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Star Wars

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: All about Princess Leia in PRINCESS OF ALDERAAN and BLOODLINE

BooksKristina PinoComment
star wars leia princess of alderaan book cover.jpg

Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

If you've ever wondered what Leia's life might have been like on Alderaan as a 16-year old princess training to lead her planet as well as for her position in the senate, this is the book for you. In this book we are introduced to a Leia who hasn't gone to war yet or suffered any major loss in her life, is accompanied by her parents, and has her first kiss. Folks who have watched The Last Jedi will also recognize a few people (like Amilyn Holdo) and places (like Crait) of significance to this story as Leia starts to rise as the leader and rebel she becomes in Episode IV and beyond. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys a strong female protagonist, character exposition, and just a good story in general. I highly recommend it on audio. 

 
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Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

In contrast to LPOA, Leia is a bit older in Bloodline. This book takes place several years before the events of Episode VII, and it comprises the events leading up to Leia's ultimate decision to leave the government and become the resistance general she is in the latest films. A terrorist attack is carried out in the senate building, the government is divided between two parties that care more about opposing each other than actually making anything happen, and amid all this, Leia gets a taste of action again when she gets involved in an investigation of a crime cartel. This book also expresses the moment when the galaxy finds out that Leia is Darth Vader's daughter, something she's kept secret all this time because she simply can't reconcile it. I also highly recommend this on audio, and I recommend it for lovers of action, political intrigue, and just a little bit of nostalgia. 

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: STAR WARS: AHSOKA

BooksKristina PinoComment

I'm always up for a good Star Wars adventure, and Ahsoka didn't disappoint. It takes a little bit to wind up to the action, but once Ahsoka starts making some decisions about where she wants to take her life and the kind of person she wants to be, things pick up quickly. For some reference: Ahsoka has survived the Jedi Purge and is hiding out in the Outer Rim as Ashla. She is a mechanic for hire and is trying to avoid attachments. Soon enough, she finds herself drawn back to a life of do-gooding, but this time, it's on her own terms. This story had me cheering at the end of it and wanting for more. Great for any kind of Star Wars fan, but especially those who enjoyed Clone Wars and Rebels.

Friday Things: 03/01 - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Frozen Fever

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Welcome to another link dump! It's a new month.. actually, it's my last month as a resident of Japan. Ahh!]

On Disney:

The latest Disney Kingdoms series comic is starting up next month: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I'm pretty excited about it.

Disney has opened up some areas where you can enjoy the parades and fireworks at the Magic Kingdom - great that they're doing this, because it's getting tough to find a spot to chill and enjoy the show these days.

There's a cute trailer out for Frozen Fever.

New series announced: LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales. Definitely interested in watching that.

On Sexism and Feminism:

"John Travolta, Joe Biden, and why men touch women's bodies without asking."

Dove started this "Speak Beautiful" campaign encouraging ladies to post more positive status updates on Twitter. That's kind of garbage, so here's a list of books to help you speak your mind. (if you're wondering why I think it's garbage, there's a good explanation at that link, too)

Stuff I Wrote:

On PANELS: Art Roundup: Spotlight on Poison Ivy.

On PANELS: Comics Fetish: Volume 20 (Robots and Cyborgs Edition).

Other:

A pal of mine is involved in a new comic! Read it free online.

The question: Why do adults read so much YA and teen fiction? The answer.

[Have a wonderful week!]

Friday Things: 02/02 - Monday Edition, feat. Cinderella, Mos Eisley, and Tokyo

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Welcome to another week of... winter! And links! And stuff! Yeah, I know, I'm late. Here they are!]

On Movies:

Have another look at Cinderella. The bells are grating, but it looks pretty cool overall:

In case you're curious about what's canon and not in the Star Wars universe, and a reminder that even when things are taken off the canon, they still exist and you can still love them.

Over on Star Wars (dot com): 7 Things You Might Not Know About the Mos Eisley Cantina.

From/On Japan:

As it turns out, Tokyo is the safest city in the world. Osaka is in the top 5 along with it, and NYC is the only US city on the list.

Waaay too expensive, but these fruit-shaped note pads look so great.

Great little guide by my pal Lauren Orsini on writing anime reviews.

Stuff I Wrote:

At Panels: Comics Fetish: Volume 16 (weekly comics merch column)

At Panels: Art Roundup: Spotlight on Quackerjack (weekly art column)

Other:

Some tips for getting great photos in/of snow or when it's snowing, whether with a regular camera or a phone.

This might be my favorite Let It Go parody yet:

[Have a wonderful week!]

Friday Things: 12/26 - Year-end links

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Heyo! This is the last link dump of the year. Whooooa.]

On Movies:

Laika has announced their next film!

Interesting conversation between a 5-year old girl and her father about Leia's slave outfit.

How to draw Hiro from Big Hero 6.

On Games:

Awesome episode of Nerdy Nummies in which you can learn to make Mario Kart turtle shells cake pops.

New Final Fantasy XV trailer!

On Artists and Social Media and Stuff:

A nice little post about why Stephen Amell (from Arrow) totally wins at social media. I love his Facebook page - if you aren't following it, consider it.

Great read, because I'm tired of it, too: "Stop trashing artists who disclose their finances."

Other:

The most adorable tea bag holder ever is a polar bear fishing in your tea mug.

It's a little late, but I like it enough to share for general festive-ness: "How to Decorate Your Bookshelves For the Holidays."

Great read by Annie Fitzsimmons about the Galapagos.

[Have a wonderful New Year!]

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: HEIR TO THE EMPIRE, THIS ONE SUMMER, and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC

Books, Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

I don't think the three books I'm looking at this time around could be any different from each other, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

It was a long time coming, but I've finally started reading the Thrawn trilogy! This book takes place five years after the events of the last Star Wars film (at the time of writing, that's Episode VI) when Leia is pregnant with her and Solo's twins, and Luke is trying to figure out how to become a better and stronger Jedi so he can lead and teach others. We meet a few new characters, including the kick-butt Mara Jade and the super strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn, from whom this book trilogy gets its name. I guess I should also clarify this book is classified as non-canon now.

Thrawn is hell-bent on destroying the New Republic with the goal of restoring the Empire to glory. It's well-paced and fun to read, and the author really has a great sense of the characters. If you enjoyed the movies, you should have no problems diving into these and actually seeing the scenes play out in your head.

Being the first of a trilogy of books, it should be obvious that Thrawn is no chump. The danger he poses to the main characters feels real and bears a lot of weight because you know their problems aren't over with the first book. Very exciting, because we know that they're going to pull some fab narrow escapes and fancy maneuvers to get out of each scrape. And that's one of the things I love most about Star Wars.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

This graphic novel was gifted to me by my fellow Rioter and Panelteer Brenna, who got me as her gift exchange recipient person. I pretty much started and finished it on the very day it was delivered to my door.

Rose and Windy are pals who see each other every summer at this beach-side cottage getaway along with their families. They're 15 in this story, which makes them a little too old for some things they always enjoyed doing, but too young for some of the teen-age/new adult/parental drama that's going on. The book has this quiet sort of atmosphere to it - it's hard to explain, I just felt "quiet" reading it. It isn't colorful and the panels are hand-drawn and everything has this awesome mix of manga-like toning and brush strokes like an ink painting.

There is and there isn't an over-arching plot: there's stuff going on, but the focus is more inward, more on the two main characters and how they're dealing with all the stuff going on around them than the events themselves. And of course, how they help each other deal. The book touches upon some of the bigger issues that plague teens at their age, like sex and gender, as well as the different kinds of relationships they may have with their parents.

Great book about growing up, and gorgeous presentation by First Second and everyone who participated in its design.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I picked this up at my village library because, more than anything else, I was surprised to see it there. Being in Japan, and out in the countryside, a lot of the books in the English language section are either cook books, picture books, children's fiction, some middle grade and young adult, and a good chunk of classics. I didn't expect to see fiction about a stylish London girl who is up to her eyeballs in debt because she can't resist shopping despite being a financial journalist and really knowing better. It seemed fun and random enough that I grabbed it.

I've seen the movie adaptation once, a long time ago, and I was surprised to find that the book was much kinder to the protagonist. At least, my vague memory of the film is I spent a lot of time cringing and feeling really embarrassed for her, but I liked this book version much better. Rebecca is quite silly and easily distracted most of the time, but I enjoyed her internal monologues and day-dreaming. Fine little fluff, easy to read, had some laughs.

Don't jump into this expecting anything deep or some complicated plot - it's a fun read and things just kind of happen. The entire thing is written in the present tense, which I'm not really used to. I mentioned before I picked this book up because it surprised me to see it at my local library, but there's more: I also grabbed it because I like to drop wild card books that I normally wouldn't into my reading pile now and again. Variety is the spice of life, right? Anyway, am glad I picked this one.

Friday Things: 12/08 - Comics Butts, Snack Subscriptions, and Penguins in Berlin

LinksKristina PinoComment

[I know, I know - it's not the weekend any more. To make up for that, more links than usual, below!]

On Books and Comics:

Russell Brand was appalled to hear that his former school had its library cut, and has pledged the money to set that right back up. Very cool.

A colleague of mine filmed a great tutorial on making a book wreath. If you don't mind cannibalizing an old book, it's a great decoration idea.

A 7-year old girl who loves bugs complained to a publisher when she noticed a book she recently loved was labeled "for boys." Their response was to totally change the book series to be gender-neutral.

Funny quiz on Panels by a colleague re: comics butts.

On Travel:

Get a tour of Berlin with my pal Martin and his penguin pals.

This is a fantastic article about the benefits of moving away somewhere you don't know anybody, which is what I did when I up and moved to Japan. It's been such a great experience for me, and I hope more and more people give it a try.

On Disney and Theirs:

Some people who don't know Star Wars lore very well were really upset when they saw a black dude in Stormtrooper gear in the first Star Wars Episode VII teaser. Let's set them straight.

Being from Miami, scarf-tying isn't one of my skills. This helps a little bit.

The French poster for Pixar's Inside Out looks rad.

Stuff I Wrote:

On Panels: Holiday Gift Guide: Toys and Collectibles for Everybody

Also on Panels: Comics Fetish Vol. 10: Ugly Sweater Edition

Other:

If you love Japanese sweets and snacks (or sweets and snacks in general), there are actually a couple of subscription services out there to feed your cravings! My pal Lauren Orsini reviews one such service, called Oishi Fun.

The title says it all, really: "Why You Should Believe Shia Labeouf's Rape Claims."

If there's a tutorial somewhere for these Northern Lights nails, I need it. Wow, so pretty.

[Have a great week!]

Friday Things: 10/19 - All the Halloween Things

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's getting colder.... brrrrrrr]

On Halloween:

Oh My Disney posted a cute thing with costume suggestions/ideas you can put together yourself.

Some great food-related DIY ideas from Rosanna Pansino.

And an eyeballs in meat sauce dish from Panko Bunny.

Comics-related craft ideas and patterns I rounded up for Panels.

Some literary DIY costume ideas I put together for Book Riot (and a hilarious selection of literal literary Halloween costume ideas from a fellow contributor).

On Disney:

More Big Hero 6 trailer stuff!

First trailer for Disney's Tomorrowland.

How to draw Winnie the Pooh.

Other:

McDonald's hired a Mythbuster to prove that their food isn't as bad (or low quality) as the media likes to portray it. Very cool campaign.

Check out the Humble Star Wars Comics Bundle. I'm pretty excited about it. This sale is going on until next week.

[See ya next week!]

Bite-Sized Book Reviews: DARTH VADER AND SON, VADER'S LITTLE PRINCESS, and GOODNIGHT DARTH VADER

Books, Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

In case you couldn't tell, the theme this time around is Jeffrey Brown's graphic novels about Darth Vader in a zany alternate world where he gets to raise Luke and Leia. Though I read Vader's Little Princess a while back, I read the other two more recently, and decided I may as well review them all together. By the way, I've also read Jeffrey Brown's Jedi Academy and wrote my thoughts on that earlier this year.

Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess

I have a lot of the same things to say about both of these books, so I'm going to review them together. In each, we get to see mostly the relationship between Vader and the respective twin implied by the title. A lot of the scenes in the book come straight out of the movies, but with a bit of humorous parenting added. Iconic lines, locations, characters, and lead-ins to what ended up being important conversations in the films were adapted to parenting, or botched by one of the kids. Many new scenes were also made up, of course, such as Leia getting dropped off at school or learning to pilot.

If I really had to choose just one of the two, I found Leia's way funnier, and I feel like Brown got so much more creative with it than with Darth Vader and Son. Some of the themes Princess dealt with extended beyond the little moments with a young kid, and spanned into "she's growing up too fast," which Son didn't. Either way though, both are fantastic, warm-fuzzy-feeling, and make great nightstand table or gift books. I highly recommend them for Star Wars (old and new) fans of all ages - even folks who don't really know the franchise.

Goodnight Darth Vader

I was so happy when I learned this book was a thing - it was just released this week. Though the other two books I talked about above had brief other-twin-cameos, they largely dealt with Vader's relationship with just the one sibling. In Goodnight Darth Vader, we get to experience bedtime stories as told by Big Daddy himself to both of the twins at bed time. Sure, it isn't the Luke and Leia antics I was hoping for, but it's still a surprisingly sweet book that brings up a ton of characters and aspects of the Star Wars universe in the context of hitting the ol' hay. Cameos include Han Solo and Chewie, Ahsoka Tano, General Grievous, Admiral Ackbar, and even Sebulba. Brown dug deep and wide to include all sorts of characters and create funny scenes about what they all do when it's bed time.

As with the above books, I recommend this one for all ages and all levels of Star Wars know-how.

Friday Things: 07/04 - Passing the stormtrooper armor on to a little girl in need

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Ooooo, on time this week! Yeah!]

On Disney:

Recipe from Disney Cruise Line: summer pudding (loads of berries included)

A preview of The Art of Frozen with a focus on the 2D art of Love is an Open Door. Buy it on Amazon.

DIY wire Minnie Mouse ears.

Cute new Disney Fairies short:The Pixie Hollow Bake Off.

On Comics:

Janelle Asselin wrote something important about Wonder Woman and feminism.

Looks like two new Gotham-related titles are coming out starting October from DC Comics. Read more about Gotham Academy and Arkham Manor at DC Comics' blog if you're interested. For my part, I'm casually optimistic about Gotham Academy.

The Mary Sue has a preview of Storm #1. Looks rad.

On Books:

I want to visit all of these indie bookstores.

(Hey, I wrote a thing!) How-To Tuesday: Fantastic Trees to Read Under and Where to Find Them.

Other:

If you're into animation, you should check out Glen Keane's Duet.

You can now have your cupcakes and eat their wrappers too.

Beautiful: Katie, who had been bullied and was awarded a custom set of Storm Trooper duds from 501st legion, found out about another girl who was going through a rough time with bullying, and she passed the armor on. Talk about paying it forward.

[Have a wonderful and safe weekend, especially if you're celebrating Independence Day! Remember to be courteous re: fireworks if you are near a combat veteran, and keep your dogs away.]