Book Review – Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

It took me a really long time to read this book. It had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with my tumultuous summer, which I should have planned for. I always have a tumultuous summer. There’s no escaping them, apparently.

But, once I finally focused and spent some time in these pages, I remembered why I refused to return the book to the library despite my lack of reading. If you haven’t read my review for This Savage Song, now would be a good time.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

our dark duet cover

After This Savage Song, Kate Harker fled her hometown of Verity, and left more than just her demons behind. She thought she left monsters, bad and good, but it turns out monster-hunting is a profession just about anywhere these days. She’s made some friends, computer nerds mostly, and together they are the Wardens, unofficial protectors of the city.

Meanwhile, back in Verity, August had very big, soulless shoes to fill. Leo may be gone, but he haunts August’s every step as the Sunai tries to be the leader, and monster, he was meant to be. It’s destroying him, but it’s the cost of success for the FTF. He’s determined to pay it.

But when a new kind of monster, one that feeds on violence and fear, climbs into Kate’s head and learns about the brutality of every day life in Verity, there’s only one course of action to take. Kate abandons her new life, risking the trip back into the city she left behind in order to warn August and help save Verity, even as it tries to kill them both.

What I loved:

  • The characters. I loved Kate and August in the first book and though there is a lot of tension between them in this book (which hurt to read) they were still utterly fantastic. I will love that violin wielding boy, forever and ever, amen.our dark duet cover 2.jpg
  • The stakes. The plot was a little slow to start, but once August and Kate got on the same page again it was nonstop. Lives are at stake, the city is at stake, and their relationship is at stake. It’s all so freaking good and pulls on every heartstring. Muah!
  • The writing. Victoria Schwab (aka V.E. Schwab) is a FANTASTIC writer. I adored her Shade of Magic Series, which led me to this duology and I couldn’t be happier. She really flexed her writing muscle with these books and I was torn between speed reading to find out what happened next and pausing to appreciate the music that echoed off the page.

What I didn’t:

  • Um… That there’s only two of them? I don’t know. The ending was perfect and inevitable. It was a tiny bit predictable, but I think knowing how it HAD to end actually upped the emotional stakes. It was sad and beautiful and perfect. But it was still sad. So I guess I didn’t(?) like that.

I feel sort of rusty at these book reviews right now. I’m out of practice in so many aspects of my reading and writing life right now. But, it’s like riding a a bike, right? Writing a bike?

Something like that.

I have a ton of reading lined up for the rest of the fall, so expect to see some more regular book reviews from here on out.

See you then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

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The Recap – August 2019

Woof. I uh… maybe fell off the map there for awhile. I’m sorry y’all. Work started on August 12th and I’m just now coming up for air. My new job (high school librarian) has been taking ALL of my bandwidth. I’ve barely been reading. I’ve watched a lot of television which we all know is unusual behavior for me, because it’s all my brain can really handle.

But, I dealt with the submissions stuff today and have edits for The Audient Void to work on. I’ve been reading/listening to audiobooks and the day-to-day of work is starting to even out. Hopefully that means I’ll begin working on my writing again soon.

August Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whales rough draft
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. Admittedly, it’s mostly been waiting, but even at my lowest, I didn’t let submissions stagnate.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Definitely not.
  • Finish Whales rough draft
    • Close! I think 1k more and it’ll be done. It’s just a really hard, emotional 1k. Also, renamed The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • No. I didn’t finish a single title in August. That’s really disheartening.

Monthly Word Count: 1,234

So yeah. Writing-wise, August was a low point for sure. It was a blur, and I don’t have much to say other than I’m ready to move on. It’s a little late in the month to set goals, but I’m not going to let that stop me!

September Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

I need to keep things simple for the rest of the month and keep my goals SUPER small. A thousand-ish words, continue submissions, and keep reading. That’s it. That’s all I need to do to feel good come October first. I can do that.

Right now I’m reading Our Dark Duet, as well as listening to Saint’s Blood. I need to read some more short stories and get back on track for my reading goal. I am REALLY behind, let me tell you. Hopefully soon I’ll have a book review for you guys.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk 32

Bloggos,

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. Permit me a moment to gush.

I am now a high school Library Media Assistant. I’m the only library staff in the school, which means when it comes to the library, I’m in charge. It’s a big job, like, a really big job. And I couldn’t be more excited!

Over the month of July I had a lot of time to think about what the library might look like and what my priorities would be once I was in the building. Today I spent the bulk of my time working in the front office answering phones and directing families to the gym to get registered for the school year. BUT, I was able to sneak away and poke around the library a little bit.

Here’s what I’m working with:

Honestly, I was prepared for a lot worse. The bones of the space are fantastic, and there are some details that I really enjoy. There’s also a lot of really old books and a woefully unbalanced collection. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I can see it. I have a vision and the beginnings of a plan are forming. I’m ready to get to work!

Speaking of…

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on Whales

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Whoops.
  • Work on Whales
    • YES! I got some great quality work in and I couldn’t be happier.

Weekly Word Count: 1,234

I was much more productive this last week than I expected to be. I started the week off with a cold, so it was slow going for a while, but I rallied at the end of the week and managed to get a healthy writing session in. I also deep cleaned and organized most of the house, which feels really nice going into a whole new job this week.

Outside of writing, blogging, and cleaning, I did a whole lot of nothing. I watched the new season of Veronica Mars, a passed out watching Duck Tales, and watched more Great British Baking Show. So, yeah. Media consumed.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on The Lament of Kivu Lacus

I think this must be getting boring by now. It’s the same shit every week. But you know, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Or some such.

I don’t have super high hopes, mainly because it’s my first week at work and all my thoughts are absorbed with all things library. Which I think is fair. Also my best friend just moved back to town, so I’m sure there will be social expenditures this week as well.

There is a hike coming up this weekend to Mount Hebo. I don’t know much about it other than, once at the top, you’re supposed to be able to see all the way to the ocean if it’s a clear day. Sounds like the exact thing I want to do with my Saturday morning.

So, yeah. There’s the plan. We’ll see what I make of it. I don’t have much blogging planned for this week, but hopefully I come up with a good reason to come back before next Monday.

‘Til then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Reading Round Up – July 2019

With a sudden net gain in free-time in July, I read a healthy amount. Most of it nonfiction, so most of these titles will be new to you and sadly the “thoughts” aren’t as effusive as they are when I read more fiction. I didn’t read as many short stories as I would have liked this month, but hey. I’m still good with how much time I spent reading this month.

Title: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)vm thousand dollar tan line
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A quick and satisfying plunge back into the witty and gritty noir world of Veronica Mars. This book reads exactly like an arc of episodes from the original show. There’s plenty to like here, especially if you’ve watched the movie recently. For a more detailed breakdown, check out my full review.
Recommend: Absolutely! Especially if you’ve watched the movie but haven’t started the new season yet. There are some things you might want to know.

Title: The Weeding Handbook: a Shelf-by-Shelf Guidethe weeding handbook
Author: Rebecca Vnuk
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A really easy read, full of good tips and knowledge but shared in approachable language. I plan on buying a copy for my personal collection. I’m sure I’ll have occasion to use it in the coming years.
Recommend: If you’re in the library field, absolutely. It breaks down weeding collections shelf-by-shelf, making a humongous task that much easier.

Title: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2)vm kiss and tell
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: Another solid contribution to the Veronica Mars canon. Characters, setting, and tone come together to make up for the inconsistent pacing and competing plot lines. Veronica is her usual self, and honestly, it’s starting to get old. Get my full thoughts in my review.
Recommend: Sure. Again, if you’re a fan of the show you’re still going to enjoy this. If you have no idea what the hell Veronica Mars even is, you may want to pass.

Title: Library Management Tips That Worklibrary management tips.jpg
Author: Carol Smallwood
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book was a little disappointing. I don’t think it was the book’s fault, but it didn’t actually have much content I could put to use in my new job. It’s a very broad look at library management aimed more specifically at sizable Public Libraries. I’m working in a high school media center, so a lot of the content did not translate. I still read it, because it’s stuff I find interesting and I may have need of the knowledge someday. Also, the language of the book was… dry. Made it a bit difficult to get through.
Recommend: Meh. If you’re really into best practices for library management and operations, go HAM.

Title: Leading from the Library: Help Your School Community Thrive in the Digital Ageleading from the library
Author(s): Shannon McClintock Miller and William Bass
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: I found the writing really prohibitive in this book. It’s chock-a-block full of lingo and different educational standards and I was a bit adrift through the whole thing. I think there’s valuable information in here, but it may require a reread once I’m settled into my role.
Recommend: Meh. Not so much. Again, only if you’re really interested in the details of how libraries work.

Title: Hacking School Libraries: 10 Ways to Incorporate Library Media Centers into Your Learning Community (Hack Learning Series, volume 20)hacking school libraries
Author(s): Kristina A. Holzweiss and Stony Evans
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Oh man! This book! I LOVED it. Each chapter was really well laid out, with a ton of information, followed by action steps for the reader to take as soon as they’re ready. There were a ton of pictures and diagrams and a huge list of resources in the back. I’m going to buy a copy, for sure.
Recommend: Yes. But again, only if you really want to know more about working in a school library.

Title: “Skerry-Bride”sonya taaffe.jpg
Author: Sonya Taaffe
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It’s short but languid, twisting and turning through the language. Grim with longing, poignant and tragic but lined with hope. It reads like a fairy tale, but it’s in second person which is always fascinating to me.
Recommend: Yes.

Title: “The L7 Gene”jeanne thornton.jpg
Author: Jeanne Thornton
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: Man. I’m still not sure about this story. I… liked it? It’s as far from “Skerry-Bride” as it could be. Straightforward prose, anger in every line, it works for the tale. But, reading it right after something so elegant and artful as “Skerry-Bride” probably did it a disservice. The plot is very intriguing, but the ending is open and a little unsatisfying.
Recommend: Sure. Another short tale with punch, worth the half-hour or so to take it in.

Book Review – Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

I read this in my fervor to get all caught up for the newest season of Veronica Mars. The revival was the highlight of my summer, and I spent a ton of time watching the original series, the movie, and reading the books to be prepared.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

vm kiss and tell

This book takes place a few months after the end of the first book. Logan is back from deployment, Keith is still recovering from the accident in the movie, and Veronica is approached by the Neptune Grand once again. This time to prove that an assault didn’t actually take place inside the hotel.

When the victim turns out to be Grace Manning, the little sister of a friend from Veronica’s high school days, the case takes an unexpected turn. She can’t remember anything about the night of the attack, before waking up in the hospital beat within an inch of her life.

Now Veronica is torn between her personal feelings for the victim, and the desires of her client.

What I loved:

  • We’re back in Neptune. The gritty world Thomas has made is endlessly fascinating to me and I’m always happy to spend time there. This setting and characters are what make the show.
  • More Logan time! He’s actually around for this one, which is really nice. That being said, V is really good at ignoring him, or avoiding him when he wants to discuss something she finds unpleasant, i.e. her feelings.
  • The writing. Again, clear, concise prose that tells the tale in an intricate and well-thought out manner. Nothing to complain about there.

What I didn’t love:

  • The pacing. This story was very disjointed it. I think because it takes place over too large a period of time. There wasn’t any urgency in its pages. The opening sequence is four-ish months before the book actually begins. There are long gaps in communications and information sort of trickles in to Mars Investigations over time. I think the idea was that the larger focus of the book would be the tension between Veronica and Logan, but that didn’t really work either. The book felt pulled in too many directions without doing any of them much justice.
  • The plot. It was decent enough, but there wasn’t the iconic Veronica Mars twist that I’ve come to expect from all VM content. Usually they set up a character you’re sure did it, and then BOOM, it turns out to have been someone else all along and how could you have missed all that evidence? That doesn’t happen here. We know relatively quickly that Veronica has her sights on the right suspect, but whether she’ll be able to bring him to justice or not is the bigger mystery. I don’t know why, but it didn’t do much for me. Also, as mentioned in the previous bullet, there are a lot of subplots in this book and all of them are vying for top priority. They’re important plot lines, but they suffer from sharing the stage with each other.
  • Veronica. In season three of the show it becomes apparent just how damaged Veronica is. She uses people, frequently. She holds Logan to higher standards than she holds herself. She can be a massive hypocrite. It’s pointed out to her a lot in the course of the show, but she never really learns from that. It continues in this book, and she continues to be pretty uncompromising and shitty to Logan. I’m not cool with that. There needs to be some real consequences and growth on her part and it doesn’t happen in this book.

So, overall, a fun summer read if you’re a fan of the series. Some of the content in this book does get mentioned in the new season on Hulu, so you’ll want to read the books if you want to be fully in the know.

I should have the Reading Round Up before the week is out. So, I’ll see you then!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – wk #31

Hey Bloggos! I haven’t completely forgotten you, I promise. I may not have made it to last week’s Goals Summary, but I still set some goals for myself later in the week. I also came down with a pretty wicked little cold over the weekend, and I spent all day yesterday one the couch, battling a fever with a binge session of the new season of Veronica Mars. Now I’m nursing a very light, subtle migraine and hoping I’m in tip-top shape come Monday. Because that’s when I (finally) start my new job!

fanfare gif.gif

Last Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Work on Whales
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Narp.
  • Work on Whales
    • Yarp. Only a very little.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
    • Narp.

Weekly Word Count: 333

I honestly don’t really remember what was going on week before last. There was a vacation over the weekend and lots of reading. I watched some movies and in general tried to enjoy my free time instead of guilting myself into being miserable.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on Whales

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp! A book review made for a decent week on the blog.
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Work on Whales
    • Nope. Not even a little little bit.

Weekly Word Count: 0

This weekend was busy with social events and visiting the in-laws. The week flew by with chores and some reading. I binged some tv shows too, I think. Trev was sick, which then got me sick, and over all there isn’t much more to be said. I wrote a book review, though, so that’s nice!

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on Whales

I know it’s getting a bit repetitive, but until there’s progress in these areas I can’t really move on to anything else. I woke up this morning feeling quite a bit better and almost set to revising the second chapter of Exodus, when my burst of energy fizzled out and I took a nap instead. Apparently better isn’t the same as well. Hopefully I’ll continue to feel better through the week and manage to get some work done.

I’ve started bingeing The Adventure Zone: Amnesty, which is time I could spend listening to audiobooks, but hey, it’s TAZ. I kinda can’t say no.

So yeah. I’m reading and editing and writing this week. I’m all caught up on my favorite shows, I’ve watched enough movies, and read enough nonfiction. It’s time to get back to fiction, both reading and writing.

I’ll be back soon with another Veronica Mars book review, and then I’ll finally be able to post the reading round up.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

I’ve been a Veronica Mars fan for a long, long time. I first watched the show as a teenager, and fell in love with the scrappy, witty, tiny blonde Junior PI. And then I fell in love with Logan Echolls. That love has never died, well over a decade later. Back in 2014, that love led me to read this book, even though I hadn’t seen the movie.

I gave it a four-star rating then. Now, with the revival freshly released on Hulu, I rewatched the original series, got my hands on the movie, and reread the book!

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

vm thousand dollar tan line

This book takes place in 2014, about two months after the events of the movie. Veronica is back in Neptune, with her PI license renewed and running Mars Investigations while her father, Keith, heals from the car wreck that nearly killed. Logan is back on deployment with the Navy, somewhere in the Middle East.

It’s spring break and the streets of Neptune are flooded with Co-Eds partying their brains out. But when a girl goes missing, and Sheriff Lamb is unwilling to look into the matter, the Chamber of Commerce decides to hedge their bets with the only (reputable) private investigators in town. Veronica takes the case, vowing to find the girl and restore Neptune’s reputation as a spring break destination.

And just like that we’re plunged right back into the gritty and witty noir of the show at its peak.

What I loved:

  • The writing. This book reads exactly like an episode, or a mini-arc of episodes, from the original show. Veronica’s voice is clear and consistent. You hear her narration just like her voice overs from the series. The other characters are also well done, particularly Keith and Wallace.
  • The plot. It’s just twisty enough, giving you all the pieces, but putting them together in a way you just can’t quite manage on your own. This is something the show did super well, and the book keeps that tradition alive.
  • Pacing. The really tricky thing about mystery stories is how the information is parceled out while still keeping the story interesting. Placing your breadcrumbs in just the right place is critical to a successful mystery story. This book nails it. Plus, they’ve got the end of chapter cliff-hanger down to a science.
  • The world. Guys… I LOVE this show. I have loved this show for the better part of my life. My personal sense of humor and style were directly impacted by this series and it will forever have a special place in my heart. So, give me a solid noir story with these characters in this setting? I’m going to have a favorable opinion of it. There’s just no two ways about it.

What I didn’t love:

  • The writing. In this sense, I mean that the prose itself was really simple. The writing has one job, and that’s to tell this story. There’s no frills, no flourishes. It’s windowpane writing, words you’re meant to peer through and fall into the world. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I would have appreciated a little more depth.
  • Not NEARLY enough Logan. I recognize this is a purely fandom complaint and totally personal, but COME ON! We watch this show for like, three reasons, tops. And one of those reasons is Logan “Lovable Asshole” Echolls. Gimme MOAR!

So yeah. That’s it. This is a super fun, quick read. Perfect for a weekend getaway or some other sort of leisure time (read: unemployment). At just over 300 pages, it’s neither intimidating nor underwhelming. It’s the Goldilocks book of fangirling. If you liked the show and have watched the show, it’s the next logical step in your consumption of all things Veronica Mars.

annoy like the wind

I’ll be back on Monday to discuss goals I didn’t manage to share with y’all. I did update my whiteboard, and I am doing some work this week. I think I’m back in action. Maybe.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ