Kindle & Coffee, Kindle Vella Reviews

Elven House of Ivy and Bone: A Vella Story by Kristin J Dawson

Elven House of Ivy and Bone - Kindle and Coffee Banner

Elven House of Ivy and Bone – Kindle and Coffee Banner

Before we dig in, I want to thank readers for their recommendations. Between your recommendations and the serials I have scheduled, I’ve got reviews scheduled to the week of Christmas. Things are insane and amazing. In addition to our in depth reviews, there may be brief one shot instapost type reviews because I think this is something that can help encourage additional writers. If this is something you’d like to see, please let me know.

Obligatory adorable dragon, because dragons.

And now lets get started!

There are so many amazing fantasy books out there from Piers Anthony’s Xanth which will be releasing the 47th installment, A Tryst of Fate on October 19th, to Ann McAffrey‘s Dragonriders of Pern. The variety and scope of these adventures is endless and even if you aren’t someone who primarily reads fantasy, like Zombie stories, I believe that there is a fantasy series or writer out there for you.

I’ve recently reviewed another fantasy vella, Courting Fae Thieves and Crowns by Joanna Reeder (review located here). The best part about the referral I received for Joanna’s vella is that it came with a recommendation for Elven House of Ivy and Bone which promises strong heroines, magic, swords and sorcery, fae, romance and dragons!

If there is something you should know about me as a reader, if you haven’t figured it out already, is that I love dragons. In all honesty, January will likely be the month of dragons where all my reviews come from the dragon tag. You may have noticed this during last week’s review of Dinos of the Old West I mentioned being a fan of Temeraire… So… when a story was recommended to me with dragons as part of the description, I was immediately like.. GAME ON!

Let’s dig in with the author’s blurb which introduces us to the vella.

Relentlessly hunted, Ivy has lost her home, family, and most of her seeds that grant elves longevity. Orion is a embittered captain of the guard who has watched magic destroy human lives. When mindless Seekers put Ivy and Orion on a collision course, a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues. But as the mystery of the magic-tainted attacks unfold, it’s far bigger than either had imagined — threatening to shatter the tenuous peace between the human and fae realms.

Kristin J Dawson

Now that we know what to expect, it is time to dive in!

The Nitty Gritty

Ivy and Bone isn’t just well paced for the reader, it’s the fast paced kind of adventure that would have your eyes darting faster and faster down the page as you read, only to rip the next page out of the spine in your need to proceed.

Well, I’m not book ripper, but this would definitely a page turner if it was printed. Hopefully it will be printed in the future as I would love to have a copy as soon as I have a permanent home with a library to put it in.

Quote from Episode One

Dawson promises action and adventure, and I am one to agree.

From word one you can’t help but root for Ivy. She’s in an impossible situation, trying to survive creatures that we can only imagine in our nightmares. In some ways the feeling I get from reading the description of the Seed Seekers is the feeling I imagine I would find bubbling up in me if I were to encounter an actual dementor in real life.

Based on the quote I’ve provided you and that brief description above, you can probably guess that Ivy is in trouble. There is a lot of action from the first moment you are introduced to her all the way to the last word of the each episode. Because I’m doing my best not to spoil details, I’ll provide you one of the moments that made my heart jump in my throat. Best part, it comes from the first episode!

Can you imagine being introduced to a character, getting sucked into their world and then, at the very end of the first episode, are told she looked out into the valley below and leapt?

Who does that? Who gives you that sort of precipice in the plot and lets your brain careen to a halt?

I’ve done it. Not a leap into a valley so to speak, but I’ve had similar openings to works pour out of me that throw you right off what for other authors would be the peak of their plot.

But no, you’re thrown into a heart pounding moment where time seems to stop at the end of the first episode. Thankfully, this cliff hanger isn’t one that leaves you hanging for long. All it took to move on and find out what happens next was the click of the thumbs up icon, as this episode is definitely worthy of it, and then clicking the next episode button.

I’ve had moments where I’ve reached the end of an episode before and had no next episode button to click.

Luckily for me as a reader, there were far more than that first episode. Just one problem. The next episode isn’t even about Ivy… instead we’re introduced to Orion. This is definitely well played and well planned by Dawson. As a reader you’re eager to find out more about the Seekers and discover Ivy’s fate. Did she some how manage to survive this perilous fall? The good news is that we do find out what happened to ivy fairly quickly. If we hadn’t I would have likely sent a terse note of displeasure to the author. Luckily there was no need for this.

And now to one of my favorite things. Our introduction to dragons because the introduction of Ash made me giggle and we all know, I’m a sucker for dragons. Especially this one!


I don’t like using the word ‘binge’ when it comes to a book or a serial. It’s over used and a little cliched when you think about it. But here I am, using it again. I find myself telling you that I’ve found a binge worthy Vella worth every token that I’ve spent on it.

Not only do we have action and adventure, and dragons, we’ve got humor as well. This may or may not have been an inopportune time for me to be drinking coffee as some may or may not have gone out my nose. Of course this encounter was immediately followed by a return to reality for Ivy as we learn why she was on the run and ended up jumping out of a building.

You won’t just laugh at some of Ivy’s misfortunate, your heart will break fo her. I know that I’ve laughed and cried in equal measure over this well written, fast paced Vella as an overly emotional reader who becomes protective of characters as she reads can. It is slowly growing and simmering into something that has me checking back regularly in search of new episodes.

Take the time to give Elven House of Ivy and Bone a chance and I promise you won’t be disappointed, I know I wasn’t even if I misread Magdud more than once as Magedude.

Other Reviews Banner
Other reviews banner

If what I’ve had to say about Ivy and Bone isn’t enough to convince you to take a look inside this vella, here is what other’s have had to say about it:

The Talky Bits with the Author
The talky bits with the author

One of my favorite things to do as part of a review is ask the author questions. Each time I write a review there are more and more to ask. For me, as a writer and a reviewer, it is a lot of fun to find out some of what makes other authors tick. And even more fun is that these answers often help the characters we’re reading about come to life.

I sent nine questions to Kristin and eagerly awaited a response. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Kitty: What is your favorite book/series?

Kristin: I honestly loved Shadow & Bone. I read it years ago and was so excited that I contacted my writer friend, Paul, to tell him about this amazing gem that I’d found. And he pretty much said, “Kristin, you’re late to the party. That’s a NYT Bestseller.” ha! I was very late, but I think the lack of hype let the book pull me in by surprise. It’s still one of my favorites. 

Kitty: Who is your favorite author?

Kristin: My auto-buy author is Charlie N. Holmberg. I’ve read all her books and all her short stories! If you want amazing magic systems, she’s your writer.

Kitty: Have either influenced your writing?

Kristin: Shadow and Bone inspired me to look further east for inspiration, rather than Medieval England, and my Unchosen trilogy is ancient Balkan-inspired. And, Charlie always pushes me to think about clever magic systems, which also comes through in my trilogy. But honestly, my friend I mentioned earlier, Paul, was the biggest influence on my magic system. He helped me form and push it so it could grow through the series.

Kitty: What drew you to writing fantasy?

Kristin: Probably Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven. I’ve always written stories, but when I was younger I primarily wrote science fiction. Brandon’s creativity drew me to writing fantasy. I wrote my first fae story about a decade ago, but never published it because it was so complicated. I’m almost ready to take a second look at it. It has a very similar vibe to what I’m currently writing with Elven House of Ivy and Bone.

Kitty: If there was one thing you could tell Ivy (as though she was a real person) about her fate and the adventure you have placed her on), what would it be?

Kristin: I’d tell her that as difficult as her life is physically, she needs to prepare for even bigger challenges. But, those challenges are going to help her, in the long run. She has expectations of her loved ones and of elvenkind. As soon as she lets go of pride and expectation, she’ll be able to really not just help herself, but help the people that she loves. I think this is generally true of life. You know, we have these challenges and we don’t know if we can take any more. But when we press forward without bitterness and allow these challenges to give us wisdom, we’ll be happier. At least, I plan to give my characters an HEA, even if some aspects are a bit bittersweet.

Advice to new and inspiring authors

Kitty: If you could go back and time and tell your younger self one thing about being a writer, what would it be?

Kristin: Writing is not an island. Be prepared to make some really good writing friends and hold them tight. They’re going to be your lifeline. 

Kitty: If you could give new or inspiring writers a piece of advice, what would you tell them?

Kristin: Read. Read. Read. 

Kitty: If you could tell your readers anything about your books or your Vella, what would it be?

Kristin: Ivy and Orion are both highly skilled with their magic, and readers jump right into the action. Both protagonists are smarth and a little bit ruthless. This is a classical elven story, but fast-paced with a raw, visceral style of writing. You’ll meet an orc with a sense of humor, pensive dryads, a sassy dragon, deadly fae, and all sorts of other fantasy characters. Plus, new twists to the traditional magic, of course. And while most of the episodes are from Ivy or Orion’s POV, there are a sprinkling of episodes from other characters in the story. I always like political intrigue, so this story is no exception. And romance. This story has a bit of that, too.

Kitty: If you could tell your readers anything about yourself, what would you say to them?

Kristin: I love getting emails or messages from readers. Especially with Vella because I can modify the story based on what readers like (or don’t like). Obviously, it’s good to have elements of a story that readers love to hate, but the interactive element of Vella storytelling is fun. For example, I had one reader tell me she wanted a particular elf to have a certain appearance. And so that’s what I did because I loved her idea. I also get feedback on what readers are enjoying — what’s hooking them. That allows me to lean into those hooks. That sort of engagement with readers is awesome! 

I very much appreciate readers favoriting my story and keeping Ivy and Orion in the top 250 for most of the time since the story was published. I couldn’t be more delighted with their support!

And some of you wonder why I reach out to authors? Answers like these are some of them.

Kristin can be found on her Website, Good Reads, FaceBook, and Instagram.

Upcoming feature announcements banner
Up coming announcements banner

There is so much happening right now in the lives of myself and Mr Wizard as we get ready to head a bit further south as things like water service are being shut off for the season. Last year we were lucky enough to make it all the way to November before we had to flee the mountains. This year not so much! BRRR!!! This means that there could possibly be delays in postings due to travel, but I’ll do my best to keep things moving on schedule.

This week you’ll find new episodes of both The Explorers and Exile waiting for you on Kindle Vella. Here in the blog, you’ll should find a blog post titled: So, you wrote a book! What now? which will discuss the self editing process and how you can prepare for critiques, beta feedback and how to recognize if and when it’s time to seek an editor.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram you can now find me on Twitter and FaceBook as well where you can get updates on my writing projects, blog, adventures and Kindle & Coffee reviews. Our newsletter will be arriving sometime during October. Almost ready for it.

And what some of you have been waiting for, coming up next week on Kindle and Coffee, Kingdom of Links by Sarah Shipley.

If you have the chance to take a peak, we can compare notes!

For now, it’s time to sign off. As always, have amazing and exciting adventures! Just not as exciting as X’s!

Adventure Blog

Adventure Blog: Wickes Tunnel

Since leaving Texas in mid July we have driven over 12,000 miles. That is a lot miles. We’ve been to Jeep Badge of Honor Trails, Ghost Towns, Abandoned Mines, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier National Parks complete with their spectacular views. These miles have included nearly a terabyte of pictures and half a terabyte of video. it’s insane!

I did say it was a fantastic view? This was just one of many! and it was incredible! Here… have another because I love panoramic views.

Images from our adventures, and the occasional video are posted on Instagram, but occasionally an adventure requires a little bit more! Today, adventurers I give you, The Wickes Corbin Tunnel!

Wickes Tunnel

That said, here are a few pictures from our adventure out to Wickes Tunnel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. There was just something about the tunnel that was magical! It’s also said to be haunted as ten men lost their lives during it’s construction… who knows, maybe there is a paranormal investigations team that would like to check it out. That is definitely something I would watch!

The Wickes Tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel that connects Wickes and Corbin. While the tracks have long since been removed, this tunnel is 6224 feet (1.18 miles) in length. It can be quite tricky to navigate as there has been some damage to the tunnel caused by flooding.

Where we entered the tunnel, you can see debris including rocks that have fallen into your bath and deep standing water.

The trail itself is easily passible by OHV vehicles and even an unmodified Jeep Wrangler. While a few submerged boulders left me cringing as we came down over them, our skid plates saved our oil pan!

You can find the tunnel here.

Directions:

Between Boulder and Helena on Interstate 15, take the Jefferson City exit #176. Turn west to Jefferson City. At the stop sign in Jefferson City, turn left. Take the 2nd right at the intersection of Jefferson Road and Corbin Road. Follow Corbin Road west. You will come to a fork in the road at the town of Corbin (just some houses now). Bear to the left at that fork. The road becomes Wickes Road. Follow this until you come to a grouping of houses. When you get to Wickes, what looks like the main road will turn to the right and start up a hill but that is NOT where we are going. Go left off the main road between some older buildings and houses and past them into a small valley. As you pass these older buildings you will see a newer home on the hill to your left. The Forest Service road goes through the center of the valley and sometimes there is a fence/gate there. This is private property on both side on the road so don’t stop and throw a party. 🙂 The road will rise slightly out of this small valley and you should then see a small pond and the north entrance to the tunnel, just to the left.

The above directions from Montana Overland 4×4 Adventures.

Something to keep in mind is that on your way to the tunnel, depending on which path of travel you take, you’ll cross an abandoned town, a mine and even the remnants of free standing charcoal kilns. There are amazing pictures to be taken on this journey. There are a few for you below.

I almost wish we had the chance to make this trip closer to dusk as it would make these images far more spectacular in their creep factor.

And just incase you’re curious, we were able to film a Jeep Bro that we met on the way to the tunnel heading in. The video definitely makes you appreciate the insanity involved in this kind of adventure. Their video is followed by one of our entrance to the tunnel.

Jeep Bro’s entrance to the Wicke’s – Corbin Tunnel

Well, that’s it for this wrap up. I should have more posts coming up about writing, process, editing and our adventures.

Things for us travel wise won’t be slowing down until the start of the New Year. Living a life on the road has definitely been exciting and fulfilling.

Today we’ll close with an obligatory picture of Beep Beep the Mountain Jeep on the trail.

Obligatory Mountain Jeep Picture

Until next time, may your adventures be exciting. Just not as exciting as X’s!

Kindle Vella Reviews, Project Updates, The Explorers, Under A White Moon Paranormal Mysteries

September In Review: An Amazing Journey

September in Review

Stepping out into the land of publishing under your own name, own steam and own imagination is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I guess that is why ghost writing seemed to be so amazing. In the end, changes and edits were made to change modify the novels I worked on. That meant flop or flail, in the end, it wasn’t something I had to worry about because I already had my pay day.

That’s probably not the best attitude to have. In hindsight, I can’t explain the relief of not dealing with the jitters of my first release day.

So… how did September end up? What did I get done? It’s time to find out!

Of the two Vellas that I am working on, with the assistance of Developmental editors David Cherbini and Blue Coutell, I never expected that The Explorers would out perform Exile, an Under the White Moon Paranormal Mystery with twists like fated and true mates.

Exile

Normally mysteries with a splash of romance and shifters does incredibly well. Maybe I need to recategorize it? It is, after all, in the end the first part of Eden and Warnon’s love story.

Exile debuted on August 29th. The good news is that the story’s read through rate has been consistent, so I know I haven’t lost readers. It has been recommended that this Vella get a new cover. I may just need to consider that as readers expect shifter stories to have a presence of the shifting being on the cover.

Episodes for exile will continue to be posted weekly until the start of the New Year where things may be changed up.

I’ve been asked about Eden’s story, what lead her and Philippe to the situation described in the first Episode and since this Vella stemmed from an original short story, I am being put to task. With David’s phenomenal recommendation, I’ll be posting a Prelude to Exile titled Death and Banishment, hopefully in time for the holidays. The plan is 14 – 20 episodes.

I had originally hoped t start posting these episodes the week of Thanksgiving and wrapping them up on New Years Day. This is a very ambitious goal as the original short story needs some work done to ensure I don’t make crazy mistakes, like contradict myself and leaving plot holes the size of Texas in my wake.

Stay tuned to Instagram (for now… there will be a news letter sometime this month. It’s on the plan, I promise!) for announcements and a cover reveal for Death and Banishment.

I have also been asked how long, how many seasons basically, there are currently in this series. Right now there is the prelude, the current season, a series of side stories that go along with it, and two books that are nearly complete that will make up the second and third season.

Eden and Warnon’s Arc of these mysteries looks to span 5 – 8 epic length novels. This could change going forward depending on plot developement.

Finally, The Explorers. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the Explorers. What I can tell you is that I really did not expect it to take off because it is so hard to perform well outside of romance and romance adjacent genres.

If you look at the top favorites from September, more than half are sprinkled in with romance, just kisses or strait up sex.

The Explorers peaked at 93 on the top favorites chart and closed out the month at 109. This series is not only the first book that I have published in any form, it is also my first best seller and fan favorite. I can’t even begin to tell you how nerve wracking the last week has been.

To celebrate a top favorite placement for most of the month, I released a bonus episode and even gave Explorers a face lift moving from our old map to an image featuring the Wickes Tunnel in Montana.

In addition to closing out the month was well placed as it is, despite the main character being a murderous antihero, the Explorers was Eighth in Mystery and Eleventh in Thrillers.

Overall, The Explorers is a slowly simmering pot of insanity that is going to be boiling over in the month of October. And in honor of all things spooky and creepy, we’ll see bonus episode of this Vella just in time for Halloween with Episode #17 releasing on Monday, October 25th and Episode #18 releasing on the evening of Saturday, October 30th.

I have been asked how many episode I think Explorers will run for. The answer is I honestly don’t know! The original outline was for a first season with 45 episodes. I’ve just hit episode 7 of the original 45 episode first season. That episode 7 rounds out episode #17 discussed above.

Now that those specifics are out of the way, I want to share with you a brief moment that I had when the rankings were finalized today.

I was one of those people that was told that I would never succeed as a writer, never publish, never sell. This was told to me by an English teacher in High School. There may or may not be a tshirt coming along that says something like “I’m a best selling author with a fan favorite story. May my English teacher suck duck eggs through a tiny straw.”

What else is happening in Vella Land? The Horror Authors group is running a scavenger hunt through the first episodes of our Vellas. You can find information about the #HorrorHunt on Naomi Ault’s blog.

You’ll be looking for a baseball bat, a murderous gray cat, jazz hands, a hunting knife, a help wanted ad for a bartender and an old, tattered book.

I think this is not only a lot of fun, but a great way to be introduced to some amazing authors and their stories.

When Vella launched, one thing that the platform needed was a space where episodes could be reviewed. There have been podcasts and in platform reviews on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter.

I started writing reviews because I love reading. I’ve just about hit the end of my fourth set of 1700 tokens. Needless to say, I’m an avid reader.

The best part of these reviews has been the opportunity to get to know the authors while having the chance to gush about their work.

Someone did ask, after reading my FAQ, if I have actually sent out developmental feedback letters.

The answer to that question is yes. I will keep reiterating that a writer shouldn’t be discouraged early in their career when they have a chance to grow. To date, I’ve sent seven of these letters not only because they contain valuable feedback, but because I may be able to come back in the future and offer the author a review.

The month of September saw four complete reviews posted. I’ve also decided that I’ll be doing one off single post reviews that are basically an instagram pos. They’ll also appear here on Kindle & Coffee, unless its a Tapas & Tea take over week.

I receive frequent requests for reviews and recommendations for reviews and with only two exceptions have them scheduled in the order that they’ve been received.

I’m working on a submission form for both authors and readers to request reviews. It should be up this coming week and I’ll make sure that everyone understands that just because a Vella is submitted for review, doesn’t mean it will be reviewed in a timely manner. By timely, I mean that I’m booked out past Christmas.

That doesn’t mean I won’t consider shuffling around the line if I find I’m reviewing the same genre several weeks running. I know I tend to favor horror, thrillers and suspense, but not everyone does.

I’, considering a Dragons ONLY month of January for fun. Because Dragons. Have I mentioned that I love dragons? I think I have.

For now, we have a review of Elven House of Ivy and Bone by Kristin J Dawson by debut on October 4th and it will be followed up with Kingdom of Links by Sarah Shipley. I can’t wait to tell you what’s coming up after them, but you’ll have to wait for now.

Well, that’s it for this wrap up. I should have more posts coming up about writing, process, editing and our first Adventure Blog which will release on Sunday!

Things for us travel wise won’t be slowing down until the start of the New Year. Living a life on the road has definitely been exciting and fulfilling.,

Until next time, may your adventures be exciting. Just not as exciting as X’s!