Dread Nation (#1)

Dread Nation Cover

A simple way to describe this book would be to say it’s post-Emancipation Proclamation Civil War era America, but with zombies to contend with on top of the latent racism and slavery hangers-on. The schools which Jane McKeene and other black children are made to attend mirror those which Native Americans were actually made to attend in an effort to erase their culture. There is a lot going on in this book that could fill two semesters of an African American studies course, and if you aren’t involved with the civil rights struggle, most of it will pass over your head as a creepy, alternative history zombie tale.

Read the synopsis of Dread Nation here.

Remember when I reviewed The Hate You Give? I felt like the themes were so important, but the presentation seemed to break the 4th wall too often for me, as an adult, to enjoy the story uninterrupted. For kids it’s perfect, but the whole flow of the writing and the book missed me. Dread Nation presents many of those same themes important to the struggle of black people in America specifically, and it does it in a way that advances the plot and reinforces why those themes and issues are problematic and complicated and wrong. It was a challenge for me to read through and make sure that I was picking up everything Ireland was putting down. To miss something would be to miss a valuable lesson that I could not afford to not learn.

This is a fantastic story with some amazing characters. If you enjoy zombies, it’s for you. If you enjoy historical fiction, it’s for you. If you enjoy alternative historical fiction, it’s for you. If you enjoy novels that challenge our country’s handling of racial issues, this book is for you. If you enjoy YA or women’s fiction…I mean you get the idea, right?

Justina Ireland has brought to us an entertaining novel that speaks to everyone, as long as we are willing to listen. You wouldn’t want to miss those shambler moans now, would you? Keep your ears open and your sickles sharp, and then go get you some.

Morrigan’s Cross (The Circle Trilogy #1)

Morrigan's Cross

Time travel? Check. Sorcerers and witches? Check. Vampires? I mean, okay. Celtic vibes? FUCK YEAH.

The goddess Morrigan has come to Hoyt McKenna in Ireland after his twin brother Cian has been attacked and turned by the vampire queen Lilith. Hoyt is a sorcerer and Morrigan tells him he must travel through time to gather a circle of six people who will lead an army to take down Lilith. If they do not, Lilith will bring about the apocalypse across worlds and timelines, turning some, murdering others, and enslaving the rest. So Hoyt travels through a stone circle and lands in present day New York. He finds his brother, now about 1,000 years old and ready to help bring his maker down.

A witch named Glenna (I know, right?) also lives in the city, and is connected to Hoyt in her dreams. She follows her intuition and clues to Cian’s club and find the twins collaborating in the apartment upstairs. They all agree that returning to Ireland via Cian’s private plane is the best course of action, and along with Cian’s giant, black bodyman King, fly to Cian and Hoyt’s childhood home to train and wait for the remaining two members of the circle. Moira and Larkin do arrive through the same stone circle, but from a different realm of Geall, and then they all begin to train.

Nora Roberts’s books have a formula, and it’s a coupling per book, no more, no less. Our first couple is Hoyt and Glenna and what I find hilariously inconvenient is that every time they have sex all the candles and fireplaces in the giant old Irish house get REALLY BRIGHT AND DANGEROUS and instead of letting the sex scenes get me excited I laugh because I imagine the other characters reading or listening to music somewhere else in the house and then suddenly their candle blowtorches to the ceiling and they’re just like “really painted the ceiling with that one, huh Hoyt?” omg I can’t stand it, it’s too funny.

I love this trilogy because of the magic and the honest to god creepy and scary villain. I believe Lilith is terrifying. I believe that having drunk the blood of hundreds of sorcerers and witches she has gained their power and more and can reach between timelines and realms. This is a problem that must be solved or else all worlds will end. And I’m here with my popcorn, ready for it.

My problem with any Nora Roberts novel is the timeline of romance. Hoyt and Glenna know each other for like 6 days and he proposes to her after having sex twice. It’s just difficult for me to really invest in the love story when in a week and under duress characters are pledging their lives to each other. This book was written in 2006 so I don’t feel like it would be completely wild to just have them be together without bringing marriage into it.

I can accept that they have a deep connection, and that magic brings them closer together, and that the end of the world creates a sense of urgency – all of that is believable and I am with you when they are just suddenly attracted and having sex. What I’m not here for is for some reason throwing in marriage proposals like us ladies can’t handle Hoyt getting it in without making an honest woman of Glenna. It’s the end of the world. Get it in when you can, don’t worry about planning a ceremony or anything.

By the end of this book the circle is complete, if not in the way you expect, and plans are in place to return to Moira’s land so she can take up the mantle of queen and lead her people as the circle’s army to take down Lilith in a battle of the ages. It’s really a fun trilogy, one of her best. Go get you some.

 

Angry Angel Summer Reads 2018

It’s the summer! Time for reads that you can drag to the beach or get the corners wet at the pool. Summer is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, and the books you pick up should support that goal!

If you’d like a more established, professional touch on your summer recs, I have a compilation of links that will take you to a plethora of suggestions from several major publications. My summer list is made up of books that even I have yet to read. If you want to read like the Angry Angel, you can pick a book up off my list and know that we’re probably enjoying it at the same time!

Library Selections

I had a very nice holds list set up at my local library branch. They were all in high demand, and their wait times were nicely staggered. But the literary gods chose to smile and laugh at me and all these golden selections came in at the same time.IMG_20180530_145740_053.jpg I am starting with the Stephen King. I have heard nothing but accolades and so I would hate to have to return it because I ran out of time. I’ll probably move to The Woman in the Window next, then The Mars Room, then I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but I am a huge fan of Patton Oswalt, and Michele McNamara essentially wrote a road map for investigators to follow to the actual capture of the Golden State Killer in April of this year. My online reading buddies have implored me to not read that one at night. All but two of these lovelies are due back on June 13th because they are on hold by another patron, so we’ll see how many I can get through in the next 11 days!

Advanced Reader Copies

Publishers and friends have supplied me with several advance copies whose books are due for publication later this summer or early this fall. I’ll be tackling the following novels.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras – Out July 31, 2018. A debut novel set in violent, 1990’s Columbia.

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson (I found out this one was kind of a sequel to her previous trilogy, so The Kiss of Deception in my library stack above is my effort to catch up before reading this one! Technically it’s a new work but all the reviews I read said to get the other trilogy in first.) – Out August 7, 2018

The Distance Home by Paula Sanders – Out August 7, 2018. A debut novel set in 1960s rural South Dakota which explores the lifestyles and challenges of living in rural America.

TBR Owned, Yes Owned!

I bought several books at the end of last year and beginning of this one that I have been meaning to get to but have pushed back in favor of library books with set deadlines. I have time to spare though, and so I’m definitely going to be (finally!) reading these selections from my own bookshelves.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – Fun and flirty, perfect for summer.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – I am late to this one but Scaachi is hilarious and smart and I cant wait to dive into this one.

Everything is Awful: And Other Observations by Matt Bellasai – This gentleman is the one you want to sit and complain about stuff with, because everything is awful and he’s 100% about owning that shit.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – I am here for all these challenges to racism disguised as beautiful, powerful black women kicking ass. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is one of my current reads along the same vein. I want to read all of them. *grabby hands*

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I hope one of these books finds you with a tall glass of lemonade staring at a freshly mowed backyard, listening to the sound of splashing and summer jam playlists. Just remember that sunscreen! Happy summer!