An autumn of anthologies

As promised, here’s a look into what I’ve been up to…and it’s all about a multi-author series and anthologies!

First is the vampire romance series I co-organized with fellow fantasy author Ophelia Wells Langley, Bound by Blood. (You can visit the series website here to learn more specifics, but the first novella publishes September 1st.) The entire series of novellas is for spicy fantasy romance fans, and has a variety of books (contemporary, period pieces, second-chance romances and LOTS of LGBTQ+ rep), all linked by the common theme of spicy (open door) vampire romance.

Naturally, more than a couple of the stories involve some kind of forbidden romance!

My novella, The Tainted and the Tamed, is set in a brand new world. The country involved is called Kaiden and is heavily drawn from Japanese culture and history, almost like an alternate history of Japan if vampires were power players. I have a minor in Japan Studies, have been studying Japanese for many years (too many to still be this bad!) and was able to base story settings on places I visited while living in Japan when I was younger and more mobile. It was a really interesting (and nostalgic) setting to write.

The Tainted and the Tamed launches September 8th. You can preorder here for 99c if you so choose!

I created a concept of representative rule by secretive vampire chairmen, which opens the door to a whole series…which will be called Vampires of Kaiden. This will happen depending on reader interest…which is not to say that I might just go, “You know what? I feel like writing more vampires!” and write the darn thing anyway.

The second story I was working on this summer is a short story called “Bright Arrow.” This story is related to Horace and takes place within a couple years of those events (Sydney makes a cameo!). I’ll be submitting that to the Indie Fantasy Addicts anthology, which was newly opened to the general pool of writers this year. If it’s not chosen, I’ll probably add some additional scenes and publish it…but I hope I’m chosen! Wish me luck!

Anthology number three is called Shift of the Seasons, organized by MJ Marstens. (You can preorder it here!) Proceeds go to a breast cancer foundation, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. The story I’m writing for it is a “must choose/I won’t share you” MFM romance…that’s two males interested in the same female character, and vice versa. The story is linked to my Season of the Fae series and takes place in the Connor Court well before it was cursed and lost to history, and has a puca female lead.

That’s all the news I have for now! Thanks so much for reading!

Cheers!

CKB

Books on Sale: 99c books with FMCs!

There’s a sale on fantasy books you need to know about…

Scratch that…there are three sales!

Sale #1: 99c FMC-led books

Finding Her Story brings you fantasy, romantic fantasy, fantasy romance and YA fantasy reads led by FMCs (female main characters) for 99c!

A friend sent me the link to this promo and I had to join with Girl of Shadow and Glass. If you’ve already started the series, you’ll know that there are two female narrators at the heart of the story, Kith and Finchoa.

This is especially timely because *cough cough* book 3 *cough*. But you didn’t hear that from me 😉


Sale #2: Girl of Glass and Fury (Tara’s Necklace Book 2)

Because of the above coughing fit, I am also putting on a little sale of my own.

I’ve decided to make book 2, Girl of Glass and Fury, just 99c for the first time in a long time!

Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale through March 11

Sale #3: The Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale!

You can also find all my book marked down at the Smashwords Sale. (One of these books might even be free 50% off, spicy romantasy readers! Said book being Lord of the Hollow Court – click here for the direct link. Otherwise…)

That’s all for now! Cheers!

CKB

Naughty List (Mine This Winter) review

A Review of Naughty List (From Mine This Winter), by Melanie A. Smith (Cover with a couple kissing in winter clothing, with a background of snowy alpine mountains with evergreen trees)

(From the Mine This Winter anthology)

steamy Christmas romance novella, open door romance

Note: This is an ARC review specifically of one of the stories in this anthology, Naughty List, by Melanie A. Smith. I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

The most important thing I could note here isn’t just that Naughty List is everything you’d want from a steamy-cute Christmas romance. It’s how funny this story is! Joanie’s frank and hilarious narration keeps the story rolling and adds so much depth and enjoyment.

Greg is a sweet guy and obviously caring, yet he doesn’t come off as a mismatch for Joanie. His efforts to play it cool can be really amusing, though he does find his footing when matching her naughty banter. Add the best friend and her fiance, plus ample self-aware jokes about Hallmark Christmas movies, and it’s a very well-rounded story even with the shorter page count. I felt like I got to know everybody really well.

This was a fun, short and steamy Christmas romance in a small, snowy town, with just the right number of missteps on its way to an HEA.

My rating:
5/5

Cursed review

A review of Cursed, by Callie Pey

(A novella of The Dryad Chronicles)

Steamy fantasy romance, The Little Mermaid retelling, fantasy novella

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is a steamy open door fantasy romance for mature readers 18+ only.

It’s so nice to be back in Voreios, a land of mythology and community. It’s also a place where multiple mates are both fated and common, giving us another steamy MMF romance.

What I love most about Callie Pey’s work is the loving spirit each story contains. It keeps all the steam from feeling tawdry, with love scenes that often celebrate the bond. Cursed really captures the joy of finding who you’re meant to be with after wondering if you’d always be alone.

There are also The Little Mermaid-retelling vibes! The undersea world was interesting and made for a great climax to the story. Since this story ties into the Dryad Chronicles, there are some series spoilers, so be forewarned!

I enjoyed reading this novella and getting to know its characters.

My rating:
4.5/5
Cursed, by Callie Pey: A mockup surrounded by leaves and a cinnamon candle

The Bests and Mosts 2020: awards

Today, I want to recognize my favorite fantasy reads of 2020 (and encourage you to discover one of them yourself!). And I’ll be accomplishing that with these 11 awards show-style categories!

The Bests and Mosts 2020

In order to “win” (no prize other than my great esteem and respect), books must have been reviewed by me on the blog, Goodreads or Bookbub during the long happening that was 2020.

Without further ado, the award goes to…

Best Female Lead

Lira, The Prince and the Poisoner (Carnival of Fae #1), by Helena Rookwood. I love this sassy, self-serving yet likeable character, who lies, cheats and steals her way into readers hearts in The Prince and the Poisoner and its sequel, The Thief and the Throne. [My Review.]

Best Male Lead

Numair, Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles #1), by Tamora Pierce. Like a sensible Harry Potter, the much loved character of Numair from Pierce’s The Immortals trilogy grows up in a school surrounded by a river god, a leftover prince and no shortage of intrigue. Numair does all the normal adolescent boy things, even as he does the extraordinary. [Review available on Bookbub; coming soon to website.]

Best Storytelling

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1), by Tamora Pierce. There’s nothing like the story of a young girl better at swordplay than sorcery, who trades places with her twin and seeks to become a knight. Not only does Alanna make room for a different kind of girl in YA fantasy, but it’s absorbing from page one. Now and always, a classic. [My review.]

Best Plot Twist

Conjure Women, by Afia Atakora. “Twist” needs to be plural for this story, which probably fits best under the category of magical realism. Betrayals, terrible truths, and a vengeful lie sit at the heart of this book like jagged wire. The truth about Bean, a black-eyed child born with what might as well be a curse, is only one revelation in the story of a Black community during enslavement and after, and the midwife-plus-medicine-maker Rue who tries to keep it—and a few of the lies—from falling apart. [Review available on Bookbub; coming soon to website.]

Most Magical

The Prince and the Poisoner (Carnival of Fae #1), by Helena Rookwood. It’s hard to beat the fabulous magic carnival Lira runs away to (with a catch) in the first book in the series. (Sigh. Why doesn’t anything like it exist?) Add in magical objects left by the fae, and you can almost smell the burnt caramel. [My Review.]

Most Romantic 2020
Runner up: Spindle, by W.R. Gingell

Most Original

Sting Magic (Empire of War and Wings #1), by Sarah K.L. Wilson. The concept of familiars for magic-users gets new life in a world where something is very wrong in the forest, and most pressingly, with protagonist  *’s magic. When magic-users manifest, it’s supposed to be with an egg (soon be followed by a bird). But *’s angry magic is a pack of swarming bees (and sometimes a hopeful little golden bumble bee that just sounds cute). The magic system was fantastic. [My Review.]

Most Action-Packed

Daughter of Shades (The Venatrix Chronicles), by Silvia Mercedes. Young Ayeleth finds more than her fair share of trouble as she tries to become a full-fledged Venetrix. After a certain point in the book (about a third of the way in, I’d say), the action hardly ever pauses, and things get a whole lot spookier.  [My Review.]

Most Romantic

Snowblind (Pler Trilogy #1), by Anna Velfman. A wonderful romance between two young people occurs in the first half of the book that is somehow wholesome and nostalgic without being chaste. Icedancer is now on my Kindle but still on my TBR list, but something tells me there’s more to come, both with Lanna’s original love and a potential new (and much less romantic) suitor. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the cute farm boy! [My Review.]

Most Heartbreaking

A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water #1), by Bethany C. Morrow. A story of injustice, found family and lost ones, A Song Below Water doesn’t just share the two narrators’ feelings with the reader, it allows them to connect to them through universal truths: the need for family, true friendship, love, acceptance, and justice. And there’s one other essential right tying those needs together for Tavia and Effie: in a world where some magical beings are reviled and even killed, the friends-turned-sisters both seek the space not just to speak and be heard, but to be. [My Review.]

Most Satisfying

Spindle (Two Monarchies Sequence #1), by W.R. Gingell. This delightful, quirky and often outright funny book introduces Gingell’s special brand of enchanter/enchantresses. I can’t spoil anything, so I’ll just have to say that the ending feels just right. [My Review.]

Most Likely to be Read Twice

The Purple Haze, by Andrew Einspruch. This hilarious book has so many jokes and just-the-right-level-of-bad puns, I could hardly take them all in. Silly and endearing, the story of germophobe Princess Eloise and her quest to find her sister is the perfect read when in need of a pick-me-up. [My Review.]

That’s it for 2020. Congratulations to all the winners!