Tag Archives: Espionage

Mini-Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) – Ally Carter

Mini-Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) – Ally CarterTitle: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: June 21, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Heists/Spies/Espionage
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 9, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

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Just a mini-review for UNCOMMON CRIMINALS today! It had been almost four years since I had read HEIST SOCIETY (on audio) before I picked up UNCOMMON CRIMINALS but it wasn’t because of disinterest. After four years of waiting, I finally gave up hope that my library was going to get the audiobook because I just really enjoyed Angela Dawe’s performance so much! I knew I had to keep this one going on audio.

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS was just as much fun as I remember HEIST SOCIETY being! I just love heist books because so many of them often times employ a lot of humor or sarcasm, I think mostly because the characters are just so clever. You really have to be able to outsmart everyone when pulling off a heist and I think that extends a lot into a character’s social interactions as well. I feel like UNCOMMON CRIMINALS was a little less humorous and a bit more serious than HEIST SOCIETY since the stakes were raised a bit more, though!

I really enjoyed how the characters’ relationships started to go a bit deeper as well. There’s always a certain level of trust in a friendship — especially when it involves deception and thievery — but Kat really starts to amp things up with Hale, whether she intended to or not, and both friendships and familial relationships are really put into the spotlight in this book.

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS is an easy read but still full of so many important moments that any teen (or adult) can relate to. I love the balance of humor along with the severity of a heist and all of the experiences that come along with it. These books are so enjoyable and I’m hoping to finish up the series soon! Although now I’m hearing book three is not the last book like I thought it was… so more adventures for me, I guess!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Performance: Fun, sturdy, and comfortable yet light

HEIST SOCIETY was one of the first audiobooks I ever listened to (actually, I think THE first audio I ever listened to) so I have a soft spot for Angela Dawe! I really loved her performance then and I still do now. I like how her voice is mature but still appropriate for a teen main character and her voicing of everyone is really good throughout! She does some really fun accents and some are more believable than others but the book was just fun from start to finish and I’m still seeking out more audiobooks that she narrates!
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Addiction Rating
Read it!

These books are a lot of fun and if you like books/movies/TV shows about heists or espionage, this series is for you! It was totally Leverage meets Ocean’s 11.

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BOOKS LIKE UNCOMMON CRIMINALS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALSO KNOWN AS    THE FIXER

GOING ROGUE Bonus Content & Giveaway!

AlsoKnownAsspyteambadge

Hey, spy addicts! Brittany here coming atcha as a part of the ALSO KNOWN AS Spy Team! Robin Benway‘s sequel to ALSO KNOWN ASGOING ROGUE — is ON SALE TODAY!!!  YAYYY! In preparation for this amazing release, Bloomsbury/Walker Children’s has put together the Spy Team, a selective group of spies masquerading as book bloggers to keep our cover story tight! We know you’re excited for the release of GOING ROGUE so we have some bonus content to share with you! Check out the links below for some extras & hidden stories from the ALSO KNOWN AS series!

BUY GOING ROGUE TODAY!
Amazon || Barnes & Noble || IndieBound

Not familiar with the series? You can check out an excerpt of ALSO KNOWN AS and read an exclusive excerpt from GOING ROGUE!

Also Known AsTitle: ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway
Publishing Info
: February 26th 2013 by Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Espionage/Contemporary (YA)
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?
    Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)
    But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.” –– From Goodreads

READ THE EXCERPT HERE!

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Going RogueTitle: GOING ROGUE by Robin Benway
Publishing Info
: January 14th 2014 by Walker Books for Young Readers —  ON SALE TODAY!!!
Genre: Espionage/Contemporary (YA)
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie’s parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her “new team” flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.” –– From Goodreads

READ THE EXCERPT HERE!

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The Spy Team has one more exciting excerpt to share today and that’s a special bridge story from fan-favorite Roux’s perspective! YAYYY! I hope you have a ton of fun reading this excerpt to help lead you from ALSO KNOWN AS and take you into GOING ROGUE, on sale today!

BRIDGE STORY: “GOING ROUX”

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GIVEAWAY

There’s also a lovely giveaway thanks to the fantastic team at Bloomsbury & Walker Children’s! We have TWO sets of both ALSO KNOWN AS and GOING ROGUE! Two lucky winners will win both of the books in the ALSO KNOWN AS series and I could not be more excited to give these away! So what are you waiting for!? Enter the Rafflecopter below. US entries, only please! And hurry — this giveaway only lasts until Friday 1/17!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Going Rogue (Also Known As #2) – Robin Benway

Going Rogue (Also Known As #2) – Robin BenwayTitle: Going Rogue (Also Known As #2) by Robin Benway
Publishing Info: January 14, 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 19, 2013
Related Posts: Also Known As, Emmy & Oliver, Far From the Tree

    Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver.
    Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux.
Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo.
    Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
But when Maggie's parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names.
Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her "new team" flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.

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I know that Robin Benway hadn’t always planned on writing a sequel to ALSO KNOWN AS but boy am I glad she did! GOING ROGUE was just a perfect sequel in every way: I got more of the characters I love, more action, more adventure, and thicker plots.

One thing I always fear about sequels is that if it’s been a while since I’ve read book one, I tend to forget some of what happened and even some of the characters, but Robin Benway did such a fantastic job with ALSO KNOWN AS that it was so easy to jump back into the lives of these characters right where we left off. These characters have made a lasting impression on me and reading even more about them in GOING ROGUE just further solidified their place in my heart. I love Maggie, of course, but Robin Benway does such a great job with her supporting characters and we even get a little bit more backstory about Maggie’s parents as well! The characters just feel so real and it made me that much more invested in the story!

GOING ROGUE really stepped it up from ALSO KNOWN AS. I was already in love with AKA, but we see a lot more action and heist and spy terms, we get a little bit more Jason Bourne to go with the already established Ocean’s 11. Spying is a dangerous job and we see a lot more of the perilous side in GOING ROGUE which may have led to some gasping and screaming on my side. Aside from my fear and concerns for the characters, I was so excited to see the level of action that occurs in GOING ROGUE and I’m glad we got to see totally different situations than we had in book one! I really wasn’t expecting it, but in a good way! I was surprised by how different this book was and it definitely keeps up the witty dialogue of ALSO KNOWN AS with an added bonus of more thrills!

I know I’ve already talked about the characters but seriously. Maggie. Roux. Jesse. ANGELO. How much did my love for Angelo grow in this book!? (Spoiler: A lot.) I know everyone loves Roux (and I do too) but Angelo has always been my favorite. I was also really excited to learn more about Maggie’s parents as we dig deeper into the Collective! We get a lot more backstory for both the characters themselves and how that ties into their history with the Collective and the new characters we meet are just as delightful!

Fans of ALSO KNOWN AS will not be disappointed with its sequel. It had made for a wonderful stand alone but I’m so happy its sequel came into existence (Thank you, Robin Benway!!!) and I’m hoping there will be more books in this series because I could honestly gobble them up forever! I guess that means I’ll just have to start onto Robin’s other books (Right? How have I not already??) to hold me over until then!

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Maggie // Character Obsessions: Cracking safes, working on the impossible lock, protecting her family, taking down the bad guys.
I’ve always love Maggie’s spunk and we get another healthy dose of it in GOING ROGUE! She also starts to mature a lot more — in her relationship with Jesse, in her friendship with Roux, her protectiveness of her family, and her responsibilities to keep everyone safe. Maggie has a lot on her plate and she’s learning how tough it can be to balance everything and still maintain the secrecy of her nature as a spy.
Angelo // Character Obsessions: Secrecy, protecting Maggie’s family & friends, being a total badass.
Angelo is such a badass. He has this quiet calm, always keeping a level head and totally TCBing without anyone even knowing where he is or what he’s doing. I love when the quiet characters totally step into a take-charge role to protect someone and not giving any spoilers away or anything, but Angelo will go to great lengths to protect the ones he loves, no matter what that means. If I were the Grinch, Angelo is the one who makes my heart grow three sizes. I wish I knew him in real life.
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Kept Me Hooked On: All things Robin Benway! I absolutely MUST devour the rest of her books this year! I love her writing, both the contemporary/funny/witty side and the spy/heist/caper side! I know her other books are more strictly contemporary but I’ve heard NUMEROUS great things about them and I seriously need to read them in 2014!
Left Me Wanting More: Of this series. I need more Maggie, more Roux, more Angelo. I need more safe cracking, lock picking, and spying. I need more sticky situations and international espionage. I just adored both ALSO KNOWN AS and GOING ROGUE!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

This one’s a keeper! Buy GOING ROGUE (and if you don’t have it already, pick up ALSO KNOWN AS too!) for your shelves. These books are so much fun and I love everything about this series.

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BOOKS LIKE GOING ROGUE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Heist Society   How to Lead a Life of Crime

Also Known As (Also Known As #1) – Robin Benway

Also Known As (Also Known As #1) – Robin BenwayTitle: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publishing Info: February 26, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 25, 2013
Related Posts: Going Rogue (Also Known As #2), Emmy & Oliver, Far From the Tree

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.

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ALSO KNOWN AS was my first Robin Benway book and SHAME ON ME for waiting so long! I know you guys are all raving over AUDREY, WAIT! (which I own now, but still haven’t read yet) and praised Robin’s wit and delightful characters. NOW I GET IT. This book was flat out hilarious — jokes, sarcasm, banter — ALSO KNOWN AS had it all. I was literally laughing out loud reading this book and now I can’t wait to go read more of Robin Benway’s books!

AKA

ALSO KNOWN AS, as you probably know, is about Maggie — a sixteen year-old-spy who gets her very first solo assignment. Maggie is clearly the highlight of this book. Her personality and sense of humor make the reader feel at ease and really invested in her story as well. I instantly wanted to be BFFs with Maggie and so I was right by her side as she went through wacky hijinks, flustering friendships, and her very first kiss.

We’re talking about spies here, so you know there are going to be some twists and turns! I actually did NOT see the twist coming. I had written it off as a cute but simple story. Turns out, ALSO KNOWN AS has a few more layers than I anticipated! The only complaint I can make about the plot is that I wish a few more twists had been introduced earlier on to gather just a little more excitement. I was totally invested in the story already, but that extra little twist would have added the “knock-me-off-my-feet” aspect to the book for me!

All of the characters were pretty amazing and stood on their own two feet. Each one had a big personality and leapt off the page! Obviously we know I love Maggie (duh) but I also liked her friend Roux (okay, she was a tad much at times, but that was the whole point), her love interest/assignment Jesse Oliver, her clueless-on-how-to-raise-a-real-teenager parents, and her almost mentor/family friend Angelo. I adored Maggie’s relationship with Angelo. He’s a great person for her to turn to when she needs to step away from her parents, away from her friends/assignment/distractions and get an honest yet gentle answer. He’s always calm and very wise.

ALSO KNOWN AS was a very quick read, but in a good way. I didn’t want to put it down! It was filled with everything I love: humor, suspense, romance, awesome characters, and a twist to keep me guessing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read and I cannot wait to read AUDREY, WAIT! and more from Robin Benway!

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MAGGIE: Maggie was a hoot. I loved hearing her story as well as her direct speech to the reader. It’s so much fun when I feel like the characters are talking to me (if it’s pulled off well — And of course Robin Benway knows how to create a very personable narrator). I immediately wanted to be friends with her and wished she was a real person because I know she’d be a blast to hang out with!
JESSE: Jesse was a pretty great match for Maggie. I LOVED that he accepted her for all her wackiness and that’s why he ended up liking her. Nothing like loving a girl for the way she is!! He got a little silly himself at times and it made my heart melt! I love fun & spontaneous things like that!
ANGELO: I loved Angelo as Maggie’s mentor! Welll, I’m calling him a mentor. Really, he’s a family friend and a great resource/shoulder to lean on (or cry on) when Maggie has no one else to turn to. He was definitely one of my favorite characters…. Although really, they all were pretty great!

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BUY IT!

This book was soooo much fun. I absolutely loved Maggie and I loved the comedy involved, keeping everything light. Absolutely delightful book.

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     Heist Society      Going Vintage

Heist Society (Heist Society #1) – Ally Carter

Heist Society (Heist Society #1) – Ally CarterTitle: Heist Society (Heist Society #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: February 9, 2010 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 8, 2012
Related Posts: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2), All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

    When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.
For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

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Total thumbs up for HEIST SOCIETY! I think the best way to put it is a teenage Ocean’s 11 (which is still one of my favorite movies). I love a little bit of espionage and for some reason any story with thieves always has a lot of snark and some cocky sarcasm, which I happen to adore. All thieves need to be a little bit cocky or else they wouldn’t have the confidence to do their jobs!

I guess all heist teams have the same general players in one way or another… Let’s say Kat’s the Danny Ocean, Hale is Rusty, Simon’s our Livingston, and the Bagshaw brothers are the Malloy twins. Gabrielle I guess is more of the Tess in the story except she’s actually involved in the heist as the beauty and some brains.

I loved the character interaction and the semi-unsure relationship between Kat and Hale. They’ve known each other a very long time and now that they’re teenagers it’s like the romantic inklings are just starting to bubble to the surface. It seems like a great best friend turned boyfriend story (or the potential for it) and I can’t wait to see how that develops! I definitely look forward to more heists and more shenanigans as the series continues.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I picked this one up as an audiobook and so much more enjoyable than the last audiobook I picked up! The narrator, Angela Dawe, was great! Her narrator’s voice was different than Kat’s voice (since the book was in the third person, I really liked that) and she had not the greatest accents, but decent enough! Every character had a distinct voice and it was so easy to listen to. I’d definitely recommend it on audio if you’re interested!

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Kat: Kat was an excellent main character.  As opposed to a lot of YA books that usually feature 17 or 18-year-olds, I like that we meet Kat at only 15. You can see she’s already extremely mature (I’m sure she had to grow up fast with a father as a thief and con man) but there’s so much more room to see her grown and develop some romances (hopefully a good one with Hale) since she’s only 15. I thought she was really easy to relate to and developed really was as our main character.
Hale: Loved Hale! He seemed a little cold in the very beginning (for me as a reader, not to Kat), but as the book warms up, so does Hale. I loved his quiet confidence and how you can tell his feelings for Kat are just slowly seeping out and making for a nice slow burn teenage romance.
Gabrielle: I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up liking Gabrielle! She and Kat start out not the best of friends and working together brings them together again. I really look forward to seeing their friendship grow in later books! I really hope it does.

QUOTES

“She’d absolutely adored the library – an entire building where anyone could take things they didn’t own and feel no remorse about it.”

“It was so rare to find someone who was both so young and so wise, both so fresh and so jaded.”

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BUY IT!

This book was SO much fun! I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE HEIST SOCIETY