A Brief Break: Spring Break Edition

I wanted to let you all know that I will be taking a few days off from posting in honor of spring break. I’m not taking the entire week off next week but I am going to spend some time away from the computer and out in the sunshine so I don’t become 100% a vampire.

To let you know what you have to look forward to, here are some books I’m currently moving through. All descriptions were pulled from Goodreads.

The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

(Note: I’m reading this one because its sequel, Force of Nature, came out this year and I wanted to make sure I was caught up on the series.)

heads of the colored people

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body.

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous—from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids’ backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide—while others are devastatingly poignant—a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.

Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.

the friend

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

(Note: I do not expect to finish this one, and if I do, I expect to be covered in grief and fury.)


MacBeth by Jo Nesbo

Set in a dark, rainy northern town, Nesbo’s Macbeth pits the ambitions of a corrupt policeman against loyal colleagues, a drug-depraved underworld and the pull of childhood friendships.

Get ready to helter-skelter through the darkest tunnels of human experience.

(Note: Two sentence is all we’re given. TWO. I have to read this book. My body is ready.)


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you haven’t already check out my…

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No Book Nook: Birthday Wishes

It’s my birthday today and it’s the one day a year when I feel okay making some things about me. This year I would like to make some present requests to the universe that would make my life a lot easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Aerobics classes for out-of-shape people: I love fitness classes. Step, zumba, yoga, just basic strength training type classes – I want them all. Unfortunately I’m too heavy and out of shape to participate in them. Could we please get organized to make a club that has fun fitness classes for out of shape people? Fun music that is slower so I’m not jumping my heart rate to 220 beats per minute to keep up with Janet hopping up and over her step that’s up on 4 lifts? Someone invent this and open a studio and you can have all my money.
  2. Breakfast delivery: I would give just about anything to be able to order up an omelet on a weekend morning. “Does Dunkin’ Donuts deliver?” is a rhetorical question that I ask almost every weekend, and the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) answer is NO. Please, all you food delivery services, add these fast food places to your list. Add Denny’s. Add Village Inn. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MONEY. And I know that in other areas you can get breakfast through delivery but I can’t so don’t tell me if you can because I’ll just get jealous and mad.
  3. Massage covered by health insurance: If chiropractic is covered by insurance, massage should be too. I really should be having a visit at least once a month and I can’t remember the last time I got one and I’m really paying for it right now but I don’t want to pay how much it costs to get one. I want 12 visits a year to a masseuse covered so I can feel better.

Happy birthday to me. One more year in the dust.

death cake

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

Merry Spinster

New release 3-13-2018

Here at Angry Angel Books the question I get asked all the time is “Why are you angry? What are you angry at?” Honestly I have a lot of trouble answering this question in the moment, but really the answer is more open and generalized. I want to float in on my amazing Victoria’s Secret wings and be angry with you. I want to vent about anything you are angry about and offer to seek out vengeance with you. Nothing makes me feel more happy and powerful than commiserating with other people, complaining, and then getting angry at a common enemy. That feels so fucking good.

Tangentially I think my anger is about so many themes that are prominent right now: equality of all kinds, safety, sexual and medical freedoms. I am angry that these things don’t exist for everyone, and that anger (and to be honest, fear too) motivates me to stay focused and keep writing, specifically about how the books I am reading could help grow understanding on these issues and bring not only enjoyment but action as well.

Now let’s talk about, and to, Daniel Mallory Ortberg.

Dearest Daniel how did you write fairy tales and children’s stories in exactly the way my soul feels at this moment in history? My spirit looked exactly like the thing in the cover art as I devoured the stories of characters that GET THEIRS. You wrote how we should GO FOR IT instead of coping or dealing with it and, more importantly, MAKE THEM PAY if necessary.

This collection of rewritten stories made me feel like I could get not only what I desired, but also the revenge that I am owed. AND I AM OWED.

This is a collection of stories for adult women who want to just be ANGRY, but in a constructive way?

I’m not doing this book justice in any way. I just…I just enjoyed it. I enjoyed it like the wicked queen probably enjoyed watching Snow White fall after taking the bite out of the poisoned apple. I enjoyed it like I enjoyed watching Sam Nunberg flop about on MSNBC last week. This collection scratched an itch so deep in my soul that I felt only satisfaction at the conclusion of each story.

After a few I whispered to myself: Fuck yes.

Let this book shock you. Let this book entertain you. Let this book take you to a place where you are out for YOU and fuck everyone else.

Go get you some.

52 in 52: Attend a Conference

We’re only 10 weeks into 2018. It feels like it has been three years but here we are. This week I was able to cross number 48 off my list: attend a conference. This one’s a little long, and in retrospect I should have posted each day separately, but if you’d like to see more frequent updates and pictures you should join the Angry Angel Books Facebook group (new!).

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference was held in Tampa on March 8th, 9th, and 10th. I was able to purchase a student membership because I was still attending USF at the time, but this year I’ll need to purchase a full membership when I renew. I am glad that my first foray into this environment was here at home so I could try it out without too much financial investment, because I loved it and I want to go back.


For the most part AWP panel discussions seemed to be for students and professors involved with MFA programs in creative writing or other writing fields. Most panels seemed to be possible thesis topics or ideas to explore as a master’s student. There were readings and tributes to writers I haven’t ever heard of, and more poetry panels than I could count.

But what I found very refreshing was that every day there was at least one panel in each time slot that would speak to writers and readers that might not be on the traditional path. I attended two panels in particular that really spoke to me about my own professional aspirations and helped me to come to some conclusions.

Writing Before You Write: How to Write a Book Proposal

This session was very eye opening for me. I have no knowledge of how the agent/editor/publisher relationship works and went to other panels to get a sense for how it works, but this panel explained, in detail, how to put together a proposal to present to an agent or agents. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was almost identical to a dissertation proposal.

It can stretch from 30-80 pages depending on your book, and it includes sample chapters, chapter summaries, and an author background and plans for marketing the book which includes comparable and competitive titles (think lit review). Suffice it to say that being a new author means I will probably have to pitch with a full manuscript anyway, but knowing that I’ve already written something like this before helps me feel better about writing something like it again.

Pitching, Publishing, and Promoting Reviews: A How-To Conversation

I am so glad I went to this panel. There wasn’t much for me to do on Friday. I planned to make another round of the book fair (and I did, I got some free books and bought a few more) and go to this one panel at 4:30pm.

I was shocked. The attitude that the panelists seemed to hold toward book reviews was not quite positive and not quite negative. I think resigned is the best word, like having to do laundry or brush your teeth. We don’t want to do it but it does yield some benefits and we should do it so here we are I guess.

I learned that most lit mags ad locations don’t pay review writers (well, just in ARCs) and the bigger ones that do pay require you to have “clippings” from the smaller ones (think unpaid internships leading to better jobs (?)). And to be able to write a review about a book you have to query the lit mag as though you are submitting an essay or short story, and you might get to review a book if a current staff reviewer hadn’t claimed it first. So you have to break in even at the lowest, unpaid levels.

What was less surprising was the idea that doing book reviews was distasteful to writers because they would rather be working on their own creative work than reviewing the work of others. Also that reviewing can get unethical really quickly when authors review each other’s work in order to get good reviews out quickly (I mean, anyone with any internet savvy could have seen that one coming).

I would never have felt the urge to turn review writing into book writing if I hadn’t read so many books over the past couple of years. I feel like I have an increased respect for book reviews, and how a well-written review can be both critical and humane at the same time, helping readers to make a decision about what to pick up. I also know that some things I critiqued about other books I would want to make sure to avoid in my own book, and so the old adage of  learning from the mistakes of others can really come in handy when you’re reviewing and reading a lot.


The bookfair was overwhelming to me until I taught myself about what was going on. There seemed to be 4 main categories of tables and booths: small press, university press, lit mags, and well-known publishers The well-known publishers were more up my alley because they had ARCs, either for free or through some kind of buy one, get one arrangement.

The university and lit mag tables were a mystery to me until I came to understand that they are where you can get small pieces published, and they are all fair game. Once I learned that I decided that this summer one of my projects will be to go through the AWP program and see which mags match my style and plan to submit to them this fall and next spring. The only way to learn the process is to read, write, and try.

The small presses had some really interesting books, and I bought a few. While I do want to try to get my book published by a bigger press, some of the smaller ones had very well-known books that I have read and enjoyed, and so it would be irresponsible to overlook them altogether. All I know right now for sure is that I do not want to self-publish. Everything else is kind of in the grey area and as I learn, write, and read more I’ll learn more about where I fit in the publishing world.


I am not the best at networking, and the fact that I am not an MFA student or professor set me apart more than I might be usually by nature. I am a tiny seed that is ready to grow, but tiny nonetheless. I felt like a little mouse skittering around, listening in on people that were much bigger than me so I could learn how to be big too.

There were two people that I got to see that made going so much brighter.

I was walking around the book fair just checking things out when I stopped at a little vendor table that was selling tote bags and funny posters about yoga, when I looked up and saw Eve Ewing. I am not sorry to say that I embarrassed myself right in the middle of that expo hall with a screech and several OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGs. She was very generous and took a selfie with me and then I walked away on a cloud.


Read my review of her poetry collection Electric Arches.

The biggest meets of the conference for me were Megan Stielstra and Samantha Irby. Sam wasn’t able to make it, but I knew that Megan was on a panel about how fear plays a role in our careers on Saturday and so I planned to go. Nothing could have prepared me for how powerful this panel would be. I didn’t sort it with the panels up above because it was an immersive experience. It was a gathering. It was one of the safest spaces in which I have ever sat.

So when I approached the panel table after the talk and got a HUGE hug from Megan, she said “You did it! Let’s meet outside because we have to take a selfie and we should talk in a quieter environment.”

So we did.


Read my review of Megan’s book The Wrong Way to Save Your Life.

As a writer you never know how what you write will affect those who read. I hope Megan, Eve, and all writers I write about here understand that they have all influenced me to expand and explore my own writing career. And of course, I will never stop reading.


This week is my birthday! So I’ll probably manicure or pedicure on the way home from work one of the days, but I’m not sure yet.

Can you find all the puppers?

An American Marriage

An American Marriage

New release 2-6-18

I put this ebook on hold at the library on February 5th and I just got access on the 28th so I was very excited get started on it. I only had 14 days of access so starting right away was very important.

I wrote a very critical review of The Hate U Give last year. This book has been on the NYT bestseller list forever and has received critical acclaim from reviewers and casual readers alike. I think there is a movie or tv show in the works too. This is all fabulous for Angie Thomas. My two critiques of the book boiled down to (1) this is too much stuff to cram into one girl’s experience and still accept it as realistic and (2) it was too obvious when Thomas made her characters sidebar out of the action to “learn you” on something that was important in black life in America. So while her message is important and informational, the delivery of that message left much to be desired, at least to an adult who likes to stay informed.

Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is everything I wanted The Hate U Give to be and more, which probably speaks to the expected reader level of THUG versus An American Marriage more than anything. Jones explores most of the same themes, but couches them in a realistic, devastating scenario, and challenges you to understand all of the points of view and motivations of all the characters at once.

A man is wrongly convicted of rape and imprisoned only a year and a half into his marriage, and is kept in prison for almost 5 years before his conviction is overturned and he is released. That’s the core that the entire story is woven around. We learn about black relationships: romantic ones, familial ones, friendships, and racial bonds. What is a father? What is a wife? What is fidelity? When is being true to yourself at once both a betrayal of your promise to another person but also the right thing to do?

It is almost impossible for me to write this review. The story is compelling, smart, terrifying, and infuriating in turns, and it is next to impossible to choose a side. Everyone should get what they want but if they do then everyone also loses, but in losing they win the power to move forward? GOD THIS BOOK IS SO INTRICATE AND COMPLICATED. It is a perfect representation of the complications faced by black Americans every day.

Jones has allowed us a window into the anxiety that is simply existing as black in America, and if you don’t understand what that’s all about, especially in the American South, you should go read this book immediately and ask yourself how you could possibly navigate the existence of any of these people and not come out on the other side irreversibly damaged in some way. And perhaps more importantly, after you’ve imagined this, do more than just use the damage of black lives as entertainment and find a way to do your part to move our country in a direction where these injustices no longer happen.

Holy shit this book was so good and so important to read. Go get you some.

No Book Nook: Make a Joyful Noise

I had to stop in here and drop a note about Sam Nunberg. I don’t usually talk about specific political people but watching this man make the rounds on my usual afternoon/evening news shows brought me so much joy that I had to share.

Seeing him lose his marbles, first over the phone then in studio on MSNBC shocked me, but in the way that coming home to find a surprise party and tons of balloons would shock me. How desperate must ol’ Sam had to have been to put on that kind of show? I admit that by the end of his discussion on The Beat with Ari Melber (6pm on MSNBC) I felt a teensy bit worried about the guy because he was thrashing about defensively like a rabbit caught in a snare.

I am not sorry about the giddiness I felt watching him squirm. I want each and every single one of these people to squirm, and apparently I want to watch it happen because it is in the afternoon on Tuesday and I am still riding on the happiness high I hit last night watching him on tv.

It felt so good to see these horrible people who have brought about The After Times start to crack and crumble, even if it was just a low level campaign staffer. Sure it’s slow going, but as long as I get something like this every couple of months, I can be patient. Lady Justice is coming, and I believe she’s the woman for this job.

Just please, let me watch.



New Release 3-6-18

Happiness by Aminatta Forna as provided to me by Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press via NetGalley and Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that I suspected I would like, and then come to find out that it just wasn’t what I expected. I requested Happiness as an ARC because its descriptions on all the “most anticipated books of 2018” lists made it sound like a deep, enthralling novel.

I loved the descriptions in Forna’s writing. Her setting and characters are so vividly described that I have no trouble picturing them. I can taste the food, see the parakeets fluttering, hear the foxes and rabbits crying and screaming. Her writing is gorgeous and should be converted to an oil painting to be displayed for all to see.

Unfortunately this is one of those books where I gave myself until 30% on the Kindle, and then gave myself permission to give up. The writing and language could not save the fact that I did not care about what was happening. I am certain that if I had continued to read everything and everyone that was involved with whatever it was that was happening in the city of London in this book would have been brought together in a grand finish that displays the puzzle in a bright light, allowing you to finally see how all the pieces connect, how all the players mattered to the central idea.

The problem is that I read to escape. I read to be strung along, to be fed at least a few breadcrumbs along the way to make me curious to read more. You can bore me in the first 30% but if you give me just enough to make me wonder, then you’ll hook me for at least another 20%, and by then I’ll know for sure if I’ll finish or set your story aside.

I am not interested in Attila, the Ghanaian native whose ex(?) is in a home in London due to early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not interested in Jean, the scientist studying the behaviors of urban foxes and creating wild rooftop spaces for landlords in London. I don’t understand why it’s important that these two people have found each other and by the time you throw in that Attila’s niece and her son have been apprehended by immigration authorities and her son becomes lost and they go to find him…I don’t know, man, I just don’t care. There isn’t enough connective tissue here, it just feels like someone is throwing story ideas at a wall to see what sticks.

By 30-50% I should have an idea of the characters, what their individual purposes are, how they relate to one another, and what the overarching goal of the plot line seems to be. By 30% I should be at cruising altitude and about to be offered a drink from the cart. I shouldn’t be wondering if I’m on the wrong plane, or where my seat is, or why I’m on this trip at all.

So while the writing was spectacularly descriptive and enjoyable in its own right, the journey was not clear enough to hook me into the rest of the book. You might try it to see if it’s more your cup of tea, but for me it’s a not so much. Sorry.