Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, narrated by Catherine Taber

Written by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Ahsoka!

When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow.

I bought a hardcover copy at Celebration Chicago last year and I downloaded the audiobook, because Catherine Taber (the voice of Padmé on The Clone Wars) narrates. I read along as I listened.

I loved this book. This might not be a book for every Star Wars fan because it is way more political than the novels we’re used to. There aren’t any big battle scenes and no lightsaber fights, but if you love Padmé, then this is a book to read/listen to.

So I loved this book for many reasons. The friendships between Padmé and the handmaids were great. It was wonderful to see what their strengths were and what their interests were outside of their duties.

The transition from being queen to becoming a senator and navigating the different political arenas was so well done. I especially like seeing Padmé learn how she had to change her demeanor, make allies, and learn how to shed the negative image people had about her. She had to get out of the shadow of what she did to Chancellor Vellorum as queen.

I loved the inclusion of the press articles because image is everything in the public eye.
Besides character image I loved the descriptions of her clothing. Practical armor hidden in style.

Minor spoilers below, but not really if you know a lot about Star Wars.

Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday May 26: Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

May 26: Opening Lines (Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc.)

1) Favorite famous quote: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

2) Gripping: “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” The Cast of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe.

3) Unique: “August 25, 1991
Dear friend,
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.” The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

4) Accurate character description: “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

5) Funny and unique: “There is a pirate in the basement. (The pirate is a metaphor but also still a person.) (The basement could rightly be considered a dungeon.) The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

6) Gripping: “The circus arrives without warning.” The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

7) Gripping: “I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” Red Rising by pierce Brown

8) Haunting: “It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.” A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

9) Haunting: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

10) Thought provoking: “The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.” The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

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The first novel in a new trilogy starring veteran New Republic pilots!

On the brink of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. Set after Return of the Jedi, Alphabet Squadron follows a unique team, each flying a different class of starfighter as they struggle to end their war once and for all.

The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The Imperial Army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters’ shantytown–until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron.

Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic general Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign.

The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy, and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn’t as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squadron will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they’ve fought so hard to achieve.

Part of a Marvel and Del Rey crossover event, Alphabet Squadron is the counterpart to Marvel’s TIE Fighter miniseries, which follows the exploits of Shadow Wing as they scheme to thwart the New Republic.

I got this paperback as a giveaway at a New York Comic Con panel.

This Alphabet Squadron Trilogy is Disney’s version of the excellent X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.

Alphabet Squadron is a long book because there is a lot of set up. Everyone, with the exception of Hera Syndulla, is a new character. It took me awhile to get into it because I had a hard time keeping the characters straight at first. I could have used a dramatis personae.

Overall I really did enjoy this novel. The slow development of the characters and the progression of them learning to get along were well done, as was the PTSD. This was a darker story than I remember the X-Wing series being.

I really liked the inclusion of Hera Syndulla in the novel, but since this was published a year after the series finale of Rebels, where is her son Jacen? There was no mention of him at all and at this point in the timeline he would be a young boy. Maybe Freed was not allowed by Lucasfilm to mention Jacen Syndulla? Maybe Jacen will be mentioned in the sequel? If I ever get to see Alexander Freed at a convention or book signing I am going to ask this.

The descriptions of the final space battle were really well done. I did not have any trouble comprehending the action taking place. I often find it hard to concentrate on battle scenes, but not this time.

Apparently there are tie in Marvel comics to this series, but unless I can borrow those from the library I am just going to stick to reading the novels.

4 out of 5 Squadrons.

Favorite Quotes:

Page 235: “Because when innocents die in war, there should be a point to it.”…”Because if you can’t even begin to explain what good you’re doing by fighting, you’re fighting on the wrong side.”

Page 424: She wished she were a better creature. That her metamorphosis would soon be complete, and that she could emerge as something bright and wondrous, shedding the atrocities of her life.
For now, however, she was what she was.
She readied herself for slaughter.

Top Ten Tuesday May 12: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

May 12: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned (this could be books you DNFed, books you decided you were no longer interested in, etc.)

1) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

2) Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Führer by Walter Shapiro.

3) The Drafter by Kim Harrison.

4) Dodgers by Bill Beverly.

5) A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan.

6) Burn the Dark by S.A. Hunt.

7) The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton.

Top Ten Tuesday May 5: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

May 5: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party (choose 10 things: items, accessories, foods, people (real or fictional), decorations, activities, etc.)

1) Cosplay: Come dressed up as your favorite literary character. I think I’d dress up as Hermione. Or Celia from The Night Circus. There will also be a game to guess the character.

2) Trivia: Winners get prizes – which is of course is more books.

3) Book Debates: March Madness style. We’ll pick books out of a hat and pit them against each other until one book is the winner.

4) Movie Adaptation rant: Let out your frustrations about what the movie got wrong.

5) Decorations: Hogwarts meets Oz meets The Shire.

6) To RSVP:. Solve the riddle to get in. It will be easy. The riddles will come from The Hobbit.

7) Open bar: Of course there would be food, but people also love free drinks.

8) Meet Your Favorite Character: They will appear in person so you can ask them whatever you wanted or you can just fangirl/fanboy and ask for a selfie.

9) Special Guests: Some authors would make an appearance for discussions and book signings.

10) The gift bag: Guests leave with an ARC, a reading light, and a gift card to buy more books.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

I got this ARC from NYCC 2019 when I bought a mystery box from Penguin Random House.

I am very unfamiliar with the Mayan gods, folktales and myths and I feel like I learned a lot from this story (even though Moreno-Garcia said in the glossary that this is a work of fantasy and not anthropological text.)

I loved this story and that it’s a stand alone novel.

I loved the slow burn love story between Casiopea and Hun-Kamé. I loved the final message that love is the strongest magic and it transforms. The ending is perfect. Lessons were learned and characters transformed.

The dynamics between all the characters were well done. The reader roots for Casiopea and has hatred for her cousin Martin, who’s a bully. Yet, Martin is not one dimensional antagonist and you get to see where his jealousy comes from.

The 1920’s imagery (the fashions) was so pretty and it would be great to see this as a miniseries.

The pacing was a little slow about 3/4 of the way through and I did put it down for a few days but that’s a tiny criticism. Otherwise it’s a beautiful, magical, and modern fairytale.

4 out of 5 Jade Necklaces.