Friday, December 29, 2017

Audiobook Review: A Torch Against The Night By Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against The Night By Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Format: Audiobook narrated by Steve West, Fiona Hardingham & Katherine McEwan
Source: Library
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

The sequel to Tahir’s bestselling An Ember in the Ashes picks up where the last installment left off: Laia and Elias, fresh from the Trials that made them both traitors, barely escape the city of Serra with their lives as a Scholar rebellion tears the city apart. Elias is sworn to help Laia rescue her brother, Darin, from the prison of Kauf, held there for his knowledge of steelmaking secrets that could bring the end of the Martial empire. But Helene Aquilla, the new emperor’s Blood Shrike and Elias’s best friend from childhood, has orders to hunt down both of the fugitives or forfeit her own family’s lives. Watching them all is the commandant of Blackcliff, ruthless in her hatred and hiding a sinister agenda of her own. The shifting network of alliances and betrayals can almost be too elaborate to follow at times, but Tahir’s skill with her characters is more than enough to hold readers’ attention. This sequel has a darker tone and even higher stakes than its predecessor, setting the stage for a thrilling conclusion.
It took me a long time to listen to this one, not because it was bad by any means, just because I kept on forgetting that I had this one on audio!

This audio version was a little different than the first book since we get Helene's perspective on this one so there was a third narrator in the mix. I really liked the narrator for Helene and I think she was exactly what I thought this character would sound like. Although, I have to admit I'm not really a fan of this character. I get that it's needed to show how The Empire is terrible to even their own people, and we see how Helene trying to protect her friend really puts her in a bad position. At the same time, I just couldn't get over how nonchalant she is about having slaves and being okay with slavery being a thing in this society. I think we are supposed to be bothered by it, but it really made it hard for me to like this character. I think I'm in the minority here, because I know a lot of other readers really loved her storyline.

Laia and Elias both go on their own hero's journey both together and apart, and I really like the magic and mystic that is woven into their stories. There is more about that later in the book, and there are some big reveals, but I don't want to spoil anything. I find their relationship interesting and I always thought they were meant to be together, so imagine my surprise when Laia started hooking up with the Scholar Boy Keenan. I DID NOT trust that dude at all, and I was really suspicious about his motives the whole time.

There were some big twists in this novel that I definitely did not see coming, and it made for a really interesting read. I liked this one a lot, but there was just something that made it not worthy of a 5-star review. (I hoard those for books that I absolutely love). It was good, but I think maybe I needed something more out it, and I'm not exactly sure what that is.

I definitely am going to finish this series, and I'm pretty interested to find out what happens to these characters in the next book. Now I just have to wait patiently with everyone else.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

One With The Force: The Last Jedi Was Fine (No Spoilers)

I saw The Last Jedi on opening weekend, and since then I have seen just how divisive this film has been. Especially with a lot of people hailing it, "The worse Star Wars movie they have ever seen." I don't agree with that statement. After viewing this movie I still think Attack of the Clones is the worst of the movies, but that is just MY opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and just because you didn't like TLJ and you don't like the new films, doesn't mean I am trying to say, "No, your opinion is wrong." A lot of the criticism I've seen of the movie are valid and I understand why other fans might not like it. Personally I thought the movie was fine. I do admit that I still think I love the original trilogy more than the new stuff we are seeing, but I don't think TLJ is terrible.

By no means do I think this movie was a perfect one. I mean, has any Star Wars movie been perfect? I don't think so. There were things that I really didn't like about it, but there were also things I did love and made me interested to see where the new canon is taking us. I loved Rey and Kylo Ren's storyline in this movie and I am really interested to see where Kylo Ren's story is going now. I really disliked Poe in this movie, and they could have really done without the Canto Bight scenes. I think in the grand scheme I came out of the theatre happy to have seen another star wars movie and I enjoyed myself so that was good enough for me.

Without getting into spoiler content, I think a reason why a lot of fans just don't like this new direction is because all their theories were dashed down. Some of the reveals didn't go how I thought they would and I was a little disappointed in that, but I understand why they are going in the direction they are. I understand that a lot people don't like Luke's character in this one, and even Mark Hamill was unsure at one point, but to me it makes sense. I mean, I am not happy about it, but I've accepted it.

I enjoyed this movie, and I'll be excited to go see the next episode, maybe JJ Abrams will adjust things to fix some of the issues we saw in this movie. I will be a Star Wars fan until I die, so I am excited for change and to see where this franchise goes in the future.

So what did you think? If you didn't like it, what about the movie made you dislike it? Is it enough for you not to be interested in the next installment. If you liked the movie, what made you come to that conclusion? Do you think fans just had too high expectations for certain things and were just mad when they didn't go how they thought?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Deanna Plays: Books To Read If You Love The Elder Scrolls

Deanna Plays
 is a monthly feature on this blog where every third Thursday of the month I talk about something related to video games. Sometimes these are reviews of the games themselves, sometimes it's a list of books to read if you play X, and anything in between!

This month I am talking about books I suggest you read if you are a fan of The Elder Scrolls game series. This includes Oblivion, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, etc. Although I have only played those three, I think if you are a fan of this series in general you will enjoy these books. 

Heathen, Vol.1

This is a a comic I read this fall that is steeped in Norse mythology. It definitely gave me some Skyrim feels because that game was set in the Nords land. 

An Ember in The Ashes By Sabaa Tahir

I was deeply involved in playing Oblivions (still am actually) so when I started listening to this book on audio I couldn't help but be reminded of Cyrodiil when I was introduced to The Masks and the Empire in this story. 

Arena By Holly Jennings

The game that the characters play in this book reminded me so much of the Champions Arena you can play in Oblivion. So much that I became the Grand Champion in the game shortly after reading this book. LOL!

In The Shadow of The Dragon King

When I read the first book in the Fallhollow series I couldn't help but feel a sense of Skyrim from it. There is a dude named the Palladin who has to stop the evil dragon from taking over. It sounds a lot like the main questline in Skyrim, which I love!

It's a short list for now, but if you have any other books you would suggest to fans of this game series I would love to hear about them!

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Format: Audiobook narrated by Arielle DeLisle
Source: Audible
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.
There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

I really enjoyed Becky Albertalli's debut Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda so I immediately put this new novel on my TBR list, but it took me awhile to get to it. It was recently on sale on Audible, so I decided to do it on audio, and I think it might be one of the quickest listens I have ever done! I was obsessed with getting to the end and finding out what was going to happen with this story. It made me have a huge smile on my face the whole time!

A thing I really enjoyed about this novel is that it is body positive and it doesn't shy away from Molly describing her weight. I have seen other reviews say they got annoyed with Molly's obsession with her weight and how she thought she would never get a boyfriend because of it. I take beef from that stance, because when you are a teenager and you are a certain weight and it is constantly drilled into you that you are outside the "normal" it becomes ALL you can think of. Especially with how her grandmother treats her in this novel. Those well-meaning comments were extremely hurtful. I've been there. I might look average weight, but being told constantly you're whole life to "suck in your stomach" and other side comments about exercise can really take a toll on someone.

I feel a little conflicted about Molly's sister Cassie. I knew they had a tight bond and that Molly was feeling lost that they were drifting apart, but I think Cassie did some mean-spirited things at times. Like telling the guy she might like about her vomiting during her Bat Mitzvah! I was so annoyed at her! Even though Molly said this didn't bother her that much. In the end I was fine with Cassie, but at times I think she just made poor choices.

I am definitely a fan of YA contemporary and I love a good story about finding new love. It just warms my cold little heart! This novel was one that I just COULD NOT stop listening to. The narrator for this one was pretty good. I think she had some great voices between Cassie, Molly, Mina, and even her male voice for Reid was fine. I think it's hard for narrators to do voices of the opposite sex, although I think I am more forgiving when it's women doing men.

I don't think I can say anything else about this novel without giving it away, and I don't want to give any spoilers! This was a book that I blew through and just enjoyed so much. It's nice to just have fluffy love story!

Have you read this book? What do you like the best about it?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is the favorite books of 2017. I took this to mean any book I read in 2017, not ones that were published this year. 

Star Wars: Dark Disciple By Christie Golden. I LOVED this book. Even though the ending crushed me. Who knew Asajj Ventress would become a favorite character of mine.

Signal to Noise By Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Jess @ Jessticulates mentioned this book A LOT that I finally read it and loved it!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I feel like I am the last person in the world to read this book. I recently did the audiobook, and I loved it! I totally get it now.

An Ember in The Ashes By Sabaa Tahir. This is a book that I wasn't that interested in when it first came out so I tried it on audio and it blew me away!

Arena By Holly Jennings. I first heard about this book when Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight hosted a giveway and had an awesome review of it. As a gamer, I loved this one and it made start playing co-op games again.

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. This was a book that had mixed reviews but I love Tsar Russian history, so this was definitely a win for me!

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. This was such a perfect ending to a series! I highly recommend this series to everyone. Go read it now!

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I feel like I took forever to get to this book! I loved it so much. Who else is excited for the movie?

Red Rising By Pierce Brown. I still have only read this first book in the series, but I really loved this first one. 

Star Wars: Rebel Rising By Beth Revis. I didn't totally love Beth Revis' debut, so I was really nervous about her writing a Star Wars book. I think she did a great job, and this book made me understand Jyn way more. 

What were your favorite books this year? 

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Real Neat Blog Award

I was nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award! Woo hoo! Yay for blog awards! I love these things because it's a cool way to give an opportunity to newer blogs to be featured. I always try to showcase different blogs than I have before to share the love in this little blogging community. 

I want to say a big thanks to Darque Dreamer Reads for nominating me. Thanks, girl!!


  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Thank the folks who nominated you and provide links to their blogs
  • Answer the 7 questions asked by your nominator(s)
  • Nominate any number of other bloggers to share the award and give them some linky love
  • Notify the nominated folk
  • Ask the nominees 7 questions of your own
Darque's Questions:

  1. What do you love most about blogging?
    Sharing my thoughts and finding people that have similar thoughts about books. I think the community is a big thing that keeps me around.
  2. Why did you start blogging in the first place?
    I used to be a sports blogger and when I quit I felt like something was missing in my life. So I started blogging about books I was reading. I think it's a great way for me to release my creativity.
  3. Do you have a favorite genre?
  4. What is your favorite book you’ve read so far this year, and what did you love about it?
    Star Wars: Dark Disciple. Honestly, I think it's better love story and a story about a Jedi going dark than the Prequels. 
  5. Favorite and least favorite slang word of the 2010s. (Hint, “neat” is not from the 2010s.)
    Least - Jawn (although it's probably from before the 2010s, but I hate it so much). I don't really have a favorite. I'm a hater. 
  6. Which kind of apocalypse do you most enjoy reading/watching/thinking about?
  7. What about a blog makes you follow?
    Similar interests, active on social media, and interesting content.

My Questions:

  1. What do you love about the book blogging community?
  2. If you could switch places with a book character who would it be?
  3. What is your least favorite genre? Why?
  4. Is there something specific that makes you love a book?
  5. What is your favorite childhood book?
  6. Do you have a favorite blogger? (You don't have to name them) What about their blog makes them your favorite?
  7. What is a pet peeve you have about other book bloggers or book lovers in general?

I Nominate:

To be completely honest I didn't check to see if the bloggers above have already been nominated, so if you have been feel free to pass on answering these questions. If you haven't heard of these bloggers, you should give them a follow!

Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, December 8, 2017

New Feature - One With The Force!

Guess who has another new feature?? THIS BLOG! Because of course I need to have another feature that I forget to post about! 

So today I am introducing a new feature I am calling One With The Force. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, or have come across my blog during Sci-Fi Month, you probably have noticed that I really like Star Wars. Like REALLY like Star Wars! So I wanted to add a feature to my blog that would be dedicated solely to my love of Star Wars. I'm calling it One With The Force, because I'm a wannabe Jedi!

I read and review a lot of Star Wars novels on this blog, and I think I will still do those as separate review posts. This feature is more going to be about character discussions, news stuff, or anything I want to talk about regarding Star Wars. I'm just a really big fan of this universe and I think in an effort to combine all my loves in one place it makes sense to add this feature to my blog.

I'm pretty excited to get started with this feature, but I likely won't have a new feature post up on the blog until the new year. I'm not going to hold myself to a once a month type thing like I do with some of my other features. I rather make it so I can just post whenever I want. Whether that be sporadically throughout the year or a few times a month. I like the monthly features I have on here, but sometimes I think, "oh, crap, I have to write a Deanna Listens" and then I think I don't do my best work. 

Star Wars is something I am really passionate about, so it's exciting to start to bring that more into this blog. If you have an idea on what I should post about for this feature, please let me know! I would be interested to hear what readers want to read about and what interests them!

Tune in later to see what I have in store for this feature...and may the force be with you! 

Happy Reads Everyone!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager By Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #3)
Publisher: Dell
Release Date: October, 26th, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 1059 pages
Source: ?? I don't remember where I got this one
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

From the author of the breathtaking bestsellers Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, the extraordinary saga continues.

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite—or forever doom—her timeless love.
I have legitimately been reading this book for an entire year! Not that it's bad, it's just a huge book and is a huge commitment. I would get sidetracked from reading this because I would get ARCs from publishers in between reading this and then I kept on having to put it down to read other things. It kind of feels weird now that I am finally finished this one. I enjoyed it but there were definitely parts about this book that I take some issue with.

I like the story of Claire and Jamie a lot, and I found the narrative structure in this one a little different than the last books. It was different in a good way and kept me interested. In this novel we get to see what Jamie has been up to and how his life has been since Claire went back through the stones. At the same time we see the parallel of what Claire's life is like going back to her own time period. I found Claire's life with Frank super depressing. I just don't know how she could stand to live with him! First of all there is the trope that he looks like Captain Jack Randall, and I think if I was her I wouldn't want to ever look at him again. The second part is that he just sucks! I admit their relationship is complicated, and Claire is very closed off since she is still in love with Jamie, but he also sleeps around with other women all the time too. Also that really racist stuff that comes up towards the end of his life is NOT OKAY!

Which brings me to what I took issue with this novel, and that is the way it handles race. I loved Claire's friendship with her colleague Joe (a black doctor), but there are even some problematic things with this character. There is section where Joe's son is getting involved in the black power movement and Joe makes a really weird joke about it to Claire. The other people of color, like the Chinese man Yi Tien Cho and the slaves that they meet on their travels are written in a very stereotypical way. It's more than a little problematic. I'm not caught up on the show yet, but I believe the adaption is trying to not include the same racial stereotyping as the source material. I'm glad we actual see people of color in a historical fiction novel, but it's definitely not without problems. I also try to look at the fact that this book was published 20 years ago and thoughts on race and problematic content wasn't talked about in the same lens. Not to say how race is treated in this novel is okay, I think it's just something to consider when reviewing this novel.

I think this book is titled aptly, because we really go on a voyage with both Jamie and Claire. I feel like Claire is just constantly testing Jamie and it kind of makes me laugh. Jamie is basically like, "Claire, don't do the thing!" but Claire is like, "Imma do the thing" and he still loves her and finds a way for the two of them to get out of whatever shenanigans they wind up in.

I do think that maybe these books are TOO long. Like do we really need all of this detail to get to the heart of the story? I like reading about Claire and Jamie's lovestory, but I think sometimes Gabaldon tells us too much and it's not really all that necessary to the overarching plot. I still think I will continue with this series, but it's just a huge time commitment that I find it a little difficult to complete.

What did you think of this book? Are you a fan of this series? In your opinion, why should I continue reading this series?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Deanna Listens: Fangirls Going Rogue

Deanna Listens is a monthly feature on the first Monday of every month I created to showcase some of my favorite podcasts. This month I am talking about a podcast that is very near to my geeky girl heart -- Fangirls Going Rogue!

I had this podcast on my radar for a long time, and I finally took the plunge to really start listening to them. I'm slowly going through the backlog of the older episodes, but I think I have listened to enough to properly talk about this one. I have to say that I LOVE this podcast. If you love Star Wars, and you like to hear discussions from the female point of view, this is definitely a podcast for you. The podcast is hosted exclusively by women, which I love and they definitely let their Fangirl Flag fly high! Which I am 100% here for!

A cool thing is that no matter what their episode is about (if it's an interview, news topic, etc) they do take the time to build in a character discussion portion. I think it's something different about them that I haven't experienced with other Star Wars Podcasts. They always want to talk about a different character in the Star Wars universe, and I love that! 

Another thing I really like about this podcast is that they don't always agree. Which is great because not everyone is going to agree with each other. I think they have health debates and play it off professionally so it never gets too intense. Debate is good, and having different opinions is always good in fandom. Not everyone is going to have the same favorite, and not everyone is going to love all the characters, and I think that's okay. They are always respectful of each other, and that's one thing I really appreciate about their debates. 

The Fangirls are also super engaging with their fans. They have a closed facebook group (you just have to ask to join and answer some questions). I recently joined it and I love all the discussions and camaraderie with other SW fans in the group. Also, this podcast is not just for women. Men are involved in the conversation too, this podcast just chooses to focus on viewing the Star Wars universe in the female lens, and I love that. They also have a lot of women in Star Wars on the podcast, from Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe, to Vanessa Marshall, to women that work for the LucasFilm Story Group. I think it's important to support women in Star Wars and the women that are working to bring Star Wars to us all. 

Awesome Episodes That I Love:
-#CarrieOn LIVE from Celebration Orlando (Panel talking about Carrie Fisher & Princess Leia)
-You Talk We Listen - Episode 1: Rogue One with Sandra Choute & Adjua Adama (this might actually be my favorite, and want to see more of these YTWL)

These are just a handful of great episodes that this podcast puts out, but there are so many good ones to listen to. I am slowly going through the backlog, because I like starting things from the beginning but I really enjoy listening to these ladies talk Star Wars. If you are an uber Star Wars fan like me, I really recommend this podcast. Give the Fangirls some love!

Got a great podcast you love? Give me a recommendation in the comments. No serious, please help, I'm running out of podcasts to listen to!

Happy Reads Everyone!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

November Wrap Up

Ahhh! How is it already December??? November is always a busy time on my blog because I participate in #RRSciFiMonth so I try to write a lot of content. This year was no different, and it was the most posts I have written in a single month since July. It's always a fun time, and I enjoy connecting with my fellow scifi lovers and discovering new blogging friends. 

There have been some changes on the blog this month. For one you might have noticed that my design has changed. Very slightly, but I changed some things out because I wanted a cleaner look. I also bought some artwork off of Esty so I could make some nicer graphics. Notice the new header and the new graphic I created for the my monthly wrap up. Expect to see more of these new graphics when I start rolling out more of my features for December. 

I go on vacation during the holidays and I don't take my computer, so I tend to be really hit or miss during December. So if you are missing me on the blog, I'll still be on social media, just reading up during the holidays! 


For Deanna Listens this month I talked about Steal The Stars! Which is an awesome radio drama which I loved. There is also a novelization which I also wrote a review for, a link for that is below. 


I actually remembered to write something for Deanna Plays this month! I also just created a new graphic, which I'm debuting in this wrap up post. I wanted Deanna Plays to relate to Sci-Fi Month so I wrote about why Star Wars Battlefront is just not a game for me. 


For Sci-Fi Month I also ran a giveway that was a guess the sci-fi book and/or tv series/movie. It was a fun time, and I have to say everyone that gave answers got them correct. I think I made it too easy this year! A winner has already been chosen and they have been informed, but I wanted to give the answers for anyone that is curious.

  1. Young woman lives on the moon and is offered an opportunity for a heist to get herself out of debt
    Artemis by Andy Weir
  2. Teen girl participates in an "Alien Exchange Program" and finds herself losing all her friends in the process, while falling in love with the Alien in question
    Alienated by Melissa Landers
  3. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a former sith lady now bounty hunter falls in love with a sarcastic little shit of a jedi
    Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
  4. A diverse group of humans and aliens live on a patched up ship and travel the galaxy, when they are given an opportunity to create a new hyperspace tunnel things get more interesting
    The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet By Becky Chambers
  5. Novelization of awesome podcast about a secret base that hides the most typical looking alien you can think of. But is it dead or alive?
    Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy
  1. Cop from the future gets transported to the past due to a terrorist plot and has to learn how to be a cop without all her tech and live in a past she doesn't understand
  2. American Astronaut gets lost in a wormhole and lands in a new galaxy that he just will never understand, and ends up on board a living ship
  3. A young man desperate for an exciting life off his desert planet goes on a mission to save a Princess with his crazy hermit neighbor, an outlaw and a walking carpet
    Star Wars: A New Hope (I accepted just Star Wars or just A New hope for this one)
  4. A diverse team travels aboard their ship in space to explore the final frontier and seek out new life and civilizations. In the quest to boldly go where no man has gone before.
    Star Trek (this was vague one on the Trek franchise in general, so you didn't need to be specific)
  5. Tough South London teens are terrorized by savage alien creatures. It's up to them to protect their block from this insane attack.
    Attack The Block

I'm kind of sad the event is over, but I had such a fun time AGAIN doing Sci-Fi November! 

What books did you read this month?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: From a Certain Point of View

From a Certain Point of View: 40 stories celebrating 40 years of Star Wars
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: October, 3rd, 2017
Format: Hardback, 477 characters
Source: Barnes & Noble
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a whole new point of view.

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the 40th anniversary, more than 40 contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the 40 short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by best-selling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars:

Gary Whitta bridges the gap from Rogue One to A New Hope through the eyes of Captain Antilles.
Aunt Beru finds her voice in an intimate character study by Meg Cabot.
Nnedi Okorofor brings dignity and depth to a most unlikely character: the monster in the trash compactor.
Pablo Hidalgo provides a chilling glimpse inside the mind of Grand Moff Tarkin.
Pierce Brown chronicles Biggs Darklighter's final flight during the Rebellion's harrowing attack on the Death Star.
Wil Wheaton spins a poignant tale of the rebels left behind on Yavin.
Plus 34 more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales from Ben Acker, Renée Ahdieh, Tom Angleberger, Ben Blacker, Jeffrey Brown, Rae Carson, Adam Christopher, Zoraida Córdova, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Paul Dini, Ian Doescher, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Fraction, Alexander Freed, Jason Fry, Kieron Gillen, Christie Golden, Claudia Gray, E. K. Johnston, Paul S. Kemp, Mur Lafferty, Ken Liu, Griffin McElroy, John Jackson Miller, Daniel José Older, Mallory Ortberg, Beth Revis, Madeleine Roux, Greg Rucka, Gary D. Schmidt, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Sabaa Tahir, Elizabeth Wein, Glen Weldon, Chuck Wendig.
I have a hard time reviewing anthology books, because how do I quantify a review of different stories by various different authors with different writing styles? I usually do an overall review for these collections, but I find it so hard! Mostly because what if there is one great story, but all the rest in the collections are kinda "meh". How do you write a review for that? Do you give it a good review, just for that on story? I wasn't really sure how to broach this collection. Do I just call out what I liked? Or do I break it down by each story and give a review separately? I know Greg at Greg's Book Haven did it that way, and I liked his review, but boy is that A LOT of work! So I want to talk about this collection has a whole, and I want to pull out my favorite stories and that ones that I just didn't care about to show the difference between the stories.

Some of the stories in this collection just didn't make me feel anything. I read them and just thought, "okay." and flipped the page to the next story. I'm not really going to talk about those here, because I just don't have any feelings about them. But let's start with the misses and which stories just didn't work for me.

Whills by Tom Angleberger might have been my least favorite. It's a little funny on a really meta level, and I understand why they ended with it, but I just thought it was so unnecessary. It didn't do anything for me to enhance my love of A New Hope. Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Weldon was another I just didn't really care for. I think for me it was just super distracting to read in the droid's processing language. I mean on some level it was cool because I don't think I've read that in a Star Wars book before, but it also gave me a headache so I have to put it in the "miss" pile. This last one that was in the "miss" pile for me hurts my heart because it's from my favorite author, but I can admit when one of her stories just doesn't work for me. Beru Whitesun Lars by Meg Cabot was just kind of boring and repetitive, and that makes me really sad. On one hand I know a lot of women were glad that there was talk about Beru being infertile in this story and I think that is great to have that here. I always kinda wondered why the Lars didn't have any children, and it's cool to see something like that in the Star Wars Universe. On the other hand she talked about making Blue Milk Cheese TOO much, and I just didn't care.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I want to talk about the "Hits" in this collection and why I loved these particular stories.  I also want to point out these aren't all the stories that I liked, just the major ones that I was really drawn to and want to point out for the purpose of this review. I also am listing them chronically, not by order of how much I liked them.

I think Stories in the Sand by Griffin McElroy was the first story in the collection that I really enjoyed. I feel like we don't really know that much about The Jawas, so it was really interesting to read from the perspective of one and get a little more insight on their culture. Reirin by Sabaa Tahir was a cool story, especially if you want to hear the Tusken Raiders side of the story. This one is a little frustrating because now I have more questions, but that also made me love it. Reirin is a Raider that wants to leave the planet and she has to find some sort of rock in the Jawas' Crawler (I think it's supposed to be a Kyber Crystal). I also think that it's heavily implied that she is force sensitive. Um...where is the rest of this story?? I want to know more about this character's journey. I liked John Jackson Miller's Rites story for a similar reason, it's also about The Tusken Raiders. If you read Kenobi (now part of legends, even though it totally should be canon) the character of A'Yark should be familiar. She's the Chief of her tribe, and I really need a novel about her too. I kind of love that Miller was able to make this character canon. That's really interesting to me and I definitely am more interested in reading about the Tusken Raiders in the Star Wars Galaxy and hearing their side of the story. Another one I really loved was The Trigger by Kieron Gillen. This was my first introduction to Doctor Aphra (I don't think she has a book, but she is in the comics) and I definitely need to get my hands on her comics now!

I like anthologies because it allows you to jump around and if you don't like one story, you can just move on to the next one. I generally enjoyed this one. There were some I hated, some I loved, but I think that is just the nature of anthologies.

Did you read this story collection? What did you think? Do you have a favorite story?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: Aftermath: Life Debt (Star Wars: Aftermath #2) By Chuck Wendig

Aftermath: Life Debt By Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Format: Audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson
Source: Audible
My Rating: 
★★★ 1/3

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig s New York Times bestselling trilogy.

"It is a dark time for the Empire. . . ."

The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee's homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire's remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush resulting in Chewie's capture and Han's disappearance.

Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon's last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can't anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.
So I wasn't sure I was actually going to continue to read this series, because if you remember when I read the first Aftermath book I really DID NOT like it. I felt like these books are important to the story of how we get from Return of the Jedi to how we get to The Force Awakens, so I decided to give the second book a try on audio. Guess what? I liked it better, but I think that might be because Marc Thompson's narration makes books better for me. All his different voices for these characters made it really engaging and made me interesting in learning what was going to happen next.

What I like about this book is the focus on Norra and her team and their secret mission to rescue Han Solo & Chewbacca from The Empire on Chewie's home planet. I think Han Solo being in this novel did make me like it more, because there are some classic Han Solo lines in there. Marc Thompson does a really good Han Solo voice too!

Norra is an interesting character to me. She has a lot going on in her life, trying to be a single-parent during the aftermath of war is pretty tough especially when you son thinks everything that is wrong is your fault. I have a lot of bones to pick with Temim in this one. I think he is EXTREMELY unfair to his mother in this novel, and I just want him to grow up and mature. I do like that he started to bond with Wedge Antilles, and I think it was good for him to have a good role model like that. Temin is just...I would like to have some words with him about respecting his mother. (And this is when I realize I am OLD, because I am siding with the parents). I think he has a lot of growing up to do, and I don't know if he can do that it just one more novel, but I'm interested to see how his character develops at the end of this trilogy.

I also have to say the Mr. Bones is the best character, er droid in this novel! Listening to Marc Thompson do the battle droid voice is super entertaining. I also love his voice for Sinjir, it is exactly how I thought he would talk in my head. His fierce friendship with Jas is probably one of my favorite things about this novel. Jas is also a favorite for me, I have a soft spot for cold-hearted Bounty Hunters that just pretend they don't care, when they actually do.

While I did enjoy this novel a lot more than the first book, I still have some issues with it. Mostly it comes down to the interludes. I thought these were super distracting when I read the first novel, but listening to these were even more distracting. They don't really do anything to the main plot and feel really unnecessary. It really took me out of the story and I had to think, "Wait, who is this?" We never hear from these new characters ever again. The story would be fine without these interludes, it just feels like there are two books here. One with the short stories of how different people are affected by the war, and then the story about Norra's crew. It makes the book feel really disjointed. I am curious if this was an author decision or if this was something that the LucasFilm Story Group insisted was included in these novels. I could see it going either way, but I just have a real issue with how this story was structured.

This series is a hard one to say if I recommend you to pass on or not. They are definitely not my favorite, but I think the lore in it is important especially if you want to know what happens directly after Return of the Jedi. Star wars superfans like me that read all the books will probably read this one, but if you are just a casual fan and are looking into getting into the books maybe this is one you should pass. I think I just can't get past the weird structure of these novels, so this one was just "okay" for me.

Happy Reads Everyone!