The Force Awakens: Books you should know (Possible Movie Spoilers)

With the  recent release of “The Force Awakens” comes a slew of books and comics that provide some insight into the new movies and its characters. Now that Disney has set aside the much loved (or hated) Expanded Universe (depending on your point of view), there are new stories to take its place. While some fans are embracing this change others are mourning the fact that 30+ years of literature have now been relegated to the “Legends” pile making them pretty much null and void to the new timeline. Before I review some of the newer titles for children and teens let me add the following disclaimer:

Personally I like some of the new changes. I have not had the chance to explore the EU as much as I would have liked. There is so much of it that for years I have struggled on where to even begin my reading journey. That being said the EU has some fantastic series that I have read and wonderful stories that are sadly no longer cannon. Several of these series were personal favorites of mine and I am a little bit bummed that they are no longer part of the official story. However, I also love almost all of the new stories that have been recently published. If anything these books are hooking new fans into this amazing universe of geeky awesome. As a librarian I have seen many young fans jumping on the book bandwagon and lots of those fans are girls! It warms my heart that there are new books out there that introduce Star Wars to kids in a way that they can understand and appreciate. The publishers have done a great job at providing books for all ages and reading levels.

I am going to attempt to keep this mostly spoiler free in case some out there have not seen the movie yet. However, if you are worried stop reading now and bookmark this post for later after you have seen the movie. Some of these books require that I give you some scenes from the movie so that the review makes sense. Books with spoilers have (*) next to the title. Trust me, I am not going to give away the big twist. Plus, if anyone feels the need to be a Jar Jar and comment with spoilers I will delete and have Boba Fett hunt you down. Don’t be a Jar Jar..

Books for kids/tweens:

Star Wars Trilogy for young readers: Disney Lucasfilm Press 

These three titles follow Episodes 4-6. Each is written by a different author that takes the reader through the movies using beloved characters to tell the tale. These are targeted at ages 8 – 12 so adult readers don’t get your socks in a bunch over the simplified plot line. They are made specifically for kids to give them an understanding of some of the themes presented in the movie.

So You Want To Be A Jedi? – By Adam Gidwitz

In the first addition to the series we follow Luke Skywalker through scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. It is told in both a second person and third person narrative that gets mixed reviews online. Most of the negative reviews come from people who have listened to the audio-book instead of reading it so you might stick with the print version. It has gotten good reviews from kids who like learning about what it takes to become a Jedi. The book shows how Luke trains with the force and has lessons about meditation, compassion, and other Jedi tidbits between each chapter. It is a fun book for kids and one that I think they will enjoy.

Target age: 8-12

 

The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy- By Alexandra Bracken

This story is a retelling of The New Hope from the view points of Leia, Han, and Luke. Each character tells their own story about overcoming perceptions and becoming the beloved figures that we know today. This is a great intro for kids who are just starting their journey into Star Wars literature. It is a fast read and the author has taken information from the radio drama script, some of the still cannon EU, and scenes from her own imagination that still feel true to each character. Out of the three, this one was my favorite and is a great book to get to know the characters on a more personal level.

Target age: 8-12

 

Return of the Jedi Beware the Power of the Dark Side!- By Tom Angleberger

The final book in the series focuses on the events from Return of the Jedi. In this book you will find a retelling sprinkled with humor, fantastic illustrations, and hilarious footnotes. It keeps the campy narrative feel from the movies that will appeal to younger readers. Add more explosions and Ewoks and you have an all around entertaining read for all ages. Tom Angleberger is one of my favorite authors and his books are very popular with the younger crowd. This one has more humor than the other three and is good for kids that liked “Origami Yoda” and similar stories.

 

Target age: 8-12

 

Journey to the Force Awakens- Disney Lucasfilm Press

The next series has new stories that feature members of our favorite trio. These are for kids a bit older and have a squint more violence than the others. The illustrations in these are fantastic and help move the reader along. I love the layout of each chapter and hunting for hints about the new movies!

**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure – By Greg Rucka

Join your favorite smuggling duo for a new adventure aboard the Millennium Falcon! Tasked with saving a key member of the rebellion from a sinister new villain , Han will need to use all of his smooth talking and blaster shooting skills to win the day. Filled with humor and a scary new female villain with a cyborg eye, readers will love this fast paced middle grade novel. The story is told in a series of flashbacks from a jaded Han in search of his beloved ship. Where could it possibly be? While this doesn’t have a lot of info key to the new movie it still is a good read with fantastic illustrations.

Target age: 10-14

 

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure (Star Wars)**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure- By Jason Fry

Luke is being sent out on a diplomatic mission instead of fighting the Imperials in his trusty x-wing. But, all is not as it seems when he lands on a planet with ruins from an old Jedi temple. As Luke explores the force he attracts the attention of a new villain bent on destruction. This is another fast paced read that brings together several story-lines from the Clone Wars cartoon and the original trilogy. Luke doesn’t just rely on his lightsaber to save the day and other elements of the force are explored in the story. Is this mysterious temple key to the new movie? Read and find out!

Target age: 10-14

 

**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Moving Target- By Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry

Set between the Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, readers follow Leia on a new and dangerous mission for the Rebel Legion. Told in a series of memoirs this story lets Leia’s wit and boldness shine. Paired with wonderful illustrations and a key appearance from Luke this novel is a good addition to the trilogy. While the adventure is not as daunting or perilous as Han and Luke’s from the first two novels, this one still adds important details to the Star Wars Universe. There are not as many sneak peaks into the new movie other than a character reference and some clues into Leia’s upcoming role.

Target age: 10-14

 

**Star Wars: Before the Awakening – By Greg Rucka

MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT REY, FINN, AND POE AHEAD!! – Just not the big one! Promise!

After watching the movie I was dying to know several things. One- Why on earth is it so easy for Finn to abandon his life as a stormtrooper and go MIA? Seriously, he is a First Order Trooper trained from birth so you would think that he would have had more reservations. One of his own calls him a traitor later on in the movie and is pretty bent on revenge with this weapon that stops a freaking lightsaber?!!! What??!!! Well this book mostly answers these questions while still leaving a bit of mystery. You get some great background into Finn’s training and his squad members. You also get a glimpse into the new weaponry of the First Order. This character chapter is perhaps the most important (in my opinion) in the entire book.

Two- Who is Rey? How does she know how to fly? Well the first does not get answered beyond some minor character development. The second helps you understand why she is able to fly the most awesome ship in the galaxy and fix pretty much anything she touches. Everything else is left up to speculation. (cue epic fangirl sigh of frustration)

Three- Why is Poe the best pilot in the Resistance? Who is he anyway? His chapter explores the origins of his story starting with facts about his parentage and how he gets into the resistance. Readers looking for more stories and clues about his squad will get a few teasers and minor character development. The biggest intrigue is the First Order and his discovery about their some of their dastardly deeds.

All in all this does help with some questions I had after watching the movie. I am still dying to know who Rey really is and I want more stories about Poe and that mysterious dude in the dessert. These are not major plot changing stories but they do give some insight into the motivations of each character. A short quick read.

Target age: 8-12

A Book for Teens: 

Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
by Claudia Gray

This is a Teen novel set during the time of the Empire and the original trilogy. Keep in mind that this is not a novel for a younger audience due to violence and adult situations (some sex- not descriptive). The characters end up facing some pretty ugly situations that require them to consider what it means to be loyal. Older readers will understand the struggles a bit more so I do recommend this to teens 13 and up due to the content. Parents might want to read this first before handing it to anyone younger. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

 

As a teen librarian this is one of my favorite books of 2015. It has action, romance that does not involve a love triangle, realistic hard choices, and characters that I actually cared about.

Summary:

Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree come from a planet where honor and loyalty is something that flows through your veins. Thrown together by their love of ships and their desire to fly away to new adventures  we follow them to the Imperial Academy where loyalty and friendship are put to the ultimate test. Both characters have a voice in this exciting new series that fits almost seamlessly into the events from Episodes 4-6. In these books you will see the perspective of an Imperial Officer and a Rebel Pilot. This book is more than just a romance as it challenges readers to think about both sides of the fight.

Things I loved:

I really connected with both characters. Getting to see the perspective of an Imperial Officer throughout their career and during the destruction of both Death Stars is something that I didn’t know I would care about until this book. The author created a world within the Imperial Forces that feels real. I get why some of the cadets turn into fanatical madmen who will stop at nothing to destroy planets. The brainwashing and control is explored in detail that made me cringe at times and want to pull the character out of the pages and shake sense into them!

I like that popular characters like Vader, Leia, and Tarkin are not scene stealers when they show up in the book. They add to the story but they don’t take over the plot. You get glimpses of them as they interact with the main characters but it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.

I loved that the romance was not a triangle! You get to grow up with both Ciena and Thane from age eight until they are in their 20’s. The friendship and eventual romance makes sense without using all the tired YA troupes and lame cliches. I rooted for them and I am not a romance reader! I did like that the smexy times were not super descriptive. It was basically hey baby, smoochy time and fade to black. However, there are some steamy moments and steamy thoughts from the characters later on.

I loved the ending where you end up on Jakku. OMG! That made me create my own fangirl conspiracy theories as to who a certain female character might be.

Things that I didn’t like:

That there isn’t more to read right now! If I was being picky I would say that there were not enough details about the new movie included in this title. It gives you just enough to make you go “really?!!” and then frantically flip pages to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Final thoughts-

Please let there be a second!! I did enjoy this one and that is not just the Star Wars fangirl speaking. It was a fast paced read with romance and adventure that fits well into the universe as we now know it!

 

Coming soon:

I will be reviewing more Star Wars books as they become available. I hope to provide reviews for a variety of ages and reading levels so stay tuned.

 

May the love of reading be with you and happy holidays!

 

In a Galaxy Far Far Away… There was this prompt

I have a board in teen that I use for writing prompts. It is one of the more popular passive things that we do in the departments. With Star Wars being more exciting than Christmas this year (okay.. at least for me it is more exciting) I put up a prompt for an original story starting in a galaxy far far away.

Trust me when I say that I doubt LucasFilm will use this in a movie. It is however.. unique.. um funny? Not sure what words I should use to describe where the direction of the story went but at least they had fun until someone really crossed the line with one too many body humor jokes and poop drawings!

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“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..

Everybody was dead.

Or so they thought!

But really they resided in one of 2 places.

The Dark Side and the Light Side.

The Dark: Hellbent destruction with world supremacy  (snakes)

The Light: Hellbent peace with world supremacy (bunnies)

The light resides in Hogwarts

The Dark resides in Dumbledoors Beard

*They finally invented cool ranch Doritos!!!

I farted and it smelled like eggs and enchiladas (complete with poo drawing..)\

“That is very unfortunate” cried C3PO “Let’s get back to the story while you go to the doctor. That sounds serious!”

At the Doctor he found out nothing was wrong he just ate too much..

Of a DEADLY bacteria found only in the grossest germ ridden places on whatever planet you find yourself to be on.

It is nasty there.. people on earth would not want to live there because of the smell.

 

Yep! I smell an Oscar! Or at least a need for the Teen Febreeze fairy to make a visit!

 

Star Wars Make-up Review

 

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Everywhere you look you will find something Star Wars. From kitchen supplies to food the invasion of themed products has begun. The Force is truly “awakening!” Recently CoverGirl released a line of make-up for the discerning Star Wars fashionista. It has been very hard to find and is a limited edition item. The line includes mascara, nail polish, and lipstick. I have only been able to find the mascara and lipstick at our local stores. I thought it would be fun to do a review on the lipstick since the mascara is not really that special or exciting.

The lipstick you didn’t know you needed- 

I am not a make-up expert and I don’t consider myself a fashionista. I am a normal everyday girl who struggles to get her eyeliner on without ending up looking like the Winter Soldier.

I chose the lipstick because that is something I can put on without looking like a clown. The Star Wars mascara was nothing special. Just black and taking advantage of clever marketing. I would have bought it if it had glitter, came in fun colors, or made my eyes the most gorgeous thing in the universe. All it promises is plump and thinken, so not really something exciting or groundbreaking.

The lipstick is rather fun. It comes in six different shades: 3 from the light side and 3 from the dark. I was able to find the Dark Purple, Lilac, and a Bronze shades. It promised to be long lasting, easy to apply, and moisturizing. It varies in price from $5.99 to $8.99, with ebay scammers selling it for $25-50 a tube. Trust me it is not worth the ebay price.

The First color is from the Stormtrooper collection: Dark Purple

My impression- Stormtrooper? Why purple? Is this after Vader has force choked them? Is it a new Phasma color? I mean she seems pretty kick butt so maybe rocking the dark purple is her thing? Honestly I would have chosen silver for the trooper look. However, it is a lovely shade and quite a bit darker than what I normally wear.

Please note: This is a pain in the butt to apply correctly without a lip liner! If you smudge it be prepared for stained skin around your lips and a slight Joker looking appearance. Trust me I am not a moron when it comes to application but this stuff is really slick like a melty chapstick. Bonus: it’s not waxy and it does leave your lips feeling soft. Just be prepared… it stains! Make up remover didn’t get all of it off. Colorlast? Not sure since I only wore it briefly.

My husbands impression: “Wow, (dramatic pause) that’s pretty dark. Not your thing right?”

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Hey, it matches my curtains and not my hair…

Final verdict: The color is fun but not really purple. The application sucks. I could not get this even and it stained my lips. Only use with liner because it will bleed like crazy. This is a special occasion color when I am feeling a bit of the dark side.

Second Color: Lilac from the Mystic Collection

This is a very light lilac color. It is really pretty. I just don’t know a lot of ladies who can pull it off. Thankfully this one was not as staining as the dark purple. You can make the color more or less intense depending on how thick you apply it. It can be a nice sweep of frost and I think that it would look nice over another color. I put on a hat for this one because it made me think of what your lips might look like after you have been stuck outside on Hoth. It was hard to get a picture of this one because it was so light.

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Hoth duck face??

Final verdict: This one is is nice. It does make you look like you have a bit of frostbite and need to be stuffed in a Tauntaun. I imagine the silver color is even worse. I will probably wear this over another color. The Mister thought it was pretty.

Final Color: Bronze

This one is the Jedi look. It has a nice fresh off the sand plains of Tatooine hue without the grit. Because you know sand is course.. and it gets into things…. (sorry, not sorry) I really liked this one and it’s something I would wear everyday to work. I can see this looking nice on a variety of skin tones and even the Mister approved. “You look normal in that one babe!” Thanks I think… It was so light that it was hard to get a good picture of this one. I added the Ewok hat for extra effect.

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Yub nub..

Final verdict- Very much my favorite. The color did not scream “hey this girl got sucked into buying Star Wars make-up because it said Star Wars on the packaging.” It is a nice color and I plan to wear it to work.

Final, final thoughts-

First off it’s a total gimmick. You can find similar colors cheaper without the branding. However, it is fun and the lipstick leaves your lips soft. There are wacky colors and nice colors to please a variety of tastes. I admit I am a sucker for the branding and it gave me an opportunity to buy it for the sake of this review. Be wary of the darker colors because they tend to stain kinda like the dark side. Other wise have a little fun with the force!

VEB

 

Dark Disciple- Book Review (Spoiler alert)

Dark Disciple

By Christie Golden

Publish date: July 7th, 2015

My rating: 4 stars

I was really really excited to get a galley copy of this title from Random House. Asajj is such a multi layered character and one of my favorite villains. I could not wait to get my hands on this book. Honestly, at first when I finished I was really disappointed. I was expecting more as far as action and original storytelling. But, there is only so much you can do with a book that has to fit within the monster timeline that is Star Wars. Some things are going to be predictable and frustrating no matter how the author spins them. It took a bit of thinking and some whining to a friend for me to sort out my feelings and get the point of this book.

It is not about the assassination of Dooku. It is not about Vos, the romance, or the constant Jedi blindness. It is a story about Asajj Ventress and her path to redemption. You get to see her on a deeper and more intimate level. You see a woman that has had the worst of life and has fought and clawed her way through existence. It is brutal and heart wrenching at the same time. It only adds to my love for this complex villain and her story.

*I am putting a soft spoiler alert for this review. I have tried really hard not to give too much away.

Walking the line between dark and light is a perilous path that only the strongest dare to take. When the Jedi council asks Jedi Quinlan Vos to undertake the assassination of Count Dooku, he will face temptation like never before. Paired with the former Sith Acolyte Asajj Ventress, they both will experience the power of the dark side like never before in this epic tale of betrayal based off un-aired episodes of the Clone Wars series.

Golden is an excellent writer and I have been looking forward to this book since I heard about its release last fall. Ventress is one of my favorite characters and I have been wandering what would be her fate after the Clone Wars series was cancelled. Quinlan Vos is a fan favorite from Dark Horse comics so I was interested in how these two who often flirt with moral ambiguity would work together. For the most part it worked.

For readers that are expecting non stop action this might not be what you are looking for. This book takes both of these characters and lays them bare for judgment. You get a detailed look inside their heads and see why they are the way they are. Ventress most of all. Her character study in this book is complex and brutal. It only solidified how freaking amazing and layered she really is. That being said I felt like Vos was lacking in attention. Readers who are not familiar with his backstory might not connect as well with him. I had trouble connecting with him during several key moments in the book. However, this was more of Vebtress story, her fall from grace, and ultimate redemption. That part was brilliant. Yes, I cried at the end. It wrapped up so many loose ends and I understand Ventress on a deeper level. Did I mention how freaking amazing her character is yet?

I wish that the plot was not so predictable. However, some of that could not be avoided because of the timeline history. You know going into this that Dooku will live. You know that the Jedi will do the right thing, even though you sometimes wish they wouldn’t. The only other issue was the romance. It felt forced and out of character for Vos towards the end of the book. I get that he was entangled in the dark side but it just did not work for me. Other wise this would have gotten a solid 5 stars.

I recommend this book to those looking for a deeper glimpse into the enigma that is Asajj Ventress. This is her story… and what a tale it is.

 

What are your guilty go to books?

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Since becoming a librarian I often hear the phrase “You must read all the really good quality books.” There is this expectation that as a Librarian I am supposed to read the good stuff and not the book fluff that the regular masses enjoy. While I do appreciate quality literature, even I need a break to read something fun. Some of my friends love those cheap romances, some love the cliche gossip magazines, and others love weird science fiction. It’s all good!

For the past couple of weeks I have put down my huge stack of review copies and read just for pure entertainment. I have to do that in between book reviews and trying to keep up with what my patrons like. There came a point where reading one more “state award book” was going to make my head explode! Not kidding…. it would be messy.

So what are my guilty pleasure books? I am the science fiction gal. I love to read me some Star Wars, Star Trek, Warehouse 13, mass market paperbacks. I know the characters, most of the story, and I am not having to think about how I am going to review it when I am done. Plus, it is total escapism. I can check my brain at the door and just read for the fun of it. I also love comics. My neighborhood comic guy knows me by name and keeps me stocked up on all my fangirl favorites.

Some of them are total cheese and others are actually pretty awesome. A few of them beat out the state award books in my opinion as having a better story and plot line. It’s nice to spend some time in a familiar world with favorite characters. This is why fanfiction is so huge. (That is a post for another day)

What are your go to books? How do you check out from the mass reading for work? I would love to see what others read to escape! Remember no shaming because we all need a break at sometime!

A disturbance in the library force

What happens when you release a Garrison of Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, a Jawa, Wicket the Ewok, a Sith Lord, and Pre Vizsla into your library? An epic amount of fun from a galaxy far far away! Last weekend we celebrated Star Wars day at our main Branch. See orginal post: here

The members of the group asked if it would be okay to roam around the branch and interact with the patrons. Of course I said okay! What happened next made for some extra special pictures and lots of laughs. Nearly every patron that came in that day stopped and either took pictures with the troop or laughed at all the antics. It by far was our most successful program to date with over 90 participants. Enjoy the photos!

Darth Vader needs to work on his customer service skills!!

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The Troopers had some fun in the teen section. Beautiful Creatures was the choice of the Scout Trooper!

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Finally, the Scout Trooper decided to go for a ride on our big library turtle!

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One last picture! One of the Troopers was kind enough to let a crazy fan girl try on his helmet! It was the best day ever!!

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May the force be with you!!