This is NOT a Review: Claudia Gray’s BLOODLINE

Bloodline-coverThere’s a weird disconnect, reading this.

Don’t get me wrong: I was REALLY looking forward to it. So much so that when I finished reading my last book (Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories) the Saturday before Bloodline was released, I didn’t start anything new because I wanted to open the box on Tuesday and start reading immediately. I’d heard high praise for this book, and I really didn’t need convincing to give it a go, as I had adored Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, and couldn’t wait to see some pieces of the story filled in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

So what’s the problem?

I’ve run into this with the comics, even before the Expanded Universe was relegated to the Legends line: the problem for me is that the stories about Han, Luke, and Leia that take place during the original trilogy and all those years after Return of the Jedi?

I’ve read them. It doesn’t matter that it’s no longer canon (or, lately, that it is): I have read so many takes on Han, Luke, and Leia and their lives and thoughts before, during, and after the original trilogy that it’s hard to read anything with fresh eyes. It’s even more disconcerting to now read about the official canon of Han and Leia’s marriage, when I’ve got the EU take firmly lodged in my brain (as well as the EU take on the New Republic, and Luke’s Jedi Academy, so on and so forth). It takes up a lot of real estate, and it’s not something that’s easy to wipe away.

1484724984.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_Am I an EU purist? Oh hell no. I’d fallen out of love with the EU long before Disney bought Star Wars, because I got tired of Luke, Han, Leia, and their families never getting peace, of never having a happy ending. I got tired of what felt like soap opera-esque machinations that took place in order for there to be GREAT CONFLICT. I was, in fact, relieved when Disney said they would ignore the EU and make that a Legends canon and start afresh. Star Wars, as a franchise, needed that do-over, and I applauded the decision whole-heartedly.

Yes, that meant saying good-bye to Mara Jade. To Jaina Solo. To other characters I’d known and loved. But it also meant saying good-bye to the machinations that kept them in turmoil, and I could live with that.

I loved The Force Awakens. Wait, let me clarify: I loved the film, but I hated the novelization with a passion.

And you know what?

I read Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath. Loved it. Read Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars. Absolutely freaking adored it.

You know what The Force Awakens, Aftermath, and Lost Stars have in common?

Those aren’t the stories of Han, Luke, and Leia. Yes, the original three play important roles in The Force Awakens, and that’s wonderful. But the two books? Those characters are ancillary, allowing brand new characters to step into the limelight and shine. The Star Wars universe is so very vast, and there are so many stories to tell within it. Those are the stories I haven’t been reading for twenty-plus years. Those are the stories that I find I’m craving now.

aftermath_new.6.red_That doesn’t mean I won’t read the books about Han, Luke, and Leia, even if Bloodline taught me that I miss having the map of the galaxy in the front of the books, with planet names I’ve grown to know and recognize. I miss knowing what the universe feels like on the page, miss having a specific timeline to refer back to (oh, sure we have the START of a timeline in the new books, but it’s not very specific, not like the old one was). I miss knowing exactly where Han, Luke, and Leia were in their lives, even if I disagreed with a particular author’s take on their characters.

I love learning what happened to make the universe into the place it is in The Force Awakens. And as long as the books are as well-written as Gray’s Bloodline, I’m going to keep reading to keep learning more.

But it’s going to be an adjustment. It’ll take time, and probably a lot more books before my brain stops comparing the now official canon to the old one.

As Yoda says, I must unlearn what I have learned.

Culture Consumption: April 2016

Happy May! Good lord, I don’t know where April went. Actually, I kind of do: training to walk (not run) my very first 5k, and then prepping for a Regional Meeting that I was basically hosting. LOTS of stuff on my plate in April, so in some ways, I’m glad it’s over so I can unwind. I did, however, manage to squeeze SOME fun things in, so without further adieu, here’s the Culture Consumption for April!

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Books 2015

I think there’s always a part of me that will miss having a book blog. After putting together December’s Culture Consumption, I started wondering… what WERE my favorite books of 2015? To figure that out, I pulled up my Library Thing account and started sorting by date finished, and then I started looking at the ratings. Anything four stars or higher got written down on the appropriate list: a full five stars are listed as favorites, and four and four-and-a-half stars were honorable mentions.

Why Library Thing instead of Goodreads? Because LT allows for half stars, which means when I’m rating on Goodreads, I might round up or down depending on how I want the rating to look on that site. LT is a more accurate reflection of my thoughts.

I also did not include a few of the fun, children’s type books on the list. I’m a sucker for Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader series, and Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat books are adorable. So they didn’t get counted.

Before I review my favorites and honorable mentions, I did want to make a few points:

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Culture Consumption: November 2015

December is here, and with it comes holiday madness and the end of the year. It’s hard to believe we’re at the end already, that Thanksgiving is over. I can’t say there’s anything exciting on the horizon for this month, after all: it’s the holiday season. That being said, it’s no excuse not to share what goodies have helped time fly by so quickly, so without further adieu, here is November!

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Wolves Without Teeth: Thoughts on the 2015 Hugo Winners and the Nominees that Might Have Been

So. The 2015 Hugo Awards were announced last night. I forgot all about it, because I was remembering why I never wanted to work in the food industry again while volunteering at a concession stand at a baseball game to raise money for charity. This morning, I woke up to a thunderstorm, a playful cat, a husband playing Bloodborne, and the Hugo Results.

I have a few links I want to share before I talk about the winners (or lack thereof):

1) Tor.com: Announcing the 2015 Hugo Award Winners: Winners, winners! Read all about it!

2) Tobias S. Buckell: What the alternate Hugo Ballot would likely have been: Toby uses the 2015 Hugo Award Statistics, crosses off all puppy nominees, in order to figure out what the fiction categories MIGHT have looked like without slates informing the ballot. He also has some great thoughts about those nominees, as well as the nominees who were on the puppy ballots and withdrew their nominations.

3) 2015 Hugo Award Statistics: I love looking at this every year, but this year is particularly fascinating. The “what-if” nature of the ballot is endlessly fascinating for me. I would’ve been SO MUCH MORE ENGAGED in this year’s awards if the ballot hadn’t been hijacked by the puppies.

4) Wired.com: Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters: A really great piece that talks about the controversy, the awards ceremony, and what happened after. Kudos to George R.R. Martin for his Hugo Loser’s party.

And now, for my thoughts on some of the winners:

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I Don’t Read as Quickly As I Used To

Once upon a time, when I was but a humble book blogger, I could tear through books like a knife through butter. At the height of my blog, it was nothing to post anywhere from 2-4 book reviews per week, nothing to read 100+ books per year. I miss those days, sometimes, when my free time was spent absorbed in fictional worlds, admiring the craft that made those worlds and the people who populated them so vivid and real.

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