A thrilling war tale well-suited to a YA audience.




From the Scouts of St. Michael series , Vol. 1

In 1940, a tightknit group of British orphans embarks on a mission to infiltrate Hitler Youth squads. 

In this debut novel, six orphans—ranging in age from 11 to 16—grow up together in southeast England at the St. Michael’s Church and Home for Boys. They pine to become British Boy Scouts—especially Reggie, the eldest—but the local chapter haughtily rejects their applications. Sister Noreen, who has a background in “Scout craft,” encourages them to start their own chapter—they call themselves the “Scouts of St. Michael”—and they contribute to the war effort, helping the church prepare for the inevitable wave of bombings. When German fighter planes arrive, the boys realize the newly installed anti-aircraft gun is left unmanned, and Reggie and Freddie (the second oldest at 15) boldly take the initiative, shoot one down, and capture a notorious Nazi pilot. The Scouts win national recognition for their heroics, but that attention also spawns an extraordinary assignment, code-named Operation Archangel—they’re asked to disguise themselves as Hitler Youth and capture its sadistic leader, Thomas Peter Heydrich. Morales artfully presents the decidedly implausible—the Scouts don’t speak any German when the mission is first conceived—as tantalizingly possible. The plot crackles with high adventure and briskly paced action, and the Scouts are as resourceful as they are brave—the work reads like a Hardy Boys novel combined with historical fiction. The author’s writing is both accessible and buoyant, and sometimes achingly touching. When one of the nuns discovers that the boys are being sent to war along with the new curate (a former intelligence operative), she’s overcome with emotion: “On that she gasped and began to sob. He went to her and lifted her from the chair. Hugging her was all he could think to do. She was trembling with each sob. ‘Oh, Jim. Please tell me this isn’t true.’ ” But the story’s ending is so abrupt and inconclusive, readers can only assume (and hope) it was composed with a sequel in mind. 

A thrilling war tale well-suited to a YA audience. 

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943492-36-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: ELM Grove Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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