Book Review | Star Wars: Aftermath

Star Wars: Aftermath is the third consecutive SW novel I’ve read this year. Previously, I had read A New Dawn and Ahsoka, both of which I greatly enjoyed. Aftermath, however, blows them both out of the water in terms of clench-worthy plot points and beautiful character arcs.

Don’t worry. This review is spoiler-free!

First Impression

I actually read about ten full pages before even realizing it was all present tense writing. Now, normally present tense novels drive me up the wall, but this was different. I didn’t mind it at all, and I think that says something about Wendig’s skills.

Which brings me to my next first-impression point: the writing style. Simply put, Wendig isn’t a fan of complete sentences. His style is clipped and concise, as if he were crafting each individual sentence to deliver an appropriate amount of punch. Trust me, it works brilliantly.

Plot

Several of the reviews I read prior to getting the book complained that the plot moved too slow. I honestly don’t see how people reach that conclusion. Not once did I get bored or put the book down because of pacing problems.

I think my favorite aspect of the plot is that we get to see multiple immediate subplots (Norra’s return home, Wedge’s capture, Rae’s plans, etc.) converge into one grand boom of events. You don’t see how they all fit together at first, but by the time things start falling into place, you’re definitely invested.

Plus, you get everything you’d want out of a Star Wars story: space battles, flying stunts, stormtrooper chases…no lightsabers, though. Which I’m okay with. This isn’t a Jedi story.

Characters

Man oh man, I love this cast of characters. Each character has such a tangible development arc as their own individual stories gradually merge into one common lane. I mean, when a Rebel pilot, her black-market-selling-droid-building son, a bounty hunter, an ex-Imperial loyalty officer, and a reprogrammed Separatist battle droid join forces, you know you’re going to have a good time with them.

Favorite character? Norra Wexley by a mile and a half. Her arc is so complete, so perfect. She’s not a Jedi. She’s not a force wielder at all. Sometimes she even doubts if she should be a pilot. But her loyalty to her son and her cause, her perseverance, and her willingness to sacrifice for the people she loves makes her an absolute legend in my Star Wars book.

Least favorite character? I’m gonna cheat here: I don’t have one. Honestly, though. Not even the bad guys. Rae Sloane is fantastic and relatable, even as the main antagonist. I appreciate the fact that there’s no great-evil-Sith-villain type character. I will say, however, that Temmin makes some pretty stupid decisions, and he sometimes gets aggravating, but he’s a rebellious teenager so at least it fits his character. I can’t dislike him too much, all things considered.

 


I ordered the next book in the trilogy, Aftermath: Life Debt the same day I finished Aftermath. I can’t wait for it to get here.

My rating: get-five-star-reviews

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. If you’re a Star Wars fan, this seems like a no-brainer to me. I’ve said before that I usually prefer prequel-era story arcs, but Aftermath may be one of my favorite Star Wars ‘chapters’ ever. You should get this book.

In the meantime, have a great day!

22 Types of Books on Your Bookshelf

The perfect, beautiful one that has a private shrine somewhere near the top.

The brand new copy you pull out just to sniff. 

The one that always finds a way to tip over.

The one(s) with the coffee stains. 

The one with the awkward height that stands out like a pink lemming.

The mass market paperback that never looks good anywhere. 

The one you haven’t read and never will but looks nice so you keep it.

The one with the ugly spine that you try to cover with a Funko Pop. 

The one that’s part of a magnanimously uniform series (sigh of satisfaction).

The yard sale classic that makes you feel more sophisticated because it has fancy squiggles on the spine. 

The series that has to go lying down because some nincompoop at the publisher decided to print them 1/4 inch taller than your bookshelf height.

That one installment in the series that you own in a different edition so it doesn’t look like all the rest and basically says ‘lol what’ every time you frown at it. 

The one you’re embarrassed to own but haven’t taken it off the shelf for some reason.

The one that’s the only book on the shelf of a genre you don’t read but you kinda have to keep it because it was a gift. 

The tome you keep handy in case you ever need to knock out a moose from a second story window.

The one that came late to the party so it has to lie awkwardly across the tops of the others. 

The one that you own only because Booktube hyped it (even though it sucks).

The Tolkien copy you’ve never actually finished but you pull out and dust off every time you need a classy Instagram filler. 

The one with the missing dust jacket that still looks good because it has shiny gold letters on the black spine.

The paperback you’ve read so many times that the spine looks like a 1:1000 scale model of the Himalayas. 

The one you’ve kept since you were a kid and now the pages are yellowed and it smells like good memories.

The one that’s missing from the series because cousin Gustav “borrowed” it three years ago and you hunted him down but gave up when you lost his scent in a cold mountain spring somewhere south of Zurich. 

I’m coming for you, cousin Gustav. 

Free Promotion: Where the Woods Grow Wild!

Hey, guys! Today’s post will be a quick one. I’ve got an exciting announcement. Starting today, from March 1st through March 4th, you can get a free Kindle copy of Where the Woods Grow Wild!

wtwgw-ebook-cover

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

What’s the occasion, you ask? Well, today marks the beginning of month #3, and 3 is my 5th favorite single-digit number, so there’s always that. Additionally, I suck at marketing, so I’m going on a tactical ‘I feel like giving away free stuff’ strategy.

And no, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to follow, subscribe, like, or sacrifice a naked mole rat (seriously, don’t do that). All you have to do is click *le fancy link* below and download your free copy from Amazon.

Where the Woods Grow Wild Free Download

Need some convincing? I understand! I’ll link to some fabulous writer/reader friends who were awesome enough to review Where the Woods Grow Wild on their blogs. (In this case, yes, you should go follow and subscribe to them, but go easy on the mole rats).

Constant Collectible’s Review

A Tea With Tumnus’s Review

Dragonthief’s Review

If you’re itching for a copy but don’t own a Kindle device, we can definitely work something out. Just let me know and I’ll get in touch! And if you do read Where the Woods Grow Wild, I’d be enormously grateful if you dropped a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are the fuel for an author’s success engine (crazy deep metaphor alert), but they can be hard to come by. Even just a quick rating goes a long way. You have my thanks and Gimli’s axe.


Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I truly hope you have a fantastic day.

30 Questions & Answers About My W.I.P.

Recently I was tagged to do a #WIPjoy blog post. For those who don’t know #WIPjoy (as far as I know, since I’m new myself) is a Twitter tag wherein writers share insights and behind-the-scenes info about their works-in-progress via daily questions and answers. I’d rather not spend a whole month answering those questions on Twitter, but I thought doing a blog post would be fun, so here we are!

Thanks for the tag, @ateawithtumnus and @socalscribbler! Go check out their blogs for more fun writing content.

#1 Introduce your WIP…

My w.i.p. these months is a fantasy/adventure novel titled Where the Woods Grow in Flames, a sequel to my December 2016 release Where the Woods Grow Wild.

#2 Why does your protagonist pull at your heartstrings?

Martin’s a simple guy trying to do simple things, but they don’t stay simple for long, and it’s his struggle to lead his friends through difficulties and manage more…personal aspects of his life that establishes that connection for me.

#3 How do you get to know your characters?

By writing. That’s how they tell me who they really are in their own time and in their own way. You can’t force it.

#4 Share a line about your premise!

I think this exchange between Martin and Mayor Clarenbald sums up the premise quite nicely:

“More will come, you know, and we have to be ready.”

“Ready? Ready. Yes, ready. We should be. I can only do so much, though. People say I’m a reasonable mayor, and I tend to agree, but I don’t know what to do when monsters like these roam my streets. It’s not natural, and I only deal with things that are perfectly natural, like festivals and luncheons and petty squabbles among neighbors.”

#5 How easy is this WIP to write?

It’s a sequel, so most of the characters are already established. That makes the creation process simpler. However, it’s been a bumpy ride as far as the plot. A lot of hard things happen, and I want to maintain a balance of positive/negative. It’s a challenge.

#6 Which character is hardest to write?

Illo. Fans of Where the Woods Grow Wild really liked her, but in the sequel…let’s just say she goes through a lot. She’s definitely getting a lot of character development.

#7 Tell us about you and your work!

I write (generally) light-hearted fantasy stories, focused more on simple adventures than on epic wars or stuff like that. I’m snarky and sarcastic, both in writing and in person. In December 2016 I released Where the Woods Grow Wild, which has been my favorite novel project so far!

#8 Who is your protag’s best friend?

Martin’s best friend is Elodie Tuck, the mayor’s mischievous courier and co-protagonist in the book.

#9 How did the main characters meet?

Martin and Elodie have known each other since they were born, having lived all their lives in the small town of Bardun Village. Their friendship started when a shy nine-year-old Martin semi-successfully delivered a fistful of flowers to Elodie’s house.

#10 Anyone suffering from a broken heart?

Not yet.

#11 Share a line about love or hatred…

“[He} may have put on some weight, and he may have lost his memory, but if I’ve learned anything about him today it’s that he still loves you, and he can still be brave if it’s for you.”

#12 What was your protagonist’s past like?

Rather dull, to be honest. Martin spent his whole life in Bardun Village, and that’s not exactly the most exciting place to live. His mother left him to find work in the neighboring town and has yet to return. It’s a good thing he has Elodie to keep him on his toes.

#13 What’s a message about relationships in your book?

Relationships can be (and are meant to be) pure and based on mutual edification. Physical attraction is not the basis for a relationship. It should never be a driving factor.

#14 Which characters get along worst?

Probably Illo and Podgin. They’re friends, but they have a terribly cranky and sarcastic way of going about it.

#15 At its best, my WIP’s dialogue is…

Witty and snarky while still driving the characters towards deeper connections.

#16 I love how I describe things when…

The description flows along with the action. I prefer not to stop and describe objects/people. I want my description to be subtle, almost invisible, while still painting a vivid and palpable picture.

#17 I love how I depict characters because…

They’re different from each other, and that makes for a lot of entertaining interaction. They all developed naturally, some more willingly than others, but I really feel like I’m working with real people.

#18 Share an example of your best prose!

I mean, it’s a first draft still, so I’d hardly call this ‘best prose’, but it’s a short passage I had some fun with…

Later that night, as the moon framed the clock tower bells, the Cabbage Cart Inn received an unexpected visitor. He crept along the path from the main road and reached for the brass knob on the front door, only to find the place locked. Not to be deterred, he snuck around to the back and fiddled with the rickety door there. Bolted as well.

He explored the whole perimeter of the building, making sure to stay well away from the pig pen, before finding a window he could pry open. Sneakily, cleverly, he stole up onto the sill and slipped through the crack without making a sound.

Then he tripped on his own feet, fell, and landed in a shallow pan with a metallic thump.

“Oh dear.”

The pan, having been placed at the top of a precarious stack of its kin, slid from its position with its newly acquired passenger. The ensuing avalanche of pans, pots, and cooking utensils created such a clanging commotion that Bramble huddled on the floor in a trembling mass until the last bouncing spoon came to rest.

“Oh dear.” He grabbed his floppy ears and yanked hard. “Mustn’t make a peep.”

He waited, small and invisible in the kitchen’s shadows, his blinking eyes the only evidence he was even there. No footsteps ran his way, and no one pointed and yelled at him, so he scooted to his feet and made for the door. His button nose prodded the air, and his face puckered.

“Mustn’t breathe the stinky-stench. Mustn’t turn into an onion!”

#19 I love my world/setting because…

The contrast between a very simple village and a very wild forest makes for some fun plot-play. The village forces me to focus on a smidge of reality, while the forest allows my imagination to go ham.

#20 The relationship I root most for is…

Martin and Elodie, because I love them both to death and because the alternative is Podgin and his truffles.

#21 I’m most impatient to hear reader reactions to…

Some of the plot twists/reveals I’ve got in store. It’s a sequel, so a lot of the groundwork is already laid for some pretty special moments. (What, you thought I’d tell you something specific?)


From the protagonist’s (Martin’s) point of view…

#22 Describe yourself in five words:

Clumsily determined. Traditional. Uhm…attached?

#23 One thing you’d change in your past?

Having my hand back wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But I’ve learned to live without it.

#24 Favorite ways to relax?

Anything away from the Cabbage Cart. Probably with Elodie. Walks through the clover fields or trading secrets in the apple orchard.

#25 A line you were proud to say:

I know the one, but I haven’t said it yet. I still have to rehearse a few hundred more times in my head before it’ll come out half-adequately.

#26 Tell us about where you live:

I live in a small, bare room over the Cabbage Cart kitchens. It’s not so bad once the evening cools off and the onion fumes roll out the window.

#27 Do you sympathize with (or relate to) the antagonist?

On a good day, I pity him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he’d never interfered with our lives, but I think, way down, that I understand him. Just a little bit.

#28 What are you self-conscious about?

Ehem. My missing hand. My clumsy way of doing tasks that others don’t think twice about.


Back to the author (a.k.a. me)…

#29 How long do you expect to be working on this WIP?

A few more months, at least.

#30 What do you hope touches readers the most in the story?

The end. I’ll be wrapping up all loose ends, and I think a lot of the story lines will have a surprisingly touching conclusion. We’ll see.

Top 6 Fictional Couples

 

Happy Walmart You’ve Gone Too Far Valentine’s Day, wordmigos! Just for kicks and giggles, I’ve compiled a list of my six favorite fictional couples in order of favorite-ness. Comment below with some of yours!

Anything goes for my list: books, movies, t.v. shows, and video games are all contenders!

Honorable mentions: Han and Leia, Wall-E and Eve

#6. Shasta (Cor) and Aravis (Narnia: The Horse and His Boy)

The two protagonists from my favorite Narnia story. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Narnia series, but these two still stand out as a dynamic duo.

“Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.”
C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

#5. Carl and Ellie (Up)

Do I really have to say anything? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

carl-and-ellie

#4. Link and Zelda (Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)

Link and Zelda characters have a long history (as in a couple thousand Hyrulian years). But the Skyward Sword rendition of the pair takes the cake for its raw emotional impact. (Also…Zelda pushes Link off a cliff, so it’s kind of hard not to pick them.)

link-and-zelda

#3. Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver (Dragons in our Midst)

I’m guessing the vast majority of you haven’t heard of this series (shame on you). Billy and Bonnie’s relationship starts as a pure and strong friendship, and it grows into something more meaningful and genuine than 99% of today’s fictional ‘romance’ relationships. Simply put, these two set quite the example for what a real relationship should look like. Oh, and yeah…she has wings and he breathes fire.

billy-and-bonnie

#2. Taran and Eilonwy (Prydain Chronicles)

I love everything about this couple: their genesis as mutually-aggravating allies, their development into a classic fantasy couple, and the emotional conclusion to their story at the end of the series. Note: the 80’s Disney film based on these books is garbage. They missed the mark by a mile and then some. 

“I can’t make sense out of that girl,” [Taran] said to the bard, “Can you?”

“Never mind,” Fflewddur said, “We aren’t really expected to.”
Lloyd Alexander, The Book of Three

#1. Hera and Kanan (Star Wars: Rebels)

Call it my utter geekdom when it comes to Star Wars. Call it my recent binge-watching of Rebels. Call it my “finally, a Jedi gets a proper relationship” outlook. Call it the fact that Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb make great unruly kids and Chopper makes the perfect family cat. Call it the raw emotions at the end of Season 2 (no spoilers, don’t worry!). Call it the fact that it doesn’t dominate the show, but it’s definitely there. Call it the fact that they argue, disagree, disappoint each other, forgive each other, yet always care and always help each other grow as individuals. Or call it all of the above.

kanan-and-hera


Glad you stopped by! Now run along and eat some chocolate (let’s be real: that’s the true reason for the season). In the meantime, have a great day!

Book Review | Star Wars: A New Dawn

Spoiler-free review: 4.5, considering my pre-established love for the characters. I bought the book because I wanted to read the story of how Kanan and Hera met. On that premise, it certainly delivered, and it further solidified Hera in particular as one of my favorite Star Wars characters. Two issues kept me from giving it 5 stars, however:

a. Frequent backstory drifts bogged the plot down a bit too frequently (but halfway through the book I figured out when/where to skim, so it’s not a huge deal).

b. The plot itself wasn’t super innovative. Bad guy wants to blow something up, good guys need to stop him. But the book, for me at least, was never really about the plot. It was about the characters. The plot could’ve been about rice farming and I still would’ve read it.

Favorite character: Hera Syndulla
Least favorite character: probably Skelly (sorry…just obnoxious).
Standout line: “Okadiah! Tell [Hera] about me!”
“A fine pilot, an occasional humanitarian, and a somewhat tolerable houseguest. Marry him, my darling!”


Now, is it greedy of me to really want a book (or two) about Kanan and Hera’s adventures together leading up to Rebels? I’ll sit here waiting for that to happen. In the meantime, have a great day!

Book Review – Where the Woods Grow Wild

I really appreciate this thoughtful review!

Dragonthief

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Woods-Grow-Wild-Philbrick-ebook/dp/B01N2K4SMR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485489362&sr=8-1

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

“Is he dangerous when he’s mad?” Martin asked.
“That all depends on how you feel about getting turned into a tree.”

This is just one of the many lines that had me laughing out loud as I read Nate Philbrick’s latest fantasy novel. It was quotes like these, posted on his Twitter feed in the days before the book’s release, that made me eager to read it in the first place. When the launch date finally arrived, I was not disappointed.

Where the Woods Grow Wild is a story about two kids getting lost in the woods…

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