book reviews, spoiler free

Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy Review

40242517Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe and various artists

Rating: XXXXX

Published October 2018 by Chronicle Books

When I need courage, I’m bolstered by Leia’s no-nonsense attitude and optimism. When I need to speak so people will listen, I’m energised by Padme’s intelligence and commanding presence. When I need to find light in a dark situation, I’m encouraged by Rey’s unflinching kindness and deep strength.

The women of the Star Wars universe are a diverse galaxy of heroes and villains, renegades and rogues, caretakers and, sometimes, unscrupulous scum.

The women of the Star Wars galaxy drive its stories and saga forward at every level. This beautiful book profiles seventy-five fascinating and inspiring characters from across films, fiction, comics, animation and games. Featuring Leia Organa, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, Maz Kanata, and many more — including characters from Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Resistance — Each character is explored through key story beats fresh insights and behind the scenes details from journalist-author Amy Ratcliffe and more than 100 all-new, incredible pieces of artwork from 18 talented female and non-binary artists. The amazing lineup of illustrators includes Alice X. Zhang, Amy Beth Christenson, Annie Stoll, Annie Wu, Christina Chung, Cryssy Cheung, Eli Baum, Elsa Charretier, Geneva B., Jen Aberin Johnson, Jen Bartel, Jenny Parks, Karen Hallion, Little Corvus, Sara Alfageeh, Sara Kipin, Sarah Wilkinson, and Viviane Tanner. Including Jen Bartel’s cover featuring a striking image of Rey. This book is an inspiring celebration of the characters that help create a galaxy far far away.

I had planned to open with an explanation about never having reviewed an art book before even though I own tons of them but upon spending hours upon hours engrossed in this gorgeous book (also, side note – art books have THE BEST new book smell) I realised this isn’t just an art book, it’s a beautiful, chronicle of information and inspiration, with even some of the characters who are considered lesser by some for their short amount of screen time or perceived value in the grand scheme of the Star Wars universe which even alone speaks volumes about this book because this to me, is a message in itself that everyone is important in their own way and deserves to have their stories told.

The art is obviously gorgeous and I really love that we get to see such a varying degree of art styles, techniques, perspectives and mediums used throughout the book, with some characters who have larger written pieces to encompass their deeds etc who have multiple illustrations from different artists which are fantastic to see and absolutely breathtaking.

The writing is interesting and delivers facts and story beats without sounding like just a list of accomplishments being rolled off, each fact or moment is explained well and with just enough detail and then often the consequences of certain actions and how it sometimes goes on to affect the future of the galaxy. If you haven’t seen and/or read every part of the current Star Wars universe there is a potential for spoilers here as mentioned it does include not just the films but the tv shows, books, comics and games.

Not only did I enjoy reading about some of my favourite characters I also learned a lot about ones I haven’t discovered yet as I’m still working my way through “The Clone Wars” tv show at the moment but this has only served to make me more determined to get through it as I’m looking forward to meeting so many of these interesting and sometimes intricate characters. In addition to learning about these new characters I found out a lot of new information about characters I already knew, I especially loved the background on Admiral Holdo from the Princess Leia book by Claudia Grey but even more than just collecting the information from some of the media I haven’t yet got around to there were facts from behind the series as well such as the fact that after seeing her on the front of one of the Star Wars comics, George Lucas decided, very late into post-production on Stars Wars: Attack of the Clones that he wanted to include Aayla Secura who became the films first Twi’lek to be featured in an action-heavy role, not only was she added in last minute but the person chosen to portray Aayla on screen was Amy Allen, production assistant at Industrial Light and Magic who had worked behind the scenes on films like Artificial Intelligence before working on a stage unit for Attack of the Clones. There are plenty more great nuggets of information even for some of the most well informed Star Wars fans out there.

I highly recommend this book to any fans of Star Wars, regardless of gender or knowledge level, its a fascinating and extremely interesting look into a wide range of characters from Jedi or Sith to Rebel or imperial, scavenger, senator or even librarian. There is absolutely something for everyone here and the excited, nervous wait I’ve had since finding out this book was being published feels very much worth it and will easily be a book I’ll be talking about for a long time to come and looking back at often as I take in more of the Star Wars universe.

 

#SixforSunday, Uncategorized

#Six for Sunday – Stuck in a lift: Star Wars Edition

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So Six For Sunday is usually reserved for bookish related prompts but as today is the last day of Star Wars Week here at Fantastic Books and Where To Find Them I thought I’d give it a Star Wars twist. This week’s prompt is Characters you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with. I will be following this prompt but I’ll be using Star Wars characters instead!

 

 

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1. Jar Jar Binks.
I feel this may be a fairly obvious one. I actually enjoyed factors of the prequel films but Jar Jar was NOT one of them. He is quite possibly the most annoying character of all time. One the bright side if I hear the phrase “Mesa Jar Jar Binks” one more time I would probably strangle him with cables from the lift circuitry and that would be the end of Jar Jar.

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2. C3PO.
Only slightly less annoying would be everyone’s favourite shiny gold protocol droid. I do find him funny on occasion in the films and he helps us understand R2 a bit better but the idea of being stuck in a lift with him is the stuff of nightmares. I can imagine him telling me the odds of our being rescued or dying horribly and I don’t need that kind of negativity.

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3. General Grievous.
With all the whirring of his mechanical limbs and that infuriating hacking cough of his I’d be at my wits end stuck in a lift with this guy.

 

 

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4. Jabba the Hutt.
I feel like personal space would be a big issue here. Not to mention the smell and the drool and a whole host of other gross Jabba related things, especially if he brings his horrible little belly button creature. Eurgh. I wish I hadn’t eaten breakfast today.

 

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5. General Armitage Hugs Hux.
Now I absolutely love to hate Hux. He’s a big headed, pompous, self serving, show off and when things go wrong for him it’s hilarious.  I think being stuck in a lift however would be hellish, I can hear him now complaining about how he asked Kylo to fix the damn lifts LAST WEEK but did he listen to him? OF COURSE NOT, no one gives him the respect he deserves on this ship yada yada yada.

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6. “Supreme Leader” Snoke.
At best he’s a creepy old guy wearing nothing but a smoking jacket, at worst he’s a guy who groomed a teenager to turn his back on his family, kill people and join a cult. Both of these are big no thank you’s from me. He has classic villain talks too much syndrome and I’m not a talking in a lift kind of person (unless we’re talking Poe Dameron or Kylo Ren telling me I’ll turn to the dark side of course).

 

That was, as usual a lot more difficult than I’d first imagined. I’m a fairly anti social person at the best of times so wouldn’t be keen on being stuck in a lift with basically anyone (other than some of the exceptions mentioned above) but I feel like I needed to have reasons other than I don’t like people.

This post concludes Star Wars week! It’s been a fun one! There will probably still be Star Wars related book reviews in the future as I’m still reading more of the books but I’ll be returning to the posts a couple of times a week instead of every day because DAMN that is a lot of work. It’s nice to know I’m capable of creating content every day but far too exhausting to do on a permanent basis. I hope you’ve all enjoyed my Star Wars posts and I’ll be back soon with my review of the first #Crone Book Club read so keep your eyes on your reader and follow if you haven’t already. May the force be with you. Always.

 

spoiler free, Uncategorized

Mini Star Wars Book Haul

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If you’ve been following my Twitter you’ll know I’ve been a bit over excited about the release of the Expanded Edition of The Last Jedi novelisation by Jason Fry pretty much since I first saw the film. I’ve been reading through a lot of the Star Wars novels and audio books lately and getting my Star Wars fix where I can. As a result when it came to preordering my copy of The Last Jedi I ordered a couple of other books as well, thus I have a nice mini haul to talk you through today.

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These beautiful copies of the Star Wars: A new hope, a Junior Novel and the proceeding other two original trilogy junior novels and the one for The Force Awakens came out last year to celebrate 40 years of Star Wars and although I just brought the first one for now I’m certain I’ll need to get them all. They all feature a similar beautiful but simple cover with a corresponding lightsaber and it was this cover design that caught my eye. I also thought that perhaps my three year old may one day long to know about a galaxy far far away and Mum would 28907250_10155087827466581_1200349095_n pull these beautiful things off the shelf and we could read them together. The book book itself is a normal paper back size and as is the norm for a junior novel it’s quite thin so I’m looking forward to a nice easy read some time in the future. The font as well is comfortable but also has an appropriate kind of Sci-Fi feel to it that I think young and old Star Wars fans will appreciate.

 

28829616_10155087827481581_492495180_nNext up is probably one of my favourite books I now own and am really pleased I brought. While scrolling through my Instagram feed I came across a Star Wars post featuring a few different books including a black and gold leather bound book saying simply “The Star Wars trilogy” on it’s spine. After having a look around online I found out it was a collection of three original novelisations and knew I probably needed to have it. I had a look on Amazon seeing as I’d preordered TLJ from there and found this blue, white and silver copy
with R2-D2 on the front instead of the black 28832952_10155087827666581_486337353_nand gold one and for under a tenner I was definitely willing to check it out. When it arrived it was wrapped in cellophane with a gold sticker on the wrapping telling me this was in fact a “Collectors edition”  which is always a nice surprise. I assumed it was just the different colour but it has loads of nice little extra features. The pages for a start are sprayed a shiny chrome silver, it comes with a little built in blue bookmark ribbon (one of my favourite things in books) as well as two illustrations on the back and front  inside covers and a sizable poster of the original film you can
28829634_10155087827591581_2094030229_ntake out separately. Each of the three novelisations have letters before them from the authors (The letter before A New Hope is by George Lucas even though it was ghost written by Alan Dean Foster) and is a really nice touch. In addition the pages themselves also feel of a superior quality and are supremely smooth and just help make this book feel like a premium product. None of this was mentioned in the description of the product when I brought it, just that that the cover was leather so I feel really lucky to have received this beautiful copy.

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Last but by no means list was the long awaited book itself. The novelisation of The Last Jedi. I feel we in the UK were robbed of the gorgeous cover I’ve seen some in the US have gotten but I read jacketed books without their jackets on anyway so I’m sure I can forget about it. This book seems very similar to it’s predecessor, the novelisation of The Force Awakens and I like the contrast with the first books jacket being full black and this one’s being full white. I’m not keen on the glossy jacket either.
28908228_10155087828366581_247707467_ntake book pictures for my instagram account and to help promote them and it’s awkward to photograph in certain light. It’s laid out very nicely inside though and what I’ve read of it so far alone has totally been worth it, there’s so much extra content and I’m hoping it really helps improve on the film. Speaking of the film, in the middle of the book are eight colour pages of stills from the film. This doesn’t really bother me and I’ve seen it book/film adaptions for as long as I can remember, I don’t feel they add anything though.

I will do seperate reviews for these or similar once I’ve managed to read them all. I complained about the size of my TBR are the beginning of the year and am totally doing myself absolutely no favours by buying more and more books but I’m glad to have brought these and look forward to reading all of them. Today marks the day five out of seven days of Star Wars here on my blog, tomorrow’s post will be in the form of a YouTube video and if you happen to be reading this before 8pm GMT on Friday 9th March I will be live streaming tonight as a guest on Radlt Gaming’s Twitch channel playing (badly) some Battlefront 2 so feel free to come say hello! If all goes well I’ll be uploading a highlight trailer with tomorrows video. Wish me luck and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a video before we conclude our week long Star Wars celebration on Sunday. Until then, may the force be with you.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

The Women of Star Wars

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Scrolling through Twitter aimlessly when I was meant to be writing a blog last night I came across a tweet from someone who’s daughter had been crying because she wanted to wear her Star Wars top to school the next day but was worried she would laughed at  for liking “boy stuff” so her mother asked people retweet and comment to show her how awesome girl Star Wars fans are. At the time of writing that tweet has been retweeted 2,711 times, received 4,472 likes and 946 comments from people all over the world including other parents, cosplayers, astronauts, voice actors from the Star Wars TV shows and authors including Christie Golden who has written for Star Wars among many other fandoms and so many more all backing this seven year old fan. It is by far the most beautiful thing I’ve seen on Twitter and I welled up reading through all the amazing responses. It got me thinking about how much the women in Star Wars mean to me and how many amazing women there actually are in Star Wars and although today was meant to be another review I thought I’d take the opportunity to list some of the best ladies that the Star Wars universe has to offer.

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Princess/Senator/General Leia.
This one is probably an obvious one but Leia Organa is in my opinion one of, if not the best female character in Star Wars. She was involved in Politics from a young age like her biological mother and went on to become instrumental to the Rebel Alliance, she watched her home planet as it was destroyed but still remained fiesty and witty as ever even as she was being “rescued” after having been tortured. She learns the man who destroyed her planet and her adoptive family was her biological father but still offered comfort to her brother. The Princess becomes a Senator as well as a wife and a mother and then goes on to become the General of the Resistance, all the while remaining firm in her beliefs and loyal to her allies. Leia is smart, brave, a warrior and a diplomat.

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Rey.
Rey has a strong moral core, helping those she finds in need without question. Growing up alone on Jakku she learned how to survive and make the best of her situation. She is fierce, loyal and a fast learner, picking up fighting with a lightsaber and using the force relatively quickly. Rey is a fighter and fights for what she believes in and those she cares for. On top of all that she’s a pretty awesome pilot too!

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Sabine Wren.
A madalorian warrior who forged her own armor and became a bounty hunter when she decided the Imperial academy wasn’t for her. An expert with weapons of all kinds (but a certain knack for explosives!) Sabine is also one of the first known members of the Rebel Alliance.

 

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Mon Mothma.
As a loyalist leader Mon Mothma was one of the first people to openly oppose Palpatine and helped to forge the Rebel Alliance itself. When she becomes ill about six years before the events of “The Force awakens” and is unable to lead the Republic the Senate is thrown into disarray and unable to agree on anything.

 

il_570xn-1179493427_26uy.jpgJyn Erso.
After her mother was killed and her father kidnapped, Jyn was raised by a Resistance fighter, the leader of the Partisan’s, Saw Gerrera. Jyn became a child soldier for the Partisan’s but after she was abandoned she made her own way and eventually joined the Rebel Alliance to track down Saw who held vital information concerning the battlestation known as “The Death Star”. After retrieving the information Jyn and others formed the team “Rouge one” who sacrificed themselves to retrieve the Death Star plans revealing it’s weakness and leading to it’s ultimate destruction, thus making Jyn an especially important character in the the Star Wars universe.

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Hera Syndulla.
The heart and Leader of the “Star Wars: Rebels” as well as the pilot of The Ghost, Hera is an Optimistic and fair leader. Trusting in her team and guiding them when they need it Hera fights along side Leia and Lando for the republic.

 

 

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Rose Tico. 

The Star Wars universe tells us that no one in unimportant and that is certainly the case with Rose Tico who gets an unfair amount of negativity. Rose is a true believer in the cause and even after losing her sister she still willingly gives up her only reminder of her to help accomplish her mission for the Resistance. She is smart and stronger than people give her credit for, she may not have a mask, a lightsaber or amazing fighting moves, she’s a ship maintenance worker and she has so much heart. Her line “That’s how we win. Not by fighting what we hate. Saving what we love” is one of my absolute favourites. Not to mention my hair totally sticks out just like hers!

padme-amidala_05d50c8a.jpegPadmé Amidala
Elected as the Queen of Naboo at just fourteen Padme served two terms as Queen and went on to hold a position as Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. She was a leading member of the Loyalist committee whose goal was peace between the warring Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems. Her views were often controversial among the senate but she stood by them through everything. She married a Jedi Knight in secret and when he turned to the dark side while she was carrying their children she travelled to a volatile volcanic planet to try and convince him to come back to the light. She may not be a big fighter in the traditional sense but she is determined and not afraid to do the hard thing.

captain-phasma1-625x350.jpg Captain Phasma.
Not all the amazing women of the Star Wars universe fight for the Rebels, the Resistance, the Republic or the Jedi order. Captain Phasma worked her way up from the sister of a primitive clan leader on a forgotten planet filled with dangers to the most recognisable and highly ranked stormtrooper in history. In charge of training the older recruits Phasma is completely merciless and will let absolutely nothing stand in her way, weather that be her brother or her superior. She is beyond strong and adept with many weapons with which she continuously trains. Her special armor was created especially by her from the wreckage of a Naboo yacht that had once belonged to Sheev Palpatine (more commonly known as Darth Sidious, the Emperor) she pried the chromium off the ship herself.

Iden3Iden Versio.
Iden served the military of the Galactic Empire, was a TIE pilot in the Starfighter Corps, was one of the only survivors of the destruction of the first Death Star (among those, Vader himself) and was named Commander of an elite task force called “Inferno Squad.” She is immensely well trained and disciplined, although she can appear quite intense Iden can also be compassionate towards civilians and friendly, yet professional with members of her team.

I know there are still many more I haven’t mentioned here and Ashoka Tano, Amilyn Holdo, Aurra Sing, Kor Sella and Aayla Secura all get honorable mentions but this post needs to have an end point somewhere even though it’s been so much fun to write. I’ve loved remembering all these great characters and why I love the Star Wars universe so very much. I hope anyone out there who still thinks Star Wars is only for boys will take a look at all of these awesome ladies on this list and think again.

 

Edit: I also realise there are a ton of awesome ladies in the now non canon legends universe too but it was hard enough to narrow down the cannon candidates, let alone if I included the ladies from Legends as well. Plus Mara Jade would probably kick their butts anyway.

book reviews, spoiler free

Star Wars: Phasma – Review

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Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
Narrated by: January LaVoy

Rating: XXXX

Published: September 1st 2017 by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group. (Also available in hardback and paperback, this review however is for the audio book but most points will also apply to the written text as well.)

“That’s the problem with following all the rules—somebody else is eventually going to get ahead by breaking them, and then where will you be?”

One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armoured stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

I wish I had found this book sooner. This was my first real foray into the world of Star Wars books and I wasn’t sure what to expect. For years and years I’d seen all the different books and comics mounting up about one of my favourite film franchises and I did read a good few of the comics when I was much younger but there seemed to be so many books I had no idea where to start. In April 2014 the expanded universe became non cannon and gave way to a new set of novels and comics which I kept meaning to get back to and last year while waiting impatiently for “The Last Jedi” to release I had a spare audible credit and after seeing it crop up on social media and in my local bookstore I decided to spend it on Phasma. I was not disappointed.

If you’ve ever heard a Star Wars Audio Book before you’ll know how immersive they can be, they feature sound affects and music along with the narration and I was shocked at how much difference those details really make. As soon as I listened to a sample of this and heard ships firing, doors opening and closing, droids beeping and the background noise aboard “The Absolution” I knew this Audio book experience would be a completely new one for me and I couldn’t get enough. I’ve since brought other Star Wars audio books, much preferring to listen to them because of these extra details, each month I get a new audible credit means I get a new Star Wars books at the moment.

The plot in Phasma is two fold, we have the present plot of Vi Mordai, the captured rebellion spy being interrogated and the story she tells of Phasma’s past. I was worried switching between these two plots would be annoying but somehow it works and the interrogation frames Phasma’s story well as they weave together quite organically,  although I’m not sure either story could completely hold it’s own (Phasma’s story comes fairly close) they support each other and makes the plot feel whole as the plots merge together in a way that is only partially satisfying. I wasn’t sure how I wanted this to end but it was only partially the way it did, something felt missing but as it was a precursor novel to “The Last Jedi” I feel I should have expected that. (Don’t get me started on Phasma’s story in TLJ though…) On the whole though I enjoyed both plot lines and the separate feels each had to them.

Before this book was released the way the story would be told was a cause for debate, would this just be a current story about Phasma or would we really get inside that Chrome helmet at last and see her inner workings. What we ended up with was a mixed result but that kind of works. I was expecting to get a back story from her point of view and we’d find out that she was misunderstood or there was a part of her to feel for but neither parts of this book are told from Phasma’s point of view and that just makes her feel more formidable and somehow even more of a mystery despite learning how she got to be where she is today. I’m surprisingly okay with this as it is kind of refreshing to find a villainous character today who is pretty much completely villainous. We do however find some possible redemption of a First Order character here with Cardinal, the high ranking storm trooper interrogating Vi and the trainer and mentor of the young children set to become storm troopers themselves.

The setting of Phasma’s story is her planet of origin, Parnassos and I feel like the planet was almost a character all of it’s own with a threatening presence to match Phasma herself and so many stories to tell about it’s past shown to us by the different trials our characters go through along the way giving the whole planet a very dangerous feel. As for our more humanoid characters I enjoyed meeting our current General (Armitage) Hux’s father Brendol and I’m honestly not sure if he’s better or worse than his son because they’re both such weasels. Other’s from Phasma’s clan join her journey across this deadly planet and a few of them are slightly memorable, Siv being the most developed as the story is from her point of view. Siv is a very likeable character, she does what she needs to do for her people and is brave and compassionate if not the most original character.

I think if I had just read this book I might have only given it XXX as it is an enjoyable book but nothing completely blew me away and I have a hard time imagining liking it as much without the added atmospheric sound effects etc. Nether the less I’m glad I read it and it’s certainly opened me up to reading (and listening to) more of the Star Wars books which can only be a good thing.

You can buy Star Wars: Phasma in print here with free shipping, or here on audible.co.uk, (you can listen to a sample too!) If you’ve never signed up before your first audio book is free! You can also add it to your goodreads here. 

Don’t forget I’ll be posting Star Wars content all week! Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Bloodline by Claudia Gray.