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review 2015-11-20 00:00
Also Known As
Also Known As - Robin Benway It was a fun book and I enjoyed it, but it was far from the best teenage spy novels that I've read. It was perfect for those days when you don't want to think too much though. The plot is pretty straightforward. Maggie is a girl whose assignement is to get close to a young boy, in order to gain access to his father's documents. Of course, she falls in love with said boy. As soon as a few things are revealed, it is also rather obvious what is really going on. This is the main flaw of Also Known As. What I suppose was meant to be a big plot twist was not surprising at all.

The best character was Roux, the third member of the teenage trio. She is a girl who likes parties too much and who lives more or less alone, because her parents travel a lot. She's funny and, even though she may not look like it, resourceful when it's necessary.

It took me ages to finish this book because I barely had time to read, not because it was bad. It's the kind of book that you can read in an afternoon. Not a bad book if you want something a bit mysterious, but don't want to think too much.
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review 2015-09-13 15:52
#CBR7 Book 88: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Also Known As - Robin Benway

Margaret "Maggie" Silver learned to pick her first lock when she was barely past the toddler stage, which is unsurprising since both her parents and all their friends are spies. Maggie's father can tell her she's grounded in more than twenty languages, but she's never actually gone to school and rarely interacted with someone her own age. So when the Silver's current mission requires her to go to a fancy prep school in Manhattan, Maggie is actually more out of her depth than when her family had to flee Luxembourg in a hurry.  Now she has to wear a uniform and make friends, armed only on the knowledge she's acquired from countless books and TV shows. 


Maggie's job is to get close to Jesse Oliver, whose father is about to publish a tell all article where Maggie's parents, Maggie herself and many they care about may have their true identities revealed. As this would be disastrous, time is of the essence. While Maggie might have twelve different passports and there is barely a lock or a safe she can't break into, she clearly has no idea how to talk to kids her own age. She's never been able to have real friends, as her family are constantly on the move, nor has she ever even thought about a life that doesn't involve deception and being a spy. She's a fish out of water in high school, struggling to fit in. Initially, she believes her target to be spoiled and arrogant, but as she gets closer to him, she has real trouble keeping herself detached and objective. Lying to her friends feels wrong, and the longer she works the case, the longer her instincts tell her that something is seriously up with the mission. But can a teenage girl tell her professional spy parents that she thinks they're being set up?


The fact that this is Maggie's first proper mission, where her parents have to take the back seat, actually just being her parents, is one of the things that creates tension in the book. It's clear that Maggie has a real gift when it comes to lock-picking and safe-cracking, but because of the life she's led, she's never actually been presented with or even considered any options to life as a spy. Only when Maggie actually has to explain her unusual upbringing (without revealing any specific details, naturally) to her new friends, does she realise how truly strange her life has been. 


This was a fun book, with a fun protagonist. Roux, the girl she befriends at school, a former queen bee whose now ostracised because she slept with a friend's boyfriend and consequently lost her lofty position, is great. Wounded, sarcastic and initially quite self-centred, Roux provides Maggie with invaluable help in fitting into high school, even if she'll never exactly be popular hinging out with Roux. Jesse Oliver, whose file suggests he's a spoiled and attention-seeking rich kid, is actually bright, funny, vulnerable, as well as cute as heck, and it's perfectly believable that Maggie falls for him hard. While Maggie feels like a complete spaz every time she's near him, he seems to find her quite mysterious and intimidating. Their first date is absolutely adorable. 


This book was perfectly fun entertainment and I liked Maggie, her friends, her parents and especially Angelo, the family friend who may or may not be an assassin. Teenage spy has to fit into high school seems like a great premise for a CW show, frankly, which I think I would actually watch. There's at least one more book in this series and I will be checking it out too. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/09/cbr7-book-88-also-known-as-by-robin.html
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review 2015-06-29 14:17
Thoughts: Also Known As
Also Known As - Robin Benway

Also Known As -- Robin Benway

Book 1 of Also Known As

Young Adult, Chick Lit, Espionage, Mystery, Romance, Humor



I had the hardest time figuring out how I felt about this book.

On the one hand, it was absolutely enjoyable, sweet, cute, and so much fun to read! Teen spies! Yay!

On the other hand, Maggie makes a better high school drama queen than she does a spy--in fact, as much as I’ve come to love her, I honestly feel like she still needs some serious training to even be a good spy. Setting aside the fact that, yes, she’s just a teenager and has a lot of growth to go through, and yes, she DOES save the day in the end, she’s still a horrible spy.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved Maggie and her nerdiness. I loved Jesse and his dorky, non-standard YA boy material self with the dorky tendencies and good boy qualities. And I think that Roux is absolutely fabulous in her insanely strange, no nonsense, straight forward, no-holds-barred way of living her life! In fact, Roux might have been one of the reasons I loved this book so much.

I loved the simple and sweet romance that unfolds between Maggie and Jesse at a much more agreeable pace than most books normally allow--there is no insta-love, there are no unnecessary triangles (or other polygonal points), no random misunderstandings or unneeded angst... There’s just a boy and a girl who both find each other interesting and attractive; they banter, they get to know each other, they go on a date, and they fall in love. Even in spite of the big secret that Maggie is keeping tucked away as a teen spy wherein she is to befriend said boy in order to complete her assignment, the romance still remained innocent and sweet and oh, so adorable.

The Story:
I thought about using the official blurb I found at Goodreads, but it doesn’t really do the book any justice. In fact, it’s also a little misleading.

”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.”

Only one of the three things listed in that part of the blurb is actually accurate in the book’s story. There were no mean girls--Roux started off a bit haughty and let off the vibe for potential mean girl in her introduction… But Roux turned out to be that crazy kickass best friend who makes life so much more interesting by being the world’s most adorable seventeen year old drunk and even more dramatic than the dramatic with her overactive imagination and crazy ideals, as well as managing to be the most endearingly clingy best friend who falls hopelessly into best-friendship with Maggie like lightning.

I absolutely love how Roux obsess over and idolizes Maggie, while at the same time saying to Maggie anything that comes to mind even if it could potentially be hurtful or rude or crass or too true to be acceptable. I love how honest and straight forward she is and I love that Maggie just takes it like a pro and moves on by dealing all the insults and the harsh realities and the strange lovin' right back at Roux.

And there was never mention about hacking the school’s security system. In fact, very little of the book actually bothers with the high school unless it was about Maggie interacting with either Roux or Jesse. And even the potential “fish out of water” antics we’d been expecting to see from Maggie (since she’s never been to a normal school nonetheless been a normal teenage girl) were kind of downplayed.

Instead, Maggie gets along at school just fine (despite failing French class) and we focus more on her mission.

As a genius safecracker, Maggie gets her first solo assignment to infiltrate Jesse Oliver’s home, find his father’s safe, and retrieve vital information that may become potentially dangerous to her and her parents’ spy organization, The Collective. But in order to get close to Jesse Oliver, Maggie needs to go undercover as a high school girl at his school and find ways to befriend him.

My Thoughts:
It’s a fairly straight-forward plot. Fun, enjoyable, cute, humorous…

I’m not going to deny that a little bit of working those suspension of disbelief muscles was very much required. I don’t know if teen spies truly exist in real life, though there have been lots of movies and lots of books throughout the ages, made for family and kids to enjoy in one of those “no brainer” type of ways. But as far as fictional teen spies go, Maggie definitely proves that she still has a lot of development to go in her profession.

I’m sure that having prodigal safecracking skills doesn’t automatically make you a super spy extraordinaire. And so because she’s young, and still a teenager who is finding her way in life, I give her a bit of leeway for not understanding the fundamentals of being a spy. Sure, she’s good at what she DOES know how to do, but the whole “this is my assignment, so everyone needs to butt out of it” thing got a little frustrating.

I’m not a spy and all, but wouldn’t it be more ideal to have a back-up person to bail you out if plans don’t go in the right direction? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a back-up plan in case something unexpected happens? I get that Maggie’s been itching to prove herself to her parents and the spy organization for a long time and is excited to get her solo assignment and thinks she can handle everything by herself; but stupidly allowing herself to be in danger because she doesn’t want to take any precautions or follow fundamental spy rules (such as not taking the elevator and not blowing your cover), makes it hard to take her seriously as a spy.

However, when she’s in her element--safecracking--she starts to feel a little bit more like a spy. So the best thing to do for her, really, is to get her where she needs to be, let her do her thing, and then move on. Maggie may not be ready for the undercover spy stuff… especially since she lets her emotions influence her decisions and it’s only her first solo undercover assignment.

Maybe this is just part of her growth.

Overall, however, I DID love Maggie a lot--despite being over-dramatic about her new high school assignment and her own teenage life (as youngsters are wont to do), she’s also got that strangely dorky, nonsensical and sarcastic humor, and an endearing nerdiness that her new friend Roux swears will get her “socially murdered” that makes it hard not to love her.

So setting aside the whole teen spy thing, it was very easy to fall for the story, the characters, and especially the characters and their relationships. The interactions between Maggie and her new best friend Roux were fabulous! The interactions between Maggie and her love interest, Jesse Oliver, were sweet and all sorts of nerdy adorbs! The relationship between Maggie and Angelo were curiously fascinating.

And then there’s Maggie and the spy parents--both sides of which are trying to figure out how to infiltrate normal life as a regular family after so much espionage fun in different countries. Because now Maggie has to pretend to be a normal teenager going to high school and her parents have to pretend to be normal parents to a rebellious teenager. It was interesting to see the short-lived “fish out of water” scenes, even if they seemed a little ridiculously extreme. It’s a little incredible that being a spy equates to being unable to follow or keep up with normal people day-to-day trends and activities. I mean, it’s not like they live under a rock or in a cave, right? Is it really possible to be THAT clueless?

Setting aside the sometimes overzealous comedy and dramatic tone of the narration, Also Known As really was super cute and lots of fun to read! Mainly, I loved the character interactions.

I loved that Roux wasn’t the typical YA mean girl and turned out to be so readily lovable and spontaneous and crazy and just NOT your typical YA female friend you typically find in YA contemporaries. I loved that Jesse was so dorky and uncool in so many ways that made him stand out from a lot of other standard, broody YA male characters who are all about being protective and manly and perfect--because Jesse is far from perfect, far from broody, far from manly, and definitely far from Mr. Popular material... aside from his being good looking and rich, I guess.. And I loved how the sweet romance between Maggie and Jesse developed without any angst, complications, or unnecessary triangles or insta-love.

Overall, the characters… that’s what made this book so great.





This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):



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review 2015-06-16 12:50
Also Known As Lard Butt - Ann Herrick

I received this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.

Wow, this was a short, but wonderful read. Of course there were some things that I didn't like, but in the end I didn't mind them that much, due to them getting less, or due to other things happening.

Laura, ah, Laura, she is just a nice girl, a little bit oblivious of the world around her and due to something happening in the past she is very insecure about her body. It also doesn't help that her dear mom always is commenting on her weight, her body shape or her clothes. But, I see a girl who is trying hard to be happy for herself, trying to figure out ways to just hide things (not always good, but I can imagine why she would do it). I also see a girl who, even if she is afraid, she still tries to continue. The swimming stuff? Even if she was terrible at it, she still kept going on and on, trying to improve, trying to get better. And you can see the results, out of her team she might be the slowest, but she is the one who works the hardest out of all of them. Staying in the pool even when everyone is done, doing extra things to get better. It was really amazing, I was kind of worried that she would just give up, or would just cry, but instead she continues.
I loved her and Maria together, they make a great team and it was fun to see Maria supporting Laura no matter what. Though she did get a bit annoyed with Laura's obsession with Halley or Noah (which is logical).
Laura and Ricky, it was interesting and I loved seeing how their relationship changed. From worrying about things, to getting stuck with him, to finally realizing something special.
All in all, Laura is a very strong character and she only gets stronger with each page and each passing chapter. You will cheer with her, try to motivate her, try to tell her she isn't that fat, and that she doesn't need to worry about it!

Maria, the best friend a girl can ask for. She is always there, supporting and helping Maria and in return Laura helps Maria with everything. Their friendship was so sweet and cute. I was worried they might break up, since you often see that happening when characters go to Junior High/High School. Luckily, these girls won't split up any time soon, they are way to great together. Protecting and helping each other.

Ricky, I didn't like him at first. Not only for what he did to Laura and the nickname that ruined quite a part of her school life, but also his attitude and how he demanded things. But as the book continues I have to say I started to like him. And then when we find out why he called her Lard Butt, I just went awwwwwwwww. It was just so sweet, and he was so cute confessing why he started the name.

Laura's mother. Bleh, bleh and bleh. I dislike parents who act like this. I can imagine you want to help your daughter be more healthy, or maybe more happy, but this isn't the way to do it. Everything Laura ate, everything she wore was being criticized by her mom. I just wanted to shake the mom, or will her away from the book. I was also delighted by the last part, phew! Thank Lord that happened.

The story was really cute and I enjoyed reading about Laura, her life, her family, friends and school life. Even though the book was short, it was an adorable read with a great cast of characters. It is also a topic that will hit home with quite a few girls (and maybe boys), since teenagers often worry about their weight. Add to that the bullying that happened to Laura, and the snickers/remarks that to this day she gets, and I am sure lots of girls will be interested in this story and seeing how Laura works through her life.

All in all, I would recommend this short book.

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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review 2014-05-25 00:00
Also Known As
Also Known As - Robin Benway That was just flat out fun...review to come!
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