quotes Elisquared likes

"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



Into the Dark (Star Wars: The High Republic)
Authors(s): Claudia Gray
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook; 425 pgs
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Kindle Audible
Bookshop.org - Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tour Schedule

Week One
2/15/2021 - Two Chicks on Books - Interview
2/16/2021 - What A Nerd Girl Says - Review
2/17/2021 - _popreads_ - Review
2/18/2021 - booksaremagictoo - Review
2/19/2021 - Westveil Publishing - Review

Week Two
2/22/2021 - @a_bookish_dream - Review
2/23/2021 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt
2/24/2021 - @fictitious.fox - Review
2/25/2021 - Moonlight Rendezvous - Review
2/26/2021 - Eli to the nth - Review

The Summary

Long before the Clone Wars, the Empire, or the First Order, the Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in a golden age known as the High Republic!

Not everyone who hears the call to adventure wants to answer it....

Jedi Padawan Reath Silas loves adventure—reading about it, that is, not living it. Content to spend hours browsing the Jedi Archives on Coruscant, Reath dreams of being one of the great scholars of the Jedi Order. But Reath's master, the well-respected and virtuous Jora Malli, has other plans: she's taken a post at Starlight Beacon, the Republic's shining new outpost on the edge of known space. As her Padawan, Reath must join her, whether he likes the idea or not. (And he most definitely does not.)

So Reath reluctantly boards the ship that will take him and a few other Jedi to the dedication of Starlight Beacon, where Master Jora waits for him to start their new adventurous life on the frontier. But trouble in hyperspace leaves the ship and other nearby vessels stranded, with only an eerie abandoned space station reachable for shelter. And the secrets hidden there will not only bring Reath to a crossroads but, if left unchecked, could plunge the entire galaxy into darkness....

My Review

Star Wars is one of my favorite franchises.  I love the movies, the books, the comics, the everything.  As such, when I got the chance to review Into the Dark (Star Wars: The High Republic) by Claudia gray, I was beyond excited!  I love being able to dive into this new focus on a time in the Star Wars Universe we haven't seen yet!

To get a little overview of the series as a whole I'm going to quote right from Wookieepedia, "Star Wars: The High Republic is an ongoing multimedia project, which spans both comics and books to tell one cohesive story set in the High Republic Era, two centuries prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace."  So not only are we getting books, of which Into the Dark is one, but also comics/graphic novels, spanning adult, young adult, middle grade, and children's (these seem to be mostly retellings of the other books), which is very exciting!  I love that Disney Lucasfilms are giving such amazing authors, like Claudia Gray, the chance to flesh out this period of time in the history of Star Wars.

Into the Dark follows several characters, but our main protagonist is a Jedi Padawan, Reath Silas.  Loving his books and studying the history of the Jedi, Reath isn't keen on adventuring outside of the comforts of Coruscant and the main Jedi Temple.  But where their Master goes, so do Padawans.  When Reath's Master, Jora Malli, is sent on a new mission to the Outer Rim, Reath must follow.  But unfortunately, this assignment will result in disastrous circumstances for Reath and his traveling companions, both personally and for the Jedi Order.

Claudia Gray is an old hand at writing Star Wars novels, and makes you feel comfortable in this world right away, no prior Star Wars knowledge needed.  She is able to get you to care about Reath and his companions immediately, imbuing the Jedi, often seen as emotionless, with humor and passion.  Told from multiple points of view (many of the supporting characters also get chapters told from their perspective) gives you a fleshed out view of the events surrounding, and leading up to, the catastrophic circumstances that are fueling the plot. 

The plot is action heavy with some points of calm, where we get insight to character motivation or a quick explanation of events happening in the other novels (most of the books take place simultaneously or right after one each other), but what I really loved about this story, is the darkness in it.  Not just the "dark side", as we know it from the previous franchise media, but death and destruction is not shied away from.  People die, upfront and rather quickly in the story arc.  We get to see how that effects not only a Padawan like Reath, but two of his companions, Jedi Masters Orla Jareni and Chomac Vitas (old friends who trained as Padawans together).  We all know Jedi can be defeated, but I like that Gray made the point to highlight that fact, and not shy away from it.

Additionally, we have a story within a story, set 25 years earlier, following Padawan-aged Orla and Chomac.  They, too, experience unexpected danger on a mission from the Jedi Counsel, and suffer similar losses to what Reath experiences.  All of it, both the events of 25 years earlier and the present events, leads to the culminating reveal of the "bad guy" of this era, the Nihil.  A group of destructive pirates terrorizing the Outer Rim, the Nihil travel between hyperspace lanes, which resulted in the huge explosion dealt with in the first book of the series, The Light of the Jedi.  But the question begged in this book is the true identity of the "evil" threatening the galaxy and the Jedi Order.

Overall, Into the Dark just cemented my excitement over this new chapter in Star Wars history.  I love that the books will span age groups, and while they are connected, in theory, they can stand-alone somewhat.  This has the potential to pull in other readers who may not be big Star Wars fans.  Quick-paced, engaging, and full of new characters that will capture your attention, Into the Dark by Claudia Gray is a great addition to the Star Wars Universe, and I can't wait to read more!

Final Rating

     The Orincans leveled their blasters at Cohmac as he leapt onto their deck of the station. Magnetically sealed? he wondered of the station. Possibly.
     The blue blade of his lightsaber ignited, its gleam slicing through the murky dark. As the Orincans fired, he spun his saber, expertly deflecting the beams into the trunks of the larger trees that could bear it, or into some of the boxes and trunks of abandoned cargo. None hit the walls, which was his main objective.
     Squealing in consternation, the Orincans beat a hasty retreat. He glanced down just in time to see Orla hold out her lightsaber and ignite it—two blades, shining white, piercing the shadows. The Mizi began backing off immediately. But it was too easy for the looters to escape; the layout of the station meant he and Orla would literally be running in circles trying to pursue them all.
     The Vessel lacked the military heft to forcibly stop the looters from leaving with their ill-gotten gains. Therefore, stopping the ransacking would have to be accomplished through more than sheer strength. Reason and persuasion hadn’t worked, either.
     Time for awe.
     Cohmac climbed the rungs of the atrium railing. His eyes detected Affie Hollow cleverly concealed behind a greenery-overgrown barrier, but that hardly mattered—except that this girl, too, would finally learn what the Jedi truly were.
     He focused his energy and drew upon the Force. Though darkness surrounded him, the sheer vitality of the living things on the station worked on Cohmac like fuel. Strength flooded his body, and ultimate clarity sharpened his mind.
     With that, he jumped.
     Affie screamed, but the sound flowed past Cohmac, just one more aspect of the illusion-reality around him. Reaching out with the Force, he sensed the atrium floor and balanced himself above it. Eight meters above it.
     Levitation was a complex art. The more academic Masters bickered over the reasons why it should be more difficult for Jedi Knights to lift and steady themselves than any other object. Cohmac considered the discussion academic to the point of esoteric; besides, this was a skill that, for him, came naturally.
     As he floated in the center of the atrium, he held his lightsaber above his head. Its blue glow flickered against the exposed slivers of metal as though igniting dozens of small flames. He called out, “Hear me!”
     His voice echoed throughout the atrium, as Cohmac had calculated it would. The sounds of combat slowed, then silenced. Faces of many species stared out, weapons at their sides, slack in astonishment at seeing a human male airborne, held aloft by no power but his own.
Really, it was among the least significant of a Jedi’s abilities. But it made people pay attention and earned their respect, which was all Cohmac required at the moment.
     “In the name of the Republic, I command you to cease looting and thievery aboard this station immediately.” Cohmac’s resonant voice filled the entire vast space, reaching every antenna and ear. “Within fifteen minutes, every captain of every ship now docked here must have done one of two things: packed up their crew and left, or prepared them-selves to peaceably cooperate. You accept the authority of the Republic’s laws and stay, or you reject it and leave. It doesn’t matter which. But choose one, now—or we will be forced to make that choice for you.”
     Nobody hurried to leave. Instead, many of the groups collected themselves, put down the finds they’d stolen, and began shuffling back toward the airlock level. They’d be ready to negotiate. He and the other Jedi would have a chance to discuss the strange phenomenon emanating from the idols, so strongly linked to the dark side.
     But Cohmac didn’t fool himself that he’d achieved any-thing more than a temporary reprieve. As he descended through the air, robe rippling around him, he knew this fragile peace would not last long.

About the Author

Claudia Gray is the author of Star Wars: Bloodline, Star Wars: Lost Stars, Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan, and Defy the Stars, as well as the Firebird series, the Evernight series and the Spellcaster series. She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans. Find her at claudiagray.com, facebook.com/authorclaudiagray, and @claudiagray.

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of INTO THE DARK, US Only.




Spin with Me
Authors(s): Ami Polonsky
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook; 224 pgs
Publisher: FSG Books for Young Readers
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Kindle Audible
Bookshop.org - Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tour Schedule

Week One
2/15/2021 - For The Love Of Kidlit - Excerpt
2/16/2021 - Westveil Publishing - Excerpt
2/17/2021 - onemused - Review
2/18/2021 - Bookish Forever Blog - Review
2/19/2021 - Becky on Books - Review

Week Two
2/22/2021 - My Fictional Oasis - Review
2/23/2021 - Two Points of Interest - Review
2/24/2021 - booksaremagictoo - Review
2/25/2021 - Eli to the nth - Review
2/26/2021 - @fictitious.fox - Review

The Summary

From the author of the critically acclaimed Gracefully Grayson comes a thoughtful and sensitive middle-grade novel about non-binary identity and first love, Ami Polonsky's Spin with Me.

In this elegant dual narrative, Essie is a thirteen-year-old girl feeling glum about starting a new school after her professor dad takes a temporary teaching position in a different town. She has 110 days here and can't wait for them to end. Then she meets Ollie, who is nonbinary. Ollie has beautiful blue eyes and a confident smile. Soon, Essie isn’t counting down the days until she can leave so much as she’s dreading when her time with Ollie will come to an end.

Meanwhile, Ollie is experiencing a crush of their own . . . on Essie. As Ollie struggles to balance their passion for queer advocacy with their other interests, they slowly find themselves falling for a girl whose stay is about to come to an end. Can the two unwind their merry-go-round of feelings before it's too late?
My Review

Spin with Me by Ami Polonsky is a beautiful story about the experience of first love and the complexity of gender and identity.  Polonsky manages to capture the exploration of the macro and micro that pre-adolescence through adolescence embodies.  Children are often overlooked for not having complicated feelings and views of the world, but that is highly inaccurate.  Children, as they grow and learn, experience the vastness of human emotion and situations.  Polonsky manages to explore this in a tangible, digestible way.

Essie must move to a new city in North Carolina with her father for only one school term, while her mother stays behind in St. Louis.  With that move comes all the new kid jitters, with the added layer of her parents' relationship.  On her first day, Essie meets Ollie, and she immediately feels a spark.  The fact that Ollie identifies using they/them pronouns is not shied away from; the reality of Ollie's gender is touched in a respectful way, where it is an accepted part of them, but Essie also explores how she sees herself using this lens.  Ollie is simply Ollie, and Essie falls for them easily.

Other growing pains are explored, such as Essie's relationship with her parents, having to keep up with long-distance friendships, finding her place in her new school.  Each issue is explored thoughtfully and realistically; Essie is immediately relatable as you follow her journey, counting down the days until the end of her time in North Carolina.  A shift in narrative half way through the story is an interesting change, and mimics the repetition of duality and optical illusion used throughout the story.

Gender identity, gender expression, and love in all of it's iterations is a big part of Essie's story, one which is part precious first love and self exploration at it's core.

Final Rating

About the Author

Ami Polonsky is the author of the critically-acclaimed Gracefully Grayson and Threads. She is a middle school English teacher and a parent of two kids, one of whom exists happily beneath the trans umbrella.

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of SPIN WITH ME, US Only.



My 2020 Reading Year

This year for me, as for the entire world, was crazy.  

Once quarantine happened, I thought I would read so much (I'm sure a lot of people thought that).  

But that is not what happened, instead I felt less motivated...at first. But then, things started, not becoming normal, because nothing about this year has been normal, but more familiar (which is a little sad, but reality). 

I got back into my groove.  

Reading has always comforted me, so I was very glad I could get my mind to focus on the one thing, besides my family, that always brings me joy.

With that said, I read 10 books beyond my goal this year!

I know a lot of people have put reading challenges to the wayside, but for me, I utilize it when I am in a slump.  This works for me, to look at my Goodreads page and see if I'm 1, 2, 3+ books behind.  

It forces me to pick a book up, maybe a comfort read, maybe a new release that sounds exciting, but whatever it is, once I start reading I can typically get over that hump.

So to not only have hit my goal (I make it a simple 50 books --- I am in awe of those who read 100+ in a year), but to have gone 10 books over it was quite an achievement for me.

Okay let's break down some stats.  I find it interesting watching/reading anyone's end of the year reading stats videos/blog posts.  Mine is never quite as extensive, but I think it is interesting to track my own reading in different ways.

This doesn't surprise me; Young Adult is my jam.  Any genre, any format, I will choose a YA book 95% of the time...well 50% of the time with 30 books read according to my list this last year.  Young Adult is my comfort zone, and my area of study, so I tend to lean into it more often than not.

Then 35% of my reading with 21 books  was Adult/New Adult, which, again, not super surprising.  I love to read romance as a genre, and all the most steamy are Adult/New Adult (I mean...as it should be).  Most of my Adult/New Adult reading is dominated by romance.  So that is one thing I'd like to try and change this coming year (not off to a great start, 2 of 3 books I've read have been romance...oops LOL).

Then coming in last is Middle Grade/Children at 15% and 9 books read.  Small, but mighty, I am getting more and more into Middle Grade/Children books.  Some have been excellent, and I think this is a category of book that is often overlook for nuance.

Again, not totally surprising as most YA books are 300ish pages, as are most romances (my other comfort genre).  For this, even though I have audiobooks on the list, I took what was the physical hardcover book page count to tally.   This is also a comfort number for me, as 300-350 is usually my sweet spot.  Of course, the one biggin that I read in 2020 was Middlegame by Seanan McGuire --- a perfect book.

Of course, looking at this you would think that the 0-100 books were all Middle Grade/Children, and none of them were: one was a YA short story, one was an art book (that contained words I promise), and one was a smutty novella. 

I love that I didn't use the "crutch" of reading shorter books to obtain my goal this year, either!  I actually hit my original goal of 50 books in October with One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake.  And after that I read a few good sized books.  Not that reading short books is a problem, I just didn't want to force myself to read them in order to reach a goal, if that makes sense?

I still read the most physical books: 19 total (between 6 Paperback and 13 Hardcover), but the fact eBooks are my second highest at 14 books, is surprising to me. But something I took into consideration for this year.  

I had read all of those eBooks on my phone, using the Kindle app; not ideal.  So I did research about eReaders, and purchased a Kindle Paperwhite as a birthday present.  I've already read 4 eBooks on it this month, and I am really loving it.  Always will be a physical book reader, but ebooks aren't horrible as I previously thought.  Also, if you include graphic novels, which were all physical copies, that total bumps up to 32 total physical.  So definitely my still my preferred format.

A lot less audiobooks, but that is not surprising.  I have moved back into the city where I work, and I am commuting only twice a week to the office.  So no more long car trips 5 days a week where I can get a good chunk listened to.  I am not a audiobook listener anywhere but my car, so that number will probably stay low in 2021.

Finally, let's talk Star Ratings.  I use to use this elaborate like 10 point system, then give an A+ - F score.  But that got exhausting, so a couple years back I just went to Stars.  I do use half Stars because sometimes a book is good, but not quite full step up good.  You need an in-between option.

So overall, I had the most 4 to 4.5 Star books this year.  Not surprising, since I tend to be generous with my ratings.  I do not typically read books I am not going to like.  But I have also come to the conclusion that a 3 or a 3.5 Star is pretty good still.  So for 2021, I am really going to consider if this is a book I would recommend to people (a 4/4.5) or if this is just an enjoyable book, but maybe not a high recommendation (3/3.5).

And then my 5 Stars are only going to be 100% percent, loved and would recommend to everyone reads.  Which for 2020, I tried to keep that in mind, and I had some very good books.

So out of the 60 books I read 20 of them received 5 Stars; about 33%.  Then I had 33 4/4.5 Star books; about 55%.  The 3.5 Star or lower was only 12% of my overall reading.  I think that will definitely be changing.

Now I did some analysis, but y'all probably want to see the books I read.  So here are just the covers of all 60 books I read in 2020 (thanks Goodreads for putting them together so nicely):

A plethora of excellent books, I really enjoyed my reading year in such a godawful time.  I had a lot of slumps, but was able to finish strong.  I hope that 2021 is the same or even better (January was excellent for me; February...isn't going as well).  

If you found some new books to read through this post, let me know in the comments, and happy reading!

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