Goodreads Review

Book review: The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones.The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

The Stones are now a band that it’s impossible to view independently. They’re like a Mount Rushmore in dick-sticking jeans, or a Statue of Liberty with a drug problem: something that defies description.

Fact: you can smell this photo.

And yet, Stanley Booth’s book made me feel like I was closer to understanding the blokes in [an iteration of] the band than any number of tell-all interviews or coy promotional bullshit. (more…)

Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 3

The Walking Dead Compendium 3.The Walking Dead Compendium 3 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Another volume of blood, guts and inter-community negotiation.

Quite the statesman.

Yep, it’s time for another tranche of The Walking Dead.

This compendium gathers together issues 97 – 144 of the comic series, and for the first time the stakes seem a lot higher, at least to me. There’s a sense of community throughout this volume, a feeling that there’s a world beyond just surviving. It also takes place at a period long enough after the outbreak of whatever it was that caused the dead to walk, so you know that anyone who’s bad at this point is going to be really fucking bad. (more…)

Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 2

The Walking Dead Compendium 2.The Walking Dead Compendium 2 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Time to break up the novels with another chunk of rotting flesh. This, the second compendium of Walking Dead survivalist gore, gathers issues 49 to 96 of the series. And let’s just say that the stories within are, well, weirder than the first.

I’ve had worse driving lessons. 

How weird? Well, there’s more serious injury, a bit of cannibalism, accidental deaths (as opposed to on-purpose walker offing), intentionally painful murders, sniper-blown fingers, overrun compounds, threesome suggestions, killer kids and ghost phones.

I mean, it’s not as if reanimated corpses are novel any more, right? (more…)

Book review: Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen

Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen.Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d known who Adam Cullen was from the papers rather than his art, at least initially. He was the eminently quotable prick who had issues with his mum, and was a bit of a lair, given to creating sculptures out of random shit, and artwork that was distinguished from that of a truculent kid by dint of the violence bubbling underneath it.

Actor, artist and arsehole.

I’d seen his Archibald winners (and non-starters), but hearing him constantly referred to as an enfant terrible or similar made me a bit leery of learning more. And then he died, and at least some of the obits made me think there might be a bit more to the story. (more…)

Book review: The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn

The Dead Mountaineer's Inn.The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d been meaning to read a bit more Soviet-era fiction, particularly science fiction. And any exploration of that area is likely to involve the brothers Strugatsky: writers known for some excellently grim work with a coating of political commentary. (Roadside Picnic, filmed as Stalker is a supreme bummer, for starters.)

So it’s a bit of a surprise that my first Strugatsky novel turned out to be a detective story, free – mostly – of politicking, which features a collection of oddballs and a super-sentient dog.
(more…)

Book review: Shinto: The Kami Way

Shinto: The Kami Way.Shinto: The Kami Way by Sokyo Ono.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

If you’re interested in Japan, you’re probably aware of Shinto imagery. Even if you’ve never been, even if you’re not really that interested in religion, you’ll know some of its signifiers. Red gates, either in profusion or alone in the sea. Trees tied with paper. Clean temples and guardian animals.

You just don’t know it yet.

(more…)

Book review: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident.Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

There’s nothing like the romance of mountaineering to get me reading. Especially if the romance of exploring wild peaks in the hope of attaining another rank in sports mastery is overshadowed by a bunch of horrible subzero deaths by forces unknown.

Luckily, this book is about the Dyatlov Pass incident and not Tenzing Norgay, or that bloke who had to cut his own arm off. (more…)

Book review: A Terrace in Rome

A Terrace in Rome.A Terrace in Rome by Pascal Quignard.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This is a strangely compelling little book. It’s about disfigurement, love, lust, pornography and the finer points of mezzotint and etching. It’s a slim collection of fragments describing a leathery life, which eventually chokes to death far from its origin.

There’s also a lot of dicks described within.
(more…)

Book review: The Return

The Return.The Return by Walter de la Mare.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Until this point, I’d only been familiar with de la Mare’s name, and not with his works. The Return has rectified that, but I’m left with some confusion about whether I actually liked the novel… and about whether I actually knew what was going on throughout.

So that’s a reasonable start, I guess: if both of those thorns haven’t put me off other authors, they shouldn’t put me off ol’ Walter, right? Right. (more…)

Book review: The Walking Dead Compendium 1

The Walking Dead Compendium 1.The Walking Dead Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

After last year’s surprise conclusion, I figured it was probably time to check out The Walking Dead. I mean, it’s the source material for the TV show of the same name (which seems to be no closer to ending than ever), and a bunch of video games.

A tale as old as time.

Luckily, the series’ publisher has released a number of compendiums – four in total – which collected huge chunks of the narrative in sequence, in 1100-page whoppers, echoing the Cerebus books in knee-breaking size.

Good job I’m reading on a tablet, then. (more…)