Tagged: Coming of Age

Donna Migliaccio – Author Interview April, 2020

**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.**

When we launched Thrice Read Books’ review blog, our inaugural post was for Donna Migliaccio’s Fiskur (book 2 in the Gemeta Stone Series). Since so much has happened, and Donna has released three more books in the series, we snagged an opportunity to sit down with her to talk about the Gemeta Stone series in general, her most recent release, and what’s next for this epic fantasy author.

Jenn: Shall we talk books? Specifically, yours… It’s been a year or so since we last sat down and talked. I think Ragis was just coming out.

Donna: Ragis came out in September 2018. A lot has changed in the interim, with Fiery Seas going out of business and me having to learn the self-publishing biz.

Jenn: Tell us a little about yourself?

Donna: Sure. I’m a professional stage actress based out of the Washington, DC area and have published five books in my epic fantasy series, The Gemeta Stone.

I’ve also published a couple of short stories as well.

Jenn: How did I miss the short stories?

Donna: They didn’t get a wide distribution LOL.

Jenn: Aww.

Donna: One was a more literary work called Yaa & The Coffins, published in the now-defunct Thinkerbeat Journal; the other, Fire Bird, was published in Wild Musette a couple of years ago.

I don’t write short-form very often.

Jenn: I can imagine writing short form is challenging, especially when you write epic fantasy.

Donna: What’s funny is that when I write short stories, they tend to be under 3k words.

On the shorter side of “short.”

Jenn: You have my admiration! That’s amazing. 

Jenn: Have you always wanted to write or publish your writing?

Donna: Well, I’ve always written. Even when I was small, my brother and I used to write illustrated stories together. We’d open one of those black and white composition books and lay on the floor facing each other, each one drawing and writing on their own page. We were usually writing the same characters and roughly the same plot, just with our own twists. We’d spend hours doing that. Unfortunately all those “picture books” are gone now.

Jenn: Oh, no. What a loss.

Donna: When you’re an Army brat, you get used to it.

Jenn: Ahh the bliss of the PCS move.

Donna: My dad was ruthless about getting rid of stuff when we had to move.

Jenn: So how did you go from composition books to publishing Gemeta Stone?

Donna: I first wrote the Kristan Gemeta character as part of a high school composition assignment. We had to write the beginning of a novel, and I’d had a dream about a young man on a horse meeting with a young woman on a road beside a forest. So that’s what I wrote.

It was nothing more than a sketch, but I’d actually dreamed the name Kristan Gemeta.

I never did anything with it until years later, when I was out of college and living alone for the first time.

I’d already written and trunked another novel (a truly awful contemporary romance about a blind prince – fortunately it, too, no longer exists), but there was something interesting about the Kristan character that made me want to resurrect him.

Jenn: Who are the major influencers in your life and philosophy?

Donna: Family for certain. I come from a large family (six siblings!) and my mother and father are/were very dynamic people. Dad passed back in 2000; Mom just celebrated her 99th birthday.

Jenn: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Donna: All my siblings are “artsy” – we all sang or played an instrument or danced or drew or wrote growing up.

My parents encouraged that. We had to learn to amuse ourselves on long road trips.

So being imaginative was a survival skill.

Jenn: I think that’s awesome. So many kids now don’t have that support towards the arts.

Donna: Ain’t that the truth. Or if they do, it’s rarely arts for art’s sake. It’s more “how can I turn this into a side hustle and make some money?”

If you can’t find the joy in art first, it’s going to get real old real fast.

Jenn: It takes patience, perseverance, and a deep love for the craft to get good at any form of art. You’re absolutely right. If you can enjoy it, you won’t stick with it.

What advice would you give young artists – dancers, singers, writers, painters – from your perspective of having dedicated most of your life to the creative arts?

Donna: There’s a mindset with young people these days that they have to “win” at the creative game quickly. They might put in a couple of months’ work and get frustrated that they’re not experts at the end of that time. I wonder if that mindset comes out of playing video games – you put in thirty hours playing a game and you generally end up fairly proficient at it. But the creative process isn’t like that. It can take years to develop the skill set you need to write a book, or play an instrument, or act in a play.

Jenn: Very true. I think that falls into the “10,000 Hours” philosophy… that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to master any skill.

Donna: My advice to writers would be to READ. Read all the time. Read widely and analytically. I’m constantly stunned by the number of young people I’ve encountered who’ve decided they want to write a book – but they don’t read. They watch a lot of movies and TV, but they don’t read. And writing a novel is a completely different skill set.

Jenn: I’ve run into that quite a bit, myself.

Jenn: What other books or authors have influenced your writing, and specifically, the Gemeta Stone series?

Donna: T.H. White’s The Once and Future King had a huge impact on me. I believe I first read it because I was a fan of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. But they’re nothing alike (in fact, I can’t bear the cartoon now – it seems coarse and thudding). The Once and Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, but there’s such grace and whimsy and melancholy all mingled together. I was entranced by the idea of this good-hearted child who must learn to be a king.

Jenn: Having read Gemeta Stone, I can definitely see the influence there.

Jenn: If you had to explain this series in one sentence, what would you say?

Donna: Oh dear.

With the aid of a magical talisman, a gentle young king struggles to free his country from the grip of a powerful magician.

Or something like that.

LOL 

I always struggle trying to reduce a six-book series to a single sentence.

Jenn: I can empathize with the struggle…

Jenn: For our readers that are unfamiliar with the series, can you give us a quick book-by-book elevator pitch? (I promise I am not trying to break our featured author.)

Donna: 

Book 1 – Kinglet

Robbed of his throne, his crown, and even his name, gentle and introspective Kristan Gemeta must learn to lead before he can recover his family’s ancient talisman and take a stand against the Wichelord Daazna.

Book 2 – Fiskur

With the assistance of a band of rebels, a shipful of brigands, and the legendary Kentavron, Kristan defeats Daazna and his minions – but at a terrible price.

Book 3 – Stoneking

Kristan struggles to unite four disparate kingdoms and understand the true nature of the Gemeta Stone while battling the fear that he is losing his sanity along with those he loves.

Book 4 – Ragis

Kristan Gemeta teeters on the brink of madness while forced into a dangerous winter journey that will end in a confrontation he dreads.

Prequel – Princeling

The child Kristan Gemeta tries to find a place in his father’s battle-hardened court, while the youth Daazna faces his own struggles as he learns ancient Wiche skills.

GAH – why is that kind of thing so HARD??

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Jenn sits down with epic fantasy author, Donna Migliaccio

Jenn: Because you told the story with many hundreds of words, and your brain is trying to take the whole thing into account?

Donna: Maybe.

Tedious.

Jenn: In our last interview, we mentioned this series is appropriate for readers 16 and over, because of some sexual content and graphic violence. Now that the prequel is out, would you consider these standalone novels, or would you recommend that readers start in a particular place?

Donna: I feel that Princeling could be read at any point in the series, but where I think it’s most valuable is between Ragis and the yet-to-be-published final book in the series.

It answers a lot of questions set up in the first four books and gives some clues about what might happen in the final book.

Jenn: It does.

So Kinglet would be the recommended starting point?

Donna: I think that’s most useful – Kinglet, Fiskur, Stoneking, Ragis, Princeling, and then the last book.

Once I finish that LOL.

Jenn: What are some of the major ideas that you integrate into this book or your life in general?

Donna: That kindness is an essential component of life.

Even if showing kindness is viewed as a weakness rather than strength.

Kindness is at the core of Kristan’s existence, and trying to find a balance between that strong moral compass and the demands of his rule is a constant source of tension.

Particularly when he’s pitted against an adversary who is completely without compassion.

Jenn: And Daazna is definitely that.

Donna: Daazna is definitely a Big Bad, but one of the things I wanted to tackle in Princeling was how he got that way.

Jenn: Because people don’t just wake up one day and decide to be that level of evil.

Donna: What was surprising as I wrote the book was discovering that he and Kristan faced many of the same obstacles:  loss of a parent, not being accepted in their society, etc.

Jenn: You mentioned that elusive last book… what’s next for Kristan and his intrepid writer?

Donna: I do have a single line description of the final book LOL.

Jenn: Hehe… Let’s hear it!

(and hopefully, it doesn’t give anything away!)

Donna: After twenty years of peace, Kristan must face his old enemy in a new form.

So….we’re talking a major passage of time between the end of RAGIS and the beginning of the new book.

Jenn: Oh, my!

Donna: Which means I not only have to pick up all the various plot threads from the earlier books, but also introduce a boatload of new characters.

Jenn: Fantasy casts can get… enormous. Am I right?

Donna: They can indeed.

Jenn: So how can readers follow you and find out when the exciting conclusion is available? (Also, follow for the Daily Fox, and other great Donna excitement!)

Donna: I have a newsletter:  Fantasy, Fancies & the Occasional Fox. It comes out about every other month and includes my writing and theatre news, plus stories about my local fox population, birding, gardening, recipes, and other things that interest me. (It also has a Hidden Treasures link that will take you to a secret page on my website where I’ll occasionally post short stories and other writing.)

Or, readers can visit my website at donnamigliaccio.com

You can sign up for the newsletter on the website.

I can be followed on Twitter (@donnamig) and Instagram (mrsmig1).

Jenn: Sounds good.

It has been a pleasure, once again, to sit down and “talk” with you, Donna. Thank you so much for your time, and for giving us such fantastic stories as Kristan’s.

Buy the Gemeta Stone Books: (available as both Kindle and Paperback)

We’ve interviewed Donna before. You can find that post here.

Princeling – 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.**

TRB Twit Princeling Reveiw
Jenn reviews Donna Migliaccio’s Princeling

About the Book

Princeling; Donna Migliaccio
Young Adult; Fantasy; 237 Pages

Donna Migliaccio (November 29, 2019)

DISCOVER HOW THE GEMETA STONE SAGA BEGAN.Little Kristan Gemeta never imagined that his simple act of kindness would end in disgrace. Now he’s being punished by a harsh regimen meant to toughen him into the heir his father the king demands. Bullied and friendless, Kristan finds an ally in Simeon, who teaches him not just letters and numbers, but the forbidden magical lore of Wiche. But there’s someone else in the kingdom who wants the secret Wiche knowledge for himself. The youth known as Daazna is as pitiless as Kristan is compassionate – and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

About the Author

Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. KINGLET, FISKUR, STONEKING and RAGIS, the first four books in her fantasy series THE GEMETA STONE, are available exclusively on Amazon, along with her recently released prequel to the series, PRINCELING. Her short work is featured in the anthologies MEDUSA AT THE MORGUE and THE ART OF LOSING. For more information, visit her website at www.donnamigliaccio.com.

Jenn’s Review

Finally! After two long years of waiting, and four other books, Donna Migliaccio shares the origin story of the hatred between Daazna and Kristan Gemeta (the long-standing feud that fuels the war between the two men in the Gemeta Stone series). In a nutshell, this fantasy prequel is heartbreakingly profound and well-told, despite the very young age of our protagonist, Kristan.

Kristan Gemeta is just a little boy when Mumma passes away. Her final words to him, “Always be kind,” become a promise he makes to her and a guiding principle that stays with him through the coming storms. His father, the king of Fandrall, holds young Kristan at a distance as he copes with his own grief and trying to raise two young children without a mother.

TRB Pin Princeling Review
Jenn reviews Donna Migliaccio’s Princeling

Kristan’s childhood is brief – at a young age, his days are filled with tutors and brutal lessons that will dog him through life. One of the worst: how powerless he feels when a tutor’s apprentice, Daazna, is wrongfully accused and sent packing from the castle in shame.

Daazna will never forget that lesson, either. His thirst for knowledge and hunger for magic skills will shape his misadventures and dark deeds.

Considering the very young age of the protagonist, (Kristan is only 4 when his mother passes away), I am deeply impressed by Ms. Migliaccio’s handling of a parent’s death and a child’s grief. No one really bothers to try to explain to the boy what’s happening, and the reader gets an intimate perspective on how a child processes the loss and draws his own conclusions.

The entire series is a must for fantasy fans, and it isn’t necessary to start with Princeling to understand the rest of the series. However, for those who enjoy stories in chronological order, this book will get you hooked on Kristan’s adventures.

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.


Also by Donna Migliaccio

Kinglet (Book 1, Gemeta Stone)

Fiskur (Book 2, Gemeta Stone)

Stoneking (Book 3, Gemeta Stone)

Ragis (Book 4, Gemeta Stone)


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Chasing Lightning Bugs

**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.**

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Jenn reviews JL Keathley’s Chasing Lightning Bugs

About the Book

Chasing Lightning Bugs; JL Keathley
Teen/Young Adult; Romance; 138 Pages

Merfire Publishing (August 15, 2019)

Angel is a surfer from California. He has money and an ego to go with it. Before his grand college adventure, he gets booted off to Arkansas for the summer to visit his dad. He believes it’s a cruel, unusual punishment and that this will be the worst time of his life, but he couldn’t be more wrong…

Faith is a waitress at the local diner in a small town in southern Arkansas. Happy and not expecting life to change much, her only goal was to support her family. She never thought everything could change so much in one summer, some for the better and some for the worst.

Faith and Angel are from completely different worlds, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes fate has a plan for you, even if you don’t have one for yourself…

About the Author

。☆✼★J.L. Keathley is a self-published author who focuses on YA Fantasy. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She loves animals and has a variety of pets. She has always loved to read and decided to write what she wants to read about. She likes to travel with her family and find adventures.★✼☆。

Distant Memories (The Shadow Realm, Book 1) Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/t6-d3zWgFk8

。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆
Amazon Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2GYGKT

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17740041.J_L_Keathley

GoodReads Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38743860-distant-memories

J.L. Keathley Blog:
https://jlkeathleyyaauthor.wordpress.com/

J.L. Keathley Facebook:
https://facebook.com/J.L.Keathley/

J.L. Keathley Twitter:
https://twitter.com/jlk_ya_author

J.L. Keathley Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/j.l.keathley/
。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆

Jenn’s Review

Young adult author, JL Keathley, branches out into Contemporary YA Romance in her new release, Chasing Lightning Bugs. California bad boy meets Sweet Southern girl in this inspirational, happily ever after perfect for young teens.

Angel is a California city-boy who loves to surf, hang out with pretty girls, and generally postpone the doom and gloom of college and adult-hood. So when his mom tells him it’s time to catch the plane that will take him to the tiny town of Fouke, Arkansas for a visit with his dad, he did what teens do best – he procrastinated and complained. He doesn’t want to spend his summer in a little hick-town with nothing to do.

Faith just wants to live her quiet little life in Fouke. The people there are friendly, she loves her church, her sister, and her mom, and she sees no reason to even look twice at the pretty city boy. He’ll just leave at the end of summer, and she’s got her priorities straight.

So when Angel proves there’s more than what she can see on the surface, she does her best to hold him at bay. Until her life starts to fall apart, and he offers her a shoulder to lean on and blows all her preconceived notions out the window.

Ms. Keathley presents a sweet little love story with a true happy-ever-after in this little volume. Its simple voice and diminutive length will have you adding her other work to your to-be-read pile.

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Jenn reviews JL Keathley’s Chasing Lightning Bugs

Buy the Book

This book is available on Kindle here.


Also by JL Keathley

Distant Memories (Shadow Realms book 1)


Find out what we’re reading and what we’re loving in our monthly newsletter, Between the Lines. You can sign up for it here.

Thrice Read Books will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

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Also by JL Keathley

Distant Memories (Book 1, The Shadow Realm series)

From Chaos Comes Order

**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.**

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Sam’s Teen Reads Corner tackles Jimi Rodriguez’s From Chaos Comes Order

About the Book

From Chaos Comes Order; Jimi Rodriguez
Young Adult; Fantasy; 338 Pages

Publication Date: December 5, 2018

Surviving in a school of magic and murder is not easy!

Jacob Titus is a forgotten boy from Eslor Island. With an absent father and a mother who battles Alzheimer’s disease, Jacob has long learned to care for himself. When he is discovered by a magical talent hunter, Jacob makes the difficult choice to leave his home and enter the Valcrest School for the Promised.

As his school years go by, Jacob has to spend as much time trying to stay alive as he does finding a cure for his mother. As violence and blood lust at the school escalate, Jacob must learn to figure out who he can trust. All he wanted was to save his mother. Now he must save himself.

For more information about Jimi Rodriguez and his series, From Chaos Comes Order, visit the website at jimirodriguez.weebly.com today! There you can sign up for a FREE exclusive short story never read before.

About the Author

Jimi Rodriguez is an author from Houston, TX. After graduating from The Ohio State University, he became a teacher in his hometown. He went on to obtain a Master’s Degree from Ohio University. He lives in Houston with his wife and two children.

For years, he told his students stories of the characters in From Chaos Comes Order. The characters were a work of friendship, as many major roles in the story were conceived by his friends in writing and life. Finally, he created the series From Chaos Comes Order. Book One: Chaos is his debut novel. From Chaos Comes Order is planned to have four books in total. Book Two: Destroyer is coming soon!

Sam’s Review

Check out Sam’s Teen Reads Corner Livestream.

From order comes chaos, and vice versa. In a world of magic, powers are divided into two halves; chaos magic and order magic. As one boy decides to trade his life as a thieving student for the life of a magic student to help cure his mother of Alzheimer’s, he learns that not all girls want under his blankets, and his world is in danger. With a team consisting of a soul seer, which I believe would describe her the best, and spunky young lady, they try to get the message to others of the coming attack.

I wasn’t as into this book as I normally am. There was a lot going on, and there were way too many time skips going years at a time. I had a hard time finding the main problem until the very middle, and the Point of View changes were a bit much. Would I read this book again? Probably not.

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Sam’s Teen Reads Corner tackles Jimi Rodriguez’s From Chaos Comes Order

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback format here.

Thrice Read Books will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

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Reaper of Earth

**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.**

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Jenn & Sam review Reaper of Earth, book 1 in Jen L. Grey’s Reaper series

About the Book

Reaper of Earth; Jen L. Gray
Teen/Young Adult; Fantasy; 226 Pages

Independently published (October 3, 2018)

Hidden abilities, haunting memories, and one confused girl.

I’m a reaper. Death should come naturally to me, but it doesn’t. And the abilities I am able to conjure are forbidden by my kind. My parents try to hide my abilities, but when the elders assign my first target, they order my parents to stay back. Now I’m on my own, with no one to protect me, no idea what I’m doing, and no control over the powers I’m supposed to keep hidden. I should have known this would blow up in my face. My family name is ruined, and I have to fix what I’ve ripped. I’m not sure I have what it takes. The fate of my entire kind is on my shoulders, and I’m the only one who can make things right. But if I mess up again, it won’t just be my family that I break–our entire world will be ruined. Tomb Raider meets Touched in REAPER OF EARTH, a paranormal read for those who love a dark twist. Scroll up and one-click this hauntingly twisted tale today.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author

Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, even as a little girl. When I was a toddler, my parents would read stories to me over and over. I would hear them so often that I had the books memorized and could recite the story word by word.

The past year, I started having stories stuck in my head and finally decided to start writing. My favorite genres are fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance. So of course that’s what I’m inclined to write.

​I have a husband, two young daughters, and a mini Australian Shepherd. I’ve lived in Tennessee the majority of my life and love the state.

I’m extremely addicted to caffeine and enjoy drinking coffee and lattes. 

I am so pleased that you stopped by my page! Please feel free to contact me!

Email: authorjenlgrey@gmail.com
Facebook Fan Group
​Facebook Author Page
​Twitter @authorjenlgrey

Jenn’s Review

When you’re a Reaper of souls, but you can’t make your powers behave… What’s a girl to do? Welcome to Christina’s world in Jen Gray’s Reaper of Earth, book 1 in the Artifact Reaper Saga.

On the cusp of turning 20, Christina needs to prove that she’s capable of Reaping souls on her own. It should be easy, given that she’s from a long, powerful line of Reapers. Except… Her powers don’t behave the way they should, and now, it’s more than her own future on the line.

If she fails, she and her parents will be stripped of all their wealth, power, and standing.

And her parents remind her of this. Constantly.

The Reaper council offers Christina an alternative – find a powerful artifact and all well be forgiven. Of course, the rules keep changing, her power is blocked, and everyone seems to want a piece of the artifact. And when she learns what the artifact can do, she’ll have to weigh her family’s lives against the fate of the multiverse.

This is the first book in a YA Urban Fantasy series, told in 1st person present POV. Magic and action abound, and the protagonist has a bit of a foul mouth. I give it high marks for a fast-paced plot and a well-defined fantasy world. Four stars.

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Jenn & Sam review Reaper of Earth, book 1 in Jen L. Grey’s Reaper series

Sam’s Review

Sam reviews Reaper of Earth on this episode of Sam’s Teen Reads Corner

The fate of Earth and other worlds lie in the hands of a misfit reaper, scorned by her powerful parents because of how different her powers are. She can bring what has been reaped back to life. She can find what she’s looking for, inside her mind. And she is the only reaper she knows who hates reaping. But as her abilities get her into trouble, she either has to find four artifacts for 4 elements, or the people she cares about will die.

Filled with panic, snark, and several modern references, Reaper of Earth will draw in readers. As a modern fantasy, it brings forth stories of old and stories of today’s cultures. I saw only one thing wrong with this, and that was the few grammar errors I found. I highly recommend to fantasy lovers.

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, Audiobook, and paperback here.

Other books (s) in the series.

Find out what we’re reading and what we’re loving in our monthly newsletter, Between the Lines. You can sign up for it here.

Thrice Read Books will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at books@thricereadbooks.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

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Luna: The Lone Wolf

**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.**

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Featured on this edition of Sam’s Teen Reads Corner – Luna the Lone Wolf by Forest Wells

About the Book

Luna: The Lone Wolf; Forest Wells
Teen; Coming of Age; 231 pages

Forest Wells (April 6, 2019)

Luna was destined to be alpha once he became an adult, but before he got the chance, his own brother, Rajor, framed him for a crime no one committed, leading to Luna being banished from the pack. Declared a lone wolf, never to know the company of another wolf, Luna turns bitter as he learns to accept his new fate. Yet even as he does, other wolves, strange two-legged creatures, and one mockingbird, force themselves into his life, driving him through a gauntlet of trials where he must reconnect with the alpha he was born to be, or turn away from it forever – assuming he survives.

Sam’s Review

Luna the Lone Wolf tells the story of a wolf destined to be the alpha of his pack. But Luna has a shock coming to him. As his jealous brother frames him for murder, he is cast out, with no pack, and no destiny. As time goes by, he earns home self a place as a feared wolf, defending what is his with unmatched ferocity. Soon, more and more wolves join his side, giving him the pack he knows he doesn’t deserve. But as the humans draw close with the intent of hunting and stealing what is Luna’s, can he gain back what he should never have lost, to begin with.

Full of danger, and powerful emotions, Luna the Lone Wolf will captivate audiences near and far. The book brings forth a different side to the story of hunters, telling it from the side of the creatures themselves. Also, as a side note, I’m fairly certain that taking in pure wolves is illegal, so it makes hating the hunters easier. I found no faults with this book. It was incredible, and I would recommend to animal lovers and people who love harsh tales.

Pinnable image for Sam's review of Luna the Lone Wolf by Forest Wells
Featured on this edition of Sam’s Teen Reads Corner – Luna the Lone Wolf by Forest Wells

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.

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Dark Goddess

Jenn reviews Amalie Howard's YA Paranormal Fiction novel, DARK GODDESS - OwnVoices, Diverse Fiction, Authors of Color, Paranormal Romance
Jenn reviews Amalie Howard’s YA Paranormal Fiction novel, Dark Goddess

About the Book


Dark Goddess, by Elaine Pofeldt 

Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, 381 Pages Sky Pony February 13, 2018

After an epic struggle that unseated the Azura Lord of Death and placed Serjana Caelum’s best friend, Kyle, on his throne, the Mortal Realm is peaceful and the balance between good and evil—which Sera is sworn to protect—has been restored.

But signs of a new threat to the world of men quickly begin to appear: A scourge of demons descends on the Mortal Realm, and Sera is beside herself trying to locate their source. She sends word to the gods for help, and their answer comes in the form of Kira, the living incarnation of Kali, goddess of destruction.

Stunning and dangerous, Kira plans to protect the heavens at all cost, even if it means destroying the entire Mortal Realm. Soon Sera and Kyle find themselves fighting not just the demon plague, but Kira and her twin. But when an even more sinister threat arises—putting not just the human world but all planes of existence in jeopardy—they must all learn to work together or lose everything they sacrificed so much to save.

About the Author

Biography

AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s INDIE NEXT selection. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 bestseller in gothic fiction, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of the #1 bestseller in Regency Romance, My Rogue, My Ruin, in the Lords of Essex historical romance series. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.

Jenn’s Review

Sera and Kyle are back for more adventures in Xibalba in the second installment of the Alpha Goddess series by Amalie Howard, Dark Goddess.

The teens narrowly averted the Kali Yuga in Alpha Goddess, but if they thought it was over, they’ll have to think again. More demons are escaping the hell realms, regardless of how many Kyle sends back through the portals. The ruling gods and protectors of the mortal realm trust neither Sera nor Kyle, citing their separate parentage and exploits from the first half of the story. Dev has vanished back to Illysia, leaving Sera in the hands of some very zealous warrior goddesses, and without critical information that Kyle and Sera could sure use to get the demon problems under control.

To further complicate things, the situation has awoken two goddesses that are bent on resetting the balance, Kali and Durga. And Kyle is crushing on both of them. Because, you know, getting involved with volatile, destroyer goddesses that have a reputation for ignoring the rules is always a good idea when the human race is on the line. (Or so Sera points out.)

The clock is ticking and time for humanity is getting short. Can Sera and Kyle solve the riddle of the demon invasion, without help from the council, before Kali’s deadline arrives?

This is another young adult, OwnVoices novel from an incredible author. Not your run of the mill Greek mythology, Ms. Howard pulls in all the colors, smells, and culture that surrounds Hindu beliefs and weaves them into a vibrant, diverse urban fantasy.

Jenn reviews Amalie Howard's YA Paranormal Fiction novel, DARK GODDESS - OwnVoices, Diverse Fiction, Authors of Color, Paranormal Romance
Jenn reviews Amalie Howard’s YA Paranormal Fiction novel, Dark Goddess

Sam’s Review

Sam’s Teen Reads Corner features Alpha Goddess and Dark Goddess

Sera is now torn between the man who is her soulmate and the demon lord she’s known for a long time. And apparently the apocalypse isn’t over yet. Now she must go against the people who only want to protect her from the danger she herself is expected to face.

This book is just as good as the other one. Filled with suspense, romance, and magic, Dark Goddess is a thrilling sequel. But like the previous story, it was cliche in a couple of places.

Buy the Book

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


Also by Amalie Howard

Alpha Goddess (Book 1)

Alpha Goddess

Jenn reviews Amalie Howard's YA Paranormal Fiction novel, ALPHA GODDESS - ownvoices, diverse books, paranormal, Hindu mythology
Jenn reviews Amalie Howard’s YA Paranormal Fiction novel, Alpha Goddess

About the Book


Alpha Goddess, by Elaine Pofeldt 

Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, 381 Pages

Sky Pony March 18, 2014

In Seraphine Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence—Illysia (the Light Realm), Earth (the Mortal Realm), and Xibalba (the Dark Realm). Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azraiel, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.

Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azraiel before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.

Retellings of classic fairy tales and Greek myths are becoming staples in the YA and adult fiction genres, and now Amalie Howard, author of the popular Bloodspell, brings the myth of Rama and Sita’s love story to an exciting new level. Howard’s stunningly fresh voice and imaginative characters promise to make Alpha Goddess an exciting addition to the young adult fiction world. Aimed at readers ages 13 to 17, both girls and boys will relate to Sera’s and Kyle’s realistic teen persona and dilemmas while learning more about a famous Hindu myth.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle-grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

About the Author

Biography

AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s INDIE NEXT selection. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 bestseller in gothic fiction, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of the #1 bestseller in Regency Romance, My Rogue, My Ruin, in the Lords of Essex historical romance series. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.

Jenn’s Review

Amalie Howard’s ALPHA GODDESS is a YA OwnVoices paranormal novel with some elements of romance. Like many paranormal stories, the author draws from ancient legend and myths to create her world. Unlike the overdone Greek and Roman myths, though, Ms. Howard draws from her Indian heritage and features the colorful, rich tapestry that is Hindu mythology.

Serjana has been struggling with increasingly vivid, violent nightmares since she turned 16. Her parents are making her crazy with being over-protective and overly inquisitive about her dreams, her waking experiences, and her lack of a love life. Her unusual looks don’t help her already awkward social life. And just to complicate things, her best friend, Kyle, seems to be getting involved with drugs, a gang, or both, and she’s got a crush on the cute guy next door, whom her bestie HATES.

Sera has been the only person in Kyle’s life he could trust, besides his foster Mom, Carla. His mother died trying to kill him when he was 5, and the secret he’s carrying is slowly strangling him. Sera doesn’t believe in the metaphysical, the paranormal, or immortality. Kyle sure wishes he could convince her, though. Then he could trust her with his secret, the fate he’d trade his soul to avoid.

When Sera and Kyle each learn their true identities, though, their common ground could spell the end of humanity. Sera is one of many incarnations of the goddess Lakshmi, forever bound in love to the cute guy next door, Devendra, an incarnation of her forever mate, Vishnu. Kyle? He’s just the son of one of the seven lords of Xibalba, the hell realm.

Destiny marches forward, dragging the teens into a battle that will decide the fate of the mortal realm, Xibalba, and Illysia, the realm of gods and immortals.

This is the first book in a series, filled with colorful legends, deeply developed characters, and plot twists (plus a healthy dose of humor, just for good measure). Be sure to pick it up and have a read!

Jenn reviews Amalie Howard's YA Paranormal Fiction novel, ALPHA GODDESS - ownvoices, diverse books, paranormal, Hindu mythology
Jenn reviews Amalie Howard’s YA Paranormal Fiction novel, Alpha Goddess

Sam’s Review

Sam’s Teen Reads Corner reviews Alpha Goddess and Dark Goddess

What if the Hindu myths were real? What if they walked among us, and held our fates in their hands? In Alpha Goddess, Sera, a normal girl, suffers a fate far more than what she’d ever wanted. She is the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, a deity so powerful she is rumored to control all planes of existence, even the demon realm. This, clearly, causes some big issues to occur.

I loved this book because it had an interesting storyline. The characters were well developed, and the conflict was incredible. A very interesting way to learn a little about the Hindu myths, and truly a gift to book lovers anywhere.

However, as with every book, there were some negative things to say about this book. One is there were several cliches. Like “the teen girl can’t understand why” cliche. Other than that, it was still very good.

Buy the Book

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


Also by Amalie Howard

Dark Goddess (book 2)

Pieces of Me – Review

About the Book

Pieces of Me, Carrigan Richards

Teen/Young Adult Drams 302 Pages

Carrigan Richards Publishing (August 13, 2013)

One second. 

Seventeen-year-old Corinne has everything. Her life. Family. Friends. Boyfriend. But in that one second, she loses it all. Now she’s left with harrowing nightmares. Hallucinations. And panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. She tries everything to take the pain away, but there’s only one option she sees as a true way out.

When Corinne is sent to live in a psychiatric institution, she doesn’t want to talk. It’s pointless. They can’t help her. But slowly Corinne opens up and wants to remember what it’s like to be happy so she begins reliving her past life to her doctor. She knows she can’t live in the past, but she sees no future and is faced with the hardest decision of her life.

About the Author

Carrigan is the author of Pieces of Me, a young adult contemporary romance, and the Elemental Enchanters Series, a young adult paranormal romance. She was born in Cullman, Alabama, but grew up in Birmingham, and moved to Atlanta at 18. She earned her BA in English at Kennesaw State University. For as long as she can remember, she was always making up stories and characters inside her head, sometimes using her dolls to act out the scenes.

When she’s not writing (which is rare), she’s spending time with her family and friends, listening to music, playing with her two furbabies, or cheering on her Atlanta Braves.

Jenn’s Review

Another debut novel. YA/teen lit, not exactly romance, but it has a sweet little love story built into it.

This wasn’t an easy read for me. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be when Carrigan emailed me about reviewing PIECES OF ME. My family has front row seats to the unpleasant faces of mental health problems, and this stirred some painful memories.

Corrine is dealing with a lot. So much, that her parents are checking her into a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. She’s been through a lot, and at seventeen, she doesn’t have the life experience to sort out who she can really trust.

The author’s style feels a little clunky to me, not uncommon in debuts, but she more than makes up for it with realistic, sympathetic characters. I had a few moments when I needed to put the book down for a reality check (I really wanted to have a heart to heart with the protagonist, Corrine, about her less-than-best-friend, Lisa, who has serious issues of her own).

This is a teen read, but as a parent, I would approach this with caution. I would like my own daughter to read this, because, at 13, she’s already dealt with a suicidal friend. However, the storyline is heavy, and I’m not sure her attention span would stick it out. Without pulling out my personal soapbox, mental health issues, especially anxiety, depression, and PTSD are things that need to be talked about. They need to be on the table, and it’s time for the stigma to fall away. Ms. Richards takes a giant step in that direction with this story.

All of that said, the writing is a bit stiff, and the flashbacks get blurry, making the timeline a little hard to follow at times. This is one of those times that I would encourage the reader to stick it out. The story is worth it. The ENDING is worth it. Grab your tissues and hang on, because the further you get into the book, the harder it is to put down.

For those who might write this off as a depressing book, I challenge you to stick it out. Millions of people deal with these kinds of debilitating mental health issues every day, and Ms. Richards adeptly portrays the headspace of someone (especially a young someone) at the end of their rope.

And spoiler alert: the story has a happy ending. It’s not a unicorns and rainbows happy ending, but it’s a well-written happy ending. Four stars, and a standing ovation for Carrigan Richards for tackling this book.

Jenn reviews YA Fiction PIECES OF ME, a Carrigan Richards novel, in this edition of Thrice Read Books' review blog.

Buy the Book

 This book is available in Kindle and in paperback editions from Amazon  [affiliiate link}

Aaru – Review

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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

Buy the Book

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


Also by David Meredith

Aaru: Halls of Hel (book 2)

The Reflections of Queen Snow White