14 Star Wars Book Reviews, including Last Shot, Bloodline, Lost Stars, and the first two in the Aftermath trilogy

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A year and a half ago, I decided that I was going to attempt to read all of the Star Wars books that fall under the newly defined canon. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they wisely decided to abandoned the Expanded Universe of books and stories in order to give themselves a clean slate for their new films. I read dozens and dozens and dozens of EU books when I was a kid, and I loved how they either continued the story of the original trilogy, expanded on aspects of the universe we’d only glimpsed before, or introduced entirely new characters and locations to follow along their own path. But I eventually ran out of steam as I got older, and couldn’t keep up with the multitude of books in many different time periods that expanded more quickly than I could read them. But Disney placed all of the old books under the “Legends” label, and started from scratch with a new canon and a Lucasfilm Story Team to oversee continuity, and I realized the time was ripe for me to jump back in. I originally wanted to read them all in release order, but after a few books I decided to balance things out a little better to give myself some variety, and also to free myself up to jump ahead for tie-in books for new movies. I’m now working on my 15th Star Wars book over the last 18 months (I have read other things too), so I thought I’d take some time and review what I’ve written. There’s a lot of variety here in terms of writing style, tone, and time periods in which these stories are set. Some of them I absolutely loved, while others were more disappointing or simply not my type of book. Hopefully this can provide a little guidance to those who might want to jump into the new Star Wars books, or to those who have read some and are considering others. These are listed in the order I read them, so certain books that go together, like the Aftermath series, are not listed together. Once you’ve checked out my reviews, drop me a comment to let me know what you’ve thought of the new Star Wars canon books, which are your favorites, and any that I haven’t read yet that you’d recommend!

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Let’s talk about Luke, and other spoiler-filled thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Our son’s name is Luke. I have a ring I wear at all times with his name on it in his memory after he was stillborn nine months ago. And while there were plenty of Luke’s that could have, and did, inspire our son’s name (including the Biblical Luke as well as Lukes Danes and Kuechly), I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t named after Luke Skywalker. It was such an obvious name choice for me that it was set in my mind long before I ever met my wife, and despite never discussing it my best friend still accurately guessed it before we made the name public. My point in all of this is so that when I say that Luke Skywalker is my favorite character from anything I have ever watched, read, seen, or experienced, you understand the depth of what I mean. I’d pick Luke Skywalker over the countless characters who have meant so much to me, from Atticus Finch to Data, more than Hermione, Neville, and Luna, beyond River Tam or Buffy Summers, past even WALL-E or Casey Newton. Luke Skywalker helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life, through depression and isolation. He taught me about storytelling, sparked my love of movies and fanned the flames of my love of reading. So needless to say I had a lot of fear going into Star Wars: The Last Jedi over how my favorite character and my son’s namesake would be treated and used. Ultimately, directory Rian Johnson made a completely different choice than I would have at every possible turn, and the result was a bold, thrilling, adventure that advanced Star Wars in unexpected ways filled with new depths. But I have many, many thoughts to wrestle out with regards to Luke Skywalker that simply couldn’t be discussed in a spoiler-free review. So read on for a more in-depth SPOILER-FILLED look at not only Luke’s story but other aspects of The Last Jedi worthy of discussion.

Seriously, SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Through Leia, Carrie Fisher taught me to be a feminist


The world doesn’t need another article today memorializing Carrie Fisher by focusing on her role as Leia Organa in the Star Wars saga, so I apologize that this post adds to the seemingly endless recollections of Fisher’s most famous role. She should be, and thankfully has been, celebrated worldwide today as much for her abilities as a novelist and screenwriter, particularly her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge along with the film it was based on and the countless scripts she worked on and improved throughout her career, as for her performance as Leia. She should be remembered for her biting sense of humor, her eagerness to call out bullshit wherever she saw it, especially in the world of movies and celebrities, and her bravery in openly discussing her battles with addiction and bipolar disorder, giving a voice to struggles that are all too common yet which we frequently pretend don’t exist. And of course her career as an actress was far more diverse and expansive than just Star Wars, with supporting roles in classics like When Harry Met Sally…, Hannah and Her Sisters, and The Blues Brothers to countless appearances on television. Carrie Fisher was far, far more than Leia, and yet the role that she so expertly defined will be the one that will forever define her, just as the character of Leia helped to define my views of what a hero should look like. Through Leia, Carrie Fisher taught me to be a feminist, long before I even knew what a feminist was.

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All of the trailers and TV spots for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (with screencaps)

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By this point, every glimpse, shot, or tidbit of Star Wars: The Force Awakens we’ve seen thus far has been analyzed, dissected, and picked apart by anyone and everyone in the hopes of finding all of the clues to unlocking the story’s secrets. I’ve talked enough about my concerns about The Force Awakens as well as my feelings about how the film has been treated by the general populace, and I’m not going to go into that any more now. But I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at all of the trailers released for the film thus far with an eye not to solving all of the mysteries but instead looking at the larger picture. What I love most about trailers is the way they can evoke emotions with just a few images, a handful of musical notes, or the slightest bit of context. So let’s take it from the top with the very first trailer for The Force Awakens, which conveyed quite a lot from very little.

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Star Wars Episode VII Cast Announced!

The news that many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived: the cast for the new Star Wars movie has been announced!  And while at this point there wasn’t a lot of doubt that some of the cast from the original trilogy would return, it’s still fantastic to see it confirmed, especially when accompanied by this awesome photo from what appears to be a script reading.  So lets get the big news out of the way first.  Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) will all be reprising their roles in at least the first film of the new trilogy!

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