Book Review: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

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Let me just start by saying it’s been forever since I’ve read a Star Wars book, and that alone made this a fun book to read. I read a lot of the Young Jedi Knights books and other Kevin J. Anderson stuff back in the day, but I honestly can’t remember how long it’s been.

I’ve gotten to where I don’t mind a little romance in books – at least if it’s handled well and isn’t the focus of the plot – though I’ll admit I’m still usually pretty leery about YA romance. I’m one of those people who thinks Hunger Games would be better without all the Team Peeta/Team Gale nonsense. At least in Lost Stars, I expected it. I’d read enough reviews that I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, and I was willing to dive in anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the romance aspect of the story was fairly low-key and handled really well, and I didn’t think it took away from the plot. If anything, it gave us a deeper look at the characters.

Those characters were also very well done. I can sometimes be leery about YA characters too because they’re often so angsty and overly dramatic. That’s not to say there wasn’t any angst and drama in this book, but Ciena, Thane, and the supporting characters were intelligent, resourceful, and tough (which is still what I love most about Hunger Games). I really loved the way each of their backgrounds/upbringings influenced their decisions and actions throughout the story.

Also, as a Mass Effect fan, I still can’t get over Thane’s name…

I’ll admit I pictured the characters being older than they were (maybe late 20s) because, at least in my experience, no actual 19-year-olds are this mature šŸ˜‰ Their ages/actions definitely seemed more realistic in the latter parts of the story.

Being YA, it was pretty fast/easy reading, but the story didn’t suffer for it. I loved the glimpses we got of characters and events from the movies, and there was something about the dynamic I really loved. We had the girl sticking with the Empire and the guy joining the Rebel Alliance and trying to win her back, when I feel like it’s often the other way around. Seeing each of their unique perspectives was interesting too, because – for the majority of the time, anyway – they both thought their side was trying to do the right thing.

And the ending. Oh, the ending. Flawless. And very appropriate after everything that had happened. I liked how it tied in with the upcoming movie.

This isn’t the type of book I’d typically give 5 stars, but reading a Star Wars book was so refreshing after all these years and I can’t remember the last time I was this relaxed while reading. When you’re doing a read-for-review or beta reading, you have to pay close enough attention that you can’t completely relax. This was clearly a young adult book, but I’d recommend it to Star Wars fans of any age.

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Book Review: Rath’s Gambit by Piers Platt

27211683I was given a free advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

4.5stars

 

After completing Book 1 – Rath’s Deception – I was excited to continue with this series. It has elements from many of my favorite sci fi stories; the tech is like Terminator, the environments are like Blade Runner, and the structure is like the Bourne Series. There were even hints of – I couldn’t believe it –Ā Fallout, which, as those of you who follow me regularly know, is my current obsession.

Once again, I thought I might end up rating this book 4 stars. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it quite as much as the first one, but when I gasped, grinned, and said “oh no” out loud at a certain part toward the end, I knew it had sucked me in enough to warrant another 5-star rating.

That said, it was different than Deception in that there was a little less action and a little more intrigue. The story picked up right where the last one left off and continued following all of the plot threads that were previously left open. There are also some new political elements introduced that seem kind of unrelated at first, but as the story progresses, these new details start shedding light on some of the “whys” and “hows” readers might have been left with after Book 1.

I mentioned in my last review that I didn’t particularly like Rath as a character, but he has really started to grow on me. I think it has a lot to do with the way his character has matured over the course of the story. Like Jason Bourne, he’s no less skilled now that he’s on the run, but he’s dealing with a lot of pain and regret and is having to find new ways to apply his skills in order to avoid the lifestyle he has come to hate. As another reviewer mentioned at one point, he’s “an assassin you can root for.” Paisen/Contractor 339 is turning into a great character too. She’s focused on the future and (mostly) just wants to do what’s right these days. She’s resourceful but only uses her more destructive skills in the direst of circumstances (which she does find herself in at several points in the book). I’m glad we got to know her character a little better, though I was honestly a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of her. But based on the cliffhanger ending we were left with, I have a hunch she’ll play an even bigger role in Book 3.

With some new allies AND new enemies thrown into the mix, I’m excited to see what becomes of this pair in Rath’s Reckoning !

 


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Rath’s Gambit releases December 1, 2015! Look for it on Amazon and Goodreads. You can also grab a Kindle copy of Rath’s Deception for $2.99 – $2 off the regular price – for a limited time!

 


About Piers Platt:

7265977ā€œI grew up in Boston, but spent most of my childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. I joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty, including a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2004 as a tank and scout platoon leader.

When Iā€™m not spending time with my lovely wife and daughter, Iā€™m frantically working on my next book.

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