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review 2019-02-08 02:32
A Bond Girl à la Amy Sherman-Palladino leads this entertaining action story.
The Barista's Guide To Espionage - Dave Sinclair

All her adult life, she'd dated men who were bad for her. Men who treated her dreadfully and undervalued her worth. She knew that, she'd always known that, and yet she failed to break the cycle. There had only been one man who'd treated her with respect and as an equal. It was a shame he'd also threatened every government on Earth and drawn UN condemnation.

 

Eva ran her finger around the rim of her pint. Why were all the best kissers hell-bent on tearing down the world?

 

This is just your typical story of a feminist, stripper-turned-barista, who falls for an super-rich aspiring super-villain, and ends up holding the fate of the world in her hands. I'm going to stop right there -- my attempts at synopsizing this just aren't paying off. Here's some of the back of the book blurb:


Meet Eva Destruction, the only thing quicker than her mouth is her talent for getting into trouble. It’s true she’s always had an eye for a bad boy but when she falls for billionaire super-villain Harry Lancing, it seems that even Eva may have bitten off more than she can chew.

 

Eva hurtles headlong into terrorist attacks, assassinations, car chases and the occasional close encounter with a dashing spy who seems as determined to charm Eva into bed as he is to thwart Lancing’s plans to bring down every government on earth.

As the odds begin to stack up in Lancing’s favour the fate of the world lies in Eva’s hands. Luckily for the world, Eva Destruction isn’t the type of girl to let a super-villain ex-boyfriend with a massive ego, unlimited resources and his own secret island get the better of her.

 

Eva, Horatio Lancing and the MI6 agent are entertaining characters -- the action scenes are exciting. There's a car chase that's remarkably good. But the banter, verbal sparring and jokes are where the real fireworks are found. It's almost like Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote an action film.

 

A few caveats I should issue for some of the regulars around here: Early on, there's a sex scene that is entirely too graphic, and unnecessarily so. I liked what Sinclair achieved with it and the aftermath. But He could've achieved the same (or practically the same) result with a little less detail. There are further references to sex if you can get past this one, but nothing that comes close to the detail of this one scene. It's probably PG-13 afterwards, actually. Additionally, Evan utilizes some of the more creative swearing you've read. It's not anything you'd care to repeat anywhere near a mother armed with a bar of soap mind you. But creative nonetheless.

 

Eva is smart, witty and determined -- it's easy to see why men are fawning over her (even without the looks). She's the kind of character you like reading -- she's sure of herself, and yet really, really not. I love reading about someone who is just awesome with zero self-confidence in certain instances. But when push comes to shove, she comes through in a way worthy of Jason Bourne or Frank Martin.

 

This book is essentially a cartoon -- it's over the top, exaggerated, and entertainingly hyperbolic. But Lancing . . . I tell you. For a would-be global dictator, there's something appealing about him. He's described as "Snowden with an agenda and Assange with charisma," and truly (often) seems to only want to hold governments/government officials to their word. "You promised the voters X," he essentially says, "deliver X, or I'll release the videos of you in a compromising situation with a 14-year old." A motivation that many people would agree with, and a capability that doesn't seem that outlandish -- especially compared to the rest of the story, Lancing seems realistic -- realistic-ish, anyway.

 

There are so, so many quotable lines in this book -- it's practically impossible to pick one to focus on. This is like early Evanovich -- just with the sex, swearing and violence turned up a bit. I think it went on a bit too long, and could use maybe 50 fewer pages. But it was so much fun, I don't want to complain too much. <b>The Barista’s Guide to Espionage</b> is a big explode-y ball of entertainment and Dave Sinclair is someone to keep an eye out for.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/02/07/the-baristas-guide-to-espionage-by-dave-sinclair-a-bond-girl-a-la-amy-sherman-palladino-leads-this-entertaining-action-story
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review 2019-01-21 02:46
It Takes a Thief
Rogue - Mark T. Sullivan

Rogue is a diverting book that has an unconventional hero. Robin Monarch is a thief who worked for the CIA a short while. He has a complicated past that he's running away from but continues to shape his present. This one's recommended to readers who like globe-trotting adventure and political espionage. It kept me on the edge of my seat plenty of times, but I did get the impression that Robin often wasn't the smartest guy in the room. I don't mind heroes who don't have all the answers, but I feel like he made it easy for the bad guys a little too often. I could see the double cross in this book coming 10 miles in advance. Plus, I think Monarch has wretched taste in women, and it continually gets him in trouble. I couldn't stand Lacey. Ugh. I feel like this book is aiming more towards the James Bond kind of spy thriller than a more straightforward action series. If that's what you're looking for, then you'll like this.

The action scenes were pretty good, and like I said, it did have some good suspenseful moments, but it's not up there overall for me as read. More on the average side. I know my opinions are biased because I was also listening to the Orphan X books, and that's about my favorite thriller series right now. On its own, this is a good read, but it doesn't compare to that series at all.

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review 2018-11-30 19:13
Agent G: Saboteur by C. T. Phipps
Agent G: Saboteur - C. T. Phipps

Note: Even though this is Book 2, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This was a lot of fun. Set in a near future, G is an enhanced assassin. He’s got cyber enhancements, bio enhancements, perhaps even… uh… personal private enhancements. But he also has a limited shelf life. He was created to be used and then discarded (and his realization of all that is in Book 1 but is summarized for this book in bits and pieces). The International Refugee Society (IRS) is a front for a world-controlling power-hungry gang. They’ve been successful for many years but now things are falling apart and G has enemies coming at him from every corner and perhaps even from within his small circle of allies.

The action never ends for G and Marissa Sanchez (another shady character with hidden motives). Along the way, he picks up James (who he has to convince to come over to his side where they at least have paid vacations). There’s also the AI riding around in G’s head. She has a to-do list as well and not everything on there will jive with what G wants to accomplish.

One of the things I enjoy so much about any Phipps novel is that there is usually a reference to his other works tucked in to the tale. In this novel, the term ‘bioroid’ is used, which is a reference to this Lucifer’s Star series (which is great space opera stuff).  Then there’s the Supervillainy references as well (which is a great superhero/supervillain series). I love that it’s a TV show in G’s world. Ha!

The ladies are just as diverse and deadly as the men in this series, which is a thing I always love finding in spy & cyberpunk stories. One of the big baddies here is Persephone who has been running things from the shadows for some time. Coupled with Dr. Gordon and his black tech from the Karma Corp, G needs to bring his A game if he’s going to survive to the end of the book!

I was glad that we got to see Lucita Biondi again. She was key in Book 1 for bringing down the Carnivale and she’s still a player here, just not as big a part. Being transgender has brought her all kids of grief from her family, but she’s persevered. With a handgun.

The story also has plenty of references to other cyberpunk tales, including the classics. I loved this! I know I didn’t catch them all but it makes me want to go binge a bunch of cyberpunk and then come back to this series with that on my mind. Action and mayhem keep the plot moving forward even as G and others, like the AI, contemplate what it really means to be human.

All told, it’s a great sequel but it also stands well on it’s own. I was never bored with the tale and I like the few moments of seriousness. I look forward to seeing what Agent G does next. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is always a treat to listen to and I love his voice for Agent G. It’s perfect. Also, Kafer’s delivery of the humor is so well timed! Kafer’s female character voices are feminine and each character has their own distinct voice. There are no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-11-28 19:00
SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT
She Landed by Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: the Real 'Charlotte Gray' - Carole Seymour-Jones

"SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT" is a fantastic story of a most remarkable woman, Pearl Witherington, an Englishwoman born in Paris of English parents, who carried a deep love and devotion for her adopted country France as great as her love for Britain.   

 

During the Second World War, Witherington managed to spirit herself, her mother, and two of her sisters out of France to Britain following France's capitulation to Nazi Germany in June 1940.   Three years later, Witherington joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), trained as an agent and was parachuted into German-occupied France in September 1943.    The book goes on to describe Witherington's achievements in the field over the following year against heavy odds.    Indeed, at one point, the Germans had learned of her identity after the leader of the spy network of which she was a part had been captured by the Gestapo in May 1944.    As a result, a ƒ1,000,000 bounty was put on Witherington's head.    Undeterred, Witherington took on a new code name ('Pauline') and led the SOE Wrestler network in operations against German forces in the Valencay–Issoudun–Châteauroux triangle of central France.     The 4,000 marquisards she organized, armed, and trained would play a significant role in tying down thousands of German soldiers after the Allies had landed in Normandy in June 1944.       

 

This is a story that seems too incredible to be true.  But it was all too real.    Witherington survived the war, married the man she had long loved (who had also fought with her as a member of the Resistance in 1944), and went on to live a long life.     

 

"SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT" also provides an interesting overview of SOE, how it came to be in July 1940, the opposition it faced from Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (i.e., MI-6), its organizational structure, and the contributions made by SOE's F Section (of which Pearl Witherington was a part) in France towards defeating Nazi Germany.    I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about a true 'Warrior Queen.'

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review 2018-11-05 18:44
London Rules / Mick Herron
London Rules (Slough House) - Mick Herron

London Rules might not be written down, but everyone knows rule one.  Cover your arse.

 

Regent's Park's First Desk, Claude Whelan, is learning this the hard way. Tasked with protecting a beleaguered Prime Minister, he's facing attack from all directions himself: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat's wife, a tabloid columnist, who's crucifying Whelan in print; from the PM's favourite Muslim, who's about to be elected mayor of the West Midlands, despite the dark secret he's hiding; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who's alert for Claude's every stumble.

 

Meanwhile, the country's being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks, and someone's trying to kill Roddy Ho.

 

Over at Slough House, the crew are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. But collectively, they're about to rediscover their greatest strength - that of making a bad situation much, much worse.

 

It's a good job Jackson Lamb knows the rules. Because those things aren't going to break themselves.

 

I think Mick Herron’s Slough House series just keeps improving! Herron brings his characteristic humour to the creation of the failed spies of Slough House, with characters who all exhibit personal problems that interfere daily with their ability to function.

Eight months of anger fucking management sessions, and this evening she'd officially be declared anger free. It had been hinted she might even get a badge. That could be a problem--if anyone stuck a badge on her, they'd be carrying their teeth home in a hanky.



Roderick Ho, the obnoxious computer nerd, gets to shine not-so-brightly in this installment. He’s been assigned to Slough House because of the ridiculous self-delusionary bubble that he inhabits, not because of a work screw up. And the nature of his personal fantasy life tips him into the hands of North Korean operatives, bent on showing the U.K. that the Hermit Kingdom is its superior.

Despite the fact that all the other damaged members of the House despise Rod, when a car tries to run him down while he is stalking Pokemon on his way to work, everyone decides that they need to protect one of their own. Needless to say, Ho didn’t notice the attempt on his life and remains pretty clueless throughout the book. After four other volumes, we would expect no less (or is that no more?) of the Rodster.

Jackson Lamb, the malignant supervisor of Slough House, is at his obnoxious best in this installment. He is smoking to excess, drinking to excess, not maintaining his personal hygiene, insulting everyone who crosses his path, and (still) emitting reeking farts at will. But as truly horrible as he is, he protects his own. I was particularly happy, when at the end of this book, Lamb insists

that Roddy Ho be returned to Slough House rather than terminated.

(spoiler show)

 

 

As Lamb remarks: Slough House, putting the “us” in “clusterfuck.”

 

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