Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Kenobi Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

Kenobi Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

This is my favorite Star Wars book I’ve read in a long while. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though.

THE PLOT: After delivering newborn Luke Skywalker to the Lars farm on Tatooine, Obi-Wan Kenobi sets up his home on Tatooine to keep watch over the child. His intent is to change his name to Ben and keep a low profile…but he is reluctantly drawn into the problems of the nearby farmers and their ongoing battle with the Sand People (and each other). Annileen Calwell (nicknamed “Annie”…a deliberate move on the author’s part) is a widow who runs a general store with the “help” of her two teenage children. Her deceased husband’s best friend, Orrin Gault, is a smooth-talker who has started the  “Settlers’ Call,” an alarm to bring aid to settlers being attacked by Tuskens. We also get the point-of-view of a Tusken named A’Yark. Of course, all is not as it seems, and “Ben” is forced into the forefront in order to keep innocents safe.

MY TWO CENTS: I loved this book, which kind of shocked me. I actually devoured it within a couple of days, which I haven’t done with a Star Wars book in a long while. I loved the very “American West” feeling you get from the settlers, their farms, the general store, and their mannerisms. You get the slightest hint of romance when Annileen and her teenage daughter both develop crushes on Ben…which we know, of course, can never be reciprocated. In fact, there’s a lot of dramatic irony going on here. We know the whole story, while the settlers know pretty much nothing. Ben works hard to hide his true abilities from everyone, although the Tuskens are the first (and just about only) ones to figure it out. We get to see Obi-Wan struggle with guilt over what he did to Anakin and grief over his lost friends and way of life. The villain is pretty darn sleazy. Luke, Owen, and Beru do not appear, even though they are mentioned.

BOTTOM LINE: If your’e looking for the typical space dogfights or lots of Jedi action, this may not be the book for you. (There is SOME Jedi action, but it’s done pretty stealthily.) But if you’re interested in the gaps in Obi-Wan’s history, really love the idea of Star Wars as a Western, or just want something different from the norm, then I highly recommend it.

TEACUP RATING: I easily give this five teacups. I really enjoyed the writing and the characters.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Boleyn Deceit (Boleyn Trilogy #2) by Laura Andersen

The Boleyn Deceit Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

The Boleyn Deceit Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

This is the second book in a trilogy that follows an alternate reality in which Anne Boleyn gave Henry VIII the son he so desperately needed. I loved the first volume, and wondered if this one would hold up.

THE PLOT: Intrigue abounds in this volume. It appears to be Catholics versus everyone else…but who is the real enemy? Minuette and Dominick continue to hide their love from William (aka Henry IX), who firmly believes he will be able to abandon his betrothal to the French princess to marry childhood friend-turned-true-love Minuette, no matter what it costs the kingdom. Meanwhile, Elizabeth uses her renowned intellect to figure out what’s going on, and keep her brother and friends safe.

MY TWO CENTS: I love how the skewed reality marries with true history in this world of Andersen’s. I hate to say it, but I get the most enjoyment from watching Elizabeth’s activities and personality develop in a world where she’s always been a beloved royal princess, never lost her status, and appears to be merely a royal sister to be married off in the best diplomatic bargain rather than a future queen (even though at this point she’s still heir presumptive to the throne).

BOTTOM LINE: I was delighted to read on Andersen’s website that there will be a second trilogy that takes place in this reality. I won’t give spoilers; you can check her page yourself if you want to read the plot of it. It looks like something I feared would happen will, indeed, happen, but that it will be the catapult to the second trilogy, so maybe it’s okay. Or maybe we’ll learn a long-hidden secret that brings about the second trilogy. Either way, I’m looking forward to it!

TEACUP RATING: I love these books and easily give this entry four and a half teacups.

ON SALE DATE: The Boleyn Deceit will be on sale November 5th.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Confessions of Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy #3) by Juliet Grey

Confessions of Marie Antoinette Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

Confessions of Marie Antoinette Front Cover (Random House Publishing Group)

Anyone who has been following Juliet Grey’s trilogy knows where this last book is going, so no one should be expecting a happy, pleasant read. It’s a GOOD read about the progress of the revolution, mostly from Marie Antoinette’s point of view, but if you feel even the slightest sympathy for Marie Antoinette (which you probably do if you’ve read the whole series), it’s a tough read.

THE PLOT: The book starts with the women’s march on Versailles of October, 1789, and ends with the guillotine in October 1793. Although the story is primarily told in first person from Marie Antoinette’s point of view, you also get brief interludes in the third person from the POV of Louison, an apparently real-life member of the lower classes who took part in the March on Versailles and fainted at Louis’s feet. She brings some perspective from the other side of the revolution, although she herself is not a radical. Her boyfriend, however, perfectly exemplifies those who wanted nothing less than blood, and lots of it. By the time the Terror is full-blown, and the revolution is turning on its own instigators, the reader gets a good feel for how out-of-control this whole situation got…mistakes of the royalty aside.

MY TWO CENTS: It’s very much to the author’s credit that she manages to build suspense in each layer of the story, even though you KNOW how it ends. You KNOW the royal family doesn’t manage to escape, yet you still find yourself wishing their journey to Varennes would end happily…even while cursing the stupidity that helps get them discovered. It’s like they have no clue how desperate their situation is, or increasingly becomes.

One word to the publishers: I wish they had kept the original title of “The Last October Sky,” which would have been a nice frame given the timeline of this novel. I hate “Confessions of Marie Antoinette.” It makes it sound like MA is giving a list of all the nasty deeds she did while laughing coyly in her sleeve…which is absolutely not how this book reads. Maybe that’s the irony of the title, but it just doesn’t work for me. I also wish the cover was a little more related to the first two books’ covers, but I guess an image of a sick, worn MA in ratty clothes wouldn’t attract readers.

BOTTOM LINE: A really good read, but emotionally draining. I do plan to reread the whole trilogy again at some point. I don’t know that I will reread this book over and over, though. It’s too heartrending.

TEACUP RATING: I give it a solid four teacups. I would give it more if the author had given it a happy ending. (I’m joking, but seriously, prepare yourself before reading this.)

ON SALE DATE: Confessions of Marie Antoinette will be on sale September 24th.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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