What we’re reading: Liane Moriarty, Carey Pietsch & Atelier Sento

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films and TV shows we’re watching, and the music we’re listening to.


Ellen Cregan is reading Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento (translated by Marie Velde)

This is a delightful graphic novel that follows a two tourists as they search for yôkai – the supernatural beings from Japanese folklore. Two adventurers, Cecile and Olivier, are visiting Niigata, a seaside city in Japan. Cecile purchases a camera that has allegedly been polished by monks, and has the ability to photograph the spirit world. Eager to capture some supernatural action, Cécile and Olivier travel around the area visiting temples, forests and various other places that are rumoured to host ghostly activity. Along the way they meet plenty of locals with their own tales of spirits, ghouls and other supernatural beings. The yôkai are cheeky, creepy and fascinating creatures, and I enjoyed being swept through the half-mysteries that surround them. The warm, watercolour illustrations feel very dreamy. My favourite panels were those that depicted mountain temples – all the cool colours and little details are very evocative. I read this book in a single, wonderful sitting, and I think I’ll probably re-read it quite soon!


Paul Goodman is reading The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Justin, Travis, Griffin and Clint McElroy, and Carey Pietsch

Still ploughing my way through Murakami’s latest, I decided to read the truly incredible The Adventure Zone podcast’s first graphic novel. For fans of the show it’s great to see the best podcast I’ve ever heard finally come to print/ink. The best moments from the first chapter are here with some added twists to keep it exciting, and the artwork from Carey Pietsch is an affectionate delight. If you have consumed the podcast in an unhealthy way it won’t offer many surprises, but it is fun and funny. I will give it that.

More importantly is me recommending everyone listen to The Adventure Zone podcast. It’s an actual-play Dungeons and Dragons podcast from the internet’s funniest brothers (and their dad) – the McElroys. As someone who was pretty sure they would never find tabletop games interesting or worth playing, their mind-bending improv comedy (sharpened in their other smash-hit show My Brother, My Brother and Me) and seriously sublime storytelling have now made me a lifelong D&D fanatic. If you’re looking for great stories, big laughs and the nicest guys you could ever have on your headphones, check out The Adventure Zone here.


Lian Hingee is reading Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I’m about half way through Liane Moriarty’s new book, and I’m loving it. The story follows a group of individuals who have signed themselves up for a 10-day wellness retreat at a very unusual health resort, and it provides a perfect vehicle to showcase Moriarty’s razor-sharp wit and impeccable characterisation. No one gets inside the minds of her characters quite like Moriarty, and in Nine Perfect Strangers she has a wonderfully diverse cast to play with. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, and Moriarty provides a wonderfully rounded and richly detailed glimpse of their inner life.

There’s a dreamy element to Nine Perfect Strangers that I haven’t found in other Moriarty books that I’ve read. It’s not racing urgently towards a big reveal the same way Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty did, but it’s certainly no less readable: the drama is simply turned inward, the focus on the closely held personal grievances, hidden grief, and small secrets that make up a person.


Paul Barr is listening to You Were Never Much of a Dancer by Gwenifer Raymond and Live In San Francisco by John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension

I’m recommending two albums this week: You Were Never Much of a Dancer by Gwenifer Raymond and Live In San Francisco by John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension.

Raymond grew up in Wales, listening to her mother’s Nirvana records, and became particularly captivated by a Lead Belly cover on their MTV Unplugged in New York album. She then delved deeper into the music and discovered the American Primitive guitar style of John Fahey. You Were Never Much of a Dancer is her first album and shows she has mastered the style and grown into a skilled player and composer in the idiom. Alternating thumb picking, moody open tunings, a couple of fast banjo tunes and some impressive slide work – it’s all here on yet another fabulous acoustic guitar release for 2018.

For guitar fans who prefer a heavier sound, McLaughlin’s new live album is a feast. Now in his 70s, McLaughlin has finished his final US tour and wanted to go out on top. Live In San Francisco is a long awaited revisit of his Mahavishnu Orchestra material. It’s an explosive guitar extravaganza with not just one, but two bands. Supporting act Jimmy Herring and the Invisible Whip are a jam band who have Allman Brothers and The Dead connections. This doubling up of instruments serves the latter Mahavishnu material well as those records featured extended line ups. The versions are powerful and aggressive when needed and remain mostly faithful to the originals, though there is some very exciting soloing as well.

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Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty

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