Book Review – The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray

Into the Dark

The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray is the first YA novel in the Star Wars: The High Republic multimedia series, which is set 200 years before Star Wars Episode I. Jedi Padawan Reath Silas may not be as Force-sensitive as his peers, but the young apprentice works hard to earn his mettle within the Jedi Order, determined to become one of its great scholars. His ideal routine of plunging into the Archives of the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant is stripped away, however, when his Master, Jora Malli, becomes the Jedi commander of Starlight Beacon, a space station on the Republic frontier in the Outer Rim territories of the galaxy.

Reath isn’t the adventurous type, but where his Master goes he must follow. Travelling to Starlight separately from her,  with Jedi Masters Orla Jareni and Cohmac Vitus, and Jedi Knight Dez Rydan, he is struck with trouble sooner than expected. A disaster in Hyperspace forces their transport ship to seek refuge on a derelict space station, along with a number of other refugee spacecrafts. While the reason for the catastrophe eludes them, the station itself holds a dark secret: an overbearing presence of the Dark side of the Force that Reath and his fellow Jedi struggle to understand. If they’re not careful, a nightmarish scourge that has been dormant for eons could be released upon the galaxy.Read More »

Book Review – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, originally published in 1969. Considered an American classic and among the world’s great antiwar novels, the story is centered around the firebombing of Dresden, Germany during World War II. It follows Billy Pilgrim, a U.S. Army private, who embarks upon a strange odyssey while struggling to survive as a prisoner of war. Billy’s consciousness becomes unstuck in time, sending him to various points in his own past and future, including his married life after the war, waning years after surviving a serious accident, and the period of time he spent as an exhibit in an alien zoo. Through it all, he always returns to his horrific experiences during the war.Read More »

Book Review – Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden

Alien River of Pain

Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden is the third novel in the trilogy of canon Alien books that were published from 2013-2014. This novel tells the never-before-told story of Hadley’s Hope, the doomed colony and setting of the film Aliens. This colony was tasked with terraforming LV-426 (renamed Acheron), the planetoid where Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo had their nightmarish encounter with the Alien. The story follows Anne and Russell Jorden, two “wildcatters” who seek their fortune by surveying the planet, their children Rebecca (aka Newt) and Tim, and Captain Demian Brackett, the new CO of the colonial marines posted to the colony.

Ellen Ripley, long thought lost after the disappearance of the Nostromo 57-years previously, has been discovered adrift by a salvage crew. After her story is unraveled, the Weyland-Yutani Company sends survey coordinates to the science team at Hadley’s Hope, eager to rediscover the derelict ship on Acheron and secure a xenomorph specimen. Anne and Russ are ecstatic when they find the decaying vessel, but what they encounter within spells doom for their fledgling community.Read More »

Book Review – Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Hogfather

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett is the 20th novel in the author’s comic fantasy Discworld series, and the fourth in the Death sub-series. Susan Sto Helit, the granddaughter of Death himself, has settled into a life of education, living with a wealthy family as their astute and capable governess. Sure, she occasionally has to bash in the heads of monsters the kids imagine live under their beds or in the basement, but such things are old hat for someone like Susan. She knows all too well how powerful imagination and superstition can be on the Discworld. Aside from such hiccups, everything is perfectly normal, just the way she wants them to be.

But things take a turn for the stranger on Hogswatch Eve, a time when a jolly fat man is meant to be about delivering presents to all the good little girls and boys. He’s nowhere to be found, and in his place is Death, trying to fill the big man’s over-sized coat. With Death unwilling to inform Susan of what is going on, it’s up to her to learn the reason for her grandfather’s odd behaviour and uncover what has happened to the Hogfather. It’s a race against the clock as Hogswatch morning approaches. If she fails, the sun may never rise again.Read More »

Book Review – Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry

Bacchanal

Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry is the author’s newly published, debut novel. Set during the Great Depression in the Southern United States, the story follows Eliza Meeks, a young black woman barely getting by in Baton Rouge, abandoned by her family many years previously. Thanks to a latent, otherworldly power that allows her to communicate with animals, she is noticed by a talent prospector and hired by the G. B. Bacchanal Carnival as a new crowd-drawing oddity.

Among the other carnies and strange folk, Liza finds a place to call home, but Bacchanal is not entirely as it seems. Lurking behind the games, attractions, and sweet treats is a demonic being that feeds on innocent lives and imbues the carnival with the presence of spirits from beyond the veil. Only Liza has a chance at stopping her, if she can come to understand the true nature of her burgeoning powers.Read More »

Book Review – The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Light of the Jedi

Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule is the first novel of The High Republic, a multimedia series of stories set in the Star Wars universe, 200 years before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It is a time of great prosperity for the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. New systems are regularly coming into the fold and the Republic is looking to expand their outreach to the more overlooked corners of the galaxy. Central to this cause is Starlight Beacon, a new space station located in the Outer Rim territories that will soon act as a prominent Jedi outpost, safe haven, and literal beacon to aid travelers as they navigate these dangerous regions.

 All is not as well as it seems in the galaxy, however, as a seemingly freak accident in hyperspace has caused massive pieces of debris to enter the Hetzal system, travelling at near light speed and threatening death and destruction to anything in their path. With billions of lives on the line, only a contingent of Jedi and the fleet of the Republic Defense Coalition have a chance of mitigating this great disaster. As more and more systems eventually come under threat as well, attention turns to an infamous group of marauders known as the Nihil, who pose a greater threat than the Republic and the Jedi could possibly imagine.Read More »

Book Review – Where Have You Gone Without Me? by Peter Bonventre

Where Have You Gone Without Me

Where Have You Gone Without Me? is a recently published crime thriller novel by Peter Bonventre, a longtime journalist and award-winning sportswriter. The story follows Eddie Sabella, a 37-year-old hot shot reporter and columnist at a tabloid newspaper in New York City. The year is 2006, when a local church is rocked by a supposed miracle: their statue of St. Joseph appears to be crying real tears. Eddie gets an exclusive thanks to a tip and at first things play out like any other story for him, who is ever on the prowl for the next subject of his column. It soon becomes the story of a lifetime, however, after the statue is stolen, putting Eddie in contact with a colourful cast of characters including restaurateurs, aging mobsters, and a long lost love who up and disappeared on him 15 years before.Read More »

Book Review – Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Feet of Clay

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett is the 19th novel in the author’s Discworld series and the third novel in the City Watch sub-series. There’s murder afoot, as the bodies of a priest and a baker have been found bludgeoned in their respective homes. Headed by Commander Vimes, Captain Carrot, werewolf Corporal Angua, and their new forensics expert Cheery Littlebottom, the City Watch is on the case. Despite the talents each bring to the case, however, it seems no other living thing was present for either murder, though a lot of clay was.

Golems are made of clay, but they’re just things that do as they’re told, not alive, and murder goes against the sacred scrolls that make them function. With the case only getting foggier, the Patrician of the city, Lord Vetinari, suddenly falls victim of poison from an unknown source, weakening him but not killing him outright. Vimes and the Watch’s policing skills are put to the test as they must uncover not only whodunit, but howdunit.Read More »

Book Review – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is the author’s first novel, retelling the life of the ancient Greek hero Achilles and the events of The Iliad by Homer. The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus, a Greek prince from a relatively small yet proud kingdom. To his father, the boy is a disappointment: small, slight, and timid. His life with this cruel, unloving father is empty and cold. After accidentally killing another noble boy who tries to take something from him, Patroclus is exiled to the kingdom of Phthia, to be fostered by King Peleus.

Initially ostracized by the other boys for his crime, he attracts the attention of Peleus’s son Achilles, a demigod destined to become the greatest hero of his time, becoming his faithful companion. As the two grow up together and become lovers, however, destiny becomes a portent of doom for any prolonged peace and happiness in their future together. Nevertheless, the call of the greatest campaign in their history becomes too difficult for one such as Achilles to ignore, compelling the two to meet whatever destiny has in store for them on the plains of Troy.Read More »

Book Review – Star Wars: Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Master & Apprentice

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice is a standalone novel by Claudia Gray, set in the new canon of Star Wars. Set several years before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the story follows Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his 17-year-old Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi at a crossroads in their relationship. Though they’ve been partnered for some time, they are at odds with one another, Qui-Gon a maverick who often disregards the inflexibility of the Jedi Council and Obi-Wan more rigid and committed to following the Jedi Code to the letter.

Their partnership is put at risk of ending altogether, however, after the Council extends an unexpected invitation for Qui-Gon to join them, meaning he can no longer keep an apprentice. He takes some time to think it over, fearing he will fail Obi-Wan as a teacher if he leaves him, yet wondering if another master may be better suited to teaching him. Despite so much uncertainty between the two, they embark upon what may be their final mission together, after an old friend reaches out to Qui-Gon for help.Read More »