Category Archives: review

Video: Unboxing Star Wars: Little Golden Books & Concept Art Show at Gnomon

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Happy 39th birthday, Star Wars! To celebrate, we’ve got a new episode of Unboxing Star Wars! Yowie the skunk, Baby Jawa, and I review some of the latest crop of Star Wars Little Golden Books: I Am a Droid, I Am a Pilot, and I Am a Jedi, as well as I give my recap on the James Clyne and Iain McCaig presentation and The Force Awakens concept art exhibition at Gnomon in Hollywood. For more info on the presentations by Art Director James Clyne and Concept Artist Iain McCaig, check out my article on starwars.com: Designing The Force Awakens. Also, check out photos from the concept art exhibition and the artists’ presentation. Plus random fun with Ponda Baba, and then some Baby Jawa fun time!

Quick reviews
I Am a Droid – Thumbs up! Written by Christopher Nicholas and illustrated by Chris Kennett, this Little Golden Book focuses on different aspects and roles of droids in Star Wars. My favorite of the bunch, though possibly could have done without a page showing a droid being tortured.
I Am a Jedi – Just OK. This Little Golden Book by Christopher Nicholas and illustrated by Ron Cohee talks about the basics of what a Jedi is and what a Jedi can do, and a little about the Force and the Sith. Nothing from The Force Awakens, but it does reveal the identity of Darth Vader, just in case you want to save that revelation for later in your child’s life.
I Am a Pilot – Just OK. By Christopher Nicholas and illustrated by Alan Batson, this Little Golden Book showcases a bunch of different pilot characteristics in Star Wars and some of the more famous pilots. Sadly, none of the pilots in the book are women.
Episode VII: The Art of James Clyne & Iain McCaig at Gnomon Gallery, Hollywood – Go see it if you’re in the area! There’s almost fifty pieces on display, pretty evenly split between Clyne and McCaig. I *think* all of the displayed artwork can be found in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but here’s a chance to see it in a larger format. The exhibition runs until July 20, 2016.

Get more info on Wear Star Wars Every Day or make a donation at GoFundMe or sign up to make a per-day pledge.

Note: No Aqualish were harmed in the filming of this program.

Video: Unboxing Star Wars: Bloodline, C-3PO comic & Jello!

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Happy Star Wars Day! We’ve got a special episode of Unboxing Star Wars for May the 4th! First, Baby Jawa, Yowie and I check out the fun at “The Dome Awakens”, the Star Wars Day celebration at the downtown San Diego Public Library held on May 1, 2016. Then it’s time to review the recent C-3PO one shot comic by James Robinson and Tony Harris, and get excited for the new Star Wars novel, Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. We finish up with the results of our first try at making Star Wars Jell-o Jigglers, and then some Baby Jawa fun time!

Quick reviews
C-3PO #1 – A fun (and long-awaited) tale that does indeed explain the origins of Threepio’s red arm. Read this comic then watch the LEGO Star Wars short “The Resistance Rises: Poe to the Rescue” for an interesting crossover of canon and LEGO Star Wars.
Bloodline – Strongly recommend! I had high expectations for this novel because of Gray’s first Star Wars novel, Lost Stars, and she surpassed them. I really enjoyed this tale – it’s a top-notch story with some great characters, and Gray nails Leia’s character.
Star Wars JELL-O Jigglers Mold Set – Comes with two 6-character mold trays and 4 boxes of Jello! All the characters look great, except Yoda, who is in some sort of action pose which doesn’t quite work right. Be sure to use the special mold instructions on the big box instead of the regular Jiggler instructions on the inside boxes of gelatin.

Get more info on Wear Star Wars Every Day or make a donation at GoFundMe or sign up to make a per-day pledge.

Note: Del Rey provided a copy of Star Wars: Bloodline for review.

Review: Claudia Gray’s Bloodline is required reading for Star Wars fans, but you won’t mind

BloodlineIt’s rather refreshing to finally be getting some of the gaps filled in.

Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline, out today, isn’t the first to give us a look at the galaxy beyond Return of the Jedi in the new canon. (It isn’t even Gray’s first, technically.) But it the closest to The Force Awakens so far, set less than a decade before the film. It’s also the first to feature a major character in anything beyond a glorified cameo. This is, by far, the canon novel with the most mass appeal to Expanded Universe fans new and old.

And yes, it’s good. I admit, I am worried that those of us who got and talked (vaguely) about the book early may be overselling the novel. After all, that’s what happened to me with Gray’s previous Star Wars book, Lost Stars. There was no early copy for me there, and it was the last of the Journey to The Force Awakens books I read. And it was fine! But I suspect the unrelenting hype damaged it a bit for me. (I may also be extremely a tiny bit burnt out on YA-style romance.)

Bloodline, on the other hand, was a blistering fast read for me. The minute I got it, I couldn’t put it down. As anyone who was following me on Twitter may have noticed, I read it in three hours. I honestly can’t recall the last time I read a Star Wars novel at that speed. It might have been back in the ’90s?

Some minor spoilers beyond the cut.

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Review: The Force Awakens is everything I hoped it would be

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Let’s just cut to the chase: The Force Awakens is a pretty good Star Wars movie.

Some are saying great, but I’m not sure if a single viewing is enough. (And I don’t do rankings, because that’s tedious.) But the important thing, for our purposes, is that I enjoyed it.

Granted, I’m an easy mark for this one. I’ve been a Star Wars fan for both the special editions and the prequels – I waited in those lines. (Briefly.) But I never approached any of them with anything beyond idle curiosity. They were not a cornerstone of my personal fandom. The Force Awakens is the first brand-new Star Wars film that’s actually important to me. The first film where I was actually a little scared to watch, because what if I don’t like it?

In the theater, none of that mattered.

UPDATE: Please do not leave spoilers in the comments of the review. We have a special discussion post for that sort of thing!

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Video: James unboxes the past week in Star Wars

origami plus TFA poster

I’ve got a new Unboxing Star Wars video up, with Yowie and I looking back at this past week in the world of Star Wars, with Star Wars Reads Day, the start of the new season of Rebels, some more Journey to the Force Awakens books, and of course we talk about the new poster for The Force Awakens.

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 BigShinyRobot.com, 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.