Angel Leya

Author, Blogger, Dreamer

Bad Bloods: November Rain

Bad Bloods: November Rain - Shannon A. Thompson Serena is a bad blood, a person with a unique power--power that has put her and her kind on the hunted list ever since those powers came to be seen as a threat. And though she thought she would die at the jail in a forced execution, she escapes, putting her back on the streets. That's where Daniel finds her, another bad blood whose determination to help Serena is rivaled only by his mysterious and troubled past.

This short story doesn't go nearly as far as the description indicates. Instead, it's about the slow build of friendship between Serena and Daniel, and maybe something more. There is plenty of tension, but I found the ending a bit abrupt, and afterwards the plot felt a little hollow. The characters and writing are excellent, and I'm fairly certain a further look into the series would have me hooked, but this short story fell a bit short for me.

It's also notable that this book feels very relevant to the current climate in America, though much more desperate and further entrenched in fear moreso than hate. An intriguing look into the world the author has created, but you might want to have the next book in hand before you sit down with this one.


Remnants - Melle Amade Shae's a shifter in a world she's only recently learned existed, and not only is she a dove, a race of shifters thought extinct and generally hated, she's also a nuvervel, being able to shift into more than one creature. She needs to be the raven to keep herself and her family and friends safe, but she's not sure how to unlock that part of her. Worse, her duality is killing her. With pressure on to be the raven, Shae must learn who she is and find a way to survive not only her nature, but the Order that rules the shifter world with an iron fist.

I'm kinda mad about the ending, but not because it was so bad, but because the next book isn't out yet. *shakes fist at fascinating cliff-hanger* The action, the hints of romance, the danger, the secrets. I found myself surprised by the emerging shifter world just as much as Shae. The story moves at a great pace, and the action and danger will keep you glued to the book until the last page is turned (at which time you'll try to turn more pages to try to squeeze a little more information out of the author).

Highly recommended to ya readers of paranormal and urban fantasy.

Of Cinder and Madness (Once Upon a Darkened Night Book 1)

Of Cinder and Madness (Once Upon a Darkened Night Book 1) - Nicole Zoltack Yes, Angelique is Ella's (Eleonore's) stepmother, but she's not the bad guy. She just wanted to help the dark, troubled girl whose beauty was as captivating as her pain. But it's not that simple of a tale. And trust me, everything you know about it is wrong.

I tend to love fairy tale retellings, so I was excited to snap this one up.

I kind of expected this story to be a bit dark (I mean, just look at the title). But as I wound my way through the story, I was somewhat perplexed at the complete rewrite of the original story, having little in common besides the roles of the characters (barons, prince, step children, etc.) and the settings in which they participated. Honestly, I kept reading it wondering if the stepmother was the one who was afflicted by madness, and the Cinderella story I've come to love would be restored.

I found the pacing a bit difficult as well. The story starts not in the middle of action, but somewhere floating before the action. the opening statements make Angelique seem bitter, almost vengeful, but we find out through the story this is not the case (over and over again). Between the current story chapters are flashback chapters, detailing how they got to this place. The flashbacks skip around, and it ended up being a bit confusing at times, trying to decipher where I was in the story. Besides that, the constant back and forth, even when the current story finally got interesting, interrupted the flow.

Finally, though I wanted to like the characters, Eleonore was less than sympathetic, and Angelique's constant struggle felt overdone, and she wallowed in self pity more than I could truly enjoy. The prince was perplexing as well (was he disturbed, too?).

The story is imaginative, and it totally turns the original on its head. It was obviously not the right fit for me, but I think others who like dark and twisted fantasies/fairy tales with a more casual pace and somewhat experimental format would enjoy this book.

A Moment for Tara: Her heart or her pack? (Prime Prophecy Series)

A Moment for Tara: Her heart or her pack? (Prime Prophecy Series) - Tamar Sloan Tara is bound by duty to her pack. As the firstborn, she has plenty of responsibility but none of the power that comes with being the heir alpha - as long as her mother's streak of birthing girls continues. So when she falls for one of her best friends, the twin boys from the neighboring pack, she's horrified to realize she fell for the wrong one. Torn, Tara must decide what's most important: her heart, or her pack.

I loved this story. Tara's voice is fun and compelling, and the strain between her and Mitch as she tries to navigate her feelings is palpable. It also sets up the major dilemma for the Prime Prophecy series. An excellent and tantalizing short story that makes me want to read more.

Flirting with Death

Flirting with Death - Ali Winters Evander is a Reaper, and he's good at what he does. That is, until one of his marks (a man despicable enough to elicit no remorse from Evander) has a companion who captures the Reaper's attention. Piper is her name, and the feisty redhead is far too good for her companion. But Evander needs to finish the job, no matter how interesting he finds Piper. But can he take down his mark before Piper arrests his heart?

This is a snack-sized paranormal romance and it's yummy! It gives you a great sense of what the author is capable of, and I found myself fond of both Evander and Piper despite the lack of length. Definitely snap this one up. :)

Returning: Episode I

Returning: Episode I - A.L. Knorr Mira is a mermaid, a siren, and it's time to come home, out of the water, and find a mate. Instinct is her guide, and her and her mother prepared for this eventuality. But being a mermaid out of water isn't as easy as she anticipated, especially when her new friend and finding her "One" collide. Now she'll need to fine tune her humanity to figure a way out of this mess, and keep her identity a secret, a task harder than she first thought.

This novella mermaid romance is fun dive into the world the author has created. I read this book after reading [b:Born of Water|33223763|Born of Water (Elemental Origins, #1)|A.L. Knorr||53928928], and it's neat to see how that character's mother found her mate. It also features another supernatural character, which I anticipate I'll learn more about in [b:Born of Fire|33825190|Born of Fire (Elemental Origins, #2)|A.L. Knorr||54488261].

So much fun to be had, you might as well snap this book up and get a taste of [a:A.L. Knorr's|16144117|A.L. Knorr|] incredible writing.

And if you like young adult mermaid books, here's a whole bunch that you may enjoy:


Bluestone - C.E.  Johnson Loved this story!

14 year old Emily has powers, which thanks to the guidance of her godfather have both developed and remained hidden. But Emily is not from this world, and she'll have to make a decision soon, to either travel to her home world and learn more about the family that gave her up as a child, or face the two groups threatening to disrupt the life she's come to love on Earth.

The book had a bit of a slow start, the threats around Emily not really building to a truly threatening boil until about the halfway point in the book. I also found some sentences to be a bit long and winding.

But the world the author created is incredible and unique. The magic use is intriguing, and the time difference as well. I found some aspects of the time difference little hard to reconcile (1 day on Earth equals a year on Acacia, so Emily has been gone for about 5000 years), but the author includes a list of rules in the glossary at the end (along with lists of names and places in case you get lost). Traveling to Earth resets your age, so it's possible to live an incredibly long time. I can only assume that her family and the main evil character, Samil, have utilized this fact to the fullest extent possible.

There are a lot of loose ends (what do Drogor and Samil want with Earth? and how does Malachi play into things?), and the book ends on a bit of cliffhanger, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying it by the end.

I will say, though Emily is 14, she seems much more mature (more upper YA), and Samil and the female vampire's roles are certainly a bit darker, so I feel fantasy readers of young adult and upwards will enjoy this book.

Bloodsucking Vampires!

Bloodsucking Vampires! - Ed Morawski Janice is the new sergeant in the freshly formed diversity division in LA. She's just getting to know the attractive young detectives when a string of unexplained murders start ripping through Hollywood Hills. The killer leaves victims fully drained of blood, and white as sheets. Janice is determined to solve this mystery, but with what looks like a vampire on the loose, can she really win?

**Due to the sexual nature of the content, I don't believe this book is intended for audiences under 18.**

The story is certainly interesting, as the author gives readers a glimpse into the unusual killings for the first half of the book. I was curious how it would unfold, given the unusual circumstances and killer, and I found it to be fairly engaging and believable throughout.

I have a few gripes, however. First, when we're introduced to the diversity division, I found it to be a bit offensive. The portrayal of the detectives was dismal, each being incredibly flawed and likely undesirable for the division if not for their race. It was a frustrating overview, to say the least (seriously, they couldn't find a few good men in the potential pool of candidates?), especially given today's cultural climate.

Second, I found the sexuality of the female characters to be rather overstated, and the perceived attractiveness of the entire division of detectives to be a bit odd (and it seemed rather unprofessional the way Janice mentally evaluated all the men in her crew). The whole sexual dynamic felt a little put on, and I would have categorized this book as an erotic novel (somehow Amazon has it listed as young adult?).

About the halfway point, the author begins skipping over the details of the killings, which nearly eliminates the sexual aspect of the book, but moves the story along. We start getting closer to the truth and answers, which I found satisfying and intriguing.

But my final gripe was in the ending. Although I have no problem with the way the final battle went down, the book ends abruptly with nothing but a one sentence summary of that battle. There's no time to tie up loose ends (what happened to the volunteer and her family? How was the enemy impacted?), and we never explore how everyone feels about things afterward - although feelings aren't very thoroughly explored as characters form relationships and are lost with no real impact to the mood of those they leave behind. It felt like the book was missing a scene or two, which was frustrating considering all that I'd been through with those characters.

So while I think the author had an excellent idea, and executed it fairly well, there were just a few things that eroded the overall story. I'd rate it at a 3.5 stars, but just couldn't justify a fourth, considering the story errors.

Get Your Book Selling: Jumpstart Your Sales With a Simple Plan That Just Works (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #7)

Get Your Book Selling: Jumpstart Your Sales With a Simple Plan That Just Works (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #7) - Monica Leonelle This feels a bit like a companion book to [b:Prosperous Creation: Make Art and Make Money at the Same Time|33670474|Prosperous Creation Make Art and Make Money at the Same Time (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #5)|Monica Leonelle||54542108]. It went a little deeper into understanding the tactics you can take to sell your books.

My biggest problem with the book was that I didn't really find any tactic that really resonated with me. I've latched onto one, I think, and I plan to look at my current endeavors and see if I can work them into that tactic.

The other thing I found confusing was the author's use of the term "sales funnel". I've seen it used before, but wasn't sure until nearly the end what she meant by it (as opposed to what I've gathered from other sources).

Overall, though, it's a great eye-opener to get you thinking about selling differently (it's not a specific, one-size-fits-all blueprint so much as a mindset and digging deep kind of thing).

So if you're looking for specifics, you might be disappointed by this book, but if you're ready to figure out something that works for you, your books, your budget, and your personality, then you'll likely get something worthwhile from Get Your Book Selling.

Double Lives (Johnny Wagner, Godlike PI Book One)

Double Lives (Johnny Wagner, Godlike PI Book One) - Matt Cowper Johnny Wagner is an ex-hero, current private detective scraping the bottom of BootHeel in Z City. When an upper class superhero is taken down by one of the least threatening villains, it looks to be a cut and dry case, but the superhero's widow isn't convinced. She hires Johnny, and his crazy talking god arm to find out the truth. Now Johnny has superheroes, supervillains, and Z City's lead prosecutor breathing down his neck. He'll have to fend everyone off and find out the truth before they can bury Johnny and his case.

This was more like 4.5 stars. I found it a little hard to get behind Johnny and his bellowing god arm at first, feeling Johnny was a bit arrogant (he's not indestructible, but is egging on some guys with guns?). But as the story progresses, we got a little deeper into his character and it was nice to see something a little more from him than just ribbing and bravado.

About the same time the case started taking on some more revelations and twists, that made everything interesting, and even the god arm added a new shade to his character.

I loved the cityscape the author imagined. Full of good sections and bad sections, good guys and bad guys, and enough corruption to keep everyone on their toes. There was a bit of good and bad in nearly everything the author touched, which made everything seem that much more realistic, even with superhumans, superheroes/villains, and the occasional direct link to the Net.

The story, pacing, dialog, and character development were all quite well done, and the editing was spot on. If you like your superheroes flawed, your city mixed, your world futuristic, and your characters a bit salty, you'll love Double Lives.

Outsider: Deliverance

Outsider: Deliverance - Peter  Diggins Duncan has been swept away from modern day Earth to a land of magic on a far off planet--and it's a long way from home and the wife and kids he left behind. His one goal is to get back, but the owner of the magic he now wields is out for revenge. Duncan may not be able to die on Syrane, but there are fates worse than death.

This is the second book in the duology (the first being [b:Outsider|22590125|Outsider|Peter Diggins||42070402]). I found that while the author did a good job explaining necessary parts of the first book when required, it did dive into the action very quickly and I was a little lost at the beginning. Once I got past that, it became easier to get into the story and Duncan's predicament. I imagine reading it second, as intended, would enrich the experience of reading this book.

I did find, however, that the story seemed to drag in some parts (possibly due to starting in the second book instead of the first), and the ending felt a tad abrupt.

But the world of Syrane is incredible and it's interesting to see how religion and magic tie together in the system. A solid story of magic and adventure, of longing and hard choices. If you love pop culture references mixed with your sword and sorcery, pick up [b:Outsider|22590125|Outsider|Peter Diggins||42070402] and this book!

Born of Water: An Elemental Origins Novel

Born of Water: An Elemental Origins Novel - A.L. Knorr, Christine Gordon Manley, Shandi Petersen Targa has a secret - her mom is a mermaid. And though the mermaid gene is supposed to pass from mother to daughter, Targa is just a regular human.

With summer's approach, Targa and her friends will be parting ways, all headed to different countries. But Targa's trip to Poland with her mom and mom's dive team turns out to be anything but a typical summer tourism trip.

Loved this mermaid story. The details of mermaid anatomy are incredible, and even the "info dumps" feel like so much a part of the story that they're not tedious or tiresome.

Even better, this book is part of a series, and it seems that all of Targa's friends have something are a little ... different. :)

So glad I snapped this book up!

And if you like YA mermaid stories, you might also enjoy [b:Shearwater|33151578|Shearwater (Ocean Depths, #1)|D.S. Murphy||48806820] and [b:Skye's Lure|35231755|Skye's Lure A Clean YA Fantasy for those who enjoy The Little Mermaid|Angel Leya||47863623].

The Magician's Test (Dreamers Through Time)

The Magician's Test (Dreamers Through Time) - Daphne James Huff Clara sees the future, but she hides her ability behind seances, convincing others their loved ones are delivering the messages she sees. Her devoted assistant is 10 years her junior - and possibly in love with her - so when he suggests she prove to the great Harry Houdini that she's not a fraud, she gently but firmly says no. Too bad he doesn't leave it at that.

This is a charming short story, set in 1920's America. Clara is strong and intelligent, and understandably guarded. I would've liked to see a little more tension between Clara and her assistant, though I understand why that wasn't pursued. I also would've liked a little more of a solid ending. It felt a little too open-ended, though I couldn't pinpoint exactly why.

Otherwise, a nice tale, and I think it would appeal to fans of period pieces and the Ghost Whisperer.


Faris - Ingrid Seymour All Faris wants is to become great in battle and fight for his country. But then his father arranges a marriage with the general's daughter. Torn between duty, family and his own desires, Faris must decide which is most important, knowing that any choice he makes will have dire consequences.

For a short read, this packs a punch. The Middle Eastern setting is beautifully depicted (think Aladdin), the characters well defined, and the twists will keep you guessing. My only wish is that the author had more definitively stated the ending that he had become a djinn. Otherwise, Faris is an excellent read.


Origins - J.B. Trepagnier A young woman in a dead end job has always dreamed of becoming a spy. And when "The Arm" hacks the agency and exposes all spies--both those working and those being recruited--the shortage creates a need. A need this determined young woman is more than happy to fill. With a potato gun, some Tae Bo videos, and a spy certificate she earned online, she applies, hoping to finally achieve the life she's always dreamed of.

This short story has great voice. You get a sense of the main character, who has a very honest way of looking at things, if not a little naive. And the story itself is interesting enough. I mean, it seems preposterous that her attempts at training could get her anywhere, but she's working on a budget, and banking on the agency's desperation.

Where I had difficulty with the story is in the telling. Although it has voice, the narrative style feels a bit like listening to your coworker or friend babble on about everything they did in the last month. Rather than telling it after the event, I would have preferred to experience it through the lens of the main character, since the book is written in first person. The humor and unusual circumstances helped carry the story, but I would have been able to rate it higher if it had been more engaging.

Still, a fun read for any who have ever dreamed of becoming a spy, or wanted to watch someone wholly unqualified fail brilliantly and still succeed. :)

A Crime of Honor

A Crime of Honor - Keegan Kozinski, Tristen Kozinski In an asian-inspired country, High-Prince Surr must make the dangerous journey to the Inner Kingdom to assassinate Emperor Sarizen. The task is difficult, and could cost Surr everything, but if he doesn't accomplish his goal, the Emperor's hatred may cause irreparable damage to the nation.

The author did an excellent job imbuing setting and character in such a short story. You get a sense of the magic that runs through the land (we start out in a burning forest that is never consumed) and the stakes for Surr (as he remembers the promises he made to his family).

The action is reminiscent of Asian movies, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or The Forbidden Kingdom. An enjoyable short read for fantasy and Asian fiction lovers.

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