ARC Review – Broken Valley

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Broken Valley by Owen Lach, the sequel to last year’s Founder’s Mercy. I enjoyed the first book and have been anticipating the continuation of the story. The wait is finally over, and the book will be released tomorrow, January 24, 2023.

Read More »

ARC Review – In the Lives of Puppets

Hello, everyone! I’m very excited to be bringing you this review today. I started reading In the Lives of Puppets as soon as I was approved to receive it on NetGalley, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Tor for allowing me to read it early. I love everything I’ve read by TJ Klune, and this book was no exception. This will largely be spoiler-free ramblings about how much I loved the book. Consider yourself warned. lol.

Read More »

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!