Review: Moving Target (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry

Moving TargetThis was an excellent Star Wars young adult novel that succeeds at showing realistic decisions that must be made in war, and how people involved in those wars end up making essential decisions regardless of how much power or authority they might have. I also appreciated that Princess Leia is given much authority and agency in this book, leading a mission she devises in order to give the Alliance a fighting chance against the second Death Star.  Continue reading

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Review: Shattered Empire (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Greg Rucka

Shattered EmpireOne of my biggest pet peeves about most war movies is how the characters celebrate at the end of a big battle as if everything is going to be easy from there on out. This graphic novel shows how the opposite is the case and does an excellent job of leading into how the remnants of the Empire might converge into a different foe for Star Wars Episodes 7 and beyond.

These stories also effectively use a known character’s family member to immediately hook me and make me invested in their fate. I especially like how it’s Poe Dameron’s MOTHER that is the star of the show rather than the “traditional” male lead.  Continue reading

Review: Bizarre Tales From World War II by William B. Breuer

Bizarre Tales from WW2This is an easy-to-read collection of short snippets organized by time period before, during, and after World War II. I’d hesitate to call them bizarre tales, however. Curious coincidences and interesting anecdotes is probably more appropriate.

I would not recommend this as a reference book for those writing about WWII. It is, though, probably a great source of inspiration for those looking for story fodder or to add elements of realism to work they are already doing.  Continue reading

Review: Pathways (Tales of Valdemar #11) edited by Mercedes Lackey

PathwaysWhile I usually call out two specific stories in anthologies, my favorite and the one I’d most like to see expanded into a novel, I’m unable to do that with this Valdemar collection. I enjoyed most of the stories, but none of them jumped out to me as amazing. A few of the stories also dragged, and one I stopped reading altogether.

One thing this anthology did well was the fantastic representation of diversity in sexual orientation and even gender identity. I’d love future anthologies to explore farther beyond the realm of Valdemar for more representation of people of color (beyond Karsites being a little more brown).  Continue reading

Review: Closer to the Chest (Herald Spy #3) by Mercedes Lackey

Closer to the ChestIt’s taken quite a few books, but I think Lackey is back on her stride with her long-running Valdemar series. While I still noticed a few editorial discrepancies, I enjoyed this novel a lot more than any of the previous books that featured Mags and Amily. This particular story acts as a culmination to what both characters have been working toward for years. Now, they are full Heralds who have come into their own, both in the work that they do and in their relationship.

Valdemaran courtly and political intrigue are some of my very favorite things, and I got both of those in spades in this novel. As an added bonus, Lackey also introduces us to other religious elements in the world, proving that just because a series has literally dozens of books doesn’t mean that the readers (and the author) aren’t always learning new things.  Continue reading

Review: Valhalla (Stargate SG-1 #14) by Tim Waggoner

ValhallaI enjoyed this book more than I otherwise might have, reading it so soon on the heels of watching Thor: Ragnarok in theaters. Any Stargate reading for me is a visit to a world I love, and this was a solid, though not necessarily memorable, entry into the media tie-in offerings for this world.

One of my biggest criteria for media tie-in stories is whether the story would have worked in the constraints of visual storytelling, and unfortunately, I could have easily seen this, special effects totally doable, on screen as a two-part episode. The planet Langara and its all-powerful naquadia resources and rogue Asgard scientists are also already done to death in the realm of Stargate stories.  Continue reading

Review: A Scandal in Battersea (Elemental Masters #12) by Mercedes Lackey

Scandal in BatterseaThe novels of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series take two forms. The first is re-imagined fairy tales set in Edwardian England (and Europe beyond). The second is a more of a traditional (historical) urban fantasy series that centers around a group of magicians, psychics, and mediums in London, starring two plucky young women and their avian familiars. They hang out with Sherlock Holmes sometimes, which is why his star-power gets him on the cover of the book.

A Scandal in Battersea is the latter style, which is not my preference of the two, but it was still a quick and enjoyable read. It was a solid, magical mystery adventure filled with comforting characters familiar from earlier in the series. Watching Nan and Sarah grow up has been a lovely ride, and I do enjoy checking in on them.  Continue reading