Tag Archives: James Bond

Audiobook Review: Moonraker by Ian Fleming

1st September 2011

*I bought this version of Moonraker from Audible.

 I blame my aching limbs and general fatigue on Moonraker. For our Shaken, Not Stirred challenge, I knew I needed to complete the audio before the end of August. So this weekend, I downloaded it and listened at the gym Saturday morning. Then I got home and wasn’t quite ready to stop listening, so I tucked my iPhone into my pocket and started doing housework. About five hours later (which includes 6 loads of laundry, two stripped beds, mopped floors, disassembly of two cabinets and paint scraping), I was finished with James Bond’s latest adventure. So what’s it about?

M has a rather awkward problem on his hands. The esteemed gambling club of which he is a member suspects the prestigious Sir Hugo Drax, a national hero, of cheating at cards. The man is at the height of his career, preparing a test launch of the rocket, Moonraker, and Bond wonders what makes a rich man cheat.

Then, a murder-suicide and a possible breach in security at the Moonraker’s launch site brings Bond up close and personal with the rocket, its oddly-bearded German caretakers, and Drax’s secretary Gala Brand, an undercover agent with Special Branch. The two work together through several near-fatal scrapes to discover who is out to sabotage the Moonraker and why.

Moonraker was absolutely hypnotic, as the state of my house can attest. Drax’s larger-than-life personality and the mysterious events at the Moonraker’s site were suspicious right off the bat. However, in post-World War II Britain, it is difficult to know who, exactly, is on the side of right, and though Bond’s job is to focus only on the Moonraker’s security, he cannot help but intuit the rotten egg in his midst. This is the Bond I love, full of gambling, secrecy, weapons, and great cars. Plus, the tension between James and Gala was enticing but not at all over the top.

I must again entreat you guys, if you like but don’t love the Bond films, give the books (and particularly the audio) a try. I cannot imagine a voice other than Simon Vance’s issuing Fleming’s timeless stories of war, deceit, terrorism, sexual tension, and danger.


Other Shaken, Not Stirred Audiobook Reviews:

Casino Royale

Live and Let Die

Audiobook review: Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

18th August 2011

Wait. YOU don't hold playing cards over your voluminous cleavage? Really? Oh, me neither.

Bond is back, and this time he’s in America, rooting out SMERSH through their Harlem contact, “Mr. Big.” Someone is selling gold coins, part of Sir Henry Morgan’s treasure, to fund socialist interests in America. Bond is sent to throw a wrench in the plans. Mr. Big is larger than life and has absolute power, partially because he is believed to be the zombie of a voodoo leader – and also because he incredibly brutal. Solitaire, a psychic, is brought in to help Mr. Big determine Bond’s plans, but she foils Mr. Big and lies as to Bond’s intentions. Cruel and unyielding, Mr. Big isn’t satisfied to let Bond – or anyone working with him – have a pass.

I wasn’t in love with this book. After thoroughly enjoying Casino Royale, which I thought was so smart and well paced, Live and Let Die felt onerous and heavy. Felix Leiter is back, and his and Bond’s friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book. However, though Simon Vance’s narration was stellar as usual, the latter half of the book seemed to drag. We knew where the gold was coming from, Mr. Big had killed or maimed what seemed like a dozen people, and here we were, following them to Jamaica for a showdown.

Plus, Bond was out of his element. America is very different from the UK, and Harlem in the 50s is unlike anything Bond has experienced. The overt racism was really difficult to get through, though it certainly shed light as to how African Americans and Jamaican Americans were treated even during that time period.

All in all, I will definitely continue with the series; this was just a bit of a miss for me.


Mischief Managed!

1st August 2011

It is August in Texas, yet I am looking forward to starting this month more than you can possibly know. July packed a punch, and not in a good way. It was one of the worst months of my life because of some job-related stress. However, apparently stress and no money are really good for reading. I read 16 books in August, and thankfully my Shelfari account, instead of telling me I am behind last year’s pace, now tells me I am ahead of my 2010 reading pace. Yippee! It’s a damn shame when a website can make you feel guilty…

As per the title of this post, mischief has most certainly been managed. Since last Friday, I completed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That’s approximately 3,184 pages in one week, and I also listened to Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming and read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

That’s why reviews have been a bit light around these here parts over the last month. Looking back I only reviewed 5 (five!) books. Don’t hate me. I promise I’ve got a lot in store for you this month, and that’s partly because so many great books are coming out this fall.

So sit back, try to stay cool, and tell me what the heck you’ve been up to.

The Name’s Bond: Casino Royale audio/film review

21st June 2011

Can I gush?

For years now, I have thought about reading Ian Fleming, but all I knew of Bond were the oversexualized, often-ridiculous films of my (or more likely my parents’ and grandparents’) generation. However, after really, absolutely loving the newly-conceptualized, rugged Bond in the film Casino Royale (like, I’ve seen it half a dozen times), I revisited the idea of reading Ian Fleming. After Jennifer at Literate Housewife posted her Shaken Not Stirred challenge last week, I immediately downloaded the audiobook, narrated by Simon Vance. (And, may I say, his narration is seamless).

In this, the first of the James Bond novels, Fleming tells the tale of Le Chiffre, a pawn of SMERSH, a Soviet operation comparable to the KGB. Le Chiffre is bankrupt and arranges a Baccarat game at the Royale Les Eaux casino to win back the money he owes SMERSH. M, head of MI6, sends Bond in to stop Le Chiffre with another agent, Vesper Lynd, assistant to agent S (with Soviet relations). His cover is to be that of a Jamaican millionaire, thus, the beautiful woman on his arm. French agent Mathis orchestrates much of the game play, while Felix Leitner, a CIA agent, watches anxiously. No one is eager for Le Chiffre to win, and when Bond goes bankrupt in the first few hours of play, Leitner ups the ante, passing over his money for Bond to play. When Bond wins, Le Chiffre raises the stakes, and Bond falls victim to a ruse. His subsequent torture is only stopped when a SMERSH agent takes control of the situation.

The genius in the novel is not the plot, though it is tightly woven. Instead, Fleming relies on observation and his relation of that keen observation to satisfy and grip the reader. I listened at work, in a bubble bath, and in the car, and still I couldn’t leave the casinos of the French coast, which Fleming describes as “nauseating at three in the morning.” The game of Baccarat with its rules and odds kept me edgy, and Le Chiffre’s desperate move to recapture his losses was brutal.

What most surprised me was Bond’s humanity. He remarks early on that Lynd is a “silly bitch,” and he is displeased to have to work with a woman. However, by the end of the novel, he has decided to throw in the towel after a particularly horrific torture session and open himself to her. Whether or not he can trust her is another matter entirely.

Keep in mind, because I have seen the film several times, I was curious to see how closely the two would align. Surprisingly, even with the difference in decades (the novel was published in 1953), the film was very true to the book. The conflict is adapted from the KGB to arms dealers and Baccarat is traded in for Texas Hold ‘Em, but much of the story remains the same, including Vesper’s role.

One of my favorite lines, however, is missing. When Bond first meets Vesper Lynd (who provides the bank line for the gambling) on the train, she strides toward him in her masculine attire (which Fleming’s Bond girls were known for) and says:

Vesper Lynd: “I’m the money.”

James Bond (looking her up and down): “Every penny of it.”

Isn’t that an absolutely fantastic line? This is also the book introducing Bond’s famous martini:

James Bond: “Dry martini.”

Bartender: “Oui, monsieur.”

James Bond: “Wait. Three measures of Gordon’s; one of Vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice; add a thin slice of lemon peel.”

I’ve actually attempted to replicate this martini, and let’s just say, I understand why Bond only had one…

All in all, I was highly impressed with the book and its adaptation and cannot wait for the Twitter viewing party June 30 at 9:30 p.m. EST (using hashtag #shakennotstirred).

Will you be joining us, either by reading the book or attending the viewing? If so, leave a link to your post, and I’ll add it here.

jenn aka the picky girl

Shaken or stirred?

6th June 2011

“Do I look like I give a damn?”

There are a few things you should know about me. I don’t eat seafood. I love champagne. And I have two great loves: Cary Grant and Daniel Craig. Yes, ladies, I am a lover of James Bond. Before Daniel Craig stepped into the recently-revised James Bond role, I still loved the films. (Sean Connery was my favorite until now.) Yes, they could be cheesy and appallingly sexist, but I loved the chase scenes, M, and the gadgets. When the rugged, psychological James Bond in Casino Royale came out, I thought “yes, please” and watched it way too many times.

So a couple weeks ago when Jennifer from Literate Housewife posted this teaser, I knew I was in – no matter what it was. I mean, I was pretty sure it had to do with reading, but hell, if it made me do some sort of crazy scavenger hunt to prove my love, I was ok with it.

Today she posted the Shaken, Not Stirred audiobook challenge, where each month participants will listen to an Ian Fleming James Bond novel narrated by Simon Vance, and then have a viewing party of the film via Twitter. June is Audiobook Month, and while I don’t often listen to audiobooks, I will definitely be diving in for this.

Why don’t I often listen to audiobooks, you may ask. Good question. I used to listen to them a lot when I had a commute. Now I have a 10-minute commute, so it seems pointless. However, I am going to attempt to download Casino Royale on my iPhone from audible today and listen while I’m at work. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Keep in mind, you do not have to have a blog in order to participate. Even if you just want to comment, there is a way for you to sign up and do that too. So come on, you only live twice…

jenn aka the picky girl 009