Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

“Like Lincoln, I would like to believe the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Then again, he said that before he got shot.”

3/5 stars.
Hardcover, 258 pages.
Read from January 22, 2019 to January 31, 2019.

This is not a book I would have normally picked up which is why book clubs are so amazing. This funny and slightly morbid travelogue is about all the assassinated Presidents of America. Sarah Vowell has a very entertaining writing style which makes you wish that she could have authored every single history book you read in school.

You likely know who Sarah Vowell is but may not recognize her face. She has a unique voice and is involved in a number of popular podcasts but she is best known for her voice in The Incredibles Movie as the character, Violet. In this novel, Sarah goes on a road trip visiting all the murder sites of each of the assassinated Presidents throughout American history. This isn’t your typical vacation and the author recognizes her strange obsessions with humour as she drags her reluctant friends and family around the country with her in order to feed her assassination hobby. Sarah discusses the political reasonings and outfall of each of the assassinations as well as giving some, often hilarious, insights into the lives of each of the presidents and how they have come to change the face of America today.

I can’t say I have ever cared about dead America Presidents but Sarah’s passion, wit and humour on the subject comes through in her writing and this book made for an enjoyable and engaging read.

 

 

 

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

“When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That’s what they inflicted on us.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 191 pages
Read from January 1, 2019 to January 2, 2019

I picked up this book on a recommendation by a friend, though if I had started reading all the Canada Reads books just one year earlier I would have come across this moving story sooner. Indian Horse made the Canada Reads 2013 shortlist but was unfortunately voted off in the first round.

Indian Horse is an all-encompassing story that touches tragic issues related to the indigenous people in Canada. The story also has wide-reaching themes with its integral connection to hockey and the protagonist’s, Saul Indian Horse, struggles with childhood trauma and alcoholism. Saul’s past starts with his indigenous roots as a young child trying to escape the prying arms of the white man trying to forcefully place him and siblings in residential schooling. His family knows the woods and has this advantage but their luck does not last forever. After being pried away from the frozen and dead grip of his grandmother he is forced into a residential school where endures severe abuse. His only reprieve from the misery and loneliness of the school is through hockey. Saul shows promise as a talented hockey player at a young age but his native roots make him an outcast against the white hockey teams he plays against, despite being better than them. As Saul grows, hockey carries him through the toughest moments in his life but things start to turn sour as Saul becomes an adult and the hockey realm becomes more abusive and physical. Unable to deal with his past traumas and personal failures Saul turns to drink. The story opens with Saul at rock bottom with him coming to an understanding that if he wants peace he needs to tell his story.

Saul’s childhood is nothing short of traumatizing as the author details how Saul and many real indigenous people in Canada were treated during the horrific era of residential schooling in Canada. Physical and sexual abuse was rampant, leaving many of the children with irreparable trauma in which its no surprise that many did turn substance abuse as an outlet. Saul’s story is tragic but the ending is nothing short of inspiring. The writing is easy to read yet remarkably crafted. Richard Wagamese is a talented author that writes from the heart, his characters are dynamic and engaging and his plot and storylines are thoughtful and concise.

This book is for every Canadian, especially those who enjoy inspirational stories on overcoming adversity, hockey, or anything related to Canadian history. What makes this story all the more poignant is that Saul’s story represents so many indigenous children in Canada with the tragedy being that so many of them don’t get the peaceful ending that Saul did making it all the more important that their stories get shared.

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.

entreri_and_jarlaxle_by_whiteelzora_dnbdtq-pre
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.