May warrior’s fortune be ever in your favor: Reviewing Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I’m back! I recently started a new job and am now settled into a new schedule. My TBR pile has grown exponentially because I have no self-control when it comes to buying books. Also, I am still very much fixated on Star Wars at this moment. This will be the last Star Wars related book I read for a bit but I do want to read more in the future. I am just looking for more suggestions at this moment. I won’t go on too much longer because it’s time to talk about Thrawn: Treason. (I did finally finish watching Star Wars: Rebels so this was good timing).

During his time serving the Empire, Thrawn has proven himself to be an invaluable asset, cunning tactician, and fierce warrior. His next goal is to secure the funding for his TIE Defender program but his plans are halted by Direct Krennic’s top secret Death Star program. Knowing that his reputation and rank is at risk, Thrawn must further prove his loyalty to the Empire. Meanwhile, Eli Vanto is working closely with the Chiss Ascendancy as a familiar enemy threatens their home world. With Thrawn’s loyalty in question, he is forced to decide between the future of his people and his duty to the Empire. Either choice means treason and Thrawn must choose which path is worth his life.

Timothy Zahn continues to capture the high stakes action and political espionage of the Empire in a way that is unputdownable. I have to say it is kind of fun reading about all of the Empire higher ups backstab and ultimately destroy each other in the process. Even though most of the additional characters are insufferable, they are insufferable in an entertaining way. I think what I like the most about Zahn is how he captures the tense space battles that are so key to any Star Wars project. This trilogy, overall, has been a satisfying delve into the Dark Side. Also, this is fully cannon to Star Wars which is makes it all the more interesting. Anyways, I am going to give this trilogy my stamp of approval and call it a must – read for any Star Wars fan who wants to spend a little time with the Dark Side.

This is the way the world ends. For the last time: Reviewing The Fifth Season (Book 1 of The Broken Earth Trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing great. Everything is doing alright in my little corner of the world. I’m about to be pretty busy soon, but I do have some shorter books I can read so there isn’t as much of a lull between reviews. I try to vary the lengths of the books I read since some people have more specific preferences about that. To be completely honest, though, I go into a majority of the books I read with little to no details about the contents. Sometimes, I don’t even know the plot outside of a single line or it’s a genre I like. I prefer to remain as unbiased as possible. I will stop rambling now and get into The Fifth Season.

Content Warning: Death of Children, Harm Towards Children, Graphic Violence, Sexual Content, Some Harsh Language, Apocalyptic Imagery

This isn’t the first time that the world ended for Essun. It will be the last, though. One seemingly ordinary day, she comes home to find her youngest son dead and her daughter missing along with her husband. The Earth begins to fall apart soon after. With nothing to lose, Essun goes on a journey to find her daughter and must face the past as old wounds are reopened.

I normally try not to be hyperbolic but this was truly an incredible book. N.K. Jemisin does an amazing job creating a narrative that twists and flows in a way that is unpredictable, yet satisfying in the end. The world building is so intricate and it honestly threw me off for a bit. I loved, however, being thrown into such an intense scenario. I also loved Jemisin’s use of second person perspective (“you” pronouns) and the way all of the different stories flow together seamlessly in the end. If I really had to compare to something, it gave me similar vibes to The Locked Tomb series. I am honestly regretting not buying the trilogy as I so want to know where this story is going. Go put this book straight to the top of your TBR. Believe the hype surrounding The Fifth Season.

I have sensed a disturbance in the Force:Reviewing Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I hope everything is looking up for you all. The weather is finally nice and I finally have some good life updates. I also am kind of hyper-fixated on all things related to Star Wars. I am reading some other books but wanted to finish this one since the first trailer for Ahsoka where Thrawn will be making his live-action debut. I hope you all like my Star Wars-related reviews. There are quite a few more I want to read in the future and I promise that not all of them will have to do with Thrawn. But, for now, we will talk about the sequel in Timothy Zahn’s series.

Emperor Palpatine has sensed that a new threat against the Empire lurks in the Unknown Regions. In order to stamp out this opposition, he orders his ruthless right hand Darth Vader, and brilliant tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn to work together. The two are hesitant to work together as both vie for the Emperor’s favor. This isn’t the first time that the two have encountered each other. Years ago, General Anakin Skywalker went on a mission to find Padme Amidala after she disappeared while visiting a friend. During this mission, he met Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo and together they uncovered a deadly conspiracy together against the Republic. Now, the two find themselves working together once again. Darth Vader must face his past and Thrawn must face his future.

Timothy Zahn has done it again with a compelling and action-packed entry in this particular series. I loved the drama and tension between Vader and Thrawn. I also greatly appreciated the inclusion of Padme in the flashback portions of this novel. While I am normally not a diehard fan of flashbacks, Zahn does an excellent job building on the lore of Star Wars and further fleshes out the characters. I’ve always enjoyed a complicated protagonist and, while you don’t want the Empire to win, you still find yourself fascinated by the inner-workings of one of the most famous villainous forces in pop culture. Overall, this was a successful sequel in this trilogy and I look forward to reading more from Zahn.

A Ghost Ship, A Salvage Crew, Unspeakable Horrors: Reviewing Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Hey everyone! I hope all is going well for you. Things are starting to look up in my little world so I’ve been in a better mood as of late. I am starting some longer fantasy series and have finally started Priory of the Orange Tree, but don’t expect that review any time soon as I still have a ways to go on that book. Dead Silence, however, has been on my TBR for a hot minute now. I’ve been really getting into horror and I definitely plan on reading some intense novels in the future. If that is not your type of thing, I totally understand. I do have other non-horror novels I intend to read soon. In the meantime, let’s talk about Dead Silence.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Death and Bodily Injury, Violence and Gore, Self-Harm, Depictions of Mental Illness Involving Hallucinations, Harsh Language, Drug Use

Claire Kovalik is the captain of the LINA, a small salvage ship that is meant to go back to Earth soon. Doing that means that Claire will no longer have a job and no longer have a purpose. That is what ultimately drives her to investigate a strange distress signal. The stress signal is coming from the Aurora, the first luxury space cruiser that disappeared over twenty years ago with no explanation. This discovery would give Claire and her team instant fortune and fame. When the crew goes onboard the Aurora, they find that all of the crew and passengers had met with a horrific and mysterious fate. In order to find out what happened onboard the luxury cruise liner, Claire must hold onto her sanity during her investigation, or else face the same gruesome fate.

I am still on the hunt for a mind-blowing, spooky sci-fi horror novel. I had really high hopes for Dead Silence as I kept seeing it popping up on almost everyone’s recommendations for horror novels. I will say that I thought the writing was good and that the first 80% of this novel was really suspenseful and seemed to be heading for a good plot twist. While, yes, there is a plot twist, I found it kind of underwhelming. There is a rather abrupt shift in the novel and, while I get why it happened, I just felt that it took away some of the “investigation” portion of the story. When it comes to a novel that involves some sort of haunted location, I always look forward to the investigation part and seeing that mystery unravel. This novel just didn’t deliver as much as it could have, in my opinion. I’m definitely not going to call this novel “bad” at all, but I will call it “mid,” as the kids say nowadays.

We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield: Reviewing The Blood Trials (Book 1 of The Blood Gift Duology) by N. E. Davenport

Hey everyone! I hope everything is looking up for you and that life is going your way. I don’t have too much to say before this review. I am, however, very excited to share this book. For those of you not in the loop, Harpers Collins (who published this book) was at odds with their union. Thankfully, they were able to re-negotiate and now I can talk about this book. Buckle up and let’s talk about The Blood Trials.

Content Warning: Graphic Violence and Gore, Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Misogyny, Sexual Content, Harsh Language

Ikenna Amari is spiraling after the death of her beloved Grandfather, Verne Amari. He was a legend within the Republic of Mareen for preventing war against the Blood Emperor. He trained Ikenna and taught her how to use her blood gift, which she has to keep secret. Everything is turned on its head when she finds out that her grandfather was assassinated. She suspects that it could only have been carried out by one of his fellow Tribunals and the Praetorian Guard. To find out who did this, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials – a series of grueling, brutal challenges that many aspirants don’t survive. Undergoing these trials also means having to endure the racism towards her half – Khanian heritage and sexism perpetuated within this society. Along with all of this, she must keep her power a secret or else be executed or a fate worse than that. As Ikenna unravels a larger conspiracy, she realizes that the only way she can achieve justice is through blood.

This was just about everything I wanted in a good book. It has action, intrigue, nuance, and plenty of twists. N.E. Davenport does an incredible job creating an intricate yet unpredictable plot. The world building has some clear influences while also standing as its own creation. Ikenna as the first-person narrator helps to strengthen the narrative through a strong voice. She is a powerful female lead who really drives the story forward. While this book isn’t necessarily dystopian, it still gave me similar vibes to the dystopian books I enjoyed as a teen like The Hunger Games or Divergent. This, however, is much more adult and sophisticated. All the while, it is still a thrilling read. Needless to say, I am going to definitely recommend you put this on your TBR ASAP and I will be reading the sequel in the near future.

Sometimes, all the universe may hang in the balance: Reviewing Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Hello everyone! I hope everything is going well for you all. It is hard to not get disheartened by circumstances beyond one’s control. As I like to tell people: accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept. (I didn’t come up with that, but I do stick by it). Anyways, I am coming at with yet another book set in the Star Wars universe. If you are not interested, I completely understand. I just find myself having fun with these particular books. I was not always into Star Wars and wasn’t even terribly interested until relatively recently. Once you get into the world of it all, it is easy to see what makes it so fun. While the previous novels I have read have focused on the Light Side and Jedis, this is the first one I have read that deals with the Empire and Dark Side. Without much further ado, let’s talk about Thrawn.

During his exile to a remote planet. Thrawn is able to capture the attention of the Imperial forces stationed there through an impressive display of his ingenious tactical abilities. This captures the attention of Emperor Palpatine, who grants Thrawn a place in the Imperial military. Thrawn, though, is a non-human and must gain the necessary victories to cement his position. With the help of his most trusted aide Eli Vanto, Thrawn quickly rises through the ranks of the Empire through his various victories. He still, however, lacks political knowledge and forms a tentative alliance with Arihnda Pryce. Thrawn’s high ranking status is at risk when an insurgent group with a powerful leader threaten’s the Empire’s power. Thrawn must stop this rebellion or risk all of his carefully curated plans for his future ascendancy being destroyed.

Before I begin my review, here is a little bit of Star Wars insight for you. The character of Thrawn has been featured in the animated series “Star Wars: Rebels” and is set to make a live action debut sometime in the future. If the name sounds familiar, it is because I did read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, where Thrawn is the main antagonist. Feel free to read those reviews if you are interested. Now, as for my review: this was certainly unique amongst the other pieces of Star Wars media of consumed. While we (obviously) aren’t supposed to root for the Empire/Dark Side, Timothy Zahn presents one of the most intriguing figures in the Empire. I almost hate to admit this but I found myself genuinely wanting Thrawn and his crew to succeed and almost completely forgot he is one of the “bad guys.” Zahn does a great job creating a believability within the fantastical world of Star Wars. This is also a well – paced read with plenty of high stakes. It still had everything I look for in a good Star Wars story; it just so happen to take place on the Dark Side. So if you are interested in exploring a completely different side of the Star Wars universe, this is definitely the book you should check out.

The songs will change, but the music is never truly gone: Reviewing Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Hi everybody! We have gone from a cold January to a rainy February. I’m still dealing with the general nonsense that life tends to throw at you when you need it least. That is why I turn to books. I have some longer novels I’m working through and I will eventually start The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is especially long. Normally, I avoid extra-long books, but I do like a challenge here and there. Now, let’s talk about Light from Uncommon Stars, which has been on my radar for the longest time.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Transphobia and Homophobia, Depictions of Non-Consensual Sex, Abuse, Loss and Grief, Harsh and Offensive Language, Some Graphic Depictions of Death

Shizuka Satomi, aka the Queen of Hell, made a deal with a demon. To escape damnation and play the violin again, she would train and sacrifice seven students. She is currently looking for the seventh. That is when she crosses paths with Katrina Nguyen. Katrina is a young transgender woman who is running away from home. When Shizuka hears her play for the first time, she realizes that she has found her seventh student. Shizuka also happens to cross paths with Lan Tran, a mother, refugee, and captain of a starship disguised as a donut shop. Shizuka tells herself that she doesn’t have time for love or relationships but she finds herself drawn to Lan. As Shizuka forms a bond with a Katrina and develops a relationship with Lan, she starts to think that maybe she can finally break her curse.

This novel was so beautifully complex and carefully written. All of the metaphors and realism are finely balanced through Ryka Aoki’s deft hand. The various characters are intertwined, yet their stories are unique to them. I loved the honest representation that Aoki presents. While there are certainly heavy topics presented, Aoki gives a sense of hope to the characters and readers alike. All aspects of gender, race and class were taken into careful consideration throughout this book, and are honest with the struggles that people from demographics go through. This really was a captivating read that is a beautiful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Light from Uncommon Stars is sure to engage you and touch your heart.

Despite everything, there was hope: Reviewing Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher

Hello everyone! I know we are only a week into the new year, but I still hope that the new year is treating you well. I have definitely been in the mood for more Star Wars content lately. I will definitely do some research on which Star Wars novels I should read in the future. In the meanwhile, let’s go to a galaxy far, far away and talk about Shadow of the Sith.

It’s been twenty years since the Empire fell. Luke Skywalker is working tirelessly to build a future for the New Republic. The past, however, not far behind. Luke begins having visions of a terrifying and ancient on a lost world called Exegol. His fears are only confirmed when an old friend, Lando Calrissian, comes to him with news of a sinister plot by a new Sith Lord. Lando, having lost his daughter, believes her disappearance is tied to a plot to kidnap a young girl named Rey, led by Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin. The two old friends team up on a dangerous journey across the galaxy to stop this deadly new force and save the galaxy.

Although I am not sure if this book is considered canon in the Star Wars universe, it very well should be. Adam Christopher does a great job filling in some of the blanks between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I am not Star Wars lore expert by any means, but I certainly enjoyed the lore that he incorporates in this novel. Luke and Lando make for a great pairing who were enjoyable to follow throughout this story. Though this novel is on the longer side, it is fast paced and has plenty of action. What is Star Wars without a great fight scene? This may be my new favorite Star Wars novel, next to Brotherhood. I would definitely add this to your list of must reads if you are interested in delving into the literary side of a galaxy far, far away.

No Star Burns Forever: Reviewing Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Hello everyone! I hope the holiday season is treating you well so far. I am wrapping up all my Christmas shopping and trying not to stress out over the holidays too much. This will probably be my last review of the year. I have another book that I might be able to finish, but we will just see. I’ve read a lot of intense books this year so it is nice to end this year on a softer note. Let’s talk about Sea of Tranquility.

In 1912, a young man named Edwin St. Andrew travels to Vancouver to start a new life away from his aristocratic family. While exploring a forest, Edwin has a bizarre experience; the most distinct thing he remembers is the sound of a violin. Two centuries later, an author named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour for her critically acclaimed novel about a pandemic. Within that novel is a passage about a mysterious man playing the violin when something strange happens to him. A century after that, Gaspery Roberts is hired by the Time Institute to investigate a strange anomaly that is appearing across time. During his travels, Gaspery encounters various strangers with tragic fates. He realizes, though, that it might not have end that way after all.

While I typically read very action-packed and complex science fiction, it is nice to see an author explore some of the profound questions that arise from the genre. Emily St. John Mandel delivers a poignant, philosophical narrative about fate and free will. Time travel can be a tricky plot device but it is handled wonderfully throughout this book. I enjoyed the delicate balance between hopefulness and existential fear that threads through each character’s life. It is hard for me to properly describe what happens in this novel, but Emily St. John Mandel makes it make sense in her own wonderful way. I would recommend this novel if you want a science fiction read that is both thought-provoking and sentimental in the best ways.

New worlds come from the meeting of the minds: Reviewing Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Hi everyone! If you are up reading this review, then you should definitely go to bed. If you can’t sleep, then you are welcome here. I have crossed off yet another book I really wanted to finish before the end of the year. My next goal is to finish Babel by R.F. Kuang because that one was so hyped for 2022. I am also reading a shorter book that I will hopefully finish sooner than later as well. That’s enough chit chat for now. Let’s get into Ocean’s Echo.

Tennalhin “Tennal” Halkana has spent his life using his upper-class status and impeccable flirting abilities to cruise through life. Another distinct advantage Tennal has is his ability to read minds. As a “reader,” Tennal is considered a threat and an asset as he can navigate chaotic space. Because of his abilities, he is conscripted into the military by a powerful and scheming relative with no warning. Tennal is promptly placed under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a model soldier whose mother was a traitor to the military. Where Tennal can read minds, Surit is an “architect” who has the ability to influence them. He is ordered to “sync” with Tennal’s mind and control him. Unaware that this was the true meaning of his mission, Surit refuses to control Tennal. Instead, they decide fake the sync and help Tennal escape. The plan goes horribly awry when they end up in chaotic space and uncover the truth behind Surit’s mother’s treachery. This discovery upends a power struggle, which threatens to start a civil war unless Tennal and Surit can stop it.

Set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s first novel Winter’s Orbit, this particular novel shifts focus from royal politics to military politics in space. I enjoyed the intricacy of world-building in this indirect sequel. Ocean’s Echo reaches out further into the depths of space and the human psyche. While the characters are somewhat similar to the ones in Winter’s Orbit, they follow a different trajectory that will have you rushing to finish this book. I would definitely classify this romance as “slow burn reluctant allies to lovers.” What I really enjoyed, though, was the “reader” and “architect” dynamic that Maxwell introduces. It can be a little bit confusing at times but you do catch on before the thrilling conclusion. If you want a high-stakes sci-fi adventure with an intense romance at the center (or if you liked Winter’s Orbit), then you should absolutely check out Ocean’s Echo.