Angel Picks: Best Books of 2018

Welcome to the 2018 Top Ten Angel Picks! (In no particular order.) Most of the covers are clickable to read my original review, and when they are not, the links and titles are provided under the covers in the description.

Tess of the Road

Rachel Hartman did not get half the credit or attention that she deserved for this triumph of a novel. It should have been on many of the year-end fantasy lists but I felt it was overlooked. The strong female lead was one of the best I read this year and Hartman seamlessly ties the story in with her other novels set in the same universe.

Blue Sky

Marisa de los Santos should know that she can have all of my money until the end of time. This novel centered around a safe house for battered women and children and its history will teach you things and pull on your heartstrings. If you haven’t picked up any of de los Santos’ books, you are missing out on deep, wonderfully written stories.

 

Rebel of the Sands (#1)
Traitor to the Throne (#2)
Hero at the Fall (#3)

With Hero at the Fall set to release in 2018, I decided to read the first two books before it came out. Alwyn Hamilton sets up a fantastic magic system rooted in the djinni of old, terrifying monsters that crawl up into the darkness, and the need for revolution to be in the hands of the next generation. This series had the most satisfying ending of a fantasy trilogy that I have ever read, making me feel like I understood the immediate ending, and how the kingdom survived into the future. Hamilton also didn’t pull any punches when it came to the violence and loss in the midst of war and revolution, and I really appreciated the fact that she did not sugar coat it. This trilogy is a must read for anyone who loves fantasy, magic, and good villains.

The Name of the Wind

True, The Name of the Wind did not release in 2018, but I read it for the first time in 2018 and it knocked my fucking socks off so here it sits. Very few books are able to pull me so completely out of my reality and into that of the story that I forget I am reading and believe I am experiencing the realm in which the main character finds himself. I raced back to this book each day because the magic system, the struggles of the main character, and the world itself was so compelling that I couldn’t wait to know more. I do not feel the same way about book 2 (The Wise Man’s Fear) and book 3 seems a long way off, but this first book was so amazing that I feel it’s still worth it to read just on merit.

On writing

I began writing a novel this year and hope to have the first draft finished by the new year so I can post and brag about 100,000 words on paper that are all mine. 🙂 One of the very first craft books (how-to) I read on writing was Stephen King’s memoir/writing manual. His writing on writing is split here between before and after his accident with the van that hit him as he was walking down a rural Maine road. Of all the books I have read on novel writing, this is the one that has inspired me the most and that I related to most closely. Again, this book wasn’t published in 2018, but I read it for the first time in 2018 so it gets to be on the list.

Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller’s retelling of the Achilles myth from the point of view of his lover Patroclus is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever let into my brain via my eyeballs. I made multiple attempts to read the book she actually published this year (Circe – a similar myth retelling) but it was always on hold so I couldn’t keep it long enough to finish it. I sobbed at the end of this book because the powerful emotions Miller communicates will wrap themselves around your heart and refuse to let go until you finish. This book was a work of art.

The Distance Home

I received The Distance Home as an advanced reader copy at the AWP Writer’s Conference in Tampa this year. This book wrecked me by mirroring my experience as a child raised rurally. The brutal nature of masculinity and the impatience with difference all wrapped up in unreasonable expectations and embarrassment – Paula Saunders created a book that offers a window into a life that too many people in this country never see. It hurt to read, but not so much that I wouldn’t recommend it as one of the best I read.

Bright We Burn

And I Darken (#1)
Now I Rise (#2)

I waited relatively patiently for the final book in Kiersten White’s And I Darken trilogy. Along with Leigh Bardugo, I will recommend White’s books always without hesitation. This trilogy was nonstop action and intensity. The female lead, Lada, is the most terrifying female main character I have ever read, and even just writing this small blurb makes me want to go reread the trilogy so I can live vicariously through her bloodthirsty adventures. GET YOUR REVENGE, LADA. If you haven’t read this trilogy yet make it a New Year’s resolution to do so.

 

The surprise on this list is Jasmine Guillory. She came into my life late in the year when I decided to finally pick up The Wedding Date off my shelf. I bought it for myself earlier in the summer and just hadn’t gotten around to it. It was luxury, sexiness, and fun wrapped up in an enjoyable long-distance relationship, so of course I decided to pick up her next one right when it came out. The Proposal wasn’t as intense romantically as The Wedding Date, but it was just as luxurious and I would say more complex in its exploration of romance and relationships. I can’t wait to read The Wedding Party next summer!

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That concludes our broadcasting year. Thank you for being with us and we hope you’ll stay with us as we barge into 2019 with torches and guillotines.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Angel Picks: Best of 2017

It is that time of year for me to join the other major publications in giving you the books that I felt were the best for me in 2017. Last year it was just a list of books I read in 2016, not necessarily books published in 2016, but this year all of my favorites were published in the oppressive heat of The Year of Our Dumpster Fire 2017. These are in no particular order, but as I look at them they are an assortment of themes that were incredibly important to me personally this year. Each and every one of these books are reads that I would demand that you start reading them right now. HURRY. 🙂 I have linked to the original reviews below. Enjoy.

the wrong way to save your life

The Wrong Way To Save Your Life – Megan Stielstra

This book made me a better person and helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. Just go read the review, it says it all.

The Life She Was Given

The Life She Was Given – Ellen Marie Wiseman

I was all about realism in 2017 and this story did not disappoint. Historical fiction focused around the terrible truth behind the first circuses and the beautiful lives that can be made at the heart of horrible circumstances. This book does not have a happy ending, but it does have a fantastic ending. 

All Grown Up

All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg

It was a year of change for me, and not all by choice. With changing priorities and expectations, All Grown Up came along at just the right time for me to enjoy reading about a main character who felt as though she was as lost as I was. This book is an absolute triumph.

Goodbye Vitamin

Goodbye Vitamin – Rachel Khong

This is what familial relationships should be like. The kindness and love in this book was stunning. I thought it was going to be very sad but it actually renewed my hope in humanity.

 

 

And I Darken/Now I Rise – Kiersten White (Books 1 and 2 of The Conqueror’s Saga)

Recommended by my Facebook book group, I discovered And I Darken this year. I read it so quickly that I moved immediately onto Now I Rise, which was released this year. I needed to read about Lada, the spitfire main character who is determined to reclaim her homeland despite the obstacle of her gender. Her singular focus, her ferocity, and her strength inspired me in a year that lacked in hope. White is also a master wordsmith, and her historical setting for this story will keep you turning the pages until you are disappointed that there isn’t more to read. 

 

Angel Picks: Best 5 of 2016

If you are new to Angry Angel Books, welcome! If you would like to read about me you can go HERE or if you have been a reader for a while plThere are so many new things coming in 2017 and we would love for you to be a part of them.

Here are my Angel Picks from 2016. These are not ranked or in any particular order. Just the best five I read this year based on my own humble opinion, and based partially on the ratings I gave on Goodreads (I’m Angry Seraph there, if you want to connect). Please note that these books are not necessarily books written in 2016, I just happened to read them in 2016. Full reviews are linked in the titles.

homegoingHomegoing (2016), by Yaa Gyasi

The story of two sisters and their descendants on different paths through history. This is a beautiful story of what family means, what struggle is, and how to find peace. I cannot wait to read more of Yaa Gyasi’s work. Her voice is an important one.

 

shrillShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (2016), by Lindy West

Lindy West’s voice in this book provides representation and strength in a world where obesity and overweight are the norms. This book reminds us to question society’s expectations and pressures while listening to what makes you happy, no matter your weight

 

Cover Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest (2015), by J. Ryan Stradal

A journey through one woman’s influences on others and her movement towards independence from a past full of tragedy. This book is the beautifully told story of the ripples in her wake. What really stood out about this book was that it was about this woman without actually telling us what she was doing every minute.

bright-placesAll the Bright Places (2015), by Jennifer Niven

A young adult novel which explores grief and the mental struggles that young people deal with. We see two teens fall in love and experience loss. This book speaks to my need for truthful representation of real phenomenon in books, but that also made me question whether this book should be classified as YA. A powerful and beautiful story.

girl-with-giftsThe Girl With All The Gifts (2014), by M.R. Carey

This is the first book I have read in a long time that I feel offers a decent solution and future in a world of zombies. It explores “human” relationships, expands our understanding of what it means to be human, and shows how we can teach children to live in a world that exists, and not a world that has passed. All important lessons in our world today.