After spending a month of binging on Marvel Comics, I decided to make the rest of my February reading a cornucopia of varied reading.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – George R.R. Martin
This volume collects three novellas set in Westeros nearly a hundred years before the events of the Song of Ice and Fire series. It follows Dunk, a newly-made hedge knight trying to make his way in the Seven Kingdoms, and Egg, his squire and the future king of the realm. The book is lighter fare than ASOIAF, but still shares a similar feel, as if set in a Westeros where chivalry and justice still existed…at least in small measure.
Also, if you watch the show Game of Thrones, you may recognize the audiobook narrator (Harry Lloyd) as the voice of Viserys Targaryen.
Fantasy, Adventure, Knights and Royalty, Audiobook
The World of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin
Well, so much for varied reading.
After listening to the previous audiobook, I queued up the audiobook for this in-depth exploration of the history and political climate of Westeros. It provides some interesting insights into the relationships between houses and the tales and legends that fill out the world, but it never has the impetus that the novels have, and some of the passages tend to drag. The audiobook is narrated by Roy Dotrice, but you miss out on the beautiful illustrations in the physical book.
Audiobook, Game of Thrones, Fictional History
The Ice Dragon – George R.R. Martin
I did read some books not by GRRM, I promise.
This one is a short novella for children or young adults, a dark fairy tale about dragons of fire and ice, and a little girl whose touch was oh, so cold…
Fantasy, Children’s Book, Dragons
A Glance Backward – Pierre Paquet
I never stay away from graphic novels for long. A Glance Backward is a surreal coming-of-age story, filled with imaginative, mind-bending imagery. It’s short, but worth checking out.
Graphic Novel, Coming-of-Age, Surreal, Bizarre
Watchmen – Alan Moore
It’s been almost a decade since I first read Alan Moore’s classic deconstruction of the superhero genre, and it’s only gotten better with age. In retrospect, with this as one of my first introductions to graphic novels, I’m amazed that I enjoy more traditional superhero comics as much as I do. Watchmen eviscerates genre tropes and traditions with its complex, flawed characters and gritty, believable world. The art style is restrained, hiding a wealth of background detail. The writing is rife with subtext and multiple layers of meaning. If you haven’t read it yet, you owe it to yourself to experience this masterpiece.
Graphic Novel, Deconstructist, Superheroes, Psychological Realism
Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection – Stephan Pastis
I’ve long enjoyed Stephan Pastis’ comic strip Pearls Before Swine, so I was intrigued when I learned the artist had written a series of children’s books. Fortunately, his signature wit and sarcasm transfers handily to the new format, and the adventures of Timmy Failure (private investigator) and associate Total (administrative assistant and polar bear) never fail to be entertaining.
Children’s Book, Illustrated, Humor, Mystery
The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
I’ve heard of this book several times before (usually in crossword puzzle clues), and I finally decided to see what it was about. It’s a short crime noir novel about affairs, murder, and insurance. The paranoia and duplicity of the protagonists make for exciting reading.
Crime Novel, Murder, Thriller
Pierre the Maze Detective – Hiro Kamigaki
I always enjoyed Where’s Waldo as a kid…even if I could never find him on that stupid 9-million Waldos page. Pierre the Maze Detective brought back reminiscences of poring over double-page spreads, looking for hidden secrets. Each spread features a large maze, along with various chaotic goings-on and dozens of objects to find. And I found every single one, dammit.
Children’s Book, Hidden Objects, Puzzles
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They – Horace McCoy
In the same crime novel compendium that housed The Postman Always Rings Twice, I found another title I’d heard referenced before. Reading a few sentences drew me into this first-person account of a days-long dance marathon where the contestants are dancing themselves to exhaustion. Everyone has something to hide, and nobody will come out unscathed.
Crime Novel, Noir, Murder, Suicide
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day
I’ve enjoyed Felicia Day’s work ever since seeing Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. She’s been in a number of shows I watch, and her web-series The Guild was hilarious. Her infectious humor pervades this memoir, as she recounts her early life and first steps into the entertainment business. I listened to the audiobook, which features Day’s animated narration.
Audiobook, Memoir, Show Biz, Humor