Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Leia, Princess of Alderaan

Leia, Princess of Alderaan (Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi)Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being a longtime Star Wars fangirl, for years, I've wanted more information on the young Princess Leia. Finally, we now have that book. And, wow, does it ever deliver the feels! By the end I was nearly overcome by bittersweet tears.

As the book opens, we follow Leia as she faces her Day of Demand, the biggest ceremony and day of her life thus far. In front of her adoptive parents, Bail and Queen Breha, and the people of Alderaan she declares the tasks she will complete for her challenges of mind, heart, and body. Tasks to prove her worth as future Queen.

Course our adventurous heroine doesn't stay on Alderaan the entire time. She journeys to many planets, both old and new to Star Wars fans. She makes new friends along the way. Falling significantly in love for the first time. As well as, making enemies who will eventually destroy her homeworld. Leia grows and accepts the challenges in front of her before the reader's very eyes. Personally, I felt like I was on a trip with a childhood friend.

In short, everything a Princess Leia fan could dream of!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dragon*Con and Decatur Book Festival

Well, this year I got lucky (cue Daft Punk song) and had the opportunity to return to Dragon*Con and the Decatur Book Festival.

Although it's known for drawing big name movie and tv actors, Dragon*Con actually hosts a lot of great author panels as well. Browsing their tracks, you could spend the whole weekend partaking in topics related to fantasy literature, sci-fi literature, writer's track, or young adult literature.

For my first Writer's Track adventure, I saw Magical Maven of Fantasy/SF which included: Laurell K. Hamilton, Nancy Knight, Mercedes Lackey, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Jane Yolen, all speaking about the highs and lows, sad and humorous moments of their iconic careers. They were as fabulous as expected! Like listening to the godmother's of the writing craft.

Later that evening, I attended the Masculinity in Star Wars panel, a discussion of how our values have shaped how we view masculinity in our heroes. Speakers included: Matthew Rushing (Moderator), Kevin J. Anderson, Myke Cole, Claudia Gray, E.K. Johnston, Michael Stackpole, and Timothy Zahn. Of course, I was in awe of the SW authors who wrote the novels of my SW tween days, as well as, the now new SW canon. It was very interesting to hear the different prospectives of masculinity, especially relating to fatherhood, from each author. There was also a Feminism in Star Wars panel, but I was unable to attend that one. Maybe in the future, it'll return.

Immediately afterwards I returned for the Phasma & Leia Book Launch event. I have so much fangirl feels for the work of Delilah S. Dawson and Claudia Gray! Both have added and created shining examples of strong female characters for Star Wars readers everywhere. Although I was absolutely thrilled to be in the panel and hear them speak, anticipating the event for weeks, I unfortunately had to leave before the autograph session was over. After popping extra strength Tylenol, I still felt feverish with an extremely sore throat. Ultimately, it was best for me to go home and sleep, take more medicine, and spare everyone from contact.

 (AJC crossword)

After rest and Mucinex, I felt well enough to attend the Decatur Book Festival on Sunday. I was very, very interested in the Creating Jane Austen and Austen's Creations and Love Long Ago: Historical Romance but wasn't able to make it Saturday.

Although I'm not a GA football fan, I have read A Civil War Courtship: The Letters of Edwin Weller from Antietam to Atlanta (Yankee solider's letters to his crush back in New York), so I knew I'd probably enjoy Civil War Love Letters featuring Stephen Berry, Samuel Thomas, and Vince Dooley (football coach). Stephen Berry provided some very eloquent examples of how couples wrote to each other way back in the way back.

Afterwards, as a huge cat person, I was curious about Adventure Cats featuring Laura J. Moss (—the first and only online resource for information on safely exploring the great outdoors with your feline friend), Catlanta (aka artist Rory Hawkins) & Taylor Bennington (manager at Java Cats Cafe). Each had very unique and fun ideas about cats. If you love the furry lil babies as much as I do, I recommend visiting their individual sites.

After some t-shirt and book shopping, we popped in to the Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America featuring Michael Ruhlman tent. A subject that, as a former farmgirl, is dear to my heart, is constantly in the news, and everyone can relate. Having personally lost over 100 pounds, I went on a journey of being more mindful about what I eat, where it comes from, and what it consists of. During the Q&A, one festival goer made a very good point: home ec and nutrition classes should really return to school programs. My high school health class was mostly about psychology. While that subject was helpful, I would have also benefitted from more nutrition lessons. Mind and body.

Next we had intended to see Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America with Jack Barsky, however, the panel was full by the time we got there. First time we ever experienced that situation at the DBF. I really hope next year the festival does a better job anticipating the crowd. I dunno if it was the nice weather or logistics. Maybe have an online poll asking which event people are most excited about and place those panels in a bigger space? We might have missed Civil War Love Letters, too, if it hadn't been moved from the Decatur First Baptist Carreker Hall to the chapel. We live about an hour away from Decatur and can't afford to give up our time and gas if it becomes a big issue at future DB festivals.

However, luckily, I always have a backup plan, I make my personal DBF schedule out with alternatives we'll enjoy. So, we made the long trek to see To Boldly Go with author Jonathan Maberry. Although I read a lot of YA, this year, with neuroma scar tissue from foot surgery, I was originally put off attending events way off in the Decatur gym. But, after we made it, Maberry's talk as a scif/horror author was inspiring and insightful. I have swiftly added his new novel, Mars One, Mars Oneto my TBR pile.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Books We Struggled With

Ten Books We Struggled With

Dark Tower - I've enjoyed other work by Stephen King and I greatly respect his career, however, try as I might, this book just wasn't for me. I tried reading it and listening to the audio book, just couldn't do it.

The Book Thief - Well written, creative, and covers an important historical topic... just too dark for me. Each time I read it, I felt very depressed and had to set it aside.

Breakfast At Tiffany's - The movie is a wonderful classic, but the book had a lot of racial and gender slurs. I tried to remember the timeframe it was published...but still shocking and disrespectful.

Wicked - I love the old school fantasy glam of 'The Wizard of Oz' movie. The original book is a cute, classic read. I normally like parodies, but I just couldn't get into this, even though I have family members who loved it. I'll just watch the play someday instead.

Artemis Fowl - Ditto, I know people who very, very much enjoyed the entire series.

Gregor the Overlander - I was super excited to read more work by Suzanne Collins, author of my beloved Hunger Games, but it didn't capture my imagination quite the same.


Gravity's Rainbow - This came highly recommended by his alumni association, but it's a tome that takes some work getting through.

She's Come Undone - Required reading in one of Oshie's college classes. Not typical subjects every teen guy can relate with.

War & Peace - If I had a dime for every time he complains about Nikolai's character...

The Great Gatsby - Oshie and I disagree on this one...goes to show that one reader's struggle is another reader's thought provoking entertainment.

Moby Dick - Argh, great theme, but slow pace. Is it any wonder our English teachers played the audiobook during class?

Ulysses - Stream of consciousness...not always easy to follow.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In My Mailbox: July/August 2017

In My Mailbox: July/August 2017

Are the dog days over yet?? After moving, I don't feel like I have much to complain about. Here, it's been a fairly mild summer. Between gardening and writing I've been assembling bookcases. And, you know, reading and collecting!

New-ish Releases

I love Kasie West's work, it's so sweet!

So far, one of the funniest romance novels I've read all year.

Very cool scifi/fantasy graphic novel.



I feel like it's been two years since I began this series...I remembered it being very comical, so I decided to go ahead and get the whole series used via eBay. One to cross off my manga bucketlist.


Doing a spot of research pre-NaNoWriMo ;)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Fav Authors from my School Days

Meg Cabot - A staple of my high school days. I eagerly awaited each of her new releases, rushing to the bookstore (Borders...alas, poor Borders). She was my first author signing, way before book blogging existed.

Stephen King - His work came highly recommended by friends. I remember toting "Carrie" and "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" in my backpack.

Shakespeare - I tried to read some of his work in middle school, but some of it was over my head. When it was required reading in high school and I finally got it, I grew to love it completely.

Louisa May Alcott- I connected with Jo's character almost instantly. Her fiery temperament and imagination greatly inspired me.

Bill Watterson -  Now that I think about it, I believe his work was my gateway into reading graphic novels. His work brought a lot of joy to my life after my father's passing.

Anne Rice - Back in the day, I couldn't get enough of her beautiful but dark descriptions and characters.

Richard Adams - Reading "Watership Down" in my school's library was a wonderful escape. Every time I see a rabbit, I recall memories of his novel.

Harper Lee- Classic southern writer who captured small town Southern life perfectly.

Peter S. Beagle- Loving the movie, discovering the novel of "The Last Unicorn" was even better. Extended scenes, events left out of the movie, character feelings, every fan girl's dream.

Erich Seagle - I honestly read "Love Story" one of the only romance novels my mom owned over and over each summer, sitting in the yard, trying to get a tan. Ah, memories.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ten book recommendations for Star Wars fangirls

Ten book recommendations for Star Wars fangirls

I don't know about you, but I am obsessed with Star Wars, especially TFA, these days. Here's some books to tide us over until The Last Jedi!

Queen Emeraldas - Super wow. Mysterious space pirate chick tough as Captain Phasma but gentle as Padme? I was hooked. The illustrations of this graphic novel are beautiful.

Shatter Me Trilogy - An abandoned young girl with special powers, a new military order complete with a Supreme Leader, and soldiers who love her? Remind you of anything? So good, so thrilling. I couldn't read fast enough.

Shattered Warrior - (no relation to the series above)'! After her planet's invaded, Colleen works in the alien factory as a means of survival. With the aid of a rival warrior, her and friends start a makeshift resistance. Brief, but revealing, love scenes.

The Giver - If you're into a spiritual master teaching a young person lessons, i.e. Obi-wan/Yoda and Luke, this book was a page-turner for me. The novel is much better than the movie (although the movie wasn't bad, just different), IMO.

Ender's Game - If you're a fan of X-Wings vs. TIE Fighters, this book is all about YA military training and action against an alien race. A scifi classic that doesn't disappoint.

Dune - Hands down, the influence of Dune is clear in Star Wars. Sand. Prophecies. Powers. Strong female characters. A must read. The sleeper must awaken!

Lord of the Rings - Truly paved the way for other "golden fleece" stories like Star Wars. In my mind, droids are a little like hobbits. Now if only Strider had a lightsaber...

The Last DragonWhen Tansy's father goes missing, her town will need a hero and a leader to save them. A young woman destined to follow in her healer father's footsteps.

The Splintered series - A girl goes down the rabbit hole, literally, when she learns she's heir to a mysterious power and magical world. Adventure and romance generations in the making.

The Hunger Games series - Yeah, by now, you've probably already read this one. But with a girl trying to survive against a powerful dictator, its fun to imagine what if this was Rey vs. Snoke.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas FrontierThe Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier by Scott Zesch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book, at its heart, is about the author's step relative who was abducted as a child. From family legends, the author knew that his relative, once returned to his family, had a difficult readjustment to the 'white' society he was born. He never lost the lessons and ways of his one-time native family. Through his research, author Zesch found many examples of other children who felt the same way. They never blamed or hated their adopted families.

Zesch does his best to show both sides of the story. Although, at times, segments were difficult to read. Contains graphic violence against women and infants. One capture and escape in particular seemed like a tall-tale: pregnant woman scalped, shot by arrows, walks miles in the snow at night to her neighbors who tell her BTW not to bled over everything as the flee without her, and she survives (and has the baby if I remember correctly). I smell an old-timey newspaperman who wanted to sell papers over heresay and terror.

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