Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1) by PL Travers

 

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From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. This classic series tells the story of the world’s most beloved nanny, who brings enchantment and excitement with her everywhere she goes. Featuring the charming original cover art by Mary Shepard, these new editions are sure to delight readers of all ages.

It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

(via Goodreads)

If all you know of Mary Poppins is the movie, you may be surprised. Mary is not the adorable and loving character we are used to seeing. She is gruff, curt, and goads the children. Jane and Michael Banks are joined by twins John and Barbara, so there are four children instead of two. Each chapter is a scene/event, and some aligned with the film. But I felt the chapters were just short stories about the children’s time with Mary.

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Mary keeps her magical abilities, and I really enjoyed the concept of the ‘Around the World’ compass. In the book, Mary talks to animals. They all seem to know exactly who she is. There is no origin story to Mary (except for the East Wind) though the Sparrow in the nursery does say she was a special person, who did not lose her ability to talk to animals and hear the wind. But that’s where it is left. I would have been very interested in knowing more. Maybe in the next books.

A series of eight books, the first closely resembles the film we are fond of. I wished there was more of Bert, the poor man only gets one chapter and Michael and Jane are absent from the trip into the painting. But it was still an interesting middle-grade read – and very quick! I will be checking out the others in the series.

4/5

 

 

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S Kemp

When the Emperor and his no23346660torious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

(via Goodreads)

Lords of the Sith is set after Revenge of the Sith, and is one of the first missions Vader and the Emperor embark on together. This is also where we see the first rumblings of the resistance.

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I really enjoyed this story for two reasons; we see the struggle between the Emperor and Vader, and the struggle within Vader himself.

When we were first introduced to Vader he was a robotic arch-villain. It was not until Return of the Jedi that we see his human side. He is redeemed, but there was this disconnect of sorts (for me, anyway) as to how he reached this decision to kill the Emperor. With that said, when the prequels were released, we could then imagine. But this story was great to see such human struggles within him. I really enjoyed it.

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The Emperor and Vader don’t have the tight relationship that it seems to be. The Emperor baits Vader, tests him, tries to trick him throughout the whole book. I imagine it will continue throughout the remaining books and into the original movies.

I wanted to see Vader rail back at him more. It made sense why he didn’t, he was new as a Sith, but it would have been good to see some more of that Anakin-esque rebellion come out of his character.

 

I also enjoyed a glimpse into the beginnings of the rebellion in the story. The character of Cham Syndulla was well written and you could really see his influence beginning to trickle down to the others. Very good choice for the story.

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What didn’t I like? Not much, some of the battle scenes were a little drawn out, but that might be just me. Overall, I really enjoyed this story.

4/5

 

 

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Image result for dark disciple star warsBased on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The only way to bring down the dark side’s most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force’s power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku’s side still runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. She’s more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos’s quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don’t compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

(via Goodreads)

This was a very interesting read. The story line crosses the Jedi line to see Mace Windu and Yoda enlist the help of “rebel” Jedi Quinlan Vos to assassinate Count Dooku. To do this, the Jedi Council instructs Vos to take on a partner, ex-Sith assassin Asajj Ventress.

And so begins the buddy cop story…well, not quite!

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Paired together, Ventress trains Vos to embrace his dark side and use it to kill Dooku. But his Jedi teachings makes it difficult and the two soon realise that this plan is not as easy as it seems. And the growing attraction between the two further complicates things.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I found it true to the Star Wars universe, and the characters of Vos and Ventress are as complex as they are familiar.

For those who have seen the movies, the outcome will be mostly predicted. However, I did enjoy the subtle character differences, and the extra story that existed outside of the films and tv series. I’d happily recommend this to anyone who is interested to visit the extended Star Wars universe.

For those who follow the chronology of the 2016/17 canon, this story sits in between Insider 159: Kindred Spirits short story, and Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

4/5

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Firstly, feel free to correct me if I have categorised the trilogy name incorrectly 🙂

I just finished the second book of the series Insurgent at the airport on Monday and when I came to review it I remembered that I had not reviewed Divergent here. So, I will start with Divergent and then post my review of Insurgent in the next day or two.

Before I go any further, I have NOT read Allegiant yet, so please no spoilers!

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first in a trilogy about a dystopian Chicago broken into factions. To make it easier, I have listed the five factions below:

. Dauntless (the brave)

. Amity (the peaceful)

. Erudite (the intelligent)

. Abnegation (the selfless), and

. Candor (the honest).

There is a site you can visit to explore these factions and the many worlds of Divergent: http://www.divergentlife.com/p/factions.html.

Our heroine Beatrice Prior belongs to the Abnegation Faction and she lives with her mother, father and brother. She has just turned 16 years old and is now asked to attend a choosing ceremony to decide which faction she would like to belong to.

And so begins a fish out of water story that is a fun, accessible and strong story. Veronica Roth has created an amazing world in the Divergent series and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it with our main characters. I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to picture the landscape in my mind.

It has drawn parallels with the Hunger Games and, in part, the Maze Runner. However, I think that these three books in themselves take a very popular genre and make it their own.

I was keen to begin Insurgent as soon as I finished Divergent. I found all of the heroes/heroines and many of the villains layered and complex. A few of the darker characters seemed to be a little ‘cardboard cut out’ however this may be due to their impending demise in later books or the necessity to not focus on them in relation to the story.

I liked Beatrice. She was a real character and, in my opinion, believable. She wasn’t acting above her age or below it. And I think that is a testament to Roth’s writing. Her counterpart, Four, is intriguing and broody (which all male heroes in YA novels should be!). His back story (as it slowly unfolds) is interesting and I hope he continues on a growth arc and doesn’t become ‘just the main character’s squeeze’.

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in YA dystopian novels. A quick comment on the movie – I liked it, I thought it remained as true to the book as it could be under the time constraints. Didn’t picture Eric with blonde hair though 🙂

4/5

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