Tag Archives: book reviews

Review: National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds Star WarsIt’s that most wonderful time of the year when all the Star Wars gift books come out. So which ones are worth putting on your gift list for the year?

National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga has a fairly self-explanatory title. This book, targeted at the teenage reading level, gives you cute little stories about the adorable Angry Birds Star Wars characters, but also delves into the science associated with it. Astronomy. Physics. Science history. There’s a little bit for everyone in there. And since it’s National Geographic, you know they’ll have it right.

This is probably a fun book even if you haven’t gotten yourself aggravated by Angry Birds Star Wars, yet. (Why am I so bad at that game?) Many of the facts concern the science behind Star Wars, as well. And the graphics are bright and colorful.

Both the hardcover and paperback versions are reasonably priced. So if you’re trying to find something on the lower end for folks to get you, this would be a good one to add to your wish list.

Review: The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Making of the Return of the JediIt’s that most wonderful time of the year: When all the Star Wars gift books come out. So which ones are worth putting on your gift list for the year?

If you have enjoyed J.W. Rinzler’s previous explorations into A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, then you are going to flip over his look at The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It’s just as full of interesting stories and pictures and documents as the previous ones.

Rinzler has had unprecedented access to the archives and to the key players involved with the movies. George Lucas has done several reviews of his material to make sure things are captured correctly. He was also able to find lost interviews and pictures that complete the story for those who are no longer with us.

So yes. This is definitely one to put high on your wish list. However, if you are not an OCD completist nut like myself, you might choose to go the Enhanced Edition route and read it on your Kindle, instead. The book is heavy. The print is small for my old eyes. (Old Fart Fan, here.) And while it’s delightful to spend a few hours doing nothing but flipping pages and looking at the glorious pictures and layout, reading it on a Kindle-compatible device is much easier on both the eyes and back. Plus, the Enhanced Edition also had some pretty amazing video and audio that hasn’t been seen before. SO cool.

Go forth. Add it to the list.

Santa Maul would approve if you decided to put both the book and the enhanced versions on it. It’s only right.

Review: Wells’ Razor’s Edge is old-fashioned Star Wars

Empire and RebellionRazor’s Edge is the first book of the Empire and Rebellion series but it is, as promised, very much a standalone story.

I found the book to be a bit of a throwback – in a good way. Like Kenobi, it’s a straightforward, streamlined Star Wars story, though this one wouldn’t have been out of place back in the Bantam era… If you look back at it with a warm fuzzy glow that erases most of the silly parts.

Minor spoilers beyond this point.

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Review roundup: Everyone likes (at least!) Kenobi

john-jackson-miller-kenobi-sdccStar Wars: Kenobi came out in hardcover this past Tuesday, and you’ve already seen Dunc’s review on John Jackson Miller’s novel set under the Tusken suns. Hint: she gave it an B+. And we know know critical she can be.

But what are other folks saying about the Western-style tale on Tatooine? Here’s a big stack of reviews (both spoiler-free and other wise) with your name on them! Most everyone seems to give strong approval to Kenobi!

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Review: Miller’s Kenobi is a fun Star Wars read

Kenobi by JJMKenobi is John Jackson Miller’s second Star Wars novel and his first featuring a movie character, and quite possibly the best one of the year thus far.

This is a Star Wars novel fitting firmly in the current trend of books that require one to know very little beyond the films themselves. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of novel whose lack we’ve been mourning for quite some time: An character-centric adventure that doesn’t have galaxy-shaking consequences and is none the less exciting or interesting for it.

Minor spoilers beyond this point.

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Review: Denning’s Crucible is just more of the same

Crucible I’m so glad there’s going to be a sequel trilogy, because I can only imagine how much more disappointed I’d be in Crucible if that wasn’t a factor.

It’s not that I was expected a masterpiece, mind you. I freely admit that Denning’s books have never been favorites of mine. But I was hoping for something a little bit different this time. Something at least a little fresher than what we’ve been getting in the ‘modern’ era of the Expanded Universe. Something that lets the Big 3 go off into retirement with one last fun adventure.

Crucible is not that book. It’s just more of same uninspired EU we’ve been getting far too much of in this era – very much a followup to Fate of the Jedi – trying too hard to be profound and failing.

(Yes, there are spoilers beyond this point.)

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Review: Tim Lebbon’s Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

Dawn of the Jedi: Into the VoidDawn of the Jedi: Into the Void is not really my kind of Star Wars book. It’s very much not my era and while I’ve bought some of the Dawn of the Jedi comics, I haven’t actually read any of them yet. But you know? I tried it, and despite my long tendency to not get more than a chapter or two into most Star Wars books set before Return of the Jedi, I kept reading. And I actually enjoyed it.

The Dawn of the Jedi period – introduced in a a comic from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema – is set about 36,000 years before A New Hope, in the earliest days of the Jedi (here called Je’daii) before the Old Republic. Into the Void is actually my first encounter with it, and while some questions are certainly raised, I think it’s safe to say that one doesn’t to know anything about the comics to enjoy the book.

Some spoilers beneath the cut, but nothing major.

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The skimmed book review: The Complete Vader

Clearly, I need to take a speed reading course. I don’t know how anyone can quickly get through the coffee table books that seem to come out each year for your holiday pleasure. There’s always so much text involved. So why not just do a review on first impressions? For instance, the awesomeness that is The Complete Vader by Ryder Windham and Peter Vilmur.

This book basically takes you through the story and pop culture development of Darth Vader over the years; from his development to The Clone Wars television show.

In between? Awesome things inserted into the book. And I do love me the special books where they have things stuck in them. For instance, towards the beginning is a folder that allows you to take out a copy of the piece-by-piece instructions for putting on the Vader costume that was used for public appearances. (Sorry. Did I just crush some childhood dreams there?) And there’s also an early costume sketch that is all aged and faded looking, as if it was smuggled out of the Archives. And then there’s a look at the early toys associated with Vader.

And this is basically how the book unfolds. You hear about story developments in the years being addressed. Expanded Universe products. And the toys and pop culture  happenings.

My only complaint about the book would be its construction. The pages and inserts are so heavy that it exposes the binding; giving it a flimsy air. Although I don’t believe it’s actually flimsy precisely because it’s stitched in, instead of glued. However, this might turn off well-meaning relatives trying to get you that awesome holiday gift.

So is it worth getting and/or putting on your “Star Wars things I haven’t actually purchased” list for the holidays? Absolutely; especially for fans of the pop culture aspects of Vader. It’ll be a fun stroll down memory lane.

Book reviews: Speak Wookiee, Darth Paper and standalone The Jedi Path

Every year, the publishers try to come out with fun books that the long-suffering relative of a Star Wars fan can grab as a nifty gift. Since the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year, it’s no surprise that you can start getting a few of them right now.

How to Speak Wookiee is a really cute board book with sound board. You get a Wookiee-shaped sound board with ten phrases that you can use to get on everyone’s nerves by playing them over and over. The illustrations by JAke are adorably cute with lots of funny details. And the write-ups by Wu Kee Smith made me laugh out loud. Knowing bookstores, they’re probably lurking in the childrens’ section, but it’s worth the hunt.

Darth Paper Strikes Back is the follow-up to the surprise hit The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. The adventures of our intrepid middle school students (from Ralph McQuarrie Middle School) continue with a case study of Dwight’s suspension from school, as told by various witnesses. Adults should not blow off this book because it’s set in middle school. It’s very cleverly written. Always funny. And it will have you hurtling back to your own middle school days in no time. (Okay. Maybe that’s not really selling this.)

The Jedi Path has been released in book form without the nifty bells and whistles of the “vault” presentation box and its various trinkets. But you really don’t need the extras. This book is really well done, with a nice combination of serious background information and hilarious written notes from its various owners over the years. If you missed the high-end one, don’t miss this one!

It’s just the beginning of the onslaught. And while you’re there, don’t forget your Star Wars calendars!

Book review: Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi: Vortex

After teaming up in Allies, relations between the Lost Tribe and the Skywalkers have turned a bit sour. Abeloth has been defeated, but the two sides are determined to keep secrets and double cross one another (both are good stalling tactics, after all). Luke and Ben tread dangerous ground, but it isn’t long before the pair is forced to flee the planet when they discover Abeloth did not die after all. Taking Vestara with them again, the trio travels to the moon of Pydyr to track down and destroy her, hopefully for the last time.

On Coruscant, the secret mission intended to aid Luke and Ben, has been stalled. The Jedi Council is increasingly growing tired of Master Kenth Hamner’s stubbornness. It becomes apparent that there’s something he’s hiding and the other Jedi Masters are fed up. When young Jedi begin recovering from their strange psychosis and Daala refuses to acknowledge this progress, the Jedi Council is especially convinced that rescuing Valin and Jysella Horn will accomplish one of three things: reassert the Council’s autonomy, discredit Daala, and serve as a distraction while the Stealth X-Wings deploy for Pyrdyr. As it turns out, Daala is the least of their problems. An unexpected friction arises that threatens to unravel the Council Luke has worked so hard to achieve. Continue reading