Category Archives: Ian Fleming

1000 Novels Everyone Must Read… So Far

So The Guardian (and Observer) are treating us to the ‘1000 Novels Everyone Must Read’ over seven days. I wasn’t sure how this would work it being that 1000 divided by seven means 142.85714 books per day. However what they have done is to theme each issue in the series. So far we have had Love and Crime. Though personally I didn’t exactly think that To Kill A Mockingbird or Jurassic Park was crime, or The Virgin Suicides a love story but I shouldn’t be picky. I was shocked The Time Travellers Wife wasn’t in love actually. I haven’t thought of ones I would put in their yet! That could be another blog for another time.


I don’t know about you but I go through the list and look at which ones I have read and then the ones that I should read in the future and these two issues so far have given me lots to read. What had I read?

Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary E Braddon
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Murder At The Vicarage – Agatha Christie
The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
The Hound Of The Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
A Quiet Belief In Angels – RJ Ellory (I was shocked this was in here – hated it)
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
A Room With A View – E.M. Forster
The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris (which I am going to re-read this year)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford
Dissolution – CJ Sansom
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
Perfume – Patrick Suskind
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (well am reading it in the background)
Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

Hmmm… 25/1000 so far… must try harder! If you have missed this so far then have a look here http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/1000novels

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Bernhard Schink, Brett Easton Ellis, Daphne Du Maurier, Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, Ian Fleming, Ian McEwan, John Buchan, Leo Tolstoy, Nancy Mitford, Sarah Waters

Second Hand Book Boom

There has been a piece in several different papers this week about the surge in second hand book shop sales. Is this because of the credit crisis? I think that assumption is a little too strong. I personally think people are buying from both; I have to say with book groups I will always try and find a book second hand just in case I don’t like it. Now I am get some sent which helps, I can understand people not splashing out on a book especially hardbacks if they might simply not like it. Mind you I have rules with second hand books, they need to not have cracked spines or water stains I am quite picky unless it’s an orange Penguin or is ‘loved worn’. I can also see in some cases the fact you can get a lot of bargains. Like today when I went for a little wonder (research for this blog you understand) I managed to get all of this for just under a fiver.


Red Dragon/The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
I am almost 100% sure that I have read Red Dragon, but don’t want to check if the ending involves a boat and a sudden twist just in case I am really off and it was one of the others. I saw these and thought ‘oh why not’? I remember enjoying, if that’s the right word, whichever Hannibal Lector book it was about eight years ago.

Animals People – Indra Sinha
I have read this so it’s going straight on the shelves. It was one of the many books I have lent to someone and never seen the light of day again. One of the most unlikely likeable protagonists I think I have read in the last few years and what a story he tells. A fictional chemical factory explodes in a town in India (based on true facts) and the scars it leaves on the land and its people. Brilliance!

Quantum of Solace – Ian Fleming
A collection of all the short stories of James Bond which is in pristine condition and would have set me back over ten pounds. I want to read more Bond after really enjoying the darkness I didn’t expect in Casino Royale last year.

The Ghost – Robert Harris
Have no idea what to expect from this at all. I wouldn’t have picked this up full price but have heard a lot of good things about the author and thought this was a worthy try. We will see…

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors/Paula Spencer – Roddy Doyle
Another author have always wanted to try and read and like the idea of reading The Woman Who Walked Into Doors and then reading its sequel that came out ten years later. Thought would be interesting to read them both in succession and see if it works.

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters
Read it last year and really enjoyed it have bought this for Novel Insights.

A High Wind In Jamaica – Richard Hughes
I would not have picked this classic up had I not seen it today and for so cheap. Sounds like a very interesting mix of Pirate story, children’s adventure and literary classic.

The Shakespeare Secret – J.L. Carrell
I fancy reading some ‘adventure’ stories this year and remember there being some really positive reviews of this, I just didn’t quite want to buy it when it came out and am not sure why now. It’s now on my TBR so no complaints.

Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
I was sent this by the publishers last year, decided would pick this up as another treat for Novel Insights.

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Filed under Book Spree, Ian Fleming, Indra Sinha, Sarah Waters, Tom Rob Smith

Casino Royale – Ian Fleming

With all the fuss and fever that Sebastian Faulks has brought with the new Bond book ‘Devil May Care’ I have been itching to follow the trend and run out and buy it. However I thought it wasn’t really fair to do that until I had actually read Ian Fleming myself. I did debate for a while which one to read as ‘Casino Royale’ was fresh in my head from the movie. I thought about ‘Quantum Solace’ so as to be ahead of everyone before that film comes out, I have since found out that this is a cheeky new collection of short stories from previous novels. Plus at the moment there are so many different editions of all the novels! It truley is Bond Fever. In the end I thought ‘start at the beginning’ and so I did.

The story of the first Bond sees him having only just recently become a double-O and is sent to gamble against and hopefully bankrupt Le Chiffre, a French Communist labour leader, who was embezzling union funds to purchase a string of whore houses only to have them closed when they are outlawed by a new law. He is now looking to make money for other ruthless ventures and must be stopped.

This is the first novel in the James Bond series originally published in 1953 and it actually hasn’t dated very much which is quite impressive in the light of how the world has progressed since then. Bond is a steely character, a womaniser, and killer and has serious grudges with the world; he is not yet the suave Casanova that is depicted in later yarns and films. In fact forget the films and in particular the recent one though the character that Daniel Craig plays is pretty spot on.

If you are looking for ‘shaken not stirred’, Q and his gadgets or Moneypenny and her flirting you are going to be reading the wrong book. In Casino Royale what Fleming was doing was creating the character of Bond; he is much more questioning in this novel and a lot more aggressive and ruthlessly sexual even describing one moment having ‘the sweet tang of rape’. There are only a few main characters along side Bond and Le Chiffre one being his MI5 right hand woman (something that displeases the woman hating Bond no end) Vesper Lynd, can she tame Bond?

I really enjoyed this novel, I was however glad it wasn’t too long as with a premise of gambling and bankruptcy there isn’t too much more to this novel. The start and ends of the book are brilliant it’s the middle that goes on a little too long. I found myself a tiny bit bored by the endless explanations of how to play Baccarat which while were important to the story didn’t need to be discussed so endlessly. This is a brilliant spy novel and I am really glad I have given Fleming a go; I have already got my hands on ‘Live & Let Die’ and will be devouring that in the none too distant future.

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Filed under Ian Fleming, Penguin Classics, Review