What’s Ashley Reading?: Queen’s Peril

Queen’s Peril by E. K. Johnston

First line: The girl in the white dress had her mother’s brain and her father’s heart, and a spark that was entirely her own.

Summary: Padme, Queen Amidala, has just been elected as the new queen of Naboo. With it comes changes. The captain of her guard is extremely worried about her safety. In order to protect his queen he decides to look for body doubles who could stand in for her in dangerous times. As he gathers her handmaidens the young women form a lasting bond and a devotion to their new queen. It is tested earlier than they thought when the Trade Federation forms a blockade around the peaceful planet leading to the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

My Thoughts: Once again I really enjoyed Johnston’s look into the world of Padme. She is a strong female character who gets overlooked in the movie trilogies. I love seeing more behind the scenes and expansion on the movies. Even though Padme is the leading lady we also get a look into the lives of handmaidens. They each had different backgrounds that helped prepare the queen for the trials ahead.

I remember seeing The Phantom Menace in the theaters (multiple times) As with many fans it is not my favorite but this book gave me a new appreciation for it. This is why the books are so important to the movies. Extra is given to the readers. We get more details, backstory and heart.

I hope that Johnston writes more in this “series” or adds to the Star Wars canon. I have enjoyed each and every one of her stories so far. I love that authors have brought even more of Star Wars universe to us and done it so well.

FYI: If you enjoy this then try Claudia Gray’s Star Wars novels too!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Four

Well the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is over! And I did it. I finished the challenge with 2 days to spare. I was getting a little nervous at the end but I finished in time. I really enjoyed having a set list of books to read. I was not sure how I would feel but it was almost freeing knowing exactly what was next on the list. How did your challenge come along?

In the last week I completed four books. First was I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings by Maya Angelou. I had previously read Mom & Me & Mom. I liked both and found them very interesting. Next I finished Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray. She is a wonderful writer for the Star Wars books. The writing is great and the story is always fun. Then I finally read Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory. I had read the first in the duology years ago but never finished it. I am glad I did. It spanned years of English history and two continents. I was constantly looking up plants mentioned in the book. And it was a perfect companion to our Big Read theme. But my favorite of the week was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

*Beware this may contain spoilers!*

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

First line: A busy and crowded station.

Summary: In the eighth book in the Harry Potter series we find out what happens years after the Battle of Hogwarts. The wizarding world is at peace. Voldemort is defeated. And Harry Potter is a father. His son Albus is heading to Hogwarts for his first year when he meets Scorpius Malfoy on the train. They become close friends to the chagrin of their fathers. When rumors begin to appear about a Time Turner that escaped the destruction at the Ministry, Albus tries to step out of the shadow of his legendary father by changing the past in hopes of saving someone his father could not.

My Thoughts: I had been putting this off for years. I have owned the book and loved the rest in the series. But knowing that it was not written by J.K. made it not a priority. It is written as a play for the stage in London. The format seemed a little intimidating and strange. Kind of like the first time I picked up a graphic novel. It does not feel comfortable at the beginning but as it progresses it becomes much easier. When Alyssa announced the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon I knew that I had to include this book on my list.

I can see how many other Potter fans are not happy with it but I really enjoyed it! A Potter and a Malfoy best friends?! Seriously. I loved their friendship. I felt that the playwright was able to capture the spirit of Harry Potter and bring the story further. The little twists and turns were fun. I loved going back into the past and seeing how someone’s actions can affect the present. And it was great to see how Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco changed after their years at Hogwarts. They each matured and learned some important lessons along the way.

I really hope that one day I can see this performed on stage! If you have been a little skeptical about picking this up then listen to me and give it a try. The story is good. It revisits everything that made the original so good while adding to it as well.

FYI: J.K. Rowling has accepted this as part of her canon. It is considered Harry Potter #8.

Book Review: Leia, Princess of Alderaan

Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

First line: The Day of Demand had been announced months before.

Summary: Leia Organa, the princess of Alderaan, has just turned sixteen. In order to be named heir to the throne she must complete three challenges. One for the body, the mind and the heart. As she sets off on humanitarian missions or working in the Apprentice Legislature or climbing mountains her mind is still on her homeland and her parents. Things have not been the same between herself and her family in last few months and she wants to know why. As her life in politics continues to expand, she is seeing the galaxy is fracturing and she has to decide which side she will be on.

Highlights: I have been a big fan of Star Wars since I was a child. Leia has always been a favorite of mine because she is a strong and independent woman. She fights her own battles. This look into her years before the start of the saga gives insight into where this princess learned how to shoot blasters and learned the politics of the Empire. There are many easter eggs and name drops that tie into the all the movies. It is easy to see the time that it takes place in the timeline. It was nice to be introduced to Leia’s mother The author did an amazing job of bringing to life the back story of one of the greatest female characters.

Lowlights: It is very much YA. There is romance between teens. Conflict with parents. Teenage angst.

FYI: Perfect for any Star Wars fan.