Thrice Read Books

Ragis – Review

Book 4 in the Gemeta Stone series by Donna Migliaccio is now available. Check out Jenn's review of Ragis on the Thrice Read Books review blog.

About the book:

Ragis by Donna Migliaccio     August 28, 2018

Fantasy     The Gemeta Stone Book 4

Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC

Kristan Gemeta is teetering on the brink of madness.

His sister Melissa has defied him. His friend Olaf has betrayed him. The Wichelord Daazna’s ghostly laughter mocks him when he’s awake and robs him of his sleep at night. Even the protective powers of his legendary Stone are turning against him.  

And now his companions, his ship, and its precious cargo have been taken, hostage. Kristan must give chase, in an unseaworthy vessel manned by an angry centaur crew. Ahead lie unfriendly waters, an ominous destination and a confrontation Kristan dreads.

In his despair, Kristan longs for the one person he has always trusted: his beloved Heather. But she’s far away, about to step into a trap that will endanger not just her command, but Kristan’s life.   

Can we say GIVEAWAY?  Yup! There’s a giveaway to celebrate this release, and you can get in on it now for a chance to win a necklace just like the one on the Gemeta Stone books. Just click here.

About the Author:

Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours, and prominent regional theatres.  She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher, and public speaker.  Her award-winning short story, “Yaa & The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.  

Social Media: 

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest

Jenn’s Review

Book four in Donna Migliaccio’s Gemeta Stone series, Ragis, is quite a nail-biter. She grants no quarter to continuing readers of the series who have been hanging on the edge of a cliff for three books now, holding them in suspense in another installment of this fabulously crafted fantasy tale.

Kristan Gemeta still labors under the strain of the traumas he endured under the Wichelord Daazna. His inner pain and failing health worsen as he learns more and more of the secrets and failings of those to whom he’s entrusted his lands.

The worst of the betrayals is yet to come, as one of Kristan’s trusted governors is plotting his demise. The experience pushes Kristan over the edge, nearly costing the young king what little health and sanity he has left.

As Kristan hits rock bottom, his long-time friend and love, Heather, who’s tried hard to keep her love for her king under wraps, has a front-row seat to Kristan’s near destruction.

Ragis isn’t the last book in this series, and this reader can’t wait for book 5. Migliaccio weaves a fantastic tale, with deep, compelling characters and a world built for falling into for long reads! Epic fantasy and you can read the books out of order, but my recommendation is to start at Kinglet and read all the way through the series.

Book 4 in the Gemeta Stone series by Donna Migliaccio is now available. Check out Jenn's review of Ragis on the Thrice Read Books review blog.

Buy the Book: 

Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Kobo     FIERY SEAS BOOKSTORE

Check out Jenn’s interview with author Donna Migliaccio here.

We’ve reviewed the other books in the series:

Kinglet (book 1) 
Fiskur (book 2) 
Stoneking (book 3)

Interview with Donna Migliaccio – Author of RAGIS

*Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. You can read the legal stuff here if you’d like, but know that we appreciate you supporting Thrice Read Books by using our links to buy.*

Jenn sits down to talk to Donna Migliaccio about her GEMETA STONE fantasy series, and about her new release RAGIS on this edition of the Thrice Read Books blog

Welcome to another edition of Between the Lines! This week’s featured author is not a new name around Thrice Read Books. In fact, we’ve taken part in three cover reveals and reviewed her first three books in The Gemeta Stone series. Book four, Ragis, is now out, and we’ll be reviewing this one as well. She is an author and actress. We sat down with Donna Migliaccio back in July, to talk books, writing and more.

Jenn: Welcome, Donna! We are so excited to get a chance to sit down and talk with you today.  I remember doing the Fiskur cover reveal as our inaugural blog post on the Thrice Read Books website, and I have gotten the opportunity to enjoy all three books in The Gemeta Stone series. Are you excited to see book 4 come to life in print?

Donna: I am indeed. The story has taken some very interesting turns through the years, and I’m especially proud of some major new plot points and characters in Ragis.

Jenn: Oh boy! I’ve been catching little snippets and teasers over on Twitter, and I’ve long since given up trying to predict the plot twists.

Donna: Oh, goody. That means I’m doing them right.

Jenn: For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with The Gemeta Stone series, could you tell us about the series in general, and then maybe focus in some on Ragis?

DonnaThe Gemeta Stone is the story of Kristan Gemeta, a gentle young prince who loses his father, his kingdom and his family’s legendary talisman to Daazna, a powerful magic worker seeking revenge for an injustice done him years before. In the first book, Kinglet, Kristan must find regain both his family’s Stone, his self-respect and his courage before he can make a stand against Daazna. He’s helped by Heather Demitt, the youngest of a band of rebels who have fled Daazna’s stronghold. In Book 2, Fiskur, Kristan finally meets up with Daaza, at a terrible cost. In Stoneking, Kristan has regained his kingdom at last, but he’s physically, mentally and emotionally broken by what’s happened to him. When he’s forced into a dangerous midwinter journey, his condition continues to deteriorate. Ragis picks up the story in mid-journey, where a series of setbacks and betrayals have accelerated Kristan’s descent toward madness.

My, that sounds grim.

Jenn: Indeed! It falls in the fantasy genre, but it’s certainly not Disney.

Donna: I’d say it lives somewhere between Lord of the Rings and A Song of Fire and Ice. It’s not quite as “high fantasy” as LOTR, and not as “grimdark” as ASOFAI.

Jenn: Yes. Sam’s been dying to read the series, and I keep putting her off a little longer.

Donna: I think it’s suitable for readers 16+ since there’s a fair amount of violence and sexual content.

Jenn: It’s the latter that I think she’d struggle with. She loves horror and fantasy, and she’d love the Kentavron (I think I spelled that correctly), but the sexual content that picks up in book 3 would definitely set her teeth on edge.

Now, it’s been a while since I read Kinglet, and I just can’t remember. Was Kinglet your debut novel? Or do you have another body of work I haven’t discovered yet?

DonnaKinglet was my first novel. I’ve had a couple of short stories published in anthologies, but The Gemeta Stone has taken up most of my writing time and energy.

Jenn sits down to talk to Donna Migliaccio about her GEMETA STONE fantasy series, and about her new release RAGIS on this edition of the Thrice Read Books blog

Jenn: As I recall, this series has quite a history to it, going back a ways?

Donna: The germ of the story came out of a writing assignment when I was in high school. I finally finished the book when I was in my early twenties, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and there was no internet. I went to the library, checked their latest copy of Publisher’s Marketplace, picked a fantasy publisher and fired off the manuscript to them. They kept it for nearly nine months before sending it back to me, asking me to add more magic and cut the manuscript back considerably. I edited as best I could, but I really didn’t know what I was doing, and they pretty promptly rejected the revision. I put the manuscript away for a couple of decades, but the story stayed in my head, and in 2009 I started rewriting it, with an eye toward eventually getting it into publishable shape. And here we are in 2018.

So it only took me 40 years or so to finish it LOL.

Jenn: And here we are! With this amazing, epic fantasy! And now I don’t feel so bad for leaving my own work sit for almost 2 years, hah!

Donna: Real life has a way of interfering, doesn’t it?

Jenn: It does!

So, is Ragis the conclusion of Kristan’s tale? Or will we be breathlessly awaiting more of his misadventures?

Donna: There’s a fifth and final book in the series, which I’m working on now. I also wrote a prequel, which was intended more as research into Kristan and Daazna’s youths and that fateful moment when their paths finally crossed. It actually turned into a fairly decent story, which might be worth publishing as well. I haven’t looked at it in a long time.

Jenn: Oh, wow! Yes, the history between those two would be great to read. The snippets that readers get in the books are kind of an appetizer to a much richer story.

Now, Daazna has some natural magical talent, but he’s not a witch. You’ve used an entirely different term, and to be honest, I’m not sure how to pronounce it (and the spelling is escaping me as I type this). Could you explain to our readers what he is, and maybe, how to pronounce the term?

Donna: Daazna is “Wiche.” It’s pronounced with a soft glottal on the “ch,” so it’s closer to our “wick” than the similar “witch.” It’s essentially magic, but in the world of The Gemeta Stone, it comes in two forms: Learned, which is magic that can be taught and developed and altered according to the user’s whims, and True, or Tabi’a, which is magic in its natural state, which exists for its own purposes and can’t be controlled. The Stone itself is Tabi’a – it exists to protect the head of the Gemeta family, but it has other properties which Kristan is only beginning to understand.

Jenn: Thank you for that pronunciation! I’ve been trying to figure it out since November. And the stone creates some conflicts for poor Kristan, doesn’t it?

Donna: It does. He thinks at first that it’s just a talisman, but discovers it has a will of its own. A large part of Stoneking and Ragis is about how Kristan deals with what he wants, as opposed to what the Stone wants.

Jenn: Right.

Donna: So much of the conflict in The Gemeta Stone comes out of the psychology of magic – what it can do, both to those who use it and those it’s used on.

Jenn: Now, with book four, Ragis on its release countdown, and book five & that little backstory in the wings. The Gemeta Stone series will eventually come to an end, as all things do. Do you have plans to continue writing?

Donna: I’m sure I will. I have a couple of story ideas on the back burner, and I’d like to explore writing more short stories.

Jenn: Now, you’re both multi-talented and multi-passionate. How do you find time for writing in the middle of all of that?

Donna: Well, I don’t idle well. I always have a half-dozen projects going on at once, and I find if I have nothing to do, then I do nothing. The busier I am, the more I get accomplished.

I do my best writing when I have the least time for it – when every minute counts.

Jenn: No time to sit and question every word that way?

Donna: I tend to edit as I go, which probably comes from my journalism background when I was writing on deadline.

I’ve never been able to just sit and spew words.

Too messy.

Jenn: Ahh! So, are you more of a planner in your writing style?

Donna: See, here’s the weird part. I don’t outline. When I sit down to write, I know how I want things to end and I have a general idea of how I want to get to that ending, but I’m open to letting the characters’ personalities take the wheel, so to speak. They sometimes drive the plot car in a much more interesting direction.

Jenn: And what interesting directions they have taken The Gemeta Stone!

Donna: Just as an example, the character of Heather has changed dramatically since I first conceived her. She started off simply as a love interest, but she turned out to be so strong and vital a force in the story that she moved from being a secondary player to a co-main character with Kristan.

Jenn: I know by the end of Stone King, she’s kind of taken on her own storyline. And I adore Heather, by the way. I think she’s part of why Sam’s dying to read this series.

As we reach the end of our time together… For our younger readers – What advice would you give a young writer?

Donna: Read. READ READ READ. And if you want to write, give yourself the leeway and the time to fail at it. Too many young writers want instantaneous results: they expect to produce a polished, publishable book after only a few months of writing. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to log a lot of BIC hours (that’s “Butt in Chair,” for the uninitiated) before you’ll even get close to writing a satisfactory story.

Jenn: YES! And as a reviewer, I’ve seen far too many writers slap together the first draft and publish it (cringe).

Donna: I highly recommend a website called AbsoluteWrite.com for writers who are serious about writing as a profession. The forums there, while not for the faint of heart, are invaluable.

Jenn: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know before diving into The Gemeta Stone?

Donna: Don’t let the fact that there are five books in the series put you off. I promise, they’re pretty fast reading. And if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me through my website: donnamigliaccio.com, or via my Twitter account @donnamig. I love talking to my readers.

Jenn: I know you’re super active on Twitter, and I’ll have buttons at the bottom of the page with links to your social media and website.

Thank you so, so much for your time today, Donna. I know you’re probably getting super excited for the release of Ragis in August (I know I am!). On behalf of Thrice Read Books, we wish you all the best on your release and your show!

Donna: Thank you for interviewing me. It was a lot of fun!

Jenn: You are very welcome!

Donna’s Social Media

Website      Facebook      Twitter      Pinterest

Buy Ragis

Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Kobo     FIERY SEAS BOOKSTORE

Other Books in the Series

Kinglet (book 1)

Fiskur (book 2)

Stoneking (book 3)

 Ragis (book 4)

Warhorse – Review

About the Book

Warhorse, Michael Morpurgo

Children’s, Historical Fiction, 176 Pgs

Scholastic Press  September 1, 2010


In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

About the Author

Michael Morpurgo, former Children’s Laureate of Britain, is the author of War Horse, called “Superb” by the New York Times Book Review, and now a major motion picture. His other prize-winning books include Kensuke’s Kingdom, Private Peaceful, and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. Michael lives in Devon, England, with his wife, Clare. Together, they founded the charity Farms for City Children, which gives children from urban areas an opportunity to spend a week working on a farm in the countryside. You can find out more about him and his books at michaelmorpurgo.org.

Sam’s Review

Now a major movie, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo has a strong message in favor of peace.  This is perfect for horse lovers and peaceful types.

Joey has gone through so much as a war horse. He lost Andy, his boy, he lost his fellow horse to WWI, and he is nothing like the thoroughbred he is. But through it all, he sticks to his hope of finding Andy, giving the soldiers on both sides hope.

I loved this book from start to finish, because I dislike war and fighting. It was well written, and well developed, and showed that there is hope for people in battle.

In this edition of Sam's Teen Reads Corner, Sam reviews Michael Morpurgo's WARHORSE - children's historical/animal fiction

Buy the Book

 Thrice Read Books has one paperback edition in our inventory, in very good condition. You can buy it right here: 

This book is available in Kindle, hardback, paperback, audiobook,mass market paperback formats from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Aaru – Review

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

Jenn's long-awaited review of YA Science-Fiction thriller Aaru, by David Meredith, on this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog
Jenn’s long-awaited review of YA Science-Fiction thriller Aaru, by David Meredith

About the Book

Aaru, David Meredith (The Aaru Cycle)

Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy 296 Pages

Self Published July 9, 2017

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear. 

She is sixteen years old. 

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. 

A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive supercomputer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale. 

What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

About the Author

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Jenn’s Review

Wow… Just finished Aaru by David Meredith. I’ve had it in my TBR pile for quite a while, as it got lost in a storm of review requests. Sitting around an airport for hours had me flipping through my Kindle files, and I ran across this story, and quickly shuffled it to the top of my (now written) list! And now that book 2 is out… I am trying to figure out how to shuffle some more…

Thirteen-year-old Rose Johnson is dying. She’s tired of life, of pain, of hospitals and endless treatments. In short, she knows she’s run out of time. She doesn’t want to leave her sister, though, as they’ve been best friends all their lives. And Koren doesn’t want to lose her sister, either.

The man their father brings to meet Rose in the hospital, offers a “cure”, which Rose only truly understands when her body dies. She wakes up in a virtual Paradise, Aaru.

Koren doesn’t handle the loss of her sister very well – she falls into a depression, rebels against everything in her life, and loses all hope – a devastating thing at her young age. So when her father introduces her to the man who helped her sister, Koren isn’t very cooperative. Until they introduce her to Aaru, and her sister, Rose.

It’s a tough moment for Koren, but she’s so happy to see her sister, she agrees to become their spokesperson. Sudden stardom comes with a heavy price, which Koren doesn’t have a lot of say about paying.

This one’s a suspense/thriller, to be sure, but it’s a lengthy and sometimes difficult read. And, I would caution parents about the suitability for their own teens. While nothing explicit happens on the page, the problems of stalkers, child pornography, sex (it doesn’t happen on the page, but it does make an appearance as a problem in the story) and murder are all encompassed in the plot.

Additionally, I struggled with the author’s choice of writing style – this is a personal note, and not a condemnation of Mr. Meredith’s ability. He has a vast and, at times, obscure vocabulary. While this doesn’t pose a barrier for me, the story is mostly told from the perspective of the teenaged sisters, and the word choices the author favors didn’t quite feel authentic for the ages of the younger primary characters. They were fitting for the antagonist, however. Again, this is my own opinion of my reading experience – others might readily disagree.

All in all, I did enjoy the book. The plot, characters, and setting were all well-developed, and the conflicts and plot twists kept the story engaging. This book is for those who enjoy suspense and mystery, though I would suggest a more mature (not quite R rated) audience though, as some of the scenes might be a little too intense for younger teens.

Jenn's long-awaited review of YA Science-Fiction thriller Aaru, by David Meredith, on this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog
Jenn’s long-awaited review of YA Science-Fiction thriller Aaru

Other Books in the series:

Aaru: Halls of Hel (Book 2)

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and in paperback editions from Amazon below. [affiliate link]

Tempting the Beast – Review

About the Book

Tempting the Beast, Lora Leigh Feline Breeds

Adult Paranormal Romance 314

Ellora’s Cave(September 19, 2017)

He’s a genetic experiment. The merging of human and lion DNA his creators call a Breed. And they have no idea just what kind of the creature they brought into being.

Callan Lyons wanted only to be left in peace to protect the small group of Breeds he rescued from a New Mexico lab, but those that created them refuse to stop their continued attempts to re-capture them. And the owner of a small, reputable paper, once a friend of his birth mother’s, now has proof of his existence. Proof that has caught his daughter, Merinus Tyler’s fascination and ensured her determination to find him. But once they touch, they’ll become far more than either ever imagined possible.

Man created them, but nature has made them her own. Beginning with Callan, she’ll show the world the folly of playing with the very building blocks of all she protects. And Merinus will learn the folly of tempting the beast…

About the Author

Lora Leigh lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky, often found absorbing the ambiance of this peaceful setting. She dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared.

Lora’s family and her writing life co-exist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a teenage son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora’s life is filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes. 

Jenn’s Review

**Note – this book is explicit erotica and is not intended for audiences under 18.**

I’ve read Lora Leigh before. Her erotica stories are almost always a terrific weekend escape, and Tempting the Beast is no exception. This is romance with super steamy sex and a dash of wickedness.

Callan Lyons is being hunted and Merinus believes her family has the answer to finally shaking off the underground, criminal organization that is responsible for the genetic engineering that produced Callan.

Callan isn’t convinced, though. He’s been on the run his whole life, trying to keep himself and his fellow Breeds out of the sick hands of sadistic scientists.

Discovering that he’s chemically and hopelessly attracted to Merinus (and she’s just as drawn to him), adds to the complications. They can’t be apart for more than a few hours, or they start experiencing nasty withdrawal symptoms.

The author does a great job of weaving Callan’s backstory into the plot, but I was a little disappointed in how little we know about what makes Merinus who she is. I learned more about her brother Kane (the hero of book 2) than I did about the heroine of this book.

That isn’t to say that the characters are shallow or uncompelling, though. Merinus is a tough little reporter who is trying desperately to prove to her family (of 7 brothers and an overbearing, newspaper tycoon dad) that she is capable of handling herself on an assignment.

Ms. Leigh liberally doses the reader with goofy puns on names, adding humor to an otherwise wild romp through an action-packed, sexy plot. This is somewhere between paranormal and science fiction, as the hero is a genetically engineered, human-lion cross. A fast-paced erotic romance should enjoy this story.

Jenn reviews paranormal romance TEMPTING THE BEAST by Lora Leigh on this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

Buy the Book

Thrice Read Books has 1 paperback copy for sale

This book is available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon. [affiliate link]

Darker Still – Review

Featured on this edition of Sam's Teen Reads Corner: Sam reviews DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber, YA Gothic, Mystery and Suspense

About the Book:

Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber

Teen/Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy

Sourcebooks Fire (original publisher) November 1, 2011

A lush gothic tale that begs for reading…I couldn’t put it down.” —New York Times bestselling author Sarah Maclean

I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen—everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable…utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting, and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked—bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

About the Author:

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, artist and the award-winning, bestselling author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels for adults and teens such as the Strangely Beautiful, Eterna Files and Magic Most Foul sagas. She grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories, graduating with a BFA in Theatre and a focus in the Victorian Era from Miami University. She began her theatrical career with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and began adapting works of 19th Century literature for the stage. Her novella Dark Nest won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in the genres of Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Her debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful series) hit Barnes & Noble’s bestseller lists, won two 2010 Prism Awards (Best Fantasy, Best First Book), the 2010 Orange County Book Buyer’s Best Award (Young Adult category) and other regional genre awards. The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess won the 2012 Prism Award (Best Fantasy). Books one and two are now available as STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL in a revised, author-preferred editions from Tor/Forge. DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, hit the Kid’s/YA INDIE NEXT LIST as a recommended title by the American Booksellers Association and a Scholastic Book Clubs “highly recommended” title. Leanna’s short fiction has been featured in anthologies such as Willful Impropriety: Tales of Society and Scandal, “Too Fond”; a short story on Tor.com, “Charged” in Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells and the Mammoth Book of Gaslight Romance. Her new Gaslamp Fantasy series THE ETERNA FILES, is now available from Tor/Forge. Her books have been translated into many languages and have been selected for multiple book club editions. Leanna is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She is proud to be a co-founder of the original Lady Jane’s Salon Reading Series in New York. Leanna was named the 2010 RWA NYC Chapter Author of the Year. A member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, Leanna has been featured in film and television on shows like Boardwalk Empire. She loves nothing more than a good ghost story and a finely tailored corset, wandering graveyards and adventuring around New York City, where she also works as a ghost tour guide. Active on Twitter @leannarenee and Facebook.com/lrhieber, more information as well as free reads, author resources, links to her art and Etsy store and more can be found at leannareneehieber.com

Sam’s Review:

Ever wished that you could enter a painting? Ever hoped that the loved of your life had a soul that only you could set free? Natalie has all of these abilities and more in the book Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber.

Natalie is mute, has ever since the trauma of losing her mom took her voice. Certain her lack of voice will chase away everyone, she finds an unexpected friend in Mrs. Smith, a widow whose interested in a painting that was made not long before the disappearance of Lord Denbury from England. And from this, Natalie finds herself unraveling a mystery far greater than she could have imagined.

Gothic, spooky, and tense, Darker Still had me into the story from the first page. Natalie is more than just a pretty face, and she earns her place as one of my lifetime heroes. I don’t think I can stress how much I loved this book, despite having a few “heated” moments.

In this edition of Sam's Teen Reads Corner, Sam explores the world of DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber - YA Gothic, Paranomal, Mystery & Fantasy

Buy this Book:

 Thrice Read Books has one paperback copy of this book in very good condition, and you can buy it right here: 

Kindle more your type? Amazon has this book in Kindle and paperback editions here. [affiliate link]

Mindfulness – Review

About the Book

Mindfulness, Mark Williams, and Danny Penman

Adult Health 288 Pages

Rodale Books; 1 edition (November 13, 2012)

Mindfulness reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that you can incorporate into daily life to help break the cycle of anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and exhaustion. It promotes the kind of happiness and peace that gets into your bones. It seeps into everything you do and helps you meet the worst that life throws at you with new courage.

The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness meditation which takes just a few minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed. MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and is widely recommended by US physicians and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence—in other words, it works. More importantly, it also works for people who are not depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world.

MBCT was developed by the book’s author, Oxford professor Mark Williams, and his colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto. By investing just 10 to 20 minutes each day, you can learn the simple mindfulness meditations at the heart of MBCT and fully reap their benefits. The book includes links to audio meditations to help guide you through the process. You’ll be surprised by how quickly these techniques will have you enjoying life again.

Jenn’s Review

I picked this book up some time ago, and due to Life happening (including buying a house and various upsets to my usual routine), this eight-week plan took me almost four months. Did that affect the overall benefits of the plan?

Not at all.

This book was worth taking my time to get through. Between practical explanations in each chapter, the downloadable, guided meditations, and independent practice, I finished the book with more tools than I began with (and I have been meditating for years).

The authors of MINDFULNESS lay a solid foundation of research and application before starting the reader on a series of weekly steps, gradually building on the previous week’s learning and practice.

This is more than a simple how-to book. You *could* just read straight through, but the better investment of time would be to tackle one chapter a week. Repeat the week until you are comfortable with the given practice before you move on.

I’ve read a number of books on meditation and mindfulness, but this is, by far, the most practical of them all. I’ve fallen back on the tools learned in this book to manage stress, anxiety, panic attacks and dietary issues. Definitely worth trying if you are interested in deepening your mindfulness.

Jenn shares her experience with the book, MINDFULNESS - AN EIGHT WEEK PLAN, on this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, Audiobook, paperback, hardback and CD Audio formats from Amazon. [affiliate link]

Unfinished – Review

Thrice Read Books review blog post - UNFINISHED by Amy Snyder - Adult Contemporary Women's Fiction

About the Book

Unfinished by Amy Snyder

Adult Contemporary Women’s 262 Pages

Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC July 25, 2017

Mirabelle is a writer who just can’t finish any of the stories she starts. When her twins leave home for college, they take with them Mirabelle’s sense of identity. As she strives to adjust to her empty nest she is visited by someone unexpected: a character from the very first novel she ever attempted to write.

Characters from all of her unfinished works begin to materialize in her home, in her car, at her job. They talk, yell, and some even throw things at her. Mirabelle can see them, smell them, touch them and though she knows they’re not real, she can’t help but engage them. She created them, after all. They become part of her daily life and she finds herself alternating between hiding them from and sharing them with her almost-always-doting husband, Alex.

Some of Mirabelle’s characters are like good friends, encouraging her to finish something she’s started. Others manipulate her for their own needs and storylines. Good and bad, these characters are part of her and Mirabelle discovers she needs to both fix and finish them before they destroy her life, her sanity, and her marriage.

About the Author

Amy Snyder began writing when she realized the strange things that happened in her imagination were far more interesting than the things that happened in her real life. After earning her degree in Radio, Television, and Film from Northwestern University, she worked at a financial brokerage house, a nationally published magazine, an advertising agency, and most recently, an elementary school as a Math Tutor, Substitute Teacher, and Library Paraprofessional. But she’s always been a writer. UNFINISHED is her first novel. Read more at www.amysnyderauthor.com.

Jenn’s Review

A cautionary tale for aspiring authors, Unfinished is a tense tale of dreams deferred and the high price of leaving projects incomplete. While this isn’t the first story of its kind that I’ve read, it’s the first that hit close to home for me.

Mirabelle is facing middle age, an empty nest, a job she hates, and the sudden appearance of the characters she’s written into the collection of unfinished fiction sitting in her closet.

As one protagonist after another shows up to confront their creator, Bella alternatively wants them to leave her alone and considers that she might be going insane. The problem escalates, forcing her to confess to her husband, who starts out understanding, if dismissive and progresses to taking Bella to a mental health professional for help. Ultimately, Bella has to choose between her creativity and her marriage as the plot develops.

As I dived into this story, I found myself alternately wishing the protagonist would stop whining, and seeing far too much of myself in the story (12 manuscripts on my WIP shelf… Yup). This is more than a story about a middle-aged woman on the brink of insanity – it also touches the tender points of finding balance in a marriage and standing up for your own dreams.

This is told in first-person, and while the dialogue is snappy, there were moments when I wished the protagonist would quit complaining to herself and DO something. The author definitely captured the troubles that we married writers face (we’re not always free to stop and capture great ideas, after all), and the timeless space that many of us slip into when deeply absorbed in writing a story.

This was a fast-paced story that kept me turning pages, even when it felt a bit draggy. A must-read for aspiring authors and women headed towards that scary, middle age/empty nest time.

Thrice Read Books review blog post - UNFINISHED by Amy Snyder - Adult Contemporary Women's Fiction

Buy This Book

This book is available from Amazon in paperback format only. [affiliate link]

Love on a Limb – Review

About the Book

Love on A Limb, Laurie Lewis (Great Expectations Love Stories: The Graykens Book 1)

Adult Religious Romance 344 Pages

Willowsport Press, November 26, 2017

Matthew Grayken is young, successful, and dying, which is why he’s about to propose to a total stranger. He isn’t interested in love. He needs a caregiver, a companion, and someone to be his legal voice when he can no longer speak for himself.

Lonely, compassionate nurse Mikaela Compton is intrigued by Matt Grayken’s tender request, but when their friendly marriage turns into love, she rejects the inevitability of Matt’s death and prays for a miracle instead.

Mikaela succeeds in reigniting Matt’s will to fight, but his body is losing the battle, and her determination to save him causes her to betray the fundamental promise she made him–to help him die peaceably. 

Their last hope at saving Matt’s life will require a sacrifice from each of them, and force them to decide how far out on a limb they’re willing to go for love.

About the Author

Laurie (L.C.) Lewis knows that wherever life takes her, she will always be a Marylander at heart—a weather-whining lover of crabs, American history, and the sea. She admits to being craft-challenged, particularly lethal with a glue gun, and a devotee of sappy movies. 

Therapists have been chasing her down to diagnose her multiple personality syndrome since she writes under three names–historical fiction as L.C. Lewis, romance and women’s fiction as Laurie Lewis, and general fiction as Laurie L.C. Lewis. 

Jenn’s Review

Cancer. It’s one of those words that make just about anyone cringe. But what happens when you’re fighting a losing battle? For your life, for your voice, for dying on your own terms?

That’s the question that bachelor Matt Grayken faces when he makes the choice to propose to Mikaela in the opening chapter of L.C. Lewis’s contemporary romance, Love on a Limb.

Matt has been battling cancer since childhood. He’s made a decent life for himself with the help of his adoptive, Irish immigrant parents, in the United States. This time, he’s chosen to withhold his renewed battle, to fight cancer his own way. 

He’s been observing gentle, compassionate Mikaela as she works with patients at the cancer treatment center when he’s in for chemotherapy. She’s exactly what he wants as an end-of-life partner, prompting his audacious proposal. They’ll be legally married, she’ll be his voice and nurse when he can no longer speak for himself, and she’ll inherit his home and a substantial endowment towards getting her medical degree. No one’s feelings get involved, no one gets hurt. 

Mikaela isn’t entirely on board with Matt’s plan, but she reluctantly agrees. It’s a break from trying to juggle everything in her life, but… 

Featured on the Thrice Read Books review blog: LOVE ON A LIMB by Laurie Lewis - Adult Contemporary/Inspirational Romance

The agreement works for both Matt and Mikaela, but a hitch develops in their tidy agreement. They’re falling for each other, fast. 

Ms. Lewis tenderly weaves the emotional turmoil of a life with cancer into a sweet romance. She tackles the billionaire rich boy stereotype and mixes it with a compassionate male character, whose purpose in life is to help others live their dreams. Mikaela is the compassionate nurse who strives to ease the emotional, physical and financial struggles that accompany the battle with cancer, and the two mesh beautifully. She refuses to give up hope and shows her backbone and stubborn will to beat Matt’s cancer right into their black moment, and against the odds. 

This is the first in a series, and my hope is that Matt and Mikaela win their battle against his cancer in the long run. Love on a Limb is for fans of sweet romance who don’t mind a tear jerker.

Buy the Book

This book is available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions. [affiliate link]

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue – Review

About the Book

How To Write a Dazzling Dialogue, James Scott Bell

Teen to Adult,  Reference, 136 Pages

Compendium Press (July 14, 2014)

There is one sure-fire way of improving your novel fast. . . You may know the fundamentals of how to write fiction. You may be more than competent in plot, structure and characters. But if your dialogue is dull it will drag the whole story down. On the other hand, if your dialogue is crisp and full of tension it immediately grabs the reader. And if that reader is an agent or editor, sharp dialogue will give them instant assurance that you know what you’re doing as a writer. Writing a bestseller or hot screenplay is no easy task, but dazzling dialogue is an absolute essential if you want to get there. The best part is, the skills of the dialogue craft are easy to understand and put into practice. #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has put together and expanded upon the dialogue lectures from his popular writing seminars. In How to Write Dazzling Dialogue you’ll learn:

  • What fictional dialogue is … and isn’t
  • The 11 secrets of crafting memorable dialogue
  • The 5 essential tasks of dialogue
  • 5 ways to improve your dialogue ear
  • 4 can’t-miss methods to increase conflict and tension in any dialogue exchange
  • The top 10 dialogue issues, and how to resolve them

You’ll also see dazzling dialogue in action with examples from hit novels and screenplays. Don’t sabotage your chances of selling your work to readers or publishers because the dialogue is unexceptional. Dazzle them with what the characters say. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue will give you the tools to do it.

About the Author

For notifications and deals about JSB’s new releases, sign up for his occasional update at www.jamesscottbell.com (the signup box is on the left side of the screen). Your mail box will never be overstuffed nor will your address be shared with anyone else. 

JAMES SCOTT BELL is a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award (for his novel Romeo’s Way) and the author of many bestselling thrillers. He is a popular writing instructor and conference speaker, and formerly served as the fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine. Jim attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Law School. He lives and writes in L.A. and blogs weekly at Kill Zone — www.killzoneblog.com

Jenn’s Review

Dialogue is something I struggle with as a writer. I know that my characters’ mediocre, and often lackluster conversations are about 50% of what’s holding me back from getting published, so, I went out looking for a book to help clarify where I was going wrong. I also attended some great workshops on dialogue at RWA2018, but I was still missing a LOT.

Enter How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell. Bell’s thrillers are multiple times best sellers, his books on writing craft are multiple times best sellers; this guy has some street credentials, even though I’d never heard of him.
Why his books make bestseller lists so often is clear, all the way through this slim volume on fiction dialogue. The instruction is concise and liberally peppered with examples, both from existing literature and off-the-cuff.

I took this book one chapter a day and will be applying it to my own writing going forward (I’ve already started on that, and the lessons are sinking in, as I notice dialogue more in what I read). Bell tackles such topics as tension, style, info-dumping, punctuation, and cursing. Period dialogue and dialect are also touched on in various degrees within the 134 pages of this book.

Bell’s book on dialogue is written so that most folks can easily understand what he’s demonstrating. If you are a writer, wanting to get published; if you teach writing; if you are the parent of a young writer; and yes, even if you’re an already published author — give this book a read. It’s now a permanent part of my writer’s toolkit, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to up their fiction writing game.

Jenn reviews HOW TO WRITE DAZZLING DIALOGUE by James Scott Bell in this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

Buy the Book

This book is available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions. [affiliate link]