Mini-Reviews: Brittany, Thing, Diamonds

Assignment in BrittanyJust One Damned Thing after AnotherDiamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Helen MacInnes, Assignment in Brittany

Martin Hearne, a British intelligence agent, has just been given a new assignment. He happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Bertrand Corlay, a Frenchman recuperating in an English hospital after the evacuation of Dunkirk. His job will be to impersonate Corlay and go “home” to the village of Saint-Déodat in Brittany, where he will research the movements of the occupying German troops. Of course, complications ensue as Hearne meets Corlay’s family, shelters an American journalist, and has several unpleasant run-ins with the Nazis. His situation becomes even more precarious when he realizes that the real Corlay hasn’t been entirely truthful with him. I really enjoyed this suspenseful and entertaining book. It’s all the more remarkable because the novel was published in 1942, when the outcome of the war was far from certain. Definitely recommended for fans of spy and/or World War II novels.

Jodi Taylor, Just One Damned Thing after Another

When Madeleine “Max” Maxwell is recruited to join the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, she gets a lot more than she bargained for: the historians of St. Mary’s “investigate major historical events in contemporary time” — in other words, time travel! Max embraces the concept wholeheartedly and soon proves herself adept at her new job. But when a trip to the late Cretaceous goes horribly wrong, Max learns that another group of time travelers is wreaking havoc with history, and the St. Mary’s gang will have to stop them in order to protect both the past and the future. This book is a fun romp, although Max is one of those heroines who’s annoyingly good at everything. I found the present timeline hard to follow; the book starts with Max arriving at St. Mary’s, but it seems like several months (or years?) pass without really being acknowledged. There’s also a graphic sex scene that I could have done without. Despite these quibbles, though, I did enjoy the book and will most likely continue with the series.

Jenny Colgan, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

This chick lit novel is about Sophie Chesterton, a shallow socialite whose life is upended when her father dies, and the terms of his will state that she must earn her own living for six months before receiving her inheritance. Sophie moves into a dirty flat in South London with four guys, attempts to pursue her interest in photography, and falls for not one but two of her roommates. Normally I really enjoy Jenny Colgan’s novels, but this one was disappointing. Sophie does grow throughout the book, but she’s so awful in the beginning that it’s hard to completely buy her redemption. I also didn’t find the romance angle satisfying; the outcome seemed to come out of the blue, so that I had no chance to become invested. I still recommend Colgan’s books in general, but this one just wasn’t for me.

4 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Brittany, Thing, Diamonds

  1. Hanna @ Booking in Heels says:

    I hadn’t heard of Assignment in Brittany (or the author, actually), but it sounds really interesting! Hmm. It’s only £3.32 on Kindle at the moment, I might give it a go…

    I do like that Jodi Taylor series quite a lot, but I wish that it took its time a bit more. You’ve barely got the hang of something and then suddenly it’s three years later!

    • Christina says:

      Assignment in Brittany was so enjoyable! I’m told MacInnes’s other books are also good, and I definitely plan to check them out at some point. And I agree on the Taylor — the present-day timeline seemed to jump ahead a lot!

  2. curlygeek04 says:

    I have Jodi Taylor’s book but haven’t gotten around to it. I often find time-travel books overly complicated. This one sounds good for a lighter read – and lighter reads seem to be mostly what I’m going for these days.

    • Christina says:

      Same here — I’m all about the light, fun books! The time travel element of the Taylor book isn’t too crazy; they basically have time machines, and that’s it. The book doesn’t really attempt to explain it in any way, which is fine with me! 🙂

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