Review: Star Wars The High Republic: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland

Star Wars The High Republic: Mission to DisasterStar Wars The High Republic: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Mission to Disaster is a Junior Star Wars novel set in the era of the High Republic. Releasing on March 1, 2022, this novel is part of the second wave of HR materials set to be published by Disney and LucasFilms Press.

The events in this novel follow those of the 2021-HR releases, but still 200-years prior to The Phantom Menace.

After the startling events of the Republic Fair, the galaxy has been put on alert. The Nihil are much more of a threat than the Jedi initially anticipated.

They’re cunning and calculated, seeming to have influence everywhere.

Kicking off this novel, I was quickly reunited with one of my favorite new characters from the HR releases, Avon Starros.

Avon, the daughter of a Senator, is gifted in science and invention. She’s currently stationed at Port Haileap, due to her mother’s wishes, but is finally getting the opportunity to research kyber crystals, so that’s a win.

Avon hopes to discover new ways to harness the power of the crystals in a way that will help everyone; think clean energy research. She finds herself in her lab on the day the spaceport comes under attack.

After receiving an alert call from Port Haileap, Jedi Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan, Imri Cantaros, get sent to investigate.

Arriving to Avon’s lab, Vernestra and Imri are able to discover a survivor of the attack, but she tells them Avon is gone, perhaps captured by the Nihil!

Following clues discovered during their investigation, Vernestra and Imri find themselves on Dalna in the Outer Rim Territories; a known area of operation for the Nihil.

There they work with the government and people of Dalna to the best of their ability, to find Avon and any other children the Nihil may have captured. They face some difficulties there, as the people of Dalna aren’t too fond of the Jedis.

Avon, for her part, is in fact a hostage of the Nihil. Even worse, she is made to aid the Nihil’s version of an evil scientist, Dr. Mkampa, in assembling horrifying weapons.

It’s a race against time, as the Jedi try to help the people of Dalna and hopefully defeat the evil Nihil organization once and for all. Will they be able to rescue everyone before true disaster strikes?

I had such a great time reading this story. I actually listened to the audiobook and as is known with Star Wars audios, the production was magnificent. All of the sound effects really make you feel like you are part of the action!

I was excited to get another HR novel from Justina Ireland. She puts a lot of heart into her stories. The characters are so well developed. I loved being reunited with many characters from this era. I feel like I am really getting to know them.

Following the Great Disaster, the galaxy has become unstable and these young characters have had a lot to deal with. I feel like they’ve shown incredible growth in these stories, now rivaling the maturity level of the adults around them.

This was super fast-paced and exciting. There was never a dull moment. Additionally, I loved learning more about the mysterious Nihil. The full picture is really starting to become clear as far as they are concerned.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on with the High Republic era. This was a quick one, but don’t let the length of this novel fool you. There is a ton of stellar content packed in here!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney and LucasFilms Press, for providing me with the audiobook to listen to. It was such a treat!

View all my reviews

Review: Tiger Honor (Thousand Worlds #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

Tiger HonorTiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Tiger Honor is the second book in the Thousand Worlds series by veteran Sci-Fi writer, Yoon Ha Lee. This series is published through the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.

The first book, Dragon Pearl, was released in 2019 and was my favorite Middle Grade release of that year. At the time when I read it, I thought it was a standalone.

I was so happy when I heard the news that we would be getting more in this world; best described as a Space Opera inspired by Korean mythology.

In this installment we follow a young tiger spirit, Sebin, who dreams of joining the Thousand Worlds Space Forces just like their Uncle Hwan, who they greatly admire.

But on the day that Sebin’s acceptance letter arrives, another letter arrives as well and the news it brings is not good.

According to this letter, their Uncle Hwan abandoned his duty in search of the legendary Dragon Pearl and has thusly been branded a traitor. His current whereabouts are unknown.

As Sebin heads off to their orientation, they decide that no matter what, they’ll find the truth, hopefully clearing Uncle Hwan’s name and returning honor to their clan in the process.

As you may expect, however, things do not go as planned for sweet Sebin.

This story is full of action and a ton of heart. Sebin is such a cinnamon roll, who is easy to become attached to. The pace is super quick, and I’ll be honest, at times I found myself a little lost.

Even though that’s the case, it always came back around for me and I had a lot of fun reading it.

For me though, this wasn’t quite as enjoyable a story as the first book, in that it lacked a bit of the humor that I always felt when following, Min, the protagonist of Dragon Pearl.

Sebin, I would say, is more of an old soul, a bit more serious than Min was, and the narrative reflected that, making this story feel more mature than your average Middle Grade.

With this being said, Lee’s writing, as would be expected, is impressive. The complex mix of Sci-Fi with Mythological elements was so well done.

Additionally, the characters Lee develops are extremely likable. You root for them when you’re supposed to, you dislike them when you are supposed to and you certainly love them when you are supposed to. Chef’s kiss.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Audio and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This one left off in a great place. This could be it, but I am really hoping for more in the Thousand Worlds. There are endless possibilities as to where this series could go!!

View all my reviews

Review: Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong #3) by Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong #3)Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching is the third and final book in Kwame Mbalia’s courageous Middle Grade Adventure series.

This was my most anticipated Middle Grade novel of 2021 and unsurprisingly, Mbalia DID NOT DISAPPOINT!

In this installment, which I won’t get too far into because it is the third book in the series, we see all of our old favorite characters return, including the absolute star, Gum Baby.

Unfortunately for Tristan and friends, however, we also see the return of one of the most heinous villains to ever grace the pages of a Middle Grade novel, King Cotton.

Starting at a family reunion, heading to New Orleans, then up the mighty Mississippi all the way to Tristan’s hometown of Chicago, this story is never want for action!

In addition to great action, these books contain enormous amounts of heart and humor. Mbalia doesn’t shy away from exploring important societal issues as well, making this a great book for parents to discuss with their children.

Looking back at the series as a whole, I am so impressed with Tristan’s growth as a character. He seemed to have a lot more introspective moments in this finale and I think those moments will be highly relatable to a lot of young Readers.

Mbalia’s ability to blend the serious moments with laugh out loud humor is really unmatched. If you want a action-packed series that will make you laugh, make you bite your nails in anticipation and make you think, look no further, Tristan Strong is where it’s at.

While I am really sad this trilogy had to come to an end, I am so happy with how it turned out. The Epilogue filled my heart to bursting.

I highly recommend this series to Readers of all ages. It’s a ton of fun, but more than that, it provides a necessary voice and an equally important hero for our time!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I am a huge fan of this series and will carry it in my heart for a long time to come!!

View all my reviews

Review: Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Pahua and the Soul StealerPahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

11-year old, Pahua Moua, is a bit of an outcast amongst her peers. Because of this, she spends her summer days babysitting her little brother, Matt, and hanging out with Miv, a cat spirit no one else can see.

That’s fine with Pahua though. Matt and Miv are her best friends, who else would she want to hang out with.

Pahua’s Dad left them, so her Mom has to work a lot, leaving Pahua and Matt home alone quite a bit. That makes Pahua sad and she frequently wonders why her Dad went away. Her Mom has never really offered up an explanation.

As a Hmong-girl, living in a mostly white town in Wisconsin, Pahua also has that setting her apart from those around her; making her feel isolated at school and in her neighborhood.

Pahua also carries a secret. She can see spirits!

One day, exploring near the local haunted bridge, she notices a little ghost girl. Pahua tries to be friendly to her, but this is no innocent appariation and before she knows it, her brother’s life hangs in the balance.

Matt has fallen into some sort of deep sleep and cannot be awoken. Pahua must risk it all and travel into the spirit realm, battling all sorts of unknown dangers, in order to try to save him.

Surprising no one, I absolutely adored this story. The Rick Riordan Presents imprint is such a gift. Giving Readers the opportunity to learn about myths, legends and cultures from around the world through engaging, action-packed, heart-warming stories is so special.

Lori M. Lee’s Middle Grade debut, Pahua and the Soul Stealer, is actually one of my favorite releases thus far and I have read almost all of them.

Pahua is an incredible character. Her spirit, determination and strength, in the face of terrifying odds, never faltered. Her love for her brother kept her going, pushing through some really difficult obstacles.

The entire story was full of the perfect mix of humor, heart and action. From the very first chapter, I was laughing and grew so attached to Pahua as her narrative played out. I listened to the audiobook and it was so well done; highly recommend that format!

I feel like I am forgetting a ton of things that I wanted to say about this, but in the end, that’s probably for the best. Everyone should go into this knowing as little as possible.

Let the fun and adventure wash over you. It’s a heck of an entertaining, soul-warming, nail-biting ride!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Audio and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was so much fun!

I am looking forward to more releases in this world with Pahua and friends!!!

View all my reviews

Review: Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares (Paola Santiago #2) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Paola Santiago and the Forest of NightmaresPaola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Half a year has passed since Paola Santiago took on the legendary spirit, La Llorona. Since that time, a lot has changed in Pao’s life and she wouldn’t say for the better.

She has grown distant from her two best friends, Emma and Dante. Truth be told, she barely speaks to them anymore. Add to this the fact that her Mom has an annoying new boyfriend practically living at their house. Yeah, not great.

Additionally, Pao’s still having nightmares. This time set in a dark, creepy forest where her Dad plays a role as a recurring character. The Dad she really knows nothing about and barely remembers.

When Dante’s abuela collapses right in front of Pao, some things she was saying just prior, prompts Pao to believe the two occurrences, her dreams and Dante’s abuela’s mysterious illness, are connected. Pao also believes that her father may be the key to saving Dante’s abeula.

It’s a race against time as Pao, begrudingly joined by Dante, hits the road to Oregon to try to track down her Dad. Luckily, the two are able to pair up with their old friend, Ninos leader, Naomi, who contributes quite a bit on their journey.

Again the kids must face down incredibly dangerous and frightening supernatural entities on more than one occasion. This book got scary, y’all. I mean it!

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares is an incredible sequel. I felt like with this novel, even though it is packed full of action, I got to know the characters more.

Pao in particular. In the first installment, I felt a bit disconnected from her. There was so much action, it was chaotic and I never felt like I really understood her.

I was so focused on what was going on in the periphery. But with this novel, I feel like learning more about her family, her feelings of loneliness and self doubt, I truly came to care for her.

She is such a soft, sweet, yet strong character, who grew by leaps and bounds over the course of this story.

Mejia does a great job of tying creatures of folklore into a modern, compelling tale. It’s evident from this book that there is a lot more of Pao’s story to tell. I feel like we are just scratching the surface of complications for this spunky girl.

In short, this is a super fun Middle Grade adventure story, perfect for Readers who enjoy a bit of darker, don’t turn out the lights, content in their stories!

I am greatly looking forward to meeting up with Pao again and going on another adventure.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

As always with books found within the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this dazzled me with its high-stakes, page-turning content. Well done by Mejia!!

View all my reviews

Review: Star Wars The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel Jose Older

Star Wars The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint TowerStar Wars The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Race to Crashpoint Tower is another fantastic Junior Star Wars novel set in the era of the High Republic; the golden age of the Jedi.

The recently released HR books all take place around the time of a galaxy-wide event known as the Great Disaster.

This catastrophic event caused a bit of chaos as ships were launched out of hyperspace, moons were destroyed and great amounts of debris were spread about.

To put it in a timeline perspective, these High Republic novels predate all previously released Star Wars Canon materials.

This story is set on the planet of Valo, after the Great Disaster, where a Republic Fair is about to take place.

Jedi Padawan, Ram Jamoram, is working diligently in his garage when a security alarm sounds from the communication center known as Crashpoint Tower.

Ram sets out with his trusty droid, V-18, to investigate. Once there he discovers the tower has purposefully been tampered with; blocking all communications. Nihil sabotage!

Now Ram must warn the Jedi and seek help as the planet comes under siege. With the galaxy teetering between balance and chaos, can order be restored?

Luckily, another young Jedi Padawan arrives from off-planet, Lula, and she joins Ram as they try to repair the comms, so they can notify the Republic they’re under attack. Perhaps Starlight will send reinforcements.

The Nihil raiders have also joined forces with other dark force beings from the wider galaxy, raising the stakes and the difficulty level of Ram and Lula’s mission significantly.

This was such a fun story. I loved seeing the connections between this and the other stories within the new High Republic materials.

There was even character crossover, as one of my favorite characters from A Test of Courage advised on this mission.

As always with the Junior Canon novels, I found this to be easy to follow, fast-paced, funny and an excellent introduction to the belief system of the Jedi and the workings of the galaxy in general.

I am really glad I had a chance to read this one. The audiobook is incredible, as the Star Wars audiobooks always include great narration and fun sound effects.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms Press, for providing me with the audiobook of this to read and review.

It was a ton of fun and I cannot wait for the next releases in the High Republic content!

View all my reviews

Review: A Test of Courage (A Star Wars Junior Novel) by Justina Ireland

A Test of Courage (Star Wars: The High Republic)A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Test of Courage is a super solid Junior Star Wars novel set in the era of the High Republic; the golden age of the Jedi.

The recently released High Republic books all take place concurrently in the year 232-BBY.

As determined by these novels, this is the year of the Great Disaster, a catastrophic event that caused numerous ships galaxy-wide to be suddenly, and violently, launched out of hyperspace.

It also destroyed moons and created a great amount of debris causing further problems for ships and navigators.

To put it in a timeline perspective, these High Republic novels predate all previously released Star Wars materials.

In early 2021, Disney released three of these novels; one Adult, Light of the Jedi, one YA, Into the Dark, and this one, a Junior novel.

This story follows a group of kids who after their transport ship is destroyed, find themselves stranded on a dangerous jungle moon.

Venestra, Avon, Imri and Honesty are completely on their own. Outside of all adult supervision, they need to not just survive, but take on enemies much older and more experienced than themselves.

This novel took me completely by surprised. Ireland went much deeper than I expected.

This group of characters were so interesting and fun to learn about. Venestra is a Jedi prodigy, the youngest Padawan to pass Jedi trials in generations. She stole the show for me and definitely fell easily into a leadership role.

Additionally, I loved Avon! A Senator’s daughter who wants to experiment on kyber crystals. That’s my kind of girl.

A Test of Courage is fast-paced, action-packed, full of deep space adventures and wonderfully nuanced characters.

The Star Wars audiobooks are known to be incredible, with fun sound effects and great narrators. I am happy to report, this one is no exception.

I highly recommend the audiobook for this. It is super engaging and is a great way to take in this content. I was super impressed with the entire production.

I’ve been loving the new High Republic content and recommend them not just for long-time Star Wars fans, but also to those who may be interested in the books and are unsure of where to start.

This is a great jumping off point. I think this story is a wonderful example of the type of deeply compelling material that can be found within the Canon novels.

View all my reviews

Review: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Riley Oh has never felt like she fits in. She loves her adoptive family with her whole heart, but while they are a part of the Gom clan, a powerful line of Korean healing witches, Riley is a saram; one without magic.

When her sister Hattie is about to be initiated into the clan, earning her Gi bracelet and the ability to perform spells without adult supervision, Hattie comes up with a plan to share her magic with Riley.

While that sounds like a great idea, like many great ideas before it, things don’t quite go as planned.

With Hattie’s life hanging in the balance, Riley must now go on a seemingly impossible quest to find the last fallen star. Obviously, it would be helpful if Riley even had the slightest clue what the star is, or how to find it.

Along with her best friend, Emmett, the two work against the clock, challenging everything they believed about their world, in order to try to save Hattie.

I absolutely adored this story. Riley was such a sweet little gumdrop. She was so easy to get behind and support.

I really appreciated the growth Riley made as a character and the way Kim incorporated so many true to life, coming of age issues into this fantastical story.

I thought there was a lot of great content in here for young readers concerning things like the meaning of family, friendship, being true to yourself and who you are meant to be.

This story left off in an incredible spot for a continuation of the series. I am really, really, really looking forward to the next book, set to release in 2022.

I highly recommend this action-packed, Korean-mythology inspired Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure. Yes, it has everything! Such an impressive debut!!!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I will be praising this one to the rooftops for a long time to come!! Available now!!

View all my reviews

Review: Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Night BrothersAmari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, yes, yes!!! Middle Grade Fantasy at its best!!!

I love Amari. I love the world. I love the magic system and humbly request at least ten volumes for this series.

Is that too much to ask? I think if you pick it up, you’d agree.

13-year old, Amari Peters, lives with her Mom in the Rosewood housing project. She had an older brother, Quinton, who was smart, fun and brave. He meant a lot to Amari. He was her best friend.

Quinton has gone missing and Amari doesn’t understand why it isn’t a bigger deal. Why isn’t it on the news? Why do the police act like if something happened to him, it was probably because he was up to no good?

Amari knows better. She doesn’t care what they insinuate about him, Quinton is the best person she knows and she is going to find out what happened to him, whether others believe her, or not.

Upon arriving home after an especially trying day, Amari is surprised by a visitor who gives her a clue that may help; the answer to which lies in a briefcase hidden in her missing brother’s closet.

She can’t believe what she finds. The Bureau of Supernatural Affairs? Is this for real?

Quinton has nominated her for a try-out? The prospect is sort of scary, but Amari knows this may be her best, perhaps only chance, of getting to the bottom of her brother’s disappearance. She’s got to go.

Thus begins Amari’s introduction to the hidden supernatural world around her. She also discovers the power within herself.

Under the guise of attending a ‘leadership camp’, Amari is able to stay at the Vanderbilt Hotel with the other Bureau trainees. There she is fully immersed in learning, training and competing. Did you hear that? Learning, training and competing.

It’s a MAGIC SCHOOL trope! I know, it’s called ‘camp’, but it’s a magic school, only one of the best tropes ever created.

The Reader learns along with Amari the ins-and-outs of the world and magic system. The good guys, the bad guys, the history. It’s all beautifully constructed and paced out.

I was totally engrossed in this while reading it. As first books in a series go, this is top notch. It definitely left me wanting more and I can’t wait to see how Amari grows in future books.

If you are looking for that good old-fashioned, kid discovering they are actually part of a magical world, then learns about it, competes within it, and fights evil forces, kind of book, you NEED to pick this up. There’s not even an option.

You can thank me later.

View all my reviews

Review: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

City of the Plague GodCity of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

City of the Plague God follows 13-year old, Sikander Aziz, as he tries to save New York City from, Nergal, the ancient God of Plagues.

Sikander, known as Sik to his family and friends, spends most of his time outside of school working in his family’s deli. He enjoys his time there, but all of that is threatened when the deli is attacked one night by demons.

They’re searching for something. Obviously, it’s something very important, but Sik has no idea what it could be. He owns nothing that could possibly be of value to a God.

Things spiral very quickly. The deli is destroyed and Sik’s parents become quite ill, victims of a new plague. The disease is spreading and Sik knows that Nergal is behind it. He needs to figure out why and stop him before all of Manhattan succumbs.

Luckily, Sik is not alone. He has a new friend, Belet, who just so happens to the be the adoptive daughter of the Goddess of Love and War, Ishtar.

Together they discover something quite interesting about Sik. He’s immortal and didn’t even know it! More than that, he holds the secret to eternal life.

I absolutely loved this story. As always with the books published under the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint, it is full of humor and heart.

Sarwat Chadda is an incredible writer. The entire story had a fluidity to it that was absolutely enchanting. The way it unfolded was just classic storytelling; so well done.

Having New York City as the setting was fantastic. Also, it was so nice to have a Muslim main character.

While this story is based around ancient Mesopotamian mythology, Chadda also incorporated Sik’s Muslim faith and Iraqi heritage in a way that was educational and organic.

Sik starts out as an underdog in many ways and watching him rise to the occasion, learn and grow, it was just so satisfying.

Overall, this is an absolutely riveting story. One I would recommend to Readers of all ages. If you love mythology, action, humor and New York City, you should absolutely pick this one up!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it so much.

Now I need to go back and read all of Sarwat Chadda’s other books!

View all my reviews