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Review: Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Live and Let Die
Ian Fleming
Series: James Bond #2
Genre: Adult Mystery
Released: June 1 2003 (first published January 1 1958)
by Penguin Books
Source: Borrowed from relative
Rating: ★★★

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Her hair was blue-black and fell heavily to her shoulders. She had high cheekbones and a wide, sensual mouth, and wore a dress of white silk. Her eyes were blue, alight and disdainful, but, as they gazed into his with a touch of humour, Bond realized that they contained a message for him personally. Solitaire watched his eyes on her and nonchalantly drew her forearms together so that the valley between her breasts deepened. The message was unmistakable...

Beautiful, fortune-telling Solitaire is the prisoner (and tool) of Mr Big - master of fear, artist in crime and Voodoo Baron of Death. James Bond has not time for susperstition - he knows that Big is also a top SMERSH operative and a real threat. More than that, after tracking him through the jazz joins of Harlem, to the Everglades and on to the Caribbean, 007 has realized that he is one of the most dangerous men that he has ever faced. And no one, not even the enigmatic Solitaire, can be sure how their battle of wills is going to end...
I quite enjoyed reading Casino Royale and I don't like abandoning a series (unless it really doesn't do anything for me or is excruciatingly long) so I decided to steal borrow from my dad's book collection and read this instalment.

As I said in my review of Casino Royale, I have never been a fan of James Bond. When I was little, I absolutely despised him since it was one of the soundtracks that my dad played in the car all time time (my dad likes soundtracks). I've seen nearly all of the movies, Live and Let Die being one of the ones that I haven't (I don't particularly intend to either).

My thoughts on this book are quite hard to put into words, mainly because I'm not too sure of what I think! I read this book while listening to the audiobook version so I kinda focused on the audio itself which made the experience just a bit more enjoyable. My apologies, but this review is going to be quite mismatched.

The story tends to be quite slow but does speed up a couple of times. I didn't feel much tension or even any danger at parts, however, Mr. Big's fate did make me squirm a bit because his end is not a nice way to go at all. I didn't feel any sparks at all between Bond and Solitaire and their relationship felt quite flat to me, especially when compared to his relationship with Vesper Lynd but that's probably because they had an incredibly sexual relationship and Bond doesn't even feel Solitaire's bum.

One thing that kind of got to me was the amount of times "Negro" appears in this book. I don't particularly see the word as a racial slur but surely Fleming could have used a different word when addressing African-Americans and even Jamaicans. However, the N-word (you know which one I mean) does pop up a few times but it isn't used by white characters.

I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it at the same time; it could have been a lot better. There was a bit of a racist theme going on and that bugged me a little bit. However, I will still be venturing into the series at a later date!

Movie Madness: March Wrap-Up

Movie Madness @ The Talking Teacup & A Girl, Books & Other Things
While nothing beats curling up with a good book and entering a new world, we sure do love a great movie! Comedy, Drama, Action, Thriller; whatever the genre may be, escaping for two hours into a world of Hollywood created bliss is always great fun... Hosted by Kylie at The Talking Teacup and Alex at A Girl, Books & Other Things.
I have to admit, I've been reading and watching TV a lot more than watching movies this month, however, since I have two weeks free from college, I will be able to watch lots of movies next month!
  1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  2. Fashion Police
  3. Judy and Liza at the Palladium
  4. Pocahontas
  5. QI
  6. Never Mind the Buzzcocks
  7. Mock the Week
  8. Russell Howard's Good News
  9. Star Trek: Insurrection
  10. The Jonathan Ross Show
  11.  Schindler's List
  12. America's Next Top Model: All Stars
  13. The Kite Runner
  14. This is England
  15. Star Trek: Voyager
Total for this month: 15
Total for 2012: 39

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where each week we grab the book that we're currently reading, let it fall open at a random page and share two sentences from that page.

This week, my teaser comes from Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die (you're singing the theme song in your head, I know you are):

The girl had not put up much of a struggle.
When Leiter and Bond, leaving the manageress gaping on the lawn, raced down to the end cottage, they found her room untouched and the bedclothes barely rumpled.
I'm currently reading along to the audio book version, which in my opinion is hilarious. I'm not feeling so confident about this because I'm having difficulty keeping my eyes on the page (the audio book really helps).

What are you reading this week? Leave me a link to your Teaser and I'll make sure to drop by!

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly event, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, where you are asked a book/reading related question and you answer with your own thoughts on the topic.
Have you ever found a book out of the blue, read it, and then it had it be surprisingly good - one that stuck with you for years? If so, what book was it?

I have; the book that I read was Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I read it in either 2007 or 2008 (I was definitely at school) and that book kind of seeped its way into my dreams.

Tally can't wait to turn sixteen and become Pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from a repellant Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be Pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
As I said, I read this when I was at school and the entire Uglies series holds a special place in my heart as it was the book that reunited me with my love of reading (as cheesy as that sounds). I'm actually incredibly glad that I came across this book in the school library and read it because I probably wouldn't be blogging about books right now, I'd be doing... I don't know, something less productive?

Review: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy
Based on: the novel by John le Carré
Genre: Thriller
Released: 16 September 2011
by Studio Canal
Running time: 127 mins (2 hrs 7 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
A year after he was forced into retirement, ex-spy George Smiley is called back by a Cabinet office official when information comes to him that there may be a Soviet spy - a mole- at the very top of the British secret service. Smiley had been forced out along with Control, the head of the spy agency, after a disastrous mission in Hungary where a colleague, Jim Prideaux, was shot. It was also an unhealthy time in the secret service, known affectionately by its members as the Circus, with several senior officers having developed a new source of information in the USSR but refusing to share that person's identity. Smiley agrees to return and in the course of his examination learns that the secret Soviet source has become the mainstay of the service, one that they soon plan to use to get at US Intelligence information. Smiley soon realises that the Soviets have turned the service inside out.
I watched this movie when it was in the cinema, but didn't review it. Oops! When it first came out, I just had to go see it. Gary Oldman is one of my favourite actors of all time; he's a beast (so is his sister. That was mean of me to say)! Also, I really like spy thrillers so this movie was right up my street.

I love spy movies (excluding the James Bond movies, yuck) and the setting and time of this movie really interested me (London during the Cold War) and the cast is both high and low-profile at the same time (high if you're familiar with British television and films, low if you're not); Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch (from Sherlock) and Kathy Burke (from Gimme Gimme Gimme), for example.

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Released: March 22 2011
by Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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Thanks for modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time-bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape - to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to content with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking her son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
I'd never really heard of this book until I read quite a few reviews of it in the bloggosphere and on Goodreads, most of them quite glowing. So, I decided to check out the summary on Goodreads, liked the sound of it and placed it on my TBR list. I didn't really look out for it in any book shops that I went into, but I came across a hardback copy in The Works for the amazing price of.... £2.99! Bargain! I asked my dad if I could have it, he said yes and I started to read the night of purchase.


Review: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb

The Long Halloween
Jeph Loeb (story) & Tim Sale (art)
Featured character: Batman
Genre: Superhero Trade Paperback
Released: October 2011 (first released November 1999)
by DC Comics
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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Taking place during Batman's early days of crime fighting, this trade paperback tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman's deadly enemy, Two-Face.
There's one thing that I detest about graphic novels: THEY'RE SO DAMN EXPENSIVE! Also, the shop where I buy graphic novels (because they have good discounts) is 12 miles away from me, so I don't get to buy them for cheap very often (hopefully I'll be able to get my friends to journey that far so I can buy more often).

I'd first heard of this story arc was on the special features of the Batman Begins DVD. The movie was somewhat inspired by this book and was highly praised by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. There was also a feature on the DVD where various Batman writers and artists were talking about Batman's various incarnations. I think that The Long Halloween was mentioned, but it's been a while since I've watched it so I may be wrong.

The cover of this edition doesn't really say much about the book other than that this is a Batman story. The cover of the previous version is better as its elements relate to the story, rather than just a picture of Batman and nothing else. I would have preferred something similar:

Original TPB cover
When I first read the blurb, I immediately assumed that the killer would be Calendar Man. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't; that made solving the mystery myself even more fun. I loved how each chapter (or issue) was centred around a holiday (the first and last being Halloween) and a specific villain was allocated to each (Poison Ivy appearing on St. Patrick's Day, for example).

I know that this book shouldn't make me laugh, but the Falcone family is so much like the Corleone family (from The Godfather) that is made me laugh a bit. There's even a panel in which Carmine Falcone sniffs the rose on his dinner jacket in the exact same way as Don Corleone. I kept hoping for him to make "an offer he can't refuse". I love Godfather references, but I expected Falcone to be a more original character, rather than a moral-lacking Don Corleone in Gotham City.

I loved seeing Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face. The story of him and his wife Gilda really emphasises Dent's madness and obsession with duality better than if he was a loner and din't have anyone. I could see where the inspiration for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight came from clearly.

I love how this book felt like more of a detective story rather than a superhero story, mainly because the mystery isn't fully solved. Even though the suspects are narrowed down to Alberto Falcone (who is sentenced to death), Harvey Dent (who is thrown into Arkahm Asylum) and Gilda Dent (who confesses in soliloquy and burns the evidence) it is never revealed who really is Holiday and that has left me wanting a sequel/continuation to this arc. I'm not sure if there is one, but I will hunt!

Guess who is in this book that I hate with a burning passion? That's right, Catwoman! I've explained my reasons for hating her in a previous review but I will briefly explain again; she doesn't provide much of a use other than creating sexual tension. Other than her uselessness, her mere presence annoys me and it appears to me that she is only present here so that Bruce Wayne has a girlfriend who is unimportant to the main plot. She's also a pretty pathetic excuse for a villain.

Two of my favourite villains are in this book; Scarecrow and the Mad Hatter. I never really see them much (a sign that I need to read more Batman TPBs) and, to me, they go together like salt and pepper. The perfect combination of hallucinogen-spreading maniacs! I liked how they worked together but seemed indifferent to each other or maybe didn't like each other. I understood why Mad Hatter was reciting lines from Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, but what I didn't understand was Scarecrow reciting Sing a Song of Sixpence to himself. I didn't understand what that was about.

I liked the Gordon that was shown here. He seemed a bit softer and easy-going, like Gary Oldman's representation, probably because he isn't the Commissioner yet and is more of a family man here. In other books, he is shown to be quite cold and harsh and seeing him be a bit more laid-back (probably not the best choice of words) was a nice change.

I tend to not read Batman stories by the same author all the time (Grant Morrison is an exception because he is awesome) because I love to see how he is varied with writer. Since this is an early Batman story, he is a bit more aggressive but still retains his detective skills, which was awesome to see.

Villain back-stories are one of my favourite things in comic books and I've never seen Two-Face's before (The Dark Knight doesn't count). I loved seeing how his psyche deteriorated as the story progressed until Maroni chucked acid in his face and completely destroyed it. The way it was written was very nicely done.

I'm quite mixed on the artsyle. I liked how it was quite simplistic and reminiscent of pop-art (to me it was) but I wished that it had more details and focused on the characters a lot more. I'm quite used to the modern artstyles that are used, such as Tony Daniel's art but Tim Sale's style doesn't distract away from the story and also showcases the action at the same time.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The story was really well written and kept me incredibly interested; I couldn't put it down. I liked the artstyle but I wish that it was a bit more detailed and I liked most of the characters that were featured. However, the numerous Godfather references were quite unintentionally funny and the mere presence of Catwoman is a downside in any book for me. I know that I sound like a prude, but I just can't stand her.