REVIEW: Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon

The Perfect Weapon is a short story set before Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens by Delilah S. Dawson regarding a mysterious mission given to the mercenary, Bazine Netal.

It’s a quick read at only 60 pages long, but is more or less enjoyable. There isn’t much to say about this one to be quite honest. The Perfect Weapon is a nice bit of fun in the Star Wars universe, although I can’t quite place how it ties into Ep. VII other than Bazine’s appearance as a First Order spy in the film. It also ends in a fairly open manner that makes me want to re-watch The Force Awakens to see if I’m forgetting a detail.

Bazine_reporting

All in all, this story gets ★★★ from me. It felt like an episode of Clone Wars or something and that’s not at all a bad thing in my mind.


27223580

Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Published:  November 24, 2015
Pages: 60
Publisher: Del Rey
ASIN: B016GRO8R6

Synopsis: An anonymous client has hired Bazine to track down an ex-stormtrooper and recover the mysterious package he’s safeguarding. Payment for the mission promises to be astronomical, but the obstacles facing Bazine will prove to be formidable. And though her eager new sidekick has cyber skills crucial to the mission, only Bazine’s razor-sharp talents will mean the difference between success or failure—and life or death.

REVIEW: Wonderblood

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Wonderblood is a unique novel of three interwoven narratives, full of magic, mystery, and violence. Written in gorgeous prose, Julia Whicker’s debut novel is winding and strange and wonderful. Note that this book does contain some triggering content around a character who is a minor, including sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse, and Stockholm syndrome.

The Story

Hundreds of years in the future, America has become overrun by a Mad Cow-like disease called Bent Head, pushing society back into living conditions similar to the Dark Ages of Medieval times. The story follows a girl held captive by her abusive brother in his carnival only to then be held captive by a man claiming to be the True King, the current king’s astronomer, and a Hierophant struggling with his faith.

I found this story fascinating as, according to this world, a dystopia has once again lead to an archaic form of patriarchy. One would think that “the future” is always spaceships and technology, even if it is a little dated, but in this world, all knowledge of science has been long forgotten and even practicing medicine is outlawed and considered heretical. Even the magic of the world is complex and Whicker does a brilliant job of winding coincidence with the examples of magic, making to so it’s hard to tell if magic really does exist within this world of if it’s all merely happenstance.

 

The Characters

The characters of this story are hard to get into since this is a narrative entirely driven by character motivation. I don’t want to give spoilers, so instead I’ll give a sum-up.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t like any of the characters in this story, but all for incredibly different reasons. Some of the characters are not meant to be liked – such as Orchid, an angry woman who wants to be queen and who reminds me very much of Cersei Lannister – but I also had a hard time feeling sorry for the characters who were meant to be liked because they did very little to escape their predicaments.

Now, even though I didn’t like the characters, that wasn’t enough to make me stop reading and please don’t let this discourage you from picking up this book, because – believe me – it’s worth reading.

 

The Issues [ spoilers / trigger warning ]

 

Now, my issues with this book are minimal, but I do hope that Whicker writes a sequel to fix these problems. The only big issue that comes to mind is the open ending and the loose ends. Will we learn the girl’s name? What will happen to her and Orchid? Will Tygo learn that he has a little sister? Will David figure out that he should be in Kansas and not Cape Canaveral? So many questions come up at the end of this book that I am honestly praying that there is more coming.

Next up, let’s get into the triggers. This book contains implied incestual sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse (branding), and Stockholm syndrome all to the same 15-year-old character.

It is heavily implied that the girl’s brother has been raping her since she joined his carnival and then her husband turns around and attempts to rape her as well. Not only that, but she has been branded twice – once by both men – in a claiming ritual of sorts. She is heavily gaslighted by David and often verbally abused by his first wife, Orchid. Despite all of this, she is convinced that David loves her and through this grows to love him back.

What bothers me more than anything about all of this, is that is all happens to the girl. The 15-year-old girl. Of course it doesn’t happen all at once and the majority of these moments are quick to skim through, but the context of it all made me uncomfortable.

Conclusion ★★★★

This novel has it’s problems, but if anyone reading this review has knowledge of Game of Thrones, it’s nothing people haven’t seen/read before (although that doesn’t make it okay). Having read this book right after going to see the film Annihilation (based on the Area X series by Jeff VanderMeer), it was just what I was looking for. It kept me incredibly entertained and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel to this one. This isn’t a book for everyone, but if you’re looking for something weird and unique, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Julia Whicker is definitely an author I will be keeping my eye on.


34964829

Author: Julia Whicker
Published:  April 3, 2018
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250066060

Synopsis: A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.

REVIEW: BRAVE

I’m going to start off this review by saying I have turned the comments off. Everything I am about to say regarding Rose Mcgowan’s book, BRAVE, is incredibly personal and given the immensely triggering content, consider this also a trigger warning for abuse (mental, physical, and sexual), eating disorders, self-harm, and general upsetting nastiness.

So here we go.

Continue reading “REVIEW: BRAVE”

Lost in Several Books at Once

A question I’m very often asked by friends is “How many books are you reading now?” and they always roll their eyes when I say three or four. Now I don’t do this often, but every now and again I have as many as seven books on the go. Even currently, I’m reading three different books. So here’s some explanation and follow up for those wondering how people can read so many books at the same time.

Why?

When it comes to reading more than one book at a time, it depends on where I’m at in life. I listen to audiobooks at work, and read physical or digital books while I commute or while I’m at home. Sometimes I start one book and it relates to another book so I’ll read them at the same time. Sometimes it’s to break up my headspace if I’m reading something with heavy content and I need to something light to clear out my thoughts. And sometimes I just feel like it. You ever go to the library and get out a ton of books at the same time and just want to read all of them? Well that’s exactly what I do.

I can also find that reading more than one book at a time helps with reading slumps. You can stick your toes in and see if any of them are what you’re feeling after a certain book or series puts you into a book hangover.

How?

It’s always a question of “How” in the book community. My key is just managing my time the same way I would any other task. I designate certain times or certain days to the books I’m reading. For example: at the moment I’m reading The Devil’s Revolver by V.S. McGrath, BRAVE by Rose McGowan, and Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews.

BRAVE is a fascinating and heartbreaking autobiography from Rose McGowan of the #MeToo movement and the number one voice speaking out against Harvey Weinstein. As a survivor of assault, it’s an incredibly difficult book for me to read, and I have been trying to push my way through this no-hold-bared book for over a month. As something of a “palate cleanser” I’ve started reading Red Sparrow because not only do a love cold-war-esque spies, I’m curious to see if this is truly a wannabe Black Widow story or if it’s more original than that (so far the book seems more original than the movie trailers make it seem to be). Along with that I have NetGalley reviews to write so I’ve got Devil’s Revolver on my Kobo for before-bed reading (Red Sparrow being my commute reading and BRAVE being read in short moments).

By breaking down my day into the books I’m reading, I find it easier to read several books at once and it helps keep my thoughts in line when there’s a schedule. Since I also review everything I read, I keep a little notebook of major plot points as I go along, helping me remember things if my brain is still back in a different book.

So…

So how many books do you read at a time? Do you make sure they’re all different genres or formats? How do you keep things straight?

Tell me in the comments what you’re currently reading!

 

REVIEW: If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains is a Shakespearean dream of a thriller set in a tight knit community of theater students in the final year at an incredibly prestigious college. As friends turn to enemies, and people get hurt, Oliver, James, Meredith, Filipa, Alexander, and Wren all discover parts of themselves they don’t like. The question very quickly becomes clear, what happened to this group that was otherwise inseparable?

The Story

Divided into the five acts and then further divided in scene headings, M.L. Rio‘s debut novel unfolds through Oliver’s memories as he recounts what happened in the months leading up to his arrest for murder. Bouncing through time we follow him and his friends as the stress of their final year begins to eat at their sanity, pushing them all into unseemly behaviours. Each of them have their roles, in reality as well as on stage. These roles are the catalyst that triggers a series of events so horrible, Oliver has kept them secret for the ten long years of his incarceration.

What I loved most about the motion of the story was how the twists were insidious, always peaking out from behind a corner but never quite showing itself until you’re ready to finally see it. Which, if I’m being honest, is never. It’s a punch-in-the-stomach kind of twist that honest to God had me white knuckling the book as I re-read the words to confirm what I had just read.

The Characters

Oliver is probably the character I related to the most, always good enough but never truly feeling like the spotlight is his. However, everyone was so well rounded and had such depth, I felt like I knew all of them for far longer than just the few days it took me to read the book.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about each of them and risk spoiling anything, but Rio’s narrative style truly makes you connect so completely with each of the character’s emotions as the come, with all the intensity that they express them in.

Conclusion ★★★★★

With a murky ending that is almost more satisfying than a clear one would be for this story, this is hands down the best book I read in January (2018). I live for Shakespeare and the clever mashing of plots combined with the constant quoting of the rest of the Bard’s famous work was beyond satisfying. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a thriller like this, and even longer since I’ve thought “I will definitely re-read this” after finishing one.

If you’re game for a good murder full of twists and turns, topped with a dollop of Shakespeare, then pick up this book. Just do it.


30319086Author: M.L. Rio
Published:  April 11, 2017
Pages: 368
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250095282

Synopsis: Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

What would you like?

So we’re a little over half-way through the month, and I’m pleased to see all this new engagement with my blog.

I have some ideas of new things to post and I’ve got some reviews coming up shortly, but what kind of things are you guys interested in seeing? More opinion pieces? More reviews? More book photos (I post most of my on my instagram but would be happy to share them here)? Maybe some interviews with authors or other bloggers?

Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do! You can also let me know on Twitter: @WelshLucien!

– LJW

The Guilt of DNF

It’s a hard thing to do sometimes, not finishing a book. Sometimes all we want to do is a part of the hype but can’t because it turns out the book is not our taste. Book clubs, subscription box books, school assignment readings. These are all examples of books thrust upon that we may or may not want to force ourselves all the way through, but sometimes we don’t want to read a book because we don’t want to read it!

With GoodReads reading goals turning into something of a competition for some people, it’s hard to remember that it’s okay to read what you like and read for the fun of it. Life’s too short for books you don’t like and it’s okay to stop reading a book.

No one should feel the need to justify their feelings, especially when it’s interfering with something they enjoy doing. We stop reading books for all kinds of reasons; it contains trigger content, it’s poorly written, it’s offensive, or – as I mentioned above – it’s simply not in our taste.

To be completely honest, I have marked two books as “Did Not Finish” on GoodReads, and it’s only January! The one book simply wasn’t my taste in contemporary fiction, and the other had some rather explicit and triggering content within the first five or six chapters. Am I disappointed that I marked these books this way? Of course. I was rather excited to read both of them, but life is too short for books you don’t like. Sure I want to reach my 52 book reading goal, but not if I’m wasting time on things that aren’t engaging.

So don’t feel bad about giving up on a book. Don’t stress over reading goals or challenges that are meant to be a fun way to get you to do more of what you love and find books you might not have otherwise picked up. It’s not worth the pressure.

Now you have my DNF confession for the month so far, what books have you DNF-ed that you were excited about? What do you do with your books you’ve bought that you don’t finish? Let me know!

The Importance of Being Uncomfortable

It can happen quiet often, the feeling of being uncomfortable. Most times, people shy away from the feeling, never wanting to be in that state of mind. An understandable position to be in. However, there are some moments when it is a good thing to be uncomfortable, as that is the point of what we are dealing with.

I want to specifically talk about books that make us uncomfortable and how this affects us as a society.

A few months back a reviewed the book Dreamland Burning, and discussed how it made me uncomfortable not just as a reader in general, but as a white reader. And you know what? I fairly certain that was the point. Lately I have been seeing more and more authors and readers speaking out against the lack of diversity within the vast world of books, and it takes books like The Hate U Give and Dear Martin to give voices to those authors that are sadly under-represented within this industry.

Yes, Dreamland Burning is by a white author, however it still helps to raise issues about race that even in 2018 are a problem that not everyone is talking about. It is not necessarily my place to speak out about these things because I am not a part of an ethnic or racial minority. But what I can do is read these books that call out white privilege and help raise them up using whatever privilege I do have.

So back to my point of why reading books that make us uncomfortable is important. Books such as the three I have mentioned, by creating tension within ourselves, can inspire us to take action, to get involved in the organizations that help support the oppressed and fight against the oppressors. It challenges us to look at the world through eyes that aren’t our own.

Do books like this making me uncomfortable make me a bad person? No. They make me uncomfortable because it’s hard to see or hear about people suffering the abuse of close minded bigots. It’s hard to think of the horrors people have gone through in the past and still fear in the present.

And this isn’t just about race. Sexual assault, homo- and transphobia, sexism, islamophobia and anti-semetism. All topics that can make people uncomfortable to talk about because it can be a hard thing to talk about – especially if you are a victim of such things. It’s alright to stop reading a book that makes you uncomfortable in a triggering sort of way (believe me, I’ve stopped reading more than one book due to poorly handled or triggering subject matter). What I’m primarily trying to say is: it’s important to be aware of such topics and create conversations that can lead to solutions for the future.

Books that tackle heavy or tough topics can often lead to more open-minded ways of thinking; something that many people are still lacking. We live in a world of such division and exclusion, but we also live in a world that is capable of being loving, understanding, and accepting of those who differ from ourselves.

Let Own Voices authors have a platform for stand on. Let them know their voices are heard, valid, and just as important as the majorities. If we want a better world for ourselves and for others, we need to listen to those who are struggling to reach equality.

So here’s my final request: Find a book that challenges your privilege and see how you can take action against inequality. It doesn’t have to be something big. But at the very least, spread some knowledge and some positivity.

Completed this task already? Have some recommendations? Leave them in the comments!