Find your next Kindle Vella read!

The first Potions & Passions Kindle Vella promo is LIVE, my friends, and you can find it here. How excited am I?

This promo runs January 8 – February 7, 2023, and has scifi, fantasy, romantic fantasy and fantasy romance (aka romantasy!) titles. With 18 stories and 13 authors to choose from, the BookFunnel page will help you find your next Kindle Vella read!

You’ll also find my stories Stone Circles: A New Fairy Tale (based on Irish myth) and A Court of Swords and Sugar Plums (which I describe as The Nutcracker meets The Cruel Prince).

This is my first time creating a BookFunnel promo, and I look forward to helping everyone find some new Vella readers. As Vella authors, we’re usually scouring Facebook posts for readers with tokens to burn and interest in what we’re writing, so I think this makes a lot more sense for writers and readers both!

Wondering what the heck Kindle Vella is?

Potions & Passions Kindle Vella BookFunnel Promo January 8-February 7, 2023
Potions & Passions (Kindle Vella) inaugural promo

Kindle Vella is an Amazon platform for serial storytelling.

If you’ve never checked out Vella before, there’s a good chance you have some free tokens just waiting for you to claim them. Besides that, the first three episodes of every Vella story are always free to try. Pretty cool, right?

Every episode costs a certain number of tokens, depending on the length. As readers, you can like, follow (and even favorite, if you have paid tokens) the stories you love, so Vella incorporates a bit of social media into its platform in that way. You can still review stories, too!

Vella authors often break their stories up into “seasons,” which they may break up into separate stories (or not). Anastasis Blythe, whom I’ve interviewed and reviewed ARCs from, is a prolific romantic fantasy author on Kindle Vella, but there are LOADS of authors and genres to choose from. 

The only downside is that this is still a relatively new platform, so it’s only available to US Amazon users. (I know, I have quite a bit of readership outside the US, but authors always have the option of publishing their stories 30 days after removing them from Vella, which IS my plan).

That’s all for now!

Cheers,

CKB

The Lily Gate review

A Review of The Lily Gate, by Hanna Sandvig

(Fairy Tale Romances #1.75)

YA Short Story, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romantic Fantasy

The Frog Prince retelling, clean fantasy, clean romance

What a cute the The Frog Prince retelling! This story is sweet to its bones and has a classic YA feel, and features non-magical trials for the princess’s hand.

Part of the fun of this short read is how obvious the identity of the frog is…to everybody but the main character. I also appreciated that the couple in this romantic story get time to fall in love, plus all the magical details of the setting. Fans of baking competitions will appreciate all the choux pastries, too!

This was a fun, adorable lower YA read.

My rating:
5/5
The Lily Gate mockup with candles

Oathbound review

A review of Oathbound, by Victoria McCombs (an image of the book, a vivid red rose with a sword through it, on a background of choppy ocean waves)

(The Royal Rose Chronicles #1)

YA fantasy, pirate fantasy adventure, romantic fantasy

Favorite quote: “‘Do you see how he looks at her as if he’s found a priceless pearl inside an oyster?’ Heat flooded my cheeks. I had noticed that.”

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

This book just got better and better as it went along!

Early on, Oathbound feels like historical fiction more than fantasy. Though it was on the slower side, I felt like I was on the Royal Rose. But the magic was still missing for me. Then came the magical creatures (and one creepy ghost ship) on the high seas. This book became a page turner for me from that point on.

The romance subplot is woven throughout the story and in the “friendship” between narrators Emme and Arn. It’s so lovely and subtle, a true slow-burn that goes beyond two friends having that conversation. With Emme’s distrust of pirates, Royal Rose captain Arn has a lot to prove.

I loved all the side quests and intrusions by magic and ghosts. Emme is also dealing with a congenital degenerative disease, so we see her struggling with mobility. Note that this book ends on multiple wicked cliffhangers. I can’t wait to read book two!

My rating:
4.5/5
A mockup of Oathbound, with a vivid red rose with a sword through it, on a background of a fuzzy white blanket, a candy cane, a pillar candle, a sparkly fake poinsettia, a snowman, a Himalayan salt votive, some stones and mini Christmas lights

The Borderlands Princess review

ReviewTheBorderlandsPrincess

(Stone Circle #1)

Spicy romantic fantasy, fae romance

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.

I really enjoyed this debut novel from the Of Smoke and Shadows author. The story, though, is just getting started, so expect a bit of a cliffhanger!

The Borderlands Princess pulls a fun switcheroo on readers. At the start, I expected it to be the story of a human Princess betrothed to a fae king who is morally gray at best. While that’s true, it’s so much more than that! It’s really about a princess whose fate was decided long before she was born learning how to reclaim own life. She’s also a mature princess, not at all what I usually read.

The opening chapters were pacey and the plot had plenty of little twists, plus one big moment that I thought was a home run. There was also some clever play with timelines. I did wish it sunk deeper into Connall’s perspective and showed more of what happened on his end, since there was a lot going on in a short period of time. Note that there were also many line editing issues in the version I read, and the pacing lagged a bit in the middle. The last quarter, however, was truly exciting. It absolutely flew by for me.

I’m already looking forward to book two!

My rating:
4.5/5

Of Smoke and Shadows review

A review of Of Smoke and Shadows, by Ophelia Wells Langley

(Stone Circles # 0.5)

Spicy Romantic Fantasy, Steamy Fantasy, Prequel Novella

fated mates, fae romance, villain origin story

Note: This story is now available on KU. The version I read was a reader magnet and has some changes based on reader feedback.

This novella has some very steamy scenes towards the end and is for mature readers 18+ only.

This prequel to The Borderlands Princess is like ACOTAR meets The Witcher.

Of Smoke and Shadows is the intriguing backstory of the Fire Fae King in a forthcoming first book, author Ophelia Wells Langley’s Stone Circles series. It’s a series of vignettes of the moments that shaped Achill, beginning as a young, mateless prince afraid of his father. He quickly becomes brutal and has some hard life lessons that make him think twice.

There was spicy open door fae romance near the end, so if that’s your thing, the author has you covered! (And if not, consider yourself duly warned!) I also found Achill’s smoke magic interesting, especially since it’s considered substandard in his court. I’m curious how it will be used going forward.

Though not every period in Achill’s life had a full arc for his developing character (I wondered what happened while training with his uncle that changed him so much), the way the plot drops in on key moments very much reminded me of season 1 of The Witcher. The female characters were especially well-rendered, so I’m looking forward to reading The Borderlands Princess.

My rating:
4/5

The Fool and the Sparrow review

A review of The Fool and the Sparrow, by Dana Fox

(Arcana of the Tarot #1)

Steamy romantic fantasy

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book contains graphic love scenes and real-world violence, and is for mature readers only.

The Fool and the Sparrow is anything but ordinary.

Lyrical opening chapters from Kit, the actual Fool in the tarot deck living in the realm of Arcana, collide with the perspective of Thea, a trained assassin on the streets of Las Vegas. It’s amusing and surprising. The scenes in which Thea comes to terms with Kit’s supernatural self are particularly well-executed.

These two are drawn to each other by the universe. Their romance develops quickly and Kit makes Thea feel safe at last. But she also knows that feeling is fleeting: she’s trying to uncover the secret global organization that trained her.

If you like incredibly steamy, graphic love scenes, The Fool and the Sparrow has plenty for you. I felt like the ratio of romantic moments to love scenes was a bit too skewed for me by the end, but that’s my personal taste. (I like a more generous helping of romantic moments.)

Overall, this was a creative and completely different romance with action and tension besides. I read through it quickly!

My rating:
4/5
The Fool and the Sparrow book cover mockup, surrounded by fall leaves, a velvet pumpkin and a shining acorn lantern

Warrior of Blade and Dusk review

A review of Warrior of Blade and Dusk

(The Zheninghai Chronicles #2)

Other books in this series:
Maiden of Candlelight and Lotuses (#0)
Guardian of Talons and Snares (#1)

romantic fantasy, Eastern-inspired fantasy, clean romantic fantasy

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

If your favorite parts of Guardian of Talons and Snares were the pursuit on the road and the developing, complicated romance between Aranya and Kai, you will love book two, Warrior of Blade and Dusk, as much as I did.

This was such a fun, exciting and satisfying conclusion. Truly action-packed, it takes the best parts of book one and amplifies them. Kai, for one, has softened a lot, without losing too much of his sparky edge. (Though we do see him requesting snuggles!)

The romance also kicks into high gear on this one. Araya also stays her plucky self, but continues to strengthen mentally. I love that an action and romance-forward story focuses so much on its character’s psychological development.

Though the series continues with the story of Princess Meiling, there were some scenes suggesting interesting storylines to come. I’m really looking forward to it!

My rating:
5/5

Of Roses and Rituals review

A review of Of Roses and Rituals, by S.L. Prater

Steamy fantasy romance, fantasy retelling; October 24, 2022

Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is for mature readers, with steamy open door romance, and also deals with grief/the death of a child and a fiancé)

I thought this Beauty and the Beast retelling was incredibly well-plotted and an enjoyable read. While it is very (very!) spicy and steamy, author S.L. Prater took the time to show her characters connecting intellectually and emotionally instead of just relying on the fated mates trope. Of Roses and Rituals also has some fun horror elements and surprising depths.

Both Fiona and her love interest, Elias, are dealing with grief. Elias has had time to acknowledge and cope with his, while Fiona has tamped hers down. The treatment of grief here is honest and thoughtful.

Of Roses and Rituals Mockup with fall decor

Of Roses and Rituals also touches on body image, with the message that everyone deserves to be loved and feel attractive. It’s an extreme case, of course (a curse has changed Elias’s body to that of satyr-like beast), but I thought it worked and deepened the characters’ connection. The action parts were also smoothly worked into the plot and pleasantly spooky.

This was a very well-rounded steamy romance and a great addition to the Kriegspiel world.

My rating:
4.5/5

To learn more about this author, visit streetwitch.net.