Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

This isn’t the first new canon book I’ve read, but it is the first I’ve reviewed here. I need to remedy that! I will soon

So Aftermath! This is the first book set post Return of the Jedi. I got the book at midnight at a signing with the author, which was fun. I actually had started it earlier in the day at Target because they had it on the shelf. Oops!

Overall, I liked it. There was a LOT going on, but I liked the main storyline on Akiva with Norra, Temmin, Jas, and Sinjir. (I may have those names spelled wrong. I’ll double check when I have my physical copy with me.) But I liked them and all the twists.

I was less enthused by the Imperial storylines, though it was cool to see Rae Sloane again after A New Dawn. I’m confused by the epilogue. So confused.

I liked the interludes that showed the effect of the Rebels actions on various planets. It was definitely thought provoking.

The Truce at Bakura by Karen Tyers

So, I skipped ahead in the timeline. I’m absolutely going to backtrack, at least for some of the books, but I decided to read the EU “what happened right after the Battle of Endor” book because Aftermath, the new canon version, comes out tonight! I’m actually sitting at Barnes and Noble where Chuck Wendig will be speaking/signing right now. But anyway, we’re not talking about that right now…

So Truce at Bakura. I liked it. It was an easier read than some of the other EU books I’ve dragged myself through this year. I definitely enjoyed being back with Han, Luke, and Leia. For the most part, I liked their characterizations in this book and felt like they flowed nicely from Return of the Jedi. I liked that Luke was recovering from the Force Lightning, though that dropped really quickly. I liked that Han and Leia still snipped at each other but also you could tell they loved and respected each other. For new characters, I liked Gaeri and would have liked to know Eppie more, but liked what we saw of her. 

There was one thing I wasn’t really sold on and that was Master Healer Luke. (Spoilers, FYI) He healed himself from the parasites. He healed Eppie’s brain damage. He removed the hypnosis whatever that Dev was under. It was just all really easy and I found it odd. 

So overall, I thought it was a fun adventure. I’m ready to move forward with post ROTJ stuff soon. 

Hm, I thought I added more to this, but don’t know what happened to it. So anyway, when Aftermath came out, people were making fun of this book, particularly the velociraptor aliens bent on taking over the universe. Somehow in my overall impression of this book, I completely forgot about that. I guess I just have selective memory and focused on Luke/Leia/Han and ignored Dev and “friends.” Oh well!

Executive Decisions

i’ll be honest here – I’m bored with these books. I’ve been trying to force myself through the first Medstar book but I just don’t really care. It’s making me frustrated, which was not the point of this. This is supposed to be fun!

So I’m walking away in a way. I’m not going to finish the Medstar books or the Republic Commando books right now. Maybe I’ll come back to them later. I’m going to skip to Yoda: Dark Rendevous and then get into the Darth Vader/Revenge of the Sith stuff. After that, I’ll figure out what I am going to read prior to A New Hope. 

So basically, I just want to keep going. Getting stalled for a month is no fun and life’s too short to force myself through bad books. I am going to do a bit better with mixing in other books. I’m accumulating a stack of books I want to read (which is actually the story of my life).

Star Wars Weekends!

This post isn’t about reading.  It’s about what kept me from reading in the month of May!  Last fall, I decided to become a Disney World Annual Passholder.  There’s been a bunch of things I always wanted to do at Disney, but I haven’t had the time or money to do them because I was always going to stadiums.  Last summer, I finished going to all the active MLB stadiums (woo!) and decided I wanted to go to Braves Spring Training this year.  Since I was already going to Disney in November with my BFF Kristin, an annual pass just seemed to make sense.  It then morphed into 80 bajillion trips this year.  We did a week with free dining in November, I went back for my birthday in January (part of the trip was with Kristin’s family at OKW and part at Animal Kingdom Lodge with a stop at Universal’s Cabana Bay in the middle), and I went down for a week in March for Spring Training (this time at Pop Century with a couple nights at Universal’s Royal Pacific to start the week).  That brings us to May and STAR WARS WEEKENDS!

I’m a huge Star Wars fan (obviously) and really wanted to go down last year to see the Clone Wars actors Weekend 5, but decided it was too much money.  I’d just gotten back from San Francisco and Anaheim/Disneyland, so it made sense not to go, but I am still a little sad I missed it.  So this year, I was determined to go and have lots of fun!  I ended up going the first 3 weekends.  I would love to have gone all 5, but wow – I never imagined how tired I would be with all the travel back and forth and working during the week and going to baseball games.  It was exhausting!  Next year, if I do more than 1 weekend, I’m going to spread it out more, I think.  We’ll see.  I may end up living at Disney for 5 weeks.  (Ha, no, I won’t.  But I can dream, right?)

So anyway, here are random thoughts on various aspects of SWW from my perspective.

Galactic Gathering and Darth’s Mall:
This was a merchandise event the Thursday before Weekend 1.  It cost extra money to get in, but you got the first shot at all the merchandise, plus the opportunity to shop with smaller crowds than a normal SWW day.  You could pre-order some limited edition stuff and some items were specific to the event.  It was a neat experience, but probably not one I’ll do again.  I spent way too much money in Darth’s Mall!  First, you pre-pay for the pre-ordered stuff and then there are three different shops in the “mall.”  My budget kind of fell apart because I spent too much money each place. :) Plus the GG lanyard meant I didn’t have to wait in line to get into the mall at other times, so it was really easy to pop in and spend more money.  Oh Disney, I’ll just send you the next few paychecks, okay?

But I did get a lot of fun stuff.  I was super happy to be able to try on Her Universe stuff before buying it.  It really helped with sizes because their stuff can be all over the place.  I also got some pins, a couple lightsabers, Stitch as Yoda plush, and an Ewok plush.  The last two made great pillows at various times during the weekends and on planes.  I think I am going to put some of the extra limited edition stuff up on eBay.  The lightsaber Magic Band is cool, but I probably won’t wear it much because I already have MBs I’ve decorated and love to wear and I love the new Luke pilot band.

I also enjoyed meeting a couple authors and getting books signed.  I met Jason Fry and Tricia Barr.  They were both really cool.

I did D-Tech Me during the Gathering.  It is really cool to have an X-wing pilot figure of myself, but it is also kind of weird.  I hate the hair on it.  I didn’t really like any of the hair options for women.  So the hair is strange and makes the figure look more like my grandmother than me.  :)

Celebrities and Autographs:
Lots of cool people come to SWW, which was great.  Getting autographs is a lot less great.  You have to get in line super early in the morning for a lot of them and you don’t have a lot of control on what time you’ll get, which can mess up other plans.  Weekend 3 I really wanted to meet Warwick Davis and Steve Blum, but I also wanted and needed more sleep and didn’t end up meeting either of them.  That was a little disappointing, but I’ll live.  But it was super cool to meet the ones I did!  Weekend 1, I met Tiya Sircar and Ashley Eckstein.  Weekend 2, I met Vanessa Marshall.  They were all really fun and cool.  I loved being able to tell them how much I love their characters and they were all really excited to talk about them.  And I met Ashley’s husband David in Darth’s Mall with the Her Universe stuff.  He was one of my favorite baseball players for a while.  We talked about my favorite scrappy Braves infielders Mark Lemke and Rafael Belliard.  It was cool.

Feel the Force Package:
I did the Deluxe Premium package twice – the Saturdays of Weekend 1 and Weekend 3.  It was really cool to do the first weekend, but ended up being unnecessary the second time.  I loved the spot for the parade viewing and being able to walk right up to the stage for the show at the end.  I loved the snacks and water that was available and not fighting for a spot to watch the parade.  Weekend 3 I was very grateful for the umbrellas when there was a little rainstorm right before the parade.  But I am not a huge parade person, so the second viewing wasn’t really needed.

This package included access to all the shows, which was awesome.  Weekend 1, I went to all the shows with the pass, but Weekend 3 I used FPs to spread them out on all three days, which worked just as well.  The seating for the package is right up front and great, though.  Between the package and FPs, I was really happy to never have to stand in the standby line for any of the shows.

The final part of the package was a dessert party prior to the fireworks.  This was okay.  It was nice to have a spot without waiting forever and food and drinks were nice, but probably not worth the cost.  The view of the pre-show was really cool, but it was a little too close to the stage for the fireworks.   The second time, my table was more off to the side, which helped with the view.  I really loved the fireworks.  They were amazing and I love the music anyway, so I was doubly happy.  I did watch the fireworks from Yulady’s spot farther back Weekend 2 and thought it was much better than the package area.  But the package has to balance the preshow and the view for the fireworks, so they can’t be perfect for both.  Overall, I was happy with the package.  It was a great deal, especially for what it cost compared to the VIP tour.

Star Wars Themed Meals:
I did two of the three Star Wars meals, the Galactic Breakfast and the Rebel Hanger.  I had an ADR for Jedi Mickey’s dinner, but ended up cancelling it because it was super easy to meet all the characters in the park without spending money on a meal I may not eat (I’m not a big fan of buffets).

The breakfast was really cool.  I was sad that Vader didn’t sign there, but I ended up meeting him elsewhere.  I was completely freaked out by Boba Fett.  NOT A FAN.  Vader didn’t bother me that day, but did when I met him later.  Who knows what kicks off my irrational fear of people in masks/helmets?  Anyway, I did get a fun picture with them.  Inside the restaurant was really cool.  I loved watching the trailers and clips on the big movie screen.  The characters that walked around were cool.  I was annoyed the stormtrooper wouldn’t sign my lightsaber, but Greedo did and I traded with the jawas.  That was fun.  The food was awesome too, and they would give you more if you asked.  I ended eating enough to not even notice I skipped lunch driving home that day.

The Rebel Hanger was one of the best parts of SWW.  The food was great and the themed drinks were awesome!  I wish I could have another Rebel Red.  The X-wing and Millennium Falcon glow cubes were amazing.  I have arts and crafts plans for those.  At first, the characters would come in, go to a few tables and then leave.  I didn’t like that, but they changed it so the characters came in and walked around and if you wanted to meet them, you had to initiate it.  I liked that a lot more.  I finally got to meet Ezra and Sabine!  I really hope the Rebel Hanger sticks around.

Meeting People:
So this final section is really about meeting characters, but before I get to that, I have to say that meeting people from the Disboards was awesome!  I really enjoyed getting to know Yulady and Stephanie and loved seeing familiar faces all over the park.  It definitely made me feel less like I was traveling alone.  I am glad I was able to share stories with people that understood it instead of gushing to my family while I looked at me like I’m crazy.  (That never happens, of course…)

So characters – I like meeting characters in theory, but in reality, I hate lines and am super awkward.  But I still had a ton of fun meeting Star Wars characters.  It was cool.  There were only a couple lines where I was too hot and unhappy, but usually they weren’t that bad.  I liked that they had umbrellas out over some of them, or the line was somewhat shaded.  The biggest annoyance was that there’s usually several characters rotating in one spot, so it can be tough to meet the ones you want, particularly when you’ve already met most of the other characters in that spot.  Also, all these pictures made it clear that my bangs can’t handle being sweaty. They just don’t recover well. :|

So here are my pictures from Memory Maker in basically the order I met everyone.  I am glad I had multiple days and was able to spread out the lines.  That’s probably a big reason why the lines didn’t bother me as much – I didn’t stand in a ton each day.

First up was the Chewy Run to meet Chewbacca and Logray without a long wait. I would have loved to have met Wicket, but I wasn’t going to stand in an hour+ line to do it!
SWW1D1 - 1 - chewy

Stormtrooper Donald and Darth Goofy!

SWW1D1 - 2 - goofydonald

The Chipwoks! I have another picture where everyone is looking at the camera, but I love this one of me laughing and Chip taking over my personal space. They loved my shirt.
SWW1D1 - 3 - chipwoks

My first super awkward meeting of the day! I got so flustered talking to Anakin. We were talking about how my lightsaber was green. He said it was like Master Yoda’s and I am pretty sure I said I was Yoda. IDK.
SWW1D1 - 4 - anakin

Jedi Mickey and Leia Minnie! They were fun to meet. The best part was when I was holding the lightsaber up for Mickey to sign, I wasn’t holding it high enough and said “I’m sorry – I am short!” and he cocked his head to one side like “And I’m not?” It was cute.
SWW1D2 - 1 - mickeyminnie

The last picture from Weekend 1 is Boba Fett and Darth Vader. At least you can’t tell how much I was freaking out in the picture.
SWW1D3 - vaderfett breakfast

Weekend 2 kicked off with Ahsoka and Cody. I am sad that Ahsoka didn’t have her eyes open in any of these pictures, but luckily she looks great in my one with Rex, so that’s good. This was the line where I was way too hot, so I am glad I don’t look too rough in the picture.
SWW2 - 1 - ahsoka cody

Leia. I think we talked it being as hot as Tattooine.
SWW2 - 2 - Leia

Luke. I liked the other friend of Luke more than I liked this Ken Doll Luke, but he was nice. We talked about how his lightsaber was his father’s and was blue, but maybe someday he’ll make a green one because he really likes green.
SWW2 - 3 - luke

There were a couple Magic Shots available. The force push with the troopers is my favorite!
SWW2 - magic shot trooper

But fighting Vader isn’t bad. I look very tough.
SWW2 - magic shot vader

Meeting Vader. SO MUCH AWKWARDNESS. It was funny because he wanted me to hand him the pin and the saber, but I didn’t understand. It took me a minute.
SWW3D1 - 1 - vader

Amidala was a bit awkward too because I didn’t have a ton to say to her. If she’d been from a later movie, I would have had more, but I don’t like or remember the Phantom Menace that much. We talked about Qui-Gon Jinn’s lightsaber.
SWW3D1 - 2 - amidala

MACE! He’s gorgeous. He was fun to talk to.
SWW3D2 - 1 - mace

REXXXXXXXXXXXXXX! I was really excited to meet him. I wasn’t expecting Ahsoka to be there as well, but she came out right when I got to the front of the line and I was the first person to meet them together. I really loved the friend of Ahsoka. She was great.
SWW3D2 - 2 - ahsoka rex

And the best meet of all! The Droids! I like this Luke better. I should have stood by him instead of awkwardly by Leia. Awkward is my specialty though.
SWW3D2 - 3 - droids

Triple Zero (Republic Commando, Bk 2) by Karen Traviss

I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I liked the first half. I liked reconnecting with the Omega squad, but eventually adding in the Delta squad made it too many characters to keep up with. Add in Skirata, Vau, Etain, Ordo, and Jusik, and it was a bit overwhelming.

The main plot/mission was kind of slow and uninteresting. There were moments of action that were interesting, but overall it dragged a little. I did think getting more of Atin’s backstory was good, but that comes closer to the end and is resolved quickly. Skirata was …interesting? I don’t know how to describe him. I kind of liked but but mostly didn’t. Vau, I never really liked or understood. He was just there as the bad guy to Skirata’s supposed good guy.

Ordo’s story was okay. I thought it was weird that the Nulls were basically too good – almost inhuman. It just didn’t make all that much sense why they were so good at being soldiers and so smart. Too perfect for me.

I didn’t really like Jusik. I didn’t have a problem with him wanting to fight, but basically wanting to not be a Jedi anymore was weird to me.

And Etain… Gah, I want to like this girl but I am struggling. She always doubts herself as a Jedi and then goes and gets pregnant on purpose. It was completely stupid and I hated her reasoning. She should have told Darman and let him have a say in it. Her reasoning just didn’t work for me. Even if she loves him, she should know that having a child won’t serve either of them well. So on that note, I agree with Skirata, but I hated that he was so rude and condescending to her when she told him. I hated that they decided to not tell Darman too. That’s horrible in my opinion.

The writing style in this book was a bit more annoying than the first book in the series.  There were long passages of conversations that didn’t say who was saying what and sometimes I’d have to go back to the beginning of the conversation to figure it out.  The clones also weren’t as distinguished as they seemed in the first book.  Probably because there were so many of them.

And finally – I hate Mandalorian culture. Sorry, I do. I found myself just skimming sections with an “I don’t care” attitude. Luckily I am taking a break from this series. I might go crazy otherwise.

Hard Contact (Republic Commando, Bk 1) by Karen Traviss

I wasn’t really sure what to think going into this book, but I really liked it. Like the last Clone Wars book I read, I really enjoyed getting to know clones better. 

I really liked that in this one, there are 4 clones, but they all have different personalities and you can tell them apart just reading how they talk or think. I also really liked that Etain could tell them apart. It was definitely interesting to think about each one having different experiences that made them who they were when the story began. Nature versus nurture and all that jazz. 

I wasn’t too sure about Etain at first. I didn’t like how little confidence she had in her abilities. But by the end, I really liked her and liked that she grew as a person, as a commander, and as a Jedi. 

I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series, though I will be sad if it doesn’t continue to follow the same squad of clones. 

The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss

This is the novelization of The Clone Wars movie/first two episodes of TCW cartoon. I haven’t watched a ton of TCW, but I’ve seen enough to be familiar with all the characters.

I enjoyed this book. The plot wasn’t a surprise, but it added an extra depth to the characters that I found interesting, especially to Rex. It made me want to get back into watching the show, which I was planning to do anyway (hopefully before Rebels starts back up so I have more Ahsoka backstory).

This book is part of a series of books related to the show, but I am going to skip them for now. I may come back later, but right now I don’t have them and don’t want to buy them and want to keep going with the EU.

Jedi Trial by David Sherman and Dan Cragg

Oh, wow. This book was really not good. Generally I can find something positive to say about any book, but it would be a stretch for this one. I was bored and just really didn’t care. I mostly kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened to Erk and Odie. By the end, I wasn’t a huge fan of them anymore.

Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

This was an awesome book!  I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, but it really drew me in and I found myself wanting to read it all the time, even when I should have been doing other things like sleeping or reading my book for Book Club (glad we moved our meeting to next week!).

So the book… I like Samuel L. Jackson, but I wasn’t really sure if I would like Mace Windu enough to like this book, but I was wrong.  Mace was a really interesting character.  He was still awesome and badass.  One funny thing – SLJ is Mace in Star Wars and SLJ is Nick Fury in Avengers.  There’s a character in this book named Nick and early on, there were times when I would think something Nick was saying was said by Mace because I would get my SLJs mixed up in my head.  This was quite confusing!  But I ended up loving Nick anyway.  He was smart and funny and loyal to his friends.

It was interesting reading this story about Depa Billaba.  I know from Star Wars Rebels that she was Kanan’s master, which doesn’t fit with what happened to her in this book.  It’s definitely a disconnect between the old EU (Legends) and the new canon.  Honestly, it doesn’t bother me much.  I still liked the book a lot, even if it was just a story and not part of the new canon (which is ultimately just story as well).  I’m excited to explore Kanan’s backstory and learn more about his Depa.

Speaking of the new canon, I would really like to get through the books related to the Original Trilogy before The Force Awakens comes out in December.  Theoretically, it would be nice if I was finished by September so I’d be caught up for reading Aftermath and the other Han/Leia/Luke books coming out on the 4th, but that is unlikely to happen.  I may end up skipping some books that are not as well reviewed.  Maybe. :)  I don’t want to do that, but that’s generally what has slowed me down – hitting a book I didn’t like much and putting it aside for a while.  So maybe if that happens again, I’ll just move on a little bit and see if something else sparks my interest.  And of course, I’d like to be finished with the X-wing series by the time Rogue One comes out.  I think this is possible. I think.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore

I liked this book a lot! I love how it is not just a novelization of the movie, but expands many scenes and makes them more interesting. I especially liked the backstory is what was happening on Tatooine with Shmi and the Lars family. I was glad to get to know Owen, Cliegg, and Beru better. It also made Shmi’s death sadder because it wasn’t just about Anakin’s pain, but the whole family’s.

I also really liked getting to see Padmé’s family. That definitely helped make her feel like a more rounded character. Another good family dynamic was Jango and Boba. It was good to see them and flesh out their characters as well.

Overall, this was a fun book to read. As Yoda says, “Begun, the Clone War has.” I’m excited to dive into this time period.