Lee, Y.S. The Agency: The Traitor and the Tunnel
Publication date: 28 February 2012
Mary Quinn is still working with the Agency, and her newest assignment is to work as a parlor maid in Buckingham Palace, where Queen Victoria has been plagued with petty thefts of expensive ornaments. There are bigger problems, though-- Price Bertie and a friend are attacked in an opium den and the friend is killed. The opium fiend responsible for the death is a Lascar named Lang, whom Mary determines is her long lost father. Also in the works are sewage changes to the palace, and who is working on those but James Easton! Also around is reporter Octavius Jones, who is wooing one of Mary's coworkers to get information. Mary suspects the queen's lady in waiting of either the thievery or a bigger plot, but is caught up in trying to save her father. She is also a bit overwhelmed by the confidence of Bertie and the attentions of James. When all of the problems swirling around her finally make sense and come to a head, she is able to avert a national disaster with the help of James and a spunky Queen Victoria. What will the future hold for Mary? Maybe this series will go beyond the trilogy, or Ms. Lee will write some other appealing books!
Strengths: ***SWOON*** The more of these books I read, the more I lurve them! I'm becoming more fond of Victorian England, and like A Spy in the House and The Body in the Tower these are very well researched. The spying believable, the back stairs scenes illuminating to middle grade readers, and the romance brilliant.
Weaknesses: The sexual content of this one is approaching borderline-- Mary is attacked and her skirts fumbled with, Octavius Jones "beds" the maids, and the kisses between Mary and James are hot and heavy. While younger readers might not quite get what is going on, this one makes me a tiny bit nervous.
Scattergood, Augusta. Glory Be.Glory is looking forward to enjoying the hot Mississippi summer at the pool and is not happy when the pool is closed down for "repairs", especially since the pool seems to be in good shape. When she meets Laura at the public library, Glory finds out that the pool is closed because civil rights workers from the north are trying to get the town to integrate the pool. Laura's mother is working in a clinic for black citizens who don't have better access to health care. Glory's father is a prominent minister in town, her sister Jessalyn is sympathetic to the civil rights workers, and the family's black cook, Emma, is trying not to comment too much on what is going on. While a good deal of the town is against integration, there are also a lot of citizens who are trying to do things like insure equal access to the library for everyone. Glory is caught in the middle and trying to do what she thinks is right.
Strengths: This short novel drew me in right away with Glory's concerns about her OWN summer. Once she figured out what was impacting her, she tried to make a larger change to society. This is how the middle grade mind often works, so I found this to be a more engaging book than I thought it would be.
Weaknesses: Again, the civil rights story is told from the point of view of a middle class, white girl. While engaging, this had even fewer characters of color than many such stories.
And remember, this voting is not really for any sort of prestigious award, it's just directing traffic to this web site so they can get more hits and do better on search engines. Still, the prize is a $250 restaurant gift card, and there are four teenagers in my house who have this nasty habit of eating. Just want people to be aware of what happens when they click through. Up to you. I already KNOW that I am fascinating.