20 February 2017

Review: The True Story of Guns N' Roses - Last of the Giants by Mick Wall

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

I've been a fan of Guns N' Roses since my teenage years and their music formed the basis of the soundtrack of my adolescence. I enjoyed reading Slash's self-titled autobiography in 2011 but when I heard Mick Wall was writing a book on the band, I was eager to read it. 
Mick Wall has written about other bands including: Metallica, AC/DC, Prince and Led Zeppelin - to name a few - and seems to have an acute understanding of the industry.

In The True Story of Guns N' Roses - Last of the Giants, Wall introduces the reader to each member of the band and then shows us how their paths converge and the band we know as the original line up of Guns N' Roses was formed. Their time living together in the 'hell house' was shocking and informative and it was interesting to learn about the slow and steady rise of their first album Appetite for Destruction. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover just how popular and successful they were.

Wall goes into great detail about the managers and staff around the band, contracts, concerts and tours and of course background on each of the songs. The inability of the band members to handle their fame and new found wealth is discussed as is the effect drugs had on Duff and Slash, almost killing them, and in Slash's case, killing him 5 times. 

Wall documents the gradual decline of the band and the impact Axl's behaviour had on each of the band members. Steve Adler's drug habit and eventual firing from the band is covered as is Izzy Stradlin's eventual resignation.

Axl's perfectionism and controlling behaviour is discussed - with a few surprises - as is the way in which he slowly took over control of the band until he was the last original member left. We learn about the new/replacement members of the band and the formation and success of the 'new line-up.' My favourite tidbits in the book were on page 178 and 228 and provided insight as to who wrote which songs. Little known facts such as You Could Be Mine was originally recorded during the Appetite for Destruction sessions made for interesting reading.

Reading The True Story of Guns N' Roses - Last of the Giants in the lead up to attending their Not in This Lifetime Tour earlier this month was the best preparation possible and gave me a better appreciation of just how far they've all come. I thoroughly recommend The True Story of Guns N' Roses to fans of their music all over the world.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

17 February 2017

Book vs. Movie: The Light Between Oceans

In 2012 I reviewed The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, giving it 5 stars. I enjoyed exploring the moral dilemma faced by the young married couple living on remote Janus Island post World War I. Tom is seeking refuge after the war and applies for the job of lighthouse keeper on Janus Island off the coast of Australia. He meets and marries Isabel and together they try to start a family; albeit unsuccessfully. When a baby in a boat washes ashore, they're faced with a moral dilemma and the repercussions of the dilemma weigh heavy on them both.

When I learned the book was being made into a film, I was excited and hopeful the movie would successfully capture the stunning scenery and communicate the isolation. I needn't have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed the film - and the cinematography in particular - and recognised a few well-known Aussie actors amongst the cast members. It's a slow and atmospheric movie exploring love and grief, so those looking for action and adventure will need to look elsewhere.

In this case I maintain the book was better, but the movie was a solid and true translation of the novel and was entertaining on the big screen. You don't need to have read the book to enjoy the movie.

Carpe Librum!

10 February 2017

Winner of Last of the Giants - The True Story of Guns N' Roses by Mick Wall announced

Thanks to the dedicated Guns N' Roses fans who entered my giveaway to win a copy of Last of the Giants - The True Story of Guns N' Roses by Mick Wall. Entries closed at midnight on Wednesday 8 February 2017.

The most popular favourite song was Sweet Child O' Mine, however the entrant who said Sheryl Crowe's version was 'stunning' is mistaken. Now, onto business. The winner was drawn today, so big drum roll and guitar solo for the winner:
Drew Fuller
Congratulations Drew, you'll receive an email shortly and will have 7 days to provide me with your mailing address. Thanks again to Hachette Australia for the prize.

Carpe Librum!

03 February 2017

Friday Freebie to WIN a copy of Last of the Giants - The True Story of Guns N' Roses by Mick Wall

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *
RRP $32.99 AUD


Have you got a Bad Obsession? Do you love to read in The Garden or do you prefer to read in bed listening to November Rain? You're going to need a little Patience because I have a One In A Million opportunity for you to WIN a copy of Last of the Giants - The True Story of Guns N' Roses by Mick Wall. You're Crazy if you miss this giveaway because It's So Easy to enter. Just fill in the form below and tell me your favourite GNR song; just Don't Cry if you miss out.


I finished reading my review copy yesterday and it was an excellent insight for fans, especially in the lead up to their Australian tour later this month. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Blurb
A major, definitive biography of Guns N' Roses by the man who was very much a part of what remains the most iconic rock story of the last three decades.

Many millions of words have already been written about Guns N' Roses, the old line-up, the new line-up. But none of them have ever really gotten to the truth. Which is this: Guns N' Roses has always been a band out of time, the Last of the Giants. They are what every rock band since the Rolling Stones has tried and nearly always failed to be: dangerous. At a time when smiling, MTV-friendly, safe-sex, just-say-no Bon Jovi was the biggest band in the world, here was a band that seemed to have leapt straight out of the coke-smothered pages of the original, golden-age, late-sixties rock scene.

'Live like a suicide', the band used to say when they all lived together in the Hell House, their notorious LA home. And this is where Mick Wall first met them, and became part of their inner circle, before famously being denounced by name by Axl Rose in the song Get in the Ring.

But this book isn't about settling old scores. Written with the clear head that 25 years later brings you, this is a celebration of Guns N' Roses the band, and of Axl Rose the frontman who really is that thing we so desperately want him to be: the last of the truly extraordinary, all-time great, no apologies, no explanations, no giving-a-shit rock stars. The last of his kind.

Giveaway


31 January 2017

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman hardly needs any introduction to the reading public. This British author has received a swag of awards, including the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book amongst a host of others. Neil Gaiman is an inspirational speaker, and phrases of his ('make mistakes' and 'make good art') have stuck with me throughout the years. His New Year wishes are inspirational and I admire his writing and creativity.

I give you this glowing introduction because I've finally read The Graveyard Book and didn't fall in love with it as much as I wanted to. Don't you hate it when that happens?

It's about a young boy who escapes his house the night his family is murdered and wanders up the street and into a graveyard. After much discussion, the ghosts in the graveyard agree to raise him as their own and so the life of Nobody Owens (Bod for short) begins.

This is a fantasy novel for children and the young at heart however the accompanying illustrations by Dave McKean left me wanting more. I enjoyed Bod's interactions with the graveyard residents; especially when the engraving on their headstone was repeated in the text after their name appears. For instance:

- Doctor Trefusis (1870-1936, May He Wake to Glory) from Page 96
- Thackeray Porringer (1720-1734, son of the above) from Page 174
- Portunia (They Sleep to Wake Again) on Page 186

I absolutely loved this! The setting in Highgate Cemetery (West) in London added to my enjoyment because this is a famous cemetery and entry today is via guided tour only. How cool is that?

Overall, this was a good read, but my adoration for the author didn't extend to a love for The Graveyard Book. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but that's okay.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

More great news for fans of Neil Gaiman is that The Graveyard Book is going to be made into a film with Ron Howard as Director.

27 January 2017

Review: The Girl Before - A Novel by JP Delaney

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

The Girl Before is due for release next month and was a thrilling read. Written by JP delaney (which is a pen name by the way), it's set in a house designed by renowned architect Edward Monkford. 

The minimalist house at One Folgate Street is ahead of its time, monitoring the health and wellbeing of the occupant via the use of an electronic bracelet and a programme called Housekeeper.

To live there, tenants must sign a detailed contract and agree to comply with a tonne of rules specifying what they can and can't do in the house. No clutter and no books, for a start. (Are you kidding me? Obviously I couldn't live there). Oh, and they need to agree open the house up to architect students every once in a while.

Told from the point of view of two female tenants - Jane in the present and Emma in the past - the history of the house and the mysterious accidental death of Emma begin to unfold at a satisfying pace. The house provides a luxurious yet somewhat creepy big brother kind of setting and the portrayal of perfectionist/control freak architect was original.

The Girl Before is recommended for architects, interior designers and those who love a good thriller.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

18 January 2017

Bless This Mother-Effing Home: Sweet Stitches for Snarky Bitches by Katie Kutthroat

* Copy courtesy of NetGalley *

Bless This Mother-Effing Home: Sweet Stitches for Snarky Bitches by Katie Kutthroat is a short and entertaining collection of subversive cross stitch. Subversive cross stitch is usually a phrase or unexpected statement designed to shock the viewer. (That's my take on it anyway). It's about challenging the status quo and the unexpected that makes it funny.

Accompanied by floral motifs or a decorative border, the viewer is lulled into a false sense of security - perhaps expecting a quaint vintage piece of handiwork - until they read the phrase, which isn't in keeping with the design at all.

Katie Kutthroat (that's her badass alter ego) opened an Etsy shop in 2008 and her success grew from there. This collection contains the images printed on perforated pages (with a patterned reverse) so you can tear them out and frame them or send one to a friend. If you're looking for the patterns you'll need to visit her Etsy shop Needles and Pins.

Phrases in the book include: Suck it up Buttercup, Mo Money Mo Problems and They Hate Us Because They Ain't Us to name a few. Most of the pieces contain adult language and offensive content and I'll admit I didn't find all of them funny, just as I wouldn't love every design in any other book, subversive or not.

I read my copy as an e-book and I think reading the physical book will add a lot more to your enjoyment. I've included a photo of two of my favourite designs from her book below, hope you enjoy.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Credit: Bless This Mother-Effing Home by Katie Kutthroat 
Credit: Bless This Mother-Effing Home by Katie Kutthroat