The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1)

The Gunslinger

I am reading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King in anticipation of the movie release coming up on August 4th. The movie claims to pull from several books in the series, but my goal is to be through at least the first 3 by then: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, and The Waste Lands.

The Gunslinger is a very fast read. If I wanted to, I could have sat down and read the entire thing in one day. There is obviously a HUGE backstory that we know nothing about. We know there is something supernatural going on, there is Roland the gunslinger chasing the man in black through a desert, stopping at different towns along the way to rest and restock. We don’t know why he is chasing him, or why the man in black leaves traps laid for him.

Along the way he comes across a boy named Jake, who seems to have been transported into Roland’s world by the man in black for a purpose that we are not aware of. As they travel together, Roland tells Jake stories about his past, including how he trained to be a gunslinger and that he may have been royalty of some kind.

This book was published one year before I was born, and the entire series was completed in 2004, a year before I would shake King’s hand crossing the stage at my University of Maine graduation. When you consider that in the Afterword of The Gunslinger, he admits that it took him about 12 years just to bring this first novel together, moving between it and other books like The Shining or The Stand, The Dark Tower series took from 1970ish to 2004 to finish: almost a full 35 years.

This is not surprising when you consider all that The Gunslinger sets up in a mere 220 pages. Roland’s backstory, the man in black, the mystery of the Tower and why it calls to Roland, the three people he must draw from their worlds to help him in his quest, among other things including those who guard the Tower and are too terrible for even the man in black to speak of.

The difficulty with The Gunslinger is that it is written in the style of an epic like The Iliad or The Odyssey. The language gets tangled a bit sometimes, as though it’s got a rhythm all its own, and I found myself having to reread some paragraphs just to get a sense for what it was trying to tell me. This is truly the end of the beginning of a fantasy epic that Stephen King has constructed for us to chase. His Tower, which we must find and conquer.

I have said before that King novels are books that have to come at the right time for me to read them. It seems that, conveniently enough, now is the time for me to work my way through this series. Come along with me, it’s going to be an interesting, magical ride.

Facebook Live Friday

I was going to write a rant about one thing, and then this week exploded on itself so today I will be going live at noon to just get my reactions out to everything that’s been happening this week. If you would like to watch live you can visit there and follow/like Angry Angel Books or, if you aren’t available at noon, all my live videos are saved so you can watch them at your leisure.

See you on the interwebs.

New Release! The Life She Was Given (7/25/17)

The Life She Was Given

Newly out on July 25th, The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman asks us to explore the terrifying realities behind child abuse and neglect. The story follows two girls: Lilly and Julia, who have been raised by the same parents in two separate decades. Lilly’s story begins in the late 1930s, and Julia’s in the late 1950s. Lilly has been born with albinism and her parents have kept her hidden in an attic bedroom under lock and key in their giant mansion on their profitable horse farm. Lilly has never been outside, until her mother drags her out in the dead of night to sell her to the circus currently leasing a plot of their land. She is treated abhorrently to break her spirit and is then featured in the sideshow freak tent for most of her tenure there. She is nine or ten when her mother sells her.

Julia is working at a diner and living with roommates in horrible conditions. She’s washing herself in the bathroom of a grocery store and stealing Spam when we first meet her, and then it’s revealed that her (and Lilly’s) parents have died and left her the entire estate. The only condition is that she must return to the farm and live there. So our journey with Julia is discovering the secrets of her family’s past by way of rummaging through the giant mansion with her mother’s large ring of ancient keys.

These two stories slowly make their way toward each other, but at the outset there appears to be no link other than their shared parents. My mind, always on the lookout, detected what was going on early, but it does not ruin the twist or the ending to know. In fact, the twist you think is THE twist is not the ultimate surprise. The surprise is simply devastating, and my mouth hung open and tears escaped from my eyes in disbelief as I read everything coming together to give us, the readers, the final piece of the puzzle.

I really respect an author who gives it to me straight. I don’t always need a happy ending, but I do insist on an ending that makes sense. Convenient endings make me furious. Wiseman was decidedly NOT convenient with her ending, and while it may be sad, painful, and jaw-dropping, it’s real and leaves you with something to think about.

Go get The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman. You won’t be disappointed.

On Podcasts: What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next

I like to think of this podcast as The Book Psychic or The Book Doctor. Anne Bogel has a guest on the show, and she has them tell her three favorite books, one that they hated, and what they are currently reading or have read lately, and she uses that information to decide what they should read next. The interview format works well for Bogel’s podcast, however her interviews feel very scripted as opposed to conversational.

What I like about this podcast is that Bogle seems to bring attention to the idea that reading can be done in a thoughtful way. Instead of just grabbing books that look good, readers can do a personal version of Amazon’s “because you bought this, you might like this” approach. There are so many books out there and you will never read them all, so you might as well surround yourself with books that you enjoy. I appreciate that the seems to always suggest books that are comfortable and those that might challenge the reader, all while managing to stay in their enjoyment circle.

I guess the only thing I didn’t like was Bogle’s “podcast voice.” It reminded me of how SNL, Parks and Recreation, and other shows have made fun of NPR – they put on a voice to seem quiet and impressive. Occasionally it sounds disingenuous when she said “oh, interesting, I love it” and I’m like, “ugh interesting.”  I’m not convinced.  To be fair though, to say that to your guest every single week…everything isn’t interesting, but we have to be polite, you know? And to be fair, I’ve only listened to three episodes. As a new podcaster myself, I am also hopeful that people won’t judge me too harshly in these early times as I am still figuring things out. So my one critique may go away with time as she gets more comfortable in her podcasting skin.

The reason I keep listening to this podcast is because she lists 10-15 books every single episode and the show notes are basically a gold mine of ideas for what to read next. Most are books I’ve heard of but some I haven’t and so I’m kind of making a TBR list based on this podcast because I would have never thought to pick them out, especially the non-fiction suggestions.

So occasionally eye-roll inducing vocals aside, this is a very valuable podcast if you are an avid reader. Check it out and have a notebook handy to write down all the books you’ll want to read next!



Based on the Book: Episode 4

Show Notes:

Welcome back to Based on the Book!

Something Old, Something New
The Life She Was Given (Wiseman 2017) –New Release 7/25/17

What I’m Reading Now
Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 (Kaufman and Kristoff)

Which Was Better? Book or Movie?
The Hunger Games Series (Collins)
Survey Link:
Give your input!

Bookish Bitch Session
Heartfelt thanks to generous listeners and followers.
Amanda’s Classroom Wish List:

Where to Find Amanda and Based on the Book
Visit the Based on the Book FB page:

Additional links:
Twitter and Instagram: @angryangelbooks

Dragon Teeth

Dragon Teeth

This was not the book I was expecting. Non-fiction woven with fiction to create an interesting journey into the old west created a story that was equal parts boring and suspenseful. Almost the moment that I got bored due to nonfictiony kinds of things something fictiony happened and I absolutely had to keep reading.

Evolution is still an idea that is controversial (LOL at least that’s changed, right? pfft) and two professors, Marsh and Cope, are rivals in the race to discover the most dinosaur bones in the West. Our fictional main character, William Johnson, is a snotty, spoiled, rich Yale student who plans to go to Europe for the summer until he is dared to travel along with Yale professor Marsh on a bones expedition to a location unknown. Marsh is a crazy, paranoid old coot who suspects Johnson of being a spy for his rival, Cope, and promptly abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is discovered by Cope and travels with him for his digging trip, then has quite the adventure trying to get back to Philadelphia.

The sense of drama is enhanced by the Native American conflicts, the danger faced when traveling through Sioux territory, and the lack of communication abilities (the telephone had only just been invented and most relied on the telegraph, which not all towns in the west had) and the general lawlessness – you’ll be holding your breath the whole way. The most satisfying bit is the change in William. I love a spoiled brat getting his, it was very enjoyable.

I will say that I prefer Crichton’s full fictional work to this. There are peaks and valleys in this book and early on I truly was ready to put the book down completely and not finish it because I was so bored. Know that perseverance pays off with this one. Stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.


Back To School

I’m terrible at asking for help. But here goes.

Due to an unexpected end to my online teaching contract June 30th, I have had to prepare to return to the traditional classroom August 7th. It goes without saying that I did not expect to return to the brick and mortar schools, and so this development is a mixed bag for me: good that I found a new job, bad for my career progression plans. Teaching online allowed for greater flexibility in my life, so this is going to be a bit of a transition for me after 2.5 years of my former routine.

Part of this transition was surviving July and August without a regular paycheck while still needing to acquire the usual materials that teachers now need to supply for their classrooms. I’ve made a list on Amazon of things I think I will need, but I’m sure that list will grow once I get back in and remember the game.

I’m writing today to offer the chance to help, if you are willing and able. My school list on Amazon is here:  Donations to classrooms are tax deductible, so anything you would purchase from this list would be a receipt you could use on your taxes. When you go to check out and have to choose an address, make sure you choose “Amanda’s Wish List Address” as I’ve set it up to ship to my house.

I am the worst at asking for help and this is really uncomfortable for me. I am supposed to be able to handle my shit all by myself. I am a boss bitch. The rug has truly been pulled out from under me both financially and professionally. All I can say is thank you from the depths of my heart. This would be 100% generosity and no mistake. You are under no obligation to do this. If you cannot or do not, you are amazing for being a part of this community and reading my blog. If you choose to do this, you are amazing for all the same reasons. Either way if you think people will help, please feel free to share this link. I am awesome at thank you cards so make sure you leave your name in the gift message if you do help so I can send something out for you.

Thank you for being here. Come on back tomorrow for a review of Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton.