Just finished reading this book. It is almost essential reading, in my view, if you want to understand the movie. I don't consider that a good thing.
A few notes I took as I read and looked at the pretty pictures. Warning: likely spoilers ahead!
A new (partial) map of the galaxy, featuring Starkiller Base (DS3?), Jakku (Rey's home), Hosnian Prime (current seat of Republic Senate), D'Qar (the main Resistance base), and Takodana (site of Maz Kanata's castle). Strangely enough, still no report on where the heck Lothal is located, I far as I can tell.
The Galactic Concordance is the official name of the peace treaty signed between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant. This treaty ended the Galactic Civil War. Shortly thereafter the Republic Senate passed the Military Disarmament Act, wishing to dramatically reduce the size of the standing armed forces which had been in place since the beginning of the Clone Wars.
In an effort to woo worlds to their cause, the Republic Senate is no longer on Coruscant. The body is now hosted on a rotating basis, each host site elected by member worlds. As of the movie, the current Senate is meeting on Hosnian Prime, a Core World.
Lor San Tekka, an important figure in the movie now given a name (here and in a few other books), was a well traveled explorer who, among other things, helped Luke find lost or repressed Jedi artifacts and information after the GCW. Since the time of the Empire, San Tekka has been a member of the "Church of the Force", a religion based on revering the ideals espoused by the Jedi. The adherents to this faith are not, themselves, Force users but they respect the ideals nonetheless. I don't know that something called 'Church of the Force' sounds all that in line with Star Wars, personally.
Captain Phasma is not a captain in rank. Thank goodness, as that would be silly. A Stormtrooper Captain would be in command of something like 150 or so Stormtroopers, not the entire contingent within the First Order. No idea on what real rank she has, but it isn't Captain. As a side note, it is said that her armor was chromed using metal taken from one of Palpatine's personal star yachts. Cool.
Germane to this blog, it turns out Rey's old broken salvaged Rebel starfighter helmet used to belong to one Captain Dosmit Reah of the Tierfon Yellow Aces. No idea on how a "Yellow Ace" made it to the Jakku battle at the end of the war (since they were disbanded years before that time).
The new movie and its attendant stuff (books, comics, novels, etc) is all very interesting, but I am growing to dislike the decisions made in a number of places. More on that later. Probably much more on that, in fact.