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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!

Picture Book Selection for Travelers

Adele and her brother Simon are coming to America from France to visit their Aunt Cecile, who takes them on a train trip to see the United States!  Simon is more interested in seeing all of the sights than in keeping track of his belongings, which become lost from New York City to San Francisco.  See if you can find what Simon lost in each picture.  The detailed drawings and sweet story will delight readers of all ages, but particularly those ages 4-8. 

Teen Mysteries: The Voice Inside my Head

Seventeen-year-old Luke's older sister, Pat, has always been there to guide him, like a voice inside his head, every time he has a problem to confront. So when Pat vanishes from a tiny island off the coast of Honduras and the police claim she drowned, Luke heads there to find her because he knows something the authorities don't. Ever since her disappearance, Pat's voice has become real, guiding him to Utila, where she'd accepted a summer internship studying whale sharks. Desperate to get to the bottom of what happened to his missing sister, Luke risks everything, including his own life, to find the truth.  

"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.

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