So here’s the podcast I’ve been yapping about lately. It’s short and sweet, basically just me reading off a tweaked hard copy of my review that I posted on The Star Wars Reader. I’m hoping to get better and a little more interesting as I go along, lol. Somehow.
I was recently having a discussion with my fellow writer, blogger and Star Wars fan Julie G. about affirmations and positive mindset (check out her post that got the discussion going here), and we both mentioned some books that have helped us in this regard. Julie has read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson; I’ve been reading Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass series. Julie suggested I write a review of the book(s), and while this post isn’t exactly a “formal” review, I thought I’d write my thoughts on it and how it ties into the future of my blog.
So Julie and I agreed that, at first glance, all this self-helpery and positive mindset stuff is a bit corny. And it’s true; I’ve never been that much into self-help books, and historically rolled my eyes at it, thinking it was up there with rainbows and unicorns. If it helped people, great; but I doubted it could help me. I was just destined to be a vaguely talented writer who could never really get her shit together, and would remain penniless her entire life while she worked at the local grocery store for minimum wage. I turned out to be the starving artist, and I guess that was just my fate. Sigh. Poor me.
My husband, meanwhile, has struggled with a directionless life, going from job to job, not really liking any of them, certainly not making much money, and not really knowing what to do with his life. We’re both about 50 years old, and so both of our struggles with purpose and success had been going on for decades. Like us, it was getting old.
One day he was perusing some books at the bookstore and saw a bright yellow book called You Are A Badass, by a woman named Jen Sincero. He picked it up, read a few paragraphs, and decided to buy it. He told me about it, I glanced at the book, and thought, huh. I didn’t have any interest in reading it at first; I was still in denial and subconsciously didn’t want to change. Looking back, I can see that I was in my comfort zone of excuses and limiting self-beliefs.
The book really revved up my husband, and he did things I never thought I’d see him do. He was interested in humanitarian causes, and decided he was going to walk 500 miles total in our local area to bring awareness to volunteers. He spent hours making signs that said things like, “Thank A Volunteer” and then spent two months walking at least ten miles a day (in a New England winter, mind you) with said signs held up over his head along roadways where cars could beep at him in support. He alerted the local newspaper to his doings, and they did articles on it. The next year he did another 500 miles, this time circling the local high school track, putting the spotlight on opioid addiction. More articles ensued, and he even got on TV with a local station. It was crazy, amazing, and very brave for my shy, don’t-put-the-spotlight-on-me husband. I was proud and a little awed. What the heck’s in this book, anyway?
So I picked it up and read it. And I have to tell you, it literally changed my life. Not so much on the outside–yet (it will happen eventually, I’m determined)–but mostly in my head. It completely changed my mindset. And that’s a good start.
So here’s what I learned from You Are A Badass:
Most people who are living sucky lives do so because they have sucky thoughts. Basically, you create your own reality. What you focus on, you create more of. If you focus on thoughts of how much of an idiot you are, for example, well, then you’re going to be an idiot. If you’re convinced you can’t make money, you’ll be buying your groceries at the dollar store the rest of your life. If you believe you’re unlovable, you’ll either remain single, or have a string of terrible relationships.
Our thoughts are often driven by our subconscious minds. Somewhere along the way, we picked up the beliefs that we are idiots, unlovable, don’t deserve money, etc. Sincero calls your subconscious The Little Prince–basically a toddler who throws tantrums anytime you try to do something out of your comfort zone. The Little Prince wants to keep you safe, and will do just about anything to keep you in that comfort zone.
If you want to change your life, you MUST change your thoughts and beliefs. The way to do this is to basically be nice to yourself and repeat affirmations like I deserve love or Money comes to me when I call or I ambeautiful and love the size of my ass (she’s very funny, by the way). Even if you don’t believe it at first, and feel ridiculous saying them, you must retrain your mind with repetition, and sooner or later you’ll even come to believe what you’re saying. You’ve trained your mind for years with negative thoughts that aren’t true; why not retrain them with more positive thoughts? (Remember when Luke failed to raise his X-Wing out of the swamp because he didn’t believe he could do it? Hmmm….I can hear Yoda now: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”)
This one is the kicker, and what a lot of people have a problem with: you must believe in a Higher Power, a Creator, Lifeforce, God, the Universe, Spirit Guide, Universal Intelligence, whatever you want to call it. Because what you’re doing with the affirmations and positivity (aside from retraining your own beliefs) is “raising your frequency”. And when you raise your frequency, the Universe pays attention. Basically, we ARE the Universe (Stardust?); we’re made of the same stuff as the Universe, including our thoughts. It’s all energy, and it vibrates at various frequencies. When we raise our frequency, we attract more of the same frequency. It’s the whole Law of Attraction thing. Ask, and ye shall receive. If you want to make more money, for example, let the Universe know that that is your intention, you’re not messing around, and this is how it’s gonna be. I know, corny, right? Downright crazy. But tell me this: how’s your negative thinking been working for you? Yeah, me too.
This one is even tougher than believing that the Universe loves you and wants you to be happy–you MUST force yourself out of your comfort zone. Period. There can be no change in your life if you’re not willing to take risks. If you stay in your safe little comfort zone, you may prevent yourself from being uncomfortable, but you’ll be unhappy with your stagnant and ho-hum life. This one really caused an epiphany for me: it really got to the root of my lack of success in life–I was unwilling to be uncomfortable. No way. If something scared me, I ran away from it. No thanks. I’ll just stay here in my safe little bubble. When you do this, you’re certainly letting the Universe know you’re not really serious about whatever it is you want.
There’s so much more to these books than what I’ve rather clumsily said here, and Sincero gets really detailed about how you can go about changing your life. But what I really love about her books is that she’s hilarious. She tends to curse a lot (so if that bothers you, you might want to skip her books and learn these same principles elsewhere), and she tells a lot of funny but illuminating stories from her own life and the life of her clients (she’s a life coach). I love her personal success story, which I won’t get into here, since this post is seemingly never going to end, but trust me when I tell you she’s entertaining, she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s lived it herself.
So yeah, I haven’t even gotten to how it inspired me to start this blog, even though I was afraid my family would think I was reverting back to childhood talking about Star Wars, of all things. You’re 49 years old, grow up! (No one ever said that, lol, in fact they’ve been very supportive). I actually had a false start of learning about copywriting and trying to get into that business, was all fired up about it, but then realized my heart wasn’t in it. I was only doing it because of the financial potential, and it involved writing in some form. But when I thought about it, what I would rather have been doing is writing about my love of Star Wars. So why not? That’s where my passion lies. And you must be passionate about what you’re doing, or you’re doomed.
It’s been great fun, I’ve found my tribe, and I’ve been much happier this past year than I have in a while. But I’d also like to grow the blog, and so I need to do something that scares me, right? I’ve mentioned writing the fan fiction for the blog, but that in itself doesn’t scare me (besides the usual What if it sucks? thoughts, lol, which I’ve learned to ignore). What scares me is that I’m thinking about expanding the blog with podcasting, with either the fan fiction or the blog posts, or both. That is SO out of my comfort zone. I’ve always hidden behind the written word. It’s why I became a writer in the first place, for feck’s sake. It’s a solitary pursuit where I don’t actually have to talk to anyone, or have anyone see me, or interact like a normal human being, lol. But that’s not actually true, is it? You can’t create in a vacuum. You need readers, viewers, listeners, as well as any number of helpers along the way. Writers must interact with editors, publishers, do interviews and book readings, interact with readers. Making art may be solitary, but bringing it out to the world isn’t. And that’s why I never succeeded in writing–I was never willing to put myself out there. I shrunk back, hid, wanting my words to be seen, but not me. It was a terrible dilemma, and kept me from pushing my boundaries, from taking risks. Not anymore. Now I’m more afraid of living an unfulfilled life than putting myself out there. Well, I’ll still be scared, lol. The difference is, I’ll do it anyway.
So this post is WAY longer than I planned, and if you’re still with me, I’m impressed and thank you, because it’s not my typical Star Wars post. I won’t write too many of these off-topic posts, but Julie gave me the idea, and so here it is. I hope it helped you in some way, and as always, May the Force be with you (hey, the Force is another way to envision the Universe, the Creator, God, Higher Power, etc. If those other words don’t resonate with you, well, use the Force, Luke!)
Have you read these books? Do you have any favorite self-help books? Or do you think it’s all a bunch of hooey (or should I say, a bunch of simple tricks and nonsense)? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk about it!
So I usually review Star Wars books on my other blog, The Star Wars Reader, and I try to make them spoiler-free in case people haven’t read them yet and think they might want to. The point is to give a general idea of what the book is about so one can decide if they want to read it, without giving away major spoilers.
If you’re looking for a spoiler-free review of Light of the Jedi, you can go here to read it. Go there now, and don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.
But I wanted to also write a spoiler review for anyone who’s curious about the High Republic and what it’s all about, but doesn’t necessarily want to read the books. It’s a big, new addition to the Star Wars universe, and kind of a big deal as far as Canon goes. But not everyone wants to get into the books. If you’re that person, this post is for you.
This is more like a recap rather than a review, so to prevent this from being one looooong post, I’ve decided to break it up into three parts. This post will cover Part One of the book, The Great Disaster; another one will cover Part Two: The Paths; and another will cover Part Three: The Storm. Ready? Here we go:
Part One: The Great Disaster
Light of the Jedi takes place during the High Republic, roughly 200 years before The Phantom Menace. It’s a golden age–the Republic is at peace (their motto is “We are all the Republic”) and the Jedi are at the height of their powers.
But then the “Great Disaster” occurs: a transport ship called the Legacy Run encounters something in their path during hyperspace–something that is supposed to be impossible. In trying to avoid it the ship falls apart, and its debris scatters throughout neighboring space at near-lightspeed, threatening billions of lives in inhabited nearby systems.
One such system is the Hetzal system: an agricultural planet called Hetzal Prime, and its two moons, the Fruited Moon and the Rooted Moon. Minister Ecka on Hetzal Prime sends out a distress call, knowing full well there’s probably no time for anyone from the Core to arrive in time to help. He also knows there’s not enough time or ships to evacuate the billions of people on the planet, but all he can do is send out an evacuation order anyway and hope for the best. He and a group of techs, including a young genius named Keven Tarr, decide to stay on the planet and do what they can.
Luckily, a Republic ship called the Third Horizon is nearby, on its way back to Coruscant from the new space station called Starlight Beacon. It’s headed by Admiral Kronara, and a group of Jedi led by Jedi Master Avar Kriss.
Avar stays aboard the Third Horizon while a group of Jedi fly out in their Vectors, mosquito-like ships that the Jedi can control with the Force. They and a couple of pilots, Joss and Pikka, are planning on destroying a piece of debris headed straight for one of the moons. Avar, on board the Third Horizon connects to the Force and mind-links with the Jedi, to support and guide them. (In Legends, I believe this is called Battle Meditation).
One of the teams include the Jedi Master Te’Ami (a Duros), Nib Assek and her Padawan Burryaga, and Mikkel Sutmani (an Ithorian). The Padawan Burryaga, a young Wookie, has a special talent for feeling the emotions of others to a very strong degree. He tells his master, Nib Assek (who has learned Shyriiwook to better communicate with her Padawan), that there are people inside the debris fragment, terrified people who had been travelling on the Legacy Run.
Suddenly the mission has gotten much more complicated–not only must they prevent the fragment from smashing into the moon, but now they must somehow save the people inside that fragment.
Meanwhile, Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm and his Padawan Bell Zettifar fly down to the surface of Hetzal to help in any way they can. They find a mob of people trying to get through a tall gate surrounding a private residence that harbors a ship–one that can hold many more people than the family that owns it. But the family have put armed guards on the wall to keep the desperate people out. Loden confronts the guards and nearly convinces them to let the people in, but then they are attacked from behind by another group wanting to get on the ship. Meanwhile, time is running out as the debris fragments get ever nearer.
In another part of the system, Captain Bright, a Nautolan, of the Republic ship Aurora IX, and his two lieutenants Peebles and Innamen, arrive at a solar array that has been hit by a fragment. The array is quite unstable, but Captain Bright feels they must look for survivors. They do find injured survivors, but the array is dangerously close to exploding. They find a way to delay the explosion, and Captain Bright sacrifices himself to give the others time to get the injured off the station and onto the Aurora.
Meanwhile, Te’Ami’s team have come up with a plan to save the moon and the people on board the fragment: together, the Jedi will slow and hold the fragment with the Force, while Joss and Pikka attach cables to it to further slow and stop it. It would be difficult, but they have to try.
It works, but there’s a new threat: Avar Kriss senses a fragment heading toward one of Hetzal’s three suns, but there’s something about it that makes her uneasy; she senses something through the Force. After consulting some scans from Keven Tarr, it’s shown to contain liquid Tibanna. The LegacyRun had been hauling it, but now it was careening toward the sun and once it reaches it, it will explode–and the sun along with it, and presumably the rest of the system. Total annihilation.
Avar again links all the Jedi in the system, and then even more Jedi farther away, in different systems. Together, they all strain to move the fragment enough to make it miss the sun. It’s immensely difficult, and some Jedi even die in the attempt–but they make it work. Through the Force, they manage to move the fragment so it misses the sun, and continues on harmlessly into space.
I found this line interesting: “Across the galaxy, cheers of relief and joy. Yes, scowls from those who lived in darkness, hoping for the Jedi to fail, to be crushed, to die–but they were few.” A reference to the Sith in hiding? That’s what I’m assuming, an acknowledgment that they’re out there somewhere, but they’re not a part of this story. So far, anyway.
The Great Disaser is over–at least in Hetzal. But in the Ab Dalis system further along the hyperlane the Legacy Run had been traveling on, more fragments emerge. One hits a densely populated world in the system, and twenty million people die. This is the first Emergence. It’s assumed that many other Emergences will occur, and this is obviously a problem.
During the Ab Dalis Emergence, we are introduced to the Nihil. These are the space mauraders that are the villains of the story, and they take advantage of the situation here to raid some transports trying to get away from the destruction of the planet. The Nihil destroy several of the transports, then use poison gas kill the passengers of the others as they board them, wearing their terrifying masks.
So, going into Part Two, the Republic and the Jedi have two problems: the Emergences, and how to predict and deal with them, as well as the Nihil, who have become a growing threat to the galaxy.
I’ve recently started reading the new canon Star Wars books, and I’ve been loving them. I’ve posted a few reviews on this blog: Bloodline, Rebel Rising, and Kenobi. I’ve loved doing them so much, and have gotten so intrigued by the world of Star Wars books, that I decided to create a new blog just for them.
Introducing The Star Wars Reader. My aim is to read one Star Wars book a week and review it on this new blog. My intention is to possibly help Star Wars fans who want to start reading and exploring the books, but maybe don’t know where to start or what they might like.
As a newbie myself, I know the world of Star Wars books can be a bit confusing. Canon? Expanded Universe? Legends? What does it all mean? Hopefully, as I read more books and review them, I can shed a little light on these questions and make it a little less confusing.
I’m really excited to start this new adventure, and I’d love it if you’d join me at The Star Wars Reader. Click the link and hit the follow button or sign up with your email for every new book review.
Upcoming books include Heir to the Jedi, Catalyst, and Phasma, to name just a few.
Maybe it’s because I’m excited about the upcoming Kenobi series on Disney+ (although we have to wait until 2022); or maybe it’s because, after 20 years, I’m starting to warm to the prequels. Whatever the reason, I’m really starting to love the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So in my Star Wars book perusal, I knew I had to read this one. It takes place right after Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan delivers baby Luke to the Lars’ on Tattoine, with the intention of starting his long watch over the boy.
Beyond that, there isn’t much of Luke or Owen and Beru Lars; instead, we get Obi-Wan getting involved in some local drama between moisture farmers and Tusken Raiders. It sounds a bit dull, and it did take a while to get going. But Miller was laying the groundwork for a superb story, in my opinion.
The novel isn’t told from Obi-Wan’s point of view. Rather, we see him as the strange newcomer in the eyes of the locals. After all, we already know who he is and why he’s there, but they don’t. Like any isolated, small community, they’re all over “Ben,” peppering him with questions that he expertly evades, which only makes him more mysterious.
One of the point of view characters is Annileen Calwell, a widow with two teenage children. She runs her late husband’s store, Danner’s Claim; she’s a feisty, capable woman who takes an interest in the new arrival. She runs the store in honor of her late husband, Danner, but once upon a time she dreamed of something more.
Another POV character is Orrin Gault, a moisture farmer and entrepreneur, and a family friend of the Calwells. Orrin has created a defense system called the Settler’s Call, a kind of alarm and rescue organization to help any settlers attacked by the Tusken Raiders. But Orrin has secrets, and he’s willing to do whatever he has to in order to protect them.
The third POV character is a leader of one of the Tusken clans (or “Sand People”, as the locals call them) named A’Yark. It was interesting to get into the mind of one of these beings who I never really thought about before. Through A’Yark, we get a sense of their culture, how they think, and why they do the things they do. A’Yark becomes a principal player in the story thread that is expertly woven by Miller, and I was drawn in completely.
We do get to hear Obi-Wan’s voice in the form of occasional “Meditations” at the end of chapters, where he “speaks” to Qui Gon Jinn, his former master. If you recall, at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda had told Obi-Wan that he would tell him how to contact the Force Ghost of Qui Gon. These meditations are Obi-Wan’s attempts at just that, but Qui Gon never answers. Obi-Wan speaks to him anyway, telling him what’s happened to him since his arrival, and his failure at trying to remain obscure.
Notably, he’s still upset about what happened with Anakin, and obsesses about how he might have prevented Anakin’s fall. But being Obi-Wan, he doesn’t allow himself to wallow too long. He finds himself in the center of a conflict between the settlers and the Tuskens, and applies his Jedi skills (discreetly, of course) to navigate the fallout.
“Kenobi” is labelled as “Legends” rather than the new canon, but no matter. I don’t think it changes or contradicts anything that has come before or may come in the future; it can simply be seen as one of Ben Kenobi’s adventures during his long tenure on Tattoine.
I loved this book; I loved its parallels to a Clint Eastwood kind of spaghetti western; I just love Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you do, too, I recommend this book highly.
If you’re a fan of Rogue One, and of Jyn Erso in particular, you might want to get your hands on Rebel Rising, by Beth Revis.
This book chronicles the events of Jyn’s life from the time Krennic came for her father at eight years old, until the Alliance breaks her out of the Wobani prison camp. The narrative flashes back and forth between Jyn’s time with Saw (and other events after he abandoned her) and her time at the prison.
The first third of the book tells of her time with Saw, and we get a better picture of their relationship. When he rescues her from the cave, he tells her “I don’t know what to do with you, kid.” What he ends up doing is training her to fight, which is all to the good. But, although he becomes a sort of father-figure to Jyn, he’s not particularly good at it. He doesn’t coddle her. But it’s clear he cares for her.
Jyn’s time with Saw Gerrera paints a clearer picture of the man. He seems cold and unfeeling, but we learn that he once had a sister. She died years ago fighting against the Empire, but Saw was the one who had inadvertently caused her death. Since then, he’s closed himself off to any emotion except rage and a laser-focus commitment on destroying the Empire no matter what the cost. Instead of joining with others in a concerted effort to defeat the Empire, he’s become a terrorist.
Jyn is loyal to Saw (he came for her, after all), but even she internally questions his tactics. Still, he’s all she’s got, and his abandonment of her during a mission gone wrong is a traumatic blow. Saw knew that Jyn’s real identity as Galen Erso’s daughter would forever follow them, and put their various missions in danger. Turns out, even though Saw cared for her, he cared more for his crusade against the Empire.
After Saw’s abandonment, Jyn finds herself on a planet called Skuhl, where she comes to live with a woman named Akshaya and her son, Hadder. She comes to know a brief year of peace and happiness, and even has a little romance with Hadder, before both the Empire and her past shows up to ruin things once again.
After that, she becomes a wanderer, taking on jobs where she can as a codebreaker, not caring whether she works for the Imperials or for anyone who works against them. This proves to be her undoing, however, as she often gets caught between the two. She tries to remain neutral, while still following her conscience, which is a tricky thing in the galaxy just then.
Eventually, she gets double-crossed by the Imperials she’s working for, and gets sent to Wobani. The Wobani prison scenes gives us more insight into the conditions she lived under there, which is to say, soul-crushing. At one point, Jyn loses all hope, but it’s the memories of her mother (of whom she’s reminded of by the kyber crystal around her neck) that gets her through.
“Trust in the Force,” her mother had told her before she died, and Jyn interprets that as meaning, don’t give up hope. When the Alliance breaks her out of the prison, and presents their ultimatum (help us find your father or we’ll send you back to prison), she agrees. Obviously she doesn’t want to go back to Wobani, but it’s not necessarily to find her father at that point, either, or to help the Alliance. Her mother didn’t want her to give up hope. The last few paragraphs of the book sums up her decision:
“The last thing Papa had said was to trust him.
The last thing Mama had said was to trust the Force.
She wasn’t sure she could do either of those things, but for the first time since she was eight years old, she was willing to try.
…She looked out at the faces of the people around her. Expectant. She recognized something in their expressions that she had never expected to see again.
She had thought her hope had died on Wobani. Snuffed out like a flame deprived of oxygen…But seeing these people, the way they still believed they had a chance–a chance hinged on her–rekindled that spark inside her she had thought died long ago.
She wouldn’t go down again for doing nothing.
They were giving her a chance. It wouldn’t change what had happened in the past. But maybe it would help change the future.” (Pgs 409-410).
Rebel Rising is a good story of Jyn Erso’s formative years, creating the person we see at the beginning of Rogue One. I think it may have been marketed as a YA novel, so the story is fairly straightforward, but still interesting enough to hold an adult fan’s interest. I will admit it’s a bit depressing; this girl just doesn’t get any breaks. Her life is hard, short, and ultimately tragic; but also triumphant. Recommended.