Uncategorized

The Angry Angel Book Exchange (2017)

I have seen this done on other websites such as Jenny Lawson’s Bloggess, and I have taken these directions from there from a previous post. Basically the idea is that you leave a comment with the name of the book you want and a link to your wishlist on Amazon. Then, others come and read the comments, click on your wishlist, buy you your book, and you get your book! Woo! The season of giving amidst our garbage fire reality. 🙂 All we need to do is get your wishlist set up with ONE book that you need, and we’re off to the races. Make sure you leave your comment here on the blog and, if you can, send a story to someone who needs it.

  1. If you’ve had a rough 2017 and need a book to transport you somewhere else this holiday season make A BRAND NEW wish list with nothing on it but the book you want.  (Exception: If you have a kid who needs a book you can totally add one for them too.)
  2. Here’s how you make a wish list:  Under “Accounts and Lists” on the right, top side of Amazon select “Create a list”.  Choose “Wish list” and name it something like “The book I really need right now” and choose “Public”.  Then click “Create list”.  Now add a book to your list by going to the book and clicking the “add to list” button on the bottom right of that page.  Make sure you assign it to the new wishlist.  Now here’s the most important thing that everyone forgets to do.  You have to assign a shipping address to that specific wish list or it won’t go to you.  EVERY new wishlist has to be assigned an address or you won’t get your stuff.  So click on your wish list and click on “public” and it’ll take you to “List settings”.  Click “view details” and where it says “shipping address” add yours.  (Your city and first name will be shown to others, but not your full address.)  Then save changes.  Now leave a comment with a link to your wish list. In your comment say which book you want in case someone specifically wants to buy you that book.  Also, if you’re not in America put that in the comment so we can match people better by location and not have crazy shipping fees.
  3. Here’s how you buy a book for a stranger.  Click on their link.  Choose a book.  Select their name so it goes to their address.  If it doesn’t give you the option of picking their name it means they didn’t add a shipping address so delete what’s in your cart and go to the next person.  Send a story to someone.
  4. If you have a book that really helped you get through this year and want to suggest it in the comments that would be awesome.  No worries if you don’t have one.

The only rule is that this is just for books.  No gift cards or clothes or anything else because it gets out of hand really quickly.  Just a simple book to take you away from the world and help you find new ones.

And as always, thank you.  Thank you for supporting my words and listening and passing them on to others.

PS: In case you need help with Amazon, here are screen shots of what you should see while making a wishlist and add a shipping destination because it’s less complicated if you have pictures to walk you through:

Create a list under “Your lists”.

 

Make it a wish list, name it and make it public.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.40.30 PM

After you click “create list” click on the “public” button below:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.40.53 PM

Click “view details” to add your shipping address to this wish list:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.41.27 PM

Choose a shipping address and save changes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.43.02 PM

Now you’re ready to add something to your list.  Pick a book and choose the “add to list” button on bottom right side:

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-9-05-09-am

If you have another wish list set as your default (like I always do) then you’ll need to click “move to another list.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.44.57 PM

Just click the list you’re going to share here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 1.45.28 PM

Now go to the wish list and copy the link and then paste it into the comments.  Done!  There might be an easier way of doing it but that’s how I do it.

PPS.  If you click on a wish list that says it’s empty that’s because the book has already been bought for them.  🙂 That is a very good thing.

Happy holidays, angels. Give the gift of reading.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

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.

Follow Amanda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Uncategorized

Segue

I am a very heavy reader and have been since I was very little. I grew up in a home where my parents worked a bunch though, and so sometimes I had to figure out how to say a word in my head. I could look up the meaning in a dictionary (yes, pre-Kindle/internet) but I never knew how to interpret the pronunciation symbols. So I survived almost 30 years of living understanding the following:

  1. Hearing “seg-way” and understanding that it was a transition from one thing to another.
  2. Reading segue as “seg-you” and understanding that it was a transition from one thing to another.

When it finally came to light I was very embarrassed because I pride myself in my education, intelligence, and ability to reason. How was I able to believe both of the above things and not put them together? The brain is a funny thing. I had never seen the word and heard it spoke together to make the connection, so they were stored separately. When they finally came together, it was like when Google says “you have duplicate contacts, would you like us to combine them?” and I greedily and ashamedly clicked YES.

A recent Facebook thread showed me that I am not alone. This phenomenon is quite common. People lined up to share that they believed that limes were less ripe lemons, that they pronounced hyperbole as “hyper-bowl,” among others. Scroll through and expand the comments and see if you relate to any of them. These are intelligent people, owning up to things that they either learned or assumed incorrectly, and learning and laughing with each other to the truth.

Now, imagine that instead of thinking that lemon and orange Starbust would come together in your mouth to make apple flavor, you believed that blacks were a lesser race. Or that other races should go home. Or that women are for sexual pleasure, whether they gave permission for that contact or not. LOL, amirite? Let’s all come together and share those racist, sexist beliefs that our parents raised us with. Gays are an abomination and a disease? Transgendered people are child molesters? Climate change is fake? How did we go so long believing these ridiculous things? LOLOL.

Except it isn’t like this. These beliefs, this way of life surrounds, indoctrinates, and absorbs into children’s skins until it’s all they’ve ever known. This is their reality. Anything else is lies because why would their parents lie to them? They are safe, warm, fed, educated(?), and most of the time they get what they need or want.

So instead of discovering that the part of the Lord’s Prayer is “deliver us from evil” instead of “deliver us from eagles,” these children, now adults discover that everything they have ever known is a horrific lie. Gays are normal people? Transgendered people are trying to be their true selves? Women have jobs and authority? This emergence from Plato’s cave is too bright, too violent, and so we get tiki torches and marches and shootings. We get Trump as president and a child molester running for the US Senate because an old, white, male Christian child molester is better to have in the seat than some bleeding-heart, gay loving Democrat. Because “white” and “male” mean more in this country even than the safety of children, apparently.

As we enter the week where we all travel to spend time with families, there have been cries on the internet (as there are every year) to “stand up to your families” and I agree, if you have the power and the standing in your family to do it, do it, by all means. But you are not simply explaining that “xing” on street signs is short for “crossing” and not, as your conversation partner previously imagined, said like “zing!” You are attempting to unscramble years of falsehoods, fears, and hatreds. So much time of reinforced beliefs and covered up insecurities. So this year, instead of running in full speed with big words and big sticks, read this post, read this other post by Ed over at Gin and Tacos, and truly ask yourself: will this discussion help them realize their error, or am I simply repeating past patterns? Is this person going to change? Do they want to change? Can I convince them to?

If the answer is no, then you need to figure out how to just not be around that person anymore. If you must be around them at family gatherings, do not talk to them. Do not engage. If you can avoid them altogether, make the break. It is important to understand that people exist in this country that will not listen and will not change. I am ready to devote my time to those who want to change or those who have changed and need support. Sometimes, you have to leave some of the people behind in the cave to join and protect those who have left.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed back to turn more people who say “cue-pon” to the correct pronunciation “coo-pon.”

(If you aren’t familiar with my references to Plato’s cave, check out the wikipedia link below. It’s a quick intro.)

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

It’s the Holiday Season!

We are moving into the holiday season, which is notorious for stress, busy-ness, and overwhelming situations. I am reading a bunch but you’ll notice a little bit of a slow-down in the posting of reviews over the next six weeks (but not content in general!) as I encounter the following:

  1. My in-laws have requested to come to our home for Thanksgiving, the first such request from any relative in the nine years that the husband and I have been together. While we are not planning anything outside the ordinary for this food-wise, but we don’t “keep house” very well so there will be a fair amount of cleaning and organizing that will need to take place before they arrive. That’s going to take some doing. I am not looking forward to that. I am looking forward to playing hostess though, as we get very few visitors.
  2. I am finishing up the semester at USF that I signed up for but wasn’t sure I could actually pay for to continue my accounting degree. My chosen placeholder courses, Statistics I and French I, are going well, but we’re heading into finals and I want to make sure that I get the C or better in both that I need to get credit. Then I need to worry about finding the $$$ to pay for the fall before they will let me register for the spring, which to be honest I do not think is going to happen. We’ll see how things shake out.
  3. The school (teaching) semester is coming to an end and so I need to catch up on grading, lesson planning, and I need to create my semester exams for both of the classes that I teach because neither of them have a district created final. While the week of Thanksgiving will provide a welcome respite to this rat race, November 27th through December 22nd is going to be pedal to the metal and I plan to earn my two weeks of winter break.

Here’s what you can look forward to though! I am reading a lot of really good books right now, many of which are on Best of 2017 lists. I am trying my best to get them all in by the end of the year so that my Best of/Worst of 2017 lists are as complete as I can make them.

Speaking of which, you can look forward to my Top 5 and Worst 5 books of 2017 lists at the end of December. These lists usually include books I’ve read in 2017 and not necessarily only books that have been published in 2017, so you’re sure to get some variety and ideas to start your reading into 2018!

Keep an eye on my social media accounts for pics of decorating, pets, food, and holiday fun! Also holiday complaining and anger, which is just as fun! 🙂 You can follow me on all the different sites by clicking on their respective logos in the right menu bar.

Uncategorized

All About Me Monday: Another One

Some posts are difficult to write. I’ve written and restarted this post three times already, and even now I’m not sure I’ll keep this attempt. I read the work of authors like Jenny Lawson, Allie Brosch, Samantha Irby, Alana Massey, and others and think, “They are famous, people relate to them, why would they care if I feel some type of way?”

Then I return to the idea that this is my blog, this is my space, and this is my voice screaming into the void. I can say what I want to say. Maybe one person will hear me that needs to hear what I have to say.

I suffer from depression and anxiety and have suffered for a very long time. As is the case with any mental illness, the understanding of what that means is lacking across the general population, and so just the act of putting that on “paper” on a public website makes me want to clarify, educate, preempt, and explain myself. Despite this, we live in 2017, we live in the After Times, and I should not have to explain my conditions. Go look it up.

What I am willing to share is what I have been going through over the past couple of years. Usually my depression simply makes me feel numb, and when I get so numb that I get lost and can’t see the point in living, I go see a therapist and she helps set me back on the right path, and then I am clear enough to feel things again. I am not currently on any medication. So in the past year or so with all of the increased stressors that I’ve written about before, my depression decided to try something new.

Every day. Every day that I wake up, I have to convince myself to get out of bed and tackle another day. And I don’t mean that in the cute “LOL someone has a case of the MONDAYS LOL.” I mean that in the “jesus why didn’t I die in my sleep” way and I know that’s goddamn depressing but there is no other way to explain it.

But that’s not all! My usually strong and capable coping mechanisms are useless against the “if you weren’t here you wouldn’t have to worry about this” mindset. If something stresses me out, my brain actually calms me down by having me fantasize about how it would be awesome to just ~not exist~ and how that would make all the stress just melt away! I mean, I know it’s not good, and I see it happening, but I’m like a spectator watching my mind try to grapple with a lot of shit right now and anything that helps me survive is being given full sway. The method of choice right now is “imagine a world in which you don’t have to be here to handle all this shit.”

One caveat I always feel the need to include is that I am not suicidal. I don’t think about how I would kill myself or when or with what or anything. It’s more of an absence of existence and what that would be like as opposed to the actual act of suicide. I don’t want to kill myself. I just want to disappear. Float away. Slowly dissolve into the ether. And every morning that I discover that I have not done that is another morning I need to lie in bed for 30 seconds to 5 minutes giving myself positive self-talk about how I can do just one more day. Just get up and do it again. What other choice do I have?

Another one. And another one. And another one.