It's finally here! After months and months of work my contribution to Enchanted Kingdoms is ready for you lovely readers!

(For those who haven't heard, you can catch up on all the Enchanted Kingdoms info here.)

As you probably know, I was tasked with writing a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for the collection. It was an interesting experience for me, as Snow White has never really been my favorite fairytale, but the idea for this book struck me and wouldn't let go. Writing it was a wild ride, from the sparkly nobility our protagonist grew up with to roughing it in the woods, and through all the ruthless witches and oh-so-fun romance. I ended up really putting my spin on the story and I hope the world and characters are as enjoyable for all of you as they are for me.

Without further ado, take a peek at The Ruin of Snow:

I was the last of my sisters to arrive, which was just the way I liked it.

They waited gathered at the front entrance, Mother at the head in bold and regal black and white. Sarafine held herself by the door like a frosty queen, white-blonde curls piled atop her head, eyes like glacier pools, and cast me a calculating look as I descended the steps. I returned it for an instant. She wouldn’t give up until she’d figured out my plans for tonight, but I didn’t mind letting her stew. Tulia hid her intentions in white lace and a velvet smile, but I could taste the magic on her. Not a curse, but something like a lure. She was after a new suitor for a few nights, then, and wouldn’t be getting in my way. Good.

The quick glance she gave me said she didn’t miss that I’d recently been working magic too, and her eyes shone with interest for half a second. I ignored her, chin up, gaze straight ahead. I was ready for the game. A wolf ready for the lamb it had gotten the scent of.

For the rest of the noble families, tonight was another in a long line of winter parties, each family taking their turn showing off for the others. None of them knew what would make this one different, what game would be played tonight. Not even my sisters. I had my orders and they didn’t need to know about them.

The carriage ride was short but quiet, a familiar kind of cold. I went over my plans again in my head, while Sarafine and Mother chatted softly about nothing. Finally, the Meadowrain house rose into view like a star, lit up with lanterns and the jewels of its arriving guests. Our carriage rolled to a gentle stop, the coachman pulled the door open with a flourish, and the game had begun.

Mother exited first and we followed one by one. Eyes watched us as soon as we were in view, as always, and I kept my attention fixed in front of me. Let them watch. Let them whisper behind their lace fans.

I was five years old when Mother was widowed—the same plague that had taken my aunt and brother—and I held few memories of my father, but I knew the story, or at least the one the public knew. Their marriage had been blessed by the gods and their four children as good as angels walking the earth. Mother had been too devastated by Father’s death to consider remarrying. As the years wore on, her would-be suitors turned their attentions from her to her daughters, and their sons soon followed. Some men were content to admire from afar, and some determined to give chase, but every woman of the city seemed to indulge in the gossip whenever possible. After all, the husbands of Morningspell women seemed to suffer terrible strings of bad luck.

The wealth and influence must have been worth the risk.

My sisters and I split apart, going our separate ways to mingle, and I watched Mother greet the lady of the house. When I was sure she was no longer waiting to see my first move, I smoothed my skirt and wandered along the edges of the crowd. A ball like any other. The same guests. With winter setting in the choices the servants carried on silver trays were warm and heavy with lush autumn vegetables and expensive delicacies brought from the southernmost tip of the continent. I passed them up in favor of a glass of wine, sipping it as I watched the crowd. Noblemen and ladies danced to a song I’d heard a million times before. I could have joined their dance without missing a step. Those who chose to eat, drink, or talk did so with practiced smiles and carefully chosen tones. The empty talk of the wealthy. Nothing I cared much to listen to.

I searched for the glimmering forms of my sisters. Tulia’s lace gown caught my eye at the edge of the dancers, one of the several young men vying for her attention requesting a dance. She gave him a perfectly performed girlish smile and offered her hand, though I knew she had no interest in him.

And there, at the center of the dance, was Sarafine. Always in the center. She danced with her fiancé, and though most would have seen nothing more than a young woman blissfully in love, I knew the look in her eyes. The set of her spine. She was on the hunt as much as I was.

“Neyva,” a smooth, deep voice broke through my quiet observations. I couldn’t help the smallest tug of a smile.

“Desmond. Hello.”

“I didn’t see you arrive.” A lie—the left corner of Desmond’s lips always twitched ever so slightly when he lied. “You look stunning.”

“Thank you.” I smoothed my skirt, feeling the faint curve of the pouch of ash below, and glanced down to catch his eye from beneath my fanned lashes. “You do as well.” He did; Desmond was not particularly handsome to begin with—average at best, with close-cropped chestnut hair and dark eyes that never strayed from mine when we spoke—but he was built more like a fighter than a pampered young nobleman, and the white and gold he wore tonight suited him.

“I’m honored you think so.” He gave me a wide smile and offered one hand. “I hope I haven’t missed your first dance of the evening?”

I handed my cup to a passing servant and took his hand, letting him lead me to the center of the room as the music softened and changed. “Of course not.” Desmond had held my first dance at every event since my sixteenth nameday, the day our future had been as good as set. Mother approved, and thus it was to be done. And though I was here for one simple task, it wouldn’t do to seem suspiciously unsociable. And so I danced, and between talk of the weather and the coming holiday and the few pieces of news that had come up since the last time we’d seen each other I watched. But nothing seemed out of place.

“What has your mind tonight, Neyva?” Desmond asked, and I tore my gaze from Sarafine, still dancing, to his face.

“Only my sister’s wedding,” I lied. “It’s been quite an affair, planning it. I hope it’s as lovely as she wants it to be.”

“Ah.” His attention travelled over my shoulder towards them, a smirk playing at his lips. “She looks dressed for a wedding every time I see her. I do hope she has something even more lavish ready.”

I soft snort escaped before I could stop it, and his smile widened. “Lavish would be the correct word, yes.”

“No expense spared for the eldest Morningspell’s marriage, of course.”

“No expense spared for any Morningspell’s marriage. Though if Tulia ever settles I think my sisters will clear the city of wedding finery before I’m engaged.”

Desmond scoffed. “Never. I’ll call for the finest tailors across the continent if need be. You’ll have a dress of spun gold if you like.”

“Sarafine favors gold. She’d have my head if I copied her.”

“Like you copied her tonight?” He glanced down to the pale golden shade I'd chosen to wear, not far off from Sarafine's gown.

I grinned. “I do like to play with fire.”

When the danced ended Desmond swept my hand up and pressed a feather-light kiss to my knuckles. I took advantage of the instant his eyes were down to survey the crowd again. “Another dance, or can I get you a fresh drink?”

Violet silk stirred between another couple, the tang of magic on the back of my tongue following it like a cloud, and my heart picked up. “I would love another dance, but there’s Emilia—I need to ask her something.”

“I’ll walk with you.”

I turned, one hand against his chest, and met his eyes with a smile. “It’s wedding talk, Desmond. To be kept between women until the day. I’ll be back in a moment.”

He returned the smile and inclined his head. “I’ll be waiting.”

I left him there and followed the flash of purple silk and summer-brown curls, woven with a violet ribbon twin to the one I’d burned earlier. I kept every step light, easy. No sense in chasing her down. Nor in following a straight path; I wove between others, keeping her in my periphery until we reached the same point beside a servant offering drinks. “Emilia!” I exclaimed with a wide smile.

She returned it, sweet and beautifully false, as she delicately lifted a glass. “Neyva! I was sure I saw your sister and thought you must be here somewhere.” We exchanged pecks on the cheek, and I studied her fine gown. The fluffed, tulle-wrapped layers of skirts weren’t my style, but she didn’t need to know that.

“Oh, you look incredible tonight. Where did you get that gown?”

“Father had it made for me. Lovely, isn’t it?” She spun in place with a short giggle.

“You must get me the seamstress’s name.”

“Of course.”

I took a drink as well and sipped. I’d already had one, and it wouldn’t do to lose my senses here. “How have you been?” I asked.

“Quite well, and you?”

“The same, thank you.”

Emilia Meadowrain, the only daughter of our gracious hosts tonight. She was a year older than me, a pretty and vain little bit of air wrapped in silk and jewels, courted by some Lord’s son who was about as engaging as the roast fowl being served. Far from exciting enough to warrant suspicion but…

I knew that ribbon well, and there was no mistaking the magic clinging to her skin.

I sipped my drink again, ever so slightly. “And your courtship?”

“Terrible,” she replied without hesitation, and in my periphery I caught the tension that rose in her shoulders and neck. The silent horror at having let the word slip out, and yet she kept talking. “I’m worth a hundred of Bram and yet Mother and Father see it fit that I likely marry him. Altair Perrymoore, though,” she added quietly, eyes slipping to Sarafine and her fiancé.

I brushed my free hand along my skirts, to the folded pocket that protected the ashes. “Altair is quite handsome,” I agreed.

“Handsome and of a far higher status, and a true gentleman. And your sister looks at him like her equal.”

I’d never bothered to care about what Sarafine did with her personal life, or how she felt about her fiancé. Altair was kind, by all accounts, and of good breeding, and that was enough for me. My relationship with Sarafine was far from the best example of sisterly love. But she was my sister nonetheless, and something deep in me bristled at Emilia’s tone.

Sarafine was my competitor, and little more. An obstacle in my way to proving my worth to Mother. But she was a Morningspell, and that made her no one’s equal but mine.

I kept the little lance of irritation buried down, where it settled and quieted so I could work. “Do you know Altair well? I’ve never noticed you speaking much.”

“I know him quite well,” she said with a little, hidden smile that confirmed everything I needed to know.

I slipped the pouch into my palm, glancing to Emilia again. “Are you hungry? Tulia was raving about the food and I haven’t had a chance to try it.”

“Yes, I suppose so. There are lovely looking apple pastries Mother insisted be served, and I haven’t yet had one.”

I smiled again and scanned the room. “They sound wonderful. I’ll fetch us some.” I left Emilia in our spot to seek out the nearest servant, and minutes later studied the plate he presented me with. As soon as he’d vanished again, I cast a quick glance to Emilia, ensuring she was watching the dance, enthralled, before I wriggled a pinkie into the neck of pouch and passed it in an instant across one of the pastries. The ash sprinkled across and vanished, blending into nothing more than a bit of extra sugar on top.

“They smell as lovely as they look,” I told Emilia as I returned to her side, offering the plate with the enchanted pastry angled towards her. She plucked it up with hardly a glance and smiled before she took a bite. I took my own and we passed idle chatter back and forth as we ate.

“Your family truly outdid themselves tonight, Emilia,” I said as she finished hers off, then caught Desmond’s gaze across the floor. “Do give your cook my compliments.”

“Of course, Neyva. She’ll be delighted to hear them.”

“I’ve promised Desmond another dance, but will you save one for me before the end of the night? It’s been too long.”

She clasped my hand with the same smile we all gave one another. Empty, pretty promises. “I wouldn’t dream of ending tonight without one.”

I started for Desmond, leaving the whore at my back. Halfway to him, I met Sarafine and Altair, tired of dancing, and Sarafine gifted me with an icy-cold smile that expressed she’d seen my every move. She knew.

“You’re welcome,” I breathed to her as I passed. “Don’t let him stray again.”

You can preorder The Ruin of Snow along with over 20 other fairytale retellings now for only $0.99 for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks!

With moving and a new baby I haven't had a whole lot of time to read like I used to, so I was really excited to get back to it recently. And despite having a huge TBR list already I had to start with this beautiful new book I got for my birthday. Because, y'know, that's what we book nerds do. Ignore our TBR pile in favor of new books.

Ever since getting sucked in Caraval I've been dying for more of the magical competition/game trope--I've even played with a little contribution to it myself, though I'll save that for another time--so I was super excited to read Where Dreams Descend by debut author Janella Angeles. A mysterious city hidden in the woods, a cutthroat competition with danger lurking behind the scenes, and a badass female magician breaking all society's rules for women? Hell yeah, sign me up.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Review: First off, this book pulled me in from the first page. I was hooked right away and have spent the last several days sacrificing some my limited sleep to squeeze in a couple chapters before my son wakes up to eat. Can't give a book much better than that, right? Angeles' writing is lush and beautiful, and I found myself so deep into the incredible world of Hellfire House and Glorian that I had to adjust to the real world when I stopped reading. It was the perfect mix of indulgent, magical, and sinister, and I was dying to learn more about it as the story unfolded. The characters were just as compelling and I'm honestly obsessed with all of them. Kallia is a fantastic protagonist to follow, striking a balance between ambitious and uncertain that makes her relatable, admirable, and tons of fun to read. If you're looking for a badass female character who breaks down all the walls in her way without falling into the cold and too-strong-for-friends cliché she's your girl. The romance is swoon-worthy without detracting from the thrill of the building mystery and threat, and I just have to say, I live for every single appearance of sarcastic thief-turned-assistant Aaros. Seriously. I want an Aaros in my life.

If I have to knock anything, it's the plot twists. While I enjoyed the plot itself, I saw most of the twists coming far ahead of time. The dramatic reveal moments were unsurprising at best, and some even caught me off guard only because I hadn't realized they'd needed a reveal at all. I will say the end got me--and if you're going to surprise the reader only once, that is a good time to do it--so I'll give it some points back for that. I am genuinely interested to see where it leads and I'll be grabbing book two when I can. If you're looking for a story to keep you guessing this may not be it, but Where Dreams Descend's beauty lies in its captivating world and characters. It's a fun, beautifully written read for any lover of magic.

Buy Where Dreams Descend

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Looking for something new to read and short on money? You're in the right place, where I'll be featuring aspiring writers and their (free!) work!

Meet Sib Rene, author of werewolf romance Forgotten Wolf.

Scars… Some are worn on the outside and read like a book, others hidden on the inside and unseen shape every fabric of our being.

Alpha Chris has his share of scars. He wears them like badges of honor, having earned them protecting his pack. Jess carries hers on the inside, a collection of secret shame…

What happens when a battle hardened Alpha who is used to getting his way, comes up against a stubborn woman set on walling herself from everyone?

Will he be able to break through and reach his goddess given gift? Or will pride and temper break it all. The Moon Goddess has a plan that neither understand.

Meet the author and read a sample below:

Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

This is my first year writing though ive been an advid reader for twenty years. I read everything that came my way and always had ideas but something about this year I finally got the courage to put one on paper.

Why werewolves specifically? Is it something you write often, or is this your first venture into writing them?

There’s something very seductive about the werewolf/shifter world. The idea that theres a perfectly matched soulmate out there waiting for you is very interesting to me. Also the danger aspect adds something too.

What are your goals for your writing?

I want people to enjoy and get lost in my story. Everyone loves a good romance, for me its the rest of the plot that really draws me in. I want people to feel for my characters, root for them to overcome the obstacles in their way.

What inspired Forgotten Wolf?

It comes from the dark recesses of my mind. I have read many werewolf romances, but I wanted my own twist on it.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why? Tell me a little about them.

I love my main character Jess, but I feel like Sara may be my favourite. Shes rough around the edges, and fiercely loyal to a fault. Her convictions are strong, and she wont be bullied or swayed by anyone. She also refuses to conform to society, holding the head warrior possition which is typically a male position. She has some of the greatest growth over the trilogy.

Werewolves have so much potential to be taken different ways, what’s your twist on them?

I feel like calling them shifters in my book would be more accurate as they aren’t the Hollywood horror icons ruled by the moon. I tried to make mine very plausable, the MC Jess wasn’t raised in the shifter world so as she learns about it, it’s laid out for the readers too.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

If they haven’t tried werewolf/shifter stories before, this is a great one to start with because it doesn’t expect you to know anything about the genre.

This may be the first time that the thought of you running sounds like fun," Chris says quietly. A shiver runs down my spine as my heart starts to race, his hazel eyes are dancing with excitement. “Get all your bets placed?”

“B-bets?” I stutter as my body seams to have forgotten how to function in his presence. “I didn’t think to make any, but Sara and Claire made a few.” I barely have any idea how this game works let alone try and win bets on it.

“How about some action?” My mouth drops at his suggestive tone earning a laugh. “If we win-” I cut him off there knowing there are already a bunch of those types of bets made.

“They’ve already got win or loose covered, let’s pick a pony” I counter, he raises a brow. “I’m picking Jude to make it to the final four on your team.” Clearly this was not the direction he wanted this to take but he recovered quickly.

“And if he doesn’t? What do I win?” He’s already counting Jude out, which irritates me to no end.

“What do I get when he does?” I counter, he’s looking quite amused at my challenge.

“What ever you want, in reason of course.” He smiles and holds out a hand, “do we have a deal?” I shake and nod, please Jude don’t let me down! A mischievous grin spreads across his face as he pulls me close, “run little one, let the chase begin,” he whispers, his husky voice causes a tightening in the pit of my stomach.

Challangers hit the forest first and have a twenty minute grace period before the defenders come. I have been left on my own with no direction so after jogging for ten minutes I take a pause. I’m no athlete, I’m certainly not out running anyone. I spot a couple good pines on the edge of a small clearing, wonder how well they climb?

I start up the first and get half way up before I realize theres a gap I can’t get past. A buzz on the smart watch tells me the defenders have entered the forest. I quickly switch trees getting out of sight just before I hear someone approach.

“Come on out,” I hear Xavier call, I hold my breath as he slowly comes towards me sniffing the air. “I know you’re here Jess.” He walks around the area trying to pinpoint my location. He doesn’t know where I am just that I’m around! ‘Maybe you have a chance after all!’ He slowly comes to a stop at the base of the two trees. ‘Or not!’ “Come down, I know you’re up there,” he calls.

Clearly annoyed by my silence he starts climbing, the wrong one! “Really Jess? You’re going to make me drag you out of a tree,” he complains as he reaches the spot I couldn’t get past.

Read Forgotten Wolf for free and follow and support Sib Rene on Wattpad!

Check out my other featured authors for more free-to-read works!

© 2018 Lacy Sheridan | Author

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