Posts Tagged ‘Veronica Mars’

spring picture books harvard book store cambridge ma
March has come in like a lion, for sure. Here’s what I’ve been reading as the snowbanks (start to) melt.

Fairest, Marissa Meyer
This telling of evil Queen Levana’s story (from The Lunar Chronicles) is kind of depressing. And it won’t make sense if you haven’t read the series. But if you have (and are eagerly awaiting the next book, Winter), it’s worth reading.

Mr. Kiss and Tell, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
It’s tough to translate a TV series to fiction, but Thomas and Graham are doing a great job. This second Veronica Mars novel follows a sordid rape case and a(nother) sheriff election in Neptune. Both gritty and witty.

Stella Rose, Tammy Flanders Hetrick
When her best friend Stella dies of cancer, Abby St. Claire becomes guardian to Stella’s teenage daughter, Olivia. Through a turbulent year, Abby and Olivia mourn Stella while figuring out how to live without her. Heartbreaking, funny and wise, though I found the climax melodramatic. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 21).

Mrs. Tim Flies Home, D.E. Stevenson
Mrs. Tim spends the summer in a quiet village – which isn’t quite so quiet. An acerbic landlady, a gossipy neighbor and the romantic troubles of her young friends make for an entertaining few months. I love Mrs. Tim, and I’ll miss her (this is the last book in the series).

Love Walked In, Marisa de los Santos
I love this lyrical, wise, hopeful story – it’s got old movies, a homey coffee shop, characters I want to be friends with, and so many beautiful sentences. My third time to read it and I was captivated all over again.

Secrets of a Charmed Life, Susan Meissner
Our fearless leader Jennifer recommended this book at Great New Books. It’s a heartbreaking story of two sisters whose lives are forever altered by World War II, and a powerful meditation on choices and responsibility.

Five Nights in Paris: After Dark in the City of Light, John Baxter
An entertaining premise: five nighttime Paris walks, each based on one of the five senses. But Baxter digresses so often that the structure gets totally lost. Uneven; sometimes charming, sometimes vulgar. Possibly to review for Shelf Awareness (out April 14).

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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february vacation books

Between plane delays, crazy long commutes and cold, dark evenings, I’ve been reading a lot lately. (But then, when am I not?) Here’s what I’ve read (and loved) recently.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Veronica Mars is back in her hometown of Neptune, CA, and when a couple of coeds go missing over Spring Break, she’s on the case. Fast-paced, snarky and featuring all the characters I love.

All Fall Down, Ally Carter
Grace Blakely is convinced her mother was murdered, but no one believes her. When she returns to Embassy Row to live with her grandfather, the U.S. ambassador, she starts digging for answers and is shocked at what she finds. An engaging setup for Carter’s newest YA series, though I found Grace kind of bratty.

Queen of Hearts, Rhys Bowen
I love Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery series following the adventures of Lady Georgiana Rannoch. This eighth entry sees Georgie sailing to America with her actress mother, where they get mixed up with wacky Hollywood types – and a murder. So much fun.

One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia
I loved this story of Delphine and her sisters, who go to stay with their activist-poet mother in Oakland in the summer of 1968. They learn a lot about the Black Panthers, their family and each other. Gorgeously written. Recommended by Kari.

The Mapmaker’s Children, Sarah McCoy
I’d never given a thought to abolitionist John Brown’s family – but I loved this novel featuring his artist daughter, Sarah Brown, and her connection to Eden, a modern-day woman struggling with infertility. I liked Sarah’s story better than Eden’s, but both were compelling. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 5).

The Inimitable Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
Bertie Wooster and his friends are in all kinds of trouble (again), romantic and otherwise. Fortunately, Jeeves is always around to save the day. Highly amusing.

Mrs. Tim Gets a Job, D.E. Stevenson
With Tim still in Egypt after WWII has ended, Mrs. Tim takes a job at a Scottish hotel. She deals with difficult guests, her trenchant (but kindhearted) employer and various small problems. Gentle and entertaining.

P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia
This sequel to One Crazy Summer finds Delphine and her sisters back in Brooklyn and adjusting to all kinds of changes. But Delphine writes to her mother, Cecile, and receives wise (if sometimes cranky) letters back.

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, Simon Garfield
I love Garfield’s witty nonfiction about various topics, from letters to maps. This exploration of printing and fonts dragged a little, but was still informative and fun.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Emma Hooper
83-year-old Etta leaves her home in Saskatchewan, headed for Halifax and the water. Her husband Otto and their lifelong friend, Russell, are left behind, each with their memories. A poignant story of love, war, memory and walking. Reminiscent of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I also loved).

The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ada has lived her life in a one-room flat, hampered by a clubfoot and berated by her mother. But when the children of London are evacuated in 1940, Ada sneaks out to join them and discovers a whole new life. Moving, multilayered and so good. I read it in one night. Recommended by Shelley.

Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer, Heather Lende
As the obituary writer in her small Alaskan town, Heather Lende helps people reflect on their loved ones’ lives. This slim memoir shares anecdotes from Lende’s work and family life, sprinkled with plainspoken wisdom and threaded with a simple truth: find the good. Wise and witty. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 28).

First Frost, Sarah Addison Allen
The Waverley women always get a little restless before the first frost – but this year has them asking big questions about love, career and identity. A sweet story with a little bite, laced with Allen’s gentle magical realism.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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Veronica Mars

veronica mars

Trust me to get excited about a TV show because of a book.

When Anne did a giveaway on her blog last month for Veronica Mars fans, I didn’t enter, because I hadn’t yet seen the show. But I’d already heard about the Kickstarter-funded VM movie, made possible by the show’s legions of fans. And when Anne said she’d enjoyed the first brand-new Veronica Mars mystery novel, I was definitely intrigued.

(Also, after finishing Call the Midwife, I needed a new show. And Valerie, my college friend who is a whiz at finding the good stuff on TV, is a longtime VM fan.)

When the show opens, Veronica is a high school junior in Neptune, California, “a town without a middle class.” As the daughter of sheriff Keith Mars and girlfriend of Duncan Kane, one of the coolest, richest guys in school, she used to enjoy a certain cachet. But when Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane (Duncan’s sister) was brutally murdered, some of the evidence pointed to Lilly and Duncan’s father, a powerful software billionaire. Keith followed his conscience and accused Lilly’s father of being involved in his daughter’s death – thus losing both his job and his reputation. Keith’s alcoholic wife, Lianne, skipped town soon after that, and Veronica and her dad were left on their own.

Hardened by Lilly’s death and her subsequent shunning by nearly everyone at Neptune High, Veronica takes a job working for Keith in his new private investigation business. She helps with his cases, sometimes does her own sleuthing on the side – and is determined to find out who killed Lilly, and why.

With its film-noir overtones and deep, dark secrets (Neptune is full of people pretending everything is just fine when it’s not), Veronica Mars is grittier than some of the more lighthearted shows I love. But the mystery plots are compelling, the ensemble cast is fantastic, the snark is abundant, and the heroine is tough, smart, resourceful and determined to bring Lilly’s killer (and other criminals) to justice. Veronica is more pragmatic than high-minded – she’s not above playing dirty to get what she wants or exact revenge – but she’s ultimately on the side of the victim and the underdog.

Veronica likes to pretend she doesn’t need anyone else, but I love her friendship with basketball star Wallace Fennel (whom she rescues from public humiliation on his first day at Neptune High) and her occasional tender father-daughter exchanges with Keith. And Veronica’s uneasy friendship with Eli “Weevil” Navarro, the leader of a local biker gang, provides insight into the constant tensions of race and class in Neptune. I don’t think much of Veronica’s taste in boyfriends so far, but I’m curious to see whether that will change.

After binge-watching half a dozen episodes during my hibernation weekend, I blazed through the rest of season 1 and have now gotten the hubs hooked too. We’re midway through season 2, which is darker and more sordid than season 1, but Veronica is quickly becoming one of those heroines I’d follow to the ends of the earth.

Have you watched Veronica Mars – the show or the movie? What do you think?

(Image from Zap2it)

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Valerie is one half of the duo at Saltwater Coke, where she and her sister Ginger share hilarious, inspiring and sometimes random tidbits about their lives. She is a friend of Katie’s from college (and Oxford), a crackerjack party planner, and a compulsive recommender of her favorite movies, TV shows and books.

VeronicaMarsDVDI absolutely love turning people on to the fantastic movies, TV shows, and books that are among my favorites. Even Katie has taken up my suggestions on a handful of occasions, and I am thrilled that she too now counts herself a fan of Harry Potter, Gilmore Girls, and any other number of random movies and musicals I’ve pushed on her. So when Katie asked me to guest blog while she was off on her jaunt across Europe, I decided that it only made sense for me to take this opportunity to champion another favorite of mine: “Veronica Mars.”

Sometimes I feel as though I should speak of “Veronica Mars” in hushed, reverent tones. I almost don’t want too many people to declare their love for it, though it’s certainly what this show deserves! But knowing just how great it is, and how few people appreciate it – it’s like some special, undiscovered secret that I get to share with what feels like only a handful of other people. It feels like a special treasure that’s best if kept secret. Of course, that doesn’t keep me from pushing the DVDs into the hands of my co-workers, twisting my sister’s arm (cross-country, might I add!) to find a copy to watch, or taking up this precious space in Katie’s blog to advocate the show! I just can’t help it, and like I said, it’s what this show deserves!

“Veronica Mars” sadly came to an end in 2007 after only three seasons on UPN and then the CW. The incomparable Kristen Bell stars as the title character, a high school student who, at the start of the show, has recently lost her mom, friends, and social status. The catalyst for these changes in her life can all be traced to the overarching mystery of season one: the murder of Veronica’s best friend, Lily Kane. Each episode is constructed around a mystery of the week, as well as further clues and information regarding Lily’s murder. This “film noir” show is simultaneously brilliant, heartbreaking, and completely hilarious.

Veronica is an amazing character: driven, resourceful, clever, confident, and – my particular favorite – never without a smart and sassy comeback. But she’s been through a lot, and consequently has become a hardened and damaged character, sometimes quick to judge and nearly always reflexively defensive of the people she comes into contact with. But she doesn’t want to be pitied or felt sorry for – something like that would make her appear soft, and the only way Veronica can make it through her difficult life is to remain unapproachable and overly tough, lest someone should slip under her carefully constructed armor and see that she indeed has a heart under there. As her best friend Wallace puts it,

Oh no you don’t. You really think I’m gonna let you get away with that? That might play with the masses. But underneath that angry young women shell, there’s a slightly less angry young woman who’s just dying to bake me something. You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars, a Twinkie.”

It was my friend Joey who first said that “the dialogue is Gilmore-esque,” and I quite agree. As a huge fan of “Gilmore Girls,” I have no qualms in comparing the quick-witted repartee of Lorelai and Rory to that of Veronica and pretty much every other character on the show. Her relationship with her father, private investigator Keith Mars, is definitely a change from “Gilmore,” though no less sweet, and certainly no less clever.

Keith: Honey, you don’t have to get all blue in the face.
Veronica: You’re patronizing me?
Keith: To be fair, I am your patron.

The genius of “Veronica Mars” elevates it above almost every other show I love. It’s a smart series that doesn’t beat you over the head with its own IQ. On the contrary- so much of the times, “Veronica” flies so far under that radar that you don’t even recognize its smart perfection until you turn and look back on the mystery of the week, or even over the whole season. As I re-watch episodes from seasons past, I find clues and nuggets of brilliance sprinkled throughout that I never picked up on or fully appreciated.

Despite its criminal cancellation after just three seasons, “Veronica Mars” raked in a ridiculous amount of incredible critical raves, including from other writers, like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, who said that “Mars” was the “Best. Show. Ever. Seriously, I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making, and maybe even more than those…These guys know what they’re doing on a level that intimidates me. It’s the Harry Potter of shows.” And writer/director Kevin Smith said it was “hands-down, the best show on television right now, and proof that TV can be far better than cinema.” As a huge movie fan, that one speaks volumes to me!

The core of the show is of course its title character, and I find myself simultaneously feeling sorry for Veronica, but also wanting to be her. Beneath the layers of cynicism, distrust, and biting verbal poison, Veronica is a hurting and, at times, very vulnerable teenager who is motivated by her desire for justice, her penchant for sticking up for the underdog, and, above all, love for the family and friends that continue to stick by her. Well, you know what they say: Veronica Mars, she’s a marshmallow.

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