Angel Leya

Author, Blogger, Dreamer

Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #1)

Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #1) - Monica Leonelle I have to say, Monica's nonfiction voice is very engaging. For someone who tends to steer away from nonfiction books because she'd rather be reading fiction, this is huge.

Write Better, Faster is an amazing bit of information and inspiration to help you find the techniques that will help you do just as the title suggests. As an author, I know how important it is to get new works out quickly, especially if you want to appease the search engine gods, attract the attention of readers, and *fingers crossed* make any sort of living writing. You hear stories of people slaving away at a single book for decades. I, myself, took three years to write my first book, and another three to write my second.

I've been looking at plotting to help speed that process and avoid missteps (for which I've also found her book [b:Nail Your Story: Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted|27157611|Nail Your Story Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted (Growth Hacking For Storytellers, #2)|Monica Leonelle||47196785] to be incredibly helpful - again, that voice), but this book takes that one step further. Instead of just plotting and planning, her means of keeping metrics on your writing, testing different times of day and even keeping stock of your emotional state are sure to help you optimize your writing speed. I mean, seriously, at about 2000 words per hour, you could write a book in a month, no problem. (She actually talks about topping out around 4,000 words per hour, but recognizes that it's not exactly sustainable, though quite helpful for meeting deadlines).

All this to say, wow! Read the book. It will inspire you and give you incredible direction to help you increase your writing speed. Because you're not a writer if you're not writing, and you won't make a living if you don't publish, and the more books, the better. And really, how else are you going to get all those amazing stories out of your head? I know I'm backlogged. :)

Digital Freedom: How Millions Are Carving Out a Dependable Living Online, and How YOU Can Too

Digital Freedom: How Millions Are Carving Out a Dependable Living Online, and How YOU Can Too - Hung Pham, Matt Stone A bit rambly, but there's a lot of great information on what kinds of things you can do online to make money. He's pretty thorough, with a lot of insider information (like doing a service is a lot more taxing than some of the other methods he mentions). Definitely worth a read if you're looking for your own slice of digital freedom.

The Mermaid's Sister

The Mermaid's Sister - Carrie Anne Noble A sweet tale about a girl whose sister (by adopted mother and not by blood) is a mermaid. Maren is growing scales and fins, and as much as Clara wishes for it to stop, it won't. Their almost brother, O'Neill is away with his caretaker, but longs to come and fix Maren so they can all live happily ever after. But fate delays his return, and a chance encounter at a traveling show brings the first tendrils of fear. Clara, O'Neill and Maren must set out alone if they hope to bring Maren to the ocean before she shrinks into nonexistence, but can Clara's heart handle watching O'Neill, the man she loves, care for Maren, the sister she dreads to lose? A chance encounter with the traveling show also complicates the matter.

This story is rather sweet in many ways. The bonds formed by the three are adorable, and the dynamics with Clara and Maren's jealousy over O'Neill keeps the story moving along. The text is well written, which is also enjoyable, and there are some neat little surprises that hint at the depth of magic in the world they inhabit.

There were a few things that I didn't enjoy, however. The first third of the book is wistful to the point of whining, and it drags on for far too long as they delay and delay and delay taking Maren to the ocean. The traveling show plays a rather sinister role in the whole thing, but I have to say that I found their characters less than compelling. The blind devotion to Dr. Phipps, head of the family, and the actions of his son, Jasper, just seemed to lack rationale and reason. Now, it could be due to the wonky potions they're selling, but for the whole family to be as they are was a bit off-putting. It takes the better part of the novel for Clara to get her butt into gear, and she's constantly comparing herself to her beautiful, main attraction sister. And there are several things that seem to hint at Clara having some sort of magical presence, herself, but the final revelation is less than satisfactory, given some of the evidence. And as Maren changes, Clara is constantly referring to her voice (even as it's almost gone) as sounding like some sort of ocean thing. Cute the first few times, but it got to be a bit too much. Thankfully, Maren falls silent, so that stops. :P

Despite all that, the short chapters and delightful descriptions keep this story moving along. If you can make it past the first half, the second half is much more enjoyable.

If you enjoy mermaid stories, you might also enjoy [b:Shearwater|28628533|Shearwater (Ocean Depths #1)|D.S. Murphy||48806820] and [b:Skye's Lure: A Contemporary Fantasy Romance Mermaid eBook|31692319|Skye's Lure A Contemporary Fantasy Romance Mermaid eBook|Angel Leya||47863623].

The Last Descendant

The Last Descendant - Megan Haskell Rie is a changeling - a human adopted by elven parents, though she enjoys little of the culture she's a part of. That's because humans are lower than low in the Upper Realm. So when her courier duty is interrupted by an assassination, it seems her only option is to travel to the Shadow Realm to find out who is behind the attempt on her life if she has any hope of saving it.

The action in this is great. Rie is strong and powerful, but thinks little of herself (though not so little as to be annoying, most of the time). She makes friends with a vampire (blood sidhe) and the half-blood dark prince along the way, and they help her navigate the shadow realm.

I do, however, have one complaint. The vampire is a compelling character until the dark prince takes over, and suddenly the vampire's role is a little less secure, and ultimately a bit baffling. And though promising to help her fit in, you never see him teach her how to accomplish that (and really, besides her wardrobe, there's little that changes about how she behaves in order to fit in).

But overall, a thoroughly enjoyable tale, and one I hope to follow through the series as time and means allow me.

Content That Converts: How to Build a Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Content That Converts: How to Build a Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy - Laura Hanly Wow! This book is jam packed with incredible information. Yes, they are speaking most directly to B2B (Business to Business) companies, but there is plenty of useful information for anyone looking to make money online. It's so packed with good information, that I made notes on my Kindle to go back over stuff. I'll be reviewing those soon, and reinforcing what I've learned to maximize the benefits of the knowledge I gleaned. There's just no other way to do it. I'm very excited to put this stuff to use and watch my businesses grow.

How to Make Money From Blogging: Start A Profitable Blog and Replace Your Day Job (Blogging for Profit Book 1)

How to Make Money From Blogging: Start A Profitable Blog and Replace Your Day Job (Blogging for Profit Book 1) - Liam Price This read a lot like computer generated content. It's kind of dry and general and has a certain way of wording that just feels canned.

That being said, the information is decent, and it's all in one place instead of having to scour the internet for "everything" you need to know about blogging. Not bad for someone starting out, but definitely not for anyone who has any experience with blogging.

Jaeth's Eye

Jaeth's Eye - K.S. Villoso Okay, wow!

Jaeth's Eye is about a bunch of people in a turbulent world with some supernatural/magical things that are threatening to undo everyone.

Let me try that again.

This book is about Kefier as he struggles to reconcile his past and find his way in life. Or it's about Sume's struggle to care for her family and the sacrifices she makes to achieve that goal. Or maybe it's about Ylir, a man with something to prove to his master and everyone else he's so desperate to manipulate.

The thing is, there's no clear hero in this story. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind this, but there were so many jumps, and the point of view character wasn't always readily apparent - sometimes you just had to guess based on the info. Which got a bit irritating.

The other problem I had with the story was all the cliffhangers and missing information. I'm still not certain how Kefier's partner, Oji, died. I have some idea, but it's not entirely clear. Which may be because there's more story to tell. But by about halfway through the book and the numerous cliffhangers with no idea where the book was going or how it would get there, I got frustrated.

Those nits aside, the world the author created is phenomenal. It's so well thought-out, it could be another planet or an alternate history. There are people and their different gods and customs and speech and rivalries. And the story - what of it I could gather - was rather entrancing. I bled for those characters, so broken, each with their own misery to tell and their own paths to forge.

And some of the reveals were out of this world. The story is so drip-fed, that I didn't make many of the connections that the end pointed out.

So if you like experimental narratives, fully formed worlds that will transport you, and a steady stream of cliff-hangers (or some might call it intrigue), then pick up Jaeth's Eye. :)

A Mortal Song

A Mortal Song - Megan Crewe Love, love, love this book!

Sora is a Kami, one of the spiritual beings (able to turn solid or invisible and able to manipulate ki energy) living on Mt. Fuji, or so she thought. On her 17th birthday, there's an attack on the mountain, which sends Sora and her bodyguard, Takeo, fleeing to find a way to save the Kami. Their quest takes them to Tokyo, and reveals a long-kept secret: Sora is not Kami. She was traded at birth to keep the true Kami princess safe, meaning she has an emotional struggle as she meets the girl who will take her place and save the world, and the parents who gave her up for this to happen. The danger looms ever stronger as the days approach Obon, and the ghosts and demons who took over the mountain come closer to their insidious goal.

There is almost non-stop adventure, an adorable and heart-wrenching romance, and heart-stopping danger around every corner. The fantasy elements in this are gorgeous. The only complaint I have about the book is that it had an end, but the story still lives on in my mind. This one is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to anyone looking for an engaging, thrilling, beautiful, un-put-downable book!

HOW I SOLD 80,000 BOOKS: Book Marketing for Authors

HOW I SOLD 80,000 BOOKS: Book Marketing for Authors - Alinka Rutkowska A great resource that points out a lot of things. I found two things a bit frustrating

1) She talks about how she sold Children's books. Not a problem, so much as it seems like it should have been mentioned in the description or something. The principles can be applied to other categories and genres, but it would have been nice to see some info comparing her children's books and adult books so the reader could see her use those principles on a wider range.

2) There are some subjects she mentions but just breezes over. I imagine it's because she's trying to get the reader to buy more information from her. She has a course on using Goodreads and her author remake course, which go into these things in more detail. It's fine, but it kind of gives more of an impression of an overview of what she's done, rather than a tell-all of how you can do it, too.

Overall, I think the information is helpful, it just wasn't as thorough as I had anticipated.

Glimpse: A New World

Glimpse: A New World - HJ Lawson, Amos Cassidy, Andy Graham, Michael Anderle, Sarah Dalton, Mixi J Applebottom, Holly Barbo, Francelia Belton, David R. Bernstein, Amos Cassidy, M.C.Cerny, Sarah Dalton, Vered Ehsani, J.L. Hendricks, Jade Kerrion, HJLawson, R. A. Marshall, TJ Muir, CM Niles, Robert As an anthology, of course it's a mixed bag. There were some stories I really enjoyed, while others I wasn't so enthusiastic about. I'll mention the best here, but other readers may find their preferences lean elsewhere. Being that the anthology is free, though, it's worth risking wading through the stories you don't enjoy to find the gems you do.

These ones were excellent (5 stars, really!):
--Found by [a:C.B. Stone|9816410|C.B. Stone|] - This is an intriguing dystopian about Miriam, a girl on a base with nothing better to do than break the rules, and she finds a room full of banned material that calls her name.
--A Moment in the End by [a:David R. Bernstein|15615628|David R. Bernstein|] - A dystopian/sci-fi about a girl named Leeyah (great name :D ) with the ability to "push" thoughts and attitudes on others. She's part of a large corporation with secret assignments to help improve the positioning of the company. And of course, the company is taking care of her and her family, so it's worth it, right?
--Rebels and Thieves: A White Hart Story by [a:Sarah Dalton|4720363|Sarah Dalton|] - This is a fantasy about Mae, a girl with a power she keeps hidden, and her and her father's struggle with a group of ruffians who have a keen eye on the white stag that chose Mae and her father.

Also enjoyable:
The Call of the Sea by [a:Ashley Stryker|13001280|Ashley Stryker|]
Defender of Mankind by [a:H.J. Lawson|8396176|H.J. Lawson|]
No Accidents by [a:W. Bradford Swift|9829238|W. Bradford Swift|]
An Altercation in Rykkamon by [a:Robert Scanlon|7232090|Robert Scanlon|]

Overall, I enjoyed the collection, though some stories I didn't connect with the voice or content.


Weregirl - C. D. Bell I received an ARC for free, in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to this book to be a 5-star book so bad. I thought it would be. It has a lot of great stuff. Between the werewolf and intrigue and the smooth reading that kept me racing through the pages, I was so certain it would be at least 4 stars. So what happened?

The first problem that started unraveling everything for me was the ending. Granted, the romance was a minor plot point, but when it fell so flat, it just seemed to zap the energy from the whole story. The problems kind of worked their way backward from there. In order to really address my issues, I'll have to get into specifics, which may spoil it for some.

Nessa meets a gray wolf. It's apparent from the beginning that he's also a werewolf. Chayton even tells us he's a werewolf. But Nessa never seems to get that. She's always treating him as if he's a wolf (what will he think when he sees a girl come out of where the wolf used to be?). This got annoying, especially as the author dropped hints as to whole the gray wolf was, and Nessa (literally) ran in the other direction. Even at the end of the book, faced with nearly indisputable proof that she knows the gray wolf's human form and that she may be in love with him, I'm not sure Nessa has any clue who he is. I mean, come on!

It also seems to me that at the end she's in more danger than she was when she started. Despite resolving the immediate conflict, the giant company has video of her transforming, they have her blood sample, and she's in possession of papers that would prevent her from suing the big company (I'm not sure if she signed them, but that seemed like a huge setup with no resolution). I know authors want to leave room for the next story, but either set it up or don't. Don't just leave us hanging! This was a bit too much for me.

Chayton. Super interesting character, only made a few appearances, and despite the fact that she was majorly attracted to him (he's too old for her anyway), he ends up being kind of a dud of a character. He's not really the mentor or the friend or the guide, because he obviously knew things and was keeping them from her, telling her she needed to figure everything out for herself. Seriously, she's a sixteen-year-old (I think) going into super dangerous territory with genetically engineered, aggressive wolves, a company with no conscience, and wolf body she's not entirely comfortable with. Does he WANT her to die? Annoying, but not enough to demerit the book on it's own.

Bree does a lot of the heavy lifting in this book. I know Nessa is kind of put out by the whole werewolf transformation stuff and trying to keep her life on course, but seriously.

Most of the complaints are relatively minor, but they all add up to a bit of disappointment, and an ending that doesn't satisfy is the hardest for me to get over. Seriously, this could have been a four or five star book if the romance angle had panned out properly. That ending really took Nessa's perceived IQ down a few notches. Ugh. So unfortunate.

The good news is I think the author is an excellent writer, and I'd be interested in reading future books. Those nits can be worked out, and the more you write, the more you learn, so future books should be stellar. *fingers crossed*

Dragon's Trail (The Outworlders Book 1)

Dragon's Trail (The Outworlders Book 1) - Joseph Malik A thoroughly entertaining read!

Once a near celebrity between his skills in fencing competitions and the starlet he was dating, Jarrod's involvement in a duel left another man dead and his life in ruins. So when a sorcerer from another world drags Jarrod home with him and offers him and his friend jobs in their war, it's a bit of a dream come true.

This other world is beautiful, with it's different moons, mythical creatures, and medieval type society (with remarkably better hygiene), and it seems Jarrod was made for it. His mastery of the sword and some accompanying martial arts quickly earns him respect in a world where fighting skills trump nearly everyone.

But he's not up against them.

The true opponent is a sorcerer in the opposing kingdom, whose life on earth gives him much the same advantages that Jarrod has. This is the first rumblings of war, and as such Jarrod may just lose his life in his attempt to redeem it.

This book was incredible. The detailing (from the equipment used to the action in the fight scenes) made the world and characters feel so real and complete, that you don't question anything for a moment.

The action is a slow build at first, and I found myself a little lost among the names of the other world's kingdoms and equipment descriptions, but it's not so lengthy as to slow the pace and there's a map at the front of the book if you need help following along.

The fight scenes are epic, and I felt myself getting sucked in every time, like a fan rooting for a sports team (it would make a great movie!). It was just like "Yaaaasssss! Get him!" And half of that was sparring, but the way Jarrod analyzed the opponent, identifying weaknesses and playing into them, you couldn't help but speed through the scenes with rapt attention. At one point he fights his way out of a situation (that scene REALLY sticks in your mind), but he's not invincible, either.

This is an adult book with a lot of heart, a little humor, epic action, and plenty of swords and sorcery. A fantastic first book, which hits all the right notes.

I received a free ARC of the book, but my opinion is honest and unbiased, especially since this is not my usual read. :)

Force of Nature

Force of Nature - Sydney Logan Laura has become numb to the frequent harassment of the tornado warnings she's grown up with. One night while working at the library, another alarm sounds. She sends her coworker and friend home, but stays on, sure there will be no problems. Until there is. Fellow music student Aiden happens to be one of the last ones out as she closes up, and he sticks around to help out. But the storm is worse than Laura could have imagined, and the two get trapped in the library basement. What will they face when the storm is over?

Despite the raging destruction around Laura and Aiden, this story lacked any inner conflict. I enjoyed the sweetness of it, but didn't feel it quite compelling enough for five stars. Still, a solid story and worth the read.

Spell Slinger

Spell Slinger - K.N. Lee Yara is incredibly powerful, daughter of a spell-slinger and a meta (in this instance a ghost, though meta covers many different creatures). We enter the story as she's escaping from a life she was forced into - one of many wives to a wealthy man. With the help of her best friend, a raven shape shifter, and a former lover, she starts on a quest to kill the king, whose reign involves killing off all spell slingers, the last gateway holding the meta's back from destroying the world.

But when she comes across a skeleton key, it sends her far into the future, where the king still reigns and meta's are on the verge of taking over the world. Her path takes her into the presence of one of the king's sons, igniting a passion she thought she no longer had.

This story has fantasy, time travel, and superhero elements to it that make it quite delightful.

This one is a bit of a tough review. The writing is solid. The world is incredibly interesting. The characters are decent. The problem I had with the book is that there were some inconsistencies and stuff that didn't get fully explained. For instance, Yara gets slung into the far future by a skeleton key, but it's never explained why. She was on her way to try to kill the king when she got slung to the future, and there her quest basically continued, although minus her partners in the first portion of the book. One of the characters is a turncoat, and Yara seems to know when it gets revealed, but there's nothing to indicate that beforehand, so it seemed a little out of left field. Also, the turncoat could have outed her to the king at any moment, but she never did, and the motivation is unclear.

Despite an immense amount of struggle, Yara, the main character, seems to move through each with surprising ease. She's super cool and interesting, but would have been more interesting with a little more struggle.

So I gave this review four stars. I wanted to give it five, but just couldn't due to the little inconsistencies that unraveled the story every time I stopped to think about it.

If you enjoy fantasy novellas, you might enjoy [b:Skye's Lure: A Contemporary Fantasy Romance Mermaid eBook|31692319|Skye's Lure A Contemporary Fantasy Romance Mermaid eBook|Angel Leya||47863623].

Tigress: A Short Story

Tigress: A Short Story - D Marie Prokop I have to admit, I'm a little mixed on this one. It seems to be a story about a superhero, but (spoiler alert?) it's not exactly.

We start with Tigress, the woman genetically altered with tiger DNA and turned into a bit of a superhero. She's running from a checkered past, trying to atone for it on some level, but mostly just grateful to the Zookeeper for giving her a second chance. We find her in the midst of trying to stop a kidnapping, and the story develops well from there.

But the story is just a story. Another character is writing it to deal with her own mom's disappearance and then reappearance. I didn't mind that so much, but I felt a little cheated to be presented Tigress's story first, only to find out that it's not the real story.

Overall, it's not a bad story. I thought it was kind of sweet and heartwarming, but that little twist, after investing so much time and emotion in Tigress felt a little bit like a cheat, which is why I couldn't give it a full five stars. Still a good story, though. :)

The Doll Maker's Daughter at Christmas

The Doll Maker's Daughter at Christmas - I.D.  Johnson Mixed feelings about this story.

It starts with Serendipity, a young woman who's spent the last 8 years atoning for the death of her family. She blames herself, and has vowed to construct every last doll her father bought before his death - somewhere around seven or eight thousand of them. But she gets a letter from Corey, one of Santa's helpers, a man/elf who is perhaps as unhappy as he is good at his job of recruiting toy makers. He's instantly put off by her unkempt appearance, but persists, determined to keep his perfect record intact - even if it means using magic to ensure she's never able to return home.

First, I got this book ages ago, and meant to read it, but the cover (the girl is beautiful, but the cover is just so washed out) and title kind of put me off (Why the Doll Maker's daughter? She is a doll maker. And why at Christmas? Because the only Christmas is up in the North Pole, so it's not really "at Christmas"). But it had been sitting in my TBR pile for a while, so I finally delved in. The story had it's ups and downs, but overall was well-written and enjoyable. I found Serendipity to be downright annoying at first (despite her somewhat Cinderella-like character) - her resistance to leaving, despite not wanting the constant reminder of her past mistakes and the possible help she could receive in completing her self-imposed doll making task, was frustrating.

Then they get to the North Pole, and magically she blossoms into this beautiful, caring, smart, wonderful girl, and it's a bit too much too quickly. Within three days of arriving, everything resolves. Corey's transformation is a little better paced, but considering the amount of time it takes to transform everyone, it's still a bit of a stretch. I wasn't terribly impressed with the motivations presented for the final hurtle before the resolution. But it had a happy ending, which satisfied on some level. Would have been charming if those little nits had been ironed out, but it was sweet and Christmas-y, so it gets four stars.