Today we have a recent novel by Claudia Gray. It's Star Wars: Bloodline.
The story takes place a number of years before The Force Awakens. Leia Organa is a New Republic senator in her forties dealing with a do-nothing senate which is divided into two factions: the Populists and the Centrists. The Populists want each planet's government to be sovereign, while the Centrists advocate for a strong central government. Leia is a Populist, but even she can't seem to get the senate to do any meaningful governing.
One day, a Twi'lek representative pleads for the senate to investigate a powerful drug cartel running roughshod over his home world. Most senators dismiss his concerns, but Leia decides they need to do something. So she teams up with Centrist Ransolm Casterfo to go to the afflicted world of Bastatha and meet with the cartel leader, but things don't go as planned. After an impromptu rescue by Casterfo, they head back to the senate to report their findings.
Before long, it is decided the senate needs a strong leader to make decisions, so both factions begin fielding candidates for First Senator. Leia seems a shoe-in for the role, but a terrorist act soon shakes the senate to its core, with both sides blaming one another. Nevertheless, Leia is determined to get to the bottom of things. But when her greatest secret is revealed, she's rendered powerless.
To make matters worse, the cartel is merely the tip of the iceberg. Leia and her remaining allies discover the existence of a powerful paramilitary organization bent on galactic conquest. They've got to get to the bottom of things and convince the senate to act before it's too late, but with Leia now the galaxy's biggest pariah, it seems only a desperate, foolhardy mission can save the New Republic.
Bloodline is a first-rate Star Wars novel. Claudia Gray really understands Leia and what makes her tick. We truly get an in-depth analysis of her character. We go deep into her psychology and find out what motivates her actions. We find out how she feels as mother, wife, senator, rebel and royalty. This is more than we ever got in any of the movies. It's far better than Before the Awakening which I reviewed months ago and which I felt didn't add much to Star Wars lore. Bloodline, on the contrary, adds a great deal and succeeds admirably in explaining how Leia came to be the leader of the Resistance.
I also like the fact the author included numerous references to the prequels. I don't really like those movies but they are a part of the Star Wars universe and shouldn't be forgotten.
Bottom line: if you're a Star Wars fan, you have to read Bloodline.