Tag Archives: california

Mr. Kiss and Tell

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Mr. Kiss and Tell

Mr. Kiss and Tell is the second novel in the Veronica Mars spin off books by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. The plot centers around the brutal attack of Grace Manning, a character from season 2 of the TV show. The Neptune Grand, the hotel the girl was attacked in, hired Veronica to investigate the girl’s claims and decide what the culpability of the hotel was after Manning accused one of the staff of being her attacker. Veronica takes the case and is soon surrounded by misleading evidence and non-existent leads. The writing is thick with the dark, sardonic humor from the TV show and is intensely fun to read.

I found it difficult to stay objective while reading this book because I’m already a fan. I’m that ideal audience the book is seeking. The person who wants to know what happened to these characters after the show went off the air. I loved that the series brought in characters that had such a short shelf life on the show and expanded upon them. For me, this aspect has been the best part of the book series. Because the show ended so abruptly many plot elements were left dangling and the books have given the creators another outlet to tie up those loose ends. All of the characters have evolved from their time on the show and yet remain somewhat the same, still driven by the same desires and needs that fueled them throughout the series.

The actual case is solved very early on in the novel with the remainder of the book trying to figure out a way to catch the criminal. It does drag in places but the characters make up for the lack of a tight plot. Not too many twists and turns but serviceable as a mystery. I love that Veronica is still the same mix of idealism and spunk. She’s still a bit jaded but never strays from the fight. She’s like a tiny Phillip Marlowe in the present day world. And that’s really the reason fans are reading these novels is the powder keg character Veronica Mars, to see where she ends up and what changes are coming her way.

Overall, this was a fun read, especially for those who loved the TV series. It would be fascinating to hear from people who have never seen the show and read the books from a fresh perspective. There would be the real test.

Rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading and stay tuned for the next read in Book Battle 2015!

Veronica Mars Rides Again

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Veronica Mars Rides Again

Next up in the book battle is a Veronica Mars spin off books entitled Mr. Kiss And Tell. This is the second book in a new Veronica Mars series taking place after the events in the movie. One of my fellow book battlers lent me this book to read because I was having a hard time finding a book based on a TV show. There are just so many choices out there it’s hard to narrow down your focus.

I’m excited to start this book and take a little departure from more serious reading material into a little more guilty pleasure reading. Now I admit I was absolutely obsessed with this show when it was on the air in high school. I loved that it was a mix of Nancy Drew and Raymond Chandler combined into one snarky high school teen. I’ve always loved the mystery genre for it’s plotting and take on the seedier side of life. I like to kind of play my own detective and see if I can figure out the mystery before the detective in the book.

In college I took a class on detective fiction and it was amazing. It just opened up the world that I already enjoyed even more. I love the plotting structure, the red herrings, and the flawed characters. There’s something almost enchanting about a world where a person sets their mission to right all the wrongs. And Veronica Mars definitely did that. She was the self-proclaimed white hat of Neptune, CA, home of the wealthy and the famous.

I also read the first book in the series and loved it. The show ended so abruptly when it was on air that many of the characters never got to develop their way they were intended to. Now the books give Rob Thomas, the creator of the series, another vehicle to see his creation come back to life and deepen in different ways. It’s so much fun to see characters that had a short shelf life in the series pop up somewhere in the books. And most importantly, it gives the fans the fix they’ve been craving.

Happy reading and stay tuned for the final rating of this book. Maybe it will make it to the finals of Book Battle 2015!

Reaching Revelations

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Reaching Revelations

Reading through Slouching Towards Bethlehem was like taking a journey through beloved sections of my home state. At times searingly insightful and at others nostalgic, this novel was breathtaking. I want to begin reading it again to find insights and nuance that I missed the first time.

The novel is composed of many articles, some short some long, that Didion wrote for various magazines during the 1960s. While the topics are varied, they all revolve around one centralized point; the chipping away of the glass encasing we put around beloved objects and periods to reveal the heart of the matter, the emotional core.  Didion’s writing evokes many emotions in the reader and, in turn, exposes her emotions about the topics she writes. She does not shy away from complex and intense emotion but embraces it. She looks deeply into the movements of her time to show not only a changing America but a changing populace. Those insights into the chancing populace are still pretty darn relevant too. She looks at the Summer of Love in Haight Ashbury in the 1960s from various angles, which for me was incredibly fascinating and a little disturbing. She definitely looked at the less popular viewpoint of the Summer of Love.

My favorite article, however, was one she wrote about her hometown of Sacramento and of the Central Valley. Being from the Central Valley myself, it was incredible to see her describe a Valley I was never able to experience. I am of the generation from the changed Valley. The Valley that has grown into something it can’t quite handle. Not just focused on agriculture anymore but not sure where else to go.

Didion writes with so much pathos and honesty it’s hard not to fall under her spell. You travel right along with her as she hops from the sunny California coast to the busy streets of New York. She cracks the shell of a city and a movement and gets at what’s underneath it all. What propels it forward or has stopped it in it’s tracks. She exposes the truth in a way that’s hard to deny even if it might be hard to accept. It’s easy to see why some have called her the master of prose. She writes with command, poise, and honesty making her instantly relatable. I think that her honesty is what allows her to see into the hearts of various people and look at them in a way that shows who they really are and not just what they are trying to present themselves as.

Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned for the next book in Book Battle 2015. A hint, it’s inspired by a popular TV show.

Happy Reading all!

One Wild Ride

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One Wild Ride

Before I watched the movie and read this book I, like many people I’m sure, never even heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT. The full trail spans from Mexico to Canada and took many decades to enact and build. Just imagining how large the trail spans is more than my mind can encompass. The thousands of miles is an incredible feat to hike let alone the differences in terrain and climate. Yet, that’s exactly what author Cheryl Strayed did. She didn’t hike the entirety of the PCT but instead chose to hike from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon/Washington border. Strayed hiked a whopping 1100 miles in total!

Wild chronicles Strayed’s hike of the PCT and the reasons she decided to hike the trail in the first place. Following her mother’s death and her divorce from her husband Paul, Strayed portrays the desperate downward spiral she found herself caught up in. In order to pull herself out of this downward spiral, she made the decision to hike the PCT to heal herself. To me, this novel read almost as a confessional. The last phase in her journey to heal the wounds of the past and move on. At times hilarious and heart wrenching, I found myself unable to put the book down. I loved the imagery of the PCT that Strayed evokes in her writing. I could imagine the desert and it’s vastness as well as the Oregon forest and it’s cocoon of trees. The animals and the people Strayed meets on her journey, both friend and foe.

The biggest thing though was how complete the book felt as compared to the movie. The movie, as I mentioned in my previous post, was filled with so many holes I was left a bit confused as to the timeline of things. The book filled in those holes and presented an almost completely new timeline of events. The movie combined different events from different parts of the book to make a scene and I think this was the reason I was so confused. Some of the mash-ups just didn’t quite go, especially now that I know their rightful place in the timeline of events. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie but the old adage remains, read the book first. It will make a whole lot more sense.

Final rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next book in the battle. It’s a classic!

Wild

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Wild

The next book up in the battle is Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild. Now I admit I’ve already seen the movie which is unusual for me because I usually like to read the book before the movie, but alas that’s not the case this time. It will be interesting, though, to do the reverse of what I usually do and compare the movie to the book instead of the other way around. One thing I do hope is that the book fills in some holes left ambiguous by the movie. There were particular scenes in the movie where I guess it was presumed you’d just know who people were and in which state things were happening. The flashbacks and flash forwards in particular weren’t all explained they just kind of happened so I’m hoping the book will make sense of those scenes.

Now, some of my friends have already read the memoir and loved it so I have pretty high expectations for this book. The last memoir I read was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and I absolutely fell in love with that book. I even considered breaking the rules of the Book Battle to re-read it because it was that good. But I stuck to the guns of the Book Battle and chose something new. And I must say I’m pretty happy with my choice even having just read the back cover of the book. It sparked my wanderlust. I’ve always wanted to go on a backpacking trip but have yet to do it. Perhaps this book will inspire me to take action and just go for it.

What’s next on your reading list?