Review: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying – by Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest

 

Cover image from goodreads.com. Click on image to go to goodreads book page.
Cover image from goodreads.com. Click on image to go to goodreads book page.

 Title: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

Author: Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest

This review is of an ARC. Purchase the book September 15th at these links:

Amazon. The International Spy Museum (Available now!). Itasca Books. Hooray for Books. Red Lodge Books.

Goodreads. Official Website.

Summary: The Harry Potter series is more than just a story about a young wizard who saves the world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The seven-book saga is an excellent primer on spying, intelligence, and politics. Join spy novelist Lynn Boughey and thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum Peter Earnest as they review the spy craft employed and celebrated in J.K. Rowling’s bestselling books. From the invisibility cloak to house passwords to Fred and George Weasley’s Extendable Ears, “Harry Potter & the Art of Spying” is full of spy lessons for the secret-agent-in-training in the Muggle realm. Learn how to break secret codes, gather intelligence, read character’s motives, and why Severus Snape is the best double agent ever.

Genre/Pages: Fantasy Analysis/Espionage non-fiction/632

Rating: ★★★★ (4.5 of 5)

A Quote: “Severus Snape was perhaps the best spy ever portrayed in literature. But we must remember that there are real spies out there, spies who take all the risks, perhaps more than Snape did. The World is full of risk. It is a very dangerous place. Only through information can our leaders make the right decisions.

And information is hard to come by.

Countries hide what they are doing. Leaders make statements that are intentionally false. And informants are often untrustworthy or just plain wrong.

It is spies — and intelligence analysts — who derive truth from a blurry world.” ~pg 541 of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.

My Review:  When I first heard about this book I was sitting on my bed listening to Alohomora! I knew as soon as I heard authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest analyzing Harry Potter with the Pros (read: The Alohomora! cast), that I HAD to read this book. It was a given. I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. Weeks later, after many, MANY delays and mail mix ups I finally got to hold a copy of this wondrous book in my hands. I was overjoyed. I cannot possibly fully express my thanks to Lynn, Peter, and all of the other amazing people who helped me to get an ARC of this book for review. Y’all are the best! All of this aside, however, I do consider this an unbiased review.

The first half of this book is a play-by-play analysis of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At first I was nervous. Was there REALLY enough information in OotP to create a full-on chapter-by-chapter, line-by-line, espionage analysis? Believe me, there is. Lynn and Peter will bring up points and theories I had never even considered.

The second half of this book is a series’ analysis from an espionage perspective. It focuses on the specifics of character motivation, different types of spies throughout the series, Wizard security, Magical (and muggle) means of tracking and spying, personal espionage experiences from the authors, and so much more. This was probably in some ways my favorite part of the book. Not only did you get HARRY POTTER, but you also will be absolutely astonished by how much you learn about how Muggle world spying works. It’s fascinating!

So, at this point I’m typically writing about my thoughts on the hero/heroine. Well… As you’ve probably deducted by now, there isn’t one. So I’m going to split these next two sections (Usually Hero/Heroine and Plot) into the two main focuses of the book: Harry Potter Analysis, and real life Espionage.

Harry Potter Analysis: A word about Harry Potter Analysis: HARRY POTTER ANALYSIS. (Oh, all right, that was three words!) << Did you see what I did there??? There are quite a few running jokes throughout the book, but it wasn’t annoying, actually. It was more like a smile and eyeroll type of running gags. They were legitimately amusing. Anyway, I digress. The blow-by-blow analyzing got a little bit slow at times, since I already know the series (and particularly OotP) so well, but I understand that it was necessary for the points they were trying to make. This book had many laugh out loud moments, some due to the genius of J.K. Rowling, and some to the genius of Lynn and Peter. This form of analysis, however, fully immersed you into the world and you were able to have many Ah-ha! moments of realization. No matter how many times I read the books, listen to the podcasts, or read books like this, I can ALWAYS learn new things about Harry Potter, and new mind-blowing JKR things. This is my OGM for the day. (Obligatory Genius Moment to JKR). Some might think that the book recap would get boring, but it honestly stayed pretty intriguing. In fact, I’m even more desperate to go back and re-read OotP AFTER reading this book. I love getting to see my favorite books from the eyes of someone else, and what better way to get a new perspective on my all-time-favorite book than through the eyes of a CIA veteran and a spy novelist?

Espionage: A word about Espionage: ESPIONAGE! This was absolutely fascinating  — I read it in no time! The depth and detail was enthralling! You learned immense amounts about the intricate functioning of the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, Dumbledore’s Army, and much more. This book merely expanded upon the genius that is the world of Harry Potter, and made you understand JUST how great it REALLY is.  In addition to that, with many personal stories and real-life events, you get to learn how the muggle world of espionage works, as well! It was a very enlightening read on many levels. Peter and Lynn did a fantastic job with the formatting and layout of this spectacular novel.

Content Advisory: Ummm….Nothing. Absolutely nothing inappropriate. 

To Sum it Up: It’s not what I’d call an EASY read, but if you love Harry Potter, then you will love this book. If you’re intrigued  by spy stories, then you will love this book. If you’re interested in the political and social themes of the Harry Potter novels, you will love this book. Written in an easy to read format, with plenty of side notes, digressions, and personal stories, you will not regret reading this book. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all Die-Hard Potterheads.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

Review: The Age of Amy: The Thumper Amendment – by Bruce Edwards

First, an apology. College is crazy. And so my blog updates have been VERY lacking, and for that I apologize. I will NOT let it happen again. Time flies when you’re studying for a test, yeah? But from now on there will always be at least one review a week.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Title: The Age of Amy: The Thumper Amendment

The Thumper Amendment will be released April 1st. It will be available for purchase via Amazon HERE in one month! Make sure to buy it! :)

Author: Bruce Edwards

Summary: It’s an election year, and Congress has lowered the voting age to 14! In support for her favorite candidate, 16-year-old Amy joins his campaign — not out of patriotism, but because the opposing candidate’s son bullied her in the third grade. Defeating her offender would be the perfect payback for her maltreatment.

Presidential campaign reform laws now require that all candidates participate in the TV reality show, The Race For The White House, USA. Amy accompanies her candidate-of-choice in this bizarre, cross-country contest, where she encounters robot presidents, mutant laboratory animals, and escapes injustice in America’s “wild west” of the future.

But, there’s a problem. While Amy is committed to seeing her grade school nemesis get his just deserts, the wicked boy has grown into a tenderhearted (and cute) young adult, making it difficult for Amy to dislike him. Her vengeance turns to feelings of affection and admiration. Is she falling in love?

This fantasy-adventure for young adults examines just how mean people can be—personally and politically—and under-scores what Bambi’s friend, Thumper, always says, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Genre/Pages: Fantasy/212

Rating: ★★ (3.5 of 5)

My Review:  

First Paragraph: “Let me go!” My demand went unheard over the playful din of grade school children at recess. Two large boys held my arms behind my back. A third once casually walked around me, his cold stare never leaving my angry face. The boys jeered and taunted me as I struggled to get free. What had I done to deserve this kind of abuse? Elementary school is a wondrous place to learn and grow, to discover reading, writing, and finger painting. But for naive school girls lie me, we sometimes get more education than we signed up for.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hero/Heroine: Amy & Peter. As always, I loved Amy. She’s spirited, fun, and a touch rebellious. I mean, how often do you find a 16 year old willing to run for Vice-President of the whole country? She is seriously amazing. I love her. I even wear a clip-in purple streak in my hair, sorta like Amy. :) Peter  is a very complex character, with a fascinating back story. He’s romantic, cute, willing to admit mistakes, and has the amazing ability to see the bigger picture. How cool is that? Even the touch of romance between them was very well written, enjoyable, and engaging. The inter-character relations were all perfectly executed.

Plot: Though I didn’t like The Thumper Amendment as much as I liked the first book in the series Bonehead Bootcamp (check out my review HERE.), it was still enjoyable. The first book had focused more on personality problems and lesson to be learned from them, whereas this one focused more on politcal problems and lessons to be learned from them. The premise of the book was absolutely enthralling – imagine! The voting age has been lowered to 14, and teenagers cannot only vote, but the can also run for office! Not only that, but the presidential campaign is actually a reality tv show where candidates traverse the country in a race to reach the White House, all the while facing endless challenges and tests, to determine which candidate should be voted into office. However, I believe that, overall, it could have been better executed. This book is intensely political – but that’s what I loved about it! It addresses many different issues – from teenagers getting the right to vote to scientific cloning!

Content Advisory: A lot of minor cussing. Probably about 40 or 50 minor cuss words — way to much for a middle grade novel, and every single cuss sounded out of place and forced. 

To Sum it Up: Though considerably different from Bonehead BootcampThe Thumper Amendment was still thoroughly enjoyable. You have to exercise the suspension of disbelief in order to truly enjoy the book, but it teaches many important lessons and morals, while still being a fun, light, MG/YA novel. I really enjoyed it! I recommend The Thumper Amendment to readers ages 12+.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it?