007 Reading Challenge: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER-FREE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

from-russia-with-love-book-cover

James Bond doesn’t show up until page 95 of From Russia With Love and, oh my God, how I loved it. 

A young would-be Russian spy named Tanya is tasked with the very important mission of doing so much sex to James Bond in order to get into Britain and learn all kinds of MI6 secrets. But before we even get to Tanya, readers are taken on a wonderful journey through Russia’s history and the inner workings of the different sections of Directorate S.

This book is the height of Cold War paranoia (and nonsense), and while it is such a product of it’s time, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case. Let’s discuss it!
Continue reading 007 Reading Challenge: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

007 Reading Challenge: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER-FREE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

DAF03Hey, folks — long time, no see, huh? Have no fear: I’m still actively reading, annotating, and shrieking at Ian Fleming’s James Bond books. I’ve only allowed myself to get distracted by work, personal commitments, and books I actually enjoy reading.

I kid. Largely, I really do enjoy these books. They’re ridiculous, but at least they’re entertaining, and Ian Fleming’s soft spot for onomatopoeia (b-o-i-n-g-g-g) will never not amuse me. And Diamonds are Forever was tons of fun (especially compared to Moonraker — yeesh).

Anyhow, Diamonds finds James going undercover as a diamond smuggler, in the hope that he’ll be able to work his way up through the ranks and get close to the smugglers’ leaders: the Sprang brothers, bad, bad men who employ sexy ladies, strangely-proportioned men, and strange Brits they’ve never met before, but upon whom they are willing to bet their profits. No one is really worried when their usual smuggler gets arrested and Bond — who basically has “COP” written all over him — is put in his place. Thank God Americans are stupid, am I right?

Come on down the rabbit hole, kids — time to chat about Diamonds are Forever!
Continue reading 007 Reading Challenge: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

007 Reading Challenge: MOONRAKER

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER-FREE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Ugh, even the cover is awful!
Ugh, even the cover is awful!

Following two weeks’ “passionate” leave at the end of Live and Let Die, Bond finds himself back in England and bogged down with — you guessed it — paperwork! “Secret paper-work,” as the first chapter’s title tells us. But it isn’t long before he gets dragged into something even more exciting: scandal and intrigue at the gentlemen’s club, but, like, the kind of “gentlemen’s club” where they play bridge and eat smoked salmon.

Anywho, M invites Bond along for a night of merriment, in order to suss out how and why a national English hero, the mysterious Hugo Drax, has taken it upon himself to cheat at cards. Cheating is basically the worst thing a man can do in English society, apparently, so Bond teaches the man a lesson but cheating right back, but better. And then Bond has to work for the guy because he’s building a missile or something. I don’t know — this story took place over, like, three and a half days and I zoned out for forty-some-odd hours of it.

Oh my God, guys, this one was rough. According to Goodreads, I started this book on August 11 and didn’t finish until August 20 — that’s nine days. Fleming’s Bond books are by no means tomes; I average maybe two or three days on them, depending how busy I am. And I’m usually the kind of person who can read a book a week at my absolute slowest pace. So spending nine days reading Moonraker was a bit of a shock. I just couldn’t get into it.

Let’s chat about missiles, Nazis, and, perhaps most importantly, fancy dudes playing bridge! Continue reading 007 Reading Challenge: MOONRAKER

007 Reading Challenge: LIVE AND LET DIE

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER-FREE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

0224-liveandletdie-eFresh off his first adventure and having already completely forgotten about his last Bond Girl (R.I.P. Vesper — may your protuberances never be forgotten), James Bond now finds himself in America (a place he basically seems to hate) to help his best man-friend Felix and the CIA track down a man known only as Mr. Big. The mysterious Mr. Big is rumored to be a “voodoo king,” Baron Samedi himself, and it is with this aura that he is able to keep total control over his massive criminal empire, stretching from Harlem all the way down to the Caribbean islands, into Bond’s beloved Jamaica. He’s been smuggling old pirate gold into America, but no one can figure out how–and no one can figure out how to stop the flow of money.

Mr. Big also keeps company with a beautiful woman known as Solitaire, who has spent her life reading fortunes, shunning the advances of men, and doing whatever she had to in order to survive. Mr. Big fully believes in her ability to “read” people, and often uses her as a human lie detector as he interrogates his enemies. But from the moment Solitaire and Bond lock eyes, it becomes clear that they must immediately shag.

So Bond gallivants off to Florida, and then to Jamaica, in search of answers about Mr. Big and his coin-smuggling scheme, and he is only a little bit annoyed when Solitaire begs to come with him. By the end of it all, James Bond will have faced guns, sharks, and more black men than he thought existed in America or abroad. And when someone mentions that their policy with Mr. Big is “live and let live,” Bond will make sure to remind everyone of his favorite adage: “In my job, when I come up against a man like this one, I have another motto. It’s ‘live and let die'” (33).

*Roll credits!*
Continue reading 007 Reading Challenge: LIVE AND LET DIE

007 Reading Challenge: CASINO ROYALE

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER-FREE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Book-Review-Casino-Royale-by-Ian-FlemingJames Bond has A Past. He is the best at what he does, and what he does isn’t entirely clear just yet, though it definitely involves “the war” and the kills that got him his “Double-Oh” status. He has a thing for fancy clothes and good food, and it seems that his favorite qualities in a woman are: follows orders; is a secretary; is up for “making love”; has a nice rack.

Bond is also the best card player in “the service” (MI6), and so in this, his first mission as recorded by Sir Ian Fleming, he finds himself into a small town in France, playing the largely incomprehensible baccarat against an international terrorist. Only one man can have Lady Luck on his side, and when a battle this big between good-versus-evil lays it all out on the card table, only one man can walk away with his life. (But only after that man is beaten nearly to death, of course, because where’s the fun in being a hero if you don’t suffer at least a little bit?) Continue reading 007 Reading Challenge: CASINO ROYALE

Tonight, I embark on an adventure.

A reading challenge I hope will leave me neither shaken nor stirred.

Oh good Lord.
Oh, good Lord.

I’ve recently been overcome with the driving desire to read every single one of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels, in chronological order. As I’ve recently (as in, six hours ago) finished reading Villa America (which I will be reviewing shortly, because ohmygodthatbook), I’ve decided that tonight is the time to begin this challenge.

It started with the Bond films, to be completely honest. I have a weird thing for Sean Connery; I think he’s unintentionally hilarious and also oddly majestic and wonderful. I went through a phase in high school where I wanted to devour a bunch of Connery films, and Turner Classic Movies was kind enough to oblige one day by playing a Bond movie marathon. I then went on an ill-fated half-date to see Quantum of Solace (without having first seen Casino Royale, because I was desperate), and no, I don’t want to talk about it.

She literally terrifies me.
She literally terrifies me. In a good way?

So, anyway, I haven’t seen many Bond films and I know next to nothing about the franchise or the books that inspired the films beyond Tom Jones’ “Thunderball” and whatever advertising copy I’ve had to write these last few months at work for Matthew Parker’s Goldeneye. I also continue my downward spiral into an obsession with Eva Green (specifically her voice) and once I realized she was in Casino Royale, I was done for.

But in regards to the books, I’m fascinated by the blatant racism and sexism, and how these novels exists as relics of their tumultuous times. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Ian Fleming was able to write a book a year for so damn long, and basically have them all be hits. I understand these books weren’t exactly High Literature, but Fleming got a lot of the details from his own extraordinary life. And besides, anyone who can write the kinds of stories that keep people entertained and coming back for more is good in my book. Fleming is kind of sneakily become a writing hero of mine, to be completely honest.

Continue reading Tonight, I embark on an adventure.