Star Wars: Most Wanted Review

If you’ve listened to the five or so most recent episodes of the main show, you have heard Fitz talk about reading this a few times.
You listened as my interest grew while he spoke about his downs and ups with it.
So the question is where do I stand?
Do I agree with ol Fitty or am I my own man?
Gather round and let’s find out, gang.

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Just to start, this book is curious.
Obviously, if I’m reviewing it, I liked it well enough (more on this later, trust me!) to tell you about it.
But for the first two sevenths of it, shit was looking really damn gloomy on the “ooo, this is gonna rock!” front.
That first hundred pages or so is just bland and uninteresting, it’s just a hell of a slog that feels completely uninspired.
Right around page 100, that all changes and this quickly becomes one of the most enthralling, engaging, and entertaining Star Wars books I’ve read in my decade of reading them.

Set just before the opening segment of Solo, we meet Han and Qi’ra as two kids with hopes of getting to be the leader of the White Worms pack.
With a near contempt for each other, Lady Proxima sends them, unwittingly to each other, on separate sides of the same mission, a high dollar auction for a new piece of cutting edge tech.
When the deal goes sideways, Han & Qi’ra are forced to work together and trust each other with their deepest secrets to survive.

Coming hot on the heels of possibly the most controversial movie of the franchise (The Last Jedi) and battling against poor promotion and a very public firing and replacement of the original directors, Solo was an unfairly maligned movie that had the true heart and soul of George Lucas’s Original three movies infused in its DNA.
It’s definitely the most fun of the new movies, desperately in need of a sequel or follow up of some kind (#MakeSolo2Happen!).
To say I want more of this era, these characters, and their world is a MASSIVE understatement.

In this book, we get to travel to at least four different distinct areas/districts of Corellia: the sewers, the posh upper crusty area, an industrial nightmare, and a grave yard for star ships.
Once Rae Carson hits her stride, she doesn’t fuckin’ stop, man.
What’s truly astounding is that this novel dropped before the movie, because it feels like Carson studied this movie for months to get that feeling of fun, adventure, and wonder locked down.
She captured it all, particularly in the scene where Han breaks atmo for the first time and gets his very first taste of space and flying.
His sheer glee at finding the thing that he desperately wants most in life is awe inspiring and wonderful.
I’ve never read a damn thing Rae has written before, but I’ll be watching more closely for her name from now on.

One thing I liked and have to mention is an observation Qi’ra makes about Han.
While watching his interactions with other folks of all stripes, different species, robots, filthy rich, or dirt poor, she notices that Han treats them all with the same level of dignity.
While this sounds like it may come off heavy handed, obtrusive, and forced, I can assure you it most definitely is not.
It’s handled incredibly well and doesn’t at all feel like you’re being beaten over the head with “a message”, it’s almost off-handedly mentioned.
It’s a good message to subtly send in this day and age of constant division, especially given the target audience of this novel.

The bottomline is this, gang, it has a more than rocky start, but if you stick with it it is wonderfully satisfying.
Carson has an uncanny grasp on this world, and these characters in particular.
I know she’s gone on to bigger assignments in the Star Wars galaxy, but I’d definitely love to see her return to Han’s roots and show us what she can do with this set of toys now that we’ve all seen the movie.
If you can, hunt this book down and give it a shot.
Like Jason Fry and E.K. Johnston before her, Rae Carson proves that the Young Adult arm of that galaxy far far away is producing some of the best stories it has to offer.
And yes, it’s incredibly eerie how much Fitz and I have ended up agreeing about this one…SEND HELP!!!

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out Review

For those that may not know or remember, Monk was a USA Network TV series about a modern day Sherlock Holmes (with, somehow, more idiosyncratic quirks) and his assistant Natalie (for our purposes, Watson) who were consultants with the San Francisco Police Department to solve various murders and mysteries.
It ran for 8 seasons, and the series finale for this show even held the record for the highest rated single episode of television for a while.
In short, this was a major TV intellectual property, so of course there was a series of novels based upon it.

This particular book is the 10th original novel in the series, and it was written by a man that worked on the show and wrote all of the previous 9.
After working with a character for that long, one would imagine that not many could handle the world and its inhabitants better.
So let’s dive in and see just how good of a handle Mr. Goldberg has on Adrian Monk and his universe.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

The short reply is that Lee Goldberg may need surgery to ease up his grip on Monk, because 10 books in it’s still vise like.
The dude knows the ins and outs of every nook and cranny of Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer, & Disher.
He knows every inch of their minds, quirks, assorted little ticks, and attitudes.

Here’s what happened: Monk gets fired as a consultant with the SFPD due to budget cuts again.
All the while one of the biggest trials in the history of the Bay Area is about to begin for a man, Bob Sebes, who stole billions in an insane ponzi scheme that fleeced thousands, one of that group being Adrian Monk.
Jobless and penniless, and with all of the witnesses that can put the palindromicly named Sebes in prison dropping like flies, Monk can’t help but solve the murders…no matter how much Natalie tries to stop him and save their jobs.

The genius of these books is that, again in Holmesian tradition, Natalie plays our narrator.
Now, in the series, there was no narration, so you might think it would be a bit jarring to suddenly go so intimately into a character’s mind and read their every thought.
But not at all!
Natalie, though often meek on the show, has the best position to tell you every detail of the mystery and then give you moments to cool down and mull over the progress and frustrations of the story when she’s away from Monk that an omniscient narrator would make feel cold and detached.
And you get to see more of her fiery side, which makes her a more fleshed out character and improves/shades Traylor Howard’s already great performance.
It was the perfect choice from the start of this series and it continues to serve it well 10 deep.

Much like his brother Tod (read my review of Tod’s novel Burn Notice: The Reformed HERE to see exactly what I mean), Lee has the ability to translate the characters from the screen to the page with impeccable precision.
Which makes me wonder what was in their water growing up, how the hell did it bring forth such skillful writing talent?
The dudes know how to tell an extended story (compared to the shows these books are based on) and not have it feel stretched too thin to meet a page count or not spin its wheels on any unnecessary down beats that bore.
Just out of curiosity, I have always wondered how many episode scripts these novels equate to?
It feels like 2-3, but I am interested to find a hard answer just for a better understanding of the content they provide.

So to wrap up, Monk has always been a tragic and tortured character, and while that is a bit more exaggerated in these books than it was in the show, these stories are a great way to understand and spend more quality time with a character that spent 8 years and more than 100 episodes showing us that it’s okay to be flawed or damaged.
It’s okay to be different or weird.
It’s okay to be…you.
You just have to find your path and your Natalie to help you keep your shit together, gang, cause it’s a jungle out there.

Share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

Movie novels can be a strange beast, I love them but they are sometimes the most mixed of bags.
In some cases, movie novels put lip stick on a pig and give you the false impression that a terrible movie is watchable.
In most cases, a solid movie novelization can make a good movie slightly better by giving each scene more depth, impact, and context.
In the best cases, a great movie novelization gets you inside the characters heads in most scenes, elevates what is there and then gives you great shit that’s not in the movie but fits in so well that you wish it was.
Which category does this fall into?
Let’s find out!

This is as good a time as any to give the obligatory ***SPOILER ALERT***

Let’s start off with my only real complaint, there’s not much new content here.
By my count, there are about 6 new scenes in this novel that weren’t in the movie.
And, sadly, all of them are super short and zip by too damn fast.
This is really one of the stand out things about movie novels that I love, even if they’re spectacularly non-canonical.
The Star Wars Episode III novel notably had a ton of them, including the Dooku/Sidious scene before Obi-Wan & Anakin come in to battle Dooku.

Now, like I said, that’s pretty much my only complaint.
The rest of this novel is, appropriately, golden.
Waggoner, unlike some folks who get tasked with adapting a film/script into a novel, handles this with ease.
Perfectly describing and embellishing what I know and love from the movie while still somehow making it feel fresh and not like he just added “said Eggsy” type of stuff to the script…which happens painfully too often in this line of work.

His prose flows in an incredibly easy to breeze through fashion as well.
I was thoroughly impressed with his abilities here.
His skill at getting into the characters’ heads is refreshing, especially his grasp on Poppy (the leader of The Golden Circle drug empire) and the President’s Chief Of Staff Fox.
We get background on Poppy and how her militaristic parents raised her to be the batshit cornball loon that she gleefully is.
In Fox’s regard, besides what we see in the movie, we learn how it is to work for a man baby world leader that has his staff so on edge that they self medicate to the point they are doped to the gills on illegal pills in their off hours.
Also, as you may glean from the description of Fox’s situation, the political subtext is easy to spot in here, made more obvious by checking when it was written…if ya know what I mean…***WINK WINK***!!!

Bottom line, not only are these movies great, this Novelization is rock solid, gang.
I really can’t thank @MemeEmSteveDave enough for talking these movies up a few years back when I talked to him and getting me interested, because I feel deeply in love with both of them when I saw them and this novel is a beautiful extension of the 2nd movie.
If you haven’t watched them, get on it.
Then check this out and wallow in the universe for a bit longer while we wait for the next one and, with any luck, Waggoner’s return to adapt it.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Thieves & Beggars Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Space pirates return in this riveting new space opera by C. S. Ferguson!

Monument, Colorado. March 22, 2019. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Thieves & Beggars, a Wild Space novel by C.S. Ferguson.

After the loss of Tamora, the last three Crimson Star pirates are even more desperate to find their hijacked starship and escape the Heracles system. The once-infamous Crimson Star pirates lost their ship to a band of mercenaries, lost their doctor to the Inquisition, and are now reliant on the good will of the ruthless Borjigin crime family for safety. But the Borjigins could be a blessing in disguise … if they and the pirates can survive the tightening grip of the merciless and calculating Inquisition.

The Inquisition is mercilessly crushing crime at every level, and the pirates can feel the icy grip of the law tightening around their necks...

Coming March 27, 2019

About the author: C. S. Ferguson used to be an adventurer. He traveled half a million miles through 55 countries on every continent, circling the globe nine times. Then he had this epic fight vs. a crazy boss monster that was basically a vampiric half-dragon 14th level ranger/7th level assassin. He tried to solo it, which was a big mistake, because that boss was a total badass. Yeah. It didn’t end well. So, after he weaned himself off the pain killers, Ferguson retired from that and looked for something less dangerous. He settled in Seattle, where everyone is an aspiring game designer, so he claimed the same in an effort to fit in. Except, people believed him. His 14 games are in 68 countries. That means people actually buy them, which is pretty cool because now he can afford the high-end ramen. The mail lady and grocery store checkout girl both know him by name, so that’s two diehard fans. And his mom gets his name right half the time, so that’s like two and a half. That’s more girls than would talk to him in middle school, so his life is improving.

Thieves & Beggars

Trade paperback $16.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-962-1

Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-963-8

Hardback $29.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-971-3

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Timesbestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us atwordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

Viper’s Bane Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

When an ex-lover from centuries back hires mercenaries to kidnap his friend, Marcus Barber must go to the rescue. But can he help an Aztec Ancient stop Apep’s essence from poisoning the Riverwalk in San Antonio?

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Viper’s Bane, by J.T. Evans, the second book in the Modern Mythology Series!

Marcus Barber, the immortal Roman centurion, must rescue his friend, Eddie, from maniacal mercenaries hired by his former lover, Joelle.

In addition to saving Eddie, Marcus must also track down the location of the Egyptian Ancient, Apep, and rescue him from a cult attempting to use his essence to poison the Riverwalk area of San Antonio.

All the while, he continues his quest to find his father, and has a side gig of stealing corporate documents for a white-collar espionage job.

“A fine debut novel in the style of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, but with a gritty noir feel that punched me right in the gut. Xerxes is now on my list as favorite sidekicks. —Darby Karchut onGriffin’s Feather

About the Author:

J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels. He also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. When not writing, he performs techno-centric duties at the Day Job, home brews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many card/board/role-playing games.

He originally spawned in the desert-ridden lands of West Texas but got out of there as soon as he could at the “tender” age of 23. After a year in San Antonio and a year in the northern tundra of Montana, he landed in the Colorado Springs area where he remains to this day.

Viper’s Bane

Trade paperback $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-978-2

Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-979-9

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Timesbestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us atwordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.