The Pirate King by R.A. Salvatore

How did Drizzt get involved in this mess?

2/5 stars.
Hardcover, 347 pages.
Read from October 26 to November 13, 2016.

Well I am now 18 books into this now 30+ series. It is nice to be able to fall back on this series for a quick, easy and entertaining read that takes me away with its familiar characters. I have always been thankful the series has continued but with this book I was wondering if maybe Salvatore wasn’t sure where to take the story next. I believe Salvatore would have stopped the series long ago had he had his own say but as the story is owned by Forgotten Realms it sadly means that they can get anyone to write and continue the story if Salvatore doesn’t want to (even though he thought up the whole story and characters). I am glad Salvatore has stuck with it as it wouldn’t be the same without him.

Luskan has always been a city with a bad reputation. Pirates, gangs, thieves and more because it is a busy sea port of people coming and going with merchant goods. Currently the Arcane Brotherhood are in charge and have a death grip on the city. Drizzt and Regis are in search of Wulfgar after he had not been heard from since he left to rediscover himself and his homeland. However the become compelled to help Captain Deudermont  who is looking to over throw the nasty Arcane Brotherhood from their corrupt rule on the city. However, the leader of the Arcane Brotherhood is not who he appears to be and devastation could be awaiting the group. And what if Drizzr and Regis delay their search of Wulfgar too long and are too late to help their friend if he needs it?

My biggest problem with this book was that there were too many characters that were introduced too quickly. I found myself completely because I got confused in trying to keep up with everything that they were doing and how it related to the bigger plot.  I also find Captain Deudermont’s character just a bit too righteous for my liking. Having said all this, the big fight that takes place with the Arcane Brotherhood was pretty awesome. Not the devastation, but how it all went done, which I won’t spoil.  I did enjoy aspects of this novel, just not as much as others in this series.

Overall, I hope the next set of books in this series promises a bit more. I have faith that Salvatore will redeem himself.

Truth and Brightwater by Thomas King

Aimed at the question of what it means to be be a Native American in present day, this novel also addresses aspects of the unique problems that face Native Americans the perceptions that many people have of them.

3/5 stars.
Read from October 18 to 25, 2016.
Paperback, 288 pages.

Okay, I will admit it. I was suppose to read this book back in my Canadian lit class while I was still in university but I didn’t. I had about five novels a week to get through for a full year so this is one of the ones that just didn’t find the time to read.

A river, is the border that separates the small American town of Truth from the Canadian reserve of Bright Water, yet the two communities are very much connected as there are very few reasons to stay in these desolate towns.Tecumseh is a youth living in Truth and he is getting excited as the Indian Days are coming, which means that a mass of tourists will visit and buy what they believe to be symbolic Native American merchandise. Tecumseh’s cousin Lum is eager to win the the running race that takes place during Indian Days and is certain that he will win. However, this year is not going to be like the others. Tecumseh’s Aunt Cassie has returned and is being given all of his old baby clothes. The mysterious and very eccentric Monroe Swimmer, a local who left and found fame as Native artist in Toronto, has also returned with a peculiar art project aimed at bring the buffalo back to the plains. And why is Lum so eager to run as fast as he can? As Tecumseh has more questions than answers about the on-goings of the adults in his life and each new circumstance forces him to grow up a little bit quicker.

Aimed at the question of what it means to be be a Native American in present day, this novel also addresses aspects of the unique problems that face Native Americans the perceptions that many people have of them. I can see why this novel was picked for my Canadian literature class. After finishing the book I felt very neutral on it and neither liked or disliked it but having reflected on it afterwards the content of the book stops being so subtle. While I am not sure I appreciate King’s writing style as much as others he is very good at developing subtle stories with poignant messages. The Native Americans are reduces to selling trinkets at fairs to appease what people believe them to still be when in reality they are a group of people who are not longer living the way people imagine them to be. People idolize the “dead Indian (a term used by King in his book “Inconvenient Indian“) and idea of a people that never really existed where the live and legal Indians are living a life that goes unnoticed, and much of it with unnecessary hardship.

While this book didn’t sweep me off my feet by any means I am glad I finally got around to reading it. I would recommend this book to those interested in the continuing story of the Native American people.

Serenade by Heather McKenzie

Ah to be rich… but restricted in life and in love. McKenzie is a promising author that is going to give readers and powerhouse trilogy that will be sure to be successful.

Set in an iconic Canadian setting, this novel is an action-packed YA romance.

4/5 stars.
Read from December 20 to 21, 2016.

Cheers to Heather McKenzie for providing me an ARC edition of this book for an honest review. I love to read and support new authors! It has been a while since I’ve read a YA novel and even longer since I read one with some substance so this was a refreshing read.

Kaya Lowen, by all appearances, lives the life that every teenager dreams about: She is the heiress of a billion dollar company and lives the life of luxury with her family in a castle in Banff, Canada. However, Kaya’s life is anything but easy as there are those that wish to assassinate her, meaning that Kaya is heavily guarded at all times and is nearly a prisoner in her own home. Smart and stubborn, Kaya is constantly at odds with those around her in a fight for her independence. Thankfully Kaya has a close bond with the people who protect her. Stephen has become more like a father to her since her own is never around and the youngest guard, Oliver,  has begun to catch her eye. As that intrigue turns into love, Kaya meets a stranger on the evening of her 18th birthday that leaves her questioning her relationship with Oliver and the idea of love. Confused and distressed, Kaya’s world comes apart when she is kidnapped and starts to discover some of her family’s darkest secrets.

Kaya is a likeable and down to earth character, however she is naive which, considering her upbringing, makes sense. One of the things I loved best about Kaya is that she is an endurance runner. The first chapter drew me in with the descriptions of her running. The author must also be a runner to be able to describe that feeling so well. Kaya even wants to run the one of the most iconic Canadian ultras, The Death Race, which is a 125 km run in the Rocky Mountains.

As a Canadian living abroad it was also wonderful to get such beautiful descriptions of Banff, a place I have run and visited many times. It made me miss home. What was also great about this book was the intense pace it kept. There were no lulls in the story or with the romance and the scenes were adventurous and exciting. The last quarter of the book is riveting and the twist about Kaya’s father is jaw-dropping; that bastard is selfish madman!

Additionally, the author, whether on purpose or not, shows what the beginnings of a controlling  and unhealthy relationship looks like. Oliver eventually outright claims Kaya and strips her of her independence and makes her believe it is for her own safety. It was refreshing to see Kaya come into her own as a character in these aspects.

There were two aspects of this novel I wasn’t keen on, one is the title. It doesn’t seem to relate well to the novel but the story line is going to become a series so perhaps that will make a bit more sense later, or perhaps the author is going a similar title approach to the Twilight series. The second aspect of this novel I wasn’t keen on was the love at first sight that was introduced with the mysterious stranger that Kaya meets. I mean, I get it. It seems wonderful to think that you can be that swept of your feet and in love but it was a bit over the top for me. However, I seriously struggle with most romance as it is so for those that are more into romance than myself the author did a great job.

McKenzie is a promising author that is going to give readers and powerhouse trilogy that will be sure to be successful. I would recommend this novel for YA and romance lovers, as well for readers who are runners. The novel is due to be published in April 2017 so keep your eyes open for it!