Double Vision Review

double_visionDouble Vision by F.T. Bradley

HarperCollins, 2012. 978-0062104373

Synopsis: After 12-year-old Linc gets into trouble yet again – this time on a school field trip – and his middle school threatens to expel him, he doesn’t think his problems could get any worse. Then he is contacted by a top secret government agency known as Pandora. Pandora can make his problems go away with the school, but only if he stands in for missing junior agent Benjamin Green, with whom he bears a twin-like resemblance. Sounds like cake, except that Linc has absolutely no training as a secret agent…and there’s more to the mission that meets the eye.

Why I picked it up: I was emailed by the author about her second book in the series, Double Vision Code Name 711 and I wanted to make sure I read the first book before I dove into the second.

Why I finished it: This book is a fantastic ride that takes the reader to the edge of their seat and beyond. I instantly liked Linc because even though he’s not exactly secret agent material, he’s got a certain amount of street smarts and charisma that enable him to finesse his way out of most situations. Paris as a setting also has a level of excitement all its own, and moves the reader and Linc out of their comfort zone as the characters zip through side streets and major landmarks to successfully compete the mission. Bradley doesn’t disappoint with her secondary characters either: the ‘Bond Girl’ Françoise is independent, motivated, and a master sneak, which keeps Linc on his toes; the baddie that doesn’t start out as a baddie is masterfully hidden and subsequently revealed, and the sinister motives alone are enough to keep turning the pages; the techie sidekick Henry is equally quirky and smart, and I would pretty much love to have any of the gadget that he creates for Linc. Fast, fun, and exciting, the book is a definite must-read for fans of the Young Bond and 39 Clues series. I’m anxious to see what is in store for Linc’s second adventure!

Other related materials: Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley; Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian; The 39 Clues books; Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer; Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz; On the Run series by Gordon Korman; Young Bond series by Charlie Higson;  The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman; Spy School by Stuart Gibbs; The Boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock; Foiled by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro; Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt

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Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 Review

coltshoremedAgent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian

Arundel Publishing, 2013. 978-1933608525

Synopsis: A week ago, Colt Shore was just another teenager living in the shadow of his dead older brother and attending classes at an elite spy school. But after overhearing a conversation between his uncle and his parents, he begins to realize that his life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now, he’s a secret agent with a mission to rescue eleven girls without any outside help and the bad guys quickly closing in. Being a spy definitely isn’t like the movies!

Why I picked it up: I got a lovely email from Amy Henkel at Arundel Publishing who had read my blog and thought I would be interested in the book.

Why I finished it: The book has a distinctive feel of a spy novel – high mystery, adventure, baddies bent on some form of world domination or another, a dashing hero, a pretty girl – and has a fast-paced and exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Colt’s transformation as a character from ‘boy’ to ‘Bond’, so to speak, helped to really engage me in the story (because the characters are what keep me interested in the book) and keep me reading. While he starts out as somewhat tentative and hesitant about what he is asked to do, Colt gradually comes to grips with the notion that it is individual choices that affect the success or failure of a mission, and that he can’t look back on what might have been. I was also intrigued by the domino metaphor throughout the book, though it got a bit muddled as I got to the end of the book. Avian’s writing is lyrical and informative, painting a grand picture in the reader’s mind and keeping them supplied with enough details as the story moves along for the reader to connect the dots as Colt works his way toward completing his mission. It’s an unforgettable adventure that is imaginative, exciting, and keeps the reader entranced until they reach the last pages.

Other related materials: Young Bond series by Charlie Higson; Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz; The Gatekeepers books by Anthony Horowitz; Diamond Brothers Mysteries books by Anthony Horowitz;  Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer; Maximum Ride novels by James Patterson; The Genius Files books by Dan Gutman; Cherub series by Robert Muchamore; H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education books by Marks Walden; The Monsters of Morley Manor: A Madcap Adventure by Bruce Coville; Spy by Richard Platt; NERDS books by Michael Buckley; Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt; Infinity Ring books by James Dashner; Spy School by Stuart Gibbs; Dreamhouse Kings books by Robert Liparulo; The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo

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SilverFin: A James Bond Adventure review

SilverFin: A James Bond Adventure (Young Bond Book 1) by Charlie Higson

Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. 978-0-7868-3661-1

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old James Bond has just started his first half at Eton and somehow managed to find himself at odds with George Hellborne, the son of an American benefactor. Bond seals his fate as an enemy when he foils George’s attempt to win in the Hellborne Cup competition, but smartly makes sure to stay clear of him and his cronies. But then James runs into a boy named ‘Red’ Kelly on the train to Scotland for the Easter holidays and convinced to help search for Kelly’s cousin, who has disappeared near the mysterious SilverFin Loch. James also spies George on the same train and learns that he and his father live in the castle overlooking the Loch, and begins to suspect that Hellborne may have something to do with the disappearance of Kelly’s cousin.

Why I picked it up: I’ve been on a Bond kick lately, and some classmates mentioned that this series is very popular in the libraries where they work.

Why I finished it: Bond is understandably different as a young man as opposed to his later 007 spy persona, but Higson manages to take a familiar character and make it his own. Young James is not quite the ladies man yet, nor has he begun to develop his suave nature known for wanting his martinis shaken, not stirred. Yet, there is something charming about the character in that he is striving to make right in the world. Like many other boys his age, Bond has his passions and his dislikes, and Higson brings this out in the story, though he arguably spends a lot of time trying to develop the characters and doesn’t leave much room for the plot to play out. The premise of the story was interesting if not predictable – Bond unknowingly stumbles upon some plan involving world domination and must foil the sinister mastermind’s plot before it is too late – but still interesting enough to keep the reader wanting more, eager to see if Bond will find a way out of whatever he gets himself into. The only real gripe I have with this first installment is that Higson is taking his time developing Bond’s character, and I worry that there will not be a lot of room to show a change in the character; however, since this is a series, I have some faith that the character will be fully fleshed out sooner rather than later.

Other related materials: Blood Fever (Young Bond Book 2) by Charlie Higson; Double or Die (Young Bond Book 3) by Charlie Higson; Hurricane Gold (Young Bond Book 4) by Charlie Higson; By Royal Command (Young Bond Book 5) by Charlie Higson; SilverFin: The Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson and Kev Walker; Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer; Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier by Charlie Higson; The Enemy by Charlie Higson; The Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan; The Dead by Charlie Higson; Solder Boys by Dean Hughes; James Bond Novels by Ian Fleming; Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan; Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel (Alex Rider Series Graphic Novels) by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnson, Kanako Damerum, and Yuzuru Takaskai; Cherub series by Robert Muchamore

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