Book Review | Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

BOOK REVIEW

TITLE: Ahsoka

AUTHOR: E.K. Johnston

PUBLISHER: Disney Lucasfilm Press

RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016

GENRE: Science Fiction; Young Adult

BUY LINKS: Amazon | B&N 

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance. (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(***Please note that this review may contain spoilers***)

I started reading Ahsoka because she has become one of my favorite Star Wars characters. I watched The Clone Wars series with my husband (during quarantine) and was hooked. Ahsoka is a strong female character and I truly enjoyed watching her story unfold and was devastated when she left the Jedi Order.

To start my Star Wars Canon Reading Challenge I wanted to find out more about her story after Order 66. I wanted to know where she ended up, what she was doing, and was she still using the force. This book didn’t disappoint and I saw much of the Ahsoka I came to know watching The Clone Wars, but she had new struggles to deal with and unfortunately, was dealing with it on her own. There were no other Jedi she could lean on anymore.

Ahsoka was looking for a planet with a small population; somewhere where she wouldn’t be recognized and can lay low. Raada was exactly what she was looking for at first. Most of the book is centered around what happens on Raada, but also focuses on Ahsoka’s struggle with keeping her Jedi powers a secret. She wants to protect those around her, but she also wants to protect herself and any fellow Jedi that may have survived after Order 66. So she blocked herself from the force. 

At some point the Empire decides to take over the agricultural moon to use their soil and their labor for their own agriculture project. They forced the town to plant and harvest something that the Imperials could consume in low gravity environments. I think the food source was intended to be used for those working on the Death Star project, but that’s just my theory and what it made me think of.

Ahsoka teams up with several of the locals and comes up with a plan to sabotage the Imperial walkers, but they were doing it in a way that would make it seem like they got destroyed due to the elements of Raada. Their plan would have worked if it hadn’t been for a few other locals having their own plan to attack the Imperial base. Their plan went wrong and Ahsoka had to try and save those that were a part of this secret plan. Some ended up dying and Ahsoka finally had to reveal her powers to save as many others as she could.

She eventually had to leave Raada to protect everyone else because now that she revealed she was a Jedi the Empire would be looking for her again. She was right. This is when the inquisitors are introduced that we end up seeing in the Star Wars Rebels series. The inquisitor is tasked with finding this Jedi and destroying them.

Once Ahsoka is off Raada she goes back to the planet where the book started and she had to flee from. She gets her old job back with the Fardi family and continues fixing things for them. She ends up gaining their trust to make deliveries in their ships. While making these deliveries she takes on some of her own missions to help others. The missions aren’t planned, she just helps those when she comes across them so that she doesn’t get the attention of the Empire.

Her good deeds don’t go unnoticed by Bail Organa of Alderaan. He could tell these are the acts of a Jedi and he tasks a few of his pilots to find them. He doesn’t know who it is yet, but needs to see if this Jedi can be persuaded to join the rebellion he’s building in secret.

Eventually Ahsoka and Bail meet again and she’ll help his rebellion with one favor. She needs help saving the people of Raada. So Ahsoka ends up going back to Raada and fighting this inquisitor. She wins of course, but ends up getting her new kyber crystals for her lightsabers in the most unlikely place (I don’t want to give this away). She saves the people of Raada with Bail Organa’s assistance.

I tried not to get too deep into details when writing this review, but I needed to get across that no matter where or what Ahsoka does she’s going to be pulled back into the war and fighting the Empire. She’s a good person and doesn’t want to see anyone suffer, so she risks her own life (revealing her Jedi powers) to save others. She is heroic and strong. I feel that even though she closed herself from the force for so long she became even stronger than before after deciding not to hide it anymore. Stronger than when she was in the Clone Wars.

I really enjoyed reading this book because I had just finished watching Star Wars Rebels so it was nice to put a a few other pieces together on how Ahsoka and Bail Organa teamed up again and how Fulcrum started.

I highly recommend the book Ahsoka if you’re a Star Wars fan and want to know more about this character or the storyline leading up to the Star Wars Rebels series.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS | TWITTER

E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she’s learned anything, it’s that things turn out weird sometimes, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it’s about a pairing she likes. (Bio from Goodreads)

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Star Wars Canon Book Reading Challenge

I’ve been really into Star Wars since The Force Awakens was released. So ever since then I’ve been watching various Star Wars series and movies. I finished watching Clone Wars and Rebels in 2020 during quarantine.

Now I want to learn more about some of the characters I’ve come to love from the Clone Wars and Rebels series, so I decided I’m going to read all the Star Wars Canon Books using this timeline I found online from The Hashtag Show. It gives a timeline list with everything from the movies, TV series, comics, and books so I have an idea of where the books I’m reading are at in the Star Wars Universe. I’m not going to read the comics, novelizations, or young reader books. Just the novels and young adult books.

What is a canon book?

“Star Wars Canon refers to everything in the Star Wars universe that takes place on-screen in the main films or is mentioned in materials such as comics and novels published after 2013.

For something to be considered “canon” in Star Wars, it has to be confirmed either through an official story (e.g., Queen’s Shadow) or by a Star Wars creator (e.g., if Dave Filoni confirms something about Ahsoka, it’s canon).

If something is referenced in a Legends story — anything outside the movies written before 2014 — it’s not considered part of the Canon.” (excerpt from Youtini)

I started with the book Ahsoka because she’s now one of my favorite characters and you’ll be seeing the book review soon. I’m sure this is an ambitious goal, but excited to read all these books. Looks like around 52 books added to my reading list and I’m sure more will be published before I can get to all of these. Wish me luck!

You can check out my progress here.

My 2021 Reading Challenge

2020 was an interesting year to say the least and with the amount of time spent at home you’d think I would have accomplished my reading challenge. Nope…I didn’t and my goal was only 12 books. lol

I spent a lot of my quarantine doing other things like cleaning the apartment, drawing, painting, and binge watching series like Star Wars Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels just to name a few.

So for 2021 I have set my reading challenge at 12 books again. Will try to read at least one book per month. Hope everyone has a great year (better than 2020 for sure)! Happy reading!

Book Review | The Return by Nicholas Sparks

BOOK REVIEW

TITLE: The Return

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: September 29, 2020

GENRE: Romance, Fiction, Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

In the romantic tradition of Dear John and The Lucky One, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the story of an injured Navy doctor — and two women whose secrets will change the course of his life.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, NC. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.
Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while gearing up for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . and yet, from their very first encounter, his connection with Natalie Masterson can’t be ignored. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road from his grandfather’s cabin. Claiming to be 19, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. When he discovers she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues — until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could ever have anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began. (Description from Goodreads.com)

MY THOUGHTS

I can always count on Nicholas Sparks to write a novel I can’t put down. While I couldn’t completely connect with these characters, like I’ve been able to with other books he’s written, the book was still enjoyable and he created some interesting and complex characters.

Trevor is a veteran working through his PTSD while also going through the pain that came with his grandfather’s passing. The mystery behind where his grandfather was when he died also gnaws at him. While going through his grandfather’s belongings and fixing up his house he meets many people in the town that he becomes interested in and curious about. One of them is a police officer named Natalie and a young girl named Callie.

Trevor really likes Natalie and wants to get to know her, but she’s very guarded and Trevor has no idea why. He makes several attempts to take down her wall, but once he thinks he’s gotten through there’s another wall. Trevor has his theories about why she keeps closing him out, but what he discovers is nothing he ever expected, but it gives him what he needs to let her go…at least until the end.

He also meets a young girl named Callie who lives in a trailer park near his grandfather’s. The fact that she seems so young intrigues him, but also that it seems she knew his grandfather. Trevor tries to talk to Callie about his grandfather to see if she could shed some light on the mystery of where is grandfather was when he died. But Callie wants nothing to do with him. Callie’s story and finishing his grandfather’s journey to help this young girl is what gives Trevor a new purpose and helps him keep his mind off Natalie.

In the end, they all end up where they should which is exactly what I’ve come to expect from a Nicholas Sparks book. If I look at his work as a whole The Return is not my favorite, but its still good. I would recommend it if you’re a Nicholas Sparks fan or you can connect with a character who is a veteran with PTSD.

OVERALL RATING

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Mother – A Poem

Mother

By Danielle Olson

When I’m alone I often think of you my dear mother

How can I still have so much anger in my heart and yet miss you dearly at the same time?

I do wish I could talk to you one more time

Hear your voice

Tell you I love you

Is that something you can know after death?

I wish I told you more in life

Oh, how I wish I could have saved you

Wish I could have silenced your demons

Wish I had the patience

Wish I had the understanding of what weighed heavy on your mind

Could there have been something…anything to alter your thoughts?

Could I have changed things if I listened to your pain?

I feel guilty for all the things I truly wanted to say

For if I spoke my true mind you would never forgive me

My words would have made your life darker

I would have caused your mind to travel deeper into your oblivion

 

Unable – A Poem

Unable

by Danielle Olson

Your eyes while open are lifeless

Unable to express words

You allowed the darkness to consume you

Or have you always been chained?

Unable to break free

I know who chained you

And yet I didn’t save you

Fear – A Poem

Fear 

By Danielle Olson

Avoid anything you once did I must

So as not to become what I fear most

My fear is that I would become you

I cannot become you

It would destroy me

Mother’s Death – A Poem

Mother’s Death

By Danielle Olson

Oblivion…

Oblivion was in your eyes

Oblivion…

Oblivion took your mind

Oblivion…

Oblivion took your soul

Oblivion…

Oblivion was your undoing

Oblivion…Oblivion…Oblivion

For eternity

Book Review | The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

BOOK REVIEW | THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME

TITLE: The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

AUTHOR: Robert Iger, Jim Frangione (Narrator), Joel Lovell

PUBLISHER: Random House

RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2019

GENRE: Business, Biography, Nonfiction, Leadership

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | BETTER WORLD | INDIEBOUND

A grand vision defined: The CEO of Disney, one of Time’s most influential people of 2019, shares the ideas and values he embraced to reinvent one of the most beloved companies in the world and inspire the people who bring the magic to life.

Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Competition was more intense than ever and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think bigger—think global—and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.

Twelve years later, Disney is the largest, most respected media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Its value is nearly five times what it was when Iger took over, and he is recognized as one of the most innovative and successful CEOs of our era.

In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he’s learned while running Disney and leading its 200,000 employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership, including:

• Optimism. Even in the face of difficulty, an optimistic leader will find the path toward the best possible outcome and focus on that, rather than give in to pessimism and blaming.
• Courage. Leaders have to be willing to take risks and place big bets. Fear of failure destroys creativity.
• Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can be made on a timely basis. Indecisiveness is both wasteful and destructive to morale.
• Fairness. Treat people decently, with empathy, and be accessible to them.

This book is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger for forty-five years, since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It’s also about thoughtfulness and respect, and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology.

“The ideas in this book strike me as universal” Iger writes. “Not just to the aspiring CEOs of the world, but to anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently themselves, as they navigate their professional and even personal lives.” (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

Everyone who knows me, knows I want to be CEO of an insurance company one day. I’m very careful and thoughtful about my path to achieving this goal one day. I’m invested in learning as much as I can from the leaders I know and those that inspire me. I work extremely hard to make an impact in the company I work for and I’m very passionate about us succeeding. I also know that I need to take professional risks and feel a little out of my element. This will and has helped me grow in so many ways.

With that being said, I have a big career decision coming up that would have a significant impact on my future and my goals. So I started thinking about the CEOs that inspire me and Robert Iger immediately came to mind. I thought this was the perfect time for me to read his book, The Ride of a Lifetime.

This book is part professional leadership lessons, but also part autobiography. He tells the story of his time leading up to becoming CEO and then some of the biggest changes in Disney’s history while he was CEO. He tells us what was happening, what he was feeling, and how he approached each person he needed to work with. Then he sprinkles in his perspective and lessons on leadership during each of these moments.

Here are some of my favorite lessons from Iger. These resonated with me the most while I’ve been working through my thoughts on this potential role.

  • “Innovate or die, and there’s no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new or untested.”
  • “There are moments in our careers, in our lives, that are inflection points, but they’re often not the most obvious or dramatic ones.” 
  • “My instinct throughout my career has always been to say yes to every opportunity. I wanted to move up and learn and do more, and I wasn’t going to forgo any chance to do that, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of doing things that I was unfamiliar with.”

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you want to be in a leadership role or even if you want to better yourself professionally. Iger has a lot of valuable advice and I feel confident using it because of the success the Walt Disney Company has seen while he’s been CEO. You’d also enjoy this book as a Disney fan to get an inside look at how decisions are made from the very top and what it takes to keep this enormous entertainment company relevant and growing.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Robert A. Iger is Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He assumed the role of Executive Chairman on February 25, 2020, in conjunction with the announcement of Bob Chapek being named as Chief Executive Officer. As Executive Chairman, Mr. Iger will direct the Company’s creative endeavors, while leading the Board and providing the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance to ensure a smooth transition through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021. Mr. Chapek will report to Mr. Iger in his capacity as Executive Chairman, and to the Board. (Description from Walt Disney Company website)

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Book Review | The Traitor by V.S. Alexander

BOOK REVIEW | THE TRAITOR

TITLE: The Traitor

AUTHOR: V.S. Alexander

PUBLISHER: Kensington Publishing Corp

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.

In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.

As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. (Description from Goodreads

MY THOUGHTS

(***Please note that this review may contain spoilers***)

Before I jump into my thoughts about The Traitor, I wanted to start with a quote from the author’s notes. “I can safely say that fewer Europeans outside of Germany, and most Americans, particularly young people, know little of the resistance movements like the White Rose and the Red Orchestra. Their only exposure may be a mention in passing during a history class on World War II. This is another reason I wanted to write The Traitor. We should never forget”. (The Traitor, V.S. Alexander)

For almost a year, I’ve been reading various historical fiction books surrounding WWII because I wanted to continue learning about this time in history. Like the author said, “we should never forget” and books like The Traitor and all the others I’ve read are making sure we know about the people that resisted Hitler’s evil and the horrors of that terrible time in history. We should never forget so that we never see this again in our future.

The Traitor is based on a real group called the White Rose who “composed four leaflets, which exposed and denounced Nazi and SS atrocities, including the extermination of Jews and Polish nobility, and called for resistance to the regime” (History).

Rather than focus on the real life founders and participants of this group, V.S. Alexander created fictional characters that could have been really part of the group. I thought this was a great path for the author to go because there’s more that he could do with the characters and there’s less pressure to be historically accurate with real individuals. However, he still included the founders, Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as other prominent members of the group, but made sure to be true to who they were.

This book was different from the books I’ve read recently, as it focused solely on the perspective of one person, Natalya Petrovich. Other books usually include perspectives from several different people. I liked that I was able to follow just one person’s thoughts and experiences throughout the entire war. We follow Natalya through seeing her town (Munich) destroy jewish establishments all the way to the American liberation of the POW prison she was working at.

V.S. Alexander really captured the horrific circumstances, torture, manipulation, blackmail, and deceitfulness that Natalya faced after she was arrested for being a member of the White Rose. She was consider a traitor to the Reich and every day could have been her last. She spent years in prison, was sent to an asylum, and escaped with the help of others who resisted Hitler’s rule. There was a lot of death along the way and Natalya lost a lot of people, but she didn’t lose hope and kept on going despite everything she’d been through. She was a very brave woman and I suspect there were many women like her that actually existed during WWII.

Overall, this book was amazing. I couldn’t put it down and would highly recommend reading it regardless of the genres you do or don’t read. It’s a great story about resilience in the face of death and uncertainty. It’s a look into another piece of history that you may not know enough about. Most importantly, it highlights the evil that plagued its time and how people overcame it and fought against it. I look forward to reading more from this author and happy I discovered him on NetGalley.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

V.S. Alexander is an ardent student of history with a strong interest in music and the visual arts. Some of V.S.’s writing influences include Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, or any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters. V.S. lives in Florida and is at work on a second historical novel for Kensington. (Bio found on Kensington Publishing Corp website)

Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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