Bewitching Fairy Tales

I love these books. Both of them fuse two different fairytales together. Stalks of Gold is a cross between Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin, and Mirrors of Ice combines Snow White with The Snow Queen. I loved reading both of them and I’m sure you will too.

Each story can be read as a standalone, but I saw so much potential for future story connections. I look forward to seeing more in this series and from this author.

The Eldentimber Series

This is a series I’ve been following for a couple years now. The stories are interconnected, but they can stand on their own. The 6th book came out recently and I finished reading it a couple days ago. I’d highly recommend these books.

They are all available to buy on Amazon or read for free in KU. Here’s the series link and another link for a connected novella. If you’re interested in buying, there are also 2 boxed sets available that could save you money. Here’s the link for box set 1 and box set 2. The most recent book isn’t in the boxed sets, but everything else is.

Heres’ the description from the series page:

From Book 1: Thirty Knights. Five Events. One Determined Princess.

In order to avoid a loveless arranged marriage to a man she cannot stand, eighteen-year-old Princess Pippa of Lauramore makes a bold move: she begs her father to hold a marriage tournament. 

Knights travel from far and wide for a chance to win the princess’s hand, but she immediately sets her sights on one—Galinor of Glendon. He’s strong. He’s handsome. He’s a girl’s dream come true. 

But as the events progress, Pippa learns her valiant knight is prettier than he is capable. Left with no other choice, the princess enlists the help of the one man with the power to shatter the fragile balance of the tournament—a man she should keep at arm’s length. 

A man who calls her like a moth to a flame. 

Pippa knows she plays a dangerous game, but when the stakes are this high, she’s not sure if she can afford to walk away… 

Set in a rich fantasy world, Pippa of Lauramore is a take-your-breath-away fairy tale romance with unforgettable characters, humor, and heart.

Once upon a Shoe

Once upon a Shoe is my first published book, and it’s also the book that I took the longest to work on. Part of that was figuring out the world, which my other published books share, but a lot of it was fear of showing it to anyone and worrying that nobody would like it. Before Utopiacon 2016, I had no intention of ever publishing this or any other books, despite the ideas floating in my head. But my husband has a big mouth and before I know it, what was supposed to simply be a chance to meet some of my favorite authors became a huge wave of encouragement from them and other authors who were at the convention. Due to their influence, I started to consider the idea that I could be an author myself. I wasn’t entirely certain if I wanted to publish yet, but I left more open to the idea and determined to at least write this story.

I think it was maybe late 2017 when I asked for feedback from a few other authors. But it wasn’t until early to mid 2018 before I reached out to my editor and scheduled her services. It was especially challenging to not allow myself to continue to tweak my story while I waited for my scheduled time to get it edited because that wouldn’t happen until late 2018. By the time both rounds of editing was done, it was early 2019. Once I finished editing, I hit publish and listed it on Booksprout for reviews all one the same day. I waited to enroll it in KU until after the due date I had set for the Booksprout reviews.

Anyway, I should get to the details of the book itself. I’ll try to keep the spoilers minimal, but I make no guarantees. If you don’t want any spoilers for my book, stop reading this now, because I can’t not give at least some spoilers and talk about my version.

It’s interesting how far an idea can change when you’re writing a book. For Once upon a Shoe, my idea started with the stepmother, Iris. I started off wondering what if the stepmother isn’t the stereotypical bad guy that she is usually is? Although I’ve since read a different version that answers this same question, I hadn’t seen anything even remotely similar to the concept before I started working on this in 2016. Most of my first draft based on this idea was cut in later drafts because I realized that I was writing more than one story. About half of my very rough first draft was written from Iris’ point of view and took place before Ella was even born. Iris will still get her own story later because for many reasons it is near and dear to my heart, but I realized that for a Cinderella story, I was starting it way too early.

Aside from knowing that I wanted a nice stepmother, I went in with a few strong ideas of what I did and didn’t want to bring in from the originals. I wanted my prince to have a personality, closer to the Pharaoh of Rhodopis than the boring prince of most versions. But unlike Rhodopis’ pharaoh, I made Aeden a bit jaded. I mean, I couldn’t see why a prince would be happy to just go along with the idea that he needs to pick a bride at the ball from a bunch of random strangers. The fact that Ella and Aeden were friends was another early decision.

Of course, the fact that they were best friends early on gave me the problem of deciding exactly how and why they weren’t close anymore by the time the necessary ball came around. Although I didn’t save most of the earliest drafts, this problem was one that I approached from several different directions before I made my final decision on having the split happen during the funeral. And even that scene went through numerous revisions before I felt like I had it right.

I mentioned in my post about my favorite Cinderella’s that Ever After is my absolute favorite version, and I certainly drew inspiration from that version in the idea that I had one nice stepsister and a mean one. But I certainly needed to know exactly why Anna (the mean stepsister in my book) was acting the way she did. In many versions I’ve read, I have always felt like there was a lack of motivation being shown for the evil stepfamily, so it was important to me to make sure that I did let that shine through, even though the task wasn’t an easy one without letting Anna be a point of view character. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, I have an early prologue (among other scenes) on my subscriber page that was from her point of view. If you aren’t on my mailing list and you want to check out my subscriber page, you can sign up here. Whether you subscribe or not, I do have plans to give Anna her own story in the future.

If you didn’t just stumble on this post without any knowledge about me, you probably know that my Once upon a Story series is made up of standalone stories that include little Easter eggs for other books in the series. The biggest reason I chose to write them as standalone is because as a reader, I have a love/hate relationship with series. It can be really difficult to get to the end of a book only to find out that the story isn’t over and the next book won’t be out for some unknown amount of time. Since I had several ideas for this world, and no idea how long it would take for me to finish all of them, I wanted to make sure not to leave readers hanging with a cliffhanger ending. Some of the Easter eggs were pretty big and others are more subtle. The one for my second book, Once upon a Silent Song, was certainly much smaller than what I wrote in for my third book, Once upon a Rose. Then there are the threads to stories yet to come, though not everything is connected to this story. I wonder how many you’ve found?

Since I’ve mentioned all of the major decisions I made for the book, I should probably stop before I spoil the whole thing, LOL. But if you have any specific questions, let me know in the comments and I’d love to answer it for you.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can find Once upon a Shoe on Amazon. It’s free to read in KU. And here’s the official description:

Magic shoes, family problems, and a midnight deadline… How much do you really know about Cinderella’s fairytale?

Ella always knew she’d marry for love or not at all. She wanted nothing less in a marriage than the obvious affection she witnessed between her father and her stepmother, Iris. But when her father disappears and Iris sinks into depression, Ella cuts herself off from the rest of the world as she struggles with her own emotions, a disgruntled stepsister, and an overwhelming workload. Armed with a fragile hope, she must go to the royal ball to find her father. But a reunion with her childhood best friend threatens to shatter the walls she’s built around her heart.

Crown Prince Aeden always hated his status. He felt like social engagements and propriety were a waste of his time and energy, especially with girls who were just interested in a crown. One such confrontation with Ella led to the start of an unlikely friendship. Over time, Aeden realizes that his feelings for Ella have evolved into something more. But before he can tell her, tragedy strikes and Ella pushes him away. When he finally sees her, Aeden is determined to do whatever it takes to not lose her again. He must convince Ella that they are meant to be together before his time runs out.

Stepmothers aren’t always villains and princes aren’t always charming. With so much uncertainty, do they have what it takes to create a happy ending?

The Once upon a Story series consists of interconnected standalones that can be read in any order.

Cinderella

Illustration 176120170 © Danilo Sanino | Dreamstime.com

Since my version of Cinderella, Once upon a Shoe, is currently on a Kindle Countdown sale, I thought I’d finally start a series of posts that I’ve been thinking about writing for a while now. Today, I intend to talk about my favorite versions of Cinderella.

The word favorite, has always been an interesting one for me because I have trouble sticking with any one favorite most of the time. However, for Cinderella, I do have a clear favorite that has stuck with me. The movie, Ever After, has been my favorite version of Cinderella ever since I first saw it back in high school. I loved the blending of the real world with the fairy tale and the fact that there was more depth to it than the animated versions I’d seen before. I still don’t quite understand why they were all using British accents when it took place in France, but that was the only thing about the movie that I could possibly complain about.

Although Ever After is still my absolute favorite Cinderella, there are several other versions that I love. This post would be way too long if I described them all in detail, so I’ll just list everything else for now. I may possibly decide to write a separate post about some of these later. With my memory, I know that will inevitably forget about something, and I may have something new to share in the future, so I’ll update this post when I either remember something new or find a new version I love. These aren’t in any particular order.

What’s your favorite Cinderella retelling. Let me know in the comments below.

Next time, I’ll be talking about the original versions of Cinderella. But without further ado, here’s my list of favorite Cinderella Retellings. I’ll put a * next to anything that is more mature than YA.

Movies

Ever After

Disney’s Cinderella, both the original animated version and the newer live action version

Happily Never After

A Cinderella Story

Ella Enchanted

Books

Cinderella and the Colonel by K. M. Shea

#TheRealCinderella by Yesenia Vargas

Chasing Midnight by Kaitlyn Davis

* Dance by Demelza Carleton

Shard of Glass by Emily Deady

Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Princess of Midnight by Lucy Tempest

Ellie and the Prince by J.M. Stengl

Traitor’s Masque by Kenley Davidson

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

The Coronation Ball by Melanie Cellier

Cinders, Stars, and Glass Slippers by Brittany Fichter

Kingdom of Fairytales Cinderella (4 book series) by J.A. Armitage and Margo Ryerkerk

* Captivated by the Fae by Jessica Greyson and Aria Winters

Fated by Kaylin Lee

The Moonfire Bride

*Post contains affiliate links.

I recently finished reading this book and I loved it, though I kind of wish I would have waited to start it since the second book won’t be out for another month. According to the description, this is inspired by the myths Eros and Psyche, and Hades and Persephone. Eros and Psyche was an especially strong element in here, and knowing the myth made it all that much worse for me when I knew the main character would make the wrong choices.

I especially loved how Sylvia Mercedes wrote her characters. The nonverbal communication was a rare treat. I’m anxious to read the next book when it comes out on April 20th because the ending was far from resolved.

You can buy or read it for free in KU by following this link.

Tales from the Kingdoms of Fable

*post contains affiliate links

This series is one I discovered recently. I’ve only read the first book so far, but I absolutely adored it. The Scarred Prince is predominately a combination of Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood, but there were so many fairytale connections, both in the backstories and in what I assume are links to the other books, that I was definitely geeking out over every discovery.

The Golden Ball is currently in my KU library and I intend to start reading it later today. If you have Kindle Unlimited, then you can try them out risk-free. Here’s the series link.

The Kingdom Chronicles

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Camille Peters’ series The Kingdom Chronicles is one that I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. All the stories interconnected standalones that take a unique approach to the fairytale or in some cases, fairytales that they are inspired by.

They are all currently available to read for free in Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t have KU, you may be eligible for a free trial.

At the time of writing this post, Identity, which is an excellent retelling of The Goose Girl, is free to buy, but I don’t know how long this will last.

Go here for the box set page or here for the individual books series page.

Enchanting the Elven Mage

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This is a book that I read recently and loved. It’s a standalone that hits all the major Sleeping Beauty beats alongside an unwanted/arranged marriage trope. Aury’s stubbornness and the cultural clashes and misunderstandings made me laugh.

I enjoyed the build up of the romance. Although this is a YA book, it was a little more on the steamy side than most YA books, though there wasn’t anything explicit. I’d say it’s more appropriate for older teens and up.

If you have KU it’s free to read. You can check it out here.

I had trouble talking about this without giving away spoilers, so if you want to read the official description, I’ve pasted it below.


Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Cruel Prince, this stand-alone fantasy romance about a human princess and her marriage to a royal, elven warrior will keep you up all night!

A human princess. An elven mage. A betrothal bound in a curse.

Today, Aury learned three things: One, she is the princess. Two, she might be a powerful mage. And three, a brutal mountain elf is on his way to the kingdom for their marriage. 

Aury can’t escape her newly revealed royal parents quickly enough. If they think she is going to marry some vicious elven warrior mage, they have another thing coming. They claim she’s a mage too, but she has yet to prove it. She heads to the magic military order to get her rune-marked staff and learn everything she can. If she becomes the weapon they need instead of her not-if-she-can-help-it husband, they’ll send the mountain elf packing, right?

If they don’t, she will.

Filip is certain of three truths: One, he is bound to wed a stubborn mule of a princess. Two, the union will give his people the farmland they desperately need. Three, his nightmare of a bride has wild magic that will probably kill him before their wedding day.

But he will die before he gives up on winning her hand.

War is coming, and the first battle will be fought in the heart.

Inspired by Sleeping Beauty, this novel is set in the same world as USA Today bestselling author Alisha Klapheke’s Dragons Rising series but readers can easily start with this book. 

Get your copy today!

Some Binge-worthy Books

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I’ve talked about some of K.M. Shea’s books before because I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers so far. The only books I haven’t quite read yet are some of the really old ones on her backlist.

But today, I wanted to talk about two connected series of hers, one of which I binged recently.

The Hall of Blood and Mercy series came out a little over half a year ago. Since K.M. Shea was releasing the series with a month between each book, I waited until just before the 3rd book was out before I started reading. This series is a loose retelling of Donkeyskin without any of the truly disturbing parts of that fairytale. I loved reading Hazel’s story in general, but the part of me that’s obsessed with fairytales geeked out on the parts that were recognizable as being from Donkeyskin.

Other than the fairytale aspect, this series was fast-paced and entertaining on so many levels. These books have the humor that is characteristic of K.M. Shea’s books that had me laughing often. The romance was adorable and I loved the world and the characters. The dynamics between Hazel and Killian were some of my favorite parts of the books, though their interactions with some of the other characters were awesome as well.

If you are in Kindle Unlimited, you can read the whole series for free. Here is the book link if you want to check it out.

The last book in the Court of Midnight and Deception series came out this month, so I started reading just before that release date. As far as I know, this one is not based on a fairytale, but I loved it just as much as I loved Hazel’s story.

This series is set in the same world as the Hall of Blood and Mercy series and it takes place just after that series ends. So I would strongly recommend that you read the Hall of Blood and Mercy series first to avoid some pretty big spoilers.

This series follows Hazel’s friend/Killian’s neighbor, Leila and the far assassin, Rigel. But Hazel and Killian make an appearance at least once in each book. I loved this series for a lot of the same reasons as I loved the Hall of Blood and Mercy series. Rigel and Leila’s relationship takes a much different path than Hazel and Killian’s, but I can’t really say which couple I like more.

This series is also free to read in Kindle Unlimited. Here’s the series link.

If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited and you haven’t tried it recently, you may be able to try it for a month free. Go here if you want to check it out. I’m not exactly sure what the time period is between trials for determining if you are eligible or if you are ineligible for trying it recently. But I tried Kindle Unlimited three times before I decided that I would read within the program often enough to make the subscription worth it for me.

A Beauty and the Beast Retelling I loved.

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I think it’s no secret that I love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. I have several that I’ve loved that I’ll have to go through my previous reading list and share sometime. But this one is a YA version that I devoured a couple of days ago and I simply had to share it.

Similar to my retelling, this one appears to be based on Beaumont’s version of Beauty and the Beast, which is debatably the original version. Although there are other, older versions that are similar, most retellings are based upon Beaumont or other more recent versions. Technically, de Villeneuve is the actual original for what we think of as Beauty and the Beast, but the significant difference between the two is that de Villeneuve has a lot of info-dumping and unnecessary backstory that was omitted in Beaumont’s version.

Unseen Beauty takes on the unique point of view of one of the invisible servants in the castle. I feel like Amity Thompson did a great job incorporating the most important aspects of Beauty and the Beast while making the story her own with twists that were not in the original. The setting is a fantasy place with a European feel.

I have to admit that I blew off things I was supposed to be doing because I was that hooked on the story. I read this as a KU download, but I intend to buy a copy as soon as my budget allows because I know I’ll want to read it again.