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.

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

The Recap – July 2019

July is a blur. Not even a blur, really. More a collection of images stamped in my brain, flashes of days spent wallowing and letting myself off the hook for my lack of productivity. I read a lot, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of video games. I gave myself permission to immerse myself in the misery of sudden, unexpected unemployment.

Not my finest month, by any stretch.

July Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Narp. I did revise one chapter, but there’s like, eight of them, so… not what we’d call a success.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. I at least didn’t allow my complete lack of motivation keep my stories from getting work done. All three are still out.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Nope. I did read two from Transcendent 2 though.
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
    • Nope. I did make some great progress, all things considered. Maybe about halfway? I’m calling it Whales in my head, but the actual title is The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I at least managed to do this! I read six titles in July, most of them Nonfiction about running libraries. But it’s still reading! I did a thing!

Monthly Word Count: 1,720

I’m working really hard not to be too critical of myself for this past month. When I look at all the inconsistency, how I ghosted on the blog a couple of times, how I couldn’t rely on myself to put my ass in the chair and get work done… it feels bad. My office door was closed most of this month, and almost all of my computing happened from the couch. Granted, some of that was fiction writing, but still. It feels gross.

But, I also know that summer is not a great time for me, historically. I’ve never been let go from a job before, let alone one that meant so much to me, and it was a serious blow to my self-esteem. Which is ridiculous since it was a city-wide layoff. But, my brain can tell me how ridiculous I’m being all damn day, my heart won’t hear it. At least not until it’s wallowed and had entirely too much ice cream.

Stomachaches provide clarity, apparently.

So, what did I do all month? I read a lot, taking notes, planning displays and programs, planting seeds for some networking, and doing the HR on-boarding sort of stuff for the school district. I binged Veronica Mars, The Great British Baking Show, watched more movies than I have in years, and played Red Dead Redemption II. I did a lot of chores. There was a weekend in Bend too, to celebrate our anniversary.

For some that looks like a nice summer vacation. For me it reeks of depression. All that downtime and I only wrote 1700 words? Yikes. I didn’t even apply for the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. I couldn’t muster the energy.

But, today I opened my new planner (July 2019-June 2020) and wrote in all my holidays and non-working days (school schedules are whack, y’all), and I’m feeling prepared and dare I say inspired?

Well, not quite inspired. Maybe intrigued. There’s a little simmer of interest bubbling up in me. I don’t know what it will lead to, but I’ll do my best not to smother it.

August Goals

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

Yep. Those are the goals from last month. They’re good goals. All things I really want to work on. I don’t know how realistic it is to try and do them all the same month I’m starting at a whole new job, but I doubt it could be a worse performance than July. It’s worth striving for.

That optimism alone is refreshing. I just may be on an upswing, Bloggos.

I’d really like to get back into hiking as well this month. July was just such an oddly social, yet so very shut in month. It was all contradictions and self-guilt and escapism. I’m ready to leave that all behind and get back to work.

I’ll be back around with either a reading recap or a book review or something tomorrow.

Until then, Blogland.