Tag: James Bond

The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss

Posted July 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

The Fictional Woman by Tara MossTitle: The Fictional Woman (Goodreads)
Author: Tara Moss
Published: Harper Collins, 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Tara Moss is probably best known as a person you hate; she seems to succeed in everything she puts her mind to. Starting her career early at 14 as a model, she always dreamed about being a writer. People don’t encourage others to be writers but they do tell girls that they should be a model. Eventually she did and it took her around the world and taught her so much; the experiences may not have been all good but it helped shape her life. Eventually she did start writing and her Makedde Vanderwall become a huge success and she created this character as a way to explore her interests in forensic science, psychology and other topics. Now with nine fiction novels under her belt Moss is giving us her first non-fiction book, The Fictional Woman.

The title comes from the idea that people tend to dismiss and stereotype others. Tara Moss is no stranger to this; she even took a polygraph test to prove she wrote her books. While this book starts off as a memoir it is important to know that this is a social critique on the world and feminism. The book begins as a memoir to provide context, an understanding of Tara Moss’ struggles and her life helps to see where The Fictional Woman is coming from. Historical context is also an important part of understanding feminism as well, especially when it comes to gender equality and pop culture. There have been plenty of Spiderman (too many), Zorro and James Bond movies but there has never been a Wonder Woman movie. In literature, the female archetype stems from fairy tales and medieval fiction, heroines tend to face off another woman, often older and depicted as witches. Cinderella type stories require a man in order to live happily ever after and even chick-lit often portrays a gender inequality.

The Fictional Woman explores this imbalance in pop-culture and society and looks at where these archetypes come from. It is impressive to see the amount of research and information Tara Moss puts into this book; it really was eye opening. I highly recommend people read this book but I need to warn everyone it may contain triggers. I’m surprised to see that the imbalance is so prominent in today’s society and I am trying to make more of an effort to read a balance of authors. The problem I found is I tend to pick up books without taking notice on of the author, sure it sometimes easy to know their gender but I don’t research authors before starting a book. I try to make more of an effort and it is an area I need to work on.

I’m really impressed with Tara Moss, she seems to succeed in everything she does; sure I’m a little jealous that she is so talented but I still feel motivated. For those interested, I recently wrote a piece about an author event with Tara Moss on Boomerang Books if you are interested, I talk in a lot more detail about The Fictional Woman. I have never spent so much time thinking about feminism, I plan to do a lot more of it, even read some more books on the topic. I might even incorporate it into my critical reviews; it is an important topic that needs to be addressed.

Solo by William Boyd

Posted November 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 2 Comments

Solo by William BoydTitle: Solo (Goodreads)
Author: William Boyd
Series: James Bond
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2013
Pages: 322
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Paperback

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The year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignment. The western African nation of Zanzarim is in the middle of a civil war and his mission is to eliminate the rebel threat. When Bond gets to West Africa he soon finds out this isn’t as straightforward as it appeared. Soon he finds himself going solo to seek revenge.

I love the James Bond movies but haven’t had much experience with the 007 books; I have only read Carte Blanche and Casino Royale. So if I’m comparing this book to those two, then Solo is amazing. But if I compare it to everything I know about Bond then there is something missing. William Boyd has modelled his Bond after You Only Live Twice so I can’t help but picture Sean Connery.

Solo’s 007 seems to be a heavy smoker but his drinking and womanising is lacking. I know that might seem weird but Bond and misogyny go hand in hand. It is like having a Bond without any wacky gadgets…oh wait, that is a bit of problem here too. One of the things that got me out Boyd’s Bond was that whenever he beds a woman he is making love to her. This just bothered me, I can’t imagine Bond being in love with all those women so the term ‘making love’ doesn’t seem right, also couldn’t we mix it up a little and use a few different teams; ‘slept with’, ‘took to bed’ and so on?

Apart from my issues with this novel, Boyd has a decent knowledge of James Bond and it was nice to see references in the book to a younger 007. For example when he tried to get a Walther PPK in a gun store, they didn’t have any so he went with a Beretta and made references to this being his weapon of choice when he was younger. Little things like that really pulled the book together.

Aside from his knowledge on Bond, William Boyd also has a decent knowledge of that classic spy thriller formula. Nothing too complicated but the light reading of a Bond or Thriller novel. Blending the nuances of the Bond and spy thriller genre, Boyd really seemed to make this his own. While die-hard fans may be annoyed and some people will be bothered with the changes, this was a lot of fun to read.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Posted March 23, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Casino Royale by Ian FlemingTitle: Casino Royale (Goodreads)
Author: Ian Fleming
Series: James Bond #1
Published: Vintage, 1953
Pages: 228
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

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Ian Fleming introduced the world to James Bond; British Secret Service agent and womaniser out to keep the world safe, time after time. Casino Royale is the first in the huge 007 franchise where Bond’s adventures lead to a card game to bring down SMERSH agent Le Chiffre.  But there is more at stake than just money.

This isn’t my first Bond book, I read Jeffery Deaver’s 007 novel Carte Blanche but this is my first Fleming book. So Fleming’s Bond is very different to the movies or Deaver’s secret agent. All the main elements are the same, the womanising and the witty comments but in Casino Royale it’s a lot different to the movie of the same name. There is less action adventure and more attempts at the espionage genre.

The first half of the book is set in the casino playing high-stakes baccarat; a game I know nothing about but was interested to learn. In the end the game is supposedly easy but I still have no idea how to play it. James Bond is trying to bankrupt Le Chiffre; the treasurer of a French union and a member of the Russian secret service. The idea is pretty simple; bankrupt Le Chiffre and prevent him funding any Russian missions. Which is well and good but once this part of the book ended, that’s when this book started going downhill.

The second half of the book was pretty weak, especially when it came to Vesper. The suspense and tension end abruptly and falls flat on its face. There are a few incidences of adventure but it almost tries to turn into this romance but Fleming and the character are such huge misogynists that it doesn’t work at all. Bond is supposed to be very much in love with this woman but he knows there is something she is hiding; but it doesn’t get explored very well in the book.

Now let’s talk about that one phrase in the book that really sets people off; “sweet tang of rape”. I get what Ian Fleming is trying to say and do there, but really that phrase is not the best way to put it. All it does is just prove that Fleming is a sexist and that never really helps the book. I want to say that the idea of wanting to have sex with this woman even though it’s not the right move for Bond is a great idea but it could have been explore and worded differently.

After reading this book, I’m not sure whether I should read more of the series or just stick to the movies. I wanted to read this book to get a sense of what the book was about and also it’s on the ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’ list, but I  really struggle to see how this book turned into a successful series let alone movie franchise. This is a simple case of ‘the movie is better than the book’ and it’s rare but it happens. Casino Royale may be very different, but it managed to keep the tension and explored the basic concept a whole lot better than this book ever did.

The Geneva Trap by Stella Rimington

Posted September 18, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

The Geneva Trap by Stella RimingtonTitle: The Geneva Trap (Goodreads)
Author: Stella Rimington
Series: Liz Carlyle #7
Published: Bloomsbury, 2012
Pages: 328
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

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The Geneva Trap by Stella Rimington is my first real look into the Liz Carlyle series but this is book seven. So be warned that I’ve not read the other six books so my opinions of this book are only based as a standalone book. Liz Carlyle is a counter terrorism agent for MI5 who is approached by a Russian intelligence officer with some vital information of a cyber-sabotage plot on an American defence program. Liz now has to determine if this is the Russians sabotaging the West’s defences or if this is something much worse.

Stella Rimmington brings all her knowledge to this book as a former MI5 agent and she tries to tangle a story of intrigue and suspense in this novel. But does it work as well as it should? For me I haven’t had much experience with espionage novels so I don’t know what most people would expect from one. For me I often think of James Bond or George Smiley when looking for an espionage novel. The Geneva Trap isn’t as far fetched as an Ian Fleming book and is not as complex as a John le Carré novel, it sits somewhere in the middle which is where I’m lacking in experience with these types of books. I often look for a light high-energy read or something that will make my head hurt when I read spy thrillers. So I’m not too sure I like having a book that falls in the middle.

The Geneva Trap has its fair share of moles and shady intelligence practices but in the end I found the book to feel a little too clichéd and predictable. I also felt like most of the characters in the book were too flat and I never really got to see any dimension in them; this could be a simple fact that this is book seven in the series but I still expect a book to be able to be read as a standalone as well so I would of liked more character development within this one.

Rimmington has put together a good mix of intrigue and action in this spy thriller, I would like to see less predictability and more character development in the future but The Geneva Trap was still an enjoyable book to read. I will definitely be looking to read another one of her books, maybe even in the same series because I did enjoy reading this book even if this review sounds like my issues with the novel outweighed my enjoyment of it. It might have been just my lack of experience or that I should have read the other six first.