They Say It’s Your Birthday (Pandemic Edition)

Hello there.

It’s my birthday today. Thirty-seven years of age and what a time to be alive.

For the first time I don’t really want anything for my birthday. The husband got me some things that he had planned to get for Christmas but at the time we didn’t have the money to get them. I even signed up to proctor an SAT this morning for some extra money. At most I want a Moe’s burrito for lunch and to fall asleep in my chair in the middle of playing video games. I’m tired. What I want for my birthday is money and sleep – proctoring the SAT got me the first and only I can make the second happen. This wish brought to you by Zzzquil.

If you are a follower who would like to help me celebrate (which you do not have to) you can buy me a coffee through Ko-Fi (Ko-fi.com/angryangelbooks) or at paypal.me/AngryAngelBooks. At the very least do something you enjoy today and send some good vibes my way. Anything is appreciated.

Our school system is on spring break this week, and has also opted to close the following week due to the current pandemic. If there is any silver lining to this situation it is that I will have a lot more time to read and provide you with more quality reviews. I’m currently reading The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal of Kitchens of the Great Midwest fame. I’m about halfway through so the review should be up shortly. 

Angry Angel Books favorite Samantha Irby is releasing her next collection of essays Wow, No Thank You on March 31st. Her two prior releases: Meaty (which I have never reviewed for some reason?) and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life are amazing and I expect nothing less from this one. Preorder now wherever you get your books normally and have a book to make you laugh while you are distanced socially. It’s coming to me on release day and I can’t wait.

Stay safe out there, angels. Wash those hands and take care of your neighbors. It’s about to be a bit of a bumpy ride.

 

 

Millennial Book Club

I was bored one night earlier this month and decided to scroll through the local library’s event calendar to see if there was anything that was interesting coming up. Besides the usual Friends of the Library Book Sale most of my branch’s events happen during the day for old people and stay-at-home moms with toddlers. I want to play Canasta too, Carol, how about some stuff at 5pm instead of noon, huh?

Then I found something labeled “Millennial Book Club” and clicked into the description. It hadn’t started meeting yet, and it was billed as only for millennials. They even linked to the Pew Research Center to be clear about who was allowed. I was immediately hooked and had to go. I put it on my wall calendar and my Google calendar and every day I said out loud “I am doing this book club” because I am notorious for planning to do something and then the literal day of I flake because I am a millennial.

I did not read the description closely enough and assumed it would be held at the library, but when I checked the event to make sure, I saw it was being held at a local brewery. Oh my god how much more stereotypical and hipster could we be? There would be food trucks, goddamn. Should I wear my fedora and provide avocado toast for everyone? I have never eaten food from a food truck, I do not drink beer, and worrying about not even fitting in with people from my own generation I began to think about not going.

The day came and with encouragement from the husband, I decided what the heck, I would at least go and see what I thought. There probably wouldn’t be that many people there on a Thursday night at 7pm anyway. Boy, was I wrong. I showed up and there were about 10 people already there and waiting, and more were showing up as I walked in. We were sat outside on a large picnic table that was labeled with a poster that screamed Millennial Book Club! The librarians (also millennials) were barely containing their excitement at how many people came – apparently their fellow librarians didn’t think people our age would show up either.

I sat for a while listening to everyone talk. There were a few singletons like me, but others came in friend groups of two or three. Most were in nursing or management and a few were even stay-at-home moms which surprised me. Eventually I went and got a glass of Moscato (thank goodness they had wine), and then we started talking about the books we would vote on.

The Bear and the Nightingale (Fantasy)
10% Happier (Non-Fiction/Memoir)
A Man Called Ove (PopLit)
The Green Mile (Horror)
The Alchemist (I think? – PopLit)

I wished with all my might that the non-fiction wouldn’t be the one chosen, but I also understood that my reading habits aren’t the norm. Self-help and popular fiction are what people read. I also hoped that A Man Called Ove wouldn’t be picked either; I’ve tried and failed to read that book several times because my emotions have me ugly crying by page 40 and I can’t get past it. I would have been okay with the fantasy, The Green Mile (I’ve seen the movie but not read the book) or the other one.

More than half of the group voted for the non-fiction. I’m nothing if not a team player, so I dutifully stood and collected my copy, and then retired for the evening. Honestly I’m just proud of myself for getting out of my routine and trying something different. I’ll be reading it chapter by chapter over the course of the next month, and I’ll post my reactions and review on February 20th, the date of our next meeting.

10 Percent Happier

Goodreads Synopsis: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18505796-10-happier
Dan Harris Books: https://www.tenpercent.com/dan-harris-books (There is a podcast, newsletter, mobile app, and other resources.)

2020 Vision

Hello dear readers. As we enter a new decade of this interminable age, where every year is five years long and all we can ask is how it could possibly get worse, and then gape at the events that prove that it can, I think it’s important to remember that all we can do is live our lives and do the best we can.

Despite the fact that blogging is essentially dead and everyone has either a podcast or a tinyletter (newsletter) now, I’m going to keep plugging away here at Angry Angel Books. I tried a podcast and it wasn’t in my wheelhouse, and I don’t have enough to say to make a newsletter worthwhile. When I finish a book, I’ll write about it here, and if you’ve subscribed or followed me, you’ll be the first to know.

I am not on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I left all social media platforms last year and only Goodreads remains, if you can call that a social media platform. Dropping my memberships around the internet has vastly improved my mental health, and while I do miss Twitter sometimes, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Following my posts takes a little extra effort because of these decisions, and I’m sorry about that, but I don’t make any money doing this so I have to put my own health over reader convenience.

I don’t really have any resolutions for this year. If I had to make one or express something I want to achieve this year it would be to complete the next draft of the novel I’ve been working on. I’m also going to try a book club at my local library that is apparently for millennials only, so we’ll see if that pans out. I don’t really have any in-person friends that aren’t from work so maybe this is a way I could make some? Can’t hurt to try and I can leave whenever.

Upcoming reviews include Godsgrave (Nevernight #2) by Jay Kristoff and Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas. I’m speeding through the Kristoff but honestly Maas’ writing has become absolutely unreadable so it’s probably going to take me a while to get through the NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FOUR pages of the end of this series.

Due to the stalkerish nature of my family and the students I teach, I won’t be making any more personal or opinion posts. I’m tired of having those used as weapons against me in parent teacher conferences and my anxiety can’t take another principal conversation in which I am told I cannot talk about this or that because reasons – Won’t someone think of the CHILDREN?!?! I could lock that kind of stuff behind a subscription newsletter, but nothing is stopping those same people from subscribing to that too – it’s just easier to save it for my google doc that serves as a diary/journal.

Welcome to 2020. Thanks for sticking around. Let’s keep reading.

What’s Up, Buttercup?

Hello lovelies. I am well aware that it has been awhile.

In early July I was caught by the video game fever and spent almost the entire month (1) catching up on Destiny 2: Forsaken and (2) falling irreparably behind on my Goodreads challenge goal. I’m pretty sure there were like two weeks in there when I didn’t read at all, and honestly is was a nice break.

Then I started rereading the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I’m on book 3 now (Heir of Fire) and working my way through to Kingdom of Ash, which I still haven’t read. Once I’m done with that I’m going to reread Nevernight so that I can read Godsgrave followed immediately by the signed copy of Darkdawn which is on its way to me from the U.K. Waterstones store.

Also waiting for me on my shelf is The Priory of the Orange Tree, that massive tome that makes me feel guilty every time I bypass it for something else. I have an entire shelf for books I haven’t read yet, and I’ve managed to prevent myself from taking more books out of the library to make time to read those books instead. Right now I have so little time that I can’t really deal with library due dates anyway.

My book is 25% into its second draft and really starting to take shape. I’m finding the new Save the Cat! Writes a Novel very helpful in structuring the different acts of my story. It was also validating to find that I was already doing most of it anyway just by virtue of having read so much and gotten a feel for the flow of a story.

If you’ve been following the news you know that we avoided Hurricane Dorian, but we’re watching a few others on the horizon. We’re better prepared this time with a generator, a battery powered radio, more savings, and a store of foodstuffs, so the clusterf&%k that happened in 2017 hopefully won’t happen again.

I should have a few review posts up as I get to the new (“new”) books in my reading schedule, but with the school year on again they’ll be up when they’re up. Thanks for reading!

Double-U Double-U Review

If you caught my summer preview post you probably picked up that one of my downtime goals is to lose some weight, not to be skinny or pretty or anything, but to be more comfortable traveling and sight-seeing. I decided to take advantage of a deal and try Weight Watchers, which is for some reason calling themselves “WW” in an attempt to rebrand themselves as a lifestyle as opposed to a weight loss plan. I’m not joking, I had to call into customer service about an app problem, and the agent said “thank you for calling double-u double-u” like I didn’t know I was calling fucking WEIGHT WATCHERS, but that’s only part of the story.

I’ve been using the plan for about a month and a half, and while I have been able to lose about 5 pounds, I’ve discovered some issues that might be something you would want to know about if you were considering some help in this kind of endeavor.

The basic idea of WW is the same as it’s always been: you get a set of daily points based on your gender, current weight, age, and a few other attributes. In addition to these points that reset daily, you get a set of weekly points that give you a little wiggle room on the daily or help with eating out or splurging that would take you way beyond your daily allotment. If you exercise you can also earn FitPoints, which you can choose to use to bolster your balance, or avoid using altogether to help boost your weight loss.

These were in place when I used the program in 2006 to lose almost 50 pounds. What was nice then was that it was relatively easy to gauge how many points an item was worth. The general rule of thumb was that 50 calories roughly worth 1 point, with higher fiber or protein values bringing the point value down, while higher fat values increased the average. Plus there were guidelines about what you should eat: dairy, servings of fruits and veggies, a basic amount of water, and you could check these off and work them into your day.

I have watched the plans slowly change over the years. First everything you ate had a point value that you had to track. Then fruits and veggies became zero points, and how your daily points were calculated changed. Then what a point meant changed, requiring the purchase of a point calculator or you could use the app/website. And then Oprah came on the scene, talking about how much she loved bread and cauliflower pizza dough and the plan changed yet again to include about 200 zero point foods, expanded to include fruits, veggies, seafood, boneless skinless chicken breast, 99% fat free ground turkey/chicken, and eggs.

At first I was kind of excited by the large number of things I could eat that I didn’t necessarily have to track. But something about it nagged at the back of my mind – how could we just call these things zero points when they have nutritional value and calorie content? So I started using the plan and discovered a few things very quickly.

First, this plan bases point values on saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Calories aren’t even used, nor is fiber. At first this made sense to me given the current research on sugar consumption and trans/saturated fats. What didn’t make sense to me was how 230 calories of M&Ms could equal 12 points, 30% of my daily allotment. I know none of this is an exact science but gosh that’s…that’s aggressive. The commercials love to say that it’s such a flexible plan, you can eat anything! Which I guess is true, you COULD eat M&Ms, but the point structure sure as shit is gonna scare you away from doing that.

Which leads me to my second point: ALL IS EGGS. Holy shit, every WW recipe, community recommendation, whatever uses 9782347263847239 eggs. I am convinced that anything you could ever do with eggs has been discovered by current WW members trying to stretch their points as far as they can go. And the pictures of these recipes – god it looks like an eggplant shat out a terrible skillet scrambler in the most terrible nightmare diner. “Look at this amazing meal, and so tasty!” Bullshit Carol.

And third. You think Facebook or Instagram is a nightmare? Well then come on over to the “Connect” section of the WW app or website. WOW. If it isn’t people posting side by sides with the after picture filtered so hard that Barbies (holy unrealistic skinny waist batman) and anime characters (HUGE EYES WOW) would be jealous, it’s men paying to use the app to pick up chicks or EVERYONE IS CHRISTIAN AND PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER PRAISE JEEBUS. I have seen more juuuuuust almost naked pictures of people than I ever saw anywhere else, especially dudes leaving their junk just out of view. It’s a festering pit of everything weight loss/lifestyle changing shouldn’t be, but exists in WW.

So this week I started using the free app MyFitnessPal alongside WW to see how they compare. The thing I like about MFP is that you can set different nutritional goals. Does your doctor think you need more protein? You can set that daily value and track towards it. Need to lower your sodium intake for blood pressure or other reasons? You can set that limit too. It takes the weird point calculation system, simplifies it, and makes it very individualized. And it tracks with Fitbit, which is a plus for me.

My reasoning for losing this weight is not to get super skinny, but to be in better shape and be more comfortable in a plane seat. I said at the beginning that I wasn’t going to compromise my happiness or foods I enjoy to reach this goal, I was going to exercise more to help bridge the gap and just eat smaller portions. Only a month and a half on WW made me feel like I was in an egg cult that was slowly brainwashing me away from bread and cheese. That’s not the goal here. So I think I’m going to call it on the WW experiment and stick just to MFP. I shouldn’t have to pay $13 a month for something I can get for free that’s more about what my body needs.

Don’t get me wrong, Weight Watchers used to work for me. I felt like I could eat what I wanted and I learned how to balance things I needed to eat with things I wanted to eat. I honestly don’t think the program is that kind of positive force anymore. If I were you, I would find a doctor you trust, a nutritionist that’s more about health than skinny, and an app you don’t have to pay to use before you try to become baptized by the egg masters. Skip WW, it’s not worth it.

It’s Gonna Be June

With only 3 school days remaining in this year (and a half day for teachers only to check out) it’s time to wind down and think about what is upcoming in the summer of 2019. Getting through these last days is somehow both easy and difficult, and thinking about what there is to look forward to helps to pass the time.

This summer is a frugal summer with a trip to Paris on the horizon as well as efforts to save up a house down payment. There are no plans to go anywhere or do anything outside of visiting the in-laws and going to the beach. Activities to keep boredom away will include ZooTampa, a local Ethiopian restaurant, the Dali Museum, and probably a few sessions of bowling. The backyard pool and patio are also going to get more use this year, having been cleaned from top to bottom and decorated with lights.

The nearest branch of the county library system offers reservable study room space to library patrons. Rooms can be reserved up to six days in advance for up to two hours per session. This is where the majority of the novel will be revised and rewritten this summer, away from the distractions of home. Monday through Friday reservations should allow for significant progress on a schedule so that the end of summer can bring an end to this round of revisions and yield a more finished product.

A combination of Weight Watchers (WW) and daily gym visits will hopefully result in some weight loss and increased strength and endurance. Interval training with the intent to return to running on a regular basis is one of the goals of this process. Another is fitting in an airplane seat without discomfort and walking around Paris without being exhausted.

Books I’ll be reading this summer:

Library Reads

Digital ARCs via NetGalley

Stuff I Own

 

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. 🙂