Archive for October, 2009

Death Troopers – Joe Schreiber

Saturday, October 31st, 2009


 Death Troopers

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Lucasbooks (October 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345509625
ISBN-13: 978-0345509628
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Aux Myss
Jareth Sartoris
Kale Longo
Trig Longo
Zahara Cody


I first heard about this book coming out, by a friend in Star Wars Galaxies. My first thought was what in the world could they be thinking. This type of thing has no place in the Star Wars Universe. But when the book was released, I decided to keep an open mind and give it a chance. The story starts on board the Imperial Prison Barge Purge. The ship comes into contact with a derelict Imperial Star Destroyer. Scans show that where there should be thousands of life forms on the Destroyer, there are very few. A decision is made to send a party of 10 people over to the destroyer to salvage parts and repair the barge. The trip goes uneventful, and no working parts are found. On the return trip, several members of the boarding party start coughing, and throwing up. Soon, whatever has been picked up on the ship is spread to the rest of the crew. Prisoners and jailers alike start dropping dead. Then something even more dark and terrifying starts happening on board the ship. I won’t go into any more details than that, because I don’t want to spoil the story.


I thought this book was pretty good. I wasn’t quite prepared for this type of story in the Star Wars universe, and had my doubts. The characters, not being characters we were familiar with, weren’t quite as developed, and things went so quick that things were left out when they should have been. Sometimes emotions that one character felt, didn’t seem to be there. There was a moment of surprising sacrifice. Narrow escapes. A lot of the things you’d expect in a Star Wars story. Some things were anti-climactic. For instance a fight between the Longo brothers and Aux Myss I felt should have gone longer. Here’s an evil gangster, who’s managed to survive some of the worst criminals, and a face-off with him is over in the blink of an eye. It just seemed to wrap things up too easily so the author could get on to the story he wanted to write. Also, there was the introduction of two characters that seemed gratuitous and not really needed for the story. In fact, by placing these characters in the story, it disrupted the literary timeline, and inserted a major event (like what happend in Shadows of Mindor) in the life of characters that is never referenced in future stories.

Overall, if taken as a standalone Star Wars story with a different twist, it was a good story. I’d recommend it, but would more strongly have recommended it had all the characters been throw-a-ways. Pick it up, I managed to read it in about 2 days, so it’s a quick read, and quite appropriate to have released it around the halloween season. There also is a tie in currently going on in the Star Wars Galaxies game. I’m not sure if the book was written to promote the game, or if the game was changed to help promote the book, or if both were just done in order to cash in on the holiday, but check it out and let me know what you think.

You can discuss it here

Princess of Landover – Terry Brooks

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (August 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345458524
ISBN-13: 978-0345458520
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It’s been 14 years since Terry Brooks last took us into the world of Landover.  For those who’ve never read Mr. Brooks Landover books, here’s a quick Synopsis.  Ben Holliday was a lawyer from our world, who’s life is pretty much at a dead end.  One day he stumbles across a catalog advertising a magic kingdom for sale.  This kingdom is the land of Landover.  He is assisted in Landover by the magician Questor Thews, and the court Scribe Abernathy, who’s been partially turned into a dog by Questor.  Ben meets and marries a tree fairy named willow.  Together they have a daughter whom they name Mistaya.

Mistaya was last seen as a child in the novel Witche’s Brew.  We pick up her story 14 years later.  She’s being suspended from a boarding school in this world for threatening another student with a dragon.  Her father is very upset with his behavior, and together he and Questor, decide tht the best way to strengthen her character, is for her to spend time getting the royal Library at Libris in order.

As we all know, teen-agers rarely do as they’re told.  She is no exception, and rather than listen to her parents, decides to run away, accompanied by two gnomes.  She runs to her grandfather, the River Master, but when he won’t help hide her, decides to go to the one place her family wouldn’t look for her.  That of course, is the royal library at Libris.

This is where the main part of the story picks up.   Laphroig, an evil landowner, is after her for marriage.  His motives are questionable, and the death of many of his members, including his previous wife and child are suspicious. 

Most of her adventure takes place while at Libris.  I won’t go into details on that, so as to leave a lot to discovery.  I really enjoyed this book.  I read it in a very short time span.  While there was exciting areas though, some of it left a little to be desired.  A battle that should have been much more epic, seemed to be over in too neat and tidy a package.  Her powers in the previous novel seemed much more powerful, and up against much stronger opponents. 

Some of the main characters just seemd to take a background in this story, and the opportunity to bring some of the more evil characters back out was missed.  I think this was probably in order to lead them into another story in this realm, and the author leaves that as a possibility.  This book is pretty standalone.  You could pick it up without having read, or having knowledge of any of the previous books.  I also think it’s a fairly safe book for younger readers.  While there are some darker areas, it’s more along the Wizard of Oz than Lord of the Rings. 

If your looking for a light fantasy, or for something to read to your kids at night, I’d suggest picking this up.  I think you’d enjoy it.

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No Ordinary Time – Doris Kearns Goodwin

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


No Ordinary Time

Hardcover: 768 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0671642405
ISBN-13: 978-0684804484
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Franklin Roosevelt was the only president in history to have served 4 terms.  This book, by Drois Kearns Goodwin covers the lives of  both Franklin and Eleanor, mostly from 1939-1945.  America was just recovering from the Depression. Roosevelt was often and still is criticized for many of his programs.

During his administration, African Americans were first fully allowed into the military. Up until this point, they were allowed in, but had the jobs of cooks, cleaning, laundry, etc. All amenities were separate. African Americans had separate quarters, separate mess halls, separate entertainment facilities, and some of these were often subpar. They were not allowed in most workplaces, except as janitors, and other menial tasks. At one point, it was ordered that African Americans be given the same rights to test for Conductor jobs on train lines in San Francisco. When 10 African Americans scored high enough on the test for the jobs, the old union decided to go out on strike. Federal employees were sent in to run the lines. Eventually with unions, strikers were told they could go to work, or they could go to war. Most chose to return to work.

Women, because of the war, began to move into the workplace. While men didn’t like it at the time, it was necessary to turn out all the materials required. Women actually began to find they liked being in the workplace, and although men expected them to return to being housewives at the end of the war, many didn’t.

There were also many mistakes made by the FDR administration. The Japanese Internment is the one known most often. Many bright, patriotic Japanse Americans were interned in camps. These Americans were doctors, lawyers, teachers, and many would’ve been willing soldiers. However, the paranoia led people to think they’d probably side with Japan. Eleanor Roosevelt observed that they made the best of the situation however, they built libraries, schools, etc. and continued on with their lives.

Another mistake was in turning back the St. Louis. The St. Louis set sail from Germany with 1,000 Jewish passengers headed to Cuba. Some of these passengers had been released from concentration camps in Germany. Cuba wouldn’t allow them to land without being paid $500 per person. With the U.S. not being able to meet an agreement with Cuba, the ship was turned around and returned to Germany.

This was not the only instance of this. At one point Eleanor had tried to get German/Jewish immigrants admitted into the U.S. FDR and members of his administration refused, under the belief that they couldn’t tell a German Nazi from a German Jew. Some Historians, not necessarily Ms. Goodwin, claim that if the U.S. and other countries had opened their policies, that the Holocaust may have never existed. The idea being that Hitler wanted to rid Germany of the Jewish population, whether it be death or sending somewhere else I don’t believe though, that he would’ve stopped there. He would’ve just came after us for harboring them.

A lot of this book concentrates on the relationship between Eleanor and Franklin as well. After his affair with Lucy Mercer, they never had a tight husband/wife relationship. From reading the book, I think part of it might have been latent feelings that Eleanor had towards other women. The author doesn’t seem to hide the fact that Eleanor had many lesbian friends, some of whom she considered to have a “marriage”. At times it seemed to suggest that she also had these relationships.

Eleanor had to deal with her feelings, the pain of Franklins affair, and his overbearing mother. It seems at times that she was shut completely out of his life. Sending her out to talk to people, being his eyes and ears, seemed to give her some feeling of importance.

Franklin had his own affairs of the heart. One such was with Missy Lehand. Missy was his aid, and acted as his right hand. She took interests in a lot of his hobbies that Eleanor had no desire to learn about. She was such a close part of their lives, that Franklin even had his will modified to give Missy a third of his Estate.

I saw many parallels though between FDR’s administration, and current events. There was a lot of talk about FDR’s Administration being Socialist. There was also a parallel between the African Americans in the military, and the current debate regarding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Reading this book, I could see many ways in which it seemed like we were repeating the history of the 1940’s. I also saw many ways in which we handled things differently, for instance, the war, rationing, construction, then we have in recent war time situations.

This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for 1995.  In addition it won the Harold Washington Literary Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, and the Ambassador Book Award.  It also spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in reading about how a lot of the things (Civil Rights, Womens Rights, etc.) got their beginnings. It was very insightful look into the lives of two of the most recognized Americans of the 20th century, and Ms. Kearns manages to present the stories of both of them, without glossing over the bad, and only showing the good.

You can discuss it here