Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.
I was hoping this would be an origin story, getting to know more about Thrawn before he joined the Empire. But this is more about his rise to power and the obstacles along the way. The character development is fantastic. And while the story has little in the way of action and adventure, the political intrigue is fascinating and often thrilling. This was an engaging, fast-paced read. And to see Thrawn’s brilliant plans unfold is very enjoyable for fans of the impressive character.
Star Trek: Section 31: Control by David Mack
No law…no conscience…no mercy. Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answering to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group pledged to defend the Federation at any cost. The discovery of a two-hundred-year-old secret gives Doctor Julian Bashir his best chance yet to expose and destroy the illegal spy organization. But his foes won’t go down without a fight, and his mission to protect the Federation he loves just end up triggering its destruction. Only one thing is for certain: this time, the price of victory will be paid with Bashir’s dearest blood.
Julian Bashir and Sarina Douglas find themselves on the run again. But this time from more than just Section 31. When they uncover a huge secret that leads back to the beginning of the Federation, they have no idea how encompassing it is.
This latest Star Trek novel is incredibly fast-paced and exciting. While Bashir’s story plays out, we get flashbacks to early in the Federation as well. With plenty of familiar characters, from Data and Lal to Bashir’s long-time friend Garak and many more – Star Trek fans will enjoy the nostalgia and fun interactions. Mack has developed an impressive storyline of intrigue and suspense. My favorite Kirk quote certainly fits here: “I take it the odds are against us; and the situation is grim.” I thoroughly enjoyed this thrilling novel with a surprising finale.
Marvel: Spider-Man 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book
First, there were adult coloring books. Now, dot-to-dot books!
Dot-to-dot artist Thomas Pavitte has created 20 intricate puzzles of at least 1,000 dots each, all from the Spider-Man universe. Wow, these are not for those with a hard time seeing up close. Some of the numbers are so faint that I have to stare at them for a while and look at the numbers around them to see if it’s correct. But it is nice that each set of 100 are a different color so it’s not too insane.
But these get extremely addicting. As soon as I finish one, I’m on to the next. These adult dot-to-dot pages take at least an hour and are definitely not as stress-relieving as adult coloring books. But they are incredibly fun. I’m definitely going to check out the others in this series.
Alone by Scott Sigler
Pawns in a millennia-old struggle, the young people known only as the Birthday Children were genetically engineered to survive on the planet Omeyocan—but they were never meant to live there. They were made to be “overwritten,” their minds wiped and replaced by the consciousnesses of the monsters who created them.
Em changed all of that.
She unified her people and led a revolt against their creators. Em and her friends escaped an ancient ghost ship and fled to Omeyocan. They thought they would find an uninhabited paradise. Instead, they found the ruins of a massive city long since swallowed by the jungle. And they weren’t alone. The Birthday Children fought for survival against the elements, jungle wildlife, the “Grownups” who created them . . . and, as evil corrupted their numbers, even against themselves.
With these opponents finally defeated, Em and her people realized that more threats were coming, traveling from across the universe to lay claim to their planet. The Birthday Children have prepared as best they can against this alien armada. Now, as the first ships reach orbit around Omeyocan, the final battle for the planet begins.
Em has created an alliance between her young human survivors and the aliens on the planet. But outlier aliens continue to attack. And her own people are changing, growing more aggressive. Meanwhile, new ships are arriving and there seems to be nothing that can stop them.
Alone is the final installment in a thrilling YA, science fiction trilogy. As everyone’s aggression escalates, Em eventually discovers the cause. But with an enormous invading army and the human ship still being led by Em’s malevolent creator, Em is running out of options. This finale is packed with action, drama, mystery, and suspense. It’s a much larger novel than the predecessors, but it’s still fast-paced. There are many twists and shocking turns that build to an exciting and satisfying ending.
Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Vol. 1: Who Is Oracle? (Rebirth)
Barbara Gordon is no stranger to secrets. She’s the daughter of GCPD Jim Gordon, the vigilante known as Batgirl and was once Oracle, the most powerful hacker on the planet.
Someone new has resurrected the Oracle mantle that Babs once controlled, and whoever is behind it is sending Batgirl on a wild chase all across Gotham City. By her side are two equally dangerous vigilantes–Dinah Lance, the rock star-turned-hero known as Black Canary, and Helena Bertinelli, the lethal spy code-named the Huntress.
Can this mismatched trio come together in time to solve the mystery of the new Oracle and defeat the villainous forces arrayed against them? Or will these Birds of Prey have their wings clipped before they can even get off the ground?
The Birds Of Prey have relaunched with Batgirl, Black Canary, and a mysterious Huntress. When a person calling themselves Oracle leads the group into trouble – Barbara must find out who’s using her moniker. The villains in this storline were a bit hokey. Though, there was a nice twist at the end. And I really liked how Huntress was handled – she’s a bit standoffish and not as trusting as the other team members. And the Oracle was a fun twist too, though [Spoilers ahead] there’s something a bit disappointing about a man being a part of the Birds of Prey. I really prefer the all-female team to remain all-female – that’s what makes them unique and awesome. Granted, the Oracle is a behind-the-scenes partner, so I can see that angle too. I’ll probably keep reading, but hope for another female Oracle in the future.
Cyborg Vol. 1: The Imitation Of Life (Rebirth)
When a shocking discovery about his own origin makes Victor Stone question everything he thought he knew about his identity and his humanity, it seems Cyborg might be more machine than man after all. But if that’s the case, which side will Cyborg take when a mysterious cybernetic entity decides to start a war between man and machines?
Now, the people Victor Stone cares about the most are caught up in the crossfire, and the choices he makes may mean the difference between the survival of mankind and an artificially intelligent future. Can Cyborg display the heart of a hero…or will he be torn in two by his dual nature?
Cyborg is a fantastic character, so I was excited to check out the latest relaunch of his solo series. Victor Stone has a traumatic backstory – one that unfolds as throughout this graphic novel. It was confusing at times, trying to figure out if the scene is a flashback, dream-like sequence, or presently unfolding. There is a lot of story and action packed into this first installment. It also got very wordy at times, and I found myself wanting to skim a bit to get back to the meat of the story. The artwork varied. Sometimes it was too dark and not easy to see what was going on. Other times, it was great and bold and fit the mood. There are some really great twists to the story and a cliffhanger ending that definitely made me eager to read the next in the series.
Lantern City Vol. 3
Sander Jorve gave up everything to change Lantern City: his family, his home, even his identity. Now, with a ruthless force of outlaws rising from the Underground, an emperor gone mad, and a desperate army from beyond the Wall converging on the city, Sander will have to choose a side…if he can remember what he’s fighting for.
Lantern City Vol. 3 is the final installment in the Lantern City saga. Sander doesn’t agree with the militant leader of the City’s rebellion, yet he also has realized that Emperor Killian Grey is no better than his predecessor. There doesn’t seem to be a good choice – until he chooses his own side.
This steampunk world is vibrant and exciting. From the beautiful artwork to the engaging story and characters – this has become a fast favorite series. And the climactic finale didn’t disappoint. It was bittersweet to finish this graphic novel, as I love this world and the characters. I enjoyed the finale, but I will miss this series.
The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159 by Steven Piziks
Raymond Reddington brings Elizabeth Keen a new Blacklister: the Bodysnatcher, an unnamed, unknown man who has turned kidnapping into an art form. But when Lizzie and the team move to intercept the Bodysnatcher, they discover that he is not their real target. Their real target is much more sinister and it will take all their strength and dedication to resist him – and to discover what Reddington is really after.
The Bodysnatcher has been stealing away people and handing them over to a cult-like group led by the Beekeeper. When following the Bodysnatcher, Liz and their strike team are ambushed and several of the group are either killed or taken by the Beekeeper. And Liz must use all of her skills to out-think and trick her captor to stay clear-headed enough to escape.
This original Blacklist novel is set sometime last season. Mind-washing cults are already creepy, but adding in a guy with such incredible resources made the suspense even more intense and exciting. Fans of the show will enjoy this thriller where Liz gets to shine. I have enjoyed Liz’s character growth throughout the seasons from a naive and reserved person to the bold and confident woman she has become. The author has done a great job of keeping the characters true and developing an original story that hasn’t been done before. With plenty of fun twists along the way, this story is a great addition to the series.