Books of 2016 (and my lengthy reviews)

Okay!  This is it…one last recap post and then onto more Star Wars goodness.  I promise.

I really thought that after the birth of my daughter I wouldn’t have any time to read books.  While I definitely slowed down, I was able to squeeze in a lot more than I originally thought.  Especially while breastfeeding!  When she was very little, she would feed every hour to two hours and for at least 30 minutes so I had plenty of time to catch up on a book.

In 2016, I read 26 books and 9349 pages.  The oldest book I read was published in 1952 (The Glitter and the Gold…which I didn’t even finish) and the newest book was the Star Wars Bloodline from 2016.

 

These are listed in chronological order with the first book I read in January through to December of 2016.

 

  1. A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. Oh my gosh, horrible memories keep flying back to me of this book.  I couldn’t stand it.  So many people loved this book on Goodreads so I’m completely baffled as to why I really struggled with it.  The cover captivated me, as did the description.  I mean, there was a dragon in it, c’mon…  But, oh, so painful.  The book was “yuge” at 800+ pages and I thought at least 600 of those pages could have been cut out.  It follows a main character, Jenn, on her day to day life for two weeks in a remote village in a fantasy world.  There is magic of course, but it’s slightly confusing on how it works.  And a little creepy too.  I wish I could give a good plot summary but I think I’ve blocked most of it out of my head.  The book does get interesting at the end and I feel like it finally began to pick up and pieces fell into place.  I just wish that momentum could have carried us throughout the entire novel as opposed to consistently dragging on with oh-aren’t-these-homey-farm-folk-cute and oh-they-have-unexplained-magic-in-their-land-too-how-cute.  Enough already.  The characters were way too complacent for even homey farm folk and their actions were boring.  Books like this are why non-fantasy readers do not pick up fantasy novels.  If only they would read books like Elantris or Name of the Wind, they may have a different opinion of the megahuge novels.  2/5 stars.
  2. Burma Chronicles; Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China; Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea; A User’s Guide to shenzhen-guy-delisleNeglectful Parenting; Chroniques de Jerusalem by Guy Delisle. I stumbled upon Delisle’s Burma Chronicles by mistake when I was looking in the graphic novel section of our library.  And I fell in love.  I quickly read all of his travelogue’s, plus his Guide to Neglectful Parenting (not near as good as his travelogue’s).  Translated from French, Delisle recounts his experiences in remote places of the world through drawings and sarcastic humor.  It’s also very insightful and the way he conveys his thoughts on places like North Korea comes across clearly in his little pictures.  He first gets placed in places due to his job and later on accompanies his wife as she works with Doctors Without Borders.  The best part is when his child is born and he becomes a stay at home dad in a foreign country.  Out of all these books/graphic novels/travelogues, my favorite was the Burma Chronicles and Shenzhen5/5 stars for all, though some fall closer to 4.5/5 stars.
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This novel was a bestseller a few years ago.  It was on my list to read for a long time but it was always taken out at the library.  I finally got the chance this February when I was on vacation and I loved it!  Circuses have always interested me from when I was very young and saw the movie Toby Tyler.  What made this book gripping was the extra element of magic that was thrown into it, plus the two main characters who were forced against their wishes to compete against each other to the death with their magic within the circus…but they fell in love.  How do you circumnavigate that?  I appreciated the ending to this book.  I think Erin Morgenstern gave us a happy medium.   It was frustrating to read it and know from the very beginning that one of the main characters had to die.  You couldn’t see a way out.  Then when the characters learn that one has to die, you wonder who is going to make the sacrifice since at this point they are both madly in love.  Some reviews complained that the ending was a cop out, but I did not feel like that at all!  I thought it was deftly played and I did not see it coming.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was a good blend of realism, magic, romance, and historical fiction without going overboard in any of those categories.  I would like to give a larger review but then I’d go into even more spoilers than I already have, so I’ll leave it at that.  5/5 stars.
  4. Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when this book was over.    Talk about annoying!  I couldn’t stand the main character and felt like the entire storyline was taken too much out of historical and into the fiction realm.  Helen, based on the Princess of Sparta/Helen of Troy, was so unrealistic that I almost didn’t finish the book.  Thank goodness it was short.  Friesner obviously wanted to create this “strong” heroine who makes her own paths but it felt very forced. I see what the author was trying to do and the point of view she trying to bring to Helen but it felt immature.  The writing also felt unpolished and like a teenager had written it.  I would not recommend this book to any female young adult/teenager.  It’s just too unrealistic.  2/5 stars.
  5. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn. This book was good.  A solid good.  Not great, not meh, but good.  I found that I enjoyed it a lot.  I loved the blend of a teenager in the modern world, but also the prevalence and acknowledgement that dragons were living breathing creatures right over the border.  It’s an easy read and perfect for just zooming through a book that has an urban fantasy feel to it.  The only thing that really bothered me was the focus on sex in this novel and losing her virginity.  In the end, Vaughn uses it as a plot point but I still felt like it was pounded into our head. Should she have sex?  Should she not?    I did love the main character however, despite her obsession with losing her virginity.  Other than that, she was relatable and a female heroine who wasn’t too obsessed with her boyfriend, could make decisions on her own, and level headed enough to make me understand her actions.  And dragons!  Real, talking dragons in the modern day world.  How fun is that??  3.5/5 stars.
  6. Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. Um, loved this book.  Absolutely loved it.  Having been raised by a European mother, I had a hunch that I would not be raising ARM (or any of my
    children) like other American mothers.  Reading this book after skimming through some boring “Baby’s 1st Year” books was a refreshing, and much needed, change.  It reminded me a bit of my childhood.  I always thought my parents were overly strict, and they were…compared to most of my American friends.  It wasn’t until I was in high school and college that I realized the difference was my mother is European and my father is Australian and they both brought a unique, non-American cultural view to raising children.  My favorite parts of reading this is how many moments I had of “Oh, I never realized that, but that is SO TRUE!”  For instance – how much American kids eat.  How impatient children in our society are.  How we don’t follow through with our “No”s occasionally.  How our kids our picky eaters (and how to prevent that).  There are definitely some parts that are overgeneralized about Americans and there are parts of French society that would not make me want to live there (the pressure on having your body back and looking fabulous months after giving birth!), but the parenting style is to be commended.  I liked this book so much that I bought it (big deal) and read it again after Ayla was born on some of those long sleepless nights and tiring days.  5/5 stars.
  7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. Em. Gee.  This book took forever!  I was simultaneously reading it alongside all the other books Silmarillionthat were previously listed here.  It took me 4 months.  I would get super into it, and then in typical Tolkien fashion he would blab on and on about something boring and I would drop it for a bit, etc.  I found that the book did not follow as quite of a linear pace as LotR does.  There’s also a lot of mythology to the novel, which lends well but at times can leave you confused.  The gods are there and then they disappear and leave everything to the elves…who have their own unique history.  I found that the elves read a little like a soap opera, but the problem was that we’d get a quick glance into one story line, and just when I found myself getting interested in the characters, they disappeared.  They *might* turn up again, or they might not.  This made it hard for me to read and remain interested.  I love LotR, but maybe I should read the rest of Tolkien’s work sparingly.  3.5/5 stars.
  8. The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. I picked this up because we live close to Newport, RI and I have visited the summer mansion of the Vanderbilt’s.  I thought the autobiography of one of the Vanderbilt children would be similar to a Downton Abbey season.    It was not.  Though I must say, her mother was an absolute bitch and therefore a delight to read!  But once she was old enough that her mother was no longer in the book, I got very bored and stopped reading it.  2/5 stars.
  9. Wild Within by Christine Hartmann. A romance novel written by my neighbor.  Enough said.
  10. Dealing with Dragons; Searching for Dragons; Calling on Dragons; Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. In which Kiri reads all 4 books in the series before giving birth.  (All chapters in these novels begin, “In which…”)  I love these books.  I used to dealing-with-dragonsread them all the time when I was younger and even with a 10+ year break since I’ve read them…they still are amazing.  The characters are great, the storyline is great, the world building is great.  It’s all great.  I also wanted to read them to see if they pass the independent-female-heroine YA novel I could give to ARM when she gets older and they still do.  It’s the story about a princess who does not want to do what normal princesses do (embroidery, curtseying, marrying prince’s)…so she runs away from her kingdom and becomes a princess to a dragon instead.  The dragon admires her sense and intelligence and they become fast friends.  Meanwhile, wizards are trying to “steal” magic from the dragons and this is a mystery, but of course ends in a climactic battle.  That’s the first book.  The next three continue to follow the princess’s life, but from different point of views.  Book two is from her future-husbands point of view, book three is from her good friend (a witch), and book four is from her son’s point of view.  If you love YA, and even if you don’t, but want an easy read full of magic and fun – definitely read these! 5/5 stars.
  11. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher. This book has a weird place in my heart.  I got it because I was getting induced into labor.  I heard that it can sometimes take 24-48 hours to even give birth when you’re induced and you could be bored out of your mind for a long time…so I wanted a gripping book to sustain me.  I was lucky and was only 8 hours so the book didn’t help much, but I read it during the endless hours of breastfeeding that come with a newborn.  That said, the book wasn’t amazing.  I liked it but I don’t think I’ll be reading the second book.  It takes a lot to keep me enthralled enough to read another book in a series.  My main problem with the book were the characters.  I did not get connected to enough of them to care if they lived or died.  In fact, my favorite character was a cat, Rowl, but only because he was funny.  In order for me to love a book, I have to love the characters.  This book had plenty of swashbuckling fun but if I don’t care if a character lives or dies, then I’m not going to rate it any higher than 3 stars.  3/5 stars.
  12. Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein. This historical YA novel explored the lost Roanoke colony from a fictional character’s point of view, Cate.  Banished by Queen Elizabeth for falling in love with Raleigh, it goes into the people’s first years in America and what could have happened to the people.  The book makes the assumption that half leave after a disagreement in hopes of finding a better area and the other half assimilate into the Native American culture and tribes.  What I enjoyed about this novel was we received two different looks at life from Cate’s view: Elizabethan England and the first colonists in America.  4/5 stars.
  13. Bloodline by Claudia Gray. See my review here3/5 stars.
  14. Broken Skies by Theresa Kay.    Meh…  I liked that the main characters, Jax and Lir, did not spend the entire book fighting but instead fell into a groove early on.  There’s nothing worse than YA teen novels where the two main characters ignore their feelings for each other and bicker throughout the entirety.  I also think Kay did a great job with creating characters and societies that were fleshed out as much as possible for a YA novel.  It was fascinating to see a dystopian world where you weren’t quite sure of the motives of either side – it was a breath of fresh air from most other dystopian novels nowadays.  The main problem I had with this book was that though Ms. Kay was trying to present Jax as a “strong female character”, she still needed a male (first her brother and then Lir) to help her overcome her difficulties and a broken past.  That’s why I give this a “meh”.  My one main problem was actually a big problem for me because it frustrated me the entire way through reading.  I felt the book could be a lot stronger and more beneficial to young girls if we didn’t have Jax so reliant on different men.  3/5 stars.
  15. Clan of the Cave Bear; The Valley of Horses; The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel. Clan of the Cave Bear was amazing.  It was unbelievably good.  It had a slow start, but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down.  The book goes into the story of a young girl named Ayla, who loses her family to an earthquake.  She gets taken in by a prehistoric group who calls themselves a Clan.  Ayla is the “modern” human: completely upright, smart/inventive, pale with blond hair, and can talk easily with sounds.  The Clan is prehistoric: hunched over, broad foreheads, bowed legs.  The book follows her life trying to fit in with these prehistoric people who are the only family she knows, while being so different..and because of that difference, facing hatred from some other Clan members.  She has a baby with one of them that is deformed and at the end, she is forced out of the clan to be on her own.  The next novel follows her living by herself and looking for others like herself, and also following the story line of a man named Jondalar who is like her.  Predictably, they both meet up towards the end and fall in love.  Then it starts going downhill.     Ayla was an awesome character.  Then she met Jondalar and he sucked which made the book almost unbearable. The final novel, The Mammoth Hunters, introduce Ayla and Jondalar to a new group of people and Ayla learns how to live with others like her.  The book also sucked because Auel decided to create a love triangle between Jondalar and another man.  It was excruciatingly painful to read.  How did a series that start off SO WELL end up SO HORRIBLY?  Just read the first book of this series if you are going to read it.  It’s hard, because it leaves on such a cliffhanger, but the last two novels were so disappointing that you’ll get as frustrated as I did.  Book 1: 4/5 stars.  Book 2: 3/5 stars.  Book 3: 2/5 stars.
  16. The Lies of Locke Lamora; Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. I believe this is a trilogy but it didn’t hold my interestlies-of-locke-lamora enough to continue to book three. I learned my lesson with Clan of the Cave Bear.  I’m a little surprised only because the Goodreads reviews on this book are amazing and even my beloved Pat Rothfuss wrote a review on how good it is.  The book follows the life of a professional (and I mean really professional) pickpocket: Locke Lamora.  Think almost like Ocean’s Eleven heist-like novel.  The first novel jumped between flashbacks and current day which made it a little hard to follow but in the end, it was worth it.  The novel didn’t shy away from deaths of main characters, other characters getting screwed over, and nail-biting suspense.  It was long, though.  The novel had a lot of fluff that I think could have been cut out.  I remember debating if I should keep reading when I finished the first one, but I thought, why not?  I’ll try the next one.  It was not near as good and dragged a lot more.  But again, it did not shy away from deaths and I actually liked the main character, Locke, a lot more in the second novel than the first.  I would recommend these books to people who want something different while reading fantasy.  It had a tad of magic, but nothing was overdone and there was not a lot of romance either.  3/5 stars for both books.

 

My favorite book of this year would have been Bringing up Bébé and Clan of the Cave Bear.  I read Bringing up Bébé twice this year, so that definitely says something.  Clan of the Cave Bear was so thought provoking and took a subject that I thought would not be interesting at all and had me crying at the end of the novel.  It was so gripping that I was able to consistently read it, even while sleep deprived and having a newborn.  I definitely recommend it to anyone.  Even though it starts slow, it’s so worth it.

I read a lot of books in series this year, which is unusual.  I also noticed that I didn’t like a lot of the books I read, unfortunately.  Life is much too short to not read good books!  This means I’ll have to pick and choose better this year OR learn that it’s okay to put down a book in the middle of it, instead of wanting to finish because I think it’ll get better.

Mostly, I’m just happy to see that my reading didn’t slow down *too* much since having a baby.  Everyone said it would go out the window but I found that if I make time for reading, I can still enjoy it.

If you want to follow me on Goodreads, here’s my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3910665-kiri I’d love to follow you back!

 

What was your favorite book(s) of 2016?  I’ll put it on my list!

Advertisements

A Thorn in My Side

This blog/article made me angry: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2015/09/16/when-kids-strike-back-against-star-wars/

Besides the obvious fact that it was not written cohesively (I expected a piece on Star Wars with valid points, but instead I prequel trilogyfeel like I got a trip down memory lane), it also shows a lack of encouragement on having a child form her own opinion.

Her daughter most likely does not want to see the Prequels based on what her mother (and others) are saying.  But her mother probably explained the backstory of Anakin, his relationship to Obi-Wan, his secret wife, Padmé, how he turned to the dark side, etc. etc.  And guess where all that information came from?  Ohhhh yeahhhhh, those films that so many fans try to ignore: The Prequels.  Otherwise, we’d all still be questioning and guessing on the back story of our favorite movies.

I don’t think the Prequels were bad.  At all.  However, if you think they were horrible, then that’s your free choice.

When I was younger, my family always encouraged me to make decisions for myself by looking at all the different angles when it came to novels, movies, music, food.  If I didn’t like something because everyone else didn’t like something, I was always quickly shut up when my mother or sister always asked, “Did you read/eat/see it?”  And I would sheepishly reply that actually, no, I hadn’t done that.  In which they would promptly dismiss what I said because it had no validity.

Here’s a sampling of books/movies/music I swore to hate because “everyone else” hated them, and then was encouraged to read them by my family and make my own opinion:

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Harry Potter
  3. The Clone Wars
  4. Country music
  5. The Hobbit
  6. Any and all documentaries (some of them are quite good, I’ve come to learn)
  7. Brussels Sprouts

Here’s a sampling of books/movies/music I thought I’d like because “everyone else” did, but found that I actually hated them:

  1. The Twilight Series
  2. Rap music (for the most part)
  3. Anne Rice novels
  4. Coffee (okay, not really in the same category but I cannot get the appeal)
  5. The Mists of Avalon

Do you see my point?  Even just a little?  “My daughter says she doesn’t even know who Jar Jar Binks is, but she doesn’t want to watch him on screen.”  If your daughter doesn’t know who Jar Jar is, then why does she have a problem watching him?

I’m not perfect by any means, but what I’m trying to say is that we should be encouraged to form opinions after we’ve actually experienced something ourselves.  I can’t imagine all the happiness I would have lost in my life had I never read Pride & Prejudice with the sole purpose to prove to my mom and sister how horrible it was.  What a good book!

Suppose my argument is not good enough.  Okay, fine.  The daughter does not want to watch the Prequels and she made her own opinion that they were horrible.  By herself.  Without seeing them.  Fine.

What makes me further ticked off with this article is that the author did not use this as an exploratory lesson for her child on star wars prequelsstorytelling and the different aspects of it.  She did not bring up that the Prequels are part of the history of Star Wars and you can’t just ignore them. They may not seem to have a huge relevance to Star Wars right now with the upcoming movie, but I know they will be referenced in future films (did you see the photo of Rogue One? Doesn’t that look like podracer parts in the background?).  Or how about the reason George Lucas focused on releasing the Original Trilogy first is because he knew that it was a stronger story than Anakin’s backstory.  Or how about the fact that the Prequels broke new ground with their CGI?  Or that the Prequels are actually a very interesting, tragic love story between someone who is forbidden to be in love and a story about best friends who end up almost killing each other.  Or that the PT show one man’s journey from boy to man and from light to dark – and that after watching them, it highlights the flavors of the Original Trilogy so much more.

I do not have kids, so maybe I’m making too hasty of a judgement.  But I am a Star Wars fan and I think this Prequel bashing has got to stop.  It’s one thing if you were brought up on the OT and were seriously disappointed by the PT.  It’s another when you, as a Star Wars fan, transfer that disgruntlement to your children.

I hated The Clone Wars when it first came out on TV.  But I eventually watched it to and I ended up loving it.  #AhsokaLives

Who can say that won’t happen to this 13 year old girl?

Book Review: Choices of One

I like that I started 2015 off with a Star Wars novel.  I find that somehow fitting, seeing as this year is going to be a huge Star Wars year, what with the amping up of The Force Awakens.

Mei-Mei suggested Choices of One (by Timothy Zahn) to me almost 1 years ago in a random post, and Null definitely mentioned it as well…so thanks to you both – it somehow ended up on my reading list!  What makes it choices of oneso spectacular that it’s my first book of 2015 is that I have a reading list that ranges anywhere from 30-40 books on it at a time and I use random.org to pick the book I read next.  I had 34 books on my list, therefore giving me a 3% chance of actually getting this novel.  Anyway, I found that interesting because I’m looking for reasons that 2015 is going to be awesome and Star Wars filled.

I liked this novel SO much better than my last Legends book (still trying not to write EU), Dawn of the Jedi.  Which is funny, because if I think about what I’m looking for in a Star Wars novel it’s generally something that happens either way before the movies or way after the movies and therefore has no connection to the main characters.  Instead, Choices of One takes place between ANH and ESB and involves the three main heroes as well.

The first third of the book was boring for me.  I struggled with getting into it and found the character interactions between Han, Leia, and Luke to be halting and didn’t flow naturally.  On the flip side, I enjoyed the scenes with the commanders on the Star Destroyer and the scenes with Mara Jade…they kept me reading when I wanted to give up.  I forgot how much I missed reading about Mara.  Though loyal to the Empire and the Emperor at this point, there are still glimpses of the woman we will see her become through her relationship with Luke.

As the novel went on, I thought our three heroes began to find their groove and Zahn did a better job of reflecting what we saw from their characters in the movie onto his paper.  Particularly, I thought he did an amazing job with Luke.  At this point, Luke is not as serious or knowledgeable of the Force as he is by the end of the OT.  He brought to life a struggle Luke had with everyone thinking he is a competent Jedi just because he has a lightsaber and blew up the Death Star, contrasted with how he feels that he knows absolutely nothing except the small training from Ben Kenobi.  I loved reading it and found it weirdly relatable as it can happen to many of us, especially if we start a new job.

When the novel started to all come together toward the end and we find out that Mara, the Hand of Judgment (a group of stormtrooper deserters), and the Rebels are all going to be at the same planet at the same time, I got a little nervous.  I was afraid of Luke and Mara having an interaction pre-Heir to the Empire and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle that.  Thankfully, Zahn threw them in a situation together where they actually do not have a conversation and only briefly glimpse each other.  It’s hard to say too much without spoiling the novel for anyone that wants to read it, but suffice it to say that my fears were unwarranted.

Pros:

  • Overall, Zahn did a good job with keeping the three heroes true to form with personality quirks and attitudes.
  • I liked that there were a lot of larger issues and questions that were brought to life and made you think. For instance, Han’s moral struggles at the end of the novel when he is incognito as an Imperial Officer.  He faced a decisions where he did not have to help the Imperials in their emergency situation and they would all die, which is a benefit to the Rebel cause, or he could help them because in a sense they were a ship full of innocent people facing a common enemy.
  • Null would be happy about this: I actually really, really enjoyed all chapters that had to do with the back cover choices of oneHand of Judgment, a band of deserter stormtroopers who are this murky shade of grey. Are they good or bad?  I loved reading personalities!  In stormtroopers!  Mind blown.  But seriously, that was something I didn’t expect to like so much and I’m actually considering adding Allegiance to my book list because of how much I enjoyed them.
  • It was great revisiting Thrawn and Mara Jade again (though separately). I was afraid of overkill on Thrawn, but he was written in there just enough that there was no overload.
  • My favorite chapters/sections to read was actually Commander Pellaeon’s storyline on the Star Destroyer Chimaera. I loved how he wanted to take everything one step further on his job and showed that there was competency within the Empire.
  • I liked the setup it played between ANH and ESB. For instance, the relationship and conversations Han has with General Rieekan explains more of ESB.  Little moments like that were a nice touch.

Cons:

  • The first third of the book dragged. I couldn’t get into it and was frustrated whenever I had to read chapters with the three heroes.  I felt like it took a while for Zahn to get into the groove of depicting them well, but it could also have been my resistance to actually reading them.
  • It was easily guessable. Don’t go into this novel actually hoping for a surprise at the end.  This is mara jade choices of oneno Game of Thrones and I had figured everything out by the halfway point.  Still, there’s something to be said that I kept reading even if I pretty much knew what was going to happen.
  • Is it just me or was Mara a little less harsh in this book? This could very well just be me since I haven’t read the original Thrawn Trilogy in 10+ years, but I have a distinct memory of her being a little less reasonable.
  • The Luke/Mara scene where they almost-meet-but-not-quite seems a liiiiiitle far-fetched. I was obviously happy they didn’t meet but it still seemed slightly unbelievable.  I also thought it out of character for Mara to just brush aside the name “Skywalker” that she references Vader was obsessively hunting.  I feel like Mara would have done a more thorough investigation on who he is if the name linked to someone Vader was searching for.

Overall, I was much happier with this novel than with Dawn of the Jedi.  It showed that I can read Legends books with the main characters and not give up entirely.  I would rate this 3.5/5 stars.  I liked it more than average, but I couldn’t love it enough to give it 4 stars.

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #85 (and other ramblings)

i know where luke is

Yo.  Lando.  You have absolutely no say on what goes on here.  And, by the way, why aren’t you in handcuffs locked away in some small room on the Falcon?

I mean, that’s what I would do if I had been stabbed in the back.  I can’t believe you’re even allowed in the cockpit to give your opinion.  Sure, we can say he managed a sneaky little rescue operation through Lobot, but he still hosted Darth Vader in Cloud City, froze Han in carbonite, and sold him off to the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett.

This scene is more significant, though.  Here we have Leia using the Force for the first time.  Luke is calling out to her from his precarious position on the weather vane…and she hears it.  How in the world could she hear it/sense it without the Force?

It’s a great moment because it teases at the movie to come.  Obviously, I never saw ESB when it was first released, but I can imagine the questions that came out of this scene.  How did she know where Luke was?  How did Leia hear him call for her?

More interestingly, and I didn’t pick up on this until I was older, is how did Luke know to call to Leia?  Obviously he tries to call to Ben first, but it doesn’t work and I think he knew it wouldn’t work.  Ben told him he couldn’t help him if he decided to go after Vader.

But why choose Leia?  Did he sense that she was strong in the Force?  Did he know she was his sister subconsciously?  Did he know that Han was already in carbonite?  Was it his lingering feelings for her (not as a sister) that made him think of her first?

backstage millennium falcon

My week has been so busy this week! Wrapping up before I go to Australia next week has left me very little time for blog posts.  I can’t wait though.  A week from today I’ll be on my way there.   I just want to be done with work, done with packing, done with stressing, and in Sydney!

Anyone else have big plans for this summer?

ready player oneAlso, I just finished reading a great book and it’s easily the best book I’ve read this year (though we still have 6 months left so it may be overtaken).  It’s called Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.   Look it up, I recommend it.  I mean, I am always reading a novel and rarely do I take time out of this blog to actually say…hey check this out.  So it resonated with me.  I heard they’re making a movie of it, which makes me sad because I love the visuals I have in my imagination.  Anyway, I recommend the book if you like video games, computers, 80s geekery, Star Wars, anything along those lines.  I mean, heck, I’m not even that into video games (the entire book was one long video game) but I still loved most of it.  Let me know if you’ve read it and also like it.

 

INTERIOR: MILLENNIUM FALCON — COCKPIT

Leia seems to be lost in a fog, her expression troubled.  Chewie is busy operating the ship. Lando stands next to the Wookiee, watching a readout on the control panel.

LEIA: Luke…We’ve got to go back.

Chewie growls in surprise.

LANDO: What?

LEIA: I know where Luke is.

LANDO: But what about those fighters?

Chewie barks in agreement with Lando.

LEIA: Chewie, just do it.

LANDO: But what about Vader? 

Chewie turns on Lando, the newcomer, with an ominous growl.

LANDO: All right, all right, all right.

EXTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — MILLENNIUM FALCON — DUSK

The Falcon makes a graceful banking turn back toward Cloud City.

Hey 2013! Nice Knowing You

Oh wow, is 2013 already over?  Seriously?  Didn’t we just enter this year full of new resolutions and excitement?

The only real resolutions I had for 2013 was to find a new job and to start making all of my own teas from scratch.  This was the third time I had made a resolution to find a new job for the next year, so I’m surprised but also grateful and happy that it ended up working out this year.  As for making tea from scratch…nope, didn’t happen.  However, I am going to make some this January, so hey – only a year late.

Looking back at this year, I see that I’ve accomplished a lot.  I bought my first house and experienced all the trials and woes that come with having your own place.  We moved in on one of the coldest days of January, turned the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAheat up, and watched as the house’s temperature raised only two degrees (it was a high of 24 outside, our house went from 55 to 57) over 24 hours.  From there we found out that we had no insulation and had to suffer a cold, cold winter with electric heaters in every room and saw our money fly out the window.  On top of that, we had a huge snowstorm in February that dumped three feet of snow, our garage could not fit my husbands car (one of the sole reasons we bought the house), the basement flooded, our hot water heater broke, and finally our bathtub started leaking, which caused black mold to grow on the ceiling of the garage.  It’s been one thing after another, but guess what?  For the past two months, not one thing has happened!  Knock on wood, but our house is standing with no damage, and I went and bought some paint to reward myself with all the money we saved.  Finally!  I get to do something I want for a change!

We also got our dog, Chewie, who is the sweetest, calmest dog you’ll ever meet.  I’m so thankful that we lucked out with her and she was already housetrained.  She needed a little bit of training, but responds pretty well as long as there’s food and no other dog around.  Also, I would never have thought that I would get a dog with a Star Wars name, but that is a sure sign that she was meant to be with us.

2013-06-08 17.55.25

Chewie right after her summer haircut

This year also saw a few adventures on my part.  I went skydiving, took a hot air balloon ride, got a tattoo, went to quite a few conventions (ConnectiCon, Boston Comic Con, NYCC, SuperMegaFest), and went to Orlando where I experienced Disney World and Universal Studios.  I can’t believe I went skydiving, but man oh man, I’m glad I did now.  It was unlike anything I feel I will ever experience again.  I was also blessed enough to travel to Fort Lauderdale, FL, Las Vegas, NV, and Phoenix, AZ.

In terms of growing as a person, I continued volunteering at a therapeutic horse farm, helping mentally and physically disabled children.  I ended it in September, as I instead signed up for the Big Sister Organization.  I recently got matched with a Little Sister and we have our first official hang out time this upcoming Saturday.  So excited to start the year off on a good foot!

I also read a lot of books this year because that’s how I escape the dreariness that can sometimes overtake everyday life.  Some people drink, some people do hard drugs…I like to dive into someone else’s world.  And now, ahem, to give you my list of books read this past year:

Kiri’s Books of 2013

  1. True Women by Janice Woods Windle.  This book was recommended to me, but I can’t say I liked it.  I found it boring and did not think the writing style was very good.  2/5 stars.
  2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This was my second time reading this book.  I realized I’m drawn to it when I’m going through big life changes and I have the urge to escape from responsibility.  I do not love this book, but I also do not hate it as some people do.  I like her style of writing, the travel, and her ideas, though it frustrates me that she glosses over how she is a little selfish and doesn’t seem to realize how already blessed she is, but instead complains and goes off on this huge travel trip that would cost a normal person thousands of dollars.  4/5 stars.
  3. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.  I loved this book.  LOVED it.  It’s the first book in 2 years (the last book Elantristhat had me feeling like this was The Hunger Games) that I have been so addicted to and could not put down.  The way the plot was written, the characters fleshed out, and the fantasy element to it, sparked all the right chords in me.  Though hefty, I finished it quickly because it was such a page-turner.  5/5 stars.
  4. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose. Boring and not written well; don’t bother.  2/5 stars.
  5. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Ya-Ya was a lot better than I expected and I laughed so hard, but also cried while reading it.   Not many books can evoke both strong emotions from me. I normally don’t like modern day “real-life” stories, but I would recommend this book in a heartbeat.  4/5 stars.
  6. The Time in Between by Maria Duenas.  I’m glad I didn’t give up on this book.  I was so close to putting it down during the first third, but ended up really, really enjoying it.  The pace picked up immensely and there was a lot of tension during the latter part of the book.  4/5 stars.
  7. The House of Rajani by Alon Hilu.  Oh gosh, if you want a downer, definitely read House of Rajani.  I do not like depressing books, but as this book was given to me as a gift, I figured I would read it.  Definitely not fun vacation reading and I would probably never recommend it unless you like historical fiction of the depressing kind.  2/5 stars.
  8. Medicus by Ruth Downie. Medicus was alright and also given as a gift, but not as good as I thought it was going to be.  I learned a little about Ancient Rome, but thought the book could have had less fluff and predictability.  3/5 stars.
  9. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  Not my type of book as I rarely ever read anything that is not fiction, but I loved this book.  As I gear my life and career towards taking on the corporate world, I found this book inspiring and a good kick in the butt that I needed.  It inspired me to apply for a new job that I thought was out of my reach, and guess what?  I got that job.  I recommend it to any woman who is considering a career in the corporate office world.  4/5 stars.
  10. Harry Potter #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 by J.K. Rowling.  I wanted to finish the series before I went to Harry Potter World in Orlando, but that was not to be.  I was only on #5 by the time I got there.  However, I’m glad I reread most of the books because it was an amazing refresher and it brought back all the feelings of how much I love Harry Potter and why his story will never leave me.  I want to read it to my kids and have them love Harry as much as I do. 5/5 stars.
  11. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Good book, but sad.  I wouldn’t have normally read it since there is no magic and all that fun stuff, but my husband loved it and couldn’t put it down.  Therefore, I had to read it, since he never reads and I like to see what captures his interest.  Told from the point of view of a dog, it shows the life of his owner as it starts off happily enough and takes many sad turns, as life often does.  4/5 stars.

Did you guys read any books that blew your mind this year?  My favorite was definitely Elantris.  I’m always open to hearing about new books, especially Fantasy novels, so please let me know if you recommend anything and I’ll add it to my goodreads list.

Overall, I think 2013 has been a highly successful year for me.  I’ve seen a lot of changes, but also did a lot of growing up as I took on more responsibility than I ever have before.

The best part of this year is that I have not had a lot of regrets.  And that’s all you can ask for in the end, right?