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.

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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

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

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #29

Well. This is awkward.

I ghosted on the blog last week. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I didn’t post a single thing last week. And that’s because I didn’t do a single writing related thing in the last couple of weeks. It feels… bad. But also, okay. The summer is my traditional season of unpredictability. There’s almost always a slump of some kind, though I thought I might have finally broken that habit.

Then I was laid off from the library, a job I absolutely loved. Talk about getting derailed.

trainwreck gif.gif
I’ve tried to keep my days productive with household chores, and while lots of work is getting done around the house, I’m also bingeing a lot of movies and television I wouldn’t normally have time for. Working on creative endeavors right now seems utterly exhausting. I have no motivation whatsoever, so I’m not forcing the issue for now. I know I’ll come back to it, because I always do.

I did get some good news, though. I was offered a position as the Library Media Assistant at Stayton High School! It doesn’t start until mid-August, so there’s still a bit of downtime ahead of me, but I’m using the time to read up on running a school library and gather resources and ideas for my first year on the job. It’s going to be a very big change, with lots of learning opportunities, which has me beyond excited.

That excitement has also taken over any energy I might have for writing related work. This is a nice reminder that I cannot control everything, and I have to work within my means without feeling guilty. It’s a lesson I still struggle with.

Now then, what was I supposed to do two weeks ago?

Last Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
  • Read two short stories
  • Write 1k on Whales

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! There were three posts that week thanks to the busyness inherent in the early days of the month.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
    • No. I did revise one chapter though, so not a total loss.
  • Read two short stories
    • Nope. Lots of other reading, but no short stories.
  • Write 1k on Whales
    • Nope. I had some great progress the week before, but it came to a halt pretty quickly.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Other than interviewing and finding out I had a new job, I don’t really know what I did that week. Read and watch Veronica Mars, I think. And chores.

Last Week

  • Nothing. There were no goals, nothing to strive toward. I read and watched TV and cooked and cleaned. I have become utterly domestic in my joblessness. I didn’t even go on any hikes! Yikes…

Weekly Word Count: 0

So yeah… not super productive. I mean, I read like three books in the last two weeks and have three GoogleDocs for work related resources, display ideas, and passive programs. So, I was busy-ish, just not with anything tangible for the blog. OH! I did read a single submission for The Audient Void, so there! I did one tangible writing related thing! HOORAY!

So, What’s Next?

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

That’s it. That’s all I want. A little bit of writing, a little bit of editing. We have our Bend trip to celebrate our anniversary this weekend, which I can’t believe is finally here, so I have five days to do some work…

And to binge the entire new season of Veronica Mars!

Someone send help.

It’s going to be August before we know it, and then it’s only 12 days before I start at my new job! Have I mentioned that I’m excited?

See you soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

2019 Status Update – Something, Something ABBA lyrics…

As ever, the year is flying by, slipping through our fingers all the time. There’s your dose of ABBA. Although that’s a damn sad song to be the anthem of the first six months. Moving on!

Yearly Goals Completed

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • I finished this back in May, which somehow feels like FOREVER ago, and I’m doing everything in my power to ignore it. I need that distance before I begin editing it in September.

2019 Word Count (so far): 80,744

That’s it so far. Granted, that’s a big one. I wrote a book y’all. That’s a task and a half. Blog-wise, here are some numbers:

  • This is the 64th post on the blog this year, making for an average of 2.2 posts per week. That’s on track for my goal of publishing two posts/week for the year. Hurray!
  • As of this writing, the blog has seen just over 45k words, which is in addition to the almost 81k of fiction I’ve written this year.
  • The blog currently has 562 followers, which continues to amaze me. Thanks for reading!

Speaking of reading, how’s that going this year? My goal is 70 titles, which is the highest goal I’ve ever had. I’ve read 36 titles this year, which Goodreads says is “On Track!”, so there’s that! I really don’t know if I’ll eke out this goal, and I’m not even sure I want to. My policy is, if I surpass my goal I have to up the next year’s goal. My dudes, I don’t think I can read more than 70 books in a year.

What about publishing? How’s that going in 2019? Well, I’ve submitted stories 19 times. I’ve had 4 personal rejections, the rest were form. That’s not as much as I’d hope, but the response times were VERY slow through the spring. This is a tough category to quantify because so much of it is out of my hands. The only true metric for my productivity is my own doggedness. The turnaround time between rejections and submitting again. Those are things I’m in control of. And in those areas, I’d say I’m doing well. The rejections hurt less, even the personal ones, and my turnaround times are almost immediate. Stories don’t languish in my files, waiting for me to feel up to submitting them again. They go out right away. So that’s good.

Unrelated to reading and writing, I have gone on eight hikes so far this year! I’ve really loved getting outdoors and being more active. It’s motivated me to walk more during the week and to even hit the gym on occasion when I’m feeling restless. So I’d call that a major benefit.

2019 – Remaining Priorities

  • Finish Santa Sarita
  • Revise Cards
  • Publish SOMETHING!
  • Publish two blog posts/week
  • Read 70 titles.

So… that’s a lot of stuff. The last two, as discussed, I’m on track for. Thank goodness. But the rest? Well, let’s break it down.

Santa Sarita is my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfic series, which I started back in April of 2017. It was supposed to be single oneshot, which then turned into several multi-chapter fics and a oneshot collection. Well over 250k words later, I’m working(?) on the last fic in the series. I wanted to finish it this year. Honestly? I have no idea if that will happen. I’ve barely looked at it and am currently utterly uninspired and lack motivation to work on it at all.

Cards is my second novel ever, inspired by the blend of a Wild West setting with magic that I’d read in Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. Still one of my favorite books, by the way. I finished it in the spring of 2014, right before I got married. I have never gone back to read it, and at this point I’m sort of afraid to do so. Because I know it will be a complete rewrite, just like The Steel Armada was. It deals with some really heavy themes of racism and oppression and while my intentions were good, I WAS NOT equipped to handle them back in 2014. I am afraid of what waits for me in those pages. And, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m really equipped to handle those themes today either. I don’t know. The story I set out to tell may not be mine to tell. There’s a lot of rethinking and attention required for this book and I’m not sure I’ll have the time or skills to devote to it in the last half of this year.

Publish something… I knew when I made this a goal that it was risky. It’s something I have absolutely no control over. All I can do is submit, submit, submit until something sticks. I’ve had some really close calls this year, but so far, nothing’s landed. I can’t really do anything about that, except carry on. Good thing I am one stubborn chick.

Other Things To Do

  • Revise Exodus: Descent
    • There aren’t a lot of paying markets for novellas, but a few of them are open this fall and I want Exodus ready to go when the time comes.
  • Decide on a NaNoWriMo project
    • I have no idea what the hell I’ll be working on come November. Maybe finishing Santa Sarita? It’s a possibility. I’ll have family in town from out of state for the holiday, so I need to take that into consideration as well.
  • Keep writing
    • I have plenty of short story ideas, and who knows when a novel idea will pop up? Or you know, I could finish my giant fantasy series. That’s always an option.
  • More hikes
    • I’ve loved my outdoor time this year and hope to continue as long as weather permits.

That’s the year so far and the months yet to come. I don’t have much of a vision for the last half of the year, mainly because I have no idea what my daily life will look like in the coming months. Being unemployed has really thrown a wrench in my routines and my goals. Who knew?

 

BZ

Reading Round Up – June 2019

June was a tumultuous month for me. My reading, much like my writing, came and went. I was distracted and had trouble committing to much of anything. That being said, I read more than I thought I did! Hurray!

Title: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)in an absent dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Trade Paperback ARC
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I had low expectations for this book, since I wasn’t overly fond of the third one, but I LOVED this book. It tells Lundy’s story, of how her door opened and her time in the Goblin Market. I found it to be a perfect blend of cynicism and whimsy that really captured my attention.
Recommend: Yes, though you’ll want to have read at least the first book, preferably all of them first.

Title: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2)knight's shadow
Author: Sebastien De Castell
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Joe Jameson
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This story is much darker than the first, and let’s be real the first book had five days of torture and a weeklong Purge scenario. I really liked this book, but less for the actual plot and more because I love the Greatcoats (especially Kest and Brasti) and Joe Jameson’s narration is fantastic. I love listening to Falcio talk, which is fitting, seeing as he does so damn much of it. See my full review for more details.
Recommend: Yes. Just buckle up and prepare yourself for some discomfort and some irritation.

Title: Revenger (Revenger #1)revenger
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A – Did Not Finish
Thoughts: This book struggled from page one. I’m hesitant anytime I read a story with a teenage girl protagonist written by a middle-aged man, but I also like to give it a fair shot. I made it about 80 pages before I finally had to call it. The plot was slow to build, the characters were either unlikable or pretty cliched. There were a lot of cool concepts, but the writing and characters weren’t compelling enough to convince me to do the work to read it. When I have a TBR that’s literally overflowing I don’t have time for bad books. Sorry, not sorry.
Recommend: No.

Title: The October Man (Rivers of London 7.5)the october man
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I’m usually pretty ambivalent about the Rivers of London novellas, but this one was really good! It was fast paced, introduced all new and likable characters, and had a really intriguing plot. It also made me want to visit Trier really badly. I liked Tobias, although his narration wasn’t super different from Peter’s, just with a lot less humor and geekery.
Recommend: If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll like this installment.

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)this savage song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Format: Trade Paperback, Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book surprised me, which is silly since it’s by Victoria (aka V.E.) Schwab. She absolutely blew my mind with the Shades of Magic books, and after this book I think I’ll trust her with just about any book she wants to give me. Verity is a post-apocalyptic (sorta) version of the Midwest. In this world, literal monsters are born from violence. There’s the Corsai, made of shadows and teeth, the Malchai, which seem to be even creepier vampires, and the Sunai, which eat the souls of sinners with a song. It’s incredibly imaginative with wonderful characters yet again. I did give it four stars because it was a little slow to start and felt a little bit… tropey. Like, it very much felt like a typical YA book until about page 100. Not that that’s inherently bad, but it’s not my fave. Pretty much everything after that was spectacular though! Find out more in my full review!
Recommend: Yep! Treat it with patience until around page 100 though.

Title: “Where Monsters Dance”A. Merc Rustad
Author: A. Merc Rustad (now Merc Fenn Wolfmoor)
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is… weird. In a really good way. An imaginary friend turns out not to be so imaginary, and the main character has to save them in a hidden dimension of benevolent monsters. I really liked the blend of reality and imagination.
Recommend: Yep. This is a visceral and whimsical tale well worth the read.

Title: “Be Not Unequally Yoked”Alexis A. Hunter
Author: Alexis A. Hunter
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It was so unbelievably up my alley. A young Amish man lives with a terrible secret: sometimes, he turns into a horse. The lines are blurring between him and the mare he becomes, until finally they are no longer separate identities. This story accomplishes so much. It’s a trans story, it’s a coming out story, it’s a first love story, it’s a story about religion and family and finding your place in a world you don’t really fit into. It does all of that with beauty and grace and ethereal quality that kept me hooked.
Recommend: Yes! I think there’s something here for just about anyone.

Title: “The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad”molly tanzer
Author: Molly Tanzer
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I liked this. It’s more straightforward than a lot of the other stories in this collection, and it’s Weird Fiction, which I read a lot of. The plot was a little predictable, but I liked it nonetheless. A tale of body-snatching, dark rituals, and how fear and hate can have unexpected consequences.
Recommend: Sure! It was a fun story.

Title: “Kin, Painted”benjanun
Author: Penny Stirling
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I had to take some time to really marinate on this story. It’s very quiet, with not much action at all. A nameless character struggles to find their “paint” in a family full of artists. The art in this story is more than expression, it is identity. What I really liked was that, while the character struggled and experimented, the family members never once judged or condemned. They support the main character and treat them with kindness and patience. I loved that. It was a lovely and hopeful note to end the collection on.
Recommend: Yes. Honestly, I recommend the entire collection.

 

Book Review – This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

Blogland,

This book was not on my radar until I finished reading the Shades of Magic series. V.E. Schwab pretty much blew my mind with those books, and left me with a desperate need to read more of her work. I looked at a couple of reviews and decided that the Monsters of Verity series would be the right series to start with in my quest to read her entire bibliography.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

this savage song

Verity is a city cut in half. South City, where people band together to fight back the monsters, and North City where the people pay for protection from Callum Harker who brought the monsters to heel. Civil war split the city down what’s called The Seam, where violence overflowed the world. Violent acts lead to the birth of literal monsters. There’s even a little song to help you remember them!

Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw. 
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.

So, a breakdown for you, because I found the monsters fascinating. The Corsai are… scary. They’re made of shadow, teeth and claws, as the song would lead you to believe. They hate UV light and will literally tear you to shreds. The Malchai are like vampires on crack. They have a mouth full of super sharp needlelike teeth and bright red eyes, and though they are weaker in the daylight, they can move around in it. Then there’s the Sunai, the rarest of them all.

August Flynn, one half of the two-perspective narration, is the youngest of the only three Sunai in Verity.  The eldest Sunai believes they are akin to avenging angels, sent to reap the souls of sinners and cleanse the city. But August doesn’t want to be an angel, all he’s ever wanted is to be human. And when word reaches South City that Kate Harker, daughter of North City’s mob boss-esque leader, is back in town, he finally gets his chance.

What could be more human than going to high school?

Kate Harker, the other half of this duo, is a quintessential problem child. She’s burned (in one case, literally) through boarding school after boarding school until her father finally lets her come home. Now is her chance to prove that she isn’t weak, that she deserves to be in Verity, and that she is the rightful heir of Callum Harker.

But she didn’t plan on making friends with the quiet boy with a violin and one hell of a secret. Just like August didn’t intend to actually like Kate, he was just supposed to spy on her.

Hot damn, what a premise!

What I loved:

  • The monsters!!! They are just familiar enough that I’m not confused by them or get them confused with one another, but they’re new too. They are scary in new ways, and I just found them really interesting.
  • August! I love his complexity, his inner-turmoil and how much he struggles with the concept of what he is versus who he is. I also love that, though music is the Sunai method of feeding on souls, he also seems to just legitimately love music. His attachment to his violin goes beyond the fact that he needs it to feed. He cares about it. It’s an extension of himself.
  • Kate. She reminded me a lot of Lila Bard from Shades of Magic, which is never a bad thing. She’s angry, she has a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. But, despite her tough act and her gritty resolve, she isn’t cold. She wants to be, but she isn’t there yet. It’s that humanity in the face of monsters that makes her likable.
  • The music. Music is super important to this series, and I think Schwab’s writing reflects that. She’s a wonderful writer, I learned that with Shades of Magic, but I do feel like she upped her prose game with this book. There were a couple lines that made me pause and reread them, and there’s a lyrical quality that echoes throughout most of the book. I came away from each reading session feeling impressed.

What I didn’t love:

  • The beginning was a little slow. I get that there’s world building to be done and character development has to happen somewhere. But I wished we’d got to August and Kate in school sooner. I don’t really know if that’s a reasonable complaint, but there it is.
  • It felt a little… YA-y. Okay, this complaint ISN’T reasonable. It is a YA book after all. But, especially in those first 100 pages, everything felt too familiar. Almost cliché. I haven’t read much YA in the last five years or so, so maybe I’m just out of touch with the market, but it felt a little trope-y. Then the book shifts once Kate and August meet, and from there things really find their stride and I became immersed in the story.

So there you have it. A little slow to start, but ultimately a really great book with high stakes, amazing characters, and a super imaginative world and premise. Once I got through the first 100 pages, I was hooked. Thanks to Schwab’s previously fantastic works, I trusted her to give me an experience I would enjoy. I’m glad I did.

I’m on to the sequel already and am enjoying it so far. I’ll be back soon to talk about the state of the blog in the first half of the year.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ