Having just missed one hundred books in the first year of The Book Challenge, in 2010, I made the full tonne. Still reading, but without the challenge, take a look at the reviews for the books that I have read this year.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Book 221 - Titan Sinking by James Dixon

Book - Titan Sinking
Author - James Dixon
Year - 2014
Genre - Non-Fiction (Wrestling)
Pages - 221

Before I start talking wrestling - because I know that it is not necessarily the kind of thing that dozens of you who read this (if I manage to reach dozens!) are particularly interested in - I should say that I have started numbering books differently.  I have added up all of the books that I have reveiwed her on my little blog and this is number 221.  So that is how I shall do it from now on.

On to the important thing of talking rasslin!  Titan Sinking documents the intricacies of 1995 in the then WWF.  Wrestling fans of the time will know that as an annus horribilus for the company.  Vince McMahon was fresh off of a grand jury trial suggesting that he was supplying steroids to his workers, and as a result he got rid of many of the huge muscle bound stars that were in the fed at the time.  This left a massive gap, and we who are inclined to look back fondly tend to remember the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels coming to the forefront and becoming stars.  We try and push back the fact that this year also saw the debuts of Duke Droese, the wrestling binman, TJ Hopper, the wrestling plumber, and Mantaur, a wrestling bull.  No, really.  This is the period in time that when I am teased for liking to watch two half naked men pretend to fight each other, I can look back and think that at least I am not watching an evil dentist fight a clown.

This makes it an interesting period to look at, so I eagerly bought this and tucked straight in.  At first, I was a little underwhelmed.  Dixon has a tendency to write as though he was there - mentions of Vince sighing and putting his head back in his chair for instance - that I don't think work very well in a historical look at things.  However, it didn't take long for me to change my tune.  This book is incredibly well researched, and presented in an engaging and entertaining way.  There is somewhat of an over reliance on two or three sources - Jim Cornette and Bob Holly seem to have something to say about everything - but I will genuinely forgive this for the fact that it shows that it has been researched!  The temptation to include unfounded gossip must be great, but when that happens, Dixon is clear that this is what it is.  His seven or eight pages on the Randy Savage and Vince's daughter Stephanie rumours are wonderfully written and the best thing that I have seen on that possible event.

What I find interesting about this book aside from the wrestling, is that I do believe that it is self published.  I don't know too much about how this works, but it seems that with my Amazon Prime membership, I may be able to read this book - and his two follow up books - for free.  But I feel this would be taking money away from someone who is doing a great thing and putting a dream out there.  As a result, I am reluctant to do so, and although they are pretty expensive, I would like to save a little and get them in paper form I think.  If anyone knows anything different to this on how it works, then let me know as I would be very interested to find out more.

9/10

Thursday, 13 April 2017

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Book - American Gods
Author - Neil Gaiman
Year - 2001
Genre - Fantasy
Pages - 635
Bought for me by Alex Campbell

Three years.  Three years since I reviewed a book on here.  And the really shameful thing is that in that time, I have hardly read anything!  Some plays and books for work, but not really very much in the way of things for myself.  That is, quite frankly, a little embarrassing.

However, I was bought this book for my birthday last week with the recommendation to read it before the TV series starts at the end of the month.  In my haste to avoid spoilers at all costs, and to make sure I read the book before I watch anything on screen, I thought I had best give it a go.

American Gods has a fantastic premise.  What if all of the gods that had ever existed actually did exist?  And what if they continued to exist to this day?  What if the only thing that meant a god could exist was someones continued belief in them?  What new gods would we be seeing formed before our eyes as we start to worship new things?

Shadow is a prisoner who starts to find out the answers to these questions.  Along with the premise, which is very much up my alley, Shadow is one of the best things about this book.  He is a strong, silent type who comes across as highly relatable, despite being nothing like me, or probably you.  He is the perfect connector between reader and story and goes a long way towards making the book a success.

An interesting writing approach also comes in the way that Gaiman peppers the book with sub stories.  We will occasionally take a small break from the main story to look at a smaller one in another part of America, or another time zone completely.  Most of these have some relevance to the main story.  Others just add depth and colour.  I would often find this a little frustrating, but they are wonderfully written and one in the middle in particular - spanning an impressive eighteen pages - could work as its own novella.

I urge anyone to read the book before they watch the film or TV version, and this is a must here.  It is a brilliant read that I have gotten through in a few days, and considering I have been on quite the reading hiatus, that is an impressive feat.  The trailer for the show looks good (and stars Ricky Whittle as Shadow, who, despite not being how I pictured him in my mind, had already struck me as the perfect choice), but nothing compares to reading first.

10/10