Book Reviews

Book Review: Bloodline, Claudia Gray

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! What are you going to be doing this evening? My husband and I have already reached that “can’t be bothered to go out” stage so we’re cooking a meal together and watching Crazy Stupid Love, which is slowly going to become our Valentine’s Day movie, I can feel it. I’ve been a bit AWOL on the blog for the last few days, it’s been a bit of an odd week, but I think I’m back now!

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Anyway, with the fear of falling behind on book reviews, I wanted to share my thoughts on the very first Star Wars novel I’ve ever read, which is Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. It wasn’t until doing some research that I realised just how many Star Wars novels have been written, which is completely intimidating, but I chose Bloodline as it was written since Disney took over so is classed as ‘canon’, and it’s set just a few years before The Force Awakens takes place. I guess part of me thought I’d learn a little more about Kylo Ren whilst he was still Ben Solo, but this book is focused on Princess Leia.

Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Fiction writer living in New Orleans. She has written nearly 20 published novels so far, and Bloodline isn’t her only Star Wars novel. She Also wrote Lost Stars, which has found a place on my ‘to read’ list.

As I mentioned, this is my first Star Wars novel. You should also know that although I’ve developed a possibly unhealthy love for everything Star Wars, I’m extremely new to it all. I basically sat and watched every movie 2 months before The Force Awakens came out, and converted into a fan from that. I can tell you that Han shot first, I could name you 5 planets without thinking too hard, and I could hold my own in a debate about theories, but I’m still pretty inexperienced.

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Why am I telling you this? Because my first thought when reading Bloodline was ‘I wasn’t expecting it to be so…political’. I know that sounds stupid. This is a WAR. Of course it’s political! But regardless, it took nearly a third of the book before I actually got into the swing of it. Bloodline deals with what Leia went through as a member of the Galactic Senate before The First Order rose, and a fateful mission she undertakes with fellow Senator Ransolm Casterfo.

So, from what I learnt, there are two factions within the New Republic. Leia is part of the Populists, who favour autonomy, and Casterfo is part of the Centrists, who favour a stronger government and military. The fact that Leia and Casterfo joined forces for a particular mission is notable, as the two factions rarely work well together, although Casterfo has several ideals that Leia firmly disagrees with.

As for my reasons for reading Bloodline, I didn’t learn much about Ben Solo, but I guess I never expected to. I’ll just have to wait till The Last Jedi. Ben is mentioned only in Leia’s thoughts, but I learnt that Han Solo never expected to become a Father, nor did he want Ben to train with Luke. Han wanted to teach Ben racing.

Once I got into the swing of it all, and got my head around the politics, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. It definitely picks up pace in the last third, and was gripping from then on. To tell you much about it would be a disservice to the book, because there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but if like me, you’re looking to get into the Star Wars novels, Bloodline is a good starting point.

Going Off Topic · Random Posts

Going off Topic (#1) Thank You, Oscars Thoughts & Looking Forward

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Welcome to the start of a series of posts where I diverge even further off topic than I normally do! On my old blog Flick Chicks I got into the habit of putting together a monthly round-up post of general goings on, but it was also a great chance to share some link love for the bloggers I spoke to regularly, and that’s kind of how this series came to be.

Firstly though, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who follows Often Off Topic, to everyone who leaves me a comment, and to everyone who reads my posts. This blog has just passed it’s 1 month birthday, and it’s been a wild ride! Some of you might have followed me here from Flick Chicks, a blog a ran with a close friend of mine for nearly 3 years! Whilst I’m forever optimistic that Flick Chicks will make it’s return, my efforts are here for now.

It’s been a nerve-wracking experience, starting over again. I was prepared for a beginning just like before, spending a good couple of months before anyone really noticed I was here, but so many of you have stuck with me, which has been incredible. It’s hard sometimes, checking in on my stats and seeing my latest post has 20 views rather than the 200 it would have pulled on my old blog, but it takes time to build that up again, and I’m 100% ready for that. I’m just overwhelmed to be honest that this little corner of the internet is as active as it is! So thank you, from the bottom of my heart 🙂

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Moving swiftly on…to the Oscars! Whilst I only really got into Awards Season in 2013, I’ve tried every year to make an effort to watch at least all of the Best Picture nominated movies. So far, I haven’t done it, there’s always been 1 movie that I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through. 2017 is my year though! Here’s how I’m doing:

Arrival: Reviewed on Flick Chicks here
Fences: Reviewed here
Hacksaw Ridge: Hoping to see this week!
Hell or High Water: Reviewed here
Hidden Figures: Watched on the weekend, review coming soon
La La Land: Reviewed here
Lion: Hoping to watch soon
Manchester by the Sea:Watched on the weekend, review coming soon
Moonlight: Reviewed here

That’s right, I have just 2 left to see! Who knows, I might even be able to tick off the Best Actress and Actor movies too.

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So, what else is going on? I’ve finished another book, The Fireman by Joe Hill. It was a looooong read, but worth it in the end. I think it just had some pacing issues. I should have a proper review of it posted sometime this week. I’ve now started Bloodline by Claudia Gray. It’s a Star Wars novel set in the years before The Force Awakens. I wasn’t expecting it to be so political (I should have known better) but it’s picking up a bit now.

In my personal life, my husband and I are going through the process of buying a home together! We’ve been renting our current home for 3 years now and are finally in a position to buy. It’s exciting of course, but stressful. I’m hoping the move won’t impact the blog too much, but we’ll be without internet for a few weeks, so I may have to type up my posts at home and use my work’s WiFi to get them posted!

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Finally, I wanted to share some of my favourite posts by other bloggers. Give them a read, and if you aren’t following them already, you should be!

I can always rely on Brittani at Rambling Film to cover the Awards Ceremonies I don’t get to watch. Here’s her post on the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Winners.

For weekly Ed Harris appreciation, look no further than Sati’s Rambling Friday series. I hope she reviews The Handmaiden soon, I can’t wait to watch it for myself.

Natasha at Life of This City Girl posts 10 things she loves about 10 Things I Hate About You, a 90’s classic I haven’t seen in YEARS.

As if any of us need an excuse to talk about Disney songs, Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews together with Bex at Film Music Central have put together their own Disney Mix Tapes. Drew has been kind enough to let me tag along, so look out for my mix tape this week!

M.Brown at Two Dollar Cinema appreciates a good car honking by Ryan Gosling just as much as I do in his review of La La Land.

The amazingly talented Ruth at FlixChatter has held her first script writing session!