books

A girl with red hair stares intently at the viewer.

Wolf Cursed, Episode One is LIVE!

A picture of the Wolf Cursed cover on a tablet and hardcover. The cover image shows a redheaded young woman kneeling between two blue-eyed wolves.

Great news everyone! Wolf Cursed, Episode One is now live on the Kindle Store! If you didn't preorder it, you can buy it now and read it instantly.

You can also get Episode Two for free when you sign up for my mailing list. If you're already on my mailing list, don't worry, you will automatically get the email.

I'm going to pull Wolf Cursed, Episode One from sale soon, so make sure you get episode one now before it's too late.

Thank you everyone for all your support. I hope you have a great Tuesday. Talk to you again soon!

xoxo Esme

The Dream Kiss images for your blog, booktok, or other review site

The Dream Kiss is now live on Amazon! You can order it here. If you'd like to leave an honest review on your blog, Instagram, booktok, etc., please feel free to download and use any of the image below. Just make sure to link to the book. If you're posting a video, please mention the title and author of the book in your video.

Click on any of these images to see the full size version. And once again, you can order the book here. Thank you!

The Dream Kiss: Sleeping Beauty Retold

It's an exciting day! The Dream Kiss, the next book in my Fairy Tale Love Stories series, is coming out on September 1st. It's a slightly surreal retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with lots of magic, fairies, intrigue, and drama. There's a love story, of course, a dark fairy, a magical sword, and dragons.

You can order it on Amazon here

This book takes place in Lorca, a fictional island in the middle of the North Sea. Legend has it that the island's name is short for “l'or caché,” or “hidden gold.” What do you think such an island would be like? They must have been invaded many times by their neighbors, so they developed a unique culture incorporating elements from Scandinavian, British, German, Dutch, and French cultures. Of course, when you have dragons and your neighbors don't, that somewhat changes the game…

If you've already read The Rose Kiss, you'll recognize a few callbacks to Lana, Hadrian, and the Sauvagnon family throughout the course of the book. Both books have fairies, but their worlds are very different.

And because we're moving right along, the third installment of the series, The Poison Kiss, comes out next summer. You can read the first chapter at the end of The Dream Kiss when it comes out next week, and preorder it–for the high, high price of 99 cents–right here.

Other Upcoming Releases

My new young adult academy romance, Wolf Cursed, comes out this October. In it, we follow the story of Red Volkov, a wolf cursed to be human, as she adjusts to her human life and tries to understand who, and what, she really is inside. Part coming of age, part shifter story, part Beauty and the Beast, Wolf Cursed is a fresh new take on shifter romances.

This is a young adult book, so there won't be any adult scenes or omegaverse-style conceptions. There are alpha and beta wolves, but only among the human shifters, since alpha wolves don't really exist in the wild. Seriously, I looked it up. You can preorder it on Amazon here.

There's also Daughter of Light and Shadow, another Summer 2022 release. God willing we'll all be out of lockdown by then, and you can read this vampire-angel romance on the beach, the plane, the coffee shop, or wherever you'd like to go.

And there's a new series I haven't announced yet, which I'm very excited to tell you about. But only when the time is right…

A close-up photo of the inner calyx of a red rose, covered in beads of dew.

Newsletter Updates March 12, 2021

Hello everyone! I'm experimenting with a new program called Newsletter Glue, that automatically converts your blog posts into newsletters for your mailing list. How is it going? Let me know by replying to this email, or clicking through to leave a comment.

I want to thank everyone who signed up to be a beta reader for The Rose Kiss. You have all been incredibly helpful, and helped me see numerous weak points in the plot, plus spelling and grammar errors. If you're interested in beta-editing The Dream Kiss, stick around invitations will go out this summer.

I have some exciting news that I hope I can share with you soon. For now, I have four books for you, including some fantasy, romance, and fae drama. There's even a musclebound guy who lost his shirt somewhere. Read on to find out more.

 

Kingdom of Wind and Fire

Blood is magic. Magic is everything.

Brianna grew up hiding her elemental magic, using it only in secret. If discovered, she risked being enslaved by the king’s army. Her twin brother, Brayden, wasn’t lucky enough to avoid that fate. Taken at a young age, his power was controlled by a SpiritSinger.

After fifteen years apart, Brayden escapes and accidentally makes it back to a home he doesn’t remember. No sooner has he reunited with his family when their mother is captured by the same enemy. The twins must make a choice to leave their mother and carry out her wishes or attempt to find and rescue her.

It’s only the beginning.

Torn between choices, they travel to a magical university to learn to control their volatile powers. With the help of a snarky smuggler and his crew, Brayden and Brianna embark on a quest to hone their magical powers and learn who they really are.

Can they stay together long enough to save their mother? Or will an even greater evil tear them apart?

Read Kingdom of Wind and Fire today!

 

Siren Dreams (Free)

All her life Evangeline dreamed of finding her purpose. Now that she has, she is certain that she doesn’t want to fulfil it. Especially not when it could tip the scales in the war that’s brewing between The Gifted.

Evangeline must travel to the Fae communities to convince them that, although there is darkness within her, she is on the side of light. Tensions rise, trust is betrayed and those closest to her might not have her best interests at heart. The very darkness that she wields, seeps its way into her dreams throughout her travels.

This time, someone new enters them. Someone that seems to be trying to communicate with her. Is it a warning of danger to come, or simply an unending memory of her failure to rid the world of The Veils leader?

Read Siren Dreams today!

 

Shadow of the FaeShadow of the Fae by KJ Baker

She’s a broke antiques dealer. He’s a Fae king. What could they possibly have in common? Turns out, everything.

I’m used to my life being a mess. After all, I run a failing antiques shop, drink way too much coffee, and suffer from an eighties cartoon addiction. But being confronted by two savage killers who break into my shop in the middle of the night is a new low, even for me.

So when a dark-haired Adonis appears out of nowhere to save my life, things finally take a turn for the better. Or worse. I’m still not sure which. You see, those two savage killers weren’t human. They were Fae, and the man who saved me? He’s one of them too. And now he’s telling me that I might hold the key to stopping a war between my world and theirs.

But that’s not the weirdest thing he’s told me.

He also says I’m his fated mate.

I’m not sure I can resist those smoky good-looks or that sculpted, sexy-as-hell body.

But if we’re gonna do this saving the world thing, I’m sure as hell gonna have to try.

Shadow of the Fae is a fated mates paranormal romance full of sexy Fae males, sizzling magic and searing passion. If you like your romance full of high-octane adventure, danger and spice then grab this book today! High heat level – recommended for over 18s only.

Read Shadow of The Fae today!

 

Black Sanctuary (free)

These violent delights have violent ends. For the Fistvinter family, they ended in blood and magic.

When her parents are executed in a home invasion, Eve Fistvinter tries to find out why. Can she find the men responsible for their death?

If you like the mythology of Shayne Silver’s Nate Temple Series, the colorful writing of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and the dysfunctional families of Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings, you won't be able to put down the page-turning Chronicles of Alder series.

Pick up Black Sanctuary to read the latest adventure in the series today!

 

Bonus: Bad Book Covers for Public Domain Books

These covers range from “didn't even try” to “what the @#$@# is that?” Many of the covers are pretty funny, or unintentionally amazing, like the Pride and Prejudice cover at right. If you like art that's SOBIG (so bad it's good), this is the article for you. Read it here.

My Year in Reading, Part 1: How I Read

When we tell our stories about 2020, we might focus on the big moments: the silent streets, protesting, voting, waiting. The little, repeated moments might stand out the most: staring out the window; a bay of faces not quite making eye contact on Zoom; our gut churn when reading the news; lying in bed, staring at our phones; the delicate balance of moving through public spaces, trying to maintain distance without getting too close to anyone.

For me, 2020 was a year of reading. I read and listened to more books this year than any other year of my life. Reading was my one surefire escape from this world. I couldn't really leave the house, see any friends, or even go for a walk. This year, I eschewed almost everything gritty, dark, or “realistic,” unless it had some fantastical or supernatural element.

2020 was a year of seeking escape: from reality, from isolation, from what felt like an increasingly insane situation. I'm very glad I had access to several enormous digital libraries to help me stay sane in the midst of insanity.

How I Read

An image of a woman crying with the caption, I downloaded so many audiobooks from the library, I have no time for the audiobooks I actually bought.
My year of reading in one image.

I “read” most of these books as audiobooks, mostly on the three major library apps: Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla. You need a library card to sign up for these apps, but once you have that, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free. The books automatically return once they're due. No late fees.

All three apps have in-built ebook readers and audiobook players. Overdrive and Libby (they're made by the same company) let you send ebooks to your Kindle account, though some ebooks can only be read within the Overdrive and Libby apps. On Hoopla, you must read whatever books you check out within Hoopla; no sending your books elsewhere.

You have to download and listen to your audiobooks within these apps; no sending them to Audible or any other audiobook vendor (although Overdrive lets you download audiobooks to your Mac or PC). All three apps offer mp3 audiobooks, so the quality is a little lower than what you'd get on an app like Audible or Libro.fm. Each app allows you to set a sleep timer, change your reading speed, and add bookmarks to keep your place. You can also go back and refer to your previous bookmarks if you get lost.

Overdrive and Libby allow libraries to buy digital copies of every ebook and audiobook. If your local library bought three copies and they're all “checked out,” you'll have to place a hold on the book and wait until it becomes available. With some popular books, the wait time stretches into weeks or even months. Both apps allow you to add multiple library cards to your account. Libby also allows you to add multiple accounts for the same library. This can lead to shorter wait times, since a book that's checked out at one library might be available at another. Any books you check out on one app will transfer to the other–provided you enter the same library cards on both apps, of course.

Unlike Libby and Overdrive, every title Hoopla is available whenever you want to check it out. No waitlists involved. That said, you can only check out fifteen titles per month. Your account is attached to one library card, so you can't add any other cards to get more checkouts. Audiobooks and ebooks can be checked out for 21 days at a time, while movies, tv shows, and songs are limited to 1-3 day checkout periods. Unfortunately, Hoopla has the worst audiobook interface of the three. There's no way to skip from chapter to chapter, or to even see a chapter list. Like Overdrive, it only plays up to 2x speed. I tried to listen to a few shorter audiobooks through Hoopla, e.g.  plays, lectures, and mini-courses, but I mostly used this app to read comic books, which I never finished.

An audiobook screen, showing the book cover of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, plus the audiobook controls, including the play button, skip forward/backward buttons, controls for the speed, sleep timer, and the bookmark button..
Libby's audiobook player, here playing Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

Each of these apps has its strengths and weaknesses. Overdrive has the most functional, easy-to-use interface of the three, but it only allows you to play audiobooks at up to double speed. Libby has the best controls for audiobook listening. You can adjust the reading speed by 0.05x increments, allowing you to listen from anywhere to 0.6x speed to 3x speed. However, Libby is likely to crash or freeze up, especially when you download 10+ audiobooks at a time. It's made to be “slick,” but I find it a bit clunky and buggy compared to Overdrive. Since it's the only library app that allows you to listen above 2x speed, I used it almost exclusively once I got used to the interface.

This was not the year of physical media for me. I read a few passages from actual, physical books, but only as a supplement to reading the ebook or listening to the audiobook. I read a few ebooks that didn't have audiobooks, such as Thorn of Rose and a few of Michelle Kulp's books. These were the exception; there were no physical books that I read without referring to the ebook or audiobook. Every book I finished reading last year was primarily read or listened to on a tablet or smartphone. I occasionally bought or borrowed a physical book and then finished the audiobook without ever opening the actual book. I'm just one person, so I'm not sure what the takeaway is, except that you should invest in audiobooks if you're an author.

I also didn't finish many comic books or manga this year. The closest I got was reading a “light novel,” i.e. a short, dialogue-heavy young adult novel with manga-style illustrations. This type of novel was invented and popularized in Japan, though it's since spread across East Asia and into the English-speaking world. There aren't many audiobooks for light novels, which might explain their popularity on Google Play's bookstore. Google has a good text to speech engine on their book app, so you can create a free “audiobook” just by downloading the ebook and choosing to listen aloud.

The next post will detail all the series I read, either in whole or in part, in 2020. There are a lot; I didn't realize how many until I started writing the post.

Feature photo by Nguyen Thu Hoai on Unsplash.