Category Archives: review

Video: James reviews Moving Target and Salt Lake Comic Con

Moving Target - Salt Lake Comic Con

Yowie the Skunk, Baby Jawa, and Jawajames are back with another Unboxing Star Wars video! This time, we check out a BB-8 shirt, dive into the Journey to the Force Awakens book, Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, and also talk about what was cool in the world of Star Wars at Salt Lake Comic Con!

For more on how Cecil Castellucci developed the character of Leia in Moving Target, check back to her Force Friday author appearance.

Reviews of the Original Trilogy retellings: thumbs up!

So You Want to Be a JediOver at, I’ve got reviews of this week’s new books for younger readers from Disney Lucasfilm Press. All three are great reads, taking the original trilogy films and telling them from new perspectives.

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken is told in three parts, each from a different point of view as the three heroes recognize the simple labels they’ve got, and grow past them. Lots of great Leia stuff in the first third (including extra scenes), and Wedge makes a good appearance in the Luke section at the end.

The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz put the reader square into the action by putting them in the role of Luke Skywalker. Great getting into Luke’s thoughts and emotions, plus lots of Jedi lessons at the end of each chapter to help readers become more mindful.

Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger amps up the fun and excitement of Episode VI. More explosions, more sound effects, more Ewoks, and more funny footnotes! Plus witness the tragedies of Moff Jerjerrod and Romba!

Review: Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath (finally!) breathes some life into the canon Star Wars novels

Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is the first canon Star Wars novel to take place after Return of the Jedi since the old EU was declared Legends more than a year ago. I’ve only formally reviewed the lackluster Heir to the Jedi since then, but it’s no secret that the canon novels so far haven’t been to my tastes. My focus has never really been on books set during the film eras, and before Aftermath all the offerings were just that.

But I am pleased (and, yes, a little surprised) to report that I found Aftermath to be rather good. You’ll hear a lot about Wendig’s unusual style of prose – and I had some hesitation there as well – but I found that once I got into the rhythm of the book it was no trouble at all. In fact, this is the first canon novel I didn’t have to force myself through at all – it read speedily and offers a satisfying story with interesting characters.

But they are, for the most part, new characters. Wedge Antilles plays an important part, but you can’t call him a lead by any means. Rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her son Temmin, former Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus, bounty hunter Jax Emari and Imperial Admiral Rae Sloane (who originated in A New Dawn) carry most of the plot’s weight.

Only minor spoilers, if that, beyond the cut.

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Video: Force Friday Countdown: Force Thursday

Baby Jawa, Yowie and Jawajames complete their series of countdown to Force Friday videos with this entry for Force Thursday. They get into some Star Wars Mac n Cheese, check out Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Friends, and preview Tom Angleberger’s retelling of Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side.

Video: Force Friday Countdown: Force Wednesday!

Jawajames, Yowie the Skunk and Baby Jawa are back at it again! They take unboxing Star Wars stuff very seriously in today’s video for Force Friday Countdown: Wednesday. This time, they review Star Wars fruit snacks; DK’s Ultimate Star Wars by Tricia Barr, Adam Bray, Dan Wallace, and Ryder Windham; and Adam Gidwitz’ retelling of The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?. Need more info on Ultimate Star Wars? James has a Q&A with Tricia and Adam and a follow-up interview with Adam from this past May.

And if you missed it, check out their first video from Tuesday.

Video: Countdown to Force Friday

Jawajames is back with a new Star Wars unboxing video. Undeterred that he wasn’t selected to be one of the official unboxing hosts for Force Friday, he’s rounded up some recent and upcoming Star Wars products to review with his co-hosts, Yowie the Skunk and Baby Jawa. Reviews include Star Wars cereal, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, and the upcoming retelling of A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken.

Review: Heir to the Jedi is a whole lot of nothing

hearne-luke-heirKevin Hearne’s Heir to the Jedi brings a lot of firsts, as far as Star Wars novels go. It’s the first of the new canon novels to feature one of the big three characters; the first Star Wars first-person novel* to feature an actual movie character, and the first canon novel to be set after A New Hope. It’s also the first of the new novels I actually had any interest in reading.

Now, I don’t expect a Star Wars novel to rock the very galaxy, particularly when set in a movie-limited era like this one is. I wasn’t expecting a game-changing book by any means. And generally, I don’t mind a quieter story, as long as it’s an engaging one that keeps me wanting to read.

Unfortunately, Heir to the Jedi delivers an unremarkable tale that fails to make much of an impression. From the first-person conceit to the title that seems deliberately reminiscent of Heir to the Empire, it seemed to me like the book was writing several checks that it completely failed to cash.

There is a major spoiler under the cut, but it’s black-barred so you can avoid it. Continue reading

Video: Imperial Handbook unboxed and reviewed

Yowie and I got our hands on a copy of Imperial Handbook: A Commander’s Guide and we share the awesomeness of opening up the deluxe version, with its electronic protective case and accessories. The look and feel of this book is top-notch, with annotations by the various Rebels written in the margins, and some luxurious artwork. The Imperial Handbook, like its predecessors, The Jedi Path, Book of Sith, and The Bounty Hunter Code, is full of great detail on the organization of the Empire’s military. With sections about the army, navy, and stormtrooper corps as well as chapters on Imperial doctrine, there’s plenty of stuff for a fan of the Empire to learn, and some good comments from various Rebels about the Empire (including some snark from Han Solo). Fans of the Empire should enjoy this one, even if it is considered Legends.

Imperial Handbook is written with great detail and some awesome illustrations and schematics. There’s some propaganda style artwork as well as detailed drawings of Imperial war machines. If you’ve ever wondered what the rank badges are in the Imperial Navy, about the different training academies for stormtroopers, what General Madine recalled from his days as an Imperial, or how the Emperor inspired his command staff, this book is for you!

Grade: B+

An advance copy of this book was provided by Becker & Mayer! for review.

Book review: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is a fun primer on the franchise

hswctuChris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, out today, is one of those rare nonfiction books not fully authorized by Lucasfilm. An independent biography of the franchise, it covers from George Lucas’ own upbringing and influences to just post-Disney. Curious? Read the first chapter at Mashable (as well as one on the 501st) right now.

It’s also a pretty great read. I got my copy Saturday, finished it yesterday afternoon, and it flew. Taylor talks to fans and pros alike, highlighting both sides of the (increasingly more narrow) divide. Most of the attention thus far is on the moviemaking portion, where the book’s biggest sound bites come from.

Full disclosure: I was interviewed for and appear in the book, and received a review copy from Basic Books.

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Review: A New Dawn pumps up excitement for Rebels

star-wars-a-new-dawnOn sale today, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is the first novel that is part of the Lucasfilm Story Group approved timeline. Set in the dark times between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and several years before the upcoming Rebels cartoon, it’s a tale of how two of the show’s main characters, Hera and Kanan, first encounter each other and eventually decide to team up. As someone excited by Rebels, I enjoyed the novel and found it interesting to see the characters before they united for a common cause.

Miller brings his skills in combining likable characters with clashing viewpoints, in a story setting that he has mastered before in Kenobi and Knight Errant: a Jedi alone in hostile territory. Only this time, the Jedi’s not interested in being a Jedi, or even be on the hero’s path at all – while someone else is sorting out what type of people are and aren’t needed for a rebellion to the Empire’s rule. And as with Knight Errant and Lost Tribe of the Sith series, where various Sith philosophies were being forged and tested against each other, the villain, Count Vidian, has his own philosophy being pushed to the extreme, and we witness it in practice.

Minor spoilers beyond this point.

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