Book Review: Star Wars Aftermath #1 by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars- I was introduced to it at such a young age that it feels like it has always been part of my life. The Original Trilogy held a time honored place in the pantheon of Most Important Movies, especially Return of the Jedi. The first notes of John William’s score would wail and shake as the worn VHS played through the quiet beginning, a hooded Luke approaching the Hutt den to free Han. I can remember the thrill as both Lando and Leia revealed themselves, the triumph of Boba Fett dropping into the sarlaac and the Princess killing Jabba. The end was just as spectacular, the battle of Endor played out in the redwood forests my family would visit almost every summer. Speeder bikes screaming through the undergrowth, Ewoks fighting back against the interlopers who sought to occupy their forest. And Luke, his loneliness a weight as heavy as his father’s body, watching Anakin burn.

I won’t talk about the prequels (everyone else already has), and I can’t claim to have read any Star Wars novels before this or any other works by Chuck Wendig. So there are probably many things I’m missing out on with my initial reading of Aftermath, but I enjoyed it regardless, and really appreciated what Mr. Wendig attempted to do here.

Onward, to the review!

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Book Review: Hum & The Big Book of Exit Stratagies by Jamaal May

There are poems, and then there is poetry- there are pieces you read that do not effect you, or that you enjoy but never think about. Then there are poems that are poetry- words strung together that seem to grab whatever it is that feels like a soul inside you and rips it open, squeezes it dry. Demands that your eyes consume it again and again, in it’s entirety, in certain lines, or stanzas or coupling of words. There is poetry that builds a fire inside you and it burns with a heat the demands your attention. Makes you want to grab people, shake them awake, screaming, “This! This!” while jabbing at the words that are articulating what you never even knew you felt, you believed in.

The first poem I read by Jamaal May was “There are Birds Here”, found in an issue of Poets and Writers. I’ve harbored a fascination with Detroit that most likely stems from my grandmother being born in Michigan and my love of derelict buildings. But lately it’s the locals who have grabbed my attention, those who called it home and never left. Those who take care of their families, their neighbors, regardless of what the media says about their communities, what outsiders believe they know.

“There are Birds Here” tore me open. I must have read it a dozen or more time when I first discovered it. Over and over, hungry for it in pieces, in it’s entirety. It begins with a series of refusals to the darkness outsiders first perceive and ends with a song of light and shadow that illuminates the world. You can read it here.

Jamaal May has two bodies of work in publication; Hum and The Big Book of Exit Strategies. But how do you even begin to review them? There is so much here that demands attention; from the simple scene of three men clustered in a cold driveway, examining a nonworking car, to Jamaal pushing past marine recruiters in school hallways, hoping others will choose words over war. His poetry doesn’t just show you a point of view, it gives you his literal vision, distorted by earlier struggles, it gives you his wants and needs, his pain and his past. What his hands feel, what his heart perceives.

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Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell

Published in September of last year and written by Hugo Award Nominee (and Doctor Who writer), Paul Cornell, Witches tells the story of a small town torn apart by magic and change.

When the Supermarket company of Sovo seeks entry into the rural community of Lychford, locals are split between the much needed job offers and the desire to keep their town unaffected by modern development. What most people of the town don’t realize is that Lychford rests at a crossroads, a place where parallel worlds of all kinds meet and are accessible, and Sovo plans will tear open the barriers from those worlds, allowing entry into our own.

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Book Review: Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

The year is 1895. Sylvan, a night soiler and street fighter, discovers an infant girl in the muck of a privy one night in Manhattan. Haunted by the ghosts of his adopted family, he takes the girl on, unable to bear the guilt of another lost human life. Little does he realize, but the girl is the center of many other stories, and will bring together a flurry of misfits as they try to make the pieces of their lives fit.

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Book Review: Martin Marten by Brian Doyle

Published in Spring of 2015, Martin Marten is Brian Doyle’s fourth novel and most resent body of work, it is a coming of age novel written in a lyrical style similar to Gary Paulsen. In this Oregon, mysteries and magic wander alongside the common and day to day.

Our tale begins following the life of Dave, a fourteen year old boy growing up on Mt. Hood, or as it is referred to through the course of the tale, Wy’east. His story runs parallel to the life of Martin, a newly born pine marten, and the smaller stories of a eclectic community living a unique way of life in Oregon.

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