Book Review – Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars

Released as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series of media, Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is a standalone Young Adult Star Wars novel with a largely original cast of characters. It follows the lives of two childhood friends, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, starting when they are only children on the day their home planet of Jelucan is annexed by the Galactic Empire. Growing up with aspirations of joining the Imperial Academy and one day becoming pilots, the pair are inseparable as they work to achieve their dreams. But war looms on the horizon as rebel forces become more and more prominent, thrusting them into a conflict that forces them down opposing paths and challenges whether bonds of loyalty and love for each other can survive the ravages of war.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – March 27, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Fragile ThingsI’ve admittedly not made a whole lot of progress on Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, though I have read a few stories since last week. I’m starting to notice an intriguing trend in the last few stories I’ve read in this book, which revolve around a young person having a haunting experience with abandoned property/houses. Each story was effective in their own way, while also having a number of elements in common. I wonder if this is happenstance, or will continue in some way throughout this book. I know most of these stories were published before being collected here, but I think it’ll be interesting to keep an eye out nonetheless.


Recently Finished

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1The first book I finished over the weekend was volume one of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, which I posted a review for yesterday. This is my second time reading the book after many years, and while a lot of the story was familiar I didn’t realize just how deep some of the literary cuts were in this book. There were some obvious ones I was ignorant to the first time around—I had no knowledge of the plot of Dracula so had no idea who Mina Murray was—but this book is positively packed with references. By all accounts nearly every named character is somebody from literature.

Lost StarsI also finished Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, which I should have a review up for soon. This book was intensely sentimental and melodramatic in certain ways and I am not ashamed to say I ate it right up. Romance isn’t typically a particular draw for me, but set in the galaxy far, far away against the backdrop of the Galactic Civil War I enjoyed it immensely. It helps that Gray did an excellent job of crafting both characters, with opposing viewpoints, who are both sympathetic and likable in their own right. I hope we get a follow-up story for these characters some day.


Reading Next

The WonderPart of me wants to focus my energy on reading Fragile Things now, but I always meant it to be a supplementary read. That being the case, I think I will start The Wonder by Emma Donahue soon, another book from my scrappy little list. It’s a book I remember little about, but I think that’ll be a nice change of pace to what I’ve been reading recently, with events of Star Wars so well known to me and League volume one being a re-read.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – March 20, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Fragile ThingsI’m only read a handful of stories from Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman since last week, but so far I’m continuing to enjoy the book, which doesn’t really come as a surprise to me. I especially enjoyed one story with a ludicrously long title, where a writer of literature in a world of Gothic horror wants to write about mundane, everyday things, which in his reality is complete fantasy/genre fiction. Something unfortunate I am noticing in my reading, however, is my reaction to some of the poems, of which there have only been a couple so far. I retain almost nothing about these poems after I’ve finish them, which I find regrettable. I don’t want to linger on them too long either though.

Lost StarsI’m pretty far along into Lost Stars by Claudia Gray now as well, which I’m enjoying very much. I don’t have a lot of experience with such books, but by all accounts this book is very YA, but I’m enjoying that quite a lot. The dual protagonists’ story at the Imperial academy transitioned into events from the original Star Wars films pretty quickly and I really enjoy the way they’re integrated. The biggest, impactful moments from those films ripple into their lives in big ways, but the book isn’t pretending these characters secretly had crucial roles either. They remain background characters and I really like that, because it becomes easy to believe they’ve really been there the whole time.


Recently Finished

Nothing this week, though I expect there will be more than one sitting here next week.


Reading Next

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1Well, well, well, here we are a week later and I didn’t make up my mind on a comic book to read in time. For shame. That being said, I actually have made up my mind on a comic to read, I just haven’t started it yet. It’s the first volume of the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. I actually read this book years and years ago, but never had a look at the second volume. In prep for eventually acquiring that, I decided to read volume one again. On my first reading I barely had an understanding of who these literary figures were as well, so I’m hoping my reading experience will be very different this time.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – March 13, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Fragile ThingsI started reading Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman the other day when I had trouble falling asleep. The introduction section was the same as that in Smoke & Mirrors—Gaiman went through each story giving a little blurb about what he remembers when writing it, or something to that effect. I skipped that this time around. I read that section first before and retained almost nothing. I’d like to be able to appreciate what he’s saying, so I’m going to read the stories first (though it nags at me that I’m skipping over a section). The first story was a Lovecraftian re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes and I honestly wish it were a whole novel.

Lost StarsI also started reading Lost Stars by Claudia Gray last night. Though noticeably more YA than the other Star Wars books I’ve been reading, I’m really enjoying how zeroed-in the story is on ordinary people so far. It’s following two young aspiring pilots on a world in the Outer Rim. It’s interesting to see events from their more naive perspective, such as the arrival of the Empire when they came under their rule. They see it as greater civilization finally coming to their world, and while there are hints to the darker truth, you can see how some citizens would view the Empire as something positive.


Recently Finished

The Rise and Fall of the DinosaursOver the weekend I finished reading The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, and posted my review yesterday. It was one of the easiest 5 out of 5’s I’ve ever given. I was expecting to find the book interesting, but I was really not expecting such delight from reading a science book. It’s great as a detailed overview of the dinosaurs’ time on Earth, but honestly I could have read a book on each period. There were some great chapters on tyrannosaurus rex and other tyrannosaur species and I’d love to read more extensive chapters on other species. I might have to dive deeper into reading about this subject.


Reading Next

With two books just started, I’m once again at a loss regarding what I’ll read next. I should pick up a comic book, but I’m currently cursed with indecision on that front. This is pretty silly considering the physical and digital stack of them that I’ve got languishing, but here we are. I’m sure I’ll decide on something by next week, but I’m pretty sure I said that last week. Whoops.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – March 6, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Rise and Fall of the DinosaursReading this week has been a little more slow-going, so I’m still in thick of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steven Brusatte. That being said, I’m still enjoying the book immensely. I really like how it gets into the evolutionary history of how these creatures likely functioned, such as how sauropods evolved to be so massive and how they could maintain such huge sizes. There is a great balance between the history of these eras and anecdotes about work in the field, including where fossils can be found today and why. Excited;y telling people facts I’ve learned from what I’m reading is a simple joy that I haven’t had with a book in a long time.


Recently Finished

Nothing this week, which I again attribute to it being a slow week for me. With no more Berserk to read I was not compelled to pick up and read a comic book. Oh well, there’s always the week to come.


Reading Next

Fragile ThingsI still intend to read Lost Stars by Claudia Gray next, but I can’t help but think I need to read something else concurrently to bump up the numbers on my finished books a bit. Skimming my scrappy little list right now (literally) I have decided also start Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman soon. I always prefer a short story collection as a concurrent read, and what better than another of Gaiman’s. Turns out one of the stories within is connected to American Gods as well. Marvelous!

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – February 27, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Rise and Fall of the DinosaursOver the weekend I started reading The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. I’m not especially far into it, but I’m unabashedly adoring it so far. I’m having a bit of trouble with some of the names of the prehistoric creatures, but other than that Brusatte is pretty exceptional at making the material accessible to those outside the field. I grew up as a dinosaur kid, but my active interest dropped off in adulthood. I’ve learned quite a bit from this book already as a result, which I’ve already eagerly been passing on to others who will listen. I’m always a little concerned I’ll have trouble with science books, but so far this book is far from the case.


Recently Finished

if on a winter's night a travelerI finally finished If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino over the weekend as well, which I posted my full review for yesterday. The book is quite a brilliant exploration of readers and writers of literature, and all the forms such take for good or ill. It had a good sense of humour to go with its philosophical waxing too. It is worth noting that the frame narrative does not have much in the way of an intricate plot, however, and the transitions back and forth between it and the novels the protagonist is reading may have a polarizing effect for some people. I appreciated it a lot, but even I found it pretty exhausting sometimes.

Berserk 21I also read Berserk Vol. 20 & 21 by Kentaro Miura, which brought about the conclusion I’d been eagerly anticipating for this arc. I’m pretty pleased with the way things turned out, especially in how the main antagonist didn’t simply devolve into another monster for Guts to fight. His convictions were steadfast despite his metamorphosis and I appreciated that in a villain. His ultimate folly was not realizing how he could better help the people around him with the power granted to him, instead giving into his own fanaticism. I’m eager to see where the story goes next, but I’m not sure if I want to use this opportunity to take a breather a bit before I continue.


Reading Next

Lost StarsWhile I’ve still got plenty of book left with what I’m reading right now, I guess I can’t really help looking to the future as well. I’m thinking I will finally read Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, a Star Wars novel I meant to read last year but never got around to. It’s praised quite highly among the new canon of books, so it’s high time I read it myself. It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers caught on opposing sides of the Galactic Civil War and I’m curious to see how the conflict is framed through their eyes.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 2, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

I’m taking my end of year/new year break, so I haven’t started anything yet! Just want a brief reprieve before I dive back in.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1953I missed last week’s post because of the holidays—lots of travel and visiting people—so I’ve got a few titles to bring up here. The first is Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola et al. It continues the adventures of Hellboy early in his career as a paranormal investigator, seeing him travel across England with his surrogate father Bruttenholm as well as with a team of other agents in the suburbs of America. I really liked how this book continued to balance his inexperience with his growing competence, as well as the nods to the fact that his very nature might be the reason significant confrontations are spurred in the first place.

BloodlineThe second I finished was Bloodline by Claudia Gray, which I have spoken highly of numerous times since: it received a 5 out of 5 in my review and was listed among my top five personal favourite reads of the year. I’ve enjoyed many of the new Star Wars books, but this one stands as the perfect example original story and tie-in to the greater franchise converging almost seamlessly. It offered a closer look into one of the franchise’s most iconic characters as well, having her face her demons concerning her parentage in a substantial way previously unseen. It also did a good job of providing some insight into politics and what we know is in store for the galaxy without bogging things down with too many details.

Berserk 17Lastly, I read Berserk Vol. 17 by Kentaro Miura as I planned to for my final read, though I didn’t actually get to it until I got back home (I wanted all these done before Christmas). I really enjoyed getting back into the series. There were a few things I had to re-familiarize myself with, but I was able to recall most everything quite well. This arc looks like it’s shaping up to be pretty interesting too, tying back into characters and events that took place during the extensive flashback arc that occurred many volumes ago. The only regrettable thing is manga volumes read very quickly and continuously; a volume is never really a complete story, just a big collection of chapters, so I’m going to need to pick up more of these regularly if I want to keep reading.


Reading Next

I, RobotI’ll likely start reading again this weekend, I’m already getting a little antsy to pick up a book again. On Boxing Day I went to a used bookstore in Toronto with my friends and picked up I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. For some reason I was convinced the book was hard to find. Turns out it really isn’t, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Don’t know what I was thinking. At any rate, the spark of my interest in it was started by a documentary series on science fiction and since I’ve got a copy now and I’m to kindle that interest while it’s still fresh.

Until next week, thank you for reading! I hope you all had a happy holidays.

Top 5 Books I Read in 2018

A sentiment at the moment seems to be that 2018 has felt like a very long year, but honestly I feel like I blinked and we’re at the end of the year. Certain moments throughout the year feel like they happened ages ago, yet it also feels to me like Halloween just happened. Maybe my perception of time is a little skewed right now.

At any rate, here we are once again with my end of the year top five list, presenting the five books I enjoyed reading the most in 2018. They are in no particular order, nor do they need to have come out in this year.Read More »

Book Review – Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline

Bloodline by Claudia Gray is a standalone Star Wars novel following Princess Leia Organa long after the events of the film Return of the Jedi. Set decades after the fall of the Empire and the birth of the New Republic, Leia has served as a Senator in the unofficial Populist party, who believe member planets should retain full sovereignty over themselves. Their counterparts are the Centrists, who believe in a stronger centralized power in the government with significant military prowess. The story begins at a time when the senate has trouble getting anything done, as these opposing sides spend more time bickering than trying to work together. Years of these divisive politics has left Leia tired and jaded, longing for the days of danger and adventure with her friends and loved ones that was her time in the Rebellion. Resolving to retire at the end of her term, Leia decides to spearhead an investigation into criminal activity disrupting certain worlds as a final deed in service to the galaxy, which begins to unearth a greater threat hiding in the shadows.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – December 19, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

BloodlineI’m just over 100 pages into Bloodline by Claudia Gray and I can already see why it is highly regarded among the new Star Wars novels. Set decades after the fall of the Empire, the book follows Princess Leia Organa at a time of great divide in the New Republic Senate and burnout with politics for her personally. I love how focused this book is on Leia’s perspective, deviating to other characters sparingly to help establish them in their supporting roles. Many of the other new Star Wars books I’ve read, even those meant to focus on a specific character, would jump between too many different plotlines for my liking. This is just so well-written, evocative of Carrie Fischer’s performance, and streamlined with its perspective that I’m eating it up.


Recently Finished

Reaper ManAt the end of last week I finished reading Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, the 11th novel in the Discworld series. Please check out my full review here! I really liked this novel, though in the trio of storylines it followed one of them felt a little too tangential and filler-y for me. At any rate, I really enjoyed reading Death’s experiences as Bill Door, the name he takes for himself as a farm hand, and the way that it sort of mirrors Windle Poons’s experiences as a newly undead thanks to Death’s imposed retirement. I especially liked the way Death’s story ended. It was touching and made it clear that his experiences really changed him rather than things ending up back to the way they were before.

TomieI also read Tomie by Junji Ito over the weekend, collecting the serial series of the same name that follows a beautiful young woman named Tomie who is continually murdered by men that become unnaturally obsessed with her, yet she never stays dead. Though this is a little hyperbolic, the experience reading this kind of floored me. I’ve been enjoying Ito’s work a lot over the last year, but this book has reminded me for the first since reading Uzumaki that he really his a brilliant horror writer. I should have a review up by the end of the week.

 


Reading Next

Berserk 17The year is almost wrapped up for me as far as reading is concerned, though I’ve unsurprisingly (to myself) a little behind on what I want to get finished. I intend to read two more comic books before Christmas Eve, as well as finishing Bloodline, to end my yearly reading list at a nice even 60 books. Hopefully I can actually do it within my self-imposed timeline. The two comics I will read are Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola et al and Berserk Vol. 17 by Kentaro Miura. The latter I’m picking up after a hiatus from reading the series that has lasted for something like 6 years. A friend has motivated me to pick it up again.

Until next week, thank you for reading!