Monday, April 24, 2023

What Lies Beyond the Veil by Harper Woods

I finally had a chance to dig into a book that was on my own to read list. This book came in a bookish box a while back, and first of's so beautiful. I had heard such good things about this book. I couldn't wait to dig in, but felt I really needed to get through my long list of arcs first. 


Once, we’d worshipped them as Gods.

For nearly 400 years, the Veil has protected us from the Fae of Alfheimr. In their absence, our lives have shifted from decadence and sin to survival and virtue under the guidance of the New Gods. I’ve spent my entire life tending to the gardens next to the boundary between our worlds, drawn to the shimmering magic like a moth to the flame.

Then, we died on their swords.

All of that changes the day the Veil shatters, unleashing the fae upon our world once again. The magic of faerie marks those of us they mean to take, but the Mist Guard protecting Nothrek will kill us all before they let the fae have us. There’s no choice but to flee everything I’ve ever known, not if I want to live to see my twenty-first birthday as a free woman.

Now, they’ll claim what’s theirs.

But before they capture me, Caelum saves me from the Wild Hunt. Fae-marked and on the run, he is able to fight back in ways I only dream of. From tentative alliance to all-consuming passion, our bond strengthens as the fae close in and evil lurks ever nearer. With my life on the line, he is everything I shouldn’t dare to want and a distraction I can’t afford. I can’t seem to stay away, not even with something greater on the line.

My heart.

Author’s Note: This book is intended for readers who are 18 and older. It contains mature language, graphic violence, and explicit content with darker elements. This is book one in a series and ends in a cliffhanger.


I absolutely love a good fantasy read, and this one hit all my favorite points. There was a new world to learn about, and the author did a great job at slowly laying out what this world was like. There was a gradual setting of the stage, but it's worth the build.  Grab your tea and dig in.

Estrella's life in the beginning is rough. Her society is built around a religious cult with purity undertones, and she has caught the eye of the town's ruler, Lord Byron. He's a bit on the creepy side, but has financially supported her family since the town's cultish religion sacrificed her father when she was a child.

When she meets Caelum, I'm thrown off a bit on their interactions. I'm not sure how I feel about this couple, and I'm wondering if the author wants it this way. He calls her "little one" which I thought was a bit weird, but I absolutely swoon when he calls her "my star". He is definitely a morally grey character making it clear he doesn't care about anything else but her.

Once we get passed the slow burn side of it, I'm honestly a bit shocked how this book turned into smut. I wasn't ready! Honestly, I don't mind smut, but I don't feel the level it got to matched the "purity" mindset Estrella had gotten herself out of, she went from shy to heavy kink super fast.

So while this book felt lopsided a bit with Estrella and Caelum's relationship, I still really enjoyed it and will be looking forward to reading the next book in the series.


Religious purity culture, verbal and physical abuse, sexual grooming from an authority figure, ritualistic sacrifice, suicide, suicidal ideation, graphic violence, graphic sex

What Lies Beyond the Veil was published February 22, 2022 and is available at Amazon and Bookshop.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book on my own for my own enjoyment and merriment.  This however does not affect my opinions. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

A Manual for How to Love Us by Erin Slaughter


Do you ever read short stories? How do they fit in with your reading style?

I love keeping a few on hand honestly. To me they are great for a reading slump, or a good cure for a book hangover.

A Manual of How to Love us is a quirky collection of short stories, some of them reading more like poetry than a short story, which comes to no surprise as the author has published two books of poetry.


A debut, interlinked collection of stories exploring the primal nature of women’s grief—offering insight into the profound experience of loss and the absurd ways in which we seek control in an unruly world.

Seamlessly shifting between the speculative and the blindingly real, balancing the bizarre with the subtle brutality of the mundane, A Manual for How to Love Us is a tender portrait of women trying their best to survive, love, and find genuine meaning in the aftermath of loss.

In these unconventional and unpredictably connected stories, Erin Slaughter shatters the stereotype of the soft-spoken, sorrowful woman in distress, queering the domestic and honoring the feral in all of us. In each story, grieving women embrace their wildest impulses as they attempt to master their lives: one woman becomes a “gazer” at a fraternity house, another slowly moves into her otherworldly stained-glass art, a couple speaks only in their basement’s black box, and a thruple must decide what to do when one partner disappears.

The women in Erin Slaughter’s stories suffer messy breaks, whisper secrets to the ghosts tangled in the knots of their hair, eat raw meat to commune with their inner wolves, and build deadly MLM schemes along the Gulf Coast.

Set across oft-overlooked towns in the American South, A Manual for How to Love Us spotlights women who are living on the brink and clinging to its precipitous edge. Lyrical and surprisingly humorous, A Manual for How to Love Us is an exciting debut that reveals the sticky complications of living in a body, in all its grotesquerie and glory.


I've read two of the stories so far, so you may see me talking more about this book as I get it out from time to time. I read the first story named "Anywhere" which is a story of two young women who escape the life they knew to start somewhere else on the other side of the country. It was a quick but raw story of trust with a side of abandonment fears. 

The next I read was section two, called A Manual of How to Love Us, the book's namesake. I had to absolutely read this one. This read more like a poem to me, the abstract thoughts of putting life to words, such as thorns, tongue, stranger, etc. It was a refreshing change of pace for me, I almost never read poetry and I really enjoyed this.

A Manual for How to Love Us was published March 14, 2023 and is available at  Amazon and Bookshop.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Monday, April 3, 2023

Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry



When Marchioness Lamberico fails to conceive a child, she solicits the help of Imelda, the village witch. Nine months later, she gives birth to a baby girl. Biancabella. Though perfect in every other way, the infant is born with a snake wrapped around her neck. To the relief of the marchioness, the creature vanishes at once and, in the joy of motherhood, is soon forgotten. When Biancabella is a young girl, the snake reappears and explains their uncommon sisterhood.

 Samaritana helps Biancabella unlock her magical gifts and asserts that so long as they are together, all will be well. Their close, though secret, relationship unites them above all others. Years pass, the sisters contented, until the day King Ferrandino of Naples arrives, seeking Biancabella’s hand in marriage. What follows shatters the sisters’ bond, leading to misfortune and betrayal, which forces them to grapple with not only the loss of their connection, but leaves each fighting for her life. 

Loosely based on the Italian fairy tale Biancabella and the Snake, the story explores how the love can transform from a domineering and covetous power to authenticity and, ultimately, redemption.


When I first saw this book, I thought I was looking at a medusa retelling with the snakes.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Instead this was a retelling of an Italian fairytale, Biancabella and then Snake. 

Cottage-core friends...this is a lovely little cozy book I think that may have been written just for you.  There is a "fairy-tale" style of grammar and writing in this book that will make you think you're reading a story much older than it is. 

The story is cleanly written, suitable for any audience of any age. There is only one bad word in the entire book, and some violence. If you're looking for a sweet cozy, low stress read be sure to grab this book.

Maiden of Snakes is available on Amazon and is on KU!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!