2017 Inaugural Angry Angel Appeal

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Angels,

I usually don’t make this kind of request, because nobody wants to read a hundred pleas per year for the kinds of things a bitch with a website requests nowadays, especially because Angry Angel Books is still growing. I appreciate your patience with the following paragraphs. As you know, I don’t maintain this site for financial reward, and I hate creating the impression that you’re expected to pay for the privilege. You certainly are not. Not even a little. But if you enjoy reading my posts and happen to feel the urge to be generous this holiday season, here are some ideas.

present

1. If you haven’t already, follow Angry Angel Books on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There’s more to it than a bunch of links to my reviews and posts. Facebook is a little heavier on humor and lighter on book reviews compared to this site, and has the occasional live video. Twitter has some pretty good retweets from across the web, and on Instagram you get gratuitous pics of my pets, and they are fucking cute.

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2. I have a couple goals for the site in 2018. First, I would love to upgrade the site for year 3 so that you aren’t assaulted by random ads. I want to make your experience of AAB ad free and keep it that way as long as I have the website.

In addition to this I am hoping to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference which is being held in Tampa in March of 2018. Attending this conference will hopefully help me gather ideas and inspiration for improving my own writing, and explore more fun things to read and share with you.

Also the city of Miami hosts the Miami Book Fair every year in November. It hosts a huge street fair sale and several author events (this year Joe Biden is there!). Again, I would love the chance to go next year (2018) and share any author interactions or information with you.

Paypal

Patreon

If these goals sound interesting to you, or if you’d simply like to leave a “tip” for enjoying the content, I have both Paypal and Patreon accounts available (links above). If you happen to be saddled with extra cash and feel like donating fifty bucks, I will be extremely grateful. However, if donating fifty cents is more in line with your current budget, my gratitude will be no less. If zero cents is your preferred option, that’s A-OK too. Your tips and contributions are (obviously) voluntary but greatly appreciated. Either way I’m glad you’re here and I appreciate you.

I would like to thank Japooka Mae for becoming my first patron on Patreon this year! Thanks Pookie! ❤ Your support is appreciated to the moon and back.

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3. If you are a giving presents kind of angel, I maintain a gift list on Amazon where I throw books I’ve read and want to own or books that my library doesn’t hold and I can’t afford to buy that I would like to read. There are some other things too. If, instead of cash money you’d like to send a book or gift, check out my list. It’s already programmed to send to my address so you’d just have to select that gift address at checkout.

Special thanks to Samantha Irby for sending me the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo from my gift list! Your generosity is beyond measure and I love you. ❤ If you haven’t already, pick up Samantha’s new book We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. It is a Goodreads finalist for favorite humor book and a New York Times Bestseller!

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Post frequency on this blog fell a little in the third quarter of 2017. Part of that has to do with losing my job this summer and some changes I’ve had to make to my daily routine since returning to traditional school teaching this fall. I have since adjusted my schedule to better accommodate regular updates, because this is important to me.

While 2017 was admittedly a terrible year for me, your presence and participation in this bookish community brought light into what was a very dark time. Thank you for reading and I am looking for another great year of books in 2018!

books

And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga #1)

And I Darken

Historical info on Mehmed the Conqueror

Historical info on Wallachia, Lada’s homeland

And I Darken starts us in Wallachia, where one of our main characters is being born. Lada comes into the world screaming, the eldest legitimate child of Vlad Dracul (yes, the inspiration for Dracula). He wishes for a son (obvs, we’re in the 1400s, women were totally not powerful) but gets an ugly daughter stronger than he ever imagined. She is followed by his son, Radu who is wimpy and pitiful, but eventually claims intelligence and cleverness as his strengths.

They are sold to Murad II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, in return for protection for Vlad’s reign over Wallachia, and their adjustment to their new lives is where our story truly takes off. They befriend Mehmed, the hair to the throne, and each falls in love with him as they become fast friends. When his father abdicates the throne and forces Mehmed into the sultanate at the age of 12 (!!!!) Lada and Radu help him navigate his very short rule, and help to save his life by getting his father back on the throne and escaping to an outer realm. He later returns to the throne upon his father’s death, and the repercussions of this bring us to the end of this first book of the series.

There were so many reasons that I loved this book that they are difficult to recount here. This book was an absolutely immersive experience. White’s writing makes you feel as though you are a part of history. The treatment of women, gay and lesbian people, and children is not treated with kid gloves. In the same vein the tangled power relationships and political intrigue are written like a high class thriller. Something is always happening in the background that you can’t see, waiting to jump out and derail your enjoyment of the story, which most likely mirrors the actual experience of Mehemed, Lada, and Radu.

I appreciated that our author made our female lead equal parts fierce and feminine, and I enjoyed reading the internal conflict that Lada experiences when she weighs what is expected of her and what she expects of herself. She recognizes that being a woman is a huge obstacle, but she is not willing to allow anyone, including herself, to let that stop her from reclaiming her motherland.

The husband is a history buff and an AP World History teacher. I’ve been telling him how much I’ve enjoyed this book, and when I mentioned the character names to him, he said, “Oh, Mehmed the Conqueror? Yeah I know all about that!” I’ll need to rely on him for some details as I move on to Book 2: Now I Rise.

I’ve included some links at the top of this review that should give you some historical background on the Ottoman Empire and the surrounding regions, including Lada’s homeland of Wallachia. I read these after I finished the book and I must give Kiersten White a standing ovation for weaving her story through these actual, historical events so cleanly and elegantly that I was learning things without realizing that I was being instructed. Bravo. I never wanted to put it down and I couldn’t read it fast enough. If you love historical fiction, go get you some.

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The Bone Season

Bone Season

  1. Characters are divided into three types that you need to keep track of: human regulars (amaurotics), human voyants (commune with spirits), and Rephaim (weird humanesque beings from a neighboring world).
  2. The book is set in London.
  3. Voyants are technically illegal, but are allowed to live in certain areas of the city, where “mime-lords” fight for power and commerce.
  4. Voyants are captured when they are found in the wrong place at the wrong time and they “disappear” – assumed killed.

Our 19-year-old main character Paige Mahoney is a rare kind of voyant, a dreamwalker. She can send her spirit into the minds of other people or animals, and she can sense spirits around her. She is a member of the Seven Seals, followers of the most powerful mime-lord in the Dials, the center of the city where the voyants can live fairly openly.

Paige gets captured on the subway and is taken to the Tower of London to a cell with other voyants that are being held, not killed. They are transported to the city of Oxford, which is off limits to all citizens because of some kind of radiation rumor, but really it’s a walled in slave city run by the Rephaim, who feed off the auras of voyants and use them for entertainment and protection. The leader of the Rephaim is able to kill and absorb the abilities of voyants, and is searching for a dreamwalker to complete her skills. She assigns Paige to her consort, the Warden, for training and safe-keeping. She is expected to strengthen and expand her gift, and once she does she will be killed and her git absorbed.

We also find out that there was an uprising where some of the Rephaim (the scarred ones) tried to help humans escape this slavery back in the 8th year of this weird harvest (called Bone Seasons) and it was quelled but there are Rephaim among them that were a part of it and are working on earning their forgiveness.

This book was good, but there was WAY too much going on. For example, Paige is apparently famous for her involvement with the Seven Seals, but they only talk about it like 3 times. She’s referred to as the Pale Dreamer but it has no weight because they don’t talk about it. Also there is no sense that she and the Warden have any kind of romantic connection, but then suddenly like 40 pages from the end they do, and they heal a flower and it makes the leader of the Rephaim really angry but we don’t understand why outside of the fact that her fiance is making out with the human she’s about to steal an ability from?

When you read this book, there isn’t a lot of backstory. You’re placed right in the middle of the action at the moment that you enter, and you just observe Paige as she moves through her plotline. The author doesn’t do a whole lot of exposition, which isn’t such a big deal until she tries to fit in a million things in the last 100 pages that mean nothing without some kind of buildup or information. I am going to give book 2 a shot to see if maybe I get what I want there, but there are other YA books that do this kind of fantasy dystopia much better.

Prodigy (Legend #2)

Prodigy

Legend (Legend #1)

Our story picks up right where it left off: with our heros on a train bound for the border of the Nevada district on their way to meet with the Patriots to arrange for safe passage to the colonies. They meet up with Kaede and the Patriots who talk them into being part of an assassination attempt on the new Elector Primo of the Republic, Anden, who became the new leader after his father’s death.

June is torn between her lifelong (15 years) devotion to the Republic and her need to get revenge for her family and to protect others that might be harmed. Day is still angry about his family’s murder and his younger brother’s capture, and is highly motivated to work with June and the Patriots to carry out this plot and overturn the Republic.

Still simmering is this idea that plague viruses are being created, tested, and vaccines developed as mutations occur, but that theme was far in the background in this second novel of the trilogy so I’m kind of worried about whether everything is still under control.

Once June is with Anden, she discovers that he’s not his father and that something isn’t quite right about how the Patriots are planning to kill him. She signals Day to call it off, and they escape through the tunnels into the Colonies.

I don’t want to give away the ending to this book. The twist took me completely by surprise and, given our current situation in the U.S., hit a very raw nerve. I was surprised and shocked and enjoyed the fast journey through the last 50 pages. The first three quarters of the book definitely suffered from the sophomore slump, but the story was still compelling enough to keep me interested and reading.

I don’t understand the title. Legend I got, because Day was a legend in the Republic and his mystery and June’s dilemma drove the plot. Prodigy doesn’t really link to anything we see in this second book, so while it’s exciting on the outside, it’s really unhelpful when gauging what the book might be about.

This is a fun trilogy so far and I’ll be requesting the third book to see how it ends. If you’re looking for a dystopian version of America that isn’t our current reality, with an interesting storyline that asks a lot of important questions, then go get you some. You won’t be disappointed.

On Podcasts: The Playlist

I started On Podcasts as a way to explore the vast universe of available podcasts out there, to share my thoughts with you and to formulate a playlist for myself. I was preparing to listen to another new podcast this week, but then I was like, “No, I have enough at this point.” So I present my current go-to playlist of podcasts.

Pop Culture: The Read

Humor: Unhappy Hour

Politics: Pod Save America

Learning: Live From the Poundstone Institute

History: The Dollop

Entertainment: Welcome to Nightvale

For now we’ll be moving to new things on Wednesdays, but I hope you’ve found a podcast or two to enjoy as a result of this series. What podcasts are go-tos for you? Share in the comments.

Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower #4)

Wizard and Glass

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2)

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)

Our ka-tet manages to outsmart Blaine the Pain Train and make their way back toward the beam which will lead them to The Dark Tower. They find themselves in Topeka, KS, but not quite the same Topeka (where and when) as Eddie, Susannah, or Jake. As they make their way through the city, taking note of the differences, Roland finally begins to tell us the story of his past before he set out on his quest.

And I give up. UNCLE!

Goddamn this may be King’s magnum opus but jesus I am 22% through BOOK FUCKING FOUR and I have ZERO knowledge of why any of this is happening. WHO. CARES??? I mean, I get who is doing this, I have a very vague sense of what they are doing and where they are going (going to The Dark Tower to…pick roses?), and the multiple whens are getting a little muddied but they are manageable. But the largest void in this series is the gaping lack of a WHY. I’m sorry. I need to be invested in a WHY to continue reading. I was patient. I got further in this series than I have ever gotten before. But I’ve been stuck at 22% for about a month and it’s time to face the reality that I’m not going to pick this book back up.

It’s hard to recommend this series. People either love it or they hate it, but I am prepared to create a third category of disinterested readers. It’s okay, the story has potential, but without a stronger antagonist or clearer why, I just don’t care enough to keep going. The achievement can remain locked.

On Podcasts: My Dad Wrote a Porno

MDWAP

http://www.mydadwroteaporno.com/

As many of you know I am in a book club group on Facebook founded by the great Samantha Irby (of Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life fame), but books aren’t all we talk about. On occasion the topic moves to other media, and with podcasts being in one of the largest media bubbles I have ever seen, often we discuss those that we enjoy the most.

A podcast that I kept seeing on lists but that I had never tried was today’s topic: My Dad Wrote a Porno. Everyone kept saying it was hilarious and so, finally, I got around to listening.

It is pretty funny. It’s a group of three British people (two guys and a woman) reading a chapter per episode of the host’s dad’s self-published erotica novel (soon to be a series if the information shared in the first episode becomes real) and making fun of the writing style, word choices, anatomy faux pas, and the limits on erotic interaction that only being a man in his 60s can elicit. His dad wrote a porno, and it’s so bad it’s good to make fun of and make a podcast about.

It is erotic, and I am not squeamish or puritanical enough to avoid it, but the truth is that there are other, funnier, less graphic things to listen to and so after listening to the first episode of this podcast I decided that I would get my laughs elsewhere. I don’t have a lot of time in my day and if I have the option, I would rather not listen to vaginas being described as popping open like tupperware and then laughing because “gosh isn’t that dumb, old guys really don’t understand female anatomy LOLOLOL.”

It wasn’t for me, but it was funny and it might be for you. Check out the first episode to see for yourself.