Tagged: Diverse Books

Braking Hard

**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 Gloria Joynt-Lang’s Braking Hard

About the Book

Braking Hard; Gloria Joynt-Lang
Adult; Romance; 204 pages

The Wild Rose Press, Inc; 1 edition (February 12, 2020)

Gage O’Neill is an all-around nice guy and an Adonis in coveralls. With a thriving automotive business, a gorgeous girlfriend, and his ADHD under control, life is pretty incredible. But when he loses a loved one, Gage’s perfect world unravels. Prone to bad choices, he’s desperate to quell his rash behavior. Thankfully, hiring a curvy mechanic is the one impulsive decision he’s gotten right.

Eden Sampario is destitute as a result of a confrontation turned violent with her former employer. When Gage mistakenly offers her a job, she readily accepts. But soon she wonders if she made the right decision. Resisting her sexy boss proves more challenging than an engine rebuild. Her only other option? Give in to temptation and risk not only her career but also her heart.

Welcome to Big C’s automotive shop, a place where more than cars overheat.

About the Author

Gloria Joynt-Lang was born in France and raised in various locales throughout Canada. Before she started writing contemporary romance, she worked in the criminal justice system—technically spending time behind bars.

As a Canadian, she’s fanatic about hockey, poutine, and apologizing.

She currently resides in rural Alberta with her husband and their two dogs.

Jenn’s Review

Gloria Joynt-Lang is earning her chops as a sensitive author of neurodiverse characters in romance fiction, with her second book, Braking Hard, which features a strong female lead in a nontraditional career and a male protagonist coping with adult ADHD.

Gage is nothing short of determined. The owner of an auto repair shop in a small Oregon coastal town, each day is a struggle to stay focused on the things he needs to accomplish while managing his employees and a failing relationship. His mentor passes away suddenly, and Gage is sent adrift, trying to find his feet on his own. When he’s forced to fire one of his mechanics, he faces further challenges finding someone qualified. Until he stumbles upon “Ed’s” resume. 

Eden’s life was turned upside down in a moment of violence when her boss makes inappropriate sexual advances and threatens her. She’s lost her job and she’s on the edge of losing everything else. While she’s a good mechanic and technician, finding another job in the career she loves is challenging – men either don’t believe she can do the work, or she’s subjected to demeaning and dehumanizing work conditions as a woman. When she learns that a former teacher has passed away, she makes an effort to attend his wake and runs into Gage.

Ms. Joynt-Lang treats her characters’ challenges with tenderness and honesty in this story that might just have been written about the little coastal town I live in. She nails the quirky nature of the town’s inhabitants and weaves together all the little ways that people intersect in a tiny town. Gage’s struggle with his ADHD is real and honest. Eden’s challenges as a woman in a male-dominated career field are honest. 

Quirky, funny, and touching, I would recommend Braking Hard to fans of contemporary romance. It’s the first in a new series, and I eagerly look forward to the next installment.

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Jenn reviews Gloria Joynt-Lang’s Braking Hard

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback here.

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Also by Gloria Joynt-Lang

Beyond Circumstances

Author Interview with Gloria Joynt-Lang for Braking Hard

Savannah’s Secrets

**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.**

Savannah’s Secrets by Reese Ryan

About the Book

Savannah’s Secrets; Reese Ryan
Adult; African American Romance; 240 Pages

 Harlequin Desire; Original edition (March 1, 2018)

Falling for the boss, or taking him down?

Savannah Carlisle had the perfect plan. By infiltrating the Abbott family’s Tennessee bourbon empire as their events manager, she’d be one step closer to claiming half of the business they stole from her grandfather. Now she’s not so sure. Because sexy Blake Abbott, heir to it all, is simply intoxicating. He’s supposed to be the enemy. But after one long, stormy weekend, she’s pregnant with his child…

About the Author

Reese Ryan writes sexy, deeply emotional romances with family drama, surprising secrets, and unexpected twists.

Past president of her local Romance Writers of America chapter and a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Reese is an advocate for the romance genre and diversity in fiction.

Jenn’s Review

Dive into a steamy read on a rainy day, about love, lies, and other tricky business in Reese Ryan’s short novel, Savannah’s Secrets.

Savannah is a determined woman on a mission. Fifty years ago, her grandfather’s business partner cheated him out of a fortune and stole his recipe for the bourbon that has made the Abbott family wealthy. Or so the story goes. So when Savannah manages to land a job as an event manager for the company, she grasps her opportunity to expose their lies and get what her grandfather is owed. Only, she didn’t count on falling hard for one of them.

Blake Abbott has his own ghosts, and he knows better than to get involved with an employee, but when Savannah is stranded at the office, with the only connecting road flooded between office and her apartment, taking her home with him for the weekend seems like the right thing to do, even if it is a horrible idea.

As the situation becomes more and more complicated, their just- budding love is tested, but is it strong enough to weather the outing of so many lies?

Reese Ryan crafts a sensual love story with humor liberally sprinkled throughout. Well crafted characters draw the reader in for a rollercoaster ride that ends in fireworks.

Savannah’s Secret by Reese Ryan

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.

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Gloria Joynt-Lang Interview – Braking Hard

**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 interviews contemporary romance author Gloria Joynt-Lang for the release of her newest novel, Braking Hard
Jenn interviews contemporary romance author Gloria Joynt-Lang for the release of her newest novel, Braking Hard

A few years back, Thrice Read Books had the privilege of sitting down with debut author Gloria Joynt-Lang to talk about her first novel, Beyond Circumstances. Unfortunately, a few months after the release, the publishing house had to close its doors, and Ms. Joynt-Lang’s book was off the market. We’re very excited to welcome her back to our bookshelves with her release of Braking Hard.

Jenn: Could you tell our readers a little about your new novel, Braking Hard?

Gloria: Braking Hard is a contemporary romance novel set in a fictional coastal town in Oregon. It follows Gage O’Neill a mechanic with ADHD who happens to be the co-owner of Big C’s Automotive. When his business partner passes away, Gage’s life unravels. Navigating through his own grief leads to a series of mishaps. In an effort to stop Big C’s from tanking, Gage hires Eden Sampario, a woman who’s had her own struggles. Working in a male-dominated profession has taken a toll on her. The last thing she needs is to complicate her life by dating the boss. Braking Hard is a friends-to-lovers romance with a unique neurodiversity twist.

Jenn: How long has Braking Hard been in the making?

Gloria: I started writing Braking Hard two years ago. I had a few obstacles along the way including searching for a new publisher. I also went through a bit of health issue which derailed me from writing. I ended up with daily headaches and light sensitivity issues. For several months I couldn’t even check my emails let alone open my laptop. Blue light from electronic devices is the worst. Fortunately, it turned out to be a pinched nerve and thus treatable. Numerous trips to the chiropractor and yoga sessions helped me to realign my body. I was so thankful when the problem went away as I feared my writing days were over. I’m pretty much back to where I was before.

Jenn: I imagine there was considerable research with Braking Hard? How did you approach the research?

Gloria: I love doing research as it’s an opportunity to experience new things.  For Braking Hard I convinced my husband we needed to take a road trip to the Oregon coast. We still talk about how much fun we had. It was quite an adventure. We booked this old Airstream trailer in a farmer’s field one night. The on-line pictures seemed rather quaint. Other than the small mattress, it was kind of romantic. The only problem was that by the time we arrived down a very narrow road late at night, we were exhausted. Thankfully, our hosts had pancake mix, s’mores and a bottle of wine for us. Who would have thought red wine pairs so nicely with flapjacks? We took our two small dogs with us. A lot of places ban pets on the beach but not Oregon. I would go back in a second.

Other parts of the research dealt with talking to people with ADHD and hours reading about the disorder.  This was more difficult. Peoples’ experiences differ and there’s some contradictory information. I tried to focus on the commonalities of people with ADHD while being respectful of how different people handle the challenges. In Braking Hard there’s a scene where Gage opens up to Eden about his struggles and what works and doesn’t work for him. I believe it’s done in a respectful manner and doesn’t discount the variety of therapies and medication available to help people manage.

Jenn: What inspired Gage and Eden’s story?

Gloria: There’s a fair amount of information and dialogue on kids with ADHD, but we often forget about the adults. There’s a percentage of kids with ADHD who symptoms lessen as they get older, but for some, it’s a lifelong battle. I wanted to show not only the struggles but also a man who‘s successful. There are positive aspects of ADHD and these traits help Gage when it comes to being a mechanic and also a friend.

When it came to Eden, my goal was to create a feminine character who’s independent and tough with a degree of vulnerability. She’s in a male-dominated profession and had some horrible experiences with men. Her family situation is so different than Gage. He comes from a large family. They’re boisterous and meddlesome but love him with great intensity. With Eden there’s just her and her mom. They have a strained relationship because of her mother’s choices. Eden’s vulnerability comes from wanting to fit in both at work and in the community but also afraid of getting too close to others. People have this annoying tendency to disappoint.

Jenn: Is this your first published novel?

Gloria: No, this is the second one. My first novel was published in 2018. Unfortunately, a few months after Beyond Circumstances’ release, the publisher ended up closing shop. At the time I was devasted, but I learned a lot from that experience. The rights were returned to me, so I plan to relaunch it. I have two other novels as part of that series which I’m polishing up and hoping to get published.

Braking Hard is published through The Wild Rose Press and is the first in the Storm Harbor series. I already started on the next book and I’ve got some great ideas for the third.

Jenn: What advice would you give to aspiring authors looking to get published?

Gloria: Rejection is part of the process. It’s extremely rare for an author to be offered a contract on their first query. Most of us get turned down numerous times, especially on the first book. If you find you’re getting rejected a crazy amount of times, look at what you can do differently. Is it your story, your writing style, poor grammar? Some agents and publishers tell you what you’re doing wrong. Beta readers and critique partners also help to point you in the right direction.

Jenn: Are you are a pantser or a planner when it comes to your writing style?

Gloria: I’m more of a pantser.  I do jot a few ideas as they come to me and try to organize them into a scene, but normally I just type as it flows from my brain. Perhaps that’s why I spend a considerable amount of time doing self-edits and chopping out the excessive wordage.

Jenn: So, Braking Hard hits the shelves February 12, but you mentioned that you have more in the works for this series. Care to elaborate.

Gloria: The second novel in the Storm Harbor Series follows Gage’s cousin Cole. There are a few signs in Braking Hard that Cole is ready to settle down. Cole’s a bit of wild one so he needs a woman who will challenge him. Expect some fireworks in this enemies-to-lovers story. And there’s going to be a cat in it. I’m a dog lover so felines are foreign territory to me. I doubt I’ll be able to convince my husband we need to adopt a cat—in the name of research—so I’ll be turning to readers to educate me on all things feline.

Jenn: On behalf of Thrice Read Books, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk today.

Jenn interviews contemporary romance author Gloria Joynt-Lang for the release of her newest novel, Braking Hard
Jenn interviews contemporary romance author Gloria Joynt-Lang for the release of her newest novel, Braking Hard

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Also by Gloria Joynt-Lang

Braking Hard (coming soon)

Beyond Circumstances

Buy Braking Hard

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Mahimata

**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 Rati Mehrotra’s Mahimata

About the Book

Mahimata; Rati Mehrotra
Adult; Romantic Fantasy; 480 Pages

Harper Voyager (March 5, 2019)

A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.

Kyra has returned to the caves of Kali, but her homecoming is bittersweet. She no longer knows what her place is. Her beloved teacher is dead and her best friend Nineth is missing. And gone, too, is Rustan, the Marksman who helped her train for the duel with Tamsyn–and became far more than a teacher and friend.

Shaken by his feelings for Kyra and the truth about his parentage, Rustan has set off on a quest for answers. His odyssey leads him to the descendants of an ancient sect tied to the alien Ones–and the realization that the answers he seeks come with a price.

Yet fate has plans to bring Kyra and Rustan together again. Kai Tau, the man who slaughtered Kyra’s family, wages war on the Orders of Asiana. Hungering for justice, Kyra readies herself for battle, aided by her new companions: the wyr-wolves, who are so much more than what they seem. And determined to keep the woman he loves safe, Rustan joins the fight to ride by her side.

But will this final confrontation ultimately cost them their love . . . and their lives?

About the Author

Writer, traveler, and full-time working Mom. I’m looking for a way to clone myself. Or, failing that, get a robot to do all my boring work so I can write full-time. I am represented by the wonderful Mary. C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates. My first book, Markswoman, is scheduled for publication in Jan 2018 by Harper Voyager.

I’m a bookworm – always have been. A few of my favorite writers are Gene Wolfe, Margaret Attwood, Ursula Le Guin, Philip Pullman, Octavia Butler, Jack Vance, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling (who can’t love Harry Potter?) and – yes – Jane Austen. I love to read and I love to write. Check out some of my stories at http://ratiwrites.com/short-fiction/

Jenn’s Review

Kyra and Ruston are back in the exciting sequel to Markswoman, Mahimata, by Rati Mehrotra.

Kyra is still reeling from the loss of her sect’s leader, saying goodbye to the man she loves, and news that war has become inevitable for all of Asiana. In a brash move, she finds herself the new leader of her sect, with new demands and pressures as she tries to find a balance.

Ruston hasn’t recovered from discoveries about Kyra’s feelings for him (let alone the realization he feels the same way), or the revelation about his parentage. In a bid to clear his conscience, he sets himself in exile and walks away from his own sect to go on a pilgrimage to find answers. He finds more than he bargains for, though, with devastating results.

Mahimata picks up right where Markswoman leaves off, but can be read as a standalone. The elements of romance are stronger than in book one, and I would set this around New Adult due to some sexual content and more intense violence. I loved the intensity and plot, and the twists keep the reader guessing. My only complaint was how abruptly the book ended, but overall, I’d give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Jenn reviews Rati Mehrotra’s Mahimata

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback, and Audio CD below.


Also by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman (book 1 in the Asiana 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.

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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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The Price

**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 Joan Johnston’s adult contemporary romance The Price

About the Book

The Price; Joan Johnston
Adult; Romance; 336 Pages

Atria; 1 edition (March 25, 2003)

Having forfeited his marriage and custody of his children in his ambition to achieve partner status, a Houston attorney works to defend a pharmaceutical company whose drug may have killed a young girl, and when the plaintiff’s counsel turns out to be his high-school sweetheart, an unexpected romance ensues.

About the Author

Joan Johnston, the top ten New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the Bitter Creek (THE COWBOY, THE TEXAN and THE LONER plus 18 more including the Mail-Order Bride, Captive Hearts and Sisters of the Lone Star series) and Hawk’s Way (nine in all) novels, has written more than fifty-five award-winning historical and contemporary romance novels, thirty-eight of which are connected. She received an M.A. in theater from the University of Illinois and graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. Joan Johnston lives in Colorado and South Florida.

Jenn’s Review

Lawyers, Juvenile Diabetes, and second chance romance, all bundled neatly into one steamy romance novel – The Price, by Joan Johnston, a Bitter Creek novel. I loved the story, except for one glaring omission.

Luke’s given everything he can to rise to the top at a prestigious law firm on his own merit. To wit, he’s lost his marriage, has little time to give to his young daughters, his relationship with his mother (though that might be more a case of bitterness towards his step-father and a long-standing rivalry between two families. He’s nearly made it to the recommendation board for partnership, and he counts his losses as worth striving towards his dream. Until it all falls apart in a move from one department to another, and a tort case against one of the firm’s largest clients – a pharmaceutical company manufacturing a “miracle drug” for Type 1 diabetics. Kids are dying, and Luke’s expected to close the cases quietly and settled out of court. Of course, the first client he meets with won’t go quietly, and as Luke investigates the drug, and finds out his own daughter is taking it, tensions rise.

When Amy arrives for her client’s meeting at Luke’s law firm, tension cranks up even more for the two attorneys. They were high school sweethearts, and despite their opposing sides on this case, the remaining heat between them sits unresolved. Amy’s determined to win justice for her client and for other patients at risk from the killer “miracle drug.” As the pair partner up to get to the bottom of what’s really going on behind the scenes, their relationship grows and develops, threatening their careers, their lives, and the life of Luke’s older daughter, a Type 1 diabetic taking the drug.

Despite the very technical aspects of some of the storyline (including how drug trials are run, and attorney ethics), I was gravely disappointed in one serious omission: The author sets up this fictional “miracle drug” as the only alternative for T1 Diabetics to reduce needle sticks. The Hero’s ex-wife has married a doctor, and this medication doesn’t require any blood sugar testing. As the wife of a T1 Diabetic, the step-mother of a T1 Diabetic, this raised a LOT of red flags for me. First, I may not be a doctor, but I’ve been in this game long enough to question any treatment for a T1 that doesn’t include finger sticks. The girls’ stepfather is a doctor – why would he support such a thing as safe? My second REALLY big red flag was that this drug was set up as the only alternative that allowed the patients to not use injections. Insulin pumps have been around for a good thirty years or more. One injection, every two or three days, instead of five or six needles a day, and they can be used in very young pediatric patients.

The Price is an otherwise well-developed story, with deep, multi-faceted characters and twisting plots. Several subplots are threaded through the story, pushing my limit of enjoyment due to multiple POV’s, but in the end, other than the research omission above, this was still a very good read. I’d love to give this book four stars, but with the neglect in researching Type 1 Diabetes, I have to lower it to a three (a key plot point incompletely researched).

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Jenn reviews Joan Johnston’s adult contemporary romance The Price

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, audiobook, hardback, paperback, and mass market paperback here.

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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Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda

**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 reviews the first book in Mala Mukherjee's historical fantasy series, Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda - India history, diverse fiction, fantasy fiction, historical mysteries
Jenn reviews the first book in Mala Mukherjee’s historical fantasy series, Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda

About the Book

Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda; Mala Mukharjee
Adult; Historical Fantasy; 363 pages

BookRix March 12, 2019

A historical fantasy set in the backdrop of Nalanda and the end of Gupta Empire depicts the horror of Hun invasion, and power struggle between smaller kingdoms in an alternate universe bounded by magical reality. During the political turmoil, a prince vouchsafed to save Magadha from foreign invasion with the help of Nalanda’s intellectual teachers and their secret knowledge of Celestial Weapons. However, palace intrigues compelled him to renounce his claim to the throne and he embraced the life of austerity for a greater cause. Unaware of the baffling power of his enemies, the young prince entrapped in the political rivalry of Chandraketugarh and found love in an unexpected way. His journey to Nalanda unfolded many secrets of the ancient university that changed his destiny forever. Under the guidance of his mentor, eminent alchemist Budhaditya he overcame all odds and reached his goal; but just before the final battle, he faced the dilemma of choosing duty over love. 

This is the first part of a Trilogy. 

This story is purely fictional, based on imagination, not on historical facts and figures. Any similarities of events or characters, in reality, is purely coincidental and not made to insult any individual or group. 

Jenn’s Review

I picked this book up to read a quick sample, after the author, Mala Mukherjee, contacted me about a possible review. After reading the introduction, I chose to add this story to my reading list for two reasons: first, it isn’t written from a Western perspective and second, the author is upfront and honest about where the story came from. If you’re looking for a historically accurate tale, this probably isn’t for you, however, as Miss Mukherjee explains in the book’s first pages, she’s spun a fanciful tale around an archaeological mystery.

Welcome to Nalanda, and the Indus subcontinent in the age of the Huns. Nalanda is a center of learning, removed from politics, though it will not remain untouched by the coming war that looms over the land.

Prakhashaditya is a disgraced prince who renounced his claim on the throne to retire to a life of learning, if only for enough years to secure the knowledge of elemental weapons that might stand against the Huns’ mystical arsenal.

His teacher sends him to one of the department heads of Nalanda, to specifically study alchemy, and everything goes wrong when Prakhashaditya stumbles into a confusing situation between local villagers and a merchant caravan.

Confusion ensues, as court intrigues tangle and twist around each other. Hidden plots and deceptions add up, war breaks out, and survivors emerge with the truth of their identities – few of the major players know the whole truth and even fewer know who they truly are.

This was a long read, and in the first half, I frequently found myself out of the plot and lost in long descriptions of settings and people. Miss Mukherjee has done a thorough job of world-building and character creation. However, at several points in the book, I nearly gave up, as the description frequently engulfed the story. Eventually, the author does get out of her own way, and the story flows well – leaving me glad I didn’t surrender.

As a word of caution, this book is not written by a native English speaker (I am uncertain if the book was translated or if the author wrote this in English herself), and this shows up in virtually every paragraph. At times, what the author intends to say is unclear, however, I reached a place where it simply became a facet of the narrative.

Under the faults, this is a thrilling story, with unexpected plot twists, mysteries, intrigue, and danger. Definitely worth the effort to read.

Jenn reviews the first book in Mala Mukherjee's historical fantasy series, Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda - India history, diverse fiction, fantasy fiction, historical mysteries
Jenn reviews the first book in Mala Mukherjee’s historical fantasy series, Chronicle of Lost Empire: Secrets of Nalanda

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This book is available on Kindle here.

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Forbidden by Destiny

**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 revisits the Forbidden Love series by Negeen Papehn with book 2, Forbidden by Destiny - contemporary romance, interracial romance, Iranian-American fiction, OwnVoices, Diverse Fiction

Jenn revisits the Forbidden Love series by Negeen Papehn with book 2, Forbidden by Destiny

About the Book

Forbidden by Destiny, Negeen Paphen

Adult, Multicultural Romance , 282 Pages

Publisher City Owl Press (February 19, 2019)

Leyla had never known what it felt like to fall in love. Not until her best friend Sara broke Ben’s heart. 

After the devastating break up, Leyla reluctantly agreed to pick up Sara’s things from Ben’s home. Leyla thought she was being a good friend, but when she finds Ben completely shattered, her loyalties are tested. He had been her friend too. An afternoon of an innocent lunch and a walk on the beach to cheer him up turns into fireworks when Leyla can’t get Ben out of her head. 

Pushed to her limits, fighting for a love she’s always dreamed of, and against a demon she never knew existed, Leyla must ultimately make a choice. Her decision will come down to loyalty to her best friend, the expectations of her family, or the desires of her wanting heart. Is love worth taking the risk? 

About the Author

Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two rambunctious boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to play with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.

Jenn’s Review

Negeen Papehn brings back the fantastic cast of her first book, Forbidden by Faith, to continue the story of Ben (the almost-hero of book 1) and Leyla, best friend of Sara, the heroine of book 1, in her second release, Forbidden by Destiny.

After Sara and Ben end their relationship for good, best friend Leyla is tasked with collecting Sara’s things from the apartment the couple was moving into. Leyla liked Ben – they were friends while he and Sara were dating, but she’s been friends with Sara since they were in diapers. So when Leyla realizes she’s attracted to her best friend’s ex, and that she’s deeply bothered by how Sara ended the relationship, Leyla finds herself in the worst possible situation – she’s in love with her best friend’s ex.

Ben understands Leyla’s predicament, but after two years of experience with Sara’s Iranian family, their culture, and their judgment based on his heritage, he’s not up for a repeat – and he pushes Leyla to stop hiding their love.

Turns out that doing so creates an avalanche of events that threaten to tear Leyla’s world apart, distancing her from friends, family, and ultimately, Ben himself. And just as she’s finding her feet again, her world is turned upside down by a single trauma that will alter her life forever.

I enjoyed book 1, and I was just tickled pink to see how much Ms. Papehn has grown as an author in book 2. The writing and plot are tighter. The narrative doesn’t ramble at all. The emotional impact of this second book is so much deeper, that I found myself crying on more than one occasion, and I hadn’t even gotten to the black moment!

Forbidden by Destiny can be read as a standalone, easily. Any necessary backstory is handled efficiently and doesn’t leave the reader lost. With that said, however, reading book 1, Forbidden by Faith, will deepen the emotional impact of Layla and Ben’s story. And… Spoiler alert: I am so happy that Ben got his happy ending – he’s the kind of guy that mother’s hope their daughters (and maybe sons) find to spend their lives with.

A full, easy four-star romance worth sitting down to.

Jenn revisits the Forbidden Love series by Negeen Papehn with book 2, Forbidden by Destiny - contemporary romance, interracial romance, Iranian-American fiction, OwnVoices, Diverse Fiction
Jenn revisits the Forbidden Love series by Negeen Papehn with book 2, Forbidden by Destiny

Buy the Book

 This book is available on Amazon in Kindle format here:

Other Books in the series:

Forbidden by Faith (Book 1 – Sara and Maziar’s story)

Forbidden by Time (Book 3 – Bita & Ramtin’s story)

Good Luck with That

**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 reviews Kristin Higgins' GOOD LUCK WITH THAT - Contemporary Women's Fiction with a dash of romance
Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins’ Good Luck with That

About the Book

Good Luck with That, Kristan Higgins
Adult, Humor, 480 Pages
Berkley (August 7, 2018)

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults. 

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her. 

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves. 

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

About the Author

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 18 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for Best Work of Fiction, and her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year of many prestigious journals and review sites. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases and get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at www.kristanhiggins.com.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, two long-lashed children, a couple of frisky rescue dogs and an occasionally friendly cat.

Jenn’s Review

I had the good fortune of attending a writing class taught by Kristan Higgins over the summer, and when I had the opportunity to read one of her full novels, I jumped on it. Good Luck With That is warm, witty and honest women’s fiction with a hefty dose of romance in the second half.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley met at “fat camp” in their teens and became fast friends for life. Georgia and Marley share a house (kind of), but try to stay in touch with Emerson over the years. But the best of intentions go awry, and Georgia and Marley are called to Emerson’s hospital bedside just hours before their friend passes away. In their grief, they agree to follow the instructions in an envelope that they aren’t allowed to open until after Emerson’s funeral.

Good Luck With That is an honest and compassionate look at life with obesity and eating disorders, as well as a window into how society treats women based on their weight and size. As a woman who’s struggled with weight and eating disorders all my life, I found myself between the pages of this book. I’ve lived so many of the experiences that the protagonists endure, and their eventual triumph is heartening. The book also prompted some honest conversation at home with Hubby and Daughter (who is 13 and already struggling with society and her weight). These conversations will continue and battles will be won and lost, much like the trio in this book.

Have a hanky handy for this book, and be compassionate with yourself and others as you read. Five stars and highly recommended!

Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins' GOOD LUCK WITH THAT - Contemporary Women's Fiction with a dash of romance
Jenn reviews Kristin Higgins’ Good Luck with That

Buy the Book

 This book is available in Kindle, Library Edition, paperback,  and in audio book editions from Amazon  [affiliiate link}

Off the Map – 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 reviews Sierra Dean's Adult Action/Suspense Romance OFF THE MAP
Jenn reviews Sierra Dean’s Adult Action/Suspense Romance Off the Map

About the Book

Off the Map, Sierra Dean

Adult, Romantic Suspense, 220 Pages

Sierra Dean (October 2, 2018)

Her last job won’t be a day at the beach.

Harper Barton has one reason and one reason only to be in Colombia, and it isn’t for fun in the sun. As an expert in “acquiring” antiquities, she’s been tasked with collecting a valuable necklace from a gala. The problem? A drug kingpin wants the piece for himself, and won’t let a cat burglar get in his way.

Diego Morales is in Colombia doing research for his next book. The mild-mannered professor was expecting dusty books and boring lecture halls, not a beautiful woman sweeping him onto the dance floor and planting a kiss on him before being chased out of the building by armed guards.

Harper and Diego find themselves neck-deep in trouble when they’re kidnapped by the drug kingpin, but things go from bad to worse when they both go overboard and end up lost in the middle of the Colombian jungle. Can they stay alive long enough to get home? Can they stop fighting long enough to realize there’s more than just jungle heat simmering between them?

Off the Map is high-stakes adventure with spark, snark, and plenty of danger. 

About the Author


Sierra Dean is a reformed historian. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies and is allowed annual exit visas in order to continue her quest of steadily conquering the world one city at a time. Making the best of the cold Canadian winters, Sierra indulges in her less global interests: drinking too much tea and writing urban fantasy.

Ever since she was a young girl she has loved the idea of the supernatural coexisting with the mundane. As an adult, however, the idea evolved from the notion of fairies in flower beds, to imagining that the rugged-looking guy at the garage might secretly be a werewolf. She has used her overactive imagination to create her own version of the world, where vampire, werewolves, fairies, gods and monsters all walk among us, and she’ll continue to travel as much as possible until she finds it for real.

Jenn’s Review

Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider in Sierra Dean’s action romantic suspense Off the Map, complete with a snarky, dare-devil heroine and anthropology professor (albeit far less daring) hero.

Harper Barton’s career as a specialty cat burgler goes sideways as the intelligence reports for a quick grab-and-go job in Columbia turns out to be utterly wrong. In an effort to get out alive, she wrangles an unassuming man into a dance at the museum gala, plants her prize in his pocket, steals a hot kiss and attempts to make a getaway.

Diego can’t believe his luck. He’s in Columbia to study some artifacts that appear to be from a lost warrior culture, and has a speech to give at the museum gala. So far, his trip has been less than exciting, and his sister back home has pestered him for years to have an adventure. When the beautiful woman who invited him to dance kisses him so passionately that he can’t wait to see her again, he thinks he might finally accomplish his sister’s challenge.

Until the beautiful woman dashes away, with armed guards on her heels.

The pair alternate between attraction and bickering over the course of the ensuing days, trying to survive their explosive escape from captivity and certain death at the hands of Columbia’s most notorious and insane drug lord. Free of his clutches, can Harper and Diego survive the jungle to make it back to safety?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Dean’s world-building and character development are spot-on. The tension, both sexual and plot, kept me reading long past bedtime, and her twists in the plot kept me guessing what misfortune might befall the couple right up to the end.

This was a satisfying story, but I felt it ended very abruptly. Ms. Dean does suggest that this may have a sequel, but with so little space between the couple’s reunion and the end… The only other down-side of my review of the book is that the editing was incomplete, but not so much as to make the book unreadable.

Off the Map is an adult read, steamy, without edging off into erotica. Action-packed, thrilling, and immersive, this one gets a thumbs up.

Jenn reviews Sierra Dean's Adult Action/Suspense Romance OFF THE MAP
Jenn reviews Sierra Dean’s Adult Action/Suspense Romance Off the Map

Buy the Book

 This book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format here: