In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…: Reviewing Heir to the Empire (Book 1 of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice fall weather and getting just as excited for spooky season as me. I have a few horror novels that I am saving for October. Before I get into this review, I need to backtrack just a bit. About midway through lockdown, I decided that I was going to revisit the Star Wars franchise, but not the main movies. I initially began with The Mandalorian then fell deeper down the rabbit hole with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then I began to read various Star Wars comics. I decided to take the plunge into Star Wars literature as I had heard good things about many of the novels associated with the movies since I need to read every book under the sun. Now, join me as we journey into the famous Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

It’s been five years since the Empire fell. Since then, Princess Leia and Han Solo have gotten married and are expecting twins. Luke Skywalker has become a fully fledged Jedi knight. Together, the three have been working to build the New Republic and bring peace to the galaxy. However, a new threat is on the horizon. Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant and ruthless warlord, has taken control of the remnants of the Empire and plans to wipe out the burgeoning New Republic and, with a newly discovered power, he will stop at nothing to bring back the Empire.

I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with this first novel in the trilogy. Zahn’s novel feels as cinematic and action – packed as any of the movies in the Original trilogy. I am not sure how cannon these books are but I certainly liked how such classic characters like Luke, Han, and Leia were further developed. Thrawn is a great character on his own and he especially made me want to keep reading this book. You don’t need to know a ton about Star Wars lore going into this novel as Zahn creates a whole new journey to follow. I would definitely recommend this to the casual and die hard Star Wars fan alike as it is an immersive and exciting book that I wanted to finish so I could read the next one immediately.

Half Pleasure and Half Pain: Reviewing The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Hi everyone! I promise that I’m still doing my best to bring you book reviews but life keeps interfering. You all know how it is. I wish I could just shut the world out and read and read and read, but I have things to accomplish. You all don’t need me to ramble any more so let’s talk about The Betrayals by Bridget Collins.

Leo Martin was once a promising student at Montverre, a prestigious academy with a long history involving the grand jeu. The grand jeu is a complex game involving art, math, philosophy, among other subjects, which Leo excelled at until tragedy struck. After his career in politics is ended by a small action, Leo is forced to return to Montverre only to find that his once beloved school has changed. The most highly sought out position is now held by the first woman, Claire Dryden, who resents Leo’s presence. As the Midsummer Games approach, Leo must come to terms with the tragedy that befell him so many years ago and face an even more uncertain future.

Even as I am writing this review, I am still not entirely sure how to feel about this novel. It took a while for me to properly enjoy it but that is merely my opinion. From a technical standpoint, Collins crafts an intricate world with as many moving pieces as the grand jeu which takes center stage. This is very much a character centric novel and I certainly did feel that emotional pull. The world around them, though, I had a hard time truly appreciating. This book might take me another try for me to fully appreciate it. I found the pacing to be slow but that worked towards the overall plot. It was certainly dramatic, though, and I did enjoy that. I would definitely argue that this is a “dark academia” kind of novel. Though this was not my new favorite, I did certainly enjoy the drama and the aesthetics of The Betrayals.

Men Die. Gods Die. She Lives On: Reviewing The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying this last bit of summer. I’ve been keeping busy but still reading more ravenously than I have in a while. Now, I’m a big mythology nerd so this whole new rise in mythology inspired – novels makes me very happy. In particular, Norse mythology has become more popular and I have become increasingly fascinated with the subject. This book was right on the top of my list for adaptations. So, let’s talk about The Witch’s Heart.

Angrboda began life as a powerful witch who was cast down by Odin after she refused to tell him about the future. This ending, however, was actually a brand new beginning for her. After escaping from her punishment, she meets Loki, the trickster god, and they fall in love. Their marriage produces strange heirs who all have a part to play in the end of the world. Angrboda’s best efforts to protect her children are thwarted once Ragnarok begins. With the help of the hunter goddess Skadi and a powerful she-wolf, Angrboda must decide whether to accept her fate or change the outcome completely.

Gornichec’s debut novel is solid its with fairy tale – esque writing and a focus on character study. Angrboda was a very relatable character as a woman trying to make her way in a world that does not understand her powers. I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the female gaze of this book as it benefited the characters immensely. The novel is also very accurate to the original myths and you do not have to have any previous knowledge before reading this. It was a novel worth savoring as it took its time to introduce such complex characters with complex motivations. I really loved this book and would recommend it if you enjoyed Madeline Miler’s Circe or are a fan of Norse mythology.

Quietly, Treacherously, Cruelly: Reviewing The Time of Contempt (Book Two of The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hey everyone! How are you all doing? I really have nothing of importance to say. I just turned 25 so I have that going for me. Right now, though, I am just reading everything I can get my hands on. I have recently developed an interested with the Star Wars novelizations and got a copy of the first book in the Thrawn trilogy so expect to see that in the near future on this blog. Let’s keep going with my reviews of The Witcher series with the second installment in this saga.

It is a struggle for power as war against Nilfgaard is on the horizon. As tensions build among the monarchs, Gerald finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly coup. Meanwhile, Ciri clashes with Yennefer about her magical education. When an attack splits up the group, the three must find ways to survive in a world now ravaged by war and with many powerful enemies on every front.

I can say that, as much I am enjoying this series, I do have some mixed feelings. The exposition can be a bit much, especially since it is the second book in the series. I absolutely love when the action really gets going, though. Geralt is still very much a favorite character of mine and I love to read about him (and Yennefer). This book, however, focuses more on Ciri who I am not terribly attached to. I will say, though, if you like the “found family” trope then you will enjoy this particular installation of The Witcher series. I can still say that I am enjoying this series and plan on reading all of it as I do love high fantasy and escapism.

The Shape of Things Could Not be Defined: Reviewing Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying cool this summer. Remember that there is no such thing as bad reading weather. This particular book has been on my radar for a while now and for no real reason other than it sounded intriguing. In case you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of Gothic novels and I love seeing it translated by different authors from different cultures. I find it all so interesting how so many of these tropes and trademarks are almost universal. Before I rewrite my entire thesis, let’s talk about Mexican Gothic.

Noemi Taboada is a socialite who spends her days attending lavish parties and studying anthropology in Mexico City. She is drawn away from her carefree life when she receives a distressing and cryptic letter from her beloved cousin. Suspecting her cousin’s new husband is behind this, Noemi travels to the remote estate of El Triunfo. While there, Noemi is plagued by visions of death. With the help of the youngest son of the family, Noemi must uncover the dark secrets that lie within the manner before she too falls victim to something terrible.

The main reason why I loved this novel was that it gave me similar vibes to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Charlotte Perkins- Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Moreno – Garcia does an excellent job creating suspense as the setting is so claustrophobic for the characters and the reader. It is so atmospheric, which is something I always love to see when I’m reading. The novel takes some wild turns and I mean that in the best way possible. Visually speaking, the descriptions are equally gruesome and beautiful. The build up to the end absolutely pays off in the best way possible. I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic as it presented a fresh and interesting take on the horror genre in a way that I never expected when going into the novel

(Content Warning: The novel does contain mentions of assault, attempted assault, body horror, gore, and violence. Just a heads up in case you are not comfortable with the aforementioned topics)

‘…Men are Only Another Kind of Primate…’: Reviewing Devolution by Max Brooks

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far. It is still pretty overcast where I live so I’m just waiting to see the sun again. All weather is good reading weather, though, and I have been itching to finish this novel. I did read Brooks’ most notable novel, World War Z, a while ago in the height of the “zombie craze” and did thoroughly enjoy it. I personally love novels that are told through letters, interviews, etc. because I find them to be the most immersive. It has taken me far longer to finish this novel than I care to admit but I am more than happy to talk about Devolution, or its full title: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.

The unthinkable only leads to the horrifying after Mount Rainier erupts, decimating the newly founded, environmentally friendly community of Greenloop. In the aftermath of the explosion, the journals of resident Kate Holland are discovered and reveal a horrifying encounter with giant, ape-like creatures. Max Brooks inserts himself into this story in order to make sure Kate’s harrowing tale is told, while also confronting the horrifying truth that the creature known as Bigfoot is very real and very dangerous.

Max Brooks has a real talent for making these stories about the ridiculous seem the most realistic. While Bigfoot plays a huge part in this book, the focus of the book is the people and how they react to this situation. We all like to think that we could pull ourselves together during the worst case scenario, but that is rarely the case and Brooks does an excellent job demonstrating the range of ways a person could react to such an extreme situation. It did remind me quite a bit of Jurassic Park in the best way The novel challenges the idea of people thinking that they could truly live in harmony with nature, which is always an interesting topic. I should add that the novel does begin rather slowly but when it gets going, it gets good. Devolution is an interesting read for Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike. If you want a violent tale of survival, then this is the book for you.

In my mind are all the tides…: Reviewing Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Hello everyone! Instead of sleeping, I have decided to write this review because I simply could not wait to talk about this book. One of my favorite things is picking up a book at random and having no real expectations, only to have the book take you aback with its quality. This is exactly how I felt reading Piranesi and I want to share my thoughts with you.

Piranesi lives an an infinite house, filled with gorgeous statues and countless corridors, hallways, and other rooms. Within the house, there is an ocean which Piranesi loves deeply for its power and beauty. He spends his days exploring his house and relaying his information to The Other, a mysterious man who uses Piranesi’s evidence for his pursuit of A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi’s solitary and peaceful existence begins to fall apart when he uncovers evidence to a darker truth that lies within the infinite house.

I am a huge fan of surrealist literature that involves magic and Piranesi fit the bill in every way. The book is written in an almost fairy tale – like way that draws you into the world with each paragraph. Even though the novel is fairly short, it has a rich world that you only want to know more and more about. I love novels that have rich aesthetics, which Clarke creates in her writing. I also loved the mystery element that lies at the heart of the novel. It made it all the more un-put-downable. It was definitely reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern, both of whom I love. This was an absolutely fantastic read I will absolutely be re-reading over and over in order to fully absorb every detail of Piranesi.

Soon, you’ll hear the whispers spoken…” Reviewing The Whisper Man by Alex North

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well and feeling better as we move into summer. I have a huge stack of books to read that I am so looking forward to. It’s nice not having to deal with school for the first time in such a long time. In the meanwhile, let’s talk about Alex North’s The Whisper Man.

Tom Kennedy was looking for a fresh start for him and his son, Jake, after his wife dies. He decides to move them to the small town of Featherbank to begin to heal. Their new life is disturbed when a young boy goes missing and rumors begin to spread that the infamous killer known as The Whisper Man has returned. Detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must rush against the clock to find the missing boy. Tom soon finds himself caught up in the case when Jake begins to hear the whispers.

First and foremost, I’m going to issue a warning if you don’t want to read about violence against children. I’m going to start including content warnings if the books I review include sensitive or graphic material. The Whisper Man very much reminded me of an episode of Criminal Minds and I do not mean that in a bad way as I love the show. I went into this book thinking it would be a bit more supernatural but it is very light on those elements. It certainly wasn’t a mind – blowing read as it was fairly predictable but I did genuinely enjoy the writing style as it switched from first to third person with ease. I would say this is a good book to pick up for traveling if you want a solid crime thriller to enjoy on the plane or in the car.

Bloody, Bold, and Resolute: Reviewing If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Hello everyone! I have officially survived my final semester of grad school and tomorrow I will have officially have a Masters degree. Needless to say, I am equal parts exhausted and excited. I am mostly looking forward to being able to read what I want for the foreseeable future. In all my excitement, I am going to give you my review of If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. (Side note: Many of the books I’m reading I found on the book side of Tik Tok or Book Tok).

Oliver Marks is one of seven eager Shakespearean actors attending the prestigious Dellecher Classical Conservatory. Their days are filled with friendly, but fierce competition as they rise above the ranks and get the leading roles. Each member, though, plays their own role in the group that reflects the characters they play on stage. As tensions begin to rise and the competition turns fierce, a mysterious tragedy strike the group. Now, Oliver and his fellow thespians must uncover what happened and use their skills as actors to convince everyone else of their innocence.

As a fan of Shakespeare (and theater in general) and dark academia, this book had my name written all over it. I also loved a good whodunnit mystery. If We Were Villains is a perfect combination of all of those elements. Rio does an excellent job combining the prose and play narrative structures while also emphasizing the richness of theater and the sketchy reality of prestigious university. You all may know that I am a huge fan of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and this novel is very much in the vein of that genre. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy the way this novel unfolds and I would consider it essential for any fan of dark academia novels.

Super Quick Update

Hello everyone! I noticed I haven’t posted since January (wow) and I have some more followers. Hello and welcome to the blog that I swear that I don’t ignore. A lot has happened since January (various life events of both good and bad) so being able to sit down and read my own personal TBR list has been the last thing on my mind. I want to sit down and read for fun soooo badly, but I am still swamped with school – related projects. In the meanwhile, I will give you a rundown of the books you can expect me to review in the (hopefully) near future.

  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North
  • Devolution by Max Brooks
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor
  • The Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Those are my priorities once I finally wrap up my bigger grad school projects. I also have a few more books sitting on my shelf that I have been meaning to get to but just haven’t gotten around to yet. Thanks for understanding and I can’t wait to share more of my literary loves with you soon!