Book Review – Star Wars: Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston

Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston is the latest entry in the Disney-era line of Star Wars novels. It's the second time that Johnston has penned a novel about Queen Amidala, after writing Queen's Shadow last year. Whereas Queen's Shadow found Johnston expanding on Padmé's time in the Galactic Senate after stepping down as Queen of Naboo, Queen's Peril bookends the Padmé story by going back to the time immediately after she was elected Queen. Johnston again focuses heavily on Padmé's relationship with her handmaidens, and fans of the series are sure to recognize some familiar faces as the Queen assembles the group. Much like Queen's Shadow, Queen's Peril is mostly targeted at a YA audience.

Book Review – The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became is the latest from acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. Building off of the short story The City Born Great, The City We Became is a fantasy/horror novel about a group of 5 people that have been chosen by New York City to protect itself from an evil threat seeking to destroy it. When I say chosen by New York City, I'm not talking about a democratic election. Jemisin utilizes the mythos of New York City as a core fabric of the book and personifies the city to make it both a character and setting. It's something that I felt to be very unique and original.

Book Review – South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

South of the Border, West of the Sun is one of the most famous works from the acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It is the shortest book that I have read from Murakami, at just over 200 pages. South of the Border tells the story of a man named Hajime. Murakami tracks Hajime's life from a childhood love through adolescence and then through middle-age, which finds him married with two children. At the heart of the book is Hajime's struggle with never having lost the obsession of his childhood sweetheart, Shimamoto, and the threat this obsession poses to his domestic life when circumstances find her re-enter his life.

Book Review – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes focuses on an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. For those who recognize the name but can't place it, Snow is president of Panem during the happenings of the Hunger Games and is the primary antagonist from the trilogy. The Hunger Games are only in their tenth year and the physical and emotional trauma from the war with the districts are still fresh in the minds of the population of the capitol.

Book Review – Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect is the fifth entry in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. It's the first full length novel of the series. The previous 4 Murderbot stories have all been novellas. The series follows an AI "SecUnit", an android whose responsibility is to protect those who it is contracted to, named Murderbot. Murderbot has gained some freedoms not usually afforded to bots and much of the series' charm comes from Murderbot trying to understand the human condition.

Book Review – The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds finds a land where monsters called mystings linger in the wildwood beyond the village, threatening the townspeople. Our main character, Enna, is one of the few who engages in the kind of rituals and magic that might get her ostracized if the other townspeople were to find out. Enna's willingness to strike a deal with a mysting to help protect herself and her father leads to trouble after the deal goes awry.

Book Review – Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases

Fight of the Century is a collection of essays edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, each of which focuses on a specific landmark case that the ACLU helped argue. The release earlier this year celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the organization and recruited some literary heavyweights like Ann Patchet, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, and so many more to contribute to the cause. I picked this up on a whim, seeing that Chabon (one of my favorites) was helping edit, along with some of the other names involved, and I'm very glad I did.

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