Thus far George RR Martin has released five volumes of his ever popular A Song of Ice and Fire series with two more expected to be released at some point. The first book sees the family of Winterfell torn apart as Ned Stark is chosen as the new hand of the king to his good friend Robert Beratheon as he goes through troubles on the throne. Like the series, the book is chock a block of characters and places so having seen the TV show makes it a bit easier to follow and picture what is happening. Introductions are made to Khaleesi, Jon Snow, the Wall, the Lannisters, the Starks, etc as they venture through Martin’s fantasy world. The thick book is hard to put down as the action moves swiftly from one seen to another in this excellent fantasy novel.
The Break, the first novel by Winnipegger Katherena Vermette, won the author a boatload of awards and appeared on numerous year end lists in 2016. The novel centres around a brutal assault and how the extended family each deals with that trauma and the other events in their lives. Each chapter is written in the voice of a different narrator to gain insight into what each character is going through. The Break is a memorable story that takes place in Winnipeg’s north end area which shows both it’s grittiness and the loving people who try to carve out a life in Manitoba’s largest city.
Steven Blush’s 2016 book, New York Rock takes the reader through the NYC rock scene from Lou Reed/Velvet Underground through the Alternative rock scene of the early 2000s. It touches on scenes such glam, punk, hardcore, noise, etc. It is not just the music that Blush writes about but also the bars/clubs that played such an important role in the development of all these scenes. The problem here is that it tries to touch on every band within a scene vs writing about a few of the major player. It ends up just being a list of bands that most rock fans will never have heard of or will ever care about. Oddly, even though it touches the new century Blush does not even mention The Strokes. A similar but far better book is Meet Me in the Bathroom that instead focuses on one particular time period to better effect.
Jill Jonnes 2010 book Eiffel’s Tower is one of those that sat on my bookshelf for years. The tower acts as the centrepiece of the book that is actually about the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Notable characters including Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and artist Paul Gauguin all play pivotal roles to create the scene of the fair. It does a very good job of describing the trials and tribulations that Eiffel went through to both have his tower built as well as accepted by Parisian society. Jonnes paints a colourful history of life in 1889.