Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interlude: Star Wars Tales Vol 3

A friend lent me Star Wars Tales: Volume 3. Like the name suggests, this is a collection of short tales (about 20 in total) set in the Star Wars universe. My friend told me this was his favourite of the three volumes; having only read this one, I can't really say if he's right or not. But there were some really great stories here.

This volume opened on a high note with "Resurrection." A secret sect of Dark Side Followers have resurrected Darth Maul. Darth Vader agrees to duel him to the death; the winner will clearly be the better apprentice for the Emperor.

"Hate Leads to Lollipops" was cute but just okay. "The Rebel Four," a parody of the Fantastic Four, was incredibly funny (in a very morbid way).

I enjoyed "Trooper," the story of the Stormtrooper who is chosen to go first when they board Princess Leia's ship at the beginning of A New Hope. "Skreej" was a funny story about the man who was supposed to be working as a guard with the Hutts. He wakes up with all his stuff gone, so he tries to track down what happened to him (and where his stuff is). "Nameless" was the story of why Darth Maul has a double bladed light sabre.

I think one of the funniest stories was "A Wookie Scorned." This one takes place after the Battle of Endor. Han is supposed to be helping Chewie fix their ship, but he keeps disappearing to "debrief" Princess Leia.

"Free Memory" was an interesting story. C3P0 wants a technician to free up space on R2D2's memory banks. The little droid doesn't appear, so C3P0 goes to find him, and in the process finds out what R2D2 has stored inside him.

"Prey" was another interesting story. Tarkin hires Boba Fett to go after a treasonous pilot. Vader believes the Empire should show no weakness and hunt the pilot on their own. So Vader follows Fett, leading to an awesome showdown between the two.

"In the Beginning" is the story of the card game where Lando lost the Falcon to Han. "The Princess Leia Diaries" was another really funny story, telling how wild Leia was as she grew up on Alderaan.

"Tall Tales" had a gang of aliens sitting around telling each other what they knew about the rebellion. It was pretty funny (and a good example of how stories change as gossip spreads them). "Ghost" was a strange tale of a younger Han going on a treasure hunt; he finds a jedi knight instead. "A Day in the Life" was just okay. It's a short story of Wedge a few days after the Battle of Endor. It started out pretty good, but I didn't like the way it ended.

"A Jedi's Weapon" was an interesting romp. On a diplomatic mission, Anakin Skywalker loses his lightsabre and attempts to get it back.

The last really funny story was "The Revenge of Tag & Bink." They left Boba Fett for dead and he's going on a personal bounty against them. And everything leads to the sarlacc pit.

"Once Bitten" was a strange story that didn't seem to fit with the others. While heading to Alderaan. Obi-Wan tells Han Solo a story of him and Qui Gon Jinn trying to help a jedi, but facing off against Aurra Sing, the jedi assassin. The story ends with Obi Wan asking Han Solo for something to help with Luke's lightsabre training.

Everything ended on a low note. "The Duty" is the story of a jedi knight defending the last of the padawans from Darth ader. Knowing he can't defeat Vader, the jedi makes a deal with the dark side.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading the Tales. They were a varied bunch of stories that were fun to read. If you're a fan of Star Wars and get a chance, you should definitely give this a read!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Library Book: Shadow's Son

I picked up Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Son at the library several weeks ago. It sounded intreguing, so I thought I'd give it a read. But then I got busy and almost sent it back. Lucky for me, I actually read the first few pages before doing so and was hooked!

Shadow's Son is the story of the assassin Caim. He is given a job where he is set up to take the fall while other men rise to power in the city. But with the help of Kit, his spirit friend who only he can see, and Josephine, the daughter of a man Caim was supposed to kill, and with his own ridiculous luck, Caim sets out to find whoever set him up and stop them.

I really liked all the characters in this book. Kit was hilarious, and I wish she didn't wander off quite so much. Josephine was the spoiled aristocrat's daughter, but she had a core of steel that refused to be put down. And Caim himself was great. Like Josephine says, "Take away the fact of his profession and he was the finest man she'd ever known" (206). Caim is loyal, repeatedly risking his own life to save this girl whom he barely knows. And I really liked that he wasn't invulnerable; he gets hurt rather early in the story, and the wound hampers him throughout the tale.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading Shadow's Son. I've got the sequel, Shadow's Lure on hold at the library; I can't wait to read more of Caim's story!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short Story: Nocturne

While working at the library the other day, I stumbled upon the brand new anthology Angels of Darkness. I was intrigued so I read the back. I'm not entirely sure why, but Sharon Shinn's story "Nocturne" caught my attention. So I took the book out specifically to read that story.

I have to say, I'm really glad I did. "Nocturne" is the story of Moriah, a woman working in a school as a cook. She discovers a blind angel living in a building rumored to be haunted. So she takes it upon herself to push him out of his misery.

I had no intention of reading the other stories in the book. My plan was to simply read the one story and send the book back. But I loved that story so much, I bought Angels of Darkness for my Kindle. I don't know for sure that I'll read the other stories, but I have the option to should I one day decide to. All I know is I loved "Nocturne" so much I wanted a copy of it to enjoy in the future.

I also went today and bought Sharon Shinn's novel Archangel. I liked the world and was sufficiently intrigued by it, I want to learn more!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Library Book: Toads and Diamonds

I have a lot of books to read which are currently on the List. I also have a couple of library books which I took out late last week. But that didn't stop me from taking Heather Tomlinson's Toads and Diamonds out from the library today. And reading the entire book all in one day.

Toads and Diamonds is the story of stepsisters Diribani and Tana. While going to the village well for water, Diribani meets a goddess who grants her a gift: every time she speaks, precious jewels and flowers fall from her lips. At her mother's urging, Tana also visits the well and receives a gift as well; but it is snakes and frogs that fall from her lips. Diribani's gift looks much more like a gift while Tana's seems to be a curse, particularly in their province where the governor kills snakes.

Diribani finds herself in the company of a prince, while Tana attempts to seek enlightenment. Both girls strive to find meaning in their gifts, to learn what the goddess wishes to teach them.

Toads and Diamonds was a great story. I really liked both Diribani and Tana (although I will admit, I kept yelling at Tana to just understand her gift already!) While there are many other books I could have (or maybe should have) read today, I'm glad I chose this one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Library Book: Amulet: The Last Council

The Last Council continues the story of Emily. Along with her family and friends, Emily has arrived at the floating city of Cielis, the stronghold of the Stonekeepers. Finally Emily will be able to get some help from the Stonekeeper Council.

But all is not right in Cielis. The people are terrified, hiding in their homes and unwilling to talk to strangers. Emily and her family is separated from their friends. And the elves are arrested and left in prison (which admittedly isn't that strange. They are elves, after all. One of which is the Elf King's son). And Emily is further separated from her family when she is subjected to the Council's trials.

Admittedly, this wasn't my favourite of the Amulet series. But it was a great interlude where the stakes have just been increased. I look forward to the next installment, whenever that will arrive (as of right now it isn't even announced on Kibuishi's website, so I will probably have to wait quite a while).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kindle Book: No Plot? No Problem!

I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I've always wanted to, but November was always a terrible month for me due to school. But with school now a thing of the past, and with no other super-pressing concerns, I am finally free to try writing a novel in a month!

Before embarking on the crazy literary adventure that is NaNoWriMo, I decided to give No Plot? No Problem! a quick read through. Chris Baty, the guy who started NaNoWriMo back in 1999, wrote the book as a guide to the entire month. He details what you're up against, encourages you to get snacks, and gives you strategies to help you succeed during the month-long escapade (and beyond, should you choose to continue polishing your masterpiece). Unfortunately, the warning not to read all the chapters until you actually get to the week in question comes at the end of the book; I did read the book from cover to cover, which I wasn't supposed to. But I did enjoy reading it; I am now ready to embark on my month long escapade.

If you want to follow my novelling progress, you can find me on NaNoWriMo. You can also follow my weekly blogging updates here.