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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88th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2016)

Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions.  I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct once again (that seems to be what I always get [seriously, I didn’t even have to edit this sentence]). There are some tight races this year, but also a few sure things, so it’s bound to be an interesting evening. I can’t wait to see how Chris Rock tackles the shocking lack of diversity among the nominees. And while awards shows always seem fairly out of touch with popular opinion, I’ll always be a fan of the Oscars. So read on for my (dicey) predictions, as well as my picks if I could hand out the statues as I see fit. And then let me know who you think will be a big winner Sunday night!

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Ave Maria
My Pick: N/A

Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Sanjay’s Super Team
My Pick: Sanjay’s Super Team

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My Top 12 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2015

We’ve almost reached the end of 2015, and it was a big year for movies. It’s been a year of long-awaited sequels, broken box office records, and some really fantastic movies. There was a lot to love from the movies in 2015, and a few things that weren’t quite so good, so here are my favorite and least favorite things from the world of cinema this year. I generally don’t do a “top 10 films” list, because I don’t get a chance to see everything, and many of the so-called “Oscar bait” films don’t get wide releases until after the year is over. Of course, the best part of 2015 at the movies was getting to interact with so many great people here on the blog, and on Twitter and Tumblr, but I lack the words to properly express my grattitude for you taking the time to read what I write, comment, and discuss movies with me. So instead I present my favorite (and least favorite) movie-related items from the year, comprised of films, characters, scenes, events, themes, and trends from 2015. And let’s hope 2016 is even better!

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Complaints, Praise, and Questions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers!)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost impossible to discuss without spoiling something, which meant that my review had to be necessarily vague, constraining itself to what we’ve seen in the trailers and basic general knowledge about the film. But I have lots of thoughts still to share, so this article will be filled with spoilers. There’s a lot to discuss in The Force Awakens, both good and bad, and yes there’s actually a bit of bad. I may have given the film an A in my review but I have more than a few complaints, some of which are entirely a reflection of my own views of the franchise but others are legitimate issues with the film itself. I’m not going to dive back into the fact that I consider The Force Awakens to be (really good) fanfiction, but it’s safe to say that the events in the film felt somewhat inconsequential to me knowing that we weren’t seeing the true vision of George Lucas. But I don’t want this to turn into a nitpicky, whining article, because there were many things I loved about the film. And then there are just some observations and questions I was left with after my first viewing. Of course, my feelings on all of these might change the more I see the film, but let’s take a look at some spoiler filled thoughts about The Force Awakens.

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