Seven Blades in Black (The Grave of Empires #1)

Seven Blades

Once in awhile I read a book that I identify with so deeply and so completely that I wish I could live within the pages and be the main character. The feelings of regret and suffering, of revenge and perseverance just emanate from the pages and make me drool and moan with pleasure like the smell of freshly baked bread or maybe Calvin Klein Infinity cologne (I’m SO CLASSY). I live vicariously through the main character and find satisfaction in ways I could never find in real life. *slaps faces of enemies with a pure, white glove*

Salazanca a.k.a. Sal the Cacophony is brash, ferocious, and a woman on a mission. She has made a deal with the spirit of her gun (named the Cacophony) that she would kill everyone on her list, everyone who attempted to sacrifice her to meet their own magical ends. Her own history with the individuals on her list is slowly revealed as she tells her story to her captors, Revolutionaries who seek to upend the Imperium and its Empress in favor of a human-run government.

The political backdrop to the story is just as compelling as Sal’s own vendetta. The Imperium has always had mages as Emperors and Empresses. The Revolution is made up of “nuls” – humans with no magical abilities, who seek to make their own government where mages are not in control. In the middle are mages gone Vagrant, mad that the Empress has given birth to one heir, a nul who will one day become emperor. They refuse to support a nul emperor after giving everything to set up and support the current Imperium, so they are fighting to bring about their own future separate from the Imperium and the Revolution.

It’s important to note that this is not your typical revenge story. Along the way it’s made apparent that Sal has her own choices to atone for, and has made some shady deals that she may not walk away from in pursuit of her goals. The realness with which Sykes presents this anti-heroine is so welcome and refreshing that I am already ready to accept her past if it means I get to follow her into the future. She is an unreliable narrator, and she leaves details out of her story as she tells it to her executioner because she sees them as unnecessary, but you will discover that she’s lying by omission, and there are some very disturbing actions she’s taken/taking that we only hear a whisper of before the story ends, leaving you begging for more.

It would be difficult for me to express to you how much I loved this book. When I initially opened it on my Kindle (I received it for free as the winner of a Goodreads giveaway) it said it would take me 12 hours to read it. This was daunting, but from the very first page I was in love with Sal the Cacophony and wanted nothing more than to see her succeed and get revenge on those who had wronged her. I gave what little mental energy I had left over in the past 3 weeks to moving forward inch by inch in the 30 minutes before I fell asleep each night, and every moment was worth it.

My only criticism? I hate the cover art.

You absolutely must read this book. While I wait for the next installment to this series, I’ll be seeking out the rest of Sam Sykes’ works. If his writing is this amazing, I cannot miss out on anything else written by him up to this point. GO GET IT QUICK WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

Can You Imagine?

Content warning for the nosy children who stalk me online instead of minding their own business: I swear in this post. Now leave me alone and go Snippity Snapchat or Twit the Tweets. *waves stick at the children on my lawn*

I use Paypal for several things and today, when I logged in, I was greeted with this image.

Screenshot 2019-04-16 at 6.54.45 PM

Are you fucking kidding me? WHO FORGETS TO BUDGET FOR RENT??????? Can you imagine FORGETTING. TO BUDGET. FOR THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE.

I cannot with this. This is millennial condescension bullshit. “Oh look at me on my patio in my high rise apartment, I’m so distracted by avocado toast that I forgot to PAY FOR WHERE I LIVE.” Like I don’t budget TO THE PENNY every month so I can have a fucking roof over my head and I can’t even save for a house I would own.

Go fuck yourself, Paypal.

Into the Unknown

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. It’s not full on insomnia wakefulness, thank goodness, but I’m either having trouble falling asleep or I’m waking up a million times in the night so I don’t get a full night’s continuous sleep, or both. I’ve been becoming more and more exhausted and so, when I went in for my annual physical last week, I asked my doctor if there was something stronger than the Zzquil I had been using that might help me fall and stay asleep.

I don’t take any prescription medications, so we didn’t have to worry about strange interactions or anything, so she put in a prescription and we tried something. This first choice didn’t improve anything and gave me terrible headaches. I called the office and let the staff know this, and in a few days the doctor had sent in a different script to replace it.

When I picked up the new drug yesterday I read over the details and side effects carefully only to discover that it wasn’t a sleeping drug, it was an antidepressant with a very common side effect of sleepiness. Some internet research showed that it was commonly prescribed for people with trouble sleeping, so I wasn’t worried there, but I did call the office to see if this was right, if they meant to give me an antidepressant. They confirmed that they did. I need to sleep, so I’m trying it for now. I took it for the first time last night and it seemed to have better results than the first drug.

I haven’t discussed my depression in detail with my doctor yet, just in passing. I manage my symptoms okay without medication, and I’ve been doing that for a very long time. It’s probably not the best, and it takes a lot of effort sometimes, but it’s never been a serious enough situation with either the depression or the anxiety to make me want to get medication. Depression is an old friend and we’re used to each other.

What I’m wondering is how this drug will affect not only my sleep, but my management of my depression. I don’t know what it feels like to not be depressed, so I’m not sure what it will feel like if I do feel better. How can I tell if it’s working? What would that even be like? When I’ve been depressed for so long, and bent my thoughts to managing the feelings that come with that condition, who will I be when those feelings are lessened or gone completely?

Lately I’ve noticed that I’m making choices and planning experiences that are bringing up a lot of feelings like this. Feelings like “who will I be after this happens?”

I’m going in for a consultation for braces in May. My teeth have been crooked as long as I can remember and I never got braces as a kid. What will my mouth feel like with straight teeth and an aligned bite? How will that affect my life in a positive way?

We’re finally in a place where we can start squirreling money away for a down payment on a house. What will it feel like to own where we live so that we don’t have to be afraid that our lease won’t be renewed or that the house we rent will be sold out from under us or even that we’ll have to live in apartment and lose privacy and control over our comfort? How much anxiety is just constant in relation to our living situation, and what will it feel like to have that anxiety disappear?

These are experiences that will be new. They aren’t things that I used to have that I want to get back or regrets that I nurse in my mind as I fall asleep. I am moving into unknown territory, and I am genuinely curious (and a little bit nervous) about how they will all turn out. I’ve been burned by new endeavors before; I’m hopeful that these upcoming experiences aren’t going to end in the same way.

One of my goals for getting older was to not be afraid of the unknown, to always be willing to try new things, and to always be learning. I shouldn’t continue to be depressed just because that’s what I’m used to if I have the opportunity to be better. Just because I’ve always had crooked teeth doesn’t mean I can’t have non-crooked teeth. I never thought I would ever own a home, but I don’t need to keep renting just to fulfill that prophecy when other options are now a possibility.

The next couple of years are going to bring lots of changes, both small and large. I’m excited for the possibilities.

Monster Books

I am currently reading some very long books. The one I’m really into right now is about 800 pages and I’m only 41% of the way through it and it says there’s still 6-7 hours left even though I’ve been reading so fast because it is SO GOOD but it’s just SO LONG.

Seven Blades

Guys this book is spectacular. The world is cool, the main character is AMAZING, the magic system is really original and it has a kind of magic versus no magic vibe that I am really into, and her quest is a mystery that is being revealed slowly as I go, so each glimpse tells me (a) what she’s doing, and even more rarely (b) WHY.

I wish it came out earlier in the year so I would have the mental energy to read more, but this time of year I’m just so mentally exhausted that being able to read for about 30 minutes before bed is all I can muster. To get a review out quickly for this kind of book I need to be reading for at least an hour a day, minimum, and more on weekends. That kind of schedule just isn’t possible for me right now, but I’m doing my best and it helps that I really love the book so far.

I’m in the grind now and it’s gonna be tough all the way through about mid-May. I feel bad about slowing down the reviews but it’s just a normal part of my year.

I can’t wait to share this book with you. 🙂

Social Media

Quick post to let you know I’m going to be getting off of Twitter in the next week or so. I need to focus on reading, writing, and real life in general right now. I left Facebook in September 2018 and Twitter is next. I will still be posting reviews and updates on the website, but I need to start forming a routine where I work on my book every day, and I’m just spending too much time zoning out online. I should be reading books and writing my own, not trying to be clever in however many characters we get now. 

I am also leaving Patreon. If you are currently a Patron you should notice that I am not on your list by the end of this week. Thank you for your patronage! If you would like to continue to support my work, or if you’d like to support me when you haven’t before, you can do so at your convenience via ko-fi.com/angryangelbooks or paypal.me/angryangelbooks.

Please subscribe to the website so you can get my posts on your blog app of choice or into your email. Contact me anytime at angryangelbooks [at] gmail [dot] com. And as always, thanks for being here. 🙂

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow #1)

I have been meaning to read Delilah S. Dawson’s work for quite some time. She writes fantasy as Lila Bowen, so I went to the library and checked out the first book in her Shadow series, to see what I would see.

This is one of the best beginnings of a book that I have ever read. In the span of three chapters our heroine Nettie Lonesome murders a vampire, proves her worth to the neighboring ranch, and escapes her life with her adoptive, drunk “parents” to be a bronc breaker under the name of Nat (everyone assumes she is a boy). It begins as a western that quickly becomes a fantasy quest.

Just when we think our heroine is safe, well-fed, and living her dream, a mostly dead Indian woman finds her way onto the ranch, gets Nettie to agree to seek her revenge for her, and then rides off on a mythical ocean steed, vowing to haunt her until the Cannibal Owl is destroyed. Nettie’s not real sure what the Cannibal Owl is, but she knows she doesn’t want to be haunted by an old Indian woman and in danger of being drowned by ocean water hundreds of miles away from its source.

Eventually she is forced from the ranch an discovers there are more horrors out in the desert than vampires. She’s pursued by a harpy, saved by a skinwalker and his sister, and brought to the rangers to see if they will train her(him) and accompany her on her mission to kill the Cannibal Owl. They agree, and share stories about what the Cannibal Owl has done, mostly stealing children from towns and eating them, one which was just a newborn baby.

There are a million reasons to love this book. You don’t have to be half black, half Native American to identify with Nettie Lonesome. Her entire attitude of zero fucks to give about being a woman, about being a tool of revenge, about possibly being a mythical Shadow being – all she wants to do is be a man and work with horses. Every step of her journey is one less thing she has to do before she can go home or find a place on a nearby ranch to do what she loves.

This narrative tackles gender and being able to choose the gender you identify as, in addition to LGBT relationships. It shows us what perseverance and trust can mean in the face of a destiny you do not want. One of the intricate issues Bowen/Dawson explores is what it might mean when the gender you choose to present confuses those who might be gay or bisexual when you are not. What happens when a male character who is gay falls for Nettie when she is pretending to be a man? This part of the book made me think about this situation, it was one I hadn’t considered before, and the communication, understanding, and delicacy that the miscommunication required was amazing to read. Even within the community of LGBT there is patience that is required as everyone navigates their identities and their sexualities.

The worldbuilding was wonderful, the characters were compelling and interesting, and the story held me in my seat until the very end. It’s a book that tackles important issues in a normal way in the midst of a fantasy quest. Go get you some.