Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston

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When fourteen-year-old Padmé Naberrie wins the election for Queen of Naboo, she adopts the name Amidala and leaves her family to the rule from the royal palace. To keep her safe and secure, she’ll need a group of skilled handmaidens who can be her assistants, confidantes, defenders, and decoys. Each girl is selected for her particular talents, but it will be up to Padmé to unite them as a group. When Naboo is invaded by forces of the Trade Federation, Queen Amidala and her handmaidens will face the greatest test—of themselves, and of each other.

Queen’s Peril just came out this month and it’s a prequel to Queen’s Shadow.

Just like Queen’s Shadow, I really enjoyed this book. I only have the hardcover and so I didn’t listen along with the audiobook this time. It is such a fast read, mostly because it is for YA readers, but I like YA. Also, like I said with my last review: there aren’t any big battle scenes and no lightsaber fights, but if you love Padmé, then this is a book to read.

*A few minor spoilers – but not really if you know Star Wars like the back of your hand, and read Queen’s Shadow.*

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Star Wars: Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray, narrated by Jonathan Davis.

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An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future in the first canon Star Wars novel to take place before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi’s most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now, Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice.

Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council – knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.

When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind.

As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested – just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before or be divided forever.

I did the same thing that I did for Queen’s Shadow. I bought a hardcover special edition at Celebration Chicago last year and I downloaded the audiobook, because I like the music and sound effects included. And I read along as I listened.

I really enjoyed this book, but let me get the things I didn’t like out of the way. These little things knocked off a star in the rating.

– No character, especially Jedi, in the Star Wars universe, in the films or other mediums says “By the Force” or “Thank the Force.” Actually, it’s a big pet peeve of mine when I see it written in fan fiction.

– The voice for Mace Windu was totally off. Which was a let down because the other voices were spot on. I don’t know what that accent was.

– Young Obi-Wan’s love of flying felt out of character.

Ok, so on to the likes!

– Great voice work for Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Dooku, and Rael Averross (a new character).

– I loved the flashbacks with Dooku and studying the prophecies.

– I loved any discussions and debates the Jedi had about prophecies, and how wanting to control the future lead to the Dark Side.

– I loved Rael’s renegade Jedi attitude and disregard for the Jedi Code, especially when it came to celibacy. Now I want to read a fan fiction where he became Anakin’s teacher because things would have turned out WAY differently.

– I really liked Rahara and felt such sympathy for her.

– I found the idea of performance artist demonstrators really amusing.

– One of my favorite things were seeing the fault lines in the Jedi Order because it makes their downfall understandable. Like how they would serve the government of the Republic over being guardians of justice. Also, how some of their methods of raising young Jedi are wrong. I made a lot of bookmarks.

– I loved the little preludes to The Phantom Menace.
Like the plight of the enslaved people that Czerka corportation owned.
The Chosen One prophecy.
I am sure Qui-Gon learned from the young princess to look closer next time, and don’t underestimate her.

Everything tied together to well. Sometimes the pacing was a bit slow, but I liked the plot of story and the conclusion of it. I had so many suspects and was actually surprised by the twist.

4 out of 5 Prophecies.

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.

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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.

My review of The Rise of Skywalker

Well … what did I think of this expensive fan fiction? It was way better than The Last Jedi. Still I like The Force Awakens a bit better. Only because the ending of The Rise of Skywalker was very long and drawn out. I was getting frustrated and looking at my watch. There were parts I enjoyed but there are some plot holes, in my opinion, and inconsistent aspects. I miss George Lucas. His films were consistent with each other. This Sequel Trilogy (I am calling it the Fan Fiction Trilogy) feels like a mish mosh of 3 different films. The makers should have sat down and planned it all out from the get go. Not each director/writer doing their own thing.  It truly feels like J.J. Abrams started his own movie, then Rian Johnson did his own thing completely off course, and then Abrams went back to finish his own story.

I am going to break this up into things I liked, things I disliked and things I hated it.

 

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New York Comic Con 2019 – Saturday

New York Comic Con 2019 – Saturday, October 5

I was going to wear my Padmé green velvet costume that I wore at Celebration Chicago, but since I was not feeling well I decided against it. I just didn’t want to schlep around in a gown. I wanted to wear a comfy hoodie with pockets that I could put my tissues in.

So I wore my Her Universe Padmé hoodie. It’s the yellow, pink and purple ombré hoodie that I bought at Celebration Chicago.

I am bummed that I didn’t dress in cosplay, but it’s ok. I’ll wear my costume next year. I’ll also take even more vitamin C so not to get a cold.

My sister and I started our morning by going straight to the Penguin booth for The Starless Sea (by Erin Morgenstern) ARC giveaway.

Like I had said in an earlier post, the set up was super annoying and chaotic. I guess Knopf Doubleday were told they were not allowed to have people line up, which is stupid and ridiculous because A) every other booth at Penguin had lines, as did all the other booths on the show floor, and B) people will still loiter around until 11 and be in the way anyway.

The people loitering around the booth became a disorganized crowd of people just storming the booth at 11am sharp to get the free ARC. They would have been much better off counting the number of books the had, line people up and give them a numbered ticket after scanning their badges. Or first come, first serve, scan badge – hand out numbered tickets starting at 10am and then ask people to return anytime that day after 11am to get their guaranteed copy.

I think they totally underestimated the demand for The Starless Sea. This is the first book that Erin has written since the beloved The Night Circus ,which was published in 2011.

That is a big break, so of course people want this book. One girl told us that an ARC of the book was stolen right out of her hand at a giveaway at Book Con.

SO the fact that they didn’t line us up properly was a nightmare. The people working the table told the crowds not to loiter and come back at 11. But no one listens because they know if they do – they will miss out.

And they were really down to the second. It was at 11 sharp when they started scanning and handing out the books. The loitering crowd became a pushing mosh pit. You can say no pushing – but come on? How are people supposed to get out of the crowd once they got their book? At least when there is an ORGANIZED LINE there is an entry and exit point.

Utter ridiculousness.

My sister and I did manage to keep ourselves towards the front of the loitering crowd and were successful.

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My sister and I also took the Book Wizard quiz. I got an ARC of Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie.

I forgot to mention in the previous post that we also tried to guess the number of books in this stack for Orbit Books.

We were guessing by the thickness and adding it up on the calculator.
We guessed 9,594 pages. The answer is 9,590 pages! Off by 4 pages! UGH!

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New York Comic Con 2019 – Thursday and Friday.

New York Comic Con 2019 – Thursday, October 3

I don’t have much to say about Thursday. An important project had to be finished at work and so I had to sacrifice the panels I wanted to see. I ended up getting to the Con a little after 4PM and I only stayed a couple of hours.

I missed out on some of the ARCs the publishers were giving out but I did buy a mystery box from Penguin Random House.

 

I chose Ladies First in Sci-Fi and Fantasy and inside the box were two pins, a lined notebook, and these books.
Trading in Danger (Vatta’s War 1) by Elizabeth Moon
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal 1) by Zen Cho
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Even though this book has already been released the book in the box is an ARC.

Besides buying those books I walked around the floor and checked out the Hallmark Pop-Minded booth. There are some ornaments that I will want to buy when they come out. I didn’t buy any of their NYCC exclusives this year. There were none that interested me.

The panels I sacrificed were:

Star Wars Audiobooks: A Behind-the-Scenes Conversation at 11:15 am-12:15 pm.
Get the inside scoop on how the Star Wars audiobooks are recorded and produced with some of the biggest Star Wars authors, voice actors, and producers in the business! You’ll hear from narrators Marc Thompson, Saskia Maarleveld, and Euan Morton in a tell-all panel moderated by Nick Martorelli (PRH Audio producer) about the new Star Wars titles they’ve worked on, how they create the characters, what it’s like in the recording booth and how production builds different layers of voice narration, sound effects, and music into the final track.

Rotten Movies We Love: Critics and Fans Reflect on the Stinkers that Stole our Hearts at 12:30 pm-1:30 pm. (Such a shame I missed this one because these Rotten Tomatoes panels are always a fun time.)

Ever been crushed to learn your favorite movie – or a new one you’re dying to see – has been given the infamous green splat from Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer? Inspired by the upcoming book, Rotten Movies We Love, comedian and movie lover, Mark Ellis hosts Rotten Tomatoes Editor-in-Chief Joel Meares, RT editor Jacqueline Coley, and a number of critics in a lively discussion about films that are so bad they’re good, underrated gems, and iconic cult classics. An interactive experience, audience members are empowered to put on their critic hats and join the spirited conversation – and participate in RT’s fan-favorite Tomatometer guessing game, Street Vs. Elite. 

Part of Your World-Building at 2:30 pm-3:15 pm.
It’s our world. Just add monsters. And ghosts. And time travelers. Four acclaimed fantasy and science fiction novelists discuss bringing their books to life. Featured panelists include Kat Cho (Wicked Fox), Rebecca Roanhorse (The Sixth World Series), and Zoraida Cordova (the Brooklyn Brujas series).

This one was actually at the NYPL on 5th Ave. I thought, and was hoping, that even though I would definitely be missing the other two panels maybe I would be finished in time for this one. Zoraida Cordova was a part of this panel and so I brought with me Labyrinth Lost and Bruja Born for her to sign. But I didn’t even make it to this panel. Carried around the heavy hard covers with me for nothing.

The last hour of the day my sister joined me after she left work. She also bought a mystery box from Penguin. She picked my second choice which was Classic Sci-Fi. She also got two pins and these books:
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Foundation by Isaac Asimov

When she saw the Asimov book she was like, “I knew it!”

New York Comic Con 2019 – Friday, October 4- Part I

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Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn; narrated by Marc Thompson

Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

 

I think this will be the last of the Thrawn books for a while based on the timeline. It is set right before the finale of Rebels. The third book of this trilogy was not my favorite of the three. I was a little bit bored in the middle of the story, and I thought the plot was a bit..weak.

That being said I will focus on some of the positive things.

I really liked the humor Marc Thompson brought to some of the characters. Such as his Sean Connery voice for Admiral Savit. That cracked me up. As did his pompous, snobby voice for Assistant Director Ronan.
Whenever Director Krennic made an appearance he was always yelling, but Marc’s voice work for him was spot on. Oh, and I was so amused by the jokes at his expense about his white cape. So pretentious.

I loved the voices Marc did for the Death Troopers and how they were just grilling Assistant Director Ronan, because he was so annoying.

This time Thrawn did not say “Perhaps” as much! What a relief!

I did enjoy the subplot with Eli Vanto, the Chiss and their navigators. He didn’t annoy me this time and it was interesting to see his role with the Chiss were he is an outsider. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them and learning more about the Force Sensitive girls who navigate their ships.

SOME SPOILERS BELOW!

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 – Sunday, April 14

It was snowing! The news actually said it was a record: 16 hours of uninterrupted snowfall. The most ever during the daytime.

And then by Tuesday it would be 70!
Thanks a lot Chicago.

The snow canceled many flights. I heard on a podcast that there were rumors that George Lucas and perhaps even Ewan McGregor were supposed to fly in for the 20th Anniversary of The Phantom Menace panel on Monday, but their flights were cancelled.

I didn’t get to go to the TPM panel because my sister and I were heading home, but those that went said it was a bit lack luster and the end felt like it was scrapped together at the last minute because they didn’t have their surprise guests. Who knows?

My sister and I went to a panel in the morning: This Deal is Getting Worse All the Time. It was a cute interactive game. They gave out raffle tickets and if your number was called you went up to play any variety of games for the chance to win a prize. But then some were mystery packages and you had to make a choice, a gamble really, to either keep your prize or upgrade it for the mystery package that could be a better or worse prize. It was fun to watch but I was glad my number wasn’t called. The only prizes I liked were Star Wars lunch boxes. I don’t care to collect any toys.

At 12:30 I had a ticket for Matt Lanter’s autograph. I brought my Clone Wars cast photo for him to sign. It being day 4 I could tell he was tired. He was quiet, but very nice and appreciative. I said that I was so emotional when it was announced that TCW was returning and I can’t wait to see it. I mentioned that I was sad Timeless was cancelled but glad at least that it got some closure. Then I also said it was cool that he met Hayden and to have a photo of the two Anakins together. He said Hayden is a nice guy and that was the first time they had met.

My sister and I met up with our friend Megan for The Clone Wars panel. We decided with the snow and the huge pain it was to go over to the Wintrust Arena that instead we stayed where we were and see it in the Live Streaming room. So we queued up early for the people without the reservation QR codes. We made it in and it was a very emotional panel.

You can watch the whole panel here. I am going to make some references with the time stamp.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 – Saturday, April 13

Saturday is usually the busiest day of a convention and it showed at the queue for the shuttle. In the morning my sister and I met Megan, Lea and Nicki at the line for the shuttle and it was a cold wait. I was dressed as Padmé that day and I didn’t want to bring a jacket or scarf. It was going to be a long day of running from queue to queue and I didn’t want to carry it around. So while waiting on that line outside I was shivering.

A few shuttles passed us by and they were full. We waited about 40 minutes and about 4 shuttles passed us by. We were about to order a Lyft when finally an empty shuttle arrived.

I made my costume. At first I was going to dress in the leather corset look from AotC but then I thought about the Chicago weather and also what costume I could finish in time for Celebration so I went with the green velvet gown from RotS, minus the pregnancy belly. It is more of an “inspired by” look than an exact replica. The fabric is actually pleated velour and I beaded the pin myself with the symbol of Naboo.

Ugh, the hem got caught in the escalator! Luckily I pulled it out in time, but I have to clean some grease off the hem. Such a cosplay noob move!

Megan originally was going to cosplay as Medal Ceremony Leia but her costume was not going to be repaired in time. So she dressed as Bespin Leia (the dress is from Her Universe).

Ever since Celebration Orlando 2017 I have had hope that Hayden would attend another Celebration. Bummed that we missed Orlando, Megan and I vowed to attend the next one and if Hayden came we would go in together for a photo op.

With the exception of The Clone Wars cast photo op (which to save on cost Megan and I decided to do together) I held off on other ops, waiting for Hayden’s announcement. He was the last to be announced. Since he was a bit pricy I sacrificed my other wish list items:
– I also considered getting a photo op with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jason Isaacs, or with the Rebels cast (although the voice actor for Zeb was not there)
– and then I was also considering getting autographs from cast of TCW and Rebels.
– I would also like Ahmed Best’s autograph on a photo I have with him and Jake Lloyd from Big Apple Con in 2010.

After Hayden was announced I only ended up getting Warwick’s photo op and Matt Lanter’s autograph.

The thing is Hayden doesn’t go to many cons, but Jason, Freddie and Warwick do. So I hope to see them at another con or at another Celebration. Hopefully the whole cast of Rebels will be at the next one for a cast photo.

The first thing for the day was that Megan and I had a photo op with 7 cast members from The Clone Wars.

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