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Posted by Thea

Title: Leia: Princess of Alderaan

Author: Claudia Gray

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Publication date: September 2017
Hardcover: 409 Pages

Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia Organa faces the most challenging task of her life so far: proving herself in the areas of body, mind, and heart to be formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. She’s taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control. But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren’t acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. Determined to uncover her parents’ secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire. And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice: dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan–including the man she loves–or to the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero…

Stand alone or series: Can be read as a standalone novel, however fits in the larger Star Wars Canon (new canon); one of many books in the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi series

How did I get this book: ARC from the publisher

Format (e- or p-): Print

Review

Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan has always been keenly aware of her luck. She’s known, ever since childhood, that she was adopted–as the crown heir to Alderaan, it’s a truth that everyone on her planet, not to mention the rest of the galaxy, also knows. But that has never once stopped Leia from feeling loved, or like she is part of a family. Her adoptive parents, the Chancellor Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa, have shown nothing but unconditional love to their daughter–in return, Leia has never really questioned her biological parents, for she has all the family she could ever want in front of her.

But the year Leia turns sixteen and undergoes the customary rites of being confirmed as the royal heir–completing three challengers, of the heart, mind and body–everything has inexplicably changed. Her father, once so doting and close to his daughter, is distracted and distant, even when Leia is apprenticing in his office as a junior assembly member of the senate. Her mother Breha also seems entirely preoccupied with her chores as bookkeeper and is forever planning banquet after banquet, often without explanation or discussion.

Leia Organa has never felt so alone.

But Leia is a pragmatist, and dedicated to showing her family and the rest of the galaxy that she takes her role as princess seriously–so she throws herself into her royal challengers. For her challenge of the heart, she chooses to offer humanitarian aid to a planet particularly impoverished by war and Imperial occupation. Once she lands on the planet and realizes the extent of the situation, she manages to trick Imperial officers by exploiting a loophole in their orders, saving a hundred refugees as hired crewmembers aboard her vessel. But instead of rewarding Leia’s ingenuity and applauding her efforts, her parents are terrified and dismayed. Leia knows that something is going on with her parents and will do anything to uncover their secret–but her investigation pulls her directly into the path of danger as she begins to draw the attention of the Empire (Grand Moff Tarkin, in particular).

Change is coming, and Leia faces the hardest choice of them all: to protect the home and the people she loves, or to follow in her parents footsteps and face the chance of losing everything, for the good of the galaxy.

Holy moly, people–what a book. You know that a book is good when you start to get choked up while reading it on the subway, and such is Leia. (To all of the regular rush hour commuters on the N/W, I sincerely apologize.) Leia is so powerful on so many levels–from Leia’s characterization, to her relationship with her family and sense of duty; to the glorious time we get to spend on Alderaan (oh, doomed Alderaan!); to the plot developments that show us how Leia became involved in the rebellion, and everything that she’s had to give up in order to become the woman who would later topple the Empire. Let me put it this way: if you’re a Princess Leia fan of any kind, you need to read this book.

So let’s start with the obvious: Leia’s characterization. Damn, but Claudia Gray has a knack for this character’s voice. After reading and loving Bloodline earlier this year–it was hands down the best characterization I’ve read of Leia, period–I was ecstatic to learn that Gray would be back to the character in this YA novel detailing Leia’s rise as a rebel and leader. In Leia, we are introduced to a very different Princess than the senator and general in Bloodline. The Leia Organa here is sixteen, and different than the polished and hardened politico we’ve become accustomed to in recent films. She’s different, even, than the Leia seen in the novelizations set between the original trilogy films or immediately afterwards. This was my first exposure to Leia, pre-Alderaan destruction—a devastating loss that will color her narrative and character development in all subsequent books and films. This Leia is close to her parents, already weighed with the burden of responsibility for her people and her planet, but also as a humanitarian and leader for the entire galaxy. This is the biggest struggle, I think, in this book. Where does one’s responsibility end? With oneself? With one’s family? With one’s people? Or is it larger and more important than that—is Alderaan’s luck and prosperity worth risking to save the galaxy from the Empire?

For Leia and her brilliant parents, the answer is an emphatic yes. In today’s day and age, of isolationism and protectionism and Us First-isms, this is all the more resonant and timely and fucking powerful. But it’s important to note that “yes” isn’t the answer for all characters—and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I truly appreciated the way that Claudia Gray examines the other side of this argument through one particular character’s choices—and ultimately as we readers know that Alderaan is doomed, and the freedom of the galaxy indeed comes at the sacrifice of that planet… well, it’s sobering stuff.

Beyond these larger thematic questions and the beautiful characterization, Leia has several other things going for it. Most importantly, the relationship between Leia, Bail and Breha is heartbreakingly real—a relationship all the more poignant because, again, we understand the depth of Leila’s loss in A New Hope. (As a long time fan, I confess I never really made the connection between the true horror of what the Death Star represented—this is something that the novels and new films, like Rogue One, have done so well.)

Other things that I loved in this book was how Leia returns to Naboo, teams up with the current Queen, and —unknowingly—almost falls into the most terrifying trap when she reminds someone too much of her birthmother, Parmesan Amidala. There are many allusions to The Clone Wars, to Leila’s ability to use the Force (even showing this ability), which are also pure awesomeness. 

But really, the most powerful thing about this book is getting the privilege of seeing Leia before the storm. I loved this glimpse of the young princess’s life, pre-war. 

But damn, does it make the war hurt so much more.
In sum: I loved this book. If you are a Star Wars fan, I bet you will too. One of my favorites of 2017, beyond a doubt.

Rating: 8 – Excellent

Buy the Book:

The post Book Review: Leia Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

Sounds Like Halloween

Thursday, 19 October 2017 09:24
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Posted by The Book Smugglers

What does Halloween sound like? Is it all thrills and chills and spooky sounds that make sleep impossible in the dead of night? Or is it something more quiet and drawn out, an anguished sigh in the dark when you swore you were alone, or a mournful groan that lasts far too long to be human?

Our friends over at Binge on Books decided to answer that question and instead of creepy noises and spooky wailing, this year Halloween sounds like thirty-one authors from all genres reading their most terrifying scenes from books. Whether it’s high fantasy or historical romance, YA contemporary or suspense, the audio series SOUNDS LIKE HALLOWEEN proves that terror can be found in any novel especially when it’s read aloud by the authors themselves.

Featuring some big names in books, this series focuses on the darker side of the written word and is a fascinating look at what scary really means. Whether it’s talk of fantastical monsters and ghouls and goblins and ghosts, or of the very real and very chilling dark side of humanity, this series will have you spooked yet unable to stop listening.

What you can expect to find:

Fantasy writer, Charlie Jane Anders, reads from All the Birds in the Sky: With a tense and haunting scene from her Nebula award winning novel, Charlie Jane Anders terrifies readers and proves why this book (and author) are worthy of all the praise. Listen here.

SFF powerhouse, Ginn Hale, reads from Lord of the White Hell: A magical school, a debauched wielder of a mystical power, a naive adolescent who wants nothing more than to be ignored by his roommate, Ginn Hale picks out the spookiest scene from her YA fantasy novel. Listen here.

Dark fantasy writer, Linsey Miller, reads from her recent release, Mask of Shadows: Featuring a genderfluid main character, a promise to avenge a dead family, and a dark, deadly battle to the bitter end, Linsey Miller reads a snippet of her latest book and brings on the chills. Listen here.

Fantasy writer, Austin Chant, reads from his upcoming trans gothic romance, Caroline’s Heart: Giving readers a glimpse of his next work after highly acclaimed Peter Pan reimagining, Peter Darling, Austin Chant nails it with this hair raising scene. Listen here.

Fantasy writer, Malinda Lo, reads from her YA suspense novel, A Line in the Dark: The prologue from her most recent release is a lesson in psychological terror and Holly Black claims the first line got her. Listen here.

Other author readings include: Jordan Castillo Price, Anna Zabo, CB Lee, Jordan Hawk, Emma Barry, Santino Hassell, GG Andrew, Theresa Romain, Michelle Osgood, Megan Erickson, Nicole Kimberling, Christina Lauren, Daria Defore, Meredith Duran, Mary Fan, Amy Jo Cousins, FT Lukens, Whitney Taylor, Sherry Thomas, Michele Tracy Berger, Jude Sierra, J.A. Rock, Anyta Sunday, Avon Gale, Layla Reyne, and Roan Parrish.

To get yourself thoroughly spooked just in time for the holiday, check out the whole SOUNDS LIKE HALLOWEEN series on Binge on Books. It runs from October 1 – October 31.

Judith is the owner and curator of the book review site Binge on Books, as well as the boutique press Open Ink and the literary PR agency A Novel Take PR. She pens a column for Teen Vogue focused specifically on queer YA and for HEA USA Today focused on queer Romance. Judith loves to talk all things books and welcomes you to reach out on Twitter: @bingeonbooks

The post Sounds Like Halloween appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

Urban Legend: Drilled Wire

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 15:56
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Posted by Associated Press

Rep. Frederica Wilson said President Trump told Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a fallen soldier, that he "knew what he signed up for." Trump denies it.

10/16/17 PHD comic: 'Confusing Malaise'

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 01:02
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Confusing Malaise" - originally published 10/16/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Will Burning Bay Leaves Reduce Anxiety?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 23:05
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Alex Kasprak

A chemical compound found in the leaves of the bay laurel may affect mood, but the results are inconclusive and not necessarily relevant to bay leaf smoke.

Is Ireland Lowering Its Corporate Tax Rate?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 21:08
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan MacGuill

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Called U.S. President Donald Trump's claim "fake news."
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Emery

Despite preliminary indications that the Trump family's government-paid travel expenses are higher than the Obamas', Internet rumors exaggerate the disparity.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan MacGuill

A disreputable web site published an illogical and inaccurate conspiracy theory about a valet worker who reportedly had a brush with the Las Vegas gunman.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Arturo Garcia

Volunteer veterans, journalists, and others claim that FEMA is providing "meals" that are little more than unhealthy snacks to hurricane victims, but a FEMA spokesperson says images circulating online misrepresent what the agency is doing to help Puerto Ricans.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Alex Kasprak

While a discovery from 2016 did reveal the presence of a small asteroid trapped in Earth’s orbit, this object cannot be classified as a moon.

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