Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne


Book Synopsis

The Galactic Civil War rages on after the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker struggles to learn more about the Force without the aid of Obi-Wan Kenobi – or indeed without any aid at all. But the few memories he has of Obi-Wan’s instruction point the way to a stronger control of the Force, and he is encouraged to pursue it by a new friend in the Alliance. When Luke, R2-D2 and his new ally are tasked with liberating a valuable asset from the Empire and delivering her to a safe planet where she can aid the Alliance, their journey across the galaxy is fraught with peril – and opportunities for Luke to discover the mysteries of the Force.

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne , the author of the popular Iron Druid series, is the third book in the Empire and Rebellion series.

I have read well over 100 books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and I still get chills of excitement whenever I read “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..”.  I love the stories of the iconic Star Wars characters while they were still young and finding their place.  I especially like ones about Luke Skywalker.  Luke, son of the infamous Darth Vader, founder of the new Jedi Order, and probably the most powerful force user in the galaxy.  How does he go from unsure farmboy to Jedi master?  How does he learn to master the force when everyone that could have taught him the ways of the force are gone?  Heir to the Jedi gives us some insight into that.

I had originally given this a book a 3 out of 5 but I went back and watched Star Wars A New Hope and bumped it up to a 4 because, for me,  this book does have that “Star Wars feel”, that newness and excitement that I got from watching A New Hope for the first time. Yes, there are several few laughable, eye-rolling moments in the book, but for readers of Hearne’s Iron Druid series, this is one of his strong suits.  I also liked the first person view from Luke’s perspective.

Heir to the Jedi was a fast paced, hyperspace ride through the galaxy with a young Luke Skywalker coming to gripes with the loss of loved ones, and becoming part of something bigger to make a galaxy a better place.  This Star Wars fan loved it.

I received an electronic review copy from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley

“Run, Star Girl.”

BRYONY ADAMS IS DESTINED TO BE MURDERED, but fortunately Fate has terrible marksmanship. In order to survive, she must run as far and as fast as she can. After arriving in Seattle, Bryony befriends a tortured musician, a market fish-thrower, and a starry-eyed hero who is secretly a serial killer bent on fulfilling Bryony’s dark destiny. (Book description from Goodreads.)

I can say without hesitation that this was one of the best books I have read this year. Some books entertain you, some educate you, but some CHANGE you.  Pretty Little Dead Girls changed me in ways that words just can’t express. It was magical, tragic, and inspiring. It made me look at my relationships with family and friends in a whole new light.

“Bryony Adams was the type of girl who got murdered.” This is the opening line in the book and sets the tone of the story.  Bryony Adams, this sweet, wonderful girl, is destined to die, and to add insult to injury (please excuse the pun), to die in a most horrible fashion.  She is such well written character and I immediately fell in love with her. You fell the urge to grab her and keep her safe.  Why, or why should a creature as lovely Bryony have to die? When I read, a full picture of the characters pop into my head and once visualized are set in stone.  The first person that popped into my head after looking at the gorgeous  cover and reading the first few chapters was Claire Danes in her role as Yvaine in Stardust.  I thought it fit perfectly.

I love fairy tales and when I first heard about Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley (published by the wonderful folks at Ragnarok Publications) I couldn’t wait to read it. The novel is billed as “a dark, lovely fairy tale with lyrical language and a high body count”.  The hook was set with “a dark, lovely fairy tale” and the gorgeous cover by Galen Dara. I had been in a bit of a reading rut and was looking for something different.  It was a classic case of “what do you want for dinner?  I have no idea, but I am STARVING”. As readers I am sure you have all been there before. This book was a five course meal that more than satisfied my hunger.

I am not going to go into detail around the plot as the book description gives you enough to go on and I do not want to spoil the experience for other readers. Pretty Little Dead Girls had a wonderful lyrical quality to it.  The prose flowed off the page like a song, beautiful and heartbreaking.  Here are some of my favorite lines from the book.

“She stood as tall as she could, but something was already breaking inside, and Teddy could almost hear it.  The gears of her soul grinding to a halt.  The bright metal filings of it struck and shone like stars.”

“It was a song about making the choice to love when you knew that in the end you would only have empty hands.”

“…now he realized completely how his life would be like without her.  How dark, how empty of magic.” 

“You must know this: there are not always happy endings.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful is this was true?”

“But life was not meant to be fair, it was meant to be lived.”

Like all good fairy tales, Pretty Little Dead Girls has a moral and that moral is life is meant to be lived, regardless of your situation.  Mercedes weaves a dark and magical tale, but as dark as the story is there is an undertone of joy to it all.  I think that is what I loved so much about this book, the beautiful dichotomy of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy.

I highly recommend Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley.  It goes on sale September 29 and is available for purchase at Ragnarok Publications in ebook, paperback, and a signed hardcover editions (limited time only).

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Press Release: Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy by Mercedes M. Yardley

Elegant Murder and Tragic Prose are in the Stars This Fall

Mercedes M. Yardley’s New Release is Nothing Short of Beautiful

Monday, September 8th—Crestview Hills, KY—“Murder and whimsy.” These things may sound incompatible, but dark fantasy author Mercedes M. Yardley’s latest novel manages to entwine the two concepts with lyrical language, beautiful imagery—and a high body count.

Ragnarok Publications is proud to announce the release of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, coming on September 29th. A dark but lovely fairy tale, this is Yardley at her finest: a tapestry of lush imagery, poetic prose, and beautiful violence about a woman destined to be murdered and her flight from Fate’s inevitable—yet seemingly terrible—marksmanship.

Yardley’s fans are no strangers to her lovely, tragic style. She is also the author of the acclaimed novella “Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love”, winner of the 2013 Reddit Stabby Award for Best Short Fiction, and the novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first of The Bone Angel trilogy.

The creation of Pretty Little Dead Girls was something special for Yardley, however: “Pretty Little Dead Girls was created out of sheer joy,” Yardley says. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. This novel was written in three weeks. It bled from my pores, it was so intense. But so joyful.”

Hugo award-winning artist Galen Dara was commissioned to create a cover image that would capture the idea of lovely murder. The result, coupled with the design skills of J.M. Martin, is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that Ragnarok Publications has decided to release a special, limited hardcover edition of the book. Only one hundred of these signed hardcovers will be available, and preorders have already begun.

Also included in the package for the preordered hardcovers is a signed print from artist Orion Zangara, renowned for creating fairy tales with his lavish pen and ink drawings. Dark and evocative, this stunning image by Zangara was made with a particular scene from Pretty Little Dead Girls in mind.

Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is not just a novel; with the poignant words of Mercedes M. Yardley, and the haunting images of both Dara and Zangara, it is, without a doubt, a work of art.

The special signed hardcover edition of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, along with the Orion Zangara print, is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. http://www.ragnarokpub.com/#!apocmon-boneangel/c234g

Contact Ragnarok’s Publicity Coordinator, Melanie R. Meadors, with questions and/or requests.

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller



The Republic has fallen.

Sith Lords rule the galaxy.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . . 
Everything but hope.
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice. (from Amazon description)

Book Info

Author: John Jackson Miller

Release Date: August 27, 2012

Format: HardcoverEbookCD, and Audible

Of all the characters in the Star Wars universe Obi-Wan Kenobi has always been my favorite.  His wisdom and calm, patient demeanor always resonated with me.  I always wondered what happened to Obi-Wan after bringing Luke to live with the Lars on Tatooine.  Well gentle readers wonder no more for his story is told.

Miller did an excellent job of keeping things on a smaller scale, but keeping it action packed.  It would have been easy for Obi-Wan to face the threats head-on but that would expose him, and possibly Luke, to the Empire. Obi-Wan must find a subtler way to protect Luke and his new neighbors, while at the same time retaining his anonymity. Miller does a fantastic job at weaving this conflict into the story.  The book had a bit of a wild west feel;  the general store , the bar, and the moisture farmers.  All of this gave the story great atmosphere.

It must have been difficult for a man of action such as Obi-Wan to adopt such a hermetic lifestyle as he did on Tatooine.  I am sure that his Jedi training helped because of the focus of non-attachment to people and things. It still must have been difficult for him given Anakin’s fall to the darkside and the eradication of the Jedi order. Kudos to Miller on how Obi-Wan’s inner turmoil is played out in the story.

The book also touched on his loneliness, and you get to see an even gentler side of Obi-Wan.  There were some very touching scenes and your heart goes out to him because you get a true picture of what he gave up to keep Luke safe.  We also get to see how the legends of “crazy of Ben” came to be.

This is one of the best Star Wars books I have read in years and hats off to Miller for an absolutely amazing job on Kenobi. I think this book will become canon in the Star Wars expanded universe and will the be reference point for all readers when asking the question, “what did Obi-Wan do all those years on Tatooine?”.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

False Covenant by Ari Marmell

False Covenant

False Covenant (A Widdershins Adventure, Book 2)
Author: Ari Marmell
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: June 26, 2012 (Available now at Amazon.com)
Format: Hardcover and ebook
Length: 250 pages

Book Description:

A creature of the other world, an unnatural entity bent on chaos and carnage, has come to stalk the nighttime streets of the Galicien city of Davillon. There’s never a good time for murder and panic, but for a community already in the midst of its own inner turmoil, this couldn’t possibly have come at a worse one.

Not for Davillon, and not for a young thief who calls herself Widdershins.

It’s been over half a year since the brutal murder of Archbishop William de Laurent during his pilgrimage to Davillon. And in all that time, Widdershins has truly tried her best. She’s tried to take care of Genevieve’s tavern and tried to make a semihonest living in a city slowly stagnating under the weight of an angry and disapproving Church. She’s tried to keep out of trouble, away from the attentions of the Davillon Guard and above the secrets and schemes of the city’s new bishop.

But she’s in way over her head, with no idea which way to turn. The Guard doesn’t trust her. The Church doesn’t trust her. Her own Thieves’ Guild doesn’t trust her.

Too bad for everyone, then, that she and her personal god, Olgun, may be their only real weapon against a new evil like nothing the city has ever seen.

My Thoughts

(Note: This post will contain spoilers if you have not read the first book, Thief’s Covenant.)

To say that I loved False Covenant would be an understatement and I think the name Widdershins will be on the lips of fantasy readers everywhere this year and for many to come.  There are several things that make this book an excellent read.

The Setting – Davillon has a renaissance France feel to it. The city is rich, vibrant, and full of life.  I was easily able to picture everything from the cobblestoned streets to the church architecture due to Ari’s descriptive prose.  The city came alive and made me want to wander the streets and get lost in the crowds.  Based on what we have  seen of Davillon,  I can only imagine what wonders the rest of Ari’s world holds for us.

The Villain – Ari created one of the creepiest and most original “bad guys” I have read in some time. Scenes from The Ring and The Grudge came to mind as the creature skittered across the pages. I would love to know the thought process that went into creating this creature, or maybe not, reading about it was creepy enough, and it’s genesis might really give me nightmares. Even though there was a demon that had to be defeated in the first book, this creature brought things to a whole new level, requiring not only Widdershins and Olgun’s skills, but the help of friends and enemies alike. I love it when I read an unforgettable villain and it just goes to show Ari’s writing skill in making original and multi-dimensional characters.

The Characters – I know this one is rather obvious, as what is a story without the characters, but it still merits mentioning. Widdershins has been through so much it is hard to believe she is as young as she is.  Even with all the wise cracks and bravado there is a vulnerable side to Widdershins. There is some romance in the story but nothing over the top as to take away from the story.  It is quite sweet and endearing and adds to the character’s depth, to both Widdershins and the others involved.  I really like Widdershin’s banter with Olgun, it adds some levity to the book even during the most serious of times.  Their bond is such an interesting and intergal part of the story.  I mean, how cool is it to have your own personal god?  Ari’s characters, Widdershins, Robin, Julien, and Renard, are all people I can relate to, which further anchored me in the story.

The Ending – I will try not give anything away about the ending other than it was epic, and by far one of the best “endings” I have read in some time.  Did I want the book to end the way it did? No, but did I absolutely love the ending?  An emphatic yes.  I love when authors do this to me.  They draw me into a book and I fall in love with the characters (or at least a serious like),and then one leaves the story even though I want them to stay. This ramps up the tension and leaves me dying for more.  This is another thing I like about Ari’s writing, he is not afraid to sacrifice a character in order to craft a great story.

The first book, Thief’s Convenant, was a great read, but Ari shows that can make “great” even better with False Covenant.  I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers young and old (and anywhere in between).

This review was of an ARC I received from the publisher Pyr.