The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

The Kiss of Deception

I would like an explanation for why no one prepared me for how fucking awesome this book would be. I demand to speak to a manager. From the very first chapter Mary E. Fucking Pearson had her claws in my soul and was dragging me through this story at a breakneck pace.

The book is YA Fantasy, but it’s that YA that I love when yes, the characters are in their late teens, early adulthood, but it’s mentioned so rarely that you can read this and imagine them older too. The main character, Princess Arabella a.k.a. Lia, runs away with her maidservant Pauline on her wedding day, escaping an arranged marriage meant to forge an alliance between two neighboring kingdoms. They take refuge in an inn run by Pauline’s aunt in an oceanside town. They work to earn their keep and see a future for themselves there.

Problem is that in her rush to escape, she was tracked by her betrothed from Dalbreck and an assassin from the barbarian realm of Venda. Both these men (boys) are referred to as The Prince and The Assassin when we hear the story from their point of view, and when Lia interacts with the both of them when they both find her at the same time in her hidey-hole they are referred to as Kaden and Rafe and we don’t have any fucking idea which is which as we watch their interactions. 

MARY. WHY DID YOU PLAY WITH ME LIKE THIS MARY. I need to know whether she was into the prince or the assassin to know whether to be filled with hope or dread and you gave me naught a clue so I was nervous THE WHOLE TIME.

BITCH I NEED TO KNOW WHO I’M ROOTING FOR.

Aside from the character drama that I am still fucking salty over (MARY YOU MUST MEET ME AT DAWN CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON) the fantasy elements are set up so slowly and sneakily that by the end I’m like omg there is a prophecy and what does it imply is gonna happen? Who is the Dragon? Venda has magic? WHAT IS THE GIFT WHAT IS HAPPENING I NEED TO KNOW MORE MARY.

Do you want to know how fast I went to the library for the next book in the series? I finished this book Wednesday night, and when I went by the library on my way home on Thursday to return it I picked up The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) while I was there and if you don’t think I went to bed early so I could get through the first 100 pages before I passed out from exhaustion then you must be new to Angry Angel Books. 

(By the way, I just finished day 9 of the new school year and I think I’m sleep-teaching at this point because I am so exhausted I’m either sleep-walking or dead or maybe I’m dreaming but I AM SO TIRED SOMEONE SEND HELP.)

I don’t even want to spoil this experience for you. You need to suffer as I have suffered. YOU WANT THIS SUFFERING EMBRACE IT READ THIS BOOK ARE YOU READING IT YET WHY NOT HURRY UP HOW ABOUT NOW NO WHY NOT BITCH GO GET THIS BOOK DON’T WALK AWAY FROM ME I’M TALKING TO YOU.

***

Side story: When I was at the library checking out this book a girl walked in with one of those rolling backpacks and she was still in her school uniform and she was 12 if she was a day and she made a direct beeline from the door to the children’s section in the most businesslike way that I was absolutely struck with a fit of laughter and when the librarian asked what I was laughing at I said “nobody better get in that little girl’s way because she is here for books and she is not messing around” and I hope that little girl gets all the books she came there for because I totally respect her attitude.

 

Reclaiming My Time

If you are a member of the Facebook group you probably noticed my post over the weekend stating that I am planning to transition away from Facebook. I joined Facebook in 2006, back when you had to have a college email to get in, before they allowed children and adults at large to join, before messenger, and long before it was a for profit venture (although we always knew that someday it might be). It was useful – I kept in touch with friends, they could know what I was up to, and eventually it became a handy place to store pictures and memories. It was like a virtual scrapbook.

As I have moved around the country, gained and lost friends, and reshaped my idea of who I am, Facebook has changed as well, most recently into something that is more of a waste of time than a useful place to gather and share memories. My friends list is a tidy 35 people or less to protect my privacy and my job (screenshots are forever), and most are people who would easily switch to texting to keep in touch with me (never mind that Messenger can be used with or without a Facebook account, which is something I will explore). I am not a member of any groups, and the one group I have for this blog is simply another way to disseminate the links to my posts, something that is easily done by encouraging followers to subscribe to my posts (and these subscriptions help my website more anyway).

I hardly use Facebook anymore, and when I do it’s next to impossible to see what my friends post since I have so few of them; they are lost in the deluge of ads, recommended posts, and posts my friends like. Posts are less for information and more for entertainment, and in this way I cannot keep up and I am not interested in competing. There is a part of my leaving that speaks to protest the fact that Facebook refuses to get a handle on the problems inherent in its current state, but it’s a smaller percentage of why I am leaving, and Twitter has similar issues so my continued presence there would seem hypocritical if that was truly the reason.

The basic truth is that I enjoy Twitter more, and my experience there is easier to craft into something I benefit from. Publishers and authors are easier to reach with my positive reviews, and the writer community there is rich and thriving. If I’m going to waste time on a social media app, I’m going to narrow it down to one. I don’t have that much free time to waste.

So by the end of September I will be completely off of Facebook. It is time, and I’m ready to break the habit. Please be sure to subscribe to my posts or follow me on Twitter so you’ll always have my updates right when you want them. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting Angry Angel Books.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Everything is Awful: And Other Observations

Everything is Awful

Matt Bellassai is one of my favorite internet personalities. From his weekly, angry videos about a topic to his podcast Unhappy Hour where he talks about infuriating things int he news and pop culture, he provides me with an important infusion of anger and dissatisfaction. My favorite topics that he covers are the ones that we all put up with but secretly hate, and it’s nice to hear him take that topic head on so we can nod in agreement while maintaining a facade necessary for work or family relationships. He’s the no-filter existence I wish I could have. So much of his ranting sounds like freedom to me. The freedom to be absolutely fucking done with everything.

But this isn’t a people review blog, it’s a book review blog, and I’ll say this about his memoir(?) – it’s not funny. Matt is funny when he screams about something stupid for like 5-10 minutes. He’s funny on his podcast because he has other people to break up his screaming and bounce his hate off of. This is 247 pages of stories about his life that I just didn’t need. Stories about peeing his pants and getting picked on in gym are just…uh…I don’t know, boring? They aren’t new. Any angry nerd that is a fan will relate to these stories, but they aren’t really enough.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for angst or suffering – I’ve written before about how some memoirs seem to bleed for you to get you to keep reading and that they aren’t for me. The stories in a memoir have to be similar enough to my experience that I can relate, but different enough that I’m interested. The kind of story isn’t important, but those elements are. I got through a few more chapters – the horrors and embarrassments of having braces and other dental procedures and how he can identify the type of ball he’s being hit with with his eyes closed (i.e. more gym stories, kickball, dodgeball, etc.) – and then I set the book aside. I can’t imagine how difficult the audiobook would be to get through.

Matt Bellassai is in the same category as Louis Black for me. Hilarious in small doses or mixed in with others, but surviving an entire stand up show (or book) just becomes an exercise in surviving monotony.  Their only level is loud and angry, so there’s no fluctuation or building of tension. I’ll keep him in video and podcast form, but the book is a no from me.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

As I move through my thirties and am now almost 40, I am learning some really important things about myself that I wish my elders had shared with me. My younger readers need to understand that your body doesn’t start breaking down in your 50s and 60s. IT STARTS IN YOUR THIRTIES, CHILDREN.

Man, there are so many things that I just can’t eat anymore. I’ve been listing them as they arise, but one of the things is pizza and I’m just not willing to give that up. Fried seafood, tomato-based sauces, and raw onions are all there too. One of the literary agents I follow on Twitter said he wished someone had told him how much of his thirties would be spent keeping his stomach acid in the right place. Shit man, that’s real and I’m telling you now that it is true and you should watch out because it’s coming for you.

Also did you know your feet can swell even if you aren’t pregnant? It’s a new phenomenon for me, but it happened to me the first time this summer when I attended the Advanced Placement training. I walked the 5983492873432 miles from the building where my training was to the student center in my Kadie Croc Flats to use my free food voucher, then walked all the way back. Later that night I reclined and didn’t recognize my foot because it was a sphere instead of a foot. This happened again last week when I was moving into my classroom and walking all over my new school to attend meetings. One day my toes on my left foot almost disappeared, the next my right ankle bump was completely engulfed. The lessons I’ve learned here are that I need better shoes and that I need to limit my activity to walking from/to my car at work and walking on the treadmill at the gym. I have to be careful I don’t hurt myself so I don’t find myself in a situation where I can’t walk at all.

I am thirty-five fucking years of age and EVERYTHING HURTS. Some nights I can’t even roll over in bed without my right hip sending lightning bolts of pain up through my back and refusing to move. I do more with my right leg so sometimes my right heel hurts so badly I have to limp. Earlier this week I somehow injured my upper back so that moving my left arm was almost impossible and it still feels like a golf ball is wedged under my left shoulder blade today.

I have begun to have new kinds of headaches where it feels like someone set the top  of my brain on fire a la one of those flaming desserts they serve table-side at fancy restaurants. Sleeping doesn’t help them go away, only Tylenol has managed to make dents. I would like to send up a #blessed  for my usual migraines staying away during this difficult time but I have to say that I’m not a big fan of what seems to be replacing them.

Also apparently the husband found my first grey hair but it didn’t have the decency to sprout where I could see it, he found it in the back. I looked but I couldn’t find it. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR FIVE WHOLE YEARS TO START GOING GREY AND I CAN’T EVEN CONFIRM IT’S HAPPENING. What a rip off.

I’ll just limp off to bed now. I bid all your creaking joints a pleasant evening. ❤

The Wedding Date

The Wedding Date

I don’t read a lot of romance novels. I’m not sure why that is, or why the entirety of my romance experience is Nora Roberts trilogies, but The Wedding Date was a new experience for me which has widened my view on what a romance novel is and can be.

The main characters get trapped in a elevator when the power goes out in their hotel, and in the time they have to meet cute and get to know each other he has nervously asked her to join him at the wedding he is in town for as his plus one. She agrees and pretends to be his girlfriend for both the rehearsal dinner and the reception. They discover that they are very attracted to each other throughout the course of the two outings and when they go back to his hotel room after the reception (that’s where she got ready for the wedding to help add to the girlfriend lie) they have sex.

The rest of the book is them having as much sex as humanly possible while working in two completely different cities that require them to fly to see each other on weekends. I enjoyed how Guillory also incorporated ideas about weight, race, and the tenuous situation of communicating via text. The number of times they almost break up because one of them assumes the worst over an emotionless text (or an intended joke) adds a bit of tension to their love fest.

I appreciated that Guillory gave me what I usually complain about missing in other romance series: the passage of time. Crazy, immediate attraction and constant sexing is a lot easier to believe when it isn’t followed up by being in love and getting married within a three month span. This book was believable. Even their stumbling blocks of texting and the distance were believable. It was a stumbly-bumbly beginning of a relationship that would feel familiar to anyone that’s ever suffered through those first few months.

My only critique is that after the initial anticipation of the rehearsal dinner and reception, there isn’t a lot of build up to the actual sex. The first time they have sex you’ll be like “YES THAT’S RIGHT” and then ever other time it’s just BAM THEY ARE TOGETHER SEX which I get because that’s what the honeymoon phase is but, I mean, romance me a little. They’re supposedly texting constantly, lemme see some of those sexy exchanges. This is a small critique though, because this book was really good.

You learn some things about how the world works AND you get a hot steamy romance. Learning and licking (LOL). Go get you some.

The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2)

The Wise Man's Fear

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1)

This book has taken me a little over a month to read, mostly because it’s 1,000 pages and significantly more boring than the first one. I can’t even remember now what happened in the first like 250 pages of the book – the basics are that Kvothe and his friends come together for a caper against his nemesis Ambrose Jakis that involved setting his apartments on fire and stealing back something Ambrose stole. While it cannot be proven that Kvothe did it, there is enough information at hand that in his current financial situation he would be unable to afford the very subjective tuition amount that he would be given by the professors at his admissions interview. So the professors that like him, along with his friends, advise him to go out into the world and seek his fortune for a bit to let things cool down.

One of his friends from the Eolian where he performs says he has a possible patron for him. The Maer of a city across the sea is willing to entertain having him  and has requested assistance with a delicate matter. So Kvothe takes a ship that is attacked and sinks, and he survives with nothing but the clothes on his back and his lute case and somehow makes it to Severen, the town next to the Maer’s estate. The Maer wants Kvothe to write songs and poems and things to help him win the heart of the eligible Lady Lackless from the neighboring  city so he can produce some heirs. Kvothe helps, but then he’s sent away with a band of mercenaries to deal with bandits that are stealing the Maer’s taxes from his tax collectors on the road.

I mean, I would tell you more but I’m not really interested in giving you a full book synopsis. I want to tell you how it made me feel, or how exciting it was. The story was still interesting in that how a sixteen year old boy survives on his wits alone and the occasional infusion of cash is enough tension to keep me reading for the inevitable fall from grace. Seeing Rothfuss expand his world beyond the University was interesting too. Kvothe has to learn the cultural norms of the Maer’s nobility and then, after he deals with the tax bandits he goes to the Ademre where he has to pass a series of tests to be accepted into their society as well. Oh, and he fucks a famous Fae creature that he stumbles upon on his journey. That interlude is looooooooooong but necessary because he encounters a creature there that might not be such a good thing for his psyche.

It’s a book 2, what can I say? I mean, was I expecting more information about the Chandrian that killed his parents in the first book and set him on this course in the first place? Yes. Am I constantly surprised when I am reminded that I’m reading about a 16 year old boy doing all this crazy shit? Yes. Was I just as irritated about the presence of Denna flitting about and advancing the plot not a whit? YES. But we moved forward in the story, we got a little info here and there, and he’s back at the University at the end right where he belongs. This sets up his future expulsion I guess? How it possible for a main character to go to so many places and still have the plot go nowhere?

The thing I’m the most upset about is the fact that the Amyr/Chandrian issue doesn’t move forward at all. There are seven of these terrible creatures and I know nothing about them. I can’t picture them. All I know is that they show up like Beetlejuice if you say their names too much and they kill everyone within half a mile of the naming. I’m just not convinced they are any worse than any of the other crazy shit waiting to kill Kvothe at the University, including his own mishandling of sympathy (magic). How am I supposed to feel tension and fear about a group of creatures I don’t even see more than once in 2,000 pages?

I’m a patient woman, and the storytelling in these books is quality enough to keep me reading. But some shoes have got to start dropping. Soon. Which doesn’t seem likely since The Wise Man’s Fear came out in 2011 and there’s no third book in sight.

You should still go read it. It’s a good book. Just know that there will probably never be a third.

The Myth of the Schoolhouse

Three things happened in the past week or so that, to me, indicated that teaching and public education in this country has taken a turn for the worse. All of the protests in the past 12 months aside, if you are listening, you can see that we are heading for a very large brick wall.

Private Schools

LeBron James opened a school in Akron for a little under 300 students where he provided everything for free. You can read about it there, and honestly unless you’ve been living under a rock you have to have heard a little bit about it. People are heralding it as a wonderful thing, and for that community there is no doubt that it is. But that’s only 280 kids. The Akron School District is the fifth largest in Ohio and 22,000 students are enrolled in that public school system.

This is a perfect example of why education must be properly funded by all members of the community through taxation or referendum measures. One incredibly famous and rich basketball player shouldn’t be responsible for saving at-risk kids. Our tax system should be set up to support every kid in every PUBLIC school. Kids going to school is a legal requirement, we force them to be there. It should NEVER be a financial burden to do something that we are forced to do, especially when the schools catch everyone. If the community requires extra supports for uniforms and food and transportation, then the elected officials and councilmen need to pass measures to spread that financial need across the community so those supports are funded and provided.

The pendulum is so far in the “if I don’t use it, I don’t want my tax dollars used for it” direction, that it is getting heavy and ready to swing back the other way. People are discovering that the crumbling of things that they don’t use is starting to have an effect n things they do use, and since we are in an age where people don’t are about things that don’t directly affect them maybe they will finally help.

I don’t want Amazon schools or Microsoft schools or Beyonce schools or Oprah schools. I don’t want to put celebrities and rich people up on a pedestal and throw flowers at them and applaud because they made a school for 200 kids. I want taxes and funding to be structured in a way that ensures that they all MUST contribute. I want schools that are a public service to the community that the community (businesses, individuals, families, etc) invests in with the understanding that an educated populace pays the community back by becoming responsible, informed citizens that will contribute to the world and continue the cycle.

Poverty

I am in my first week of school right now. In the first week teachers are in the schools alone setting up their classrooms and planning. This year I moved to a school that is a Title 1 school. This means that the population is at-risk and a high percentage of free and reduced lunch students. Apparently some teachers here are not…sensitive(?) to this situation, and so on the very first day we were put through what the Title 1 Facilitator from the district office called a poverty simulation.

Before I talk about that, two days before this activity the district sent out an email about a “storefront” that they usually have for things like families who can’t afford uniforms or kids who can’t afford prom dresses. Only this year they have opened it to teachers because they assumed that we have spent SO MUCH ON OUR CLASSROOMS THAT WE CAN’T AFFORD PROFESSIONAL WORK CLOTHES FOR OURSELVES. The email even included that accessories and shoes would be available.

So two days after receiving this email I am forced to participate in this poverty simulation to teach me, a teacher who might not even be able to afford their own work clothes, how to survive on not enough money and dodging obstacles that poor people face (car breaking down, kids in trouble at school, renewing food stamps) every day.

The tone deafness of this was amazing. You’re so poor you need charity but here’s what it’s like to be poor so you understand. I was so anxious and panicky at the end of that activity that I completely skipped the planned “debrief” because I didn’t want to hear older, less debt-ridden teachers talk about what an eye-opener the activity was and oh how hard it must be and how thankful they are to not have to deal with that kind of life. I’m trying to have a good start here and not make one million enemies, and if I had gone I would have spoken up for myself in an emotionally charged way, so it’s better I took a step back.

This only adds to my anger about how teachers and schools are funded and treated, but what really took the cake was…

Vroom!

this story about how a parent bought a teacher a new car so she could get to work. A similar story about people handing money over to a teacher on a plane is just as infuriating. Isn’t it nice how you can take advantage of someone’s poverty to make yourself a nice attention grabbing Twitter/Instagram moment? Never mind that if we all paid a little bit, single individuals wouldn’t have to pay as much.

It looks like an economy car, but let’s assume it’s the next level up, like a Kia Rio – $14,000 purchase price. If I used my current district as an example:

Total residents: 459,023 people
Total teachers: ~6,000

If the tax paying residents of *** County wanted to insure that teachers had a working car to get them to work and back, each individual person would need to pay a Teachers Get a Car Tax of $182 each. Of course we could, instead of buying a car, give every teacher a $14,000 raise. And of course every person wouldn’t pay $182, that would be the average tax burden. But you get the idea.

We all have to fund this stuff. If we do, then individuals don’t have to put up tens of thousands of dollars, and everyone benefits, not just one lucky teacher like it’s some kind of crazy lottery. This isn’t a game show, this is real life.

***

Those 200 kids get a new chance, but how many are still suffering and falling through the cracks? That one teacher gets a new car – how much would we bet that family brings that up at the next parent teacher conference? How many other teachers are doing the same thing or are just one car repair away from figuring out a bus route?

We have to stop accepting these flash in the pan stories as enough and start demanding that education is funded so that these stories don’t happen anymore. Their presence is a red flag, and honestly I’m worried.

As if there wasn’t enough to be worried about.