Sentinel: A Spycatcher Novel

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Written by an ex-MI6 field agent, Matthew Dunn, this spy thriller exudes authenticity.  Trained to be the ultimate spy, Will Cochran is sent to Russia on a fool’s errand:  to find a deep cover agent who has betrayed the U. S. and wants to start a war.  Not only does Cochran face geographic and physical odds in Russia, political and economic tensions at home, he is up against the clock, and it is ticking!

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben MacIntyre

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Kim Philby was a cricket fan, journalist, friend, spy—and traitor. In A Spy Among Friends, Ben MacIntyre examines the life and career of one of the most successful Soviet double agents through his friendships with Nicholas Elliott, a fellow British spy, and James Jesus Angleton, the chief of the CIA’s counterintelligence department. MacIntyre’s telling exposes the strange, almost incestuously intimate world of spying in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s: a society of hard-drinking school friends-turned-agents made vulnerable by the peculiarly British belief that only a small circle can be trusted, but that within that circle, trust is absolute—even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Philby exploited this weakness to its fullest, “picking clean” agents from every major intelligence organization in Europe, America, and the Middle East; untold hundreds of British and British-allied agents died as a result.  

Absorbing, well-organized, and marbled with delightful oddities like Elliott’s bodyguard/nanny (who had “enormous feet” and drank gin from a bottle marked “Holy Water”), A Spy Among Friends is a must-read for espionage fans and Cold War buffs.

The Martian : a novel by Andy Weir

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Engineer-botanist Mark Watney is presumed dead and left by his crew mates on Mars as a dust storm forces them to abort their mission. Logbook style narratives describe Watney's efforts to extend his life until the next scheduled mission arrives in 4 years.  Watney exemplifies the “never say die” attitude we associate with heroes but he is facing tough odds while trying to stay alive on Mars.  Part astronaut primer and deep space survival guide, The Martian is an interesting sci-fi yarn!

Juvenile Fiction Selection: Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Dash and his family live on the moon.  They are part of the first group of humans to live on Moon Base Alpha and famous on Earth for it.  Sounds exciting right?  Not according to Dash, who is bored out of his mind.  Dash is trapped inside the tiny moon base since kids are not allowed on the surface, and the only thing to do to occupy his time is play virtual reality games.  When Moon Base Alpha's top scientist turns up dead, Dash believes that it might not have been an accident.  Along with new supplies, the supply ship brings some new residents to the base including a new girl Dash's age who he eventually befriends.  Dash becomes convinced Dr. Holtz's death was foul play and begins an investigation into many suspects to solve the mystery.  Each chapter opens with an excerpt from “The Official Residents' Guide to Moon Base Alpha” NASA's instructional guide to living on the moon.  Dash is very clever and the mystery in this story is not only complex but often funny too.  (Grades 3-7 School Library Journal)

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This is the story of a reluctant adventurer who battles enormous forces. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist, likes his creature comforts and is unsure as he sets out on an incredible journey to complete an important task. In order to succeed he needs to learn how to get along with others and stand up for what he believes in. It is an inspiring tale of adventure, fellowship, uncertainty, and strength.

I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

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This beautiful and absorbing book follows the life of a bravely determined young woman, Malala, living in the Swat Valley along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Malala publicly supported female education which was a strong defiant act toward the local Taliban.  With poise, strength, and courage Malala gives us a first person account of what it is like to live in current Pakistani society.  Her detailed narrative of being shot by the Taliban along with her miraculous recovery is truly moving.

Hellstrip Gardening by Evelyn Hadden

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The hellstrip—the space between a street and a public sidewalk which finally gains attention as a space to add curb appeal to your home.  This oft-ignored gardening space can be reclaimed as a small paradise with environmentally friendly plants that thrive in tough situations and with limited water needs. 

Gorgeous color photographs of hellstrip gardens offer inspiration and visual guidance to tackle this new gardening frontier.


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