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Posts Tagged ‘Spies’

Katipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner.

March 31, 2020 Comments off

katipoKatipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

This action filled war story of World war 2 is a novel to rival the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. I make this comparison because it is totally world class writing from, in my opinion the best action writer in New Zealand.

Based on true events it is set in Berlin in 1938 as the Nazi machine was taunting the world with threats and it’s anti Jewish programe. Joe is 12 years old and his parents work as diplomats and also spy on the Nazis. Joe goes to school in Berlin and mixes with Martin Borman’s nephew Klaus. Joe is a blue eyed blond youth and speaks fluent German , a fact that makes him a target for espionage.

When his father is arrested by the gestapo, Joe and his mother escape from berlin in a thrilling piece of action.

The scene shifts to London during the Blitz with Joe living in the ruins of the city looking for his mother. he meets friends on the street and the tragedy of wartime Britain. He gets involved in a Nazi spy ring that involves his mother and when his mother is allegedly  killed in a Nazi bomb plot, Joe is seconded by MI6 special forces and trained to be a spy.

The scene then shifts to occupied Paris with Joe flown into France to infiltrate the Hitlerjugend or Hitler Youth movement to effect an assassination of a prominent Nazi general. The action is thrilling.

Splendidly written by Brian Falkner who is at the top of his game. The action is astonishing and tragic. War is like this. Don’t miss this one it is superb.

For readers between 12 years and 16 years. Adults will love it too. Photographs in the back plus a glossary giving all the aircraft, guns and Nazi terms. Easy to read and compelling.

Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz.

March 10, 2020 Comments off

alex rider (2)Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. Walker books, 2020.

Released 2 April

This is book number 13 in the Alex Rider series and this time it is serious. Alex is a little out of his depth as he tackles a secret organisation called Nightshade which uses children who have been kidnapped at age 4 or 5 years.

These children have been brainwashed into forgetting their past and trained to be ruthless and efficient killers. One of their number known to MI6 as Freddy is captured while assassinating an agent in Brazil but shuts down and cannot be broken. MI6 know that there is a secret plan to destroy London and that Nightshade are the culprits.

Freddy who is a heartless killer is locked away in a secret high security prison on Gibraltar and Alex is given the identity of another villain from the past called Julius Grief with the job of befriending Freddy in order to find out when and how the destruction of London is to be achieved.

How Alex attempts this is astonishing and beggars the question is he finally out of his depth. To make things personal Mrs Jones, Alex’s master at MI6, had her two children kidnapped at ages 5 &6. Could they now be members of Nightshade? Alex also has his doubters in MI6.

Brilliantly conceived story, action packed and thrilling to read. I can tell you no more but if you are a fan you will relish this novel and if you are discovering Alex for the first time live long and prosper.

The best action novel you will read this year.

 

 

The Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward

July 29, 2019 Comments off

clockillThe Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker books, 2019.

Steam punk action /adventure with an historical bent and a sequel to The traitor and the Thief also reviewed on this blog.

Sin is the Thief and he works for an anti war agency called COG. His father is a slightly bonkers scientist called Nimrod and his mother was also a scientist. In fact Sin is a child born out of the quest for knowledge and now he has blue blood and is in danger of dying unless he gets an anti dote.

Sin and fellow COG Zonda with whom he is getting a bit silly on, are put on a mission to find escaped prisoner Eldritch. Velvet von Darque returns to confuse the issue and play hardball with the other COGs.

The main action surrounds Airships which are the new transport and are being attacked by air pirates. The main enemy are the Clockill who are flesh and blood except that their brians and hearts have been replaced by clockwork. They feel no pain, have no fear, have blue blood and will remove your heart and brain with surgical precision.

Read it and find out what happens.

Gareth Ward has an excellent turn of phrase that will tickle your fancy and his sense of humour is dark and often very funny. This will also be in the running for Literary Awards later in the year. I loved it.

Alex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz.

April 27, 2019 Comments off

alex riderAlex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

The problem I had with doing this review was how to write something unique that has not already been said of this action adventure series about boy spy 14 year old Alex Rider.

I could have said “it is bloody brilliant so just read it” or I could have waxed lyrical about the plot and the characters of the 7 stories that are told in this collection. But I am not. Instead I am going to tell you what appeals to me about Alex and about the style of writing.

Alex is not pretentious, he is not a braggart or a smart arse. He is skilled at martial arts, he thinks in split seconds but his main weapon is his superb observation skills. He watches people and analyses situations and acts instinctively. He never kills anyone and he does what he has to to win. He is always polite, understates his achievements and if you wanted someone to go into bat for your life then Alex Rider is the boy you would choose.

See how Alex gets on penetrating a crazy man’s castle hideout in Afghanistan, see how he deals with a crazy escaped prisoner who wants to kill Alex in an act of revenge, see how he escapes from a hospital prison over an electric fence using fishing rods and a coat hanger, see how he escapes death while paragliding off a runaway motor boat in the South of France. And more.

Superbly written by master writer Anthony Horowitz in a straight forward action style that keeps you reading long after you want to stop and do something else. The characters are incredible, the action spellbinding. I can’t do better than that.

For intermediate and high school students especially reluctant readers.

White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

July 11, 2018 Comments off

white rabbitWhite Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is a psychological thriller of the very highest order for your gifted young adult readers, about spies and mathematics . In 1991 I read a book about the philosophical concepts of Western Thought by Jostein Gaarder titled Sophies’ World which was absolutely brilliant. This novel ranks along side that novel.

I am not going to try to explain it to you I am just going to tell you what it is all about and you can work it out for yourselves.

Anibel and Peter are seventeen year old twins born 8 minutes apart. Their parents are separated and they don’t know their father. They are White Rabbit and Red Wolf in spy parlance. Their mother is strategically the most important mind in the UK since Turing and a target for spies. The British spy agency 57 fears she is open to the highest bidder and they watch her and her two children.

Ingrid or Ana is sent to infiltrate the twins life and she concentrates on Peter. If you have a deep dark desire that you don’t want anyone to know about and you are in the same room as Ana, she will get it out of you. The novel is in two time sequences, the present and 5 years earlier when Ingrid came into Peter’s life. Peter narrates the story.

Anibel has protected Peter all his life. She is savvy and ruthless and she precipitates much of the action in this story. Peter is obsessed with mathematics. He thinks mathematics can solve everything in life. He knows he is damaged because he has panic attacks that debilitate him, and he hopes to use mathematics to get closer to fixing himself. But he is going to make discoveries about his sister, mother and Ana that will shatter him.

When Peter and Anibel’s mother is attacked and stabbed with a knife on the eve of presenting  a ground breaking scientific paper all hell breaks loose, with Peter, Anibel and Ana on the run from spies and the police. The action is stunning.

The novel is in three parts – Encrypt, Invert and Recoil, the three steps in mathematics that prove everything is a lie. Work it out for yourself, it is superb.

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom.

April 22, 2017 Comments off

crueltyThe Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

Abandoning their own when an operation turns bad is what the CIA is known for. So sayeth one of the characters in this book, but is it the whole truth.

Seventeen year old Gwendolyn is an ordinary American girl. She is told by her father that he works for the Government and as a result they have lived in many countries especially Russia and Italy making her adept at several languages.

When her father goes missing in France on what he said was a routine operation, Gwendolyn’s life changes. The CIA call round asking questions. A neighbour upstairs tells Gwendolyn that all is not as it seems and gives her a book that her father said was for her eyes only. What she discovers takes her to Paris and the company of a taut bodied former Mossad agent, Yael ,who describes her job as 90% waiting around and 10% terror.

Gwendolyn toughens up under Yael’s guidance and after a gun battle Gwendolyn takes off for Berlin and later Prague. She assumes the identity of a 22 year old Russian stripper called Sofia and becomes involved with a gun running, drug dealing, young girl smuggling multi millionaire Bohden Kladivo. He tells her “a woman who seeks to rise in the World must be crueler than men”. As the plot evolves Gwendolyn/Sofia finds the cruelty rising within her.

An excellent action/thriller/spy story that makes for tense reading. One of the best of this type of novel that I have read and the good news is the story is not over. There must be a sequel. The plot is tight and believable and the style is clever, menacing and witty – “trains creep slowly along the tracks like snakes in a moat”

Teens and Young Adults will love it.

Spy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson

March 1, 2017 Comments off

spy-toysSpy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson. Pub. Bim UK imprint Allen&Unwin, 2017

I am very impressed with this new series that is designed for reluctant readers both boys and girls of primary/intermediate age.

In a phrase it is like the cartoon network without the cartoons. Bizarre, witty with a tight and sharp dialogue exchange between the highly imaginative characters.

The plot and characters revolve around rejected and defective high tech toys  from the Snaztacular Ultrafun toy factory. Dan is a cuddly bear who is so strong he can crush a tractor with his cuddles, Arabella, a rag doll with an attitude to burn and sympathy for no-one and Flax a highly aggressive rabbit with a down beat wit.

The toys are all discarded because they are defective but escape into the World and are captured then hired by Auntie Roz from the Department of Secret Affairs to bodyguard the Prime Ministers son from Rusty Flumptrunk a very bad half Elephant half human nasty.

Brilliant stuff with Tim Weeson’s animation filling in the gaps.

I was spellbound and read the short book in one sitting with a smile all over my face. It is great.The first chapter about Dan is called If Hugs Could kill and it sets the tone of the book immediately. Big font makes reading easy.

If you want your reluctant readers particularly boys to read, these are a great start.