book reviews

Goodreads review: Oishinbo: Sake

Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 2: Sake.Oishinbo a la carte, Volume 2: Sake by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

The second volume of selection from the manga series featuring battling gourmands steps it up a notch. Sure, the first one talked about Japanese food and what it means to consider Japanese cuisine, but this one not only has a more consistent storyline, but it’s also about something a lot of people would think is more important: booze.

Sake, to be specific.

Damn, son. 

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Goodreads review: The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry

The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry.The Penguin Book of Oral Poetry edited by Ruth Finnegan.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Just a short review, as it’s almost impossible to adequately review anthologies of poetry, I find.

First, this took a long time to read – almost two years on and off – because I found I couldn’t inhale whole tracts of it at a stretch. It’s probably best used as an occasional thing, as something you dip into when the mood strikes. I think it’s probably doing a disservice to the cultures covered to whip through all of their inclusions in one setting, anyway.

Two verses and THEN the solo, right? 


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Goodreads review: Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition

Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition.Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition by Junji Ito.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
If someone hadn’t read any manga before, and you really wanted to fuck with them, you’d probably show them some Junji Ito. I mean if you wanted to warp them irreparably you’d throw them a bit of Suehiro Maruo – that’s a Wikipedia link, but I’d be leery of actually Googling the dude if you were at work – but if you just wanted to weird them out, it’d be Ito all the way. Because this is pretty much the initial reaction to his work:

I had somewhat similar thoughts.

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Goodreads review: The Beauty

The Beauty.The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I originally started reading the ebook of Whiteley’s enticingly strange The Beauty on my phone to fill in time between sets at a gig. The gig ended up being a bit of a wash, and so I found myself spending more time in the horror-ticultural (I know, right?) world created than in the land of beer and recapture-your-youth music, which is not really how I’d envisioned my Saturday night panning out.

But then, it’s pretty hard for a band, however good, to compete against encroaching vegetation.
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Batman: Earth One, Volume 2

Batman: Earth One, Volume 2.Batman: Earth One, Volume 2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

“Second Earth! Same as the first!” is what The Ramones would’ve sung had they not been into SpiderMan so much.

I could probably end the review there. This second (and final, so far) volume of the Earth One reboot of Batman’s beginnings continues the good things of the first. We’re still shown a Caped Crusader who’s trying to get his head around his role – a man who hasn’t yet attained the level of subtlety or experience that’s needed to become a spooky totem.

You’re not the only one, Al.

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Goodreads review: Marquis de Sade: A Biography

Marquis de Sade: A Biography.Marquis de Sade: A Biography by Maurice Lever.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

So let’s have a think about what comes to mind when you think of the Marquis de Sade. You know, Donatien Alphonse François. The famous libertine with a fixation on all things anal. The atheist who shagged anything that moved and put anything that didn’t up his backside. The corrupter of youth, the writer of obscenities. The beloved of surrealists. The perennial prisoner. This guy:

I dunno, I always figured his portrait would have more bare arses in it. 

You’d think it would be something to do with sex that’d be the key driver of the guy’s story right?

Well, having read through all 600-odd pages of Maurice Lever’s biography, I gotta tell you that the sex shit is nothing. The real focus of ole DAF’s life was real estate.

I know, right? Mind blown. (more…)

Goodreads review: Batman: Earth One, Volume 1

Batman: Earth One, Volume 1.Batman: Earth One, Volume 1 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Lately I’ve been trying to get into reading more comic books. Yeah, mostly graphic novels but also some superhero stuff. Because when I was a kid, I never really read much of that stuff, apart from the occasional Phantom comic. Certainly, I had read a couple of Batman one-offs, but never anything extended.

There’s absolutely no way that this will go badly. 

So I decided to plunge back into the world of rich guy vigilantism with Geoff Johns’ reinvention of the caped crusader’s origins – and man, was I glad I did. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Scarlet Gospels

The Scarlet Gospels.The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I first began reading Clive Barker’s works when I was a teenager. They were sexy and gruesome and intriguing and I inhaled them. (This is around the time Cabal came out, for reference.) I thought they were edgy and sophisticated and a bit terrifying, especially as they introduced me to ideas I hadn’t really considered before.

I probably should have left it there, in my teenage years. Because slogging through The Scarlet Gospels felt a bit like looking at your old yearbook pictures. You know, the ones with the fucked haircut and a carriage informed by what you believed was cool before you realised cool is bullshit. (more…)

Goodreads review: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus Vol. 1

Clive Barker's Hellraiser Omnibus Vol. 1Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus Vol. 1 by Clive Barker.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I guess I must be a glutton for punishment? I mean, I recently reread The Hellbound Heart (and found it wanting, alas) after forcing myself to sit through all the movies in the Hellraiser series. So of course, it was only natural that the next cab off the cultural rank was almost 600 pages of comics set in the same world, eh?

Nag nag bloody nag. (Also, check out those guns!)

Thankfully, this collection wasn’t a waste of time or good suffering, which is probably a better deal than you’d get from a Cenobite drop-in.
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Goodreads review: The Hellbound Heart

The Hellbound Heart.The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I suppose polishing off a Gothic fancy where death plays love’s fiddle put me in mood for something a little more grim, so I decided to revisit Clive Barker’s novella of puzzles and bad dates, The Hellbound Heart.

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Steady on there, Frank. 

Jesus wept, indeed. (more…)