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!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet By Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet By Becky Chambers
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: July, 29th, 2014
Format: Audiobook narrated by Rachel Dulude
Source: Audible
My Rating: 

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Rosemary Harper doesn't expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and, most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman, she's never met anyone remotely like the ship's diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot; chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks, who keep the ship running; and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy - exactly what Rosemary wants. It's also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn't part of the plan.

In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary's got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs - an experience that teaches her about love and trust and that having a family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

This is one of those books that EVERYONE told me to read, and I was just like, "yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll get to it eventually." It's also one of those books that after reading it, I said to myself, "Why, did you wait so long???" I am my own worst enemy when it comes to books sometimes. 

A lot of the reviews for this book mentioned that it has a very Firefly feel to it, and it's why a lot of people liked it. I get that, but since there are zero alien species in Firefly, it feels more like Farscape to me. It's a Space Opera that focuses on how this ship, The Wayfarer, brings this diverse group of people together to make them a family. I just love that about this book. I also just love the concept of being a space nomad, and not really having a home to call your own except for your ship and the rest of the crew.

I got this one on Audible, but I noticed that there are actually two audiobook versions of this book. I listened to the one narrated by Rachel Dulude. At first I wasn't entirely sure about her narration. At times it seems like she reads the actual narration a little bored and monotone, but the voices she does for all the different characters totally makes up for it! I think in the beginning of the book she was trying to find her footing, and as the book went on I ended up really enjoying this one! Her voice for Dr. Chef is definitely one of the ones that kept me around for sure.

So, I have to admit that this book doesn't feel like there is much of a plot. I mean there is, but it seems like the plot of the novel takes a backseat to the characters and their different relationships. This is a very character-driven novel. Normally I take issue with those type of novels, but I found all these characters so interesting that it didn't really bother me. I'm not trying to say there isn't a plot, it just seems like the interpersonal bonds between the crew of The Wayfarer are more important. If you don't like these characters --which is hard to believe--this novel might not be for you. I still found the plot of punching holes through space to be interesting even if I don't really understand it.

The world-building of this Spacer society is what I think really sticks with me. Chambers does a really great job of explaining why the heck Humans exist in this society. I also love how she paints a picture of the different species that exist in this society. I so am begging for a graphic novel adaption so I can get a good visual of Dr. Chef, Sissix and Pei. I have a good idea in my head, which I think is a big testament to Chambers' writing, but I need to see ALL the art.

When I started this book, I thought, "Oh no, is Rosemary going to end up with The Captain? That would be so typical." BUT!!! It never happens, and I was really glad about that. Because that would be TOO obvious, and too heteronormative and I like to read books that go in a different direction.

I LOVED this book, and I really wasn't expecting to. When books are hyped so much by the time I read them I usually just don't love them as much as everyone else. This book is definitely an exception, because it totally lives up to the hype. I can't wait to read the next one!

Do you love this book? What do you think about it? Whose your favorite character?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Deanna Plays: Star Wars Battlefront is Not For Me

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!

You might be wondering, "Hey, Deanna. What happened to the October edition of Deanna Plays??" And I would just shrug and say, "oh...I just forgot to do it!" One of downsides of this blog not being a job I get paid for and rather a hobby on the side is that I can just let deadlines pass me by! No one can yell at me, except I do want to try to do this feature consistently, but let's see how this goes moving forward.

So since it's #RRSciFiMonth again, I wanted this edition of Deanna Plays to be about a science fiction game. I just started playing Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, but I don't think I've played it enough to form an opinion. The Turning Test was available for download last month...but I have yet to play it, so that wasn't an option either. So instead, since Star Wars Battlefront 2 is coming out, I want to talk about my thoughts about the first game that came out last year. Fair warning, if you love shooters, you are not going to like where this is heading. 

So, Star Wars Battlefront is just not a game for me. There I said it, I just don't like it. Now, I don't want to say if it's a bad game or not, because I just don't know if I can really judge that. I do know, that I'm just not into shooters and since that is the format of this game it's just not for me! Since I took a few years off from gaming, I just don't have the experience of playing shooters like everyone else in this game has. I just don't find it fun to play with a bunch of teenagers that have been playing forever and are crazy good at this game. I die immediately and it almost seems like these kids have a personal vendetta against me as they kill me over and over and over again. It's just not a fun game for me!

I think another reason it just doesn't work for me is that there isn't really a storytelling element in this game. As a book lover, and writer, I love stories and it's one of that things that draws me to a game. It's especially why I lean more towards RPGs. I want to be invested in characters, and with a shooter like Battlefront I don't really get that. I know that the second installment of the game is introducing a single-player story mode, but I just can't justify buying it just for that campaign. 

Granted, I will admit that it is fun to play when I am in a very bad mood and just want to kill imperials. When the dusty orange cheeto got elected as President of my country, I spent that night just trying to kill the empire as much as possible. So this game does have merit, but at the end of day if a game isn't fun to play, then what is even the point in playing? 

I wanted to like this game so bad, because it's Star Wars! I love Star Wars! So why can't I just get into this game? It was kinda of depressing to come to that realization, that just because it's Star Wars doesn't mean I have to like EVERYTHING that says it on the cover.

So, gamers, I want to know, do you like the Star Wars Battlefront games? What draws you to the game? 

Happy Reads Everyone!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Audiobook Review: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: July, 7th, 2015
Format: Audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Based on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.
I'm getting a little in the weeds today with this Star Wars book review. This book is part of the new canon, but it is actually based off of some unproduced scripts from The Clone Wars Cartoon. I am glad we got to see this story in book form. I think Christie Golden did a great job of telling us this story, and Marc Thompson was an amazing narrator as always.

I think this book is pretty pivotal for the prequels and how the Jedi lost their way. The Clone Wars really made them go back on everything they believed in. The plot of this novel is that the Jedi Council decide that they want to order Count Dooku's assassination, and need someone to get his ex-apprentice Asajj Ventress to help them. The peacekeepers of the galaxy want to assassinate someone! That's crazy! The war has affected them so much that they will go to any length to stop it. I think this is where the Jedi really start to lose their way, because they aren't really holding up to their own values. They say the Sith are evil, but would the Jedi of old order a assassination on their enemies? I think not, and I think it's a sign that even if Order 66 didn't happen, perhaps the Jedi would have crumbled in their own way.

This story centers around Quinlan Vos, a kinda of reckless Jedi that is sent on a lot of undercover missions. It's clear that the Jedi Council does not approve of how he goes about his missions, but he gets results so they kind of just put up with him. You can tell right off the bat that Obi-Wan has had enough of his B.S. Poor Obi-Wan he seems to always have to deal with reckless Jedi, first Anakin & then Quinlan. I loved Quinlan, he was this roguish character that was such a sarcastic little shit! I loved him!

Asajj has always been an interesting character to me, but I didn't totally love her in the cartoon. This novel opens up more about her backstory, that I might have missed in the clone wars, and I just find her really fascinating. I don't know what it says about me, but I seem to have a love for female force wielders that had a love affair with the dark side and come back from it to just live their life however they want. (See also Mara Jade Skywalker). Asajj's story arc after she was discarded by Dooku was way more interesting to me. I loved seeing her be a coldhearted bounty hunter that was just out for credits, so I loved seeing her slowly team up with Quinlan and start to warm up to him. I also find her backstory on Dathomir really fascinating, so I was glad we were able to go back there with this story.

Let me tell you, I love a slow burn and Christie Golden definitely made me believe that these two were meant for each other. Which also made me annoyed with the Jedi's "no attachments" rule. It just makes no sense to me! Hearing about these two coming together just warmed my heart, but also simultaneously broke it as the rest of the novel unfolds and we realize just what exactly has happened to Quinlan. Quinlan, you fool! I feel like Quinlan and Asajj are almost a foil to Padme and Anakin. There is even a brief scene about them talking about how wrong Quinlan and Asajj's relationship is and Anakin says something along the lines of, "Well, we're different." And that is exactly why I think the rule of no attachments for the Jedi was so stupid! It also just really puts in perspective how arrogant Anakin was. I don't really want to compare the couples, but I just enjoyed the romance told in this story way better than the one that was told in the Prequel Movies.

I almost forgot to talk about Marc Thompson's narration in this book! Thompson is always an enjoyable Star Wars narrator, but I think he did an amazing job with this one. I think he did a really good job with Asajj's voice. I was really impressed. His Mace Windu was a little off, but I was willing to forgive it because his Obi-Wan and Yoda are pretty good too. It's definitely always entertaining to hear him tell me a Star Wars series.

So since this book is supposed to take place during Clone Wars, the ending is not great, it is a war after all, but I was generally really satisfied with the ending. If you love Asajj Ventress and want to see a different side of her I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Have you read this book? What did you think? What do you think about the rule of attachments?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Star Wars Discussion: Is the Empire really that bad?

I don't know if you guys have noticed but...I like Star Wars. A mean just a little bit, did you all notice?? 😂

So a recurring theme I have been finding in the new canon novels is the idea that maybe the empire isn't really all that bad? Like maybe, at it's core, it's just supposed to be a government that keeps the order in the galaxy? So yes on paper, that is what it's supposed to be, but when you factor in an evil dictator and his Sith pet, they are straight evil! But if we take the Jedi & Sith out of the equation, are the Imperials really that bad?

I think my first example of this idea comes from Ciena Ree from Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. Ciena really believes in the good of the Empire. She believes in law and order, and the Empire is there to provide it for everyone. It isn't until the Death Star blows up Alderaan that she starts to have some issues, but because she has been indoctrinated with Imperial propaganda she believes this was a preventative measure. Her belief in The Empire is shaken further when she sees what The Emperor really looks like, but for Ciena she has to believe in The Empire. For her, The Empire is good and is doing what they have to, to ensure peace. After having friends die because of the rebel alliance she just can't believe that what they are doing is anything good. 

I like this juxtaposition in this novel, because is really makes you realize that maybe the empire isn't all the bad, at least not everyone who joined it is evil. If you factor in that a lot of people probably fought in the Clone Wars and believed Palpatine about the Jedi Betrayal, it makes sense that they would want to also join the Empire, because it used to be the Republic and a lot of people might not really see the difference. There were a lot of good people like Ciena that joined the empire and then later realized that they were being lied to. I think a good example of this is Alexsandr Kallus from Star Wars Rebels cartoon. He was an imperial through and through for a long time, but later he started to question everything he believed and he defected. 

So, back to my original question: Is The Empire Really That Bad?

Yes, I think they still are. They do a lot of things to "control" people rather than bring peace to the galaxy. I think the major big thing they do is build the freaking Death Star and destroy a planet full of innocent people! Also dissolving the Galactic Senate, one of the only last forms of checks and balances was a major move to show that the Galaxy was in a police state. Also, there definitely seems to be a pro-human thing going on with them. If we ignore the Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn, how many non-humans did we ever see in a position of power with The Empire? Not a lot.

Even though I think they are evil, I don't think everyone that joined The Empire was bad. I think there were a lot of good people that believed in the order The Empire was selling, but they just didn't really know what the cost of that order was going to be.

What do you think? Is the Empire really that bad? Do you also think a lot of people got duped into thinking they were serving for the good of the galaxy?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

ARC Review: Steal The Stars By Nat Cassidy

Steal The Stars By Nat Cassidy Based on the Podcast by Mac Rogers
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: November, 7th, 2017
Format: Egalley provided by Netgalley*
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Steal the Stars, a debut novel by Nat Cassidy, is based on the debut science fiction podcast from Tor Labs.
Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.
They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. It still sits at the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed eleven years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.
The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.
It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run, they’ll be hunted for what they know. Dak and Matt have only way to be together: do the impossible. Steal Moss and sell the secret of its existence.
And they can’t afford a single mistake.
Earlier this week I featured the podcast Steal The Stars here on the blog for my podcast feature, Deanna Listens. I was also able to get my hands on an advanced reader copy of the novelization thanks to Netgalley that was written by Nat Cassidy. If you listen to the podcast, and I really think you should, you may know him as Lloyd.

I wasn't sure if the novelization was right for me. I liked the podcast a lot, and I love that stories are being told in this medium, so I wasn't sure if the novelization was just going to be a complete rehash of what I just listened to. At times it is pretty identical to the podcast itself, but there are also these really great similes that I don't remember being in the podcast. I think Cassidy did a really good job of giving us more insight into the characters. I think the novel also give us a little more background on the Sierra Corporation, and why they suck! I don't recall finding out why the character only known as X is in prison, but this is told pretty explicitly in the book. It really hammers in why Sierra is the worst!

I still have so many questions. Like how did Sierra come to take over the world so quickly? I think these are questions for the reader to ask, and are not necessarily something that is answered within the story. This story is a sneaky dystopia, it's so very subtle and looks like our world right now or the not too distant future that you don't realize what has happened to the world until much later in the book.

One thing that is different about the podcast vs. this novelization in the tense that it's written in. Dak our main character is telling the story again to Matt, with all the "you saids." I thought this was an interesting writing style, and I don't think I've read a book that employs this before. We also find out right off the bat that Dak's life took a turn for the worst, when in the podcast we are left in suspense and are not really sure what is happening yet.

I liked this book a lot, but I also wonder if I liked it so much because I liked the podcast too? I don't think you need to do both forms of this story, but you can if you want. Podcasts aren't for everyone, so if that medium doesn't work for them I think it's great that there is a book out there that they can read. The book tells the same story, so you are not missing anything if you don't listen to the podcast first. I am very interested to see what people who haven't listened to the podcast feel about it this book. I enjoyed it a lot, and if you like subtle dystopia and military sci-fi I highly recommend it!

*I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review via This in no way influenced my review.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

ARC Review: Artemis By Andy Weir

Artemis By Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Release Date: November, 14th, 2017
Format: Egalley provided by Netgalley*
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.
I was really excited when I was granted access to an advanced reader copy of Artemis, because I loved Andy Weir's first novel The Martian. Although, since I am not that knowledgeable in science it was a real challenge for me. I love science-fiction but when it comes down to real hard-science, I struggle with understanding. I had the same problem with Artemis at times, but in context it didn't make the book hard to get. I kind of just took all the science stuff to heart and assumed it was correct! My brother is a physicist so I forced him to read The Martian and tell me what he thought, so I might do the same for this new novel! 

I thought it was interesting that the author chose to do his second novel in the female perspective. I think he did a pretty decent job with being accurate with Jazz's world view. I kind of loved that she was brash woman that swore a lot. I am always here for blunt women that say "fuck" a lot. Jazz pretty much doesn't give a crap about anything, and I loved that about her! She's just out to make her next slug. I don't know what that says about me that I love characters like this. One thing that I really appreciate about her character is that she knows her situation is 100% her fault. She doesn't try to blame anyone else for where her life ended up. She is where she is just scraping by because of a series of bad life choices that she made. 

Going into this novel, I knew it was heavy on the, "It's a heist novel...but on the moon!!" so I was pretty amped for it. I just didn't know it was going to turn into an espionage/thriller too! That was really interesting. There was a lot more going on in Artemis, and somehow Jazz finds herself in the middle of it and she has to use her smarts to get by. 

Like Matt Watney, in Weir's first novel, Jazz uses humor as a defense mechanism. I have seen others criticize this book to say that she just seemed TOO much like Watney, and I think that is a fair assessment. I don't know if I immediately thought she was too much like him, but I did think her little quips and dumb jokes later in the novel just seemed to be too forced. I don't know if it was just because I had been peppered to death with these things throughout and it was starting to annoy me, but I think this should have been toned down a little. 

All in all, this is a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. Jazz is an anti-hero, and I adore characters like that. She's a criminal, but only petty and she does have a moral compass to know when to do the right thing. I think if you enjoyed Weir's first novel you will probably enjoy this one too!

*I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review via This in no way influenced my review.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Audiobook Review: Star Wars: A New Dawn By John Jackson Miller

Star Wars: A New Dawn By John Jackson Miller
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Format: Audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson
My Rating: ★★★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed - and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire. Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.
I believe that this book was actually a precursor to the Star Wars Rebels TV series, so this is the first time we are actually meeting Kanan and Hera. I could be wrong on that, but I think it is very interesting to see them after having known them for so long.

I like origin stories, and I really enjoyed seeing how they first meet. They DID NOT like each other...well Hera didn't really like Kanan, he immediately hit on her. Yes, Kanan! The stoic former Jedi Padawan, hit on Hera! I think this is my favorite part about this novel, because we know Kanan as this very cool and collected guy trying to fight the empire, but when we meet him in this story he's kinda of like every frat dude I avoided in college! Seriously! Dude only cares about flirting with all the ladies, where he's going to get his next credit and just staying out of the empire's way. He's a regular old Han Solo! I loved this about the younger Kanan, and you can kind of see why he thew out the Jedi way so early on. Kanan is a survivor and he knows that he has to be different in order to not be found out. It also really showed his character development, and makes everything he goes through in Rebels mean so much more.

I also really enjoy that it lays the ground work for Kanan and Hera's relationship. She is so mission focused that she doesn't really have time for that, but he is still very much interested. I don't think it was just fans shipping them in the show, I think there is something between them and the seeds are planted in this adventure. 

I have to say that I am probably rating this book a little higher than normal because I did the audiobook and Marc Thompson narrated it. I could listen to that dude read the phone book. He always seems to find a way to make these stories interesting to me. Although, I do have one issue, his voice for Zaluna sounded a little too much like Droopy the dog, but she's not a major character so I was able to get over it. Otherwise I think he did a pretty good job with all the other voices. I actually didn't mind his female voice, which I usually have an issue with male narrators.

I have to admit that this book did seem to drag on a little bit, and I just was thinking, "okay, so can we get to the end of this, already??" I also was disappointed we didn't get to see more of the rest of The Ghost crew. I missed Zeb and Sabine. I'm not sure if there are other books with all of them meeting up with Kanan & Hera, but I would be interested in reading those too.

In the end I was satisfied with this book, but I think if you are trying to pick and choose which Star Wars books to read this could be one you could skip. I think Marc Thompson's narration is what really sold me on it, and I don't think I would have liked it as much had I just read this myself.

Have you read A New Dawn? What did you think?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Clones Wars is Better Than The Prequels

As promised for this Sci-Fi Month, I'm about to talk about my favorite Sci-Fi franchise, STAR WARS!

*Queue the crawl opening music*

You all know that I love me some Star Wars...and if you don't, well you do now! The prequels came out when I was a kid, and I liked them -- mostly because I thought Hayden Christensen was dreamy (DON'T JUDGE ME!!). I also am a person that likes to go back to the source material so I got really into the original trilogy, and I STILL have a massive crush on Luke, not Mark Hamill, LUKE SKYWALKER. I still thinks it holds up, but I have to admit there are A LOT of problems with the prequels. But you know what fills a lot of holes that those movies left? The Clone Wars Cartoon! So that's what I'm talking about today.

I was kinda iffy on The Clone Wars cartoon when it first came out. It was at a time when CGI was still new and clunky that I just wasn't into it. So my first time viewing it was actually last year! I got over my issues with the animation style because the stories this series told were just way more interesting. We barely get to see what happens in The Clone Wars from the prequel movies, even though it's a major plot point. It's crazy to me that if it wasn't because of this long form cartoon we wouldn't have seen what this actually entailed!

I think this series just does a better job of story telling. We get a lot more about how Anakin is slowly turning his back on the Jedi way. There's a really interesting 3-part episode on the planet Mortis that I think really hammers in why he ends up where he does. The series also introduces us to Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's padawan. Ahsoka is such a cool character, and the Jedi Council really does her wrong in the end. I think part of that is another pin in Anakin's distrust of the organization he is a part of, but we never get to see her in the prequels!

I feel like we barely get to know the Clones in the movies, but this series does a really good job of showing how even though they are all clones they have different identities and personalities. I re-watched Revenge of The Sith after watching this series and man did it hurt my heart when order 66 was activated. Especially with the scenes with Cody and Obi-Wan, they were best buds!

In the third film of the prequel trilogy Padme's character gets reduced to a woman who just sits around being pregnant, and that made me so angry! She was such a cool character in the first two movies, and we see a lot more from her in this cartoon that it's just insulting to her character in that final film. Padme wouldn't just be sitting around, she would be fighting the good fight, and this always bothered me.

Not every episode is a hit in this series. They are short 20ish minutes long, but there are a lot of episodes and there are definitely some filler episodes. But there are also some really awesome episodes that get to the heart of the Star Wars story. Also the cartoon was cancelled so it doesn't really end which is unfortunate.

I feel like you shouldn't HAVE to consume additional media so that a movie makes more sense. Super fans like me will always seek out the books and if there are cartoons we are definitely going to watch them, but a casual fan might not do the same thing. So saying you have to watch The Clone Wars to understand the prequels is just not fair. I think the cartoon is just a better way of telling the story, and I think maybe the prequels should have just starting with the clone wars and how Anakin turned to the dark side, not starting with Anakin's story as a young boy. 

Hey, Star Wars fans did you watch The Clone Wars? What did you think about it? 

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Audiobook Review: November Rain (Bad Bloods, #1) By Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain (Bad Bloods, #1) By Shannon A. Thompson Narrated by Johnathan Johns
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date: September, 12th, 2017
Format: AudiobookSource: Audiobook review copy provided by the narrator
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.
I have to admit that I wasn't entirely sure about this novel. At first glance it is similar to a lot of the other dystopia YA novels that are out there.  Then once I got into seeing what the Bad Bloods are, that's when I really starting to get interested in it. I love characters with powers, so I was so for all the characters and learning about all their different powers. I think it might seem a little derivative of X-Men, but I love X-Men so I wasn't bothered by this.

I was offered the audiobook in exchange for an honest review from the narrator Johnathan Johns, so I feel like I would be doing him a disservice if I didn't talk about what I thought of his narration. I really liked Johns' narration, and I think he did a good job with the different voices. I especially loved his voices for all the little kids in Daniel's flock. His dialogue voices were really good, but I have admit sometimes it was hard for me when it switched between the two perspectives. If I hadn't been listening for the audio for awhile, sometimes I had to remember which character was actually talking. I don't think that was Johns' fault though, I genuinely think this audio would have been better if there was a female narrator to do the voice of Serena.

I think what really made me like this book more was the characters. Serena and Daniel are such interesting characters. I liked to see how these two kids who had to figure life for themselves find each other, and I'm interested to see how their stories are going to come together.

I did enjoy this book, but I feel like there were a few things missing from this story. Like, what exactly is a Bad Blood and why do people want to execute them? What about the politics of this world made this sort of thing happen? I know that this is a series so maybe these questions will be answered later on?

I haven't completely decided if I want to continue this series, but I am definitely intrigued.

Have you read this book? What do you think? Should I try reading the next book in the series?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Deanna Listens: Steal The Stars

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 featuring STEAL THE STARS!

To be honest, I don't think I would have heard about Steal the Stars if I wasn't on the TOR email blast list. I got an email from TOR to introduce this new sci-fi audio-drama podcast presented by TOR Labs and Gideon Media. So I looked it up and added it to my podcast queue, but then never listened to it. So when I was trying to think of what podcast to feature for Deanna Listens, I knew I wanted it to be something Sci-Fi related in honor of Sci-fi Month, and that's when I finally decided to listen. And man, was I missing out! But luckily, I was able to binge all the episodes and now I'm sad it's over!!

This podcast is an audio drama with a full cast of characters, and it's like I forget that I can't see these people because the voice actors are so good! They convey so much emotion in just a single breath. The two leads Ashlie Atkinson and Neimah Djourabchi really knock it out of the park for me. I kind of forget that they aren't Dak and Matt going about their crazy lives. These are just two good actors, because they have me full-heartedly believing in them. 

If you like sci-fi and things that are about "fuck the system" then you will probably like Dakota Prentiss, because she does everything in her power to "fuck the system." Even if she never really intended for this to happen. Also if forbidden love is your thing, this one is for you. This podcast is described as being an noir-style sci-fi story, and I would agree with that assessment. It's got everything I love about sci-fi, conspiracy within the government, crazy alien stuff, and BAMF lead female that takes charge. Dak is a character you want to root for, even if sometimes she does some really questionable stuff. But who hasn't for love? 

I do have to say that this podcast is on the adult-side in both themes and the language used. Itunes will show you the parental advisory logo when you search in the podcast store. For me that's is not an issue, it makes it feel more real to me. Also, I have a mouth like a trucker so I talk a lot like Dak, so it gives me a chuckle. I know not everyone is okay with that, so I felt the need to point that out. 

I love that podcasts are being used to tell stories as audiodramas. It's something that seemed to die out in America, but because of the interest in podcasting it is coming back. I think it's just an interesting way to tell a story. I highly recommend checking this one out if you haven't already!

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!