Friday, April 28, 2023

Between Books - Star Wars: The High Republic Cataclysm


In Star Wars: The High Republic Convergence stuff happened. Star Wars: The High Republic Cataclysm launches from the earlier book’s stuff with worlds we don’t know, heroes we’ve just met, Jedi we barely know, and an enemy that we’ve never seen on film or tv.

Star Wars: The High Republic Cataclysm by Lydia Kang continues the second phase of The High Republic. Newly married Phan-tu Zenn and Xiri A'lbaran hope for peace for their warring worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh. Still, an unseen enemy works against the young heirs to the thrones of their worlds and they are separated after an attack against the potential peace. Xiri and a group of Jedi travel to Dalana to confront the Path of the Open Hand for their role in the potentially world-killing threat. We of course know that the Path of the Open Hand are really the big bad. On Dalna, numerous Jedi, politicians, and lost young people coverage for a massive battle where the Jedi may not have the advantage.

I did like this volume more than the earlier offering. I think there were numerous reasons. First, I had met the main cast before and had developed feelings about them. And with them being all newer cast members they were all at risk at every moment, so we have the tension that Kang likely wished to create. Second, Kang was able to avoid a trap other authors have been asked to take on, mentioning Yoda without actually showing Yoda. And in this case, we are able to see actions from both Yoda and Yaddle, two Jedi that are well-known to Star Wars fans. And I really do believe that having some familiar characters who we know will escape this battle is beneficial to the entire story

Also, this story is action packed It feels like the whole second half of the book is action. This fact provides a payoff for Star Wars: The High Republic Convergence. It is finally faster more intense action.

Honestly, I am still not in love with The High Republic! Sorry, it’s not for me. But this installment is likely my favorite volume to date. I do feel like Kang in Star Wars: The High Republic Cataclysm did succeed in providing a book that was packed with action and generally kept my interest.

Maybe I am a sucker for Yoda doing a thing instead of being talked about as a wise warrior who is so far off-screen that we know we will never see him swing a lightsaber. I have a feeling I am not the only one with that opinion.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Between Books - The Official Walt Disney Quote Book



Book cover for The Official Walt Disney Quote Book with a portrait of a smiling Walt Disney.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all the troubles and obstacles have strengthened me.” Walt Disney

That just has to inspire you as a Disney fan, even when you have a bad day!

We know the story. We know how it started and ended. And we know there was a lot of adversity.

The Official Walt Disney Quote Book by the Walt Disney Archives provides us not a story but quotes such as the one above to inspire our spirit, jumpstart our imagination, and provide us insights directly from Walt Disney. The book is divided into 21 chapters around themes such as films and animation, the Disney theme parks, television, animals and nature, family, life, wonder, and more. The quotes are a page or less in eye-catching fonts on pages embellished with pictures from Walt Disney’s life. While there is no index, as topics are easy to look for in their chapters, the Walt Disney Archives staff does provide an original source for all quotes and images.

This book is honest. It is a quote book, and there is no story provided. Though the themes of the chapters do provide some thematic cohesion that keeps readers from feeling like they are jumping from topic to topic to topic and I quite like it. The title is part of the Disney 100 campaign, with Disney Editions making it very visually attractive with its hardcover adorned by Walt Disney along with good use of fonts and images on the page. The text can easily serve as a thought jogger as one considers Disney and non-Disney topics.

I do have another Walt Disney quote book printed in the 1990s for the parks, which I have not reviewed. That edition is smaller and softcover. And honestly, it does not look as good on the shelf. It also has 100 plus chapters, which are really headers with multiple topics on the page and not thematic but in alphabetic order. That version may make it easier to find a topic, but it lacks the idea of moving together a story.

Is The Official Walt Disney Quote Book by the Walt Disney Archives for everyone? Probably not. It is however attractive visually and I like having it where I can quickly grab it when I need a Walt Disney quote. Yes, I could get those in an internet search too, but it doesn’t feel as satisfying as flipping the pages myself. Often times inspiration for me is easier to find on a page in my hand than a screen in front of my face.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Between Books - Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars

Book covering of Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars showing the 4 crew members of the Stinger Mantis with a large image of an Inquistor in the background.

Cal Kestis…never heard of him!

Okay, maybe I heard about him with they started selling his lightsaber in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. I saw the excitement. I recognized the actor/model from Gotham. But I had no interest because I’m not a gamer and have never played Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Also, many of you may have suggested that Star Wars books and I go on a break because the Old Republic has made me really grumpy.

But hey, I read these so you don’t have to…you’re welcome!

Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs follows former Jedi Cal Kestis and the crew of the Stinger Mantis about a decade after the fall of the Jedi and Order 66. Kestis and his crew are drawn into a caper to acquire a super secret super powerful piece of technology before the Empire can get it. Leading the empire’s attempt to collect this item is an Inquisitor who is also seeking to kill or turn Kestis and his Jedi master. As the crew plans and executes their plan, we are pulled into all the emotions of the crew.

I am familiar with Star Wars. I know the general story of the Empire and the Jedi refugees post-Order 66. I know what Inquisitors are, I’ve seen them in comics, animation, and live-action. I even feel the pain of former Jedi as they hide from the Empire. So while I was not familiar with Kestis, there are enough context clues around me to put me into the story without me saying I know this world but this isn’t right and gosh now my head hurts. Basically, I think unlike the Old Republic the pre-knowledge from being tied to the already well-built Star Wars era makes this functional for me. So yeah, look at me not railing against this and being really mad. I was entertained!

This book is a caper. It is Star Wars: Firefly with Maggs (and the video game designers maybe) giving us a ship and a well-designed crew of misfits that many of us can see likable traits in. With my brain not hurting, I was able to slip into the story and just let it do its job, tell me a story. I was also willing to get to know the characters better.

Kestis wasn’t even my favorite character. It was Merrin the Dathomir Nightsister. Again, I think it helps that we’ve met Nightsisters before in Ventress and have been pre-delivered the background of these non-Jedi force users. Merrin gives us very “human” emotions of grief, trauma, and multiple versions of love. In fact, we see with Merrin a Star Wars character who does something I rarely believe happens in this universe, display intimacy.

Boom, Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs did the job. I was entertained! To me, that’s really the job of a Star Wars book. It is escapist fiction and works best when I get pulled into a fun adventure. Here, I also get the bonus of some real emotional character reflections that make me feel like this crew is, well, real.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site.