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Loose Lips

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  50 reviews
After sending her résumé to the CIA on a whim, New Yorker Selena Keller is contacted by an Agency recruiter, who asks her how she would feel about convincing another human being to commit treason. Despite her checkered past, Selena passes the background investigation and a battery of bizarre aptitude tests. Living under cover as a government budget analyst, she begins her ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  361 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Claire Burlinski has written a clever story of a young woman who decides to join the CIA and the strange and at times weird training she undergoes after being accepted. But why such an intelligent woman would fall in love with a man who is obviously screwed up, I could not understand and one of the mysteries to be faced. There is another mystery which makes this a page turner, but what gave it 4 stars is the female protagonist's wonderful sense of humor. The reason I did not give it five stars? ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Selena is the book’s main character, an academic who completed a PhD in Sanskrit and lived in India for a while. Back in America she’s struggling to get tenure and is stuck at a university she doesn’t like. While reading an article she ends up on the careers page for the CIA and applies on a whim. Much to her surprise she is invited for an interview and is eventually accepted onto the CIA case officer program. This involves lots of lectures, paramilitary training, and a gruelling stay at The ...more
Dawn Weaver
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Berlinski gives us a peak at CIA training and culture from a flunkie's point of view. Not an exceptional book but entertaining and humorous in spots. Because the central character is not particularly likeable and because she ends up going precisely nowhere in career or relationships, the book falls flat in the end.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Kept my interest - a humorous story involving a love affair amid training for entry to the CIA. I didn't care for the man in whom the female protagonist was interested - limiting the appeal of the book. (Yes, he was meant to be comic - but if he's just unappealing, you don't care for what the protagonist wants - and that limits the book's reach for the emotion).
amelya sjahlim
Hoping for more action, less drama

I was hoping for more action, less drama... i wish that there was less on the ‘farm’ training and more on assignments actions... and the ending was disappointing
The Crazy Denhams
What a surprise! I loved this book.

The blurb didn't really impress me, but I decided to read it anyway because I am curious about the CIA. However, the story turned out to be really entertaining.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
The book “Loose Lips” by Claire Berlinski, is an action drama, following the life of Selena Keller and her quest to join the CIA. After falling short at her first attempt at becoming an agent, Selena finds herself grouped in with the other failures. There she meets Stan, a fat, red-haired man who quickly becomes her friend, and significant other. Throughout the book, we follow the story of this pair who wind their way through government secrets, betrayal, and isolation. Although the book was ...more
Jul 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2011 added it
2003- This is a story about Selena Keller, who on a whim, decides to send her resume to the CIA. What follows is a battery of tests and then finally training, to become a spy. I'm not sure how much of the book is actually based on fact, but I found all Serena's training to be incredibly interesting. Besides being trained, we see Selena fall in love with Stan, another spy in training, or is he? About 75% of the book focused on Selena's job and the other 25% was on her personal life, so I found it ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me. It was highly original to me- a inside look at the CIA and its operatives from the female perspective. It's got all the intrigue you'd expect from a book dealing with spies, plus the obligatory romantic subplot. But the romance isn't what you'd expect. The glamorous protagonist, Selena Keller ends up with the unassuming Stan, an overweight, socially inept, minimally successful loner. Their romance begins ideally, but soon sours. The plot is pretty fast pace, but lags ...more
Gabby Hummel
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found this on a bookshelf at a house in the Cape I was vacationing in. For some reason, I decided to read it. It was a pretty mediocre book; not awful, but certainly not great.

The writing had it's funny moments and it was pretty suspenseful at times, but, overall, the writing was amateurish, the plot line boring and cliche, and the ending predictable. The ending was not happy, but it was not the good kind of sad that shows a good writer (i.e: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green), and,
Patrick O'Hannigan
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: female-writers
This novel is skillfully written and sometimes funny but in the end -- and perhaps inevitably -- a downer. Berlinski is at least as smart and observant as her main character, Selena Keller, yet her snapshot of life as a CIA case officer-in-training suffers because CIA culture depends unapologetically on manipulation. People deliberately use each other. If you're okay with that (or, more charitably, realistic writing about that), you might like the novel more than I did.

In short, you have to be
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Selena Keller is a PhD sanskritist who decides to join the CIA. After going through a series of training exercises, she becomes a clandestine agent. However, her affair with another one of the agents leads her into trouble with the CIA's security bureaucracy. A light-hearted book that describes the CIA from the inside. The agency culture is portrayed as a soap opera crossed with a soviet-style bureaucracy. It is hard to tell how realistic a portrait it paints of the agency, but it rings pretty ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Hated it!!!! Completely unbelievable storyline. The descriptions of the CIA were good, but I hated the characters and the author herself is obviously dislikable from some of the things she had her characters think...for example, the white CIA worker who was aggravated at being passed over for promotion by unqualified affirmative action candidates. That's the reality, hon! It happens and people SHOULD be pissed off about it.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it liked it
An interesting look into the training of CIA officers. If all the things they had to go through are accurate, it sounds like one serious undertaking. Berlinski wrote about them in an amusing way due to the commentary of the main character Selena. I would almost say Selena was the weak link of the whole novel. She could be funny and endearingly honest, but she also had shades of selfishness and lack of integrity that made her harder to root for.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2003
This story had a lot of potential: CIA trainee learning the business and falling for a fellow trainee. I never believed the love story, though, which made the last half of the book a little bit hard to swallow. I'd like to find another book that dealt with training the CIA.

This book was recommended beach reading by People magazine.
Scott E
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Doesn't hold up in the long run. However, the details of the CIA training (which is a large portion of the book) are excellent and comlpetely absorbing. Haven't checked to see if this is the start of a series...which I think could easily be sustainable over a number of books. Not bad at all. Rating: 3.6 (but still can't round it up to a 4)
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, nyc, xx, city-girls
An odd cross between Gossip Girl and Alias, this book makes CIA training camp seem like a high school prep school with the same kind of juvenile backstabbing and pranks. The plot - what there is of it - completely falls apart in the end, but it's an amusing ride if you skim with the proper discretion.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was mainly interested as an insight to what its like to go through training at the CIA. But it lacked a good plot, so if you're really that interested in the life of a case officer, don't wait your time on this particular work of fiction.
Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have read dozens of spy novels by the usual suspects, mostly predictable rediculous nonsense with assassins and nazis and nazi assassins with the odd commie thrown in, but this is the most believable. Thanks Mischa!
LouAnne Johnson
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
At first, I thought it was going to be light chick-lit, but it turned out to be well-written and engaging. Interesting story, interesting author. I predicted the ending because of heavy foreshadowing, but it was still a good read.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chick-lit fans and people interested in the CIA
Hilarious, interesting, and one of my all time favorite books of all time. I even wrote the author to tell her how much I liked it, (something I've never done before or after), and she wrote me back the kindest, coolest email. This has to be one of my top 10 books of all time.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
A friend bought me this book, thinking it would be like our favorite show "Alias." Yeah, not so much. Less exciting and a lot more betrayal, IMO, and lots of cursing. I'm not a prude, but there's only so much I can take before foul language totally ruins something for me.
Jul 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
What a waste of time!!! I picked up this book because I liked the concept of it.. CIA agent.. how the whole agency works appealed to me.. WOW!!! So disappointed in the story line, in the book in general.. I would not pick up a book by this author again!
Lindsay Joyner
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked the start of the book but I got bored during the end. Maybe one day I will read the rest.
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very good, entertaining!
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This was all cutely wrapped up with brown paper and Valentine's stickers at my local public library for 'blind date with a book' month. A passable blind date. ;)
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Cute. One level above chick lit -- or at least a new twist. Lots of info. about becoming a CIA agent. Plot not really tied up at the end.
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting and entertaining view of being recruited for the CIA.
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
very poetic and intriguing.
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CLAIRE BERLINSKI WAS born in 1968 in California, and grew up in New York, Seattle and California. She received her undergraduate degree in Modern History and her doctorate in International Relations from Balliol College at Oxford University. She has since lived and worked in Britain, Thailand, Laos, France, and Turkey as a journalist, academic, consultant and freelance writer.
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