Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

Diamonds Are Forever | Bookogs Database

He’s risked his life in an “innocent” casino. He’s fought toe-to-toe with the dastardly Soviet spy agency SMERSH. He’s even prevented nuclear annihilation of the world by the destructive Project Moonraker.

But when Agent 007, James Bond, is called in to halt a threatening diamond smuggling crime ring with expansive influence, he may finally find himself in over his head.

Posing as a captured courier, Bond teams up with Tiffany Case, a beautiful woman with ties to the very center of the operation. Following the trail of sparkling blood from Africa through England and finally to  America, Bond must infiltrate and remove every stop between the source and his destination.

Facing dangerous assassins and secrets upon secrets, Bond will somehow need to remain undercover long enough to unveil the last link in the long and deadly chain: the mysterious syndicate leader known only as “ABC.” One false move, however, and 007 may find himself on the wrong end of the wrath of the American underworld. 

Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth book of the 007 series, and is definitely not to be missed by any James Bond fans. Jam-packed with action, adventure, danger, and hints of romance, both diamonds, and the book will last forever in the hearts and minds of the beholder.

-Mahak M. 

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - Kindle edition by Joyce, James.  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

As a coming-of-age novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man depicts the growth of the protagonist Stephen from childhood to adolescence. It tells the story of a child growing up in an Irish Catholic family. It is both an autobiographical novel and a work of fiction. This novel mainly describes how a young Dubliner Stephen Dedalus tries to get rid of all kinds of influences that hinder his development — family constraints, religious traditions, and narrow nationalist sentiments, and pursue the true meaning of art and beauty.

The novel is mainly composed of two narrative clues, one is the growing process of the hero Stephen, the other is Stephen’s psychological activities. The first chapter of the novel describes the birth and growth of Stephen, and the second chapter describes his experiences as a teenager and his budding pursuit of women that lead him to the brothels for pleasure. The third chapter mainly describes that Stephen frequented brothels and his sexual hunger was satisfied, but the contradictions in his heart became more acute.

He proudly refused to repent, knowing full well his guilt. One day he heard the sermon of the Father Arnall on death, judgment, hell, and heaven, and he began to hate himself and to loathe himself exceedingly. After much mental struggle, he went to the chapel to confess his sins to the priest, and at last found peace of mind. The last chapter is about Stephen’s hard works, which were appreciated by the church who gave him a glorious opportunity to enter the ministry.

Many of the details in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are based on Joyce’s early life, and the novel’s protagonist, Stephan Dedalus, has much in common with Joyce. This autobiographical novel portrays the image of a young artist from childhood to maturity and expresses a flying theme. Joyce describes Stephen’s experiences at different stages of life in children’s style, youth’s style, and adult’s style, and demonstrates Stephen’s inner feelings and ideology by means of spiritual insight and stream of consciousness.

As a coming-of-age novel that describes the inner process of young people, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man profoundly describes the psychological growth process of Stephen, a young artist, from his baby’s hazy period to his youth’s mature period. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is arguably the most profound novel that traces the inner workings of young people in the 20th century. Each chapter of the novel revolves around a major event in Stephen’s formative years. The parts are linked to each other and follow the course of events step by step. Readers can clearly see Stephen’s growth path from a child to a young artist, and truly feel his pain and joy.

-Coreen C.

Love of Life by Jack London

Love of Life - Jack London for Android - APK Download

A gold prospector in the American West sprained his ankle crossing a small river on his way back. Abandoned by his partner, Bill, he searched the wilderness alone. The foot injury made every step very difficult for him, and what was more terrible was the unbearable hunger. In desperation, he divided his treasure equally into two parts, carefully hid one part of it, and trudged on with the other. To his great joy, he found a wounded grouse on his way. He seemed to see hope, and tried to chase the grouse with great pain in his feet. He got lost. Now he had expended quite a lot of energy, so he chose to divide the rest of the sands into two more portions, but this time he poured one of them down on the ground. Before long, he threw away all the sands. When he was very weak, he met a sick wolf. He found the sick wolf following him, licking his blood. In this way, two dying creatures, dragging their dying bodies, hunt each other across the moor. In order to get back alive, at last the man won battle. He killed the wolf and drank its blood and survived.

In Love of Life, London places the protagonist in the treacherous northern frontier environment, facing the harsh reality: hunger and death, so that he understands the power of nature and his own smallness and vulnerability. London, however, has always been reluctant to conform and confine himself to a strictly defined naturalistic framework. He gave the gold prospectors in Love of Life the courage to face the harsh reality, the will to overcome adversity, and the courage to become superhuman to the strong. Therefore, Love of Life should not be a single pure naturalistic work, but an organic combination of naturalism and romanticism, which is the strength of the novel art and one of the real reasons for its enduring popularity. This plot in the novel also reflects the cancer of the human soul in the modern civilized society. Industrial civilization is advancing by leaps and bounds, science and technology are changing with each passing day, and products and consumer goods are greatly enriched, which arouses the infinite expansion of human desire. All the efforts made by people are ultimately aimed at obtaining material wealth and filling their personal desires. When the worship of money and egoism become the values of the civilized world, the relationship between people is only economic interests in the final analysis. In order to pursue the maximization of economic benefits, mutual use, intrigues, intrigues, extortion are common, spiritual degradation, moral decay is inevitable.

-Coreen C.

Book Review: The Iron Heel by Jack London

The Iron Heel (Penguin Classics): London, Jack, Auerbach, Jonathan ...

The novel “The Iron Heel” is written in the form of a memoir, the author is Avis. The manuscript, which was written by Ives, was hidden in a hole in a dead tree before she died and was only found hundreds of years later. Everhard, a Socialist ideologue turned blacksmith, was a guest of Avis’s father, a liberal professor, whose revelations of the cruel exploitation of the monopoly capitalists interested her, and she went herself to investigate and prove the truth. A worker who had his hand broken trying to protect a machine lost his case in court after being fired without a pension. “The Iron Heel” continues to write about the struggle between the revolution and the counter-revolution, how the counter-revolutionary cultivated the working aristocracy and destroyed the workers’ unity, how the government and army suppressed the people’s unrest, how the revolutionaries carried out open and underground struggles, and how the masses overthrew the American bourgeois oligarchy — “The Iron Heel”.

The author foresees the day when a deadly struggle between the American proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the oligarchy known in the novel as “The Iron Heel”, will break out. Jack London gives readers a great picture of the proletarian revolution through his fictional account of the armed riots that broke out in Chicago in 1917. Such scenes were seen in Paris in 1871 and in Petersburg in 1905. “The Iron Heel” is a political prophetic novel conveying Jack London’s wish for the broad proletariat to unite in the armed revolutionary struggle. “The Iron Heel” depicts the failure of the American workers’ revolutionary uprising and the establishment of bloody rule, but the novel is full of revolutionary optimism. He is convinced of the establishment of a progressive and just social system for human beings, and also believes that the future will not be a society where people oppress and exploit people. Jack London’s moderate socialist stance has been replaced by a radical revolutionary attitude in “The Iron Heel”. He predicted that capitalism would go to extremes, to evils, and advocated its overthrow by violence. “The Iron Heel” is a literary expression of Jack London’s dissatisfaction with the right-leaning revolutionary line of the socialist party members of his day.

The novel’s main story takes place in Chicago, an industrial city that, according to Avis’s manuscript, has been the center of a storm of conflict, with brutal street battles, assassinations, bloodshed, and violence. In writing about the big themes of Chicago, writers often focus on concrete examples to support the macro level of class struggle at the micro level. Jack London focuses on the tragic experience of Jackson, a representative of the ordinary working class. Jack London, through such an example, on the one hand attacked the dehumanized industrial production, which used laborers as slaves. Once the laborers lost their labor value, they were mercilessly abandoned. On the other hand, the writer criticizes the capitalist social system and the superstructure of capitalist economic production, which conspire to protect the interests of the bourgeoisie while maintaining unequal economic distribution.

-Coreen C.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London

The Sea-Wolf - Kindle edition by London, Jack. Literature ...

“The Sea Wolf” is a novel written by American writer Jack London. The novel depicts a heart-wrenching battle and an unforgettable love story on board a sealing-hunting sailing ship called the “Ghost”. The “Wolf” in the novel is not only the name of Captain Larsen, but also the synonym of superman for the author. Through the novel, the author leads the readers into the callousness of the wild life and feels the dark side of the brutal human nature and the brightness of the primitive life. At the same time, it also exposes the disadvantages of the capitalist society and shows the praise for the strong will of the working people and the sympathy for the suffering life.

On the “Ghost” , there is no legal order, no distinction between good and evil, no humanity, let alone the most true and most beautiful human emotions. The life of a seaman was like an ant to him, and whoever he wanted to die had to die. Larsen became the most loyal follower and the most powerful enforcer of Darwinism. The crew he recruited on the sea were only salaried slaves. The seal hunter was his accomplice. The shipwrecked people he rescued became his cheap labor force to fill the gap. He not only swore at the death of his former first mate, but roughly buried him and threw him into the sea. When Harrison, a new sailor, got caught by a high mast, his life was in danger; however, Larsen wouldn’t let anyone go up and help him.

To fill the void, he forced Weyden, whom he had rescued from the ship, to come and work for him. Under the tyrant’s rule and influence, the rest of the crew became rough and brutal. Thomas whet his knife at Weyden all day long, but Weyden, not to be outdone, took his knife to the grindstone all day long, and at last won. Johnson was beaten black and blue for saying something that offended Larson, and Leach, the sailor, swore at Larsen and then beat up the good cook. In Larsen’s world, violence against violence is the law of existence.

Many progressive male intellectuals, including the writer Jack London, supported and championed feminism and expressed their desire for social change;however, traditional ideas are in deep ideological conflict and often bring them back to the desire for traditional power relations. In “The Sea Wolf” we can see a certain disharmony: one comes from the writer’s consciously expressed ideas, the other from the writer’s unconscious desires; one is the principle of gender politics, the other is the pragmatism of social life. The two tendencies interweave together, making the novel a contradictory text.

-Coreen C.

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

“Wise Blood”, the first full-length novel by American writer O ‘Connor, is a religious fable discussing salvation through faith. “Wise Blood” is set in The city of Taulkinham, Tennessee in the mid-20th century. The protagonist Hazel Motes tries to eradicate the influence of Jesus on him, and takes a path of spiritual disillusionment and conversion mixed with sadness and joy, which ends in failure. Hazel Motes, the protagonist, grew up in a family of village ministers and wanted to become a priest, just like his grandfather. His faith wavered during his years abroad as a soldier, and after his demobilization he tried to cast off his religious convictions. In Taulkinham, Hazel meets Hawks, a pseudo-believer who preaches-disguised as a blind man, his illegitimate daughter Lily, and an 18-year-old boy named Enoch. Hazel spoke to everyone about blasphemy as the only way to achieve truth, and publicly promoted a Protestant religion without Jesus. However, the public was indifferent to his words, and the Protestantism he preached was exploited by Hawks as a money swindler. After driving over Hawk’s fake prophet, Hazel blinded himself and fell into a gutter on a stormy night.

Sin and redemption are the most important themes in O ‘Connor’s novels. In “Wise Blood” with strong religious color, both the narrative structure of the Bible and the image of the Bible are cleverly borrowed to highlight the theme of sin and redemption. The title “Wise Blood” symbolizes original sin in the Bible, and human beings are born with sin, which is also one of the most critical kernels in the humanistic concept of the Bible. In “Wise Blood”, Hazel’s sins are realized through violence. Violence against others became a means for Hazel to rebel against God. At the same time, he blinded himself with lime, tied himself with wire, and put on shoes filled with stones. Such violence against himself became a means of self-redemption. Hazel’s physical torture meant the death of his sins, bringing him back to the faith of his childhood, and giving him grace. The two world wars completely disillusioned people’s dreams, vanity of pleasure behind the appearance of concealing the human selfish hypocrisy, empty spirit, and withered soul. These people are immersed in the mire of crime and do not know, mankind is facing an unprecedented crisis of faith. O ‘Connor wants to make those who believe that God is dead realize their own defects and sins through violence.

-Coreen C.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

What if your family had no choice but to pack up all your belongings into a small car and travel a thousand miles on the road? And the destination is no place like home? What would you do?

Set in the “Dirty Thirties” during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, the Grapes of Wrath highlights the Joad family as they plan their new future in California, where workers are needed. In their eyes, California is their dream land and the rumored “Promised Land.” The family of thirteen people pack their necessities and are determined to take on the rigorous road to California.

Tom Joad, one of the main characters, leads his family through the obstacles on the road that include starvation and extreme heat. Each family member looks onto the road while facing internal and external challenges. The novel essentially teaches the importance of holding onto dignity and hope during hardships. The Joad family not only maintain hope for a better future, but they also unite together as a family.

Steinbeck additionally embraces the ideal American dream that, in reality, starts within the individuals with hope and determination. His use of symbols and literary devices portray the motif of endurance.

Overall, Steinbeck’s novel makes the reader go on his or her own journey while reading about the up’s and down’s of the Joads. At the end of the long path, the reader realizes that the obstacles they had to face teach them more about their ultimate destination.

-Zohal N. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: S.E. Hinton

S.E. Hinton is an American author we are often introduced to in school. Her classic novel The Outsiders remains one of the most popular books in youth literature to this day. The Outsiders tells the stories of the lower class (Greasers) and the upper class (Socs) from the perspective of narrator Ponyboy Curtis. The novel explores hostile interaction between social classes and is often seen as Hinton’s greatest work due to its stark realism and relatability. 

Rumble Fish is another one of Hinton’s greatest works. Rumble Fish follows the life of teenager Rusty James who struggles to live a life in his brother’s shadow. His brother, the Motorcycle Boy, had taken a trip to California and left behind a notorious, criminal reputation that Rusty James tries his best to embody. Unbeknownst to Rusty James, Motorcycle Boy never truly made it to California and was battling his own mental strife. In the end, Motorcycle Boy’s life is ended by his final, fatal encounter with the police as he tries to steal “rumble fish” from a local pet store. Possessed by grief, Rusty James decides to make his own trip to California and reaches the ocean in honor of his lost brother. Through this intense story, Rumble Fish teaches readers that the world becomes less dark if we know where to find the light. 

One of Hinton’s lesser known works is That Was Then, This is Now. That Was Then, This is Now contains many of the same elements as The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, but takes place a few years later. Now, social classes are less defined, and violence between Greasers and Socs is less frequent. The current omnipotent issue is no longer gang fights; it’s drug abuse. Main characters Mark and Bryon are close friends, and consider themselves brothers. When Bryon’s mother is hospitalized and needs surgery, the two scramble to find sources of necessary income. Bryon finds a job at a supermarket, while Mark supplies money without an obvious source. During this time of financial stress, their friend M&M goes missing until Bryon finds him under the influence of narcotics. M&M is hospitalized, and Bryon finds out that Mark has been selling drugs in order to help pay for his mother’s surgery. Bryon must choose justice for M&M or Mark’s life. In the end, their brotherly bond is severed when Bryon reports Mark and Mark is sent to prison. This story shows readers that the world is not divided into black and white, or good and evil. The most difficult decisions are often made in the area of divergence between the two extremes.

S.E. Hinton’s is one of the greatest authors of the 1900’s, and her books have remained popular, years after publication. Her didactic novels continue to teach modern youth crucial life lessons that will never die with age.

-Katie A. 

The works of S. E. Hinton are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

How Fiction Can Give Us a View Into Reality

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” Tom Clancy’s analysis on the divergence between the realm of fantasy and the confines of the real world shows us that reality and fantasy are really not as different as they may seem. One example of this is Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, which centers around the trials and triumphs of a former U.S Marine lieutenant turned history teacher as he becomes entangled in the world of international espionage and warfare.

The series’ first book, Patriot Games, depicts Ryan’s chance encounter with Ulster Liberation Army terrorists in England and sets the tone for how this will alter the course of his career and family life in the books to follow. Although this book was written for entertainment purposes, it does give us a window into the international political climate at the time of the book’s release(July 1987). The Provisional Irish Republican Army was fighting to end British influence in Northern Ireland and reunite Ireland at the time of publication. This book was not based on a true story, but it does allude to the real-life political climate in the UK at the time, which helps readers gain a greater understanding of a time period that they may not have experienced.

Another author who drew inspiration from the world around him is John Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s famous Of Mice and Men is a book many read during high school English courses. It tells the story of two close friends, George and Lennie, as they attempt to seek work in California during the Great Depression. This story is categorized as fiction, though some of the characters and events Steinbeck described were people and things he met and experienced during his time working on a ranch in central California. Of Mice and Men’s setting helps readers understand the desperation that unemployed Americans faced in trying to find jobs during the Great Depression. Lennie’s character also shows the rejection, stigmatization, and ignorance of mental illness during this time period, which was a very real and prevalent issue in the real world. Many believe that books categorized as fiction are simply nothing more than stories created to entertain literary enthusiasts on a rainy day.

History, politics, and social structure are all topics that are traditionally reserved for textbooks or newspapers. However, Clancy’s series and Steinbeck’s works are some of the many examples of how fiction can give us a glimpse into the past or present reality. It is interesting to see just how much we can learn about a past time through our favorite novels and fantasy stories and may encourage those who stick to the world of non-fiction to branch out into other genres.

-Katie A.

Money Run by Jack Heath

Money Run by Jack Heath is a suspenseful thriller about two teenager thieves: Ashley and Benjamin. Ashley’s criminal life started when her house was robbed, so she tracked down the thief and was able to steal back her belongings. Since that day, she keeps up with her life of crime to support her and her Father. Benjamin is her partner in crime but holds down the court by supporting her in their heists virtually.

One day, Ashley gets wind that there is 200 million dollars hidden in one of the biggest companies in the country. Their headquarters happened to be located in the same town where Ashley and Benjamin live. After deciding to steal the money, they hatch an elaborate scheme over the course of several months. They expect the job to be seamless without any hindrances, but once the day comes, stealing the money is a lot harder than it seems. Taking over the course of one day with a shocking ending, this book is for anyone looking for an exciting thriller.

I have always loved action adventure books, and this was no exception. With unexpected twists and turns, this book did not let me put it down until I got to the end. Even though it takes place in only one day, the reader gets to enjoy multiple points of view. These helped to explain the various events taking place, and also allowed the reader to understand each of the characters better. By being aware of their backgrounds, I was able to be more sympathetic and understanding, even for the ones engaged in thievery. This book is for the type of person who loves adventure movies, and a thriller, roller coaster ride.

-Anmol K.

Money Run by Jack Heath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library