Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray, narrated by January LaVoy

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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.

This is one of the top notch Star Wars novels. It’s my first Claudia Gray novel and she is an excellent author. (I plan to read more of her work. My sister is a fan of her Firebird series.)

Leia is so in character and it’s fantastic. Gray wrote her perfectly. She really got her intelligence, her heart, her temper and her sass so well.

There is some action and adventure in the story, but it is more political – and not in a boring way. The story takes place six years prior to Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Not an era I care for but after reading this I have more insight into how the First Order came to power.

January LaVoy’s narration was great. She sounded similar to older Leia’s voice. Her voice for Lady Carise Sindian was spot on because she sounded just like a prissy royal bitch. And I liked what she did for Ransolm Casterfo’s voice. It was great for his character development where he starts out as a stuffy ass and then by the end you are sympathizing with him.

I loved the development of the friendship between Leia and Ransolm. The turn around from enemies to friends to enemies to friends again was an emotional rollercoaster.

I can’t go further without going into some spoilers:

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Year Zero by Rob Reid

 

I got this book at NYCC 2017. I saw the author speak at a panel about deleted scenes and then went to his book signing.

I found his deleted scene (for After On) to be very funny and that prompted me to go to his book signing.

The plot of Year Zero had lots of promise and it started out really funny, but about half way through the jokes got old and I also became bored by the story. Sometimes it was hard to follow all the descriptions of copyright laws and the descriptions of the alien worlds. I hate to admit that I started to skim about three quarters of the way through.

Also, the footnotes were distracting. Small ones were fine, but they often turned into whole paragraphs. That tangent is just unnecessary and I also just skipped reading those all together towards the end.

I didn’t find myself connecting with any of the characters so in the end I didn’t really care what happened. Hence the skimming.

I feel horrible giving such a poor review but it is an honest one.

Since I already bought After On I will give that one a shot and hope I like it better than Year Zero.

2 out of 5 Downloaded Songs.

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Narrated by B. J. Harrison

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Narrated by B. J. Harrison; 8 hours 19 minutes.

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It is the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein! It also October and I decided to read some ghoulish stories.

I first read Frankenstein almost 20 years ago when I was in high school.

So back then I was a bit bored by the writing. I still was at times because Shelly would go on a bit with some descriptions, and listening to Harrison’s soothing voice would allow me to doze off.

I do think this time around though that I appreciated the prose more and found some passages quite poetic. I do love that Mary Shelly was a woman ahead of her time to write such a deep, philosophical, science fiction story.

I am so used to the adaptations of Frankenstein that I forgot that in the original story it is never outright said how he makes the Creature. It’s not the digging up bodies and using lightening method we’re used to. It’s implied that Frankenstein made the body from scratch. Also, and maybe I fell asleep during that part, he is also never called Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Did he get his P.H.D.?

The reason that this story still stands today is because the philosophy and themes in the story are timeless. We’re a blank slate and what shapes us is nature and nurture together. Also, take responsibility for your actions. I am looking at you, Victor.

4 out of 5 Lightening Bolts

I just want to give a shout out to my two favorite adaptations:
– Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, which is still hysterically funny.
– Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, where Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated their roles each night as Frankenstein and the Creature.

New York Comic Con 2018 – Saturday, October 6

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First panel of the day was I’ll Take Dementors for $500, Obi-Wan: A Fan Game Show with Marc Thompson, Delilah S. Dawson, Sylvain Neuve, Ryan North, and Chuck Wendig.

Here is the gist: Do you know the whole DC universe by their legal names? ID a Star Wars villain from a single wicked line? Name every kind of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Test your knowledge, competing alongside bestselling authors in categories like The Dark Side, Bad@ss Chicks, Winter Is Coming and more, using clips from Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter audiobooks. Narrator Marc Thompson hosts in character as Obi-Wan Kenobi and will select a few lucky audience members to compete onstage.

While Marc was dressed as Obi-Wan, he didn’t do his voice the whole time. The game was played like Jeopardy! and the categories were The Dark Side; Expecto Patronum; Winter Is Coming; Fierce Females; I Can Be Your Hero, Baby; and Nerd-Tastic.

It was really fun to watch. My favorite categories were The Dark Side and Expecto Patronum. For some reason they weren’t picking Winter Is Coming until nearly the end. If none of the players knew the answer the audience would shout it out and the first one to buzz in got to answer it. In the end Delilah’s team won.

There was a short Q&A afterwards. The part that interested me most was when Marc Thompson was talking about the process of recording an audiobook. He’ll get the book and make notes, and also record some new voices on his phone to refer to. As he gets more into the recording process he will be so used to doing the new voices he won’t need to refer to his voice memo.

Marc doesn’t talk to the authors because he has a director and doesn’t want to go over the director’s head by saying, “Well, the author said this.”

He was complemented on how great he sounds but Marc gave the credit to the editors who piece it together when he makes mistakes, as well as the music and sound effects they add when it’s a Star Wars novel.

As for the voice of Thrawn, I guess he did a different voice for the anniversary edition of the Thrawn Trilogy, because that was before Rebels. I still have to listen to it. But for the two most recent books he really captured the his voice from the animated series.

I can’t remember this other question or full answer now, but Chuck said that Palpatine’s first name “Sheev” is like “Steve” in AGFFA. That made me laugh.

After the panel there was a signing with the authors right outside the room, which was super convenient. We didn’t have to run and push our way to another part of the Javits.

This time I brought From a Certain Point of View with me. I told each author how I plan to slowly collect every author’s signature until I am old.

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New York Comic Con 2018 – Thursday, Oct. 4 – Part 2

After the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child panel I went to the live stage to see Ashley Eckstein talk about Her Universe and The Clone Wars being saved.

I took video of the 10 minute interview, but I am having some trouble uploading right now and will edit this post with a link to the video sometime soon.

I liked the part when she said she had to keep the secret about the Clone Wars being saved since January when she got a call from her agent and she didn’t believe it so she had to call up Dave Filoni to confirm it.

After, I roamed the Exhibit Hall and picked up these giveaways.

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid from Simon & Schuster.
From the Penguin booths:
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Green Rider by Kristen Britain
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden -> I asked a few people at the booth if they had this ARC before someone found it in the back. I have all 3 now! More about this in Sunday’s post.

I also went to the Audible booth where they were having a special event all weekend for the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter. The line was so long – about a 45 minute wait on Thursday and one hour on Saturday. You pick a character’s bottle for the “Pensive” (really just a headphone station) to hear a scene of theirs from the audiobook.

What is funny is that since July 31 I have been listening to the audiobooks and am now up to Deathly Hallows.

There are six characters to choose from Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort. I would have liked to collect all 6, because you got to keep the bottle with their name, but I only got to do it twice. I picked Hermione first then Ron on Saturday. Hermione’s scene was when she slapped Malfoy. Ron… I think the machine malfunctioned, even though a repair man had just been there doing something to it, because the scene was when Bellatrix is torturing Hermione. And my sister went before me and she picked Harry and heard the exact same scene. So, yea, the machine was still busted, we think.

My sister went again on Sunday and picked Dumbledore. She heard the part when he tells Harry of the Prophecy and Voldemort’s need of it.

Another part of the Pensive experience was that you wave a wand in front of a camera, they add some smoke to the video and you send it to yourself to share on social media.

But the best part was the code they gave to redeem at Audible. I got a free credit and downloaded The Shining. Only allowed one code though, even though I went twice. My sister tried to add the second code and was told she already did it.

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DNF: A Crucible of Souls and The Abyss Beyond Dreams

These are both books that I picked up at NYCC 2016 and the last two from that pile. I am sad to say I couldn’t get through either one.

A Crucible of Souls (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence) by Mitchell Hogan

When Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, he is raised by monks and taught the arcane mysteries of sorcery.

Vowing to discover for himself who his parents really were, and what led to their violent end, he is thrust into the unfamiliar chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to earn an apprenticeship with a guild of sorcerers.

But he soon learns the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths.

As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that brings the world to the edge of destruction.

I feel horrible saying this because I wanted to like this story. It is in a genre I love and the synopsis sounds really intriguing. But there was something about it that was not clicking with me and I can’t even identify what it is.

When I was nearly 100 pages in I had to give in and give up. I am not even sure if I will pick it up again one day and try again. There are just too many books on my TBR.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers 1) by Peter F. Hamilton

The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel—self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void.

Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void, where the laws of physics are subtly different and mental powers indistinguishable from magic are commonplace. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics—the Fallers—that are intelligent but merciless killers.

Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever—if Nigel can uncover their secrets. As the Fallers’ relentless attacks continue, and the fragile human society splinters into civil war, Nigel must uncover the secrets of the Fallers—before he is killed by the very people he has come to save.

I could not even get through the first chapter. I thought it was just me so I went to read some of the 1 star and 2 star reviews on Goodreads. I found that a big reason I couldn’t get into it was that this is sort of a side story to another series. So the world building it already there and I was feeling a bit lost, no matter how much the author briefed the reader.

I kept reading reviews to see if maybe it got better and was worth going further, but many reviewers didn’t like how it switched stories and felt like a book within a book. Others said it started out exciting and then became boring. There was also a few complaints how it became too political in the middle. So I would have to be dealing with politics in a universe I am not familiar with.

Some fans of Hamilton’s even said that this was not the best of the series set in this universe.

Also, seeing a timeline of the history of the Commonwealth in the beginning was a bit intimidating.

In the end I decided have way too many other books to read. I can’t get involved in another series. Especially when they are long books. I saw one reviewer mention that at 640 pages this was one of his shorter books.

So I am moving on. Into the donation bag these go!

 

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson.

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson. 13 hours 21 minutes.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader ally against a threat to the Empire in this new novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown…and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire…and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

 

My wish came true! I had mentioned in my review of the prequel that I wanted the story of when Thrawn met Anakin Skywalker and would he figure out that he became Darth Vader?

I don’t think one has to read Thrawn before reading this sequel, but it sure would help to know his background. That said I was reading some reviews on Goodreads and some people mentioned that they missed Eli Vanto. I honestly did not. Though knowing the outcome of Thrawn: Alliances I wouldn’t mind seeing what he is up to with the Chiss Ascendancy.

I listened to this story on audible and once again Marc Thompson is a fantastic narrator. I did laugh at his voice for Padmé, but what can you do? He’s not Natalie Portman, or Catherine Taber.

I also bought the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition, only because I wanted the poster of Padmé. (Side rant: why must they put that ugly sticker on the cover? It’s hiding Vader’s buttons. And it is already printed inside that it’s a B&N exclusive. I pealed it off but there will always be a sticky residue.)

Ok, so back to the review.

I like that we have a time frame. The past is set after Ahsoka has already left the Jedi Order. The present is set after the Battle of Atollon on Star Wars: Rebels. So between seasons 3 and 4.

I’ll start with some critiques and then end on the positive. This is going to get spoiler-y.

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