Book reviews: Mercenaries, morons, music and murder

It’s been almost another month, so it must be time for a few book reviews. I’ve been getting a little more stuff read of late (there’s been more than this read, this is just where I’m up to) so things are truckin’ along pretty well on that front.

I am about as sociable as this bird, so IT ME I guess.

The weather is getting cooler out here, so it’s prime reading (and gaming) weather. I’m looking forward to it continuing to chill, so that I’m able to continue honing my most valuable skill: ignoring the rest of the world with the help of books.

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Book reviews: ducks, decks and disturbances

Another three books (including one whopper) have passed through my eyeballs, so it’s time for another reading recap. I’m certainly finding it more enjoyable to chunk a couple of these together – I hope that’s better to read for you, too.

Nic knows the score. Three. That’s the score.

I’m feeling pretty good about how the reading has progressed so far this year. I’m making progress on my list, and haven’t really had a dud yet, so it’s a Good Year, at least as far as text goes. Sure, there’s still the 2020-2022 malaise thing happening, but turning the pages is keeping it at bay, at least so far.

So, onwards!

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Book reviews: magick, mysticism and missing legs

Well, I’ve managed to read three books since I last posted (and another couple hundred of The Anatomy of Melancholy) so I figure it’s about time for another catch-up. I’m still making my way through my list, and am about to break my way into the whopper that is Ducks, Newburyport, so it’s as good a time as any to catch up with my reviewing.

Two of the books – the latter two – came courtesy of NetGalley, and were offered in exchange for a review. I’m not sure they’ll be that impressed, but hey-ho, not everything’s a rave I guess.

Pictured: book reviewing.
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Book reviews: three down, ? to go

Well, we’re nearing the end of the first month of 2022, and I figured it’s as fine a time as any to check in and let you know what I’ve been reading. I’m assuming you’re interested because you are reading this but then I could also be overestimating whether anybody reads this.

SOMETHING D-O-O ECONOMICS.

Regardless, onwards.

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Planning the pages: 2022 edition

New year, new list of things to read. Here we go:

A bit more manageable, this.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’ve begun 2022 by writing a list of things that I’d like to read.

You’ll notice that it’s a bit shorter – by a couple of hundred entries, maybe? – than last year’s frankly ridiculous version. (I know I said at the time that I wasn’t going to read everything on there, naturally, but still… it’s obvious that Pandemic Brain was fully in charge there.)

This year, I’ve decided to try a new listing method: it’s ’22, so I’ll aim to read 22 books. This doesn’t mean that these are the only books I’ll read, or even that I’ll manage to finish them all – it just provides a more manageable way to focus my efforts. As ever, I’ll probably read a bunch of random shit, but this is the stuff to keep me on the straight and narrow.

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2021 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

SO we grind to the end of another year, and I appear, like some kind of obnoxious groundhog, ready to dispense my wisdom. If, by “wisdom” you mean “half-assed picks of Stuff Which Was Pretty OK In This Terrible Year”.

I’ll insert a caveat here: like, well, everyone, this year has been a struggle for me. We’re rolling toward the third instalment of 2020 and increasingly I find that concentration takes a kick in the nuts for every COVID variant found. A lot of the plans I had made at the beginning of the year haven’t come to pass because I’ve either lacked the bandwidth to execute them, or because I’ve been so goddamned tired. I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, and I haven’t listened to as much music as I’d hoped. There’s been a bit of persistent fog around through the year and it’s made it difficult to do anything than just exist, sometimes.

But that’s ok. There’s always next year.

Previous versions are here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here if you need an introduction.

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A reading recap (2021)

This year, I had intended to write reviews of everything I read.

Obviously, with this year being this year I haven’t been able to do that for a lot of the books I ploughed through. I really wanted to record some thoughts on them, because it’s an important part of the reading process, for me: it helps bed down each book in my mind, so that I’m not taken by surprise halfway through an unintended reread by a plot development that suddenly reminds me that oh yeah, I’ve read this before.

Part of my process this year has involved the taking of notes to serve as a sort of memory aid for my reading. Generally, they require a Rosetta Stone to be sifted through, even by me, so they’re not particularly enlightening on their own, but they do allow me to crack out a couple of brief thoughts about what I’ve read this year.

Yes, there is a certain type of pen I like to use while writing these. No, they’re probably not very profound. But hey, there’s two notebooks full of them this year, so I guess that’s meaningful.

So that’s what I’m doing here.

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Book review: Nina Simone’s Gum

Nina Simone’s Gum by Warren Ellis
My rating: five stars

Let’s get something out of the way up front.

Warren Ellis is a fuckin’ delight.

Like, a we’re pretty lucky to have him-level delight.

Nina Simone’s Gum is a rare thing: a shortish book that seems to be filled to the brim with delight. It’s about Ellis, but not really. It’s about chewing gum, but not really. It’s about a sense of the man as conveyed by a worshipful consideration of a legendary singer’s ephemera.

It is inexplicably, joyfully Warren.

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Book review: Masks

Masks by Fumiko Enchi
My rating: five stars

But I suppose Nō masks have such symbolic properties that everyone sees in them the faces of his own dead.

It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a review of this novel. Partially that’s due to the year that’s been – all pandemic-related head fog and a lack of drive to do anything – but it’s also due to the fact that the book has taken up space in my attention, the way a loose tooth constantly draws the attention of a tongue.

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Book review: You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames
My rating: five stars

Falling behind on both reviews and my reading for the year, so I decided to pick up the pace a little with a short, sharp shock of a thing: Jonathan Ames’ novel(la) about a blunt tool, used in the most unseemly of circumstances.

With the right tools you can get ANYTHING done.

And HOLY FUCK but did it put things back into gear.

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