Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Format: Audiobook Narrated by Robin Miles
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
I have a little bit of a beef with this book. Not because of the content in it, but more in the way that it's been marketed to me and how other readers have talked about this book. I didn't even read the description when I clicked "Want to Read" on Goodreads, because SO many other book lovers that I trust recommended this. Had I did I wouldn't have been expecting Sci-Fi and been surprised to get a really immersive fantasy novel. This book was touted as Sci-Fi  to me, but when I started reading this, I was very confused because it seems to have more fantasy elements than anything else. The world does seem science-based, but to me this book screams fantasy. Again, nothing actually wrong with the book itself, just an observation about how this is introduced to new readers.

Once I started reading this and realized that the story is more a fantasy-based world, I started to get into it. I think that N.K. Jemisin has created a wonderful new world in this story. I liked that she really does not shy away from showing the harsh realities of this world either.  The class division between the Stills and the Orogenes felt so real to me, and having this sort of oppression in this world made sense in the story's context. I was really fascinated by the Orogenes, and I want to know more about why they let themselves basically be second-class citizens. They hold all the physical power, so it's interesting to me that they don't actually have power in the political landscape of this world. I want to know more about how they came to be. Is it a mutation? It is just a gift from "Father Earth" as one character explains in this book? There are a lot of questions I still have about this world, and I want to know if Jemisin will ever answer them.

The narrative in the story is unlike any I have ever read before. It's written with three different perspectives, but the first one we get is written in 2nd person. I have never read a book that uses this perspective, so I was really intrigued. I think it was hard to get into at first, but once I was in the midst of this book I had gotten used to it. The other two are written in 3rd person-limited, so they were much easier for me to follow. It took me awhile to figure how these three were supposed to work together, because it felt like I was listening to three different stories. I couldn't tell at first if these were told at the same time and they would all meet up at some point in the story, or if it was something else entirely. As the story progressed I figured out which way it was going, and was happy to see that my guess about it was correct! I know some readers are bummed when they figure things out too quickly in book, but I get a lot of joy out of it!

This book is definitely a dark novel with some cynical overtones. I am a very cynical person, so it was right up my alley! It is definitely NOT a book for young adults. This fantasy novel is a clear departure from the YA novels I read, and it was actually really refreshing for me. There is a lot of talk about sex in this, which I think is fine in adult novels. However there is a pretty graphic sex scene that I was woefully ill-prepared to listen to! I felt like it really didn't fit with the overall story. However, I do think it was interesting that the author was choosing to write about sexuality in a way that I am not used to reading about. So props to her for doing that, I just so wasn't expecting it!

I don't think I have listened to Robin Miles narrate anything before, but I could be wrong and I just don't remember. I think she did a really good job. I think she did some interesting accents for the different side-characters we meet in this novel along the way. She does the narration for the other books in this series, so I definitely want to try to listen to the rest of the books on audio.

This book can definitely be complicated at times by throwing in-universe vocabulary at you right away. So it might feel a little overwhelming especially if you are new to the genre. I read a ton of sci-fi and fantasy, so I was fine with all this stuff. If you are a fan of both genres and you haven't picked this one up yet, I say you should give it a try! I'm excited to read the next one.

What did you think of this book? Do it overwhelm you at all?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, January 26, 2018

One With The Force: The Assassination of Padmé Amidala

In this installment of One With The Force I want to talk about the prequel character Padmé Naberrie Amidala and how I totally think her character was essentially assassinated by her creator. 

I'm not a huge fan of the Prequels, but they are the reason that I got into Star Wars and discovered the original trilogy. So I have a lot of love for them being a means to introduce this world to new fans. 

One character that I LOVED in the prequels was Padmé. Knowing that she was supposed to be the mother of Luke & Leia made her super interesting to me. I liked that rather than traditional fighting she fought with her wit and really tried to be as diplomatic as possible. I think a lot of fans see Leia as Padmé, but I disagree. Her love for people, and the ability to see that evil could be turned back to good makes her seem much more like Luke. Not to say that Leia is not compassionate, but I think she is fueled by her anger much like Anakin was.

Padmé in the first episode is awesome! She is a young queen that just hides in secret and does what she has to do to protect her people. I loved that about her! However, as we see her get older and see her relationship with Anakin develop, I have to wonder how bad her taste in men were! In the movies her love story with Anakin just feels really wooden. I think it's a way to show that although she is a powerful woman that has a lot of sway in the senate, when it comes to love she doesn't know what she is doing. I kinda like that about her, but it also made me want to shake her and yell, "Girl, run!" Honestly, in retrospect I wonder if their relationship was abusive in some way. There were a few episodes of the Clone Wars that I really DID NOT like the way he talked to her. Also, in Revenge of the Sith all she does is sit around and be pregnant. The way Anakin lashes out at her in this movie really bothered me too. 

That's where I think her character got assassinated. In the first two movies we see a cool female character that is getting shit done, and then in the next one she is just sad and pregnant?!? I think we get a little bit more depth of Padmé in the Clone Wars cartoon, but going from that to her just being "furniture" in the last movie was so jarring. There were supposed to be some scenes with her meeting with Bail Organa & Mon Mothma as they start the fledging Rebel Alliance, but they were cut because George Lucas wanted this movie to be about Anakin's journey. I'm pretty much paraphrasing Lucas himself here. If you watch these deleted scenes with the commentary on, that's basically what he says about why these scenes were cut. That makes me so mad, because it just feels like Padmé gets written off as a character that is just there to move the plot further.

One thing I do want to rage about a little bit is Padmé's death. So before Revenge of The Sith came out, and we already knew that she was the SkyMom, I had a theory. In Return of The Jedi, when Luke asks Leia if she remembers her real mother, she says yes that she does and that she was very sad. I thought that they split up the twins, Luke went to his Uncle and Leia went to Alderaan, but I thought Padmé went with Leia. There was clearly a friendship between Bail and Padmé so I thought maybe he took her to his home planet to go into hiding. I know some other fans, not knowing at the time that Bail had a wife who was the royal heir to Alderaan, thought maybe they got married and just brought Leia up as Bail's own. I'm okay with that theory too, but I don't think if Padmé had lived that she would have remarried so soon. So when she dies, I thought, "Wait a minute, doesn't Leia remember her, how could she die? That is a major plot hole!" I know some fans try to say that maybe this shows that Leia has the force, but honestly I think it was just bad writing. 

I also really dislike her death, because it's not that she dies in childbirth, but she just dies because she has "lost the will to live." Lost the will to live, are you serious? I HATED that reasoning. I have heard some fans say that she just went insane, but I still don't buy that. One theory that I've heard and I believe is that Anakin killed her. When she goes to confront him on Mustafar and he force chokes her,Anakin doesn't really know how to control his powers and steals her life force when he force chokes her. He was an extremely powerful Jedi, and as a new Sith he was just started to experience with his dark side powers, so it's possible he didn't really know what he was doing yet. Now that is a theory that I think makes absolute sense, and I wish this was something that was confirmed in the movie. I do think that Palpatine told Anakin he killed her, and that's why he doesn't turn away from the dark side until Luke comes into the picture. 

I think Padmé deserved so much better than what she got. She deserved a better death than what we see in the prequels, and I'm STILL made about it. 

What do you think about Padmé's death. Are you okay with how her death is shown in the movies, or do you think the theory that Anakin killed her accidentally is a better one? How do you feel about her character development?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Audiobook Review: Geekerella By Ashley Poston

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Format: Audiobook Narrated by Eileen Stevens & Tristan Morris
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfieldmovie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

I had this book on my list for a long time, so when I saw that it was one of the Audible Daily Deals, I had to snag it. This book was so cute! I love to read a good contemporary love story in between other more dense books. This was exactly what I needed at the time.

I love a good dual perspective novel, and this one was great, especially towards the end when Darien & Elle have met each other but they don't know who the other is. I love crap that that! I thought Tristan Morris sounded exactly how Darien should have sounded. I think Eileen Stevens was good as Elle too. She sounded young enough that I believed she was this teenager going through a rough time in life. The audiobook itself was pretty good, but I wonder if this was an 11th hour scramble to get it delivered in time. I found a couple different times that the audio would repeat a line. Both times it was on the Darien parts, so I wonder how the production was handled for this book. There is a lot of work that goes into audiobooks, so I get that mistakes can happen, but it was a little off putting and took me out of the story.

I loved that Poston created a new world for Elle and Darien to be super fans about. It sounds very much like old school Star Trek, but if Starfield was a real thing, I would totally be a fan! Poston made it sound so real and the story of it was so interesting to me. I wanted to be able to watch this show and obsess over it too! I don't think this story would have worked if it used a scifi property that already existed, so I was glad that Poston created something new. It was also really cool that at the con she called out all the other cool fandoms that exist. It made me really want to finally go to a con myself.

I liked this one a lot, but there were still a few things that bothered me about this one. I think they are supposed to be annoyances to the readers, but it irked me so much that I couldn't get past it. Why was her stepmother such a bitch?? She was just so uncalled for mean to this girl for NO REASON. Her stepsisters were pretty bad too, but I was really glad to see that there was some character development and depth to one of them. The whole time I was listening to this, I was just thinking, "Why does she have to live with them? Doesn't she have any other family?" It annoyed me so much. I also couldn't understand why she thought the people that ran the con with her Dad wanted nothing to do with her. It made no sense to me, and I didn't understand why she didn't reach out herself. Maybe this is because I'm an adult, maybe I would have done the same thing if I was a teenager like Elle. I'm not sure, so I can cut her some slack in that regards, but it still annoyed me! 

If you are in any sort of fandom, or if you love scifi, I would suggest reading this one. It definitely is somewhat of a love letter to fandom and geek culture.

Have you read this one? What did you think?  

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Deanna Plays: Unravel & Music As A Character

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 a fun little game called Unravel. To be completely honest, I only played this game because it was $6 on the Xbox Store. I also don't play a lot of side-scroller puzzle games so I thought it was a good enough reason to try it. Also it had some pretty decent reviews! 

This game is super frustrating to play because you have to puzzle out some really creative ways on how to get from Point A to Point B. I have to admit I looked up how to do certain parts so many times, because I just couldn't figure it out! This game is a CHALLENGE! So if you like a good puzzler, I would recommend this one. I don't play a lot of side scrollers, and even though this one was so frustrating at times for me, I kept wanting to come back to it. I just HAD to beat it.

There are a couple reasons why this game really captured my attention. The graphics in this game are amazing! I was sucked into this little Swedish countryside from the first level. Another reason I liked this game was the story it tells. In the story you are this little yarn creature some old woman created and you live in her house, but then you decide to just go on adventures outside. Along the way you learn more about the woman and her family through finding "secrets" and revealing memories through each level. I thought it was a really interesting way to tell a story.I especially liked that as you go through the levels certain things in the house started to change. 

There is absolutely no dialogue in this game whatsoever. Yarny learns most of the stuff from reading in the photo album after each level or from revealing memories which are silent images. Instead of any dialogue there are a lot of sounds of the ecosystem (birds cawing, machinery in the garage, the waves coming in with the tide, etc), but there also is some really lovely music. The music in this game is all inspired by Swedish folk music and you can hear a lot of that especially in Chapter 4: The Mountain Trek. There are a lot of fiddles, and it is awesome! I would argue that the music can act as another character in this story. For example in The Mountain Trek level you are chased by an animal and the fiddle tempo rises to entice danger. It's also a super stressful part of the game, and I think the music has a really huge part in it. I think the music in this particular chapter was the best, there are some really cool practical effects in this chapter too.   

There are other chapters that I felt just lulled me to peace, and it just made me feel so relaxed (something that is very hard for me) while I was playing this game. It is 100% because of the music that was used in those chapters. I really believe that the music makes this game, and it DOES act as a secondary character pushing along the story. The music was so beautiful, that I don't know if I would have been so enthralled by this game had it not been such a huge part of it. I might just go buy the soundtrack, I loved it so much!

The game's official YouTube page even put a video out to discuss how music tells a story. I think it's really cool, so I'm embedding that into this post to share it:

This game was published by EA, but it was developed by a small company in Sweden called Coldwood. You can really see the love and care they put into this game. There was talk in 2016 of a sequel, but I think IF we ever get it, it will not be for a long time. I would totally be okay with that though, because this game was amazing and I can't imagine how many hours and years it took to make this one! It was amazing, I loved it!

Have you played Unravel? What did you think?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review: Phasma By Delilah S. Dawson

Phasma By Delilah S. Dawson
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: September 1st, 2017
Format: Hardback, 381 pages
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Discover Captain Phasma’s mysterious history in this “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” novel.

One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters

I feel very conflicted about this novel. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it and I thought the new characters introduced in it were really interesting, but I went into this book thinking we were going to get Captain Phasma's perspective, and we never do. That being said, I think this was an interesting take because while this book is about Phasma, it's all second-hand accounts so I think we need to take in consideration the unreliable narrative.

If you thought Phasma had another layer to her, and maybe she had a softer side, you would be dead wrong! She is a cold blooded killer, and she doesn't really care about anyone else. You find out in the novel that she basically fakes her way into The New Order just to save her own butt. I can get down with a villain that doesn't really give a shit about the First Order. Phasma is about power, and she wants to be the one that holds all the cards. I will admit that her character in the Star Wars films seems really two-dimensional, so I understand why other fans don't think she's a good character. I think this novel is a good place if you want to see why people like this character.

I think this book really hammers in the unreliable narrator, because we find out about Phasma from Vi Moradi, a rebel spy that is captured by Captain Cardinal. Cardinal is Phasma's rival in the First Order. She basically waltzed in and took over his command so he wants to know all her secrets so he can take her down. The story that Vi tells Cardinal is actually one that was told to her from someone that knew Phasma before she got off the rundown planet they were from. So the whole book I was wondering, "Is this how it really happened? Or is this just the story Vi wants to tell Cardinal?"

I liked Cardinal a lot, and the book ends with the audience not really knowing what is going to happen to Vi or him. I need another book about him! Cardinal believes in the order because Brendol Hux took him under his wing and gave him a purpose, where before he was a starving orphan on Jakku. So to him, the First Order means stability and purpose. He truly believes in what he is fighting for. Knowing Cardinal's background, it makes complete sense why he is on this side of the war. He thinks that what they are doing is right and just. I like these types of juxtapositions in Star Wars, because you can really see from his point of view why the resistance, and the rebellion that came before them, will do nothing to save the galaxy.

Vi Moradi is a new character, that I don't think we have met before. I was also excited to see another woman of color in Star Wars, this time with the resistance! She is kind of a sarcastic asshole, which made me love her. There definitely has to be more to her story after this book, and I'm hoping Dawson gets to write more about her.

There are parts in Vi's story where I did feel like it dragged on, but overall I enjoyed this one. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be, but in the end I ended up liking it. I just need another book to tell me what happens to Vi and Cardinal!

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Format: Hardback, 353 pages
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance 

Ahsoka is one of my favorite new Star Wars characters, so when I saw there was a book about her I was pretty excited. I had read a few reviews before reading this one myself, and they didn't seem that great so I was a little hesitant. I have to admit I didn't totally love this one, but it wasn't bad, it's just one of those books that I just think, "okay." and I move onto the next book.

I think this book could have been really good if it focused on the flashbacks we get about the mission Ahsoka and Rex persue on Mandalore. I loved that part in this book, but we only get it in bits and pieces, and it doesn't feel complete. It just explains how she escaped Order 66, and why she is constantly on the run. I had a hard time getting into the novel, and I found it way more interesting when Bail Organa showed up. I wanted a little more of Ahsoka working for the rebellion. I thought this book was going to explain that more, but this one was more about her pre-Star Wars Rebels cartoon, and before she became Fulcrum.

One thing I did like is that at the heart of it, Ahsoka is still the Ahsoka we know and love. Even though she's on the run and trying to save her own skin, she can't help but save others that The Empire is trying to take advantage of. Even though she is "no Jedi" the core teachings of the Jedi to save those who are helpless and to be at peace are something that Ahsoka still subscribes to. The teachings of the Jedi weren't all bad, they just lost their way along the way, so it always made sense to me that Ahsoka just said, "nah, I'm good." to them. Ahsoka was a good Jedi, but the council and order really let her down. I do think the whole "no attachments" thing messed up more than just Anakin, because it's clear that Ahsoka does not really know how to make friends. That's pretty clear at how very awkward she is when she first shows up on Raada. Seriously, what were the Jedi thinking!

I read this in print, but I wonder if I would have liked this better in audio format since the voice of Ahsoka, Ashley Eckstein narrates the audiobook. I don't think this one is bad, but it just wasn't my favorite. I think if you are on the fence about this one, I would suggest skipping it.

What do you think about Ahsoka? Did you like it? Why or why not?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

December Wrap Up

Ahh! It's finally 2018, which means that it's time for me to write my wrap up for the month of December.

I didn't post as much as I liked, but coming off of Sci-Fi month in November, I found myself drained a little bit. Also being away for the holidays on vacation makes it a little harder to post on this blog. I know I could take my computer, but I like to not take it so I can really feel like I have gotten away. Even though I'm still on the internet on my phone the whole time.

For my podcast feature in December I featured a new favorite podcast -- Fangirls Going Rogue! Definitely check out what I talked about, and check out this awesome podcast if you are a female star wars fan.


I moved to using my new graphic for my video game feature, Deanna Plays. This month I talked about reading suggestions for people that love The Elder Scrolls game series


This month I also introduced another new feature to the blog that is going to be all about Star Wars, called One With The Force. I even wrote my first real post about it to discuss my non-spoiler feelings about the new movie The Last Jedi.



What books did you read in December?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Deanna Listens: Legends Library

Deanna Listens
 is a monthly feature on the first Monday of every month I created to showcase some of my favorite podcasts. I'm a little late this month, due to the holiday on Monday. Holiday from work also counts for my blog too, right? So this month I am talking about another Star Wars themed podcast I love -- Legends Library.

This podcast is a part of The Coffee With Kenobi podcast family (which I have yet to talk about on this blog but eventually will), and they focus primarily on the star wars old expanded universe books(now called the legends timeline). I'm such a fan of the old books that this podcast is right up my alley. I'm also so glad that the hosts like Mara Jade and Jaina Solo a lot, since they are two of my favorites characters! It definitely won me over.

I have to give them mad props for taking on the monster that is the New Jedi Order. That series is pretty massive, and I still haven't finished it, but I am hoping to soon. I like the way they organized the episodes on these. Instead of having an episode dedicated to each book, they sectioned it out for 3 books each. I think that's a great way to tackle this beast of a series. I am hoping I can get back into this and listen to the rest of their episodes on these. I was doing these on audio and following along, but all the audiobook versions are abridged and I feel like I am missing out a lot from the story, so I think I have to actually read the rest.

Some of my favorite episodes I have listened to so far are:

I am making it my goal for this year to stop reading ARCs and to read what I want, so I am trying to go back and re-read the Legends books I never got to. So I definitely want to go back and listen to more of these episodes. If you are a fan of the old Star Wars EU, I highly recommend listening to this podcast (and checking out the rest of CWK family).

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!