To Continue? Or Not To Continue?

…that is the question.

No, dear readers, I’m not talking whether to continue writing this blog or not. I’m talking about a book I checked out of the library last week.

Do I like this book? Or don’t I? That is (also) the question.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve probably gathered I’m a fast reader. I actually have to force myself to slow down and enjoy books sometimes, as opposed to completely inhaling them. That’s why it’s surprising that this book, The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville, is taking me forever to get through. I’ve had it for a whole five days now and I’m maybe a third of the way through, if that.

It’s odd because though I don’t dislike the book, I also don’t love it. I feel completely neutral about it. It is an odd book because though it’s supposed to be a sequel to The Afrika Reich, which I also read, you don’t really need to have read the first book to read this book.

I have yet to decide whether to finish it or not. I keep reading bits and pieces of it sporadically. By the time I do decide whether it’s worth finishing, I’ll probably already be done and there won’t be a decision to make then.

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Charlotte’s Biggest Fan

No, I’m not talking about a little green parakeet named Charlotte—I’m talking about the British author Charlotte Brontë, who is one of my favorite writers.

Thanks to me, two of my coworkers are now reading Jane Eyre (it’s only the best book ever). I’m happy that I had a long, extended conversation with these two coworkers about the merits of the Brontë sisters and their work. We came to the conclusion that Charlotte is our favorite sister and that the Brontë sisters’ work is much easier to read than Jane Austen’s. Not that I don’t love Jane Austen, but sometimes I do find her prose a little… turgid.

Spoilerific Review of ‘Thrawn: Alliances’

You guys, I wrote my Goodreads review, as promised! It is full of spoilers—seriously, if you don’t want to know a lot about the story, don’t read this! I’ll say it again: there are a ton of spoilers in this review! Proceed with caution! 🙂

Thrawn:  AlliancesThrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time. (Anticipation tends to make time drag out.) It did not disappoint.

Even though this book is a sequel to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn, you really don’t need to have read the first one to understand this. (You should read it, though, because it’s AMAZING. Seriously, Thrawn single-handedly turned me into a Star Wars fan.) Eli Vanto is mentioned once, and Commodore Faro showed up at the end of the previous book, but that’s about it. Instead, this book has references to some of the prequel trilogy, to other books, and to the TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels (I haven’t seen the shows, so I discovered that by looking up a few things I didn’t understand).

Random obscure references can be frustrating, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s excellent. I really enjoyed the interactions between Thrawn and his crew—he really is a good leader, so much so that I wish managers at work would emulate him more—as well as Thrawn and Vader, past and present. Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Darth Vader is in this book (he is a main character, as you can probably tell from the cover) and Zahn writes him well. I could hear all of his blunt, pithy statements being said in James Earl Jones’ voice from the movies.

I really enjoyed how Vader didn’t want to reveal his past. A few times, Thrawn makes reference to the fact that they met before, which Vader denies. By the end of the book, Thrawn knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Of course, the two of them don’t have some heart-to-heart about this. But I still enjoyed seeing this mystery play out.

Another unexpected part of this book was the inclusion of Padmé. I love Padmé! Unfortunately, her sections were the weakest, mainly because Zahn had so little to work with concerning her. The Star Wars canon has never done her justice, unfortunately. The good news is Zahn did the best he could with what he had—you’ve got to start somewhere.

By the end of the book, we discover a big secret about the Chiss—they navigate through hyperspace using Force-sensitive kids, whose strength in the Force diminishes as they grow older. These children, some of whom were kidnapped by the Grysk, a new species of alien, were the source of the disturbance Palpatine felt at the beginning of the novel. Thrawn and Vader have completed their mission and developed a grudging respect for each other. (Seriously, one of the most entertaining aspects of the this book is seeing Vader snipe at poor Thrawn for almost the entire time.) Vader promises to back Thrawn’s TIE Defender project. Thrawn says the emperor is interested in expanding the Empire to the Unknown Regions, something Thrawn is an expert in. The threads are all wrapped up by the end of this book, unlike in the prior one. I’m not sure where Zahn will go with a third book, if there is one (and I dearly hope there will be because MORE THRAWN).

Final verdict: if you’re a Star Wars fan, a Thrawn fan, a Vader fan, or all of the above, you will enjoy this. I wasn’t very happy with some of the references I didn’t understand, but those are few and far between and do not take away from the story.

View all my reviews

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Was As Good As I Expected

Cue the music, everyone. Perhaps the Imperial March from Star Wars is appropriate, because the book I’ve been waiting for since last October is here.

At long last, Thrawn: Alliances was released into the world this past Tuesday (four days ago). The library copies arrived and were processed into the system, so on Thursday morning, I went to the library to collect the copy I’d reserved.

Here it is sitting on my coffee table!

I read it and finished it already! I’ll probably write a spoilerific review on Goodreads at some point, but my overall impression is that it’s decent. Timothy Zahn took the story in a direction I didn’t expect, but that’s not a bad thing.

I expected the book to be a direct sequel to Zahn’s prior book Thrawn, but that wasn’t really the case. In fact, I think you could easily read Thrawn: Alliances without having read Thrawn, which I find very odd. I was hoping some of the unresolved problems from Thrawn would be explained, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps there will be a third book to tie it all together. (We can hope!)

Edited to add: According to this interview, Zahn has pitched two sequels! Thrawn: Alliances was one of them, so there could be a third book in the future!

Another thing that was unexpected about Thrawn: Alliances is it’s not a very good entry point into the Star Wars universe. I read Thrawn without ever having read a Star Wars book. I hadn’t seen most of the movies, either, but it still made perfect sense. I didn’t get that same feeling with Thrawn: Alliances. If you try to jump into the Star Wars universe with this one, you’ll probably be confused. I was confused about some references, to be honest.

So was it worth the wait? I’d say yes. Seeing Thrawn and Darth Vader sniping at each other (okay, let’s be honest, most of the sniping is coming from Darth Vader’s side) was pretty funny. And this dedication is priceless. I even took a picture of it because it made me laugh.

I’m so glad Timothy Zahn has a sense of humor!.

As scary as this sounds, I’ve worked with people more horrible than Darth Vader was in this book. Just pointing that out, in case anyone was wondering. There was a reason I left my previous toxic job…

ONE MONTH!

One month, dear readers! Actually, as of today, June 25, less than a month remains until this book is released!

I found it on Star Wars Wiki here.

And in case you haven’t noticed, I can’t wait! Not even joking, I may have to call in sick on Tuesday, July 24, so I can stay home and read. 😉

(Okay, I am kidding… I’m on a massive project that will still be going on at the end of July, so I’ll probably dutifully end up going to work anyway. But the temptation to just not go in will be strong.)

Happy Friday!

Dear readers, I set myself the personal challenge of blogging every day this month… but the problem with such challenges is sometimes you don’t have anything to say or just don’t feel like blogging! And therefore you have to put up a somewhat pointless post. This is such a post.

I know I had all day to write something, but there was a crisis and then I had to make dinner and clean and vacuum, though I never did get around to vacuuming, and suddenly I realized it was past ten and I hadn’t blogged.

So, I am going to do a little fiction editing and then go read. I’m reading Ahsoka right now and it is so good. Seriously, if you’re a Star Wars fan and you haven’t read it, it’s definitely worth a read.

Books, Books, And More Books

I went to the library today to check out a couple of books.

Four Timothy Zahn books at once. That’s how big of a fan I am.

Instead, I walked out with five science fiction books, four of them by Timothy Zahn. I also have a couple of ebooks checked out (we have Overdrive at our library system).

Obviously, you can never have too many books, but now that I look at that stack, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, considering I’m editing a manuscript and have knitting projects I want to work on as well! 😉

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Excerpt is Posted Online!

So, if you’ve been reading my blog regularly or following me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m really, really, really excited about the impending release for a certain science fiction book that’s coming out this July called Thrawn: Alliances. It’s the sequel to Thrawn, which came out in April of 2017. Thrawn is an excellent book—if you like science fiction and haven’t read it, you definitely should read it.

I’m pretty sure that Thrawn: Alliances will be just as awesome. I’m not crazy about the title, but that certainly isn’t going to stop me from reading the book and enjoying it. And how am I so certain I’ll like it? Simple. On March 23, StarWars.com posted an excerpt from the novel and it is going to be amazing. I can’t wait!

If you’re as excited about the book as I am and haven’t read the excerpt, go read it! I don’t really think there are any big spoilers in it, assuming you know the basic premise of the book.

Now if only a publicist at Del Rey would see this post and decide to send me an advance copy… hint hint. 🙂

Admitting Defeat

There are no defeats—only temporary obstacles.
–Admiral Alexander Kolchak

Almost a year ago now (I’m embarrassed to even type that), I started reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The White Guard in Russian. As I write this right now, I still haven’t finished The White Guard. I haven’t even made it halfway. In fact, I’ve decided to give up on it for now.

I feel bad giving up on it because I like Bulgakov. His magnum opus, The Master and Margarita, is amazing. We read that during second semester of my advanced Russian class. It’s fabulous and fantastic and I can’t say enough in praise of it.

I did not feel this way about The White Guard. I found most of the story plodding and the characters tiresome. I may have been able to power through that, though, if I had a better Russian vocabulary. I felt like I was looking up every other word. Bulgakov writes a lot of complicated sentences, too, so once I’d looked up all the words I didn’t know, I’d have to figure out the sentence structure. By the time I figured out the sentence structure, I would have forgotten some of the words already. Imagine this repeating with every page I read. It was enough to drive one mad!

So that is why I must bid до свидания (goodbye) to this book. I’m not saying I’ll never give it another try. After all, my lack of Russian vocabulary is just a temporary obstacle, right? For now, I’m going to read something else. What that something else is, I don’t know. Suggestions are welcome in the comments—either contemporary literature, nonfiction, or the classics. I’m open to suggestions.

Ivan Bunin

While reading the weekly roundup of Imperial Russia-related news over at Royal Russia News this weekend, I found this great quote about Russian author Ivan Bunin, a White émigré, fervent anti-Bolshevik—and the first Russian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

[Cursed Days] is regarded as one of the very few anti-Bolshevik diaries to be preserved from the time of the Russian Revolution and civil war.

His scathing account of his last days in Russia recreates events with graphic and gripping intimacy. His criticism of Bolshevik leaders is unparalleled, referring to them as “pitiful, dull, mangy-looking creatures”.

On hearing of the death of the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, in January 1924, Bunin gave an emotional speech in Paris, in which he dubbed Lenin a degenerate by birth, who committed the monstrous crime of crashing the world’s most powerful nation and killing several million people

[…]

Bunin was the first Russian writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1933). He was revered among White emigres for his anti-Bolshevik views, and regarded him as a true heir to the tradition of realism in Russian literature established by Tolstoy and Chekhov.

Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin died in Paris on 8 November 1953.

I’ve wanted to read Cursed Days for years, but still haven’t got around to it. However, that little excerpt I quoted above makes me want to read it even more. I have so many Russian books on my to-read list, it’s ridiculous. And I take forever to read in Russian, so I often avoid doing it. Meanwhile, the list grows and grows and grows… That’s just the Russian to-read list, by the way. I have a to-read list of English books, too.

Sigh. So many books, so little time.