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Review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler
Series: Phillip Marlowe #1
Genre: Adult Mystery
Released: July 2005 (first released 1939)
by Penguin
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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'Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.'

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse..

I had originally read the opening chapter of this book to use as a stimulus for my GCSE English coursework and I was initially impressed by that opening chapter and had to read the rest of the book. The cover is very nice and has a pulp feel to it.

I was very impressed by this book. I loved Marlowe's character of the witty and wise Private Detective who tells it like it is. In my opinion, he is a real man. Carmen Sternwood was one of the more confusing characters, I was very unsure of what she was doing most of the time. Or why she constantly giggled. This book can be very confusing if you don't pay close attention to the plot.

WARNING! SPOILERS!

The prose is fantastic and the way Chandler describes things in Marlowe's voice is superb, he shows how observative Private Detectives are and how they analyse things. The book really felt like a 1940's noir film. Except it's set in 1939.

One thing that strikes me is that Chandler leaves the ending open to the reader so that they can decide to committed the crime, instead of saying who exactly did it (the film version with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall does this and says that it is Carmen and only Carmen).

This book was really enjoyable, the first person narrative really gives the story a more intimate feel so that we actually know what the detective is thinking, rather than a narrator telling us what is happening. If you know me, you will know that I love first-person narratives in something that isn't saucy. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who loves crime novels or noir films.

Review: Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale
Ian Fleming
Series: James Bond #1
Genre: Adult Thriller
Released: August 27 2002 (first published 1953)
by Penguin
Source: Borrowed from relative
Rating: ★★★★

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'A dry martini,' Bond said. 'In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice cold, then add a thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'
'Certainly, monsieur.'


Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome, chillingly ruthless and very deadly. This, the first of Fleming's tales of agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called simply 'Le Chiffre' - by ruining him at the baccarat table and forcing his Soviet spymasters to 'retire' him. It seems that lady luck is taken with James - Le Chiffre has hit a loosing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules, and Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster and an unexpected saviour...

Every single James Bond book in my house (not counting the Young Bond series) belongs to my dad. Considering my dad's usual taste in books (he used to read maps and atlases before going to sleep) and my hatred for the Bond films, I didn't expect much from this book at all. I expected it to be exactly like the film version with Daniel Craig: all action, gunfights and no content other than that. My dad has a boxset of these books and all the covers are relatively the same, they're quite boring and remind me a bit of the opening credits to the old films for some reason.

Honestly, I was very impressed by this book. It was almost nothing like the film but it did get a little boring at times, especially in the baccarat scene. I don't have a clue of how card games work and I was completely lost whilst reading it. I liked how there was no sign of "A dry martini, shaken, not stirred" and how Bond was nothing like Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig. Although that's probably because none of them were born when this book was published...

I thought Bond's personality in this book was very realistic of a man of the times although he does get a little confusing at times. First he doesn't like Vesper at all (he thinks that women are only good for one thing), then he does and wants to marry her, and once she's dead he calls her a bitch. A bit confusing. Well, it was for me.

Overall, I enjoyed this book more than the twenty-two films I've been forced to sit through. My hate-hate relationship with Bond is now more of a love book Bond/hate film Bond relationship, if you know what I mean. I liked Fleming's style and I look forward to reading the next book.

Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things
Anna Godbersen
Series: Bright Young Things #1
Genre: YA Historical
Released: October 12 2010
by Harper
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★

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The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.
This was the first book I'd read by Anna Godbersen so I didn't have any expectations or hopes of what her style would be. I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by this book. I really like historical fiction and hoped that this would be very entertaining to read.

I enjoyed this book, but there were a few things that bugged me a little bit. First of all, the characters were a little flat and didn't seem very real to me. Secondly, the constant repition of Letty's mouth being described as a "little gem" started to get on my nerves. The descriptions of characters weren't varied much, which isn't so good in my book.

However, I did like the plot and storyline of the book. It was very entertaining to read. But, the ending was a little stale, I expected better and it was obviously set up for a sequel.

I guess I'm a picky girl who doesn't like repetition and flat characters. This book was entertaining and I do recommend it to some extent but I wouldn't call it the most amazing book in the world. I like Godbersen's writing style and I am sort of looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Review: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The Godfather
Mario Puzo
Genre: Adult Crime
Released: 2009 (first published 1969)
by Arrow Books
Source: Gifted
Rating: ★★★★★

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Tyrant, blackmailer, racketeer, murderer - his influence reaches every level of American Society. Meet Don Corleone, a friendly man, a just man, a reasonable man. The deadliest Lord of the Cosa Nostra. The Godfather.

A modern masterpiece, The Godfather is a searing portrayal of the 1940s criminal underworld. It is also the intimate story of thr Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by it's unique position at the core of the American Mafia. Still shocking forty years after it was first published, this compelling tale of blackmail, murder and family values is truly a classic.

If you know me incredibly well, you'll know that The Godfather is my favourite film of all time. So, I expected an awful lot from this book. I didn't expect many Italian terns to be used since Mario Puzo didn't speak a word of Italian. Or Sicilian dialect.

For someone who was born in America and didn't speak a word of Italian, Puzo really knew his stuff. I really wish I'd read this book before watching the film, but the two are incredibly similar with very few differences.

I particularly liked how we are told about some of the minor characters of the novel, such as Amerigo Bonasera, Lucy Mancini and even Enzo the baker. Who would have thought that the girl James Caan was humping against a door at the beginning of the film was an important character? Not me! The descriptions are fantastic and the dialogue is very realistic. The characters speak like real people do. That's always a plus in my book.

One of the very few negatives of this book is the length of the chapters. The first chapter is seventy-two chapters long. And the only chapter of Book III (the novel is set into books) is forty-five pages long. That's just a bit too long for me when it comes to chapters.

Also, I wasn't too fond of how Mama Corleone was written to speak (if that makes sense). She doesn't speak English very well but the way she speaks is a little stereotypical. She doesn't talk-a lik-a dis though. But it's still a bit stereotypical of Italian women.

This was a really enjoyable book. The characters were constructed very well, the narration was good and everything was realistic. However, the long chapters can be a little overwhelming to get through and I didn't like the portrayal of Mama Corleone.