Servant of the Shard by R.A. Salvatore

I’m happy that these characters have their own series as they’re too interesting to just be left as side characters.

3/5 stars
Hardcover, 348 pages.
Read from January 2, 2019 to January 8, 2019.

I said to myself that I wasn’t going to touch this series and just stick with the ones about Drizzt but I couldn’t help myself. Especially with how the Neverwinter series went, I just had to know more about these supposed bad boys Jarlaxle and Artemis.

This novel takes place while the companions are all still together and instead of following Drizzt and his crew you see what’s happening on the other side with Jarlaxle and Artemis. This story shows what happens to the infamous Crystal Shard when it lands in Jarlaxle’s hands. Artemis has found himself within the company of drow, a precarious situation, but he has learned much about how this aggressive race of elves work and think. He is also aiming at robbing a highly guarded sword with which he hopes to have the help of his questionable ally, Jarlaxle. Jarlaxle, however, has found himself in a bit of bind as he doesn’t realize that the precious Crystal Shard is manipulating him. To make matters worse, Bregan D’aerthe, his own family, is trying to turn on him. Both Jarlaxle and Artemis have managed to be successful in their assassinating and scheming endeavours because they never trust anyone but in order for the two of them to come out of this situation alive, they’re going to have to address some of their trust issues.

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Artemis and Jarlaxle by WhiteElzora on Deviant Art

This book was exactly what I expected. The characters are consistent with what I have read in the Drizzt books. I’m also happy that these characters have their own series as they’re too interesting to just be left as side characters. It’s intriguing to see Artemis as a parallel to Drizzt and reading this book helps define Artemis’ character further within Drizzt’s story, especially in the Neverwinter books. Artemis has his own moral compass, it’s just not aligned the way Drizzt’s is, which of course, Drizzt comes to see in the Neverwinter books.  Having read those books first, I am curious as to what happens between Jarlaxle and Artemis at the end of this trilogy as the Neverwinter books allude to an event. I enjoyed reading about these two rogues and look forward to reading the remainder of the trilogy.

Watermark by Joseph Brodsky

“The eye identifies itself not with the body it belongs to but with the object of its attention.”

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 144 pages.
Read on December 25, 2018.

I knew nothing about the author or the book prior to reading it, and I still, know relatively little about this Nobel Prize winner. Apparently, Brodsky is a kind of a big deal. Literature-nerd fail? Joseph Brodsky was a Russian-American writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987. He also became the United States Poet Laureate in 1991. He was practically expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and ended up immigrating to the US where he lived to the age of 55 before dying of a heart attack in the winter of 1996. While living in the US, however, he spent that majority of his winters in Venice, Italy.

This short novel is a semi-autobiographical love story/essay/poem about Venice. It has poetical prose and paints vivid details of the author’s perception of the city’s character. Did this book make me fall in love with a city I have yet to visit? No, it’s more of a personal reflection of each of the different visits that the author took so it provides more insight into the author’s mind more than anything. While Joseph’s writing didn’t speak to me, he is a gifted writer and I am intrigued enough to see what else he has written. Besides, it appears he liked cats so that’s a good enough reason for me to give him another shot.

Joseph-Brodsky
Photo from the Poetry Foundation.

The winner of Canada Reads 2019 is…

The debates generally went how I thought they would but there were a few surprises.

Ziya Tong, defending Max Eisen’s By Chance Alonebeat out Chuck Comeau defending Homes, to win this year’s Canada Reads!  Both of these books are amazing in their own right and both stories deserved to win but I am thrilled with this decision. I was really impressed with the debates this year too especially from Ziya as it was her great debating that cinched the win between these two amazing stories.

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Ziya Tong defended Max Eisen’s book “By Chance Alone” to win Canada Reads 2019

Homes has nothing to be ashamed of and the authors of the book should be immensely proud of their accomplishments in getting this far and in sharing such a brave and amazing story. If you don’t know the backstory on Homes, you have got to read-up on it.

The debates generally went how I thought they would with the voting, though I was surprised that The Woo-Woo was voted off in the first round as I expected it to at least make it to the second. I thought that Susanne would be voted off first. Nothing against Susanne as it was the most beautifully written out of all the books this year but it didn’t match the theme as well as the others. The Woo Woo was a personal favourite of mine but so was By Chance Alone and it was very tough for me to rank them beside each other. I actually really enjoyed all the books this year nearly equally, with my least favourite being Brother. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Brother, it just didn’t stack-up as well compared to the other four.

It was a good Canada Reads year, with book selection and debates, and I hope to see more quality like this again next year!