Undiscovered – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #1

Pages: 249

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Finding undiscovered treasures is always daring, dangerous, and deadly. Perfect for the men of Treasure Hunter Security. Former Navy SEAL Declan Ward is haunted by the demons of his past and throws everything he has into his security business–Treasure Hunter Security. Dangerous archeological digs – no problem. Daring expeditions – sure thing. Museum security for invaluable exhibits – easy. But on a simple dig in the Egyptian desert, he collides with a stubborn, smart archeologist, Dr. Layne Rush, and together they get swept into a deadly treasure hunt for a mythical lost oasis. When an evil from his past reappears, Declan vows to do anything to protect Layne.

Dr. Layne Rush is dedicated to building a successful career–a promise to the parents she lost far too young. But when her dig is plagued by strange accidents, targeted by a lethal black market antiquities ring, and artifacts are stolen, she is forced to turn to Treasure Hunter Security, and to the tough, sexy, and too-used-to-giving-orders Declan. Soon her organized dig morphs into a wild treasure hunt across the desert dunes. Danger is hunting them every step of the way, and Layne and Declan must find a way to work together…to not only find the treasure but to survive.

Anna Hackett has been on my radar for quite a long time, but there were always some other book that took precedence and her work was being constantly pushed to the lowest positions of my TBR list. One of the main reasons was that I thought her books were most of them about Sci-Fi Romance, a genre I don’t pick very often. But, not so long ago I discovered that she has a saga about treasure hunters. I read the blurb and I knew I had to get my hands on them. Yes, this book has been my particular “Undsicovered”.

This books tells the story of Dr. Layne Rush, an archeologist who is digging a new discovery in Egypt. Sadly, the dig site is hit by some mercenaries and several of the relics are stolen. The University she works for hires Treasure Hunter Security to take care of the security (the company name says it all). It’s a company formed mostly by former soldiers (young, tall, muscular… you know, the whole romance package) and the owner, Declan, is the one that takes charge of the security of Layne’s work. She is not happy at first, but some flirting and life or death situations make her a believer…

I love the book as a whole. It’s more or less what the author promises and then some: lots of action and fun exchanges. There is always something hapenning in the book, which is its main strength to keep the reader entertained. When I saw the length of the book, I was afraid that the action and adventure parts would be shortened to leave more room for the romance; but it’s actually the opposite. There are hand-to-hand fights, pursuits through the desert, riddle solving and treasure hunting in general. No rest means more fun.

But it’s not just mindless action and eye candiness galore. My greatest surprise with this book were the several facts the author teaches us about Zerzura and Egyptian mythology in general. I was an utter newbie in the lost oasis legend and this book has made me check the Internet to read more about Zerzura and the expeditions to find it. A book that makes me learn something will always be a special book on my shelf. I wasn’t expecting it at all (it didn’t look like the book to enhance my Trivial Pursuits skills), so that has been a huge help to make me enjoy the story. Don’t get me wrong, without the beginner class about Zerzura, the book would still have been a really fun ride.

The characters are nothing out of the ordinary, but they fulfill their roles quite nicely, even though there are certains details that felt more unnatural than others. Layne is presented to us as a very independent woman who takes no bullshit and is capable of defending herself at any moment. At least that must be true when Declan is not around. When the former soldier is on the scene, Layne is usually reduced to a damsel in distress, so the leader of Treasure Hunter Security can polish more often his White Knight armor. I would never hate on that too strongly, otherwise I would never read Romance books, but it is something that has always rub me the wrong way. They are fun together, so I can easily forgive that misstep.

The romance itself is the weakest link of the story. At first is being brewed very slowly, as I like it. But when Hell is broken loose, the relationship speeds up so drastically that I felt dizzy. We go from a passionate kiss to “I love you” in barely a couple of chapters. I’m having a hard time to believe they have developed such strong feelings in such a short time. They barely know each other!! I know that under duress stuff is intensified, but it was too much too soon. And don’t make me start about the places they pick to keep themelves warm in a very intimate way (or to have sex, if you are not feeling poetic today). Naked time in those waters doesn’t seem a wise decision. You never know what kind of leeches or bacteria could be on those undiscovered places… I guess I’m not the adventurous type…

Very happy for having decided to start this saga. If this is what I’m going to get with the rest of it, I’m going to be a very pleased reader this year!

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Dragonsworn – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #26

Pages: 336

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There is nothing in the universe the cursed dragon, Falcyn, hates more than humanity . . . and in particular, Greek humans. In a war he wanted no part of, they systematically destroyed everything he’d ever cared for. Now he lies in seclusion, away from the world and waits for the day when evolution will finally rid him of the human vermin.

Medea was born the granddaughter of the Greek god Apollo, and among the first of his people that he cursed to die. But she will not let anyone rule her life. Not even her notorious grandfather. And when Apollo sends a new plague to destroy what remains of her people, she refuses to standby and watch him take everything she loves from her again.

This time, she knows of a secret weapon that can stop the ancient god and his army of demons. Once and for all. However, said device is in the hands of a dragon who wants nothing to do with politics, the gods, humanity, demons or Greek Apollites. And especially not her. He is the immovable object.

My enemy’s enemy . . .

When Apollo makes a strategic move that backfires, he forces Falcyn back into play. Now Medea either has the weapon she needs to save her people, or she’s unleashed total Armageddon. If she can’t find some way to control the dragon before it’s too late, Falcyn will be an even worse plague on the world than the one Apollo has set loose. But how can anyone control a demonic dragon whose sole birthright is total destruction?

It’s no secret that I thought that Dragonmark (the previous book) was a very weak reading. It scared the hell out of me, because it looked like Sherrilyn Kenyon was running out of ideas. To my relief, Dragonsworn is a much better book that erases some of the fears I had after reading Illarion’s no-book.

This time we follow the story of Falcyn, a dragon brother of Max and Illarion, and Medea, the daugther of the Daimon leaders. As we already knew, Apollo is a vengeful god who want to get rid of the Daimons making them fatally sick. Medea is looking for help and, thanks to her brother Urian, she learns about the curative capacities of a dragonstone. Too bad Falcyn’s stone is also craved by Morgen, one of the big bad wolfs of the Dark-Hunter Universe.

Even though I consider this book a leap forward from the previous one, it lacks emotion and good action. But that is just the consequence of making the good guys a bit more powerful in every book. By the 26th the main characters are gods with the ability to command armies of unbeatable demons or capable of snapping their fingers to solve their problems in a fast way (Thanos would be a mere novice among these guys!!). That means there is not really action, just a face-off to show who can muster more power without getting their hair undone. And even though everything seems a bit too easy, that doesn’t mean the pace is boring. On the contrary. One of the strengths of this book is the fast paced rhythm.

Another thing that is getting too old too fast is the multiple dimension hopping. Parallel dimensions are cool and all, but the last books in the Dark-Hunter saga and the Chronicles of Nick series have been an orgy of dimensional jumping that would give any reader a good headache in order no to get lost. I tend to feel more connected with the story in the books where most of the action takes place in our beloved mortal plane of Earth. But I must also confess that the thing I love most about Kenyon is her skill to bring the craziest elements to her stories and that sometimes means a lot of dimension hopping gathering the cream of the crop of the supernatural realms.

In my opinion, the main course of this book are the characters. And I don’t mean just Falcyn and Medea, which are OK, I mean all the rest. And being this a Dark-Hunter book, I would need about eight hands to count them all. In other books that could be a synonym of a disaster, but in a Dark-Hunter book it only means endless banter. That’s the main reason her characters are always so easy to fall in love with. They make the reader feel like one of them when they are gather in a group, no matter if big or small. No idea if that makes any sense, but it is how I feel.

The author even has time to drop a huge bomb for Urian (metaphorically speaking, of course, the former Daimon is quite well physically). I won’t reveal it over here, but I guess that what we are told will play a huge role in the next book, which is Urian’s book. I will try to read that one next month to be up-to-date with the main saga, so I can start thinking about the other series of Paranormal Romance I have started and abandoned…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Eden Chip – Scott Cramer

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Author: Scott Cramer
Pages: 294

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Thanks to nanochips implanted in human brains, the world is at peace in 2055. But not everyone likes having their emotions controlled, or their religion suppressed.

Eighteen-year-old Raissa embarks upon a perilous mission to free the world, just days before the release of nanochip Version 7, which will broadcast every citizen’s thoughts to the Collective.

The countdown has started, and Raissa must make choices that jeopardize the lives of billions, including the only boy she has ever loved.

I must be running out of luck with the giveaways, bercause I haven’t won one in months. A digital copy of Eden Chip is the last one. It also came with a couple of signed bookmarks, so I must thank the author for them! Science-Fiction is a genre I enjoy, but I barely touch due to lack of time (and a crazy long TBR list!!), so I was excited to put my hands in this world controlled by chips!!

The author takes us to the near future (2055 is just around the corner). A scientist called Doctor Pretov has built a nanochip using a new programming language named M-Code, that only him and Ashminov (his rival and true inventor of the code) understand. Those chips are implanted in every single human being and it has been used to erradicate violence, intolerance and many other bad things. It has also been used to ban religious beliefs and even all kind of unproductive emotions. What it started as a way to improve humankind, it has become a control instrument for a madman. Obviously there is a resistance and they have a plan (a real one, not like the Cylon’s plan…).

The setting is pretty amazing. I love all the chip history and the details about every version. I could have taken a lot more, but the author prefers to keep a light pace in order no to bore the readers. That is possibly the main strength of the book. In every page there is something happening, no matter if it’s a revelation, a new important data about the future or a fight scene. Even though there is no time to soak in the information we are given before getting something else, it is threaded in a way that doesn’t let the reader get lost. All those words could have been summarized with: What a ride!!

Even though I congratulate on the good pace of the plot, it hits a bump in the last quarter. In my opinion, the end is stretched unnecessarily to increase the drama… but the only thing that is really increased is my boredom. During the last chapters I lost complete interest in the story and I just wanted to get over it. A condensed version of that part would have done much more credit to the rest of the book. It is not a bad ending per se… just a bit too long.

To unravel the story, we follow three characters: Raissa, Caleb and Ashminov. Raissa is the rebel who wants to get rid of Petrov and the chip. Ashminov is the developer of the chip that would liberate humankind. And poor Caleb is just a guy who loves his job and chip, but gets dragged into the plot to take it down. The characters are the perfect fit por the story, but i won’t recall any of them with any kind of special fondness. They are just pawns for the story. The most interesting part, character-wise, was the role of Caleb’s sister. I think that was the only moment in the book when I felt more engaged to the characters than to the story.

During the whole book I was wondering if I would be pro-chip or not. I obviously wouldn’t want something as drastic as the chips found in this book, but the first iterations of the hardware and software to avoid violence and crappy human behaviour in general sound pretty sweet. We seem incapable of getting there by our own means, so maybe a technological hack would do us a solid. Too bad something like that tends to be easily polluted by people with no real interest in human improvement (like our dear Doctor Petrov from the book)…

Strong story, really nice pace and good enough characters are a win combination. There are some bumps along the way, but in general is worthy of the time invested. I will have to check other books by this author to see if there is something that catches my eye!

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2019 – Book Gallery

Before They Are Hanged – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #2

Pages: 584

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Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.

The year is almost over and I can already say that the first two books of the First Law Trilogy are the best ones I have read in 2018. I’ve been always too scared of the Epic Fantasy genre, but in reality it has given me a lot of happy moments during my whole life (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones…). Joe has revived my interest for a kind of book I thought it wasn’t for me.

This second book is split into three different threads of action: the war in the North with West and Threetree’s gang, Glokta defending Dagoska from the Gurkish Empire and the quest of Bayaz and company. All of them are challeneged at every step and they will have to do their best in very tight situations.

Even though the three stories are not connected (at least not yet), that doesn’t make the book convoluted or hard to follow. Joe’s style helps the reader to enjoy the story and the characters without losing any step through the differente chapters of the book. Not time to breathe, though. The pace is so much faster than the one in the first book. All the presentations were done, so the author had plenty of time to feed us lots of action and epic battles. All of that without forgetting some character development for his amazing cast.

In the North we follow West and his annoying task of babysitting Prince Ladisla through the war agianst Bethod and his forces. The Prince is in command of the worst soldiers, because his duty was supposed to keep him far from the war. But between the cunning of the enemy and the glory starved idiots that follow the Prince, eveyrthing goes the south way. West is forced to drag the Prince all over the North in order to flee the enemy. At least they had the help of Threetree and his gang. During this ordeal, I didn’t want to sympathize with West after what he did to his sister; but he claims to be sorry over and over again and I guess that I believe him… That’s not enough to forigive him, but it’s a first step. West should check his anger issues or he is going to be very alone the rest of his life… Which could not be very long, because the situation in the North doesn’t look promising with Bethod and Flatheads working together… Kudos to the author for being able to add some good sesne of humor in the middle of a war!!

Glokta had it easier, but this guy is always uncovering hidden plots and corruption at every step he takes. His luck is holding, but sooner or later… His first task was uncovering who was the traitor among the Union in Dagoska. The one that tried to sell the city to the Gurkish Empire. I don’t think becoming a traitor was really necessary. With the war in the North, most of the Union forces were comitted there, so taking the city was a done deal without any hjelp from the inside. But give Glokta a mission and he will stick to it until the end!! He discovers the traitors in the city and tries his damndest to save the city. But it was hopeless, so he is ordered to abandon it before is too late. So far he seems almost lucky, but that is about to end. I foresee a third book with a lot of trouble for Glokta: the mystery of the murder of the other son of the King, the favours he owes to the bank, his soft spot for Eider will bite him in the ass sooner or later… I wonder if he will be still alive to meet Jezal again and see what his adventure has done for the cocky captain. Will his jelousy grow bigger or smaller?

And finally, the main quest: going to the end of the world to retrieve the Seed that will help Bayaz to fight Khalul. For that pupose, he recruited Logen, Ferro, Quai, Jezal and Longfoot. Everyone has their own pupose: Ferro can hold the Seed and fight, Logen can talk to spirits (the keepers of the Seed) and fight, Quai is there to take care of Bayaz, Longfoot is the navigator and Jezal… I still don’t know why the First Magi needed the Captain. It’s by far my favourite character, but his purpose in unclear. He can’t barely fight, complaints about everything and he is more of a burden than a help. Am I missing something? All in all, I’m SO glad he is in the quest. I knew this journey would change Jezal. Make him more humble and even more heroic. He is even badly wounded, which has left an ugly scar in his fomrley handsome face. All of that has made him a different person. A much better person. I loved him before, but now… I am a passionate defender of Jezal. I’m a groupie!!

Another character from that group that has gotten a lot of points on my particular ranking is Logen. I still don’t know what his Bloody-Nine persona is, but his “normal” self is amazing. Such a good guy. He may be big and dangerous looking, but his emotional intelligence is boundless. The Northman has an uncanny ability to offer everyone what they need at every moment. Friends like that are rara avis, so I hope the rest of the group appreciates what they have found. The one that has fallen several positions in the before mentioned ranking is Bayaz himself. He is on edge almost the whole journey, being very unfriendly to the rest of the company. And after that ending, I guess his sense of humor is not going to improve any time soon…

I’m going to be strong and not dive into the third book so soon. I will let this one rest and enjoy other genres for a while. The truth is I don’t want it to finish. I’m enjoying this saga so much!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

Rebellion – Kass Morgan

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Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100 #4
Pages: 352

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Centuries after nuclear war destroyed our planet, humanity struggles to rebuild. It’s been a month since the dropships landed and the Colonists joined the Hundred on the ground. The teens, once branded juvenile delinquents, are now leaders among their people.

The Colonists and the Earthborns are celebrating their first holiday together when, to everyone’s horror, they’re attacked by a group of strangers whose unusual battle cries fill the air. The newcomers kill scores of people, seize prisoners, and pillage crucial supplies. When hotheaded Bellamy and his analytical girlfriend Clarke discover that Wells, Octavia and Glass have been captured, they vow to get them back at all costs. But as they go after their new enemies, Bellamy and Clarke find themselves increasingly at odds, unable to agree on a plan to save their friends.

Meanwhile, Wells, Octavia, and Glass are being slowly brainwashed by their captors, religious fanatics with one goal: to grow their ranks and “heal” the war-ravaged planet… by eliminating everyone else on it.

But centuries of radiation exposure have taken their toll, forcing the cult to take drastic steps to survive. And unless the rescue party arrives soon, the teen captives will face a fate more terrifying than anything they could imagine. In this thrilling fourth installment, the hundred fight to protect the people they love on the dangerous planet they always dreamed of calling home.

As far as I know, this fourth book is the last one of The 100 saga. If the author is going to write more books based on that universe, she hasn’t breathed a word about it. Even though I have liked the saga in general, I’m not really going to miss it. At least, this one is much better than the previous one!!

In this book, half of the main characters (Wells and Glass ) are kidnapped by a group of people that called themselves “The Protectors”. They do not protect anything. It’s just a bunch of people who are a bit crazy and they think they are doing Earth’s work by raiding other settlements. While Glass and Wells do whatever they can to survive, Clarke and Bellamy have to lead the rescue party…

After the crazy slow third book with many letters but zero content, the last book is a change of pace. In every page there is something happening. Lots of action and plotting that keep the characters on their toes the whole story. Once again, there are no more annoying flashbacks. And this time the romance is also left behind to focus on the Protectors and their craziness, which has proven the right step for the saga. I think this is the first book of The 100 where I couldn’t stop reading.

If you are a fan of the TV show, you are going to be disappointed with the role of Clarke and Bellamy. They have their moments, of course, but the plot has been stolen by Wells and Glass and their way more interesting situation. The most famous couple of the saga is just there to add some romantic tension, that is pretty well handle for a young adult novel (I’m looking at you, Divergent saga!!). Some other characters get a bigger focus, such as Octavia and the newbie Paul. That last one, although easy to hate, it’s also a nice addition to the mix. I would love to know more about him!!

As for the end itself… it doesn’t feel like the end of a saga. It was a bit… meh. Just the end of a book. Putting some honey in our lips to make the wait for the next one easier… but there is not other one!! I guess I needed more closure. There are so many questions unresolved. So many groups roaming the surface that could change the lives of our heroes forever. It would be so easy to keep going, that I wouldn’t be a bit suprised if the author announces a new book sooner or later.

There is nothing elese to say. A well paced book that redeems Kass as a storyteller after an easy to forget Homecomig. She is currently wirting another saga called Light Years. I will have to take a look at it to see if it catches my eye; so I can fill my needs for Sci-Fi Young Adult books!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

 

Fire Bound – Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

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Authors: Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Series: Belador #1.5
Pages: 95

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A dangerous creature is on the loose. Evalle, Tzader and Quinn take a VIPER team just outside of Atlanta for a sting operation that takes a deadly turn. Killing the half-human creature would be easy, but national security is on the line until the team can discover who created the monster, and whether more like it are waiting in the wings to be unleashed on the human world. The op goes bad with Beladors in the middle of it, and nothing turns out as expected, least of all for Evalle.

This is a short story that you can get for free in many places. One of them is the official page of Sherrilyn Kenyon. I want to stop starting sagas and then forget about them, so one of my really late New Year resolutions is going to be keep reading at least the book series I have started this year. And reconnect with some of the ones I forgot about a lot time ago (soooo many!!). I have even created a Goodreads shelf for them in order to keep them in mind.

The story of this book takes place several months before the first one. Some VIPER agents (Evalle included) have to investigate the weird killings of several expensive cows. They find that the culprit is a bizarre creature that someone has engineered. They must investigate the issue and neutralize the crazy guy experimenting with monsters.

Taking into account this is a pretty short book, I don’t have much to say. It’s pure action, which is what I was looking for. There is not character development. The contrary would be weird, because this story takes place before the first book. Fortunately, there is enough asskicking to forget and forgive that there is no kind of depth storytelling in the bunch of pages of Fire Bound.

OK. Maybe I have lied a little bit. We get to know the origin story of Evalle’s pet, so that’s kind of great and unexpected. He is such a cute gargoyle thingy!! I wonder if what we have learned about it (him? her?) will have an impact in future books… Wait and read, I suppose. Will I stay true to my word and read Alterant this year? I hope so!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

Ylesia – Walter Jon Williams

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Author: Walter Jon Williams
Series: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #14.5
Pages: 121

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RIPE FOR THE PLUCKING

That’s Jedi Knight Kyp Durron’s opinion about the planet Ylesia, home base of the so-called Peace Brigade, a group of traitors dedicated to hindering the war efforts of the New Republic and hastening the ultimate victory of the merciless Yuuzhan Vong. Kyp’s plan calls for a lightning-fast strike, backed with overwhelming force, to destroy the Brigade’s offensive capabilities and teach prospective traitors that betrayal carries a heavy price. But young Jacen Solo, still bearing the scars of his imprisonment by the Yuuzhan Vong, has a better idea: a daring raid into the heart of Ylesia’s capital, with the objective of capturing the Brigade’s top leaders—including the newly sworn-in President, Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin to Jacen and his twin, Jaina.

But unknown to the Jedi and the New Republic forces, Supreme Overlord Shimrra of the Yuuzhan Vong has dispatched reinforcements to the Ylesia system. Instead of a swift surgical strike, Jaina, Jacen, Kyp, and their comrades are about to find themselves locked in a desperate battle for survival, with the odds stacked against them and time running out…

There is not much to tell about this book. It’s a short story that takes place in the middle of the previous book, so the reader has to adapt their internal timetable to not get lost with this tale.

The book narrates the battle of Ylesia. The Yuuzhan Von obliterated the hutts living there and now the planet is controlled by the Peace Brigade (a.k.a. Vong Puppets). The new leader of that Brigade is not other than Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin of Jacen and Jaina Solo. They are not friendly with each other… The New Republic has a plan to capture the Brigades’s leaders and make their trials public to rise the moral among the loyal followers of the New Republic. Obviously, nothing is simple when there are Vongs involved…

It’s an easy and well-paced read. Nothing remarkable, but a nice peek to that huge Universe that is Star Wars. Thankfully, the author doesn’t waste time trying to sell the plan to the readers with lots of political and military meetings (as in other books of this saga) and gets his hands dirty pretty fast. Not boring at all, but far from memorable. I guess I will remember that I have read this because it will forever saved on my Goodreads list…

In this okayish book there is a bright light that I have really enjoyed. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of romance books, so the nods to Jaina’s relationship with Jagged Fel has made me smile from ear to ear. Han’s and Leia’s daughter is one of my favourite Star Wars characters. I was so pissed after the last book due to what Luke told her… I’m glad she is getting a bit of happines from the Imperial pilot. Let’s hope it last!! Romance and Star Wars are not usually best friends…

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2018 – Book Gallery