Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Story by James Luceno

Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One StoryCatalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Story by James Luceno
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Catalyst: A Rogue One Story, while admittedly not my favorite, was still a good story. I can appreciate all the fine details it adds to the larger picture.

It’s probably my fault for picking this up directly after, Dark Disciple, which I absolutely loved!!!

This is a prequel novel to the Rogue One film.

Basically it follows Orson Krennic, part of Chancellor Palpatine’s Death Star Project, along with brilliant scientist, Galen Erso and his family.

This had a lot more technical details and political maneuverings than character work and drama, but as I said, it was still good.

I’m glad I read it as it provides a solid backdrop for the events of Rogue One, an immediate prequel to A New Hope; probably only necessary, or interesting, to hardcore fans.

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Review: The Phantom Menace (Star Wars Novelizations, #1) by Terry Brooks

The Phantom Menace (Star Wars: Novelizations, #1)The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

This is a fantastic novelization of one of my go-to flicks, The Phantom Menace. Terry Brooks did a phenomenal job bringing the action and political intrigue to the page!

Admittedly, I am slightly obsessed with the movie The Phantom Menace. Poke fun at me if you must.

I’ve watched the movie a zillion times, so I figured I should probably check out the novelization.

It was only then that I discovered it was adapted into book form by the renowned Fantasy author, Terry Brooks!?

If you’ve seen the movie, there will be no great surprises here, but as with most book/movie combos, you can find a lot more additional information in the book.

I feel like the book allows more space to build out some of my favorite characters in the entire universe, like Anakin and Qui-Gon.

I think if you are a fan of Star Wars, this is definitely worth a read; consider it supplemental to the movie.

I am definitely going to pick up the other novelizations in this prequel trilogy. Attack of the Clones was written by R.A. Salvatore, so I am actually really looking forward to starting that one soon!

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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.

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Review: Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rogue Protocol is the third book within The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

I picked this series up on a whim last year and quickly fell in love with Murderbot and Martha Wells’ humorous writing style. It draws you in right away!

In this installment we rejoin Murderbot on its continued hunt for answers regarding its violent past.

It ends up on another mission, this time heading to a terraforming facility once run by the mysterious and sinister GrayCris Corporation.

More humans are involved; there mucky things up for our beloved Murderbot, yet again. It also needs to befriend, or intelligently influence, another AI. This time a tragically adorable, human-form companion robot named, Miki.

Miki’s entire personality was exploding with cute. I loved their interactions; so pure.

As usual, there was a lot of action, more betrayals and corporate cover-ups. It also ended much too quickly, although this one definitely crushed my heart a little bit there at the end. Not going to lie.

Why did I have to be listening to it before I had even had my first coffee of the day?

Sadness aside, I can’t quit Murderbot! I’m excited to continue on with their story.

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Review: Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Artificial Condition, the second installment of The Murderbot Diaries, we reunite with everyone’s favorite Sec Unit, Murderbot.

Murderbot is curious about its past, having been involved in an incident at a mining facility, which left a lot of humans dead. It has only vague recollections of that time and has a strong need to know more.

Recently setting out on its own, with no ties to any human, it now has the time to seek answers.

Making a new acquaintance, an AI, who it calls ART, the two, when not binging media shows together, set to work preparing Murderbot for the next steps.

It alters itself a bit, in order to pass as a human, and accepts an assignment as a security consultant. Its new clients are a group of computer scientists, who had their work stolen from a previous employer.

They want to negotiate to get it back. This assignment will take Murderbot exactly where it wants to go.

Yet again, it struggles with, dare I say, emotions where its human charges are concerned. It is the most soft-hearted Security Unit in all the galaxy; although it can definitely slay when it needs to.

There’s corruption, there’s evil entities, there’s action, there’s humor and whole lot of heart.

I adored the interactions between Murderbot and ART. Just the sweetest moments.

If I wasn’t so terribly frightened of the possibilities for AI, I would want one myself.

Overall, this was a highly entertaining novella and I cannot wait to carry on with this series.

Martha Wells has an incredible style and I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, fast-paced Science Fiction series!!

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Review: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Obsidio by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am over the moon in love with The Illuminae Files. I certainly consider it to be ground-breaking and if this doesn’t gain Classic status, the world will suffer for it.

I’m sure AIDAN would see to that.

As Obsidio is the third and concluding book in the series, some mild spoilers are ahead. I will not be hiding them.

You have been warned.

After Hanna, Nik, Kady and Ezra, survive the attacks on the Heimdall Station, they find themselves crammed aboard the Mao, with 2,000 other desperate refugees.

The only choice for those aboard the Mao is to return to Kerenza, the site of the initial BeiTech assault. They’re not really sure what they’ll find there, but it has to be better than drifting through deep space, eventually running out of supplies, including oxygen.

On Kerenza, Kady’s cousin, Asha, has survived and joined the underground resistance, fighting against BeiTech’s continued presence on the small mining planet.

When her ex-boyfriend shows up, among the ranks of the enemy, she cannot believe her eyes, but perhaps she can use their prior relationship to their advantage.

The narrative alternates back and forth between the situation on the Mao and that on the ground of Kerenza. There is a lot of drama and a whole lot of action!

I loved how this brought everything together, including the style of the Files themselves. It all becomes clear and frankly, is just brilliant storytelling.

It’s hard not to fall in love with these characters, as you are with them through every step of the battle. I became so connected to each and every one of them.

There were moments when I had to step away. The ending got pretty hairy. I knew Kaufman and Kristoff weren’t looking to spare my feelings, so absolutely anything could happen to any one of our heroes at any time! It was intense, to say the least!

I’m so happy that I finally saw this series through to the end. I even read Gemina twice, which turned out to be my favorite book in the series upon reread.

Of course I am a little sad that it is done, but feel like it is a story I could revisit. For now, Hanna, Nik, Ezra, Kady, Ella and AIDAN, will live on in my heart; strong, funny, fearless and smart, just as they’re meant to be.

I highly recommend this series to everyone in the Universe!!!

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Review: Into the Dark (Star Wars: The High Republic) by Claudia Gray

Into the Dark (Star Wars: The High Republic)Into the Dark by Claudia Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Into the Dark is a 2021-Canon release set within the era of The High Republic; known as the golden age of the Jedi.

The events in the three recent High Republic books all take place concurrently in the year 232 BBY.

As you discover in this novel, this is the year of the Great Disaster, an event that caused numerous ships galaxy-wide to be suddenly launched out of hyperspace.

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

To be clear, the events in this book take place before any previous media you may have watched or read.

We’re talking all new Star Wars goodness! Now with that little bit of timeline info out of the way, let’s get into the review, shall we?

Jedi Padawan, Reath Silas, dreams of days spent pouring through the archives versus deep space adventures. He’s comfortable in Coruscant, known to be the center of the Core System and home to the Jedi Temple.

When his Master, Jora Malli, gets assigned to the new space station, the Starlight Beacon, in the Outer Rim territories, he has to go with. An assignment he’s not happy about.

Malli takes off early, leaving Silas to travel aboard The Vessel, a civilian transport ship, with three other Jedi: Master Cohmac Vitus, Orla Jareni and Dez Rydan.

The only other passengers aboard The Vessel include its Captain, Leox Gyasi, Co-Pilot, Affie Hollow, and Navigator, Geode.

It’s during their journey to Starlight Beacon that the aforementioned Great Disaster occurs, virtually ejecting them from the hyperspace channels and stranding them in deep space.

As you can imagine, that’s not good.

The group discovers an ancient space station, the Amaxine, that seems to be abandoned. Unfortunately for the intrepid crew and passengers of The Vessel, they aren’t the only ones to discover the station and not everyone is friendly.

Making matters worse, the dilapidated Station may not be as abandoned as it appears.

Claudia Gray, surprising no one, did an exceptional job bringing this story to life.

It was an absolute joy to read and learn about this earlier era of Star Wars history. The characters were incredibly well done. I loved their interactions with one another and getting to read from all of their perspectives.

My favorite character was obviously Geode. If you read the book, you will quickly discover why. He was the best and I loved every scene that he was in.

There is a ton, a ton, a ton of action, with some very serious baddies that need to be stopped. A lot of the action focuses on some ancient idols that were discovered on the station, thought to have been left there by the Sith.

I would highly recommend this story to any Star Wars fan, or really even someone who is just looking to get into the books. This is the literal beginning. What better place to start?

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint!

I cannot wait to pick up the rest of The High Republic materials!

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Review: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

The Echo WifeThe Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Oh wow, you really brought this full circle, didn’t you, Sarah Gailey?! You clever, clever, clever human.

I read the majority of The Echo Wife in one sitting today and I had so much fun with it. There are a lot of great themes and ideas to think about with this one.

This is the first novel I have read by Sarah Gailey, but absolutely will not be the last. I have already added three of their other books to my TBR.

This novel follows Evelyn Caldwell, who is an award-winning research scientist in the field of genetics; more specifically, her work deals with genetic cloning.

We hear this entire story through Evelyn’s perspective, which personally, I found quite refreshing actually. It seems like most novels I read are multiple perspective, so it was nice to just sit with one narrator the whole way through.

Evelyn’s husband, Nathan, has betrayed her with another woman who just so happens to be a clone of Evelyn.

Essentially, he has replaced her with a version that will be more compliant with his wants and needs. More docile in their relationship, something Evelyn never was.

When Nathan ends up dead, Evelyn’s clone, Martine, suddenly becomes a very real problem for her. One that could end her career as she knows it.

Evelyn needs to get control of the situation, and Martine, before everything she has worked for is taken from her.

As Evelyn and Martine begin to work together, Evelyn is shocked when she begins having actual feelings for the clone; like she is a real person.

This novel explores so many fascinating, and frankly, frightening topics. Set in the not too distant future, it examines the ethical issues that arise when you are involved in cloning and cloning research.

What makes something human? What are the parameters that should be followed in this type of research? What if something goes wrong, or a clone goes rouge? Who has the authority to decide the clone’s fate?

In addition to the fabulous scientific elements, I really enjoyed getting to know Evelyn Caldwell. I felt she was such a well-developed character.

We learn how Evelyn’s parent’s relationship shaped the woman she would become. Her parents had quite a contentious relationship and Evelyn was the silent observer to it all.

Her Father was brilliant, he taught Evelyn so much and set her on the career path she ends up on, but he also was a raging tyrant.

Her Mother taught her another set of skills entirely. While she viewed her Mother as mild and cowardly, her experiences with Nathan and Martine caused her to re-evaluate those beliefs.

While this is just a subplot to the greater story, it contributed quite a bit to my enjoyment. I felt it added a lot of depth to Evelyn’s character and allowed me to better understand her choices and motivations.

I really connected with Evelyn. I’m sure many will find her cold, but I think she is more determined and driven than uncaring. Choices she made, if made by a man, would probably be viewed differently by a lot of people.

Overall, this is an extremely intelligent and well-constructed story. My one very small negative, was that I was pitched Thriller and was expecting that. To me, this really isn’t much of a Thriller even though it is quite compelling.

I do highly recommend this. I think it would make an incredible Book Club selection, or Buddy Read, as there are a ton of deep issues to discuss.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I cannot wait to pick up more titles from this author!

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Review: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; Illustrations by Marie Lu

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE BEST MOST WONDERFUL REREAD!!!
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I originally read Gemina, the second installment of The Illuminae Files, in December of 2019. I listened to the audiobook and I had a hard time connecting with it. I really felt like I didn’t retain any of the story.

I decided to pick it back up and give it another shot, as for me, I genuinely believed it was a choice of formatting issue and not a story issue.

Oh, how right I was. I loved my time reading my hard copy and was surprised to learn there was artwork by Marie Lu incorporated into the story, one of my favorite YA authors!

This time through I was connected right away. I could not put it down and ended up finishing it very quickly.

Gemina takes place on the Jump Station Heimdall and follows two new characters, Hanna, the station captain’s daughter, known to be a spoiled princess, and Nik, the resident bad boy with a heart of gold.

After the Kerenza invasion, you may recall from Illuminae, that Kady Grant was heading to the Heimdall Station; unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

When a BeiTech strike team boards the Heimdall, it is up to Hanna and Nik to work together to try to salvage all they can and hopefully expose BeiTech and their misdeeds along the way.

This gets seriously intense. As with Illuminae the unconventional structure makes this a unique reading experience. One that is memorable and a ton of fun!

I am hoping to continue on with Obsidio very, very soon and add this to my completed series list!

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. I am so happy that I went ahead and reread this as opposed to skipping straight to Obsidio. Hanna and Nik are now two of my favorite characters ever and I would have missed that had I not reread this.

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Review: We Hear Voices by Evie Green

We Hear VoicesWe Hear Voices by Evie Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

During a mysterious flu pandemic, Rachel’s son, Billy, lies close to death. Rachel is so distraught. He is just a little boy, how could this happen?

Defying all odds, Billy fights through and survives, but he brings a friend back with him from the brink. An imaginary friend who he calls, Delfy.

Rachel knows that many children develop imaginary friends to help them cope through difficult times, so she’s not too concerned about it.

From what Billy is telling her, Delfy is encouraging him to get stronger and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

But when Billy’s behavior takes a frightening turn, Rachel knows Delfy is to blame.

Billy’s older sister, Nina, also thinks Delfy’s influence is harmful, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Her theory is that the flu is the root of the issue and she believes other children may be experiencing the same phenomenon.

There’s a lot going on in this novel; some of the subplots being more interesting that others. One of my favorite aspects was reading about the pandemic, obviously made more eerie due to everything happening in our world.

This novel follows multiple perspectives as it builds out the dreary post-apocalyptic atmosphere. We follow Rachel, a struggling mother, Billy’s sister, Nina, who is part of a space program for teens, and a doctor, whose name I can’t recall, who treats children hearing voices post-flu.

While many of the aspects of this were interesting to me, once they were mushed together, it became a bit much. It was like the plot suffered a little because there was almost too much going on.

The pacing was off because of this as well, with me much preferring particular perspectives to others. Frankly, I could have done with just Rachel and Nina’s points of view.

Even though this is pitched as Horror, I would categorize it more as a Sci-Fi Thriller.

In spite of the tiny criticisms mentioned above, I still found this be to an engaging story and Green’s writing style to be quite pleasing. I would definitely pick up future work from this author.

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

On the heels of 2020, now is the perfect time to pick this one up! You’ll know what I mean once you read it.

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