Book Review – Star Wars: Padawan

Hello there! Today I’m reviewing Padawan by Kiersten White, the most recent addition to the canon Star Wars books published by Disney.

Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles with his place in the Force as a young Padawan in this coming-of-age adventure!

Obi-Wan Kenobi really wants to be a good Padawan. The best Padawan, even. But that’s feeling more and more impossible with his new master, Qui-Gon Jinn. All of Obi-Wan’s friends are off training to be real Jedi, getting mission experience, while he’s still on Coruscant, practicing his forms and sitting in silent contemplation. Ever since Qui-Gon’s former master, Dooku, left the Order, it feels like Qui-Gon has been too busy trying to connect with the Force or arguing with the Jedi Council to properly train his Padawan.

When Obi-Wan finally convinces Qui-Gon to take him on a mission to a remote planet once explored by an ancient Jedi, his master doesn’t show up the morning they are to leave—so Obi-Wan impulsively takes off by himself. Upon arriving on the mysterious, lush planet, he encounters a group of teenagers with no adult supervision—and who all seem to have some connection to the Force. Free from the constraints of the Order, Obi-Wan joins them in their daring adventures, but the Padawan side of him keeps questioning the teens’ strange relationship to the Force, and to the verdant planet around them, and what all of it might mean to his future. Obi-Wan will test the limits of his relationship to the Jedi and to the Force in this exciting, yet soulful exploration of one of Star Wars’ most enduring heroes.

This book had some huge shoes to fill because I loved the Jedi Apprentice series as a child. So, the replacement of those stories with something new was always going to be a hard sell for me given the nostalgia factor of that series. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and enjoyed it quite a bit more than I anticipated.

Overall, it was a fun coming-of-age story for Obi-Wan. I was surprised at first by how anxious and afraid of failure this portrayal made him, but it worked really well for his age at the time and the scenario he experienced over the course of the story. He struggled to find his place within the Jedi order and overcompensated for his fear of failure by sticking rigidly to rules and trying to control everything. This unexpected adventure helped him learn to be present in the moment and trust in the force. There were interesting parallels between him and Anakin, and I could definitely see how some of Kenobi’s personality in the future could be rooted in the lessons he learned from his experiences in this story.

I really loved the setting for the story, as well. The ecosystem of the planet was fascinating and worked really well as a metaphor for the balance necessary for nature to thrive and the threat that uncontrolled human consumption has on that balance. Other relevant and timely themes were also explored in the story, including the potentially harmful effects of reliance upon tradition despite evidence to the contrary and the destructive nature of fear, greed, and lust for power. I also really liked the queer rep in the book and thought it was incorporated in a way that was perfect for these characters and their unique situation.

There was only one thing I wish this book had more of: Qui-Gon. He’s in a few scenes, and there was a ton of Obi-Wan contemplating the rocky start to his relationship with his master. However, Qui-Gon was missing from most of the book. I’m not gonna lie. I was a bit disappointed that the two of them didn’t go on this adventure together, but I’m not sure it would have worked out the same way or had the necessary impact on Obi-Wan if they had been together. So, I get why he was absent, but now I really want another story of the two of them together.

In conclusion, this was a fun coming-of-age romp where Obi-Wan had to find the balance within himself to overcome his fear of failing at the Jedi path. It had an interesting setting and compelling themes, but it didn’t quite give me everything I wanted from an Obi-Wan padawan story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Mini Review – Rise of the Renegade Child

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Rise of the Renegade Child by Robert Roth, which is the second book of The Gates Saga. I enjoyed the first book of this series quite a bit, and I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel ever since.

While Cameron Maddock celebrates the rescue of his best friend Tony, his budding relationship with the Turani Protector Jerusalem Finn, and the surprising demise of his murderous nemesis Omni, the lingering question of his true origins still haunts him.

Years after the tragic loss of his last love, Jerusalem Finn has finally opened his heart to someone new. But a fresh mystery reveals how complicated that’s made things, forcing him to reckon with where his feelings and loyalties truly lie.

Renowned physicist Dr. Ella Carvallo is determined to discover the answers behind a series of unexplained quantum events, even if it means a journey into the shadows with the charming but enigmatic NSA Special Agent Edison Lloyd.

And the mysteries only deepen when surprising new enemies and an unexpected ally send Cam and the gang on a multiverse-spanning thrill ride in this explosive follow-up to the critically acclaimed queer sci-fi thriller Into the Lightning Gate.

***Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’ve been wanting this sequel for a year now. Rise of the Renegade Child was definitely worth the wait and expanded on many of my favorite elements of the first book in the series. The world-building was, once again, very interesting, and I loved getting to see some new locales while also learning a lot more about the political structures of the different alternate realities. The science in this installment was really cool, as well, and I appreciated that the author included a lot more information about how everything works. The inclusion of the new character, Ella, was a great way to do this, and I really loved her character. I enjoyed the plot of this book even more than the first. I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy, and this book had one that spans at least several different realities, which led to plenty of fun twists and turns as the story progressed. The pacing was intense throughout, and the book felt like one long thrill ride. The characterization was also on point. Each of the main characters had a discernible arc that resulted in a great deal of growth even with all the action going on around them. My favorite arc was probably Omni just because of her badass personality and super fascinating background, which was explored in more depth. I also loved the banter between Cam and Finn and wish there had been more of it and their relationship. I get why it couldn’t happen in this one, though, but I’m hopeful the next book will focus at least a little more on the romance. I did like that the author directly addressed the insta-loveyness? of their relationship despite not being able to spend a ton of time on exploring their dynamic. Additionally, this book continued to center thought-provoking social/political commentary and queerness throughout the story. So, if you enjoyed those aspects of the first book, I’m sure you’ll love it in this one as well. The main thing I didn’t really love was the way the AI was able to fix almost anything. It felt like a major crutch at times. I also didn’t care for the narrative choice of re-hashing the same scenes from different POVs. There were a couple times that I was annoyed by it because I just wanted the story to keep moving forward, which led to skimming through some of the sequences. Overall, though, this was a great sequel that improved upon the first book, which was already good, in so many ways. If you are looking for a new queer sci-fi series with intense pacing, pulse-pounding action, and fascinating world-building, then you need to be reading The Gates Saga!

ARC Review – Eyes of the Void

Book review
Eyes of the Void cover; Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky; Publication Date: May 3, 2022; Print Length: 608 pages; Reads Dates: May 18, 2022 - May 22, 2022

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to finally be reviewing Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I enjoyed the first book in The Final Architecture series. So, I was really looking forward to reading this sequel. I’ve been a bit behind on my ARC reviews, and I was hoping to get to this one earlier. I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be chonky and super dense (but in a good way). It took almost a whole week of reading, which is a long time to spend on one book for me, but I’ve finally finished it!

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Mini Book Review – Victory’s Price

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the final installment of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed. I’ve had this one on my shelf for over a year, and it was on two different TBRs last year. I never got to it, though. So, I’m happy to have finally gotten around to it and finished off this trilogy.

The aces of the New Republic have one final chance to defeat the darkness of Shadow Wing in this thrilling conclusion to the Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy!

In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen.

Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination that began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers.

Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had one another. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t sure they even have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this series or of Freed’s dense narrative style, but I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised by how much I’ve come to care for these characters after feeling rather apathetic about the first book. Each of them had really great arcs in this story with a mix of many bad ass and emotional moments. I particularly liked all the Hera Syndulla content, and I think the author completely captured her essence. As always, Freed did a fantastic job of creating immersive space battle scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. There was lots of action throughout the book, and the pace kept things pretty intense. However, there were also plenty of great quieter moments between the characters, which gave this book a nice balance. I liked the focus on the New Republic and its struggle to gain control without resorting to becoming like the Empire. It explored the ongoing war in a way that wasn’t black and white while illustrating the humanity of both sides. This was definitely an interesting and tumultuous time period for the Star Wars galaxy, and I hope to see even more content from this era in the future. Overall, this book was an excellent conclusion that has shifted my feelings for the series in a more positive direction. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Audiobook ARC Review – Queen’s Hope

I have been waiting on this book for what seems like forever! It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but the publication date got pushed back. I requested the audiobook through NetGalley a couple months ago and had honestly given up on it. Then Disney came through for me, and I almost yelped with excitement upon getting my approval email. 🙂 I dropped everything, downloaded the audiobook, and listened to the entire thing in one afternoon. Did it live up to my very high expectations? Read below to find out!

Padmé is adjusting to being a wartime senator during the Clone Wars. Her secret husband, Anakin Skywalker, is off fighting the war, and excels at being a wartime Jedi. In contrast, when Padmé gets the opportunity to see the casualties on the war-torn front lines, she is horrified. The stakes have never been higher for the galaxy, or for the newly-married couple.

Meanwhile, with Padmé on a secret mission, her handmaiden Sabé steps into the role of Senator Amidala, something no handmaiden has done for an extended period of time. While in the Senate, Sabé is equally horrified by the machinations that happen there. She comes face to face with a gut-wrenching decision as she realizes that she cannot fight a war this way, not even for Padmé.

And Chancellor Palpatine hovers over it all, manipulating the players to his own ends…

***Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing for providing a copy of the audiobook. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I love Padmé. She is one of my favorite characters from Star Wars. So, to say I was excited about this finale to her book trilogy would be a massive understatement. This author has done a fabulous job in the past of capturing the essence of Padmé with her words, and this book was no exception to that. I’ve always wondered about why Padmé chose to be with Anakin given his cringeworthy attempts at romance in Attack of the Clones, and this story satisfied that curiosity. It provided a window into Padmé’s mind before, during, and right after her wedding to Anakin, and I found the explanation for her decisions/feelings regarding their relationship to work well and make sense. I loved the snippets of Anakin and Padmé being happy in love and at peace in each other’s presence, and they felt bittersweet knowing how their relationship would ultimately end in tragedy. The stories of the handmaidens also continued in this book, and I enjoyed seeing their growth as they stepped out of the shadow of Amidala. The relationship between Padmé and Sabé was just as central to this story as the relationship between Padmé and Anakin, and it highlighted just how much the two women have changed over the course of this trilogy of books as their found family has splintered to some degree as they have all grown up. The plot of the book felt inconsequential compared to the characterizations and relationships, but I did still enjoy it. It had a Clone Wars feel to it that kept my interest. I was floored whenever I realized it was Padmé herself, or at least the voice actress who played her in the Clone Wars, narrating the audiobook. I didn’t know that prior to starting it, and it added another layer of awesomeness to the experience. Music and background noises were also inserted throughout the narration, and it really made the story come to life in a way that felt genuinely like Star Wars. I honestly cannot recommend this audiobook enough to all fans of Padmé, The Clone Wars, and the prequel era of Star Wars. It was a short listen and will likely be one I revisit again many times in the future. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 super biased stars. lol.