52 in 52: Listen to a New/Old Album

I decided to interpret this as music that is new to me (#36), and not necessarily albums that were released recently, and the project that I worked on actually covered the “listen to an old album” (#37) task too!

I read an article published by NPR that laid out the top 150 albums of all time that were released by women. Since we now pay monthly for Google Play Music Unlimited, I didn’t have to buy any of the albums. All I had to do was search for the albums and add them to a playlist. There were too many to fit into one playlist (playlists are limited to 1,000 songs) so I made two.

Playlist #1: Top 150 Albums by Women

Playlist #2: Top 150 Albums by Women

I am working my way through the lists, deleting songs that I don’t enjoy, and “liking” songs that I do so Google can include them with my favorites playlist. I made both lists public and linked them above in case you would like to enjoy them as well. The NPR article is also linked above so you can read through and see the albums that are featured.

I was surprised by how uncomfortable the country albums made me feel. Listening to the Dixie Chicks album (which I had never owned or heard, just the singles on the radio) made me cringe. I forgot how amazing Alicia Keys’ first album was, and listening to the Miseducation of Lauren Hill brought me back to high school summers. I’m just going to keep working my way through and enjoying songs old and new. I hope you enjoy them as well.

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Next week the husband and I will be heading to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater to see Pod Save America live, which will cross off the “See a show or comic” event. I will be sure to take pictures and share! Have a great weekend!

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No Book Nook: Social Media Hiatus

As some of you probably noticed, I took the last week off from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Instagram wasn’t that difficult because I don’t really use it anyway, but Facebook and Twitter have been a real effort to avoid. It’s been about one week since I’ve been on the platforms and it is still difficult to avoid checking them every time I get bored.

Much like people trying to quit smoking will chew gum to distract from cravings, I found some things to spend time on instead of constantly checking social media.

Coloring book!

I have been working on a page from Jenny Lawson’s “You Are Here” coloring book. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed just picking markers randomly and filling in the bubbles. I’m not done yet, but on nights where I didn’t feel like reading, this filled the void quite nicely. The slideshow below will show the progression from the start to where I’m at right now.

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New game app!

I am not a person who plays games on their phone. I have never played Candy Crush or any other game really. Any one that I’ve tried has been quickly forgotten or deleted. One game that I did like back when the husband had it on his tablet was Card Wars, a Magic card type game based on the characters from Adventure Time, a cartoon show on Cartoon Network. So every time I was someplace where I couldn’t color or read or get up and do a chore, I’d play a quick round of Card Wars and then put it away.

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Reading!

Even though I was off of social media I was still reading and posting here. I got in the habit of putting on my noise-cancelling headphones, setting them to ocean sounds, and reading like 100 pages of a book while the husband watched tv. The next books I am working on will be Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell.

Video Games!

It has been over a month since I used my Playstation, and so I managed to get the updates downloaded and installed and I played for a little while. I don’t have any games I’m into right now, so that’s less of a distraction and more just something I felt like I should do. I’m still clinging to Destiny, but also branching out into Horizon Zero Dawn and hoping to get into Monster Hunter World at some point in the next couple of months.

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After a week of avoiding social media I’ve noticed that I’m feeling less anxious, I’m engaging with my actual surroundings more, and I’m going to sleep earlier at night and sleeping a little better.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when my self-imposed hiatus is up. I don’t trust myself to not fall down the rabbit hole of Facebook again, being stuck to my screen every spare minute I have. But I have to participate in Facebook and Twitter if I want this website to grow and have its posts spread into the world. I have to think seriously about how I want to manage that, how to set that balance so I can continue to feel better, but do what modern times require of me to grow Angry Angel Books.

Have a great weekend! My next installment of 52 in 52 is up tomorrow, so check it out!

 

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

Traitor to the Throne

Rebel of the Sands (#1)

Fair warning, right from the get go there are gong to be a lot of spoilers for book 1. It would be impossible for me to describe what is happening in this book without saying things that were revealed later in the first book. So get out now while you still can.

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Amani has been captured and is carried across the sea to Izmani, the capital city, to meet the Sultan himself. He binds her using old Djinni logic, and compels her to summon her father, an actual Djinni, which Amani assumes is for the purpose of quelling Ahmed’s rebellion. With her indifferent father stuck in the basements of the palace, and herself stuck in the dangerous, political confines of the harem, Amani must figure out a way to get information from the palace and out to the rebellion to try to help and to beg for help escaping.

Usually I don’t enjoy the middle child of a trilogy. It’s the messy middle of a sandwich where stuff from the first book is wrapped up and stuff from the third book is foreshadowed. While these things are true about Traitor, I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual story all its own nestled in the heart of this second book.

The Sultan has embedded iron within Amani’s skin to prevent her from using her powers, and he has embedded other metals inscribed with the name of her Djinni father as well to bend her to his will. If he makes a command, she must follow it. Yet, even with this control over her, he shows compassion and honors her skills in the midst of his treaty negotiations with the visiting countries. It was interesting to see the villain that was painted in the first book be softened into slightly lighter colors. I mean, he’s still doing terrible things, but you get to see why those actions are being taken.

I have to admit that, given what I know about government and what I’ve read in other books, I really appreciated Hamilton giving life and humanity to the man we are supposed to be hating and rebelling against. It’s relatively easy to scream hope and change, A New Dawn/New Desert! but it’s entirely another to broker peace agreements with countries that want to annex you and take you for their own. With great power comes great responsibility, and while different people handle that power differently, most find that some kind of distasteful decision must be made for the good of all, as opposed to the choice that might have been made based on an individual’s beliefs or morals.

The complexity of this second book was what kept me reading. My alliances changed a few times as I read, and I am excited to see how the trilogy concludes in the most recent and final book – Hero at the Fall. Go get you some.

The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1)

The Color of Magic

In preparation for writing my own fantasy series, I’ve been working several new fantasy series that I have never read into my repertoire. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is the next one I have to explore.

I have never read such a nonsensical conglomeration of happenstances, and I mean that in a good way. In a short 200 pages, Pratchett introduces us to a failed wizard, a strange visitor with luggage that walks and bites and a picture box run by a small imp who takes and processes pictures like a camera, and an entire city caught on fire. Death (the actual being) follows our wizard Rincewind around, just waiting for him to die and seems to be thwarted at every turn by a game of dice that the gods are playing (think Clash of the Titans) and dragons which are created out of thin air with those that wield the power of imagination.

I KNOW.

Every two paragraphs you are assaulted by some new twist or turn, placing Rincewind and Twoflower into the path of danger time and time again. It’s almost as though Pratchett just thought of the most severe non-sequitur that might follow the recently concluded action sequence and went with that. Did we just escape from an ancient demon’s underground temple maze? Why don’t we fight the dragon lords of the upside down mountain next? And never mind that all these lands exist on a spinning disc, which itself exists on the back of a giant space turtle, moving toward a big bang mating ground IN SPACE.

He also allows for the possibility of multiple timelines, when in the midst of a very stressful battle, Rincewind and Twoflower are ripped from their own world into a TWA flight where they have similar but different names that we might find in our own Earth, before their consciousnesses are pulled back into the Discworld.

You won’t have time to get bored in this fast-paced, wild-eyed, story of wonder that tests your imagination at every turn. When you’re done you’ll even believe it’s possible to will a dragon into being out of thin air. Go get you some, and I’m gonna get me the next one!

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

Rebel of the Sands

How many teenagers do you know? Of those that you know, how many want to escape their hometown? To overcome their circumstances and find something better, something bigger than their beginnings? This novel by Alwyn Hamilton will speak directly into the heart of anyone who has ever wanted to escape or rise above where they started. It goes without saying that it spoke to me.

More than this, it speaks to the idea that we all have something special about us that we might overlook due to our upbringing and childhood circumstances. Amani is a young woman who grew up learning to shoot a gun as well as a man – raised by her aunt and uncle because her mother was hanged for murder – and is now facing marriage or escape. The setting is very Middle Eastern and includes a vast desert, calls to prayer, and multiple wives/harems, so prepare yourself for an environment that is not very woman-friendly.

Her salvation comes in the form of a foreign stranger, Jin, who also needs to escape – but from the approaching army seeking to capture not only him but one of the First Beings which reside in the remote desert of Amani’s birth. This world contains humans, Djinni, Ghouls, Nightmares – many magical creatures that interact with humans in both positive and negative ways. You will also learn about Demdji, the children borne of human mothers and Djinni fathers endowed with dangerous special abilities.

The Sultan at the center of all of this has a multitude of children who have taken sides, either with the Sultim (the heir apparent) or with the rogue Prince Ahmed, who is leading a rebellion to reclaim the throne from his father who seems to be giving too much power to neighboring countries. He promises a new dawn, and a new desert.

A war for the heart of a country, magical beings, a heroine discovering her own abilities (both personal and magical), extreme danger, all set in the middle of a never ending desert? SIGN ME UP YES PLEASE.

I think I enjoyed this more than An Ember in the Ashes, which is similar in taste and setting, although not completely. I am moving to the sequel to Rebel faster than I’ve moved to Ember’s #2, and I couldn’t really tell you definitively why that is. I think I liked the main character better, and the plot seems less cookie cutter rebellion like Ember or even Legend. There is also something to say about the fact that I couldn’t put this one down.

A fantastic beginning to what promises to be a lush, magical series. Go get you some.

 

52 in 52: Double Time!

This week I did two things from my list, one for last week and one for this week, all in one day! The husband and I decided to go out to breakfast (#20) yesterday at Village Inn, and then make our way to Lowe’s to pick out some seeds and plants to make an effort to make something grow (#52).

Village Inn has a system similar to Dennys where you can make a breakfast from a list of options. I chose a cheese omelet, 4 slices of bacon, hash browns, and toast. Across the way you can see the husband’s over medium eggs, oatmeal, bacon, toast, and banana multigrain pancakes. We were super hungry because we spent the morning arguing with my student loan servicer about my monthly payment and didn’t get out of the house until around 1pm. I can confirm that we did not get pie.

The husband likes to start from the seed. Each spring he loves to pick out an assortment of fruits and vegetables to try to grow from scratch. His ultimate goal is to grow a watermelon, and up until this point we’ve been thwarted by moths and worms and bugs. Hopefully this is the year!

I am not so patient. I went out among the flowers and veggies and chose some plants to grow in my tower pot. After fighting a few very large wasps for a large bag of potting soil, I settled on two cherry tomato, 6 strawberry, two watermelon, and one cucumber plant to put in with some marigolds.

This tower is so neat! Each layer can stand as a pot on its own, or it stacks up on itself for a very compact planting – perfect for apartment patios! My thumb is like 92.3% black so we’ll see how long these plants survive and, if they survive, whether they produce any fruit, but they look pretty cool for the moment.

Next week’s goal is to listen to an album that is new to me (#36). If you have suggestions for a music album, feel free to comment with your thoughts! I have been out of the music world for about three years now so I’m not really up to date on what’s hot and what’s good. Have a great last week of March!

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The Parking Lot Attendant

Parking

Debut novel – April 2018

I have really been striking out with books lately. Yet another is The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat, which is an ARC provided to me by Macmillan Publishing Group in return for an honest review.

I read more than I expected to of this strange “girl hangs out in parking lot with older man” book. All parties involved have ties to Ethiopia, and you sense an undercurrent of the mob or a gang, at least some unsavory goings-on. A sentence on the back of the book claims that this would be “an unforgettable, haunting story of family and fatherhood, national identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in America today.” Really? I read 60% of this book and it’s mostly this girl hanging out in a parking lot where the attendant, Ayale, lets her do her homework in the attendant booth and eventually involves her in “package delivery” when she seems to be hanging around enough to pick up what’s happening.

Her father is largely absent, and when he is present he’s upset about how much time she spends with Ayale but doesn’t take steps to prevent her from going there. I guess she kind of goes to school too? And the book begins with her and her father escaping to an unnamed island to start over, which I suspect is a kind of witness protection, but I am okay never finding out.

If this is what it means to be an immigrant in America today then I apparently don’t get it. This book is written well enough to keep me hooked longer than others have lately, but it is not compelling enough to make me feel guilty about not finishing it. I became tired of the short chapters revealing nothing, and stringing me along without revealing anything. Perhaps this story is too personal to what it’s like to be an immigrant in Boston, and so alienates readers outside the limited sphere of influence. We’re not in on the joke. We’re not in the know enough to connect.

I guess I just didn’t get it. There is an immigrant story to be explored, but this book seems to be reaching out to a very small audience. The writing was good enough to keep me going, but eventually I got tired of Lucy pulling the football out from under me and set the book down. If you are looking for a book about the immigrant experience in America I would seek out Americanah, Homegoing, or Behold the Dreamers, among others.