Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2021

Hello, everyone! This month has been a whirlwind. I crossed 1000 views and 500 likes here on the blog. Thank you all so much for the support! I’ve managed to post daily for the entire month, which was more difficult to keep up with than I thought it would be. I’ll probably slow down a bit for a while, but I have some great things planned for June, as well. So, we’ll see. It will probably depend on how busy work is in the near future. I made quite a bit of progress on my reading goals this month, and I actually finished my monthly TBR for the first time! Check out all the details below:

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My 6 Most Anticipated June 2021 Releases

Hello, everyone! Today I am going to be counting down my six most anticipated releases of June 2021. I plan to add each of these to my bookshelves next month (unless I’ve been lucky enough to get an advanced copy).

#6This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Release Date: June 29, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.30 out of 5 Stars

What Caught My Eye: The beautiful cover grabbed my attention on NetGalley, and the description for the book piqued my interest. This is the book I’m currently reading since I was lucky enough to get an eARC through NetGalley. The premise is interesting, and I love the mystery surrounding the MC’s power so far.

#5Seven Deaths of an Empire by G. R. Matthews

Release Date: June 22, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 3.97 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: I saw other people talking about this one on Twitter. It seems to have lots of politics, scheming, magic, and action, which makes me excited about it as those are all things I love reading.

#4The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.07 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: Once again, a gorgeous cover pulled me in to read more about it. After I read the synopsis, I knew there was no way this was not going on my TBR. I love historical fiction, fantasy, and mythology, and this book looks like an interesting blend of all three.

#3Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.42 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: The word Sparta. Seriously, though. I love history, especially the Greco-Roman time period. And it is a retelling of a myth. I’m sold.

#2The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.49 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: I wanted the ARC of this from NetGalley so bad. Unfortunately, I was declined (most likely due to my abysmal feedback ratio). I was sold after the first words of the synopsis: “Two boys, alone in space.” So, I’m definitely going to be picking this one up next week.

#1Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott

Release Date: June 29, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 3.53 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: Um. The words Star Wars. 🙂 I read pretty much everything Star Wars, and I’ve enjoyed all the stories from the High Republic era so far. I’ve been waiting not so patiently for this one ever since Light of the Jedi first came out.

So, there you have it! My six most anticipated books of June 2021. Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra

Author: Sarah Kuhn

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Length: 288 pages

Read Date(s): May 13, 2021 – May 14, 2021

⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

Dr. Aphra teams up with Darth Vader himself in the original script to the audiobook production—an expanded adaptation of the critically acclaimed Marvel comics series.

Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra, rogue archaeologist, is in trouble again.

A pioneer in the field of criminal xenoarchaeology, Aphra recognizes no law, has no fear, and possesses no impulse control. To her, the true worth of the galactic relics she discovers isn’t found in a museum but in an arsenal. This viewpoint has led to a lot of misunderstandings. After her latest plan goes horribly wrong, her roguish ways are on the verge of catching up to her. That’s when suddenly Darth Vader, terror of the galaxy, swoops in with his lightsaber and . . . saves her life?

Don’t get her wrong—it’s not like she’s ungrateful. Sure, her new boss is a lord of the Sith. And okay, she may have just become a pawn in a deadly game being played by him and his boss, who happens to be the Galactic Emperor. And yes, the life expectancy of anyone who disappoints Vader can be measured in seconds.

But she’s back doing what she does best. She’s got a ship to fly, a heist to pull, and two unorthodox but effective metal buddies: Triple-Zero, a protocol droid specializing in etiquette, customs, translation, and torture, and BT-1, an astromech loaded with enough firepower to take down a battlecruiser. Together, they might just find a way to get the job done and avoid the deadly performance review that waits at its conclusion.

Just kidding. She’s doomed.

My Review

I’m a huge fan of all the characters in this book (Doctor Aphra might actually be my favorite character from the new canon), and I loved the story when I read it in the Darth Vader comics several years ago. It just didn’t work for me in this format. The story came off as somewhat disjointed, which isn’t surprising given it was originally from a comic book. The scenes often felt disconnected and jumpy with a frenetic pace, which is also likely a result of how short this script was. It mostly felt like a play by play retelling of the comics without much added depth. I was hoping for even more insight into the characters, but I think the surface was only just scratched. The setup of having Doctor Aphra narrate the entire adventure while also being the main character in the dialogue wasn’t good. I would often need to double back to determine if a particular line was something she said as part of the narration or in dialogue with one of the other characters. It took me out of the story many times as I was reading. That being said, though, I don’t know how else the author could have structured it since the narration is what tied all the different pieces together into a cohesive story.

I did appreciate the nuance this script added to the character of Doctor Aphra. In the comic, she is smart, sarcastic, impulsive, brash, and seemingly careless, but in a calculating way. All of her fun and quirky attributes are on display here, but I also saw some of the reasons for and origins of these attributes. I enjoyed seeing her come to terms with her viewpoint of connection as a weakness while simultaneously wanting nothing more than to be seen by others as someone who is great. I particularly enjoyed learning about the backstory to her relationship with Sana Starros. Although, I wish the author had found a way to include Sana’s “marriage” to Han that was mentioned in the comics. I would have loved to get Aphra’s reaction to their potential romantic connection given her reaction to Han in this story. I also think it was a missed opportunity to easily include some bi+ rep in the story, and the story seemed to somewhat erase the bi vibes of Sana present in the comics.

I enjoyed the other characters here, as well. Darth Vader was particularly interesting in this story because we got to see his reaction to finding out about his son. The murder bots were also a hilarious duo, as they always are.

Overall, the story and characters are good. However, the pacing and format were choppy and somewhat disjointed. The script also didn’t provide the depth I was looking for. Therefore, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars. I suggest picking up the comics instead because it has basically the same story and some really great art.

My Five Favorite Star Wars Books (from the new canon)

In honor of Star Wars day, I’m counting down my favorite canon Star Wars books from the adult line published by Del Rey. I’ve always loved Star Wars and it is the first fantasy/scifi universe I really got into as a kid. Unsurprisingly, I’ve read many Star Wars books and almost all of the stories from the new canon. Some of my favorites are listed below, along with their Goodreads synopses and the main reason(s) I love each one.

5. Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray

An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future.

A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi’s most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice.

Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.

When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.

Why I Love It: Master & Apprentice is an interesting story that follows Qui-Gon & young Obi-Wan. I love both of these characters and grew up reading middle grade books about their adventures that are no longer canon. So, I enjoyed getting to read more about these characters again as an adult.

4. Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

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.

Why I Love It: Dark Disciple is based on an unproduced set of episodes from The Clone Wars TV show, which is some of the best Star Wars content available. It wraps up the story of two excellent characters from the show and provides an interesting look into the dark side of the Force. I particularly enjoyed seeing the relationship that develops between the two characters.

3. Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Witness the birth of the Resistance

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…

Why I Love It: This story helped fill in the gaps between the original and sequel trilogies. It set the stage with details of the state of the galaxy and added to my understanding of the subsequent movies. It also gave more insight into Leia’s character, which was great.

2. Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn

Discover Thrawn’s origins within the Chiss Ascendancy in the first book in an epic new Star Wars trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Beyond the edge of the galaxy lies the Unknown Regions: chaotic, uncharted, and near impassable, with hidden secrets and dangers in equal measure. And nestled within its swirling chaos is the Ascendancy, home to the enigmatic Chiss and the Nine Ruling Families that lead them.

The peace of the Ascendancy, a beacon of calm and stability, is shattered after a daring attack on the Chiss capital that leaves no trace of the enemy. Baffled, the Ascendancy dispatches one of its brightest young military officers to root out the unseen assailants. A recruit born of no title, but adopted into the powerful family of the Mitth and given the name Thrawn.

With the might of the Expansionary Fleet at his back, and the aid of his comrade Admiral Ar’alani, answers begin to fall into place. But as Thrawn’s first command probes deeper into the vast stretch of space his people call the Chaos, he realizes that the mission he has been given is not what it seems.

And the threat to the Ascendancy is only just beginning.

Why I Love It: This is an excellent introduction to the workings of the Chiss Ascendancy and culture. Timothy Zahn weaves an intricate tale in the way only he can while introducing a cast of unforgettable Chiss warriors.

1. Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics, where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

Why I Love It: This was a masterful re-introduction to the character of Thrawn. Zahn’s writing style is captivating, and he portrays the complexity of the character and his unique skills wonderfully. It was fun to see Thrawn climb in the ranks of the Empire against all odds.

Have you read any of these books? Did you love them as much as me? I’d love to know your top 5 Star Wars books…so, leave them in the comments. Happy Star Wars Day!

Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2021

Hello, everyone! It seems that another month has already flown by! My blog has continued to grow (thank you to everyone who stops by to read the posts), and I’ve been increasing the amount and types of content. It’s been a lot of fun to experiment with all the different posts, but it has also been a bit exhausting keeping up with it all and trying to read books too. That being said, I made a lot of progress on my reading goals this month, which you’ll be able to see below.

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Book Review – Star Wars: Shadow Fall

I move forward, because dwelling on my shame doesn’t help anyone.

Shadow Fall, page 333

Summary

Shadow Fall is the second book of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed. This story sets off in the aftermath of the destruction and revelations that occurred in the first book. Yrica Quell and the rest of Alphabet Squadron are attempting to defeat Imperial remnants on a planet of strategic value to the New Republic. They decide to lay a trap to lure the elusive and dangerous Shadow Squadron to them. The goal is to minimize losses and defeat them without ship to ship combat. Against this backdrop, the crew of Alphabet Squadron struggle to overcome their own demons and the impacts of war on their psyche.

What I Liked

I enjoyed this book more than the first book in this series. This was largely because I liked the characters more in this book than the last. They faced interesting dilemmas and almost all of them experienced some character growth. Each character seemed to portray a different struggle commonly faced by those involved in war. I particularly enjoyed Yrica’s journey of dealing with her shame and guilt…even though the outcome made me angry at the character. I also liked seeing Wyl come into his own as a leader while struggling to deal with how best to use his empathy for others in a war-time setting. Chas’s journey to figure out where she belongs after the war was also compelling. Overall, the characters were one of the greatest parts of the novel.

I also loved the way this author depicted the battles and flight sequences. He does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are in the trenches or cockpit with the characters. These descriptions and the peeks into the character’s mindsets during the battles made the last half of the book hard to put down. The ending of the book left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to reading the last book in the series.

Another random tidbit…I enjoyed the torture robot turned therapist droid, IT-O. His backstory was expanded upon in this book and was well-done. His interactions with Yrica were one of my favorite things about the book.

What I Didn’t Like

This book was difficult to get through in the beginning. The first third of this book was mind-numbingly boring to me. There was some characterization and a small amount of flight battles in that bit, but it wasn’t very interesting. I almost gave up on it, and I do not DNF books very often, especially Star Wars books. The plot also seemed very forced at different points in the story and felt as though certain things happened only because they had to in order to move the story along. I was a bit disappointed that Kairos got sidelined for most of the book, especially since most of the other characters grew throughout the story. I’m hoping she will be more of a major player in the next book because I want to learn more about her.

Wrap-Up

In summary, this book was a mix of beautiful battle descriptions, interesting character growth, boring swaths of writing, and a somewhat shaky plot. It did a pretty good job of tackling the mindset of those experiencing brutal warfare and processing the impact of shame and guilt on the psyche of soldiers. However, it was a very boring read for most of the first half of the book and sidelined one of the most interesting characters. So, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Wrap-Up: March 2021

This month has been an absolute whirlwind. I can’t believe it is already over! The months of this year seem to be flying by quickly. Luckily, I’ve been able to find a lot of great books to enjoy this month. I’ve made significant progress toward my reading goal for this year and am on track to beat it if I can manage to keep up this same pace. We’ll see if life continues to allow it to happen. Regardless, I am excited to reflect on my reading journey from this month. So, without further ado… Here is my wrap-up for March 2021!

What I Read

Master Thief/Lesser Evils by Sophie Iles/Simon Guerrier ⭐⭐⭐

These Doctor Who short audio dramas follow the Master during two of his adventures, which are tangentially connected to other outings in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project. They are both interesting, straightforward stories that I found fun to listen to.

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is another audio drama from the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious crossover event. It follows the 8th Doctor as he discovers a world that is different than it should be. The theme of the story is Western, and it is a fun introduction to Brian the Ood.

Amazing Spider-Man: Sins Rising by Nick Spencer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This collection of Spider-Man comics pits the web crawler against a resurrected Sin Eater. I enjoyed reading it and found the parallels with violence extremists to be interesting.

Amazing Spider-Man: Green Goblin Returns by Nick Spencer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

These comics make up the conclusion to the Sins Rising story line. In them, Spider-Man must decide whether he is willing to let Norman Osborn be cleansed to prevent him from committing future evil acts. It is an interesting moral dilemma that is fairly well executed.

Into the Dark by Claudia Gray ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first YA entry in the Star Wars: The High Republic multimedia event was a lot of fun to read. It follows the adventures of several Jedi as they get stranded on an ancient space station after the hyperspace disaster. See the full review!

Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty ⭐⭐

This book had the potential to be a great story. It had an interesting premise and was filled with fun adventures. It followed a group of people determined to find six crystals before they could be merged into a galaxy-dominating super-weapon. Unfortunately, the writing style was quite annoying and difficult to read. See the full review!

The Enemy of My Enemy by Tracy Ann Barnes ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This next story in the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious event follows the 8th Doctor as he helps the Daleks broker a peace treaty with a race of people who shouldn’t exist. It was a fun story in which the Daleks were incredibly smart and ruthless. See the full review!

Doctor Who Annual 2021 by Paul Laing ⭐⭐⭐

I bought this book for the Time Lord Victorious background information, but it also has diary entries from the characters of Series 12 of Doctor Who that describe each of the episodes. It is a quick, informative read. See the full review!

Incursion by Mitchell Hogan ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. It is an interesting fantasy novel with a unique magic system and great characters. It follows a young man as he attempts to pass his trials to become a Knight while grappling with the darkness rising within him. See the full review!

The Knight, The Fool, & The Dead by Steve Cole ⭐⭐⭐

The first novel in the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious event is a fun read that follows the 10th Doctor as he faces off against the Kotturuh. Can the Doctor defeat Death? Or, more importantly, should he? See the full review!

Monstrous Beauty by Scott Gray ⭐⭐

This comic follows the 9th Doctor and Rose as they explore the Dark Times. The story is a bit rushed, and I was confused about certain aspects of the story and overall timeline. However, it does provide some background info for other parts of Time Lord Victorious. See the full review!

Genex of Halcyon by Joshua Stelling ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is a beautifully written look into the potential future of mankind. While the story lacks a clear plot and is confusing at times, the world-building and exploration of deep themes is exceptional. See the full review!

Thurmond’s Saga by Robert John MacKenzie ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thurmond is the most unlikely of heroes, but he dreams of becoming a professional adventurer. After being approached by a stranger to complete some odd tasks, he finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime. This is a fun fantasy story that I highly recommend. See the full review!

Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed ⭐⭐⭐

This second book in the Star Wars Alphabet Squadron trilogy is an improvement on the first novel. It delves deeper into the psyches of the characters and explores the impacts that war can have on a person. Full review is coming soon!

All Flesh Is Grass by Una McCormack ⭐⭐⭐

This book is the climax of the Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious event. It is filled with vampires, Daleks, and a fast-paced adventure. Full review is coming soon!

The House In the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this book. It follows case worker Linus Baker as he investigates an orphanage that houses children who just happen to also be magical creatures. The character work, pacing, and emotional tone of this book are all fantastic. Full review is coming soon!

Minds of Magnox by Darren Jones (Narrated by Jacob Dudman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious audiobook follows the 10th Doctor and Brian the Ood when they land on Magnox to find answers to an important question. The Doctor thinks the Minds of Magnox can give him answers, but, as usual, things don’t go the way the doctor has planned. This audiobook is a fun adventure that provides interesting background information on Brian. Full review is coming soon!

Jairus’s Girl by L.R. Hay ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tammie is a young girl living in Israel during the time period of the life of Jesus. This book was written for children to provide a window into Jesus’s life, and it follows Tammie as she witnesses events firsthand. Full review is coming soon!

Final Thoughts

I can’t believe I read 18 books this month! I usually don’t even read that much in a year. I enjoyed a lot of good books, especially a great number of Doctor Who stories. I hope to finish Time Lord Victorious in the coming month or two. Check back tomorrow to see my reading goal for April 2021!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave a comment and let me know!

Update: 2021 Reading Challenge

As part of starting this blog, I decided to increase my reading goal to 100 books for this year. For the past few years, I have typically averaged between 15 and 30 books per year. So, this new goal is a huge step up from my past reading habits. As of today, I have finished 25 books so far this year, which I consider to be a huge accomplishment. Overall, I’ve enjoyed reading them all, and I’m excited to recap some of my favorites from before I started reviewing my reads on the blog.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this follow up book to Carry On. It was refreshing to see what happens after the hero wins the day, and I liked its exploration of what the ‘chosen one’ does after he is no longer so special. I also loved the LGBT representation in this book. It was a great read to start the year!

The Accursed Kings Series by Maurice Druon

This series is an historical fiction tale describing the fall of the Capetian French dynasty and the beginning of the Hundred Years War. It is a fantastic tale of kings, queens, and nobles filled with intrigue, murder, and political plotting. I started reading the series because I wanted to learn more about French history after learning some details about my own French ancestry. I enjoyed the series immensely as a whole, but some of the books were better than others. The writing style changed abruptly for the last book, and it was a struggle to get through it. It seemed almost superfluous to the story. However, the rest of the series was well done and told a very engaging story while providing interesting info about French history. The books in the series are

  • The Iron King ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Strangled Queen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Poisoned Crown ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Royal Succession ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The She Wolf ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lily and the Lion ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The King Without a Kingdom ⭐⭐⭐

Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think this was a good first entry to the High Republic crossover event. It set up many characters, and the disaster that starts the book off was interesting. I found the particulars of the disaster and hyperspace to be somewhat confusing, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story. I enjoyed seeing the Jedi order and Republic in action during a different time period, and I am looking forward to seeing how this golden age turns into the corruption of the Senate and deterioration of the Jedi order seen in the prequel movies. The villains were intriguing but not up to par with the threat of the Sith. However, the book made it seemed as if there is still more to them than we know. Overall, I think it was a good introduction to this time period.

A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book, which was a pleasant surprise. I bought it so I wouldn’t miss out on parts of the High Republic story, but I didn’t expect much from it since it is a children’s book. However, the story was really good and tackled some deep themes well, especially coping with loss and grief. It ended up being my favorite of the first wave of High Republic books. If you were thinking of skipping it…don’t!

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of the first audio dramas in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia event. It is a Western story set on an alien planet. It was fun, and I enjoyed the introduction of Brian the Ood. I didn’t see how it would relate to the overall event at the time, but it sets up some things that become relevant in later stories.

I look forward to seeing what is in store in the next 75 books throughout this year. As always, I will keep you all posted. What are some of your favorite reads so far this year?

Book Review – Star Wars The High Republic: Into the Dark

Goodreads Synopsis

Not everyone who hears the call to adventure wants to answer it….

Jedi Padawan Reath Silas loves adventure—reading about it, that is, not living it. Content to spend hours browsing the Jedi Archives on Coruscant, Reath dreams of being one of the great scholars of the Jedi Order. But Reath’s master, the well-respected and virtuous Jora Malli, has other plans: she’s taken a post at Starlight Beacon, the Republic’s shining new outpost on the edge of known space. As her Padawan, Reath must join her, whether he likes the idea or not. (And he most definitely does not.)

So Reath reluctantly boards the ship that will take him and a few other Jedi to the dedication of Starlight Beacon, where Master Jora waits for him to start their new adventurous life on the frontier. But trouble in hyperspace leaves the ship and other nearby vessels stranded, with only an eerie abandoned space station reachable for shelter. And the secrets hidden there will not only bring Reath to a crossroads but, if left unchecked, could plunge the entire galaxy into darkness….

My Review

Into the Dark begins with padawan Reath Silas lamenting over his new assignment of going to the outer rim. He would much rather stay in the archives of Coruscant’s Jedi Temple than have adventures on the frontier, but his master has taken an assignment at Starlight Beacon in the Outer Rim where Reath must go meet her to continue his training. As he makes his way to Starlight Beacon accompanied by his master’s former apprentice, two Jedi masters, and the crew of the transport, disaster strikes the galaxy when a tragedy occurs in hyperspace causing Reath and his companions to get stranded at an ancient, abandoned space station. However, they are not the only ship stranded in this sector of space and must share their refuge with a wide variety of alien species that are not very friendly. Warring between the factions breaks out and it takes force from the Jedi to keep things under control. As they wait for the mess in hyperspace to be cleaned up, the Jedi encounter an old presence on the station that is deeply rooted in the dark side of the force and attempt to keep it from spreading to consume the galaxy.

Overall, I really like this book, and I found the characters to be incredibly relatable. I absolutely adore Reath Silas. I saw a lot of myself in him and enjoyed getting to see his growth throughout the book from someone who only goes on adventures through reading to becoming more capable of using his Jedi skills to navigate complicated situations in unknown territory. Although, I love that he is still a bookworm at heart even if he is a little more comfortable with adventures now. I look forward to seeing what comes next for the character. If Reath started as a bookworm, his master’s old apprentice Dez Rydan began as the exact opposite, someone who loves and craves excitement and adventure too much. He also experienced an interesting story arc that mirrored Reath’s in many ways. The Jedi masters Cohmac and Orla were both haunted by past mistakes that we get to see through flashbacks throughout the book. I liked the flashbacks, but I think there could have been less of them as their presence sometimes distracted from the story. They both had to work to overcome their fears of repeating their mistakes, and I enjoyed this very human take on the inner workings of a Jedi Master.

The breakout star of this book was Geode! I was thrown off a bit by his introduction, but as the book progressed, I became obsessed with him. I would have never guessed a rock could be such a great character, and it is really a credit to Claudia Gray’s writing that she was able to make him such a memorable character. The rest of the Vessel crew was also interesting and provided a lot of great humor and dialogue to the book. I enjoyed the subplot with Affie discovering information about the guild the pilots worked for and its ties to the abandoned space station. However, that particular subplot seemed to be expendable.

In addition to many of the characters, I also enjoyed the themes presented in the book. As mentioned previously, Orla and Cohmac had to face their fears of repeating past mistakes and work through them to successfully navigate the challenges they faced during the book. There was also a deep emphasis on grief throughout this novel. It explored how to process and cope with loss by showing how the different characters successfully, and unsuccessfully, accomplish that for themselves. Most powerfully, this story demonstrated the difference between accepting your emotions and being ruled by them. I thought the story of Cohmac, especially, showed this particular distinction quite well.

Of course, there were many cool things related to the Star Wars universe and the Jedi in the novel. I enjoyed the re-canonization of one particular fact about the Jedi temple. The philosophical debates about what it means to be a Jedi and the role of the dark side were also very interesting to ponder. The concept of the Wayseeker is an interesting one, as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing what is done with it in future works.

Even though there were many things I enjoyed about the book, there were some things lacking. For example, the new villains, the Drengir, were laughably bad. It was weird that they spoke Basic and were portrayed in a goofy ‘I must feed’ manner. I think there was a lot of potential for them that was squandered, and I hope another author gets the chance to do more with them. The Nihil were in the book, as well, but they felt almost like an afterthought. It seemed like they were included only because they are the big villain of this multimedia project. Finally, the amount of characters was problematic at times. The narrative shifted through so many different perspectives and flashbacks it was jarring at times. I think this book handled this more successfully than some other High Republic books (here’s looking at you Light of the Jedi), but it was still a problem that made reading the book a little less enjoyable. In my opinion, a greater focus on fewer characters would have improved the book and deepened the good things about the characterizations even more.

All in all, Into the Dark is a good read. It has relatable characters who grapple with some incredibly powerful issues, including grief, acceptance of emotions without being ruled by them, and overcoming guilt about past mistakes. It also provides some interesting new insights into the Jedi order and philosophy. Therefore, despite its flaws and underwhelming villains, I believe there is enough good here to rate the book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend anyone interested in this era of Star Wars to give it a read.