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Vella Recommendations

Instead of reviewing each of these titles separately, I thought I would list some fun reads I discovered recently on Vella. Remember the first three episodes (chapters) are free. In no particular order:

Fantasy / Action & Adventure

This one starts off evil. I’m warning you. (Trigger warning: There’s implied rape. Multiple girls, and one is 14..) I feel for Trace, who not only was forced into military service, he’s now chained up and being experimented on by Karven. I also like Perin, who ends up as one of Karven’s specimens too. I want to see their escape and see where they go. I also want to see Karven get his comeuppance.

Teen & Young Adult / Fantasy

This was a lighter read, and I needed it after the darker book before it. If you like fairies, you’ll love this one. I kept thinking about the Tinkerbell movie when reading this one. I love the characters and their friendships. Thistle is our leading fairy. Her friends are Zazz and Thatch. (They are awesome.) I like the variety of fairies and fairy wings.

Teen & Young Adult / Fantasy

Delightful academy story.


Review: Break Every Chain

Synopsis:

High school senior Maverick Mason has what every guy his age wants: the girl, the grades, the god-like status. Amira Abbasi is the same age and lives in the same town, but her reality couldn’t be more different. In fact, no one outside her household knows she exists. A chance encounter may change that, but will it make a difference if her fate has already been sealed?


My Review:

This review is a little different, because I haven’t finished the book. For one thing, it isn’t finished. It’s serialized fiction available on Vella.

I was drawn in right away with the action in the first chapter. Maverick is a high school football star. We meet in the exciting opening. I liked Maverick and Amira’s first meeting, and I’m wondering what is going to happen next. (Because Amira is a servant to Lacey, Maverick’s date for the night.)

The first three episodes are free, and if you are like me, you’ll be spending your tokens on this. I look forward to seeing what author Aella Black as in store.

Falling for a Mermaid

Can she keep her mermaid tail a secret from the lifeguard capturing her heart?

Ella

I have a secret. Every time I come in contact with salt water, I pop a tail.

Because of that secret, my parents will hardly let me out of the house. So when my mom tells me I’m grounded, it doesn’t even faze me. She’s always busy partying on yachts, anyway. It’s not like she will know the difference if I sneak out.

Next thing I know, I’m at the beach, meeting up with a lifeguard I spent the majority of the summer crushing on. Everything about him makes me feel happy and safe. But I can’t ignore the fact that if I get too attached to him, he might discover my secret.

William

Because of my mom’s physically abusive boyfriend, I’ve been forced to leave my own home. I’ve been sleeping at the beach for the past several days.

Ella Paxton is the main girl who’s been on my mind for weeks. That’s why I’m shocked when she finds out about my situation and begs me to move into her guest house. That is, without her parents’ permission.

If you like sweet romance, then look no further! This book has lots of crush-worthy moments. It has hand-holding, flirtatious dialogue, and kissing. But you won’t find any swearing, nudity, or sex.


My thoughts:

It is getting warmer in my corner of the world, and soon there will be people and families gather at beaches and pools.

Wouldn’t it be fun to see a mermaid?

I actually have a mermaid in one of my books, although it is a small part. (I’m not saying which book.)

What’s your favorite mermaid story?

New Release: The Fox and the Phoenix

The Fox and the Phoenix
Following a tragedy hundreds of years ago, a nine-tailed fox has taken refuge in the mortal realm. There, he ends up with an unwanted human roommate named Riley. As he tries to push her away, he begins to have feelings for her. However, nine-tailed foxes are known to kill their brides on the wedding night and Dong is determined to never love again. Exactly what can he do to get Riley to leave? And worse, what will he do when she does?

Read on Vella Now.


Print edition and ebook to follow later this summer.

Review: The Bachelor and the Bride

Synopsis:

London, 1866

Dr. Barnabus Milligan has always felt called to help people, whether that means setting a broken bone or rescuing the impoverished women of London from their desperate lives on the streets as part of his work with the Dread Penny Society.

Three years ago, he helped rescue Gemma Kincaid by marrying her in secret to protect her from her family, notorious grave robbers who were intent on keeping her working in the trade.

But their unconventional relationship is nearly over before it begins when, six months after they exchange vows, Gemma realizes her love for Barnabus is unrequited. To protect her heart, she leaves, telling Barnabus to contact her if his feelings for her ever grow beyond a sense of duty.

When Gemma finally receives a letter from Barnabus, inviting her to return home, she hopes to find a true connection between them. But she quickly learns that he only wants her help to foil the Kincaids, who have been terrorizing the boroughs of London, eager to gain both money and power.

Heartbroken once more, Gemma agrees to help, but she warns Barnabus that she will not stay for long, and once she goes, he’ll never see her again.

Yet as the couple follow the clues that seem to connect the Kincaids to the Mastiff, the leader of London’s underground criminal network, Gemma and Barnabus both realize they might make a better match than either of them suspected. Perhaps the marriage that had once saved Gemma’s life, might prove the means of saving Barnabus—and his lonely heart—as well.

But before the once-confirmed bachelor can properly court his secret bride, they’ll need to evade the dangerous forces that are drawing ever closer to the hopeful lovers and the entire Dread Penny Society itself.


My Review:

I totally loved this book. I loved the growing relationship between Barnabus and Gemma. Everything was woven together very nicely. Highly recommend reading this.

This book has is all: romance, suspense, mystery, and interwoven Penny Dreadfuls! Even if you haven’t read any other of the series, you’ll enjoy this one.

I received an ARC from Shadow Mountain.


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Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Synopsis:

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…


My Review:

I have been waiting for this book since I first heard about in. In part, because I like the folktale Sim Chung and the River Dragon, and have written my own retelling of it.

And I really enjoyed this retelling of it. I loved the lore and the myths. I loved the different takes on imugis. I loved the twists. I love the theme of family and love, and family ties that last beyond death.

I can’t wait to see what author Axie Oh writes next. (And seriously, this book will look great next to mine on the shelf.)

Have you read The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea? What did you think?

What are some of your other favorite retellings?

Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice

Coming April 5, 2022

Description

Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia—the only ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.

Just after midnight on April 15, 1912, the passenger steamship Carpathia receives a distress signal from the largest passenger liner ever built, RMS Titanic, which is on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York.

Captain Arthur Rostron is awakened to an enormous maritime emergency with little information to guide his actions in answering the call for help. Is the dire threat to the unsinkable Titanic accurate? His ship is more than four hours away; will Carpathia hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if his ship also strikes an iceberg? How many of Titanic’s 2,200 passengers will the Carpathia be able to accommodate? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is excited to join her sister in America and proud to be traveling on the grand Titanic, which was built in her Irish homeland. As a passenger in third-class accommodations, she is among the last to receive instruction and help after Titanic hits an iceberg. Among the chaos of abandoning ship, the chances of her securing a spot in a lifeboat appear grim. With the help of several men, also from Ireland, Kate finally reaches the upper decks and feels lucky to board Lifeboat 13, although no one knows if or when a rescue ship will come. She fears the icy water and wonders if they’ll all freeze to death. After seeing their magnificent ship submerge into the abyss, and hearing the cries of hundreds of fellow passengers drowning, it is almost too much to bear and Kate fleetingly thinks succumbing to her ordeal is the easiest escape.

Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Captain Rostron on the Carpathia and Kate Connolly on the Titanic, this historical novel is a compelling, heart-pounding account of two eyewitnesses to an epic disaster. Rostron’s heroic and compassionate leadership, his methodical preparations for rescue, and his grit and determination to act honorably and selflessly to save lives and care for the survivors, sets the course for this awe-inspiring story.


My Review:

You will need a tissue for tears when you read this book. I cried soo many times. Arthur Rostron and his crew deserve to be remembered for the heroic deeds of that night, and this book does an excellent job at that. If anything, I did feel that a bit too much was spent on survivors guilt.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for the ARC.

New Release on Vella!

New chapters every week!

The fiercely independent soporiferous tiny Duchy of Gereauxsemburg hidden deep in the Pyrenees managed to maintain its independence for 700 years. In previous centuries a fierce dragon championed them. It had been centuries since the last time the dragon intervened on their behalf or had even been seen. Now they faced a new and overwhelming peril. Not being inclined to wait around Aubry, Simone, and Caoimhe decide to act and build a mechanical dragon and go to war.

This book is only on Amazon’s new platform, Vella. Start reading today: The Dragon Machine

Review: Beyond the Lavender Fields

Synopsis:

1792, France

Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.

A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for  all.  As  Marie-Caroline  takes  risks  to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in  a  dangerous  secret  that  could  cost  her and her family their lives. As Gilles and  Marie-Caroline  spend  more  time  together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought.

As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.

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My Review:

Having adored Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks, I had to snatch the opportunity to read this book when offered to me. (Thank you for the ARC, Shadow Mountain!) This book did not disappoint. This book was a gem. It masterfully uses the enemies to lovers trope and it kept me turning pages. To risk a spoiler, in the opening Gilles is set up to attempt to kiss Marie-Caroline by her own brother. Their interactions after that were delightful, as they never go as Gilles hopes, nor do they go exactly how Marie-Caroline interprets it. It left me wanting to keep reading to see how their friendship developments. Beautifully done.

This book releases February 1, 2022.

Review: A Hero Born by Jin Yong

Synopsis:

Set in ancient China, in a world where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds, an unlikely hero is born… in the first book in the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes by the critically acclaimed master of the genre, Jin Yong.

After his father—a devoted Song patriot—is murdered by the Jin empire, Guo Jing and his mother flee to the plains of Ghengis Khan and his people for refuge. For one day he must face his mortal enemy in battle in the Garden of the Drunken Immortals. Under the tutelage of Genghis Khan and The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing hones his kung fu skills. Humble, loyal and perhaps not always wise, Guo Jing faces a destiny both great and terrible.

However, in a land divided—and a future largely unknown—Guo Jing must navigate love and war, honor and betrayal before he can face his own fate and become the hero he’s meant to be.

Legends of the Condor Heroes
A Hero Born
A Bond Undone
A Snake Lies Waiting
A Heart Divided


My Review:

I really let the ball drop with this gem. This is a must read type of book. I received an ARC from the publisher before the pandemic, and this one sort of got buried in my to be read pile. I wish I had read it sooner, but, maybe one reason it got buried was the timing wasn’t right for me to read it. So, add this too your TBR lists. Buy a copy. Read it now. Read it later. Either way works. It’s great.

This is a sweeping epic. Upon finishing it, I had to go and see to the next one. The translator did an excellent job. What was really great about this book was, it was almost like watching it. I liked the third person omniscient story telling. I enjoyed the way it talked about kung fu and how it was magic. I wish I had read it sooner!