Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #43

Another quick week. I feel like I got a ton of work done, both in the library and in writing, and I had an awesome weekend celebrating my BFF’s 30th birthday.  A whirlwind week to be sure.

Last Week:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
    • Yes! And then some. More on that below.
  • Read a short stor
    • Yep. I read a few out of Kameron Hurley’s new collection before I had to return it.

Weekly Word Count: 119

That’s more words than I expected since I was editing, but I feel good about the changes made. So good, in fact, that I kept revising until suddenly there were no chapters left to edit. I submitted the story to my preferred market for it last night!

Social activities took up the bulk of my weekend, which for once was exactly what I wanted. We sang karaoke, went to a pumpkin patch, and played video games with friends. It was a nice, relaxing fall weekend.

I’m not reading as much as I ought to these days, but I’ve been playing some video games and catching up on Letterkenny and the Great British Bake Off.

But, the big news, the news I’ve been skirting around this whole blog post is… The Cost of Rain has been ACCEPTED! I’ve signed the contract so now it’s just a waiting game until it’s published. I’ll have more details the closer we get to the publication date, I pinky promise.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Begin outlining/brainstorming for Nanowrimo
  • Read something!

Keeping it simple this week. I’m ahead of my goals for this month, writing-wise, so I have every excuse to take it a little easier this week. Besides, I can use this “down-time” to let my Nano project marinate and start coming together. I’ve built the playlist, which is always a great first step. Now to see where that takes me.

I read a graphic novel last night, and have two more I’m in various stages with. I’d like to get them each done this week, plus start my book club book and read at least one short story. I’m WAY behind on my reading goal, but that’s no excuse not to read as much as I can.

I’m battling some serious Dragon Age cravings right now, which is why I’m reading the graphic novels and eyeballing the novel tie-ins right now. I think another announcement about the next game will be coming out in the next month or so and I am so freaking excited it’s ridiculous. So I read things and wildly theorize and wait.

So, you know. Reading, writing, gaming, lather. rinse. repeat. I don’t know if I’ll be back on the blog this week. I don’t have a book review for you, but if I think of anything else to chat about, I’ll be here.

Til then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

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Book Review – Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab

This book has been in my TBR since it came out, I think. It’s been on my radar for far too long, and yet again I’m upset with myself for putting it off for so long.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Vicious

Vicious is a tale of revenge, first and foremost. It does absolutely nothing to hide that fact. Victor Vale is a brilliant college student that has lived an extremely privileged yet neglected life. His parents are famous psychologists who write an obnoxious series of self-help books that Victor gleefully vandalizes in the name of art while they travel the world. His best friend and roommate is Eliot Cardale (aka Eli), and their penchant for science makes them hyper-competitive with one another.

When Eli comes up with an insane thesis about Extra Ordinaries (EOs for short) Victor is fascinated. EOs are just a rumor, a modern myth about people who have unnatural abilities. But Eli is convinced that they’re real, and he thinks he knows how to make himself one. But there’s a catch: You have to die and somehow be brought back to life. It’s madness, but Victor and Eli are used to playing intellectual chicken with one another, so when Victor suggests they try it out Eli can’t say no.

It’s a decision that changes their lives forever and destroys their friendship, leaving Victor with nothing more to live for than his need to destroy Eli at any cost.

What I loved:

  • The characters. Despite Schwab’s insistence that there are no good guys in this story, I couldn’t help but root for Victor, Mitch, and Sydney. I love them. I love how seemingly cold and calculating Victor is. How damaged. Every piece of him is sharp, and yet he isn’t inhuman no matter how much he argues and believes otherwise. In his own way he cares for Sydney and even Mitch, even as he uses them. I love that complexity.
  • The narrative. Schwab tells the story in leaps and bounds. One scene is from ten years in the past, then the very next is only two days ago. Then the present. Then the past again. I often enjoy non-linear storylines if they’re clear that’s what they’re doing. Schwab handled it beautifully. vicious 2
  • The plot! This book has an insane premise that is at once fantastical and utterly believable. Two young men, too thrilled with the concept of what they can do they never once doubt whether or not they should, get caught up in a decade long feud and a plot for revenge. Love. It.

What I didn’t:

  • Uhhhh. Well, this is awkward. I’m not sure there was anything I didn’t like about this book. I didn’t like Eli. Which I constantly wondered about. Why didn’t I like him? He’s no worse than Victor. Hell, in some ways he’s better!  He has a moral code, even if it is real freaking dubious. He wasn’t wrong in the earlier years of the story, but over time you see how he’s spiraling out of control. Meanwhile Victor, who was most definitely wrong in the earliest timeline has spent the last decade sharpening his ability, honing himself for one ultimate task. It’s just really interesting because the two characters aren’t really all that different, and yet they are utterly polarizing for me. I loved Victor and actively disliked Eli.

Vicious is the first book in a (currently) two book series. Vengeful is the next title, and though I have it on loan from the library I won’t be reading it right away. I have the Book Club book to read this weekend (it’s a struggle) and I just got Dark Age back so I’m sinking into that. I also have Kameron Hurley’s new short story collection and a couple novellas I want to read.

Basically, I’m swimming in books and running out of time to reach my Goodreads Challenge goal of 70 titles. I might not make it this year y’all.

I’m at a library conference today and tomorrow, so you won’t hear from me again until Monday when I take a look at the week and talk about goals.

Until then Bloggos!

 

BZ

Reading Round Up – September 2019

There wasn’t much reading in September, unfortunately, but I still ought to talk about what I did manage to read.

Title: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)our dark duet cover
Author(s): Victoria Schwab
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book took me entirely too long to read. It had everything to do with my own personal and professional turmoil and utterly nothing to do with the book. I love the characters and the world and the crazy way music is intertwined through the whole thing. It’s very artfully done and sets a really high bar for YA fiction. As far as I’m concerned, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is one of the best writers around and a new favorite. Read my full review for more details.
Recommend: Yes!

Title: The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited (The Adventure Zone #2)TAZ v2
Author(s): Clint, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy and Carey Pietsch
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I love The Adventure Zone podcast and I particularly love these characters. Listening to the podcast was wonderful, but the beauty and wonder of the graphic novel adaptations is that it does that thing we all wish we could do with every piece of media we love: it lets you experience the content as if it were the very first time. Add that the artwork is fantastic and you really can’t go wrong with these adaptations.
Recommend: Absolutely! Gotta have my good, good boys!

Title: X-Men Season Onexmen season one
Author(s): Dennis Hopeless and Jamie McKelvie
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: Hmmm… I don’t have a lot of thoughts on this. It’s a short look at when Jean Grey came to the X-Men. Cyclops, Archangel, Beast, and Ice Man are the main characters which I enjoyed. I didn’t love Jean’s characterization and I hated that she was the only girl in the whole book. The whole “two boys like me, oh noes” plot was irritating. I liked the art though!
Recommend: Meh. If you’re a big X-Men buff and want to read about some early school days stuff, why not?

That’s all I got in the month of September. October is already off to a better start so there should be much more to talk about in the next Round Up. I’ll be back this week with a book review for Vicious and then quiet through the weekend while I attend a library conference!

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #41

Oh, Blogland…

Remember that time when I thought I was back and then I wasn’t?  Oops.

Last Week…?

Weekly Word Count: 746

Well, there wasn’t a last week’s goals because I haven’t been holding myself accountable pretty much since June. I did do a bit of reading last week, which felt really good, so at least there’s that. AND I finished The Lament of Kivu Lacus! I knew I was close to the end, but didn’t think I’d manage to finish it in one morning writing session. Go me!

Let’s move on to the goals for this week!

 What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s SecretImage result for the first wife's secret

Not anything too taxing here. I should be blogging quite a bit this week because I have the September Reading Round Up and a book review to share. I got a collection of short stories from the library so I ought to be able to read one of those no problem. I’m out of town this weekend for a work conference (which I’m very excited to attend!) so should have downtime in the hotel to finish reading this book club book before our Monday meeting next week.

The hardest bullet point here is the editing. You know how it goes. Editing blows. BUT, I do really want to get this project done and submitted so I think I’ll manage to make time for it Sunday morning.

Now that my BFF is back in town and managing Starbucks stores, I’m spending my Sunday mornings holed up with some coffee, headphones, and writing projects. Just like the old days. Thanks to my job’s early wake up call during the week, sleeping in isn’t as easy as it used to be. But, the husbando NEEDS his beauty sleep, so I get up and have some me time. Reading, writing, that sort of thing. It’s been quite the indulgence and exactly what I need to reset and prepare for the week ahead.

So, that’s where I’m at. Nothing too daunting for my first week back in the writing saddle. I’m feeling good about it, all things considered. I’ll be back soon Bloggarts to talk about all the reading I did in September.

Til then,

 

BZ

 

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

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