Ten Books I'd Love to Read If I Had A (Supernatural Creatures) Book Club

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Yesterday a friend and I were exchanging our best lame jokes back and forth, and she said,"What do ghosts read in a book club? Boooooks!" While this might actual be the lamest joke of all time, it really hit the mark for when I read this prompt. Then I just couldn't get it out of my head...and then I just went with it. Hey, supernatural creatures probably would want a book club too! Maybe read about creatures like themselves or maybe just to see how far off the mark humans got (sparkley vampires, anyone?) Here are the books I would love to think supernatural creature book club reading.

1. Dracula by Bram Stroker
Always good to read a classic! Reading staples in any genre really bring out good group discussions and shed light on failings or innovations in contemporary works. Plus I bet there would be a few hardy discussions about whose great great great uncle vampire was exactly like Drac.

2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Furry, four-legged shapeshifters enjoy a good old fashion love story too!

3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
While Dracula is all well and good, a contemporary vampire story would be great to discuss, especially one by Holly Black who I'm sure would be a supernatural creature favorite author. She's pretty much has written about them all.

4. Talon by Julie Kagawa
Not sure how the actual dragons will handle this book. Love that dragons can have human forms or hate it? Might cause a fiery debate between a few hotheads.

5. Sweep by Cate Tiernan
This was one of the first book series I read about witches when I was younger, and I loved it. There are probably a few novice witches in the book club who could relate. 

6. Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Now yet released, but I am very excited about it! There are not enough books about jinn in contemporary fiction. Some of the jinn in the reading group might have been feeling left out before.  

7. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Ghosts may be dead, but they enjoy a good book now and then too. (They are dead so they have the time.) Plus this cover is to die for.

8. Half Bad by Sally Green
So what, another witch book! I actually just finished this book, and just wow. Some supernatural creatures might have this hit a bit close to home: are they bad or are they good? 

9. Tithe by Holly Black
Okay so another Holly Black book too, but this time there is faeries. There might be a few undiscovered changelings that have that 'ah ha' moment while reading, which might turn the book club into a therapy group.

10. Zombie vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, and various writers
A supernatural two for one! Not exactly sure how well zombies and unicorns would do in a book club, but I'm sure all of the other creatures would get a kick out of all of the stories and different versions of zombies and unicorns. Plus it might cause a great debate on which is better!

Review: Seeker

Monday, January 26, 2015

Title: Seeker
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Genre: YA, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Dystopia
Publisher: Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 10, 2015

I received an e-ARC of Seeker through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Goodreads)

Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.
Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her

Status: DNF (Did Not Finish) 67%
I tried my best to finish this book. I wanted to be able to give an informed review, and I had the feeling that if I stuck it out it would get better. However, as I kept inching my way through it, it didn't seem to be getting any easier, and by the time I hit 67% on my Kindle, I just couldn't continue.

The writing is really what irked me about this book. The writing style was so stilted and repetitive that it made reading difficult. I've heard the advice "Show! Don't Tell" from many creative writing teachers over the years, and the writing in Seeker was definitely telling in a way that distracted from the story being told. Having chapters switch between different characters was interesting, but it became tedious when the characters said the same things. Sometimes using the same words! All of the writing elements just didn't allow the book to flow well and make it enjoyable.

The world was so interesting, but the writing made it hard to enjoy because of constant vagueness. I loved the little details of the world with the seekers, the dreads, There, and the Traveler ship. The Seeker's world is such an interesting construction of rituals and a combination of science and magic, especially the vibrations of the universe.  Also I would love to see a sketch of the whipsword because I loved that weapon concept! It was the world the kept me reading for as long as I did. But even then, there were not enough details given about these world details that I found interesting! Bits were hinted at in such a vague way that I got very frustrated by the lack of information.

The characters were interesting at first, but as the book went on, they became so similar: stubborn, untrusting, and dealing some serious family issues. Their descriptions of events were so flat, and all the characters tended to say the same thing. It was only after Shinbou and Quin went to Hong Kong that there was some differentiation, but it didn't last long after they left. The only character that I was fascinated with was Maud. Her perspective of events had a kind of forced detachment because of her duties as the Young Dread. Also her flashback to her discovery and induction as the Young Dread as incredibly interesting! I couldn't have read a whole book just about her.

Rating: 2 out of 5. I probably wouldn't recommend it, but the world had elements I enjoyed.

Stuff and Things: A Week of Unfortunate Events

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This week has been...rough? Not exactly bad, but just sort of annoying. It started off with me getting second degree burns from spilling soup all down my lap. I definitely would call that not the best start to a week. Then the week just continued on like that: cutting my finger pretty bad while chopping vegetables, plugs in the living room stop working, gas heater started to smell funny and I called the fire department to come check it out at one in the morning... By Thursday, I was convinced I had wronged some fairytale witch who decided to curse me.

But today as I was hiking with some friends, I couldn't help but notice that there was so much more good in my week than the little bad things. Hanging out with my friends, meeting new friends, reading books I love, starting to go to Zumba classes. Though it felt like little disasters just kept happening one after during the week, I was having too much fun with the things that made me feel good to remember!

Unfortunate things happen, and sometimes they happen one right after another. But they go away eventually, and good things take their place.

Marshmallow Two-for-One: Veronica Mars Book Series Review

Monday, January 12, 2015

 The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)                                           Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)

First thing I should mention straight off is that I am a huge Veronica Mars fan. My sister got me into the show, and we watched it all the time until it's untimely cancelation. But just as I was beginning to accept it was actually over, a glimmer of hope kickstarted my excitement. (Was that subtle enough?) Marshmallows reemerged from behind well worn VMars DVD sets to discover an amazing movie and now books! Patience sometimes does pay off.

Though it's still years after season 3, the characters are still familiar but have grown in some expected and unexpected ways. Neptune is still full of the haves and the have-nots, but corruption has increased even more than before. The sheriff's department is as incompetent as ever, and there always seems to be someone up to no good. But thank goodness, there is plenty witty banter to go around. Ah, it's good to be back.

Title: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)

Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Publisher: Vintage Books
Release Date: March 25, 2014

Summary (via Goodreads)

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She's traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. 
Now it's spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person's case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica's past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined. 

I don't think I can recommend an audiobook book more than the audiobook of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, especially to a Veronica Mars fan. I decided to listen to the audiobook because touching my Rob Thomas signed copy (cue subtle bragging) seemed like sacrilege and because I had enough Audible credits lying around, and I am so glad that I did. With Kristen Bell's narration, it is like having another episode of the show to listen to! But one is also 8 hours long

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line picks up where the VMars movie left off. Veronica and Keith are adjusting to being partners, and Keith is still recovering from his injuries. There is a lot of tension between them because Veronica's decision to stay in Neptune and follow in her dad's footsteps as a PI. There father-daughter dynamic is as always amazing, and I loved seeing it again.

The mystery in the book was phenomenal! While it is good just being in the Veronica Mars world again, the mystery was the shining star. There were twists and turns throughout the entire book, and an ending I never saw coming. Also that "shocking connection" that is teased about in the synopsis is really something I never thought we would comeback to, but I was really interested that it did. 

I've heard some complaints about the lack of Logan in this book, but I like how it touched on their long distance relationship and their determination to make it work. With Logan in the Navy instead of being his famous party boy self, it brings a different tension now that they are older. For me, I missed a few of my favorites such as Weevil, but I loved the bits of Wallace, Mac, and Keith that were included. 

Really, the book was amazing. I got my Veronica Mars continuation fix, but also a good story and mystery too. I call that a win!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5. Great mystery and very VMars. Read it!

Title: Mr. Kiss & Tell (Veronica Mars #2)

Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Publisher: Vintage Books
Release Date: January 20, 2015

I received a free e-ARC of Mr. Kiss & Tell from Knoft Doubleday Publishing Group through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Goodreads)

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story. 
The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

While I love getting a good eARC, it was hard not having the option to listen to Kristen Bell read this like the last book. But while I read Mr. Kiss & Tell, I couldn't help but read it in her voice anyway! Rob Thomas' vision of Veronica, especially in her well-known snarky attitude and questioning internal thoughts, is distinct in his writing style that it is just as if Veronica was giving her voiceover. Book or audiobook, both are still very much Veronica.

An interesting aspect of Mr. Kiss & Tell is the parts told from Keith's point of view. It's hard not to compare the books to the show. So I'm just not going to pretend that I am doing otherwise because as a huge fan the show is ingrained in me. In some of the episodes, we got glimpses and subplots from Keith's point of view. In this book, it is even more apparent. Though I am definitely more used to Veronica's voice, Keith's is still familiar, but it does take some getting used to. That being said, I enjoyed his story line and his point of view on this, i.e. his thoughts on Veronica following in his shoes, his past with Marcia Langdon, his almost fatherly friendship with Weevil.

The first book's mystery was a lot more engaging than this one's. The first book focused on the mystery; whereas this new book focused more on character growth and relationships. There is a lot happening and quite a bit of pausing between leads and action in the main mystery. This difference is not bad though. This book included more minor characters that I really missed like Weevil, Leo, and even more insight on Mac, Wallace, and especially Logan. We got to see a whole lot of maturity entering into Veronica and Logan's relationship as they faced their new relationship after years of being apart and in different circumstances. There was also so much more happening in this book with the tension with the Sheriff's department that I felt like Lamb was just a ticking time bomb the whole book. And Weevil's story. Well, I could talk about his character growth all day. As you can see in just this short paragraph, it seems to just be sort of disjointed when you put it all together.

Also Pony is the most adorable and an excellent play off a running joke. Well played, writers. Well played.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. The disjointedness makes 
Mr. Kiss & Tell a bit stop and go, but it is definitely worth reading.

Blog Resolutions 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

1. Book goal
Read 40 books? While I have plenty of time this semester with my light class load to read a bunch, I am starting grad school in the fall and I want to keep my goals realistic. So this number may be higher or lower in the end. However, I do have smaller goals within this larger goal.
- Read 2 nonfiction. I'm not really much of a nonfiction reader. Just generally not interested in real things and real people. Fictional people are so much cooler, right? Well, this year I decided to push myself a bit by reading just two nonfiction books. Just a little taste of something out of my comfort zone.
- Read 3 recommendations. I am the person who recommends but never reads what others recommend to me. It's not a great habit because once someone recommends a book to me it immediately becomes unappealing, even though I know it is a good book. I have a nice stack of recs from my sister that has only increased, and I should probably do something about it.
- Read one classic that I haven't read before. No Pride and Prejudice or Frankenstein rereads. Sorry self.
- Read 6 comics series and 2 graphic novels. I've become a pretty big comics fan in the past year, and this seems like it would be fun to share my thoughts on some series.
2. Participate in blog challenges
I plan on participating in a few reading challenges, but I will be putting up a post detailing them all.
3. Top Ten Tuesday
I love reading Top Ten Tuesday posts (a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) but have never had the planning to do them ahead of time. This year I plan to do every one. Starting tomorrow! 
4. 365 Photo Challenge
I always want to take more pictures and challenging myself to take one each day for a year seems like a rough but fun effort. I will be posting these updates every Friday.
5. Read and Run Challenge
It seems cliché to do the whole "New Year, New You" workout resolution. Things like that never last, and we all know it! But I thought of a way that I could make it more manageable (and fun) for me! I created my own Read and Run Challenge: read 6 audiobooks but only while working out. The only while working out part is going to be the real challenge because I usually want to keep listening to an audiobook once I start. So using my audiobook love as encouragement to go to the gym might be a good motivation tool. I will be keeping up to date with how this goes and be reviewing the books that I listing to. If you try this, tell me how it goes!