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Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

My Thoughts on Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

My love for Classic Literature has never wavered. And while I must admit that “Man In the Iron Mask” was not my favorite book ever, it was also not my least favorite book ever.

My first introduction to the Three Musketeers was the PBS show “Wishbone” about the dog who retold stories from Classic Literature. My second was the 1993 film with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chriss O’Donnell, and Oliver Platt. I loved them so much I had to read the book, and I loved the book start to finish.

But that was where my adventure with this series ended until recently. I had The Man In the Iron Mask on my read list for several years before it finally floated to top of my audio book collection. I listened to it, I enjoyed some parts, did not really enjoy some others, but loved the story as a whole.

Without giving away any details, what I learned most from this read was the way Dumas concluded the adventures of Porthos, Athos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan the four friends that all began with The Three Musketeers.

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Book Reviews

My Thoughts on V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

From V For Vendetta – Alan Moore

My Thoughts on V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

My first introduction to V For Vendetta was the film with Natalie Portman. When the film came out, I was already in love with Natalie from her role as Queen/Senator Amidala from Naboo in the Star Wars Series. But after seeing her play Evie. Well, she became a favorite actress of mine.

I loved the film so much that I immediately checked out the graphic novel. And I loved that as much as I loved film.

So let’s fast forward a few years. I was faced with a challenge. Write a dystopian story. I thought about my favorite dystopian stories. 1984. Hunger Games. That old graphic novel, V for Vandetta. Hey, I loved V. Let’s check it out again. So I jump on my computer and go to my library’s site and low and behold. My eyes widened. My heart beat increased. Alan Moore had written V as a novel, and it was available as an audiobook. Double wow.

The next day I was listening to the audiobook at work, and I forgot where I was, what I as doing. Because I was transported to the world of V For Vendetta, and I fell in love with Evie all over again. This time with the character Evie, not with the actress. Well, I had to not listen to V at work, but I listened to it everywhere else. I have never been so completely engaged with someone else’s story before. The novel was every bit as good as the graphic novel and the film.

What did I learn from it? Dystopian world building. Structural beat for a dystopian story. World-building. Character development. Effective use of backstory. Symbolism.

A current work in progress of mine, Dragon’s Deceit, was strongly influenced by themes, symbolism, and the beat of V for Vendetta.

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Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

My Thoughts on Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Okay, so maybe split timeline stories are the wave of the new Disney-Approved Canon of Star Wars stories. The Ahsoka book did it, Thrawn Alliances, Dooku Jedi Lost, and now Master & Apprentice. I wonder if the new Queen Amidala stories are split-timeline. I’ll find out when I get to them.

Even though I am interested in reading more split-timeline stories, because I am working on a project that I think will work best as a split-timeline, I did not choose this one because of that. I chose this story because it is about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, two of my favorite Jedi. They are the perfect pair. Obi-Wan believes in the rules and traditions of the Jedi, but has a bit of a rebellious streak, and Qui-Gon believes in listening to the living force and doing what the force asks of him as it asks it.

This story had a lot to offer to me. I care a lot more about the force and Jedi religion than the technology and science of the Star Wars-verse. I was enthralled with this tale from start to finish.

Aside from seeing how a new author (well, new to me, I mean) wrote a split-timeline story, I learned a lot about character development, and humanizing your characters. One of the side characters in this story is a friend of Master Jinn’s, and he had a rough backstory. Forgiving oneself for past mistakes is not easy, especially when someone close to you dies or is injured as a result of that mistake. And Gray did a great job of showing that in way that touched my heart.

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Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

My Thoughts on Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Yet another Star Wars book that tells two stories, one in the present and one in the past. I am beginning to wonder if this is the new norm for Star Wars.

This was an interesting read, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I loved watching Dooku’s adventures, learning about Dooku’s past, and understanding what turned him from Jedi to Sith Apprentice.

Seeing another split timeline book is probably my biggest takeaway. I learned tons from the author about how to weave two seemingly different stories from two seemingly different timelines into one complete story. I don’t think I am ready to try my hand at it yet, but I am interested in reading a couple more to see if I can glean anything from other authors on the execution.

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Book Reviews

My Thoughts on Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Prachett

My Thoughts on Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Prachett

My first introduction to Good Omens was the Amazon Prime Original Mini-Series, and I loved it so much I had to find the book.

My first thought after finishing the book was, “wow, I wonder if I can ever co-write anything like this with a friend.”

So, my biggest takeaway here is to find a friend that is willing to co-author something, and to make that something magical.

Because Good Omens was magical. I loved every minute of it, both the book and the mini-series.

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My Thoughts on Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George

My Thoughts on Saturday at Sea by Jessica Day George

And now I have finished the Castle Glower series. My kids asked me to read it, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

And after reading Saturdays at Sea, I was impressed with the author’s ability to write one major story arc that lasted for five books. When I realized that the series is about the castle becoming whole, I saw how each book supported that plot.

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My Thoughts on Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George

My Thoughts on Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George

Of all the Castle Glower series, this one was my least favorite. But it had its good parts, too. The personality of the castle is always fun for me and my kids to see. The personalities of the griffins, and how the griffins and their riders bond is fun to see.

I think the biggest lesson for me with this story is the hook at the end. I finished this book, and because of the end hook, I had to pick up the next book and see what happened next.

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My Thoughts on Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George

My Thoughts on Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George

Settings have backstories, too.

Thursdays with the Crown was a great story. It was a lot of fun to see the kids bonding with their new pets. The world building was great. The character development was solid, and believable.

But my biggest takeaway was that settings have backstories.

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My Thoughts on Thrawn Alliances by Timothy Zahn

My Thoughts on Thrawn Alliances by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn Alliances is Book 2 of the New Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, but due to my impatience and when my library had Alliances available compared to Treason, I actually read Book 3 before I read Book 2.

It didn’t seem to matter, because the two stories stand alone so well, while at the same time combining to tell an epic space opera.

Alliances is basically two stories. One happened in the past, one is presently happening. It is a form of story telling that I have been dabbling with, so I paid close attention to how Zahn did it.

While I was not able to crack any unseen code about how I can use the same style of timeline jumping, I did appreciate seeing it in action.

I mean, I love Thrawn, I love Star Wars, and I loved this book, but as an author writing this blog post, my biggest takeaway from Alliances was the jumping of timelines, and how backstory plots and present timeline plots can be used by the author to write a cohesive novel.

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My Thoughts on Thrawn Treason by Timothy Zahn

My Thoughts on Thrawn Treason by Timothy Zahn

This book was a masterpiece. But first, let me share this. I lost track of book order of the new Thrawn trilogy, and I was able to borrow Treason before Alliances from my library and I was impatient. So I know Alliances is book 2 of the new Thrawn Trilogy, and Treason is book 3, but I am sharing them on my blog in the order I read them.

Oh my goodness, this was beautifully written. Zahn is a genius.

For those of you not familiar with the timetable, this story takes place during two other timelines, the Rogue One movie, and the Rebels animated series. And Thrawn is heavily involved in the Rebels series, but not involved in Rogue One, though Krennic & Tarkin from Rogue One play roles in Thrawn Treason. That is what made this so beautiful to me. The author, Zahn, did not create a plot that was unrelated to everything else, but instead wrote a plot that weaved through the timelines from Rogue One and Rebels, and in several instances enhanced backstory and character development of both other stories. That was my takeaway. That when a new plot overlaps a previously published story, to work with and enhance what came before while making something new.