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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-26 20:38
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 14 - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Brief Rendezvous with Mr. Bond
The Man With the Golden Gun - Ian Fleming,Kenneth Branagh

 

In the discussions inspired by Broken Tune's reads of Hugh Fraser's Rina Walker books a comparison with Ian Fleming's James Bond novels came up -- I thought before I embark on Fraser's novels myself (if I do) I ought to at least briefly dip into Fleming's, though going by appearances it strikes me that there is probably a case to be made that the better comparison piece would be the Bond movies, not the actual novels.

 

Anyway, I'm not planning to embark on a run-through of the entire Bond canon -- I have no doubt that there is plenty of sameness both in the approach and the storylines (not to mention racial and sexist stereotypes), so if I'd done that instead of short-cutting to this, the last novel of the original Bond series, I'd probably be worn out and bored to tears at this point. Not having done that, I could actually enjoy the story as a thriller, not to be taken too seriously (and not looking too closely at the obvious plot holes,

most notably the question why Bond, having run into his quarry in a Jamaican brothel fairly early on, doesn't take him out immediately -- he has NO sort of watching or investigating brief, after all; he's supposed to kill the man outright.  Or, for that matter, why Scaramaga, circumspect arch-villain that he is, would ever decide to take on a man about whom he knows nothing whatsoever as a temporary security guard.  But then, of course, we wouldn't have the pleasure of visiting that hotel, meeting the scoundrel's latest business associates, and embarking on that luxury train ride out into the country ...

(spoiler show)

).

 

My enjoyment of this book was immeasurably enhanced by having it read to me by Kenneth Branagh -- he is one of those people to whom I'd listen reciting the phone book, and quite frankly the fact that he was reading this book was one of the reasons why I picked it for my brief dip into 007 waters in the first place.  Without Mr. Branagh's narration, this would have been somewhere in the 3 or 3 1/2 star range -- but he managed to add a whole different level to it, and for this he earns the whole package a healthy racking up of its star rating.

 

Since the bulk of the story takes place in swelteringly hot and sunny Jamaica, I also got to complete my read for square 14 of the 16 Festive Tasks that way -- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.

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review 2017-09-22 00:00
Player (Caribbean Nights #1)
Player (Caribbean Nights #1) - Anne Mars... Player (Caribbean Nights #1) - Anne Marsh Finn knows how to be the life of the party. A playboy goofball with his pick of women and a lifestyle of excess He's the man every guy wants to be and women are seeking to claim. What people don't realize is that, he is more than just a good time. He struggles with demons that few bother to even notice. Mr. Fun and Games is looking for a chance to escape the memories of danger and violence that followed him home from his last mission. His latest distraction is playing hard to get, but she's on the verge of getting more than she bargained for. Valentina may be the woman to tame the bad boy seal without even trying. Anne Marsh brings the heat but Player also has romance, adorable fur babies and some messages of hope and forgiveness that are well hidden but no less powerful.
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review 2017-09-22 00:00
Sweet for a SEAL (ASSIGNMENT: Caribbean Nights Book 3)
Sweet for a SEAL (ASSIGNMENT: Caribbean Nights Book 3) - Anne Marsh Player (Caribbean Nights) by Anne Marsh  
 
Finn knows how to be the life of the party.  A playboy goofball with his pick of women and a lifestyle of excess  He's the man every guy wants to be and women are seeking to claim. What people don't realize is that, he is more than just a good time.  He struggles with demons that few bother to even notice.  Mr. Fun and Games is looking for a chance to escape the memories of danger and violence that followed him home from his last mission.  His latest distraction is playing hard to get, but she's on the verge of getting more than she bargained for.  Valentina may be the woman to tame the bad boy seal without even trying. Anne Marsh brings the heat but Player also has romance, adorable fur babies and some messages of hope and forgiveness that are well hidden but no less powerful.   
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review 2017-08-18 20:57
The Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod
The cost of sugar - Cynthia Mc Leod

This is a lively, melodramatic work of historical fiction set in mid-18th century Suriname. At that time, the small nation on the northern coast of South America was a Dutch colony consisting of sugar and coffee plantations carved out of the jungle, many of them run by Jewish owners who arrived in Suriname via Portugal and Brazil, and all of them worked by slaves. Unlike in North America, however, proximity to the jungle meant that slaves often escaped to form their own communities, which were in constant conflict with the colonial government.

The story spans 14 years and has a large cast for under 300 pages, but its protagonists are stepsisters Elza and Sarith, both daughters of Jewish plantation owners. The two are best friends as girls, but soon find themselves opposed, primarily because Elza is a sweet young woman who treats the slaves well while Sarith is short-sighted and willing to ruin the lives of everyone around her in order to get her way. Yes, it’s that kind of book. The book focuses on Elza early on, then shifts its attention later in the story to Sarith, Sarith’s slave Mini-mini, and a young mercenary named Jan.

Which is to say that there’s no single plotline, and characters come and go rather oddly (I expected Alex to become more important than he did, and Amimba, as the first character we meet, to have something more than a walk-on role). But as a story about a place and a society, rather than any single protagonist, it flows well. The plot moves quickly and stays interesting, the translation is fluid, and the characters – if not particularly complex – are sympathetic, except when not intended to be. It presents a detailed picture of a historical era that doesn’t feel overly influenced by modern views, though it can be a little ham-fisted. The author has clearly done her share of research on Surinamese history and is able to bring her cultural knowledge to the pages.

Interestingly, most of the novel was originally written in Dutch, but slaves at the time were forbidden from learning Dutch, so conversed among themselves and with whites in Sranan, a creole language related to English as well as other European and African languages. The author originally wrote conversations involving slaves in Sranan, which is evidently still sufficiently widely-spoken in Suriname for the original audience to understand. In the English version, the Sranan dialogue is translated, but you can see the original in the footnotes. Helpful footnotes also explain those words or concepts that will be unfamiliar for the English-speaking reader (there’s a glossary at the end too, but I didn’t need it).

Overall, this is an entertaining work that will likely appeal to those who enjoy popular historical fiction. It’s not great literature but doesn’t try to be. And props to the author for writing a book for a country she was told “doesn’t have a reading tradition” – this book is now apparently beloved in Suriname after all.

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review 2017-06-07 07:01
Surprises
His Accidental Heir (Billionaires and Babies) - Joanne Rock

This is book #3, in The McNeill Magnates series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading this series in order.

 

Cameron has already made a mess of proposing to a stranger in the past.  When he meets the real person he thinks he should marry, he wonders, is it for the right reasons?  They are already compatible.  Cannot keep their hands off one another.

 

Maresa is in the middle of so much.  She is the anchor for all around her.  Can she give in to what she wants or needs at the sake of so many others?  Or will being with Cam be the one thing that pulls it all together?  For the sake of her family and her heart she must keep it all together.

 

This series has been just terrific!  My only complaint, was that this book felt rushed somehow.  I love the characters, and really enjoyed the recurring favorites in this title as well.  I sure hope we see more of these McNeill's!  I give this story a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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